Author: Tania Escobar
ScareLA’s claim to fame is that they are the first convention to bring Halloween to the summer. With 2017 as their fifth year running, from Friday, August 4 to Sunday, August 5, I expected more than a move to a bigger space. The City of Los Angeles even honored the event by dubbing Sunday Official ScareLA Day, yet the convention seemed unaware of the monumental milestone. This is my absolute favorite convention since its inception so I may be skewed in my view, but compared to previous years, this one fell short.
The event has been moving up since its infancy in 2013 when it was held at The REEF LA Mart, where my love for it was gained. As its popularity grew, it was held at the Pasadena Convention Center. This year, however, they graduated from The Los Angeles Convention Center. Of course, when I heard the news, my initial reaction was joy, as I figured more space meant more Halloween. Upon entering the hall, however, more space looked like more. Granted, it’s always nice to have room to walk. Nevertheless, the energy appeared subdued.
They attempted to branch out their design, though it appears they did so by mimicking Midsummer Scream’s Hall of Shadows. The hall was divided to incorporate independent haunts, a stage for performances, and a private mini circus with a separate fee to attend. This area also had a scare floor for the infamous Decayed Brigade’s sliding show. The main hall, of course, had its vendors, workshops, movie screenings, and some interactive haunts. ScareLA may have come first, holding the original scare floor for Decayed Brigade, but still, its similarities to a convention only in its second year say more about Midsummer Scream.
As for the panels, I feel Midsummer Scream beat ScareLA this year since Knott’s Scary Farm, The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, and Six Flags Fright Fest were not in attendance, even to promote and advertise their haunts. It was a little fishy that they weren’t there for business promotion. It might explain why the con was quiet or that there was room to spread evenly.
Aside from these marks, many highlights made the experience worthwhile. My main focus of interest was to watch the sliders of the Decayed Brigade before they headed back into the fog of Knott’s Scary Farm. Next to the scare floor, these monster performers also had booths. The team sold gear like t-shirts, hats, and beanies, all sporting their logo. Stationed at the booth were also their make-up artists, who painted their faces for shows. I took the opportunity to get a full face of makeup for only 20 bucks. Choosing from my favorite team members, I got Spatz’s menacing eyes and The Sequel’s creepy smile.
Other encounters included the Annabelle interactive photo op, allowing guests to take pictures with the famed haunted doll. Another frightening area was the IT promotional VR experience on a school bus. Returning for a second year was also Ztag, a vergence of schoolyard tag, scavenger hunt, and role-playing, all with a zombie infection theme – let’s not forget the LEDs. This took place throughout the entire convention floor. This variety of activities made up most of the weekend’s happenings.
One interactive experience that I participated in with my fellow attendees was a zombie survival game. Think flag football without the football; instead of humans, the other team is full of zombies. Players were given foam weapons to tap zombies three times to make them stop. Of course, Zombieland taught us that you must always double-tap, so another three shots were needed for these zombies to die. If all your flags were ripped off you, you died.
The zombie survival game was the most memorable moment of the weekend. It got the adrenaline running and kept me out of breath. I admit there’s something about getting chased by an undead bleeding guy that will make you feel alive.
Despite the mishaps, I will stay a true fan of ScareLA, as it has always been my original medicine for Halloween withdrawals. Everyone has an off year, and there is a good chance that because they are my first, I always raise their bar higher. Hopefully, they will fashion more independent haunts next year, invite a few more artists for Artist Alley, and feature the missing panel surprises we fan desperately desire.
Site Note: My guilty secret is that at these conventions, I get to take pictures of scantly attractive haunt guys around my age. Check out the video on my Instagram if you want to know which freaky scare actors got my blood pumping.