Review: LA’s ‘Haunted Hayride’!

Last year was quite the bummer for all of us fiending for Halloween activities and our usual local haunts. In Los Angeles it was especially sad because one of the best attractions, the Haunted Hayride, was not operating and not a scream could be heard…..only incessant sobbing. But it’s a new year! And 2021 has marked the return of Los Angeles’ Haunted Hayride (insert applause and cheers here), and it will run its course on select nights through October 31st!

I was lucky enough to go check everything out recently, and I definitely recommend making plans to go! One of the things that makes it different from other local LA haunts, is that the natural environment of its location (Griffith Park) adds to the spookiness. As you walk in and go through the tunnel of pumpkins, you enter a spooky little town called Midnight Falls – full of Halloween decor and scare actors roaming around. From there I ventured straight ahead to the main attraction – The Haunted Hayride Experience. Sitting on actual hay in a tractor bed, you’re driven around the grounds as you stop at multiple terrifying set pieces (the animatronic band was my favorite), until you end your journey surrounded by a bunch of killer clowns. Fun!

After that, I ate some french fries. Exciting. And then continued venturing to the area where the 3 walk-through mazes lived. First up was Midnight Mortuary, which had a ton of good detail and scares – and I was luckily enough to go through without a crowd. Next, Trick Or Treat (not to be confused with either horror movie of the same name). The Halloween decor was strong in this one and was really well done. Last but not least, Dead End Diner – which had the best opening walk-through of the bunch. Overall I was pleasantly surprised by all three of them and the effort involved! I then went and ate more french fries.

But seriously, go hit the Haunted Hayride website link HERE for more details about everything and be sure to grab your tickets! It’s never too early to get into the Halloween spirit! Or become a spirit!!!! (maniacal laughter ensues)

I Am Prepared To Give ‘The Black Phone’ A Big RINGING Endorsement!

Eh, you know when I put a pun in the post’s title that it’s pretty much all downhill from there. But let’s try and get this back on track and talk about my unbridled enthusiasm for the upcoming horror film The Black Phone. You may recognize that title as a short story in Joe Hill’s 2004 book 20th Century Ghosts, or maybe you yourself have an actual black phone and that’s why the title interests you. Whatever the case, writer/director Scott Derrickson has supersized that short story for the big screen, and even teamed back up with his Sinister chum Ethan Hawke for it!

Hawke plays a serial killer in the movie (donning that creepy mask in the pic up there) who kidnaps a child that he locks in a soundproof basement. The only chance the child has to escape, is by communicating with the killer’s past victims via a…….you guessed it – black phone! Let’s take one more opportunity to admire the killer’s mask again, as it was created by none other than the great Tom Savini. Besides the mask, the other reason I’m writing this post is that The Black Phone was screened recently at Fantastic Fest and the hype is real. Meaning that the reviews have been good. So naturally because of that, my personal hype meter has risen.

The Black Phone won’t unfortunately hit theaters until January 28th, 2022…..but I bet a trailer is right around the corner. Stay tuned for more info on that and the release date, and don’t worry – you can still be excited for the movie even if you don’t have a black phone.

Southern California’s Newest Haunt ‘Temecula Terror’ Is Coming In October!

Eeeek! Nothing makes me squeal and get excited more than a brand new haunt experience for the Halloween season! And this year down here in Southern California (Temecula, to be exact), we have a doozy. Yes, Temecula Terror is ready to scare you sheetless (ghost pun) starting on October 1st and wrapping up (mummy pun) on Halloween night. I know what you’re saying…..isn’t Temecula wine country?? Why yes it is, but now it’s also haunt country – so deal with it.

So what can you expect if you take the journey down to Temecula Terror? Well for starters – 3 wickedly terrifying mazes (Hyde Street Haunted House, Butterfield Asylum, and The Crypt) complete with some of the best scare actors and props around. I’ve seen the prep work on the Temecula Terror Instagram page and it looks killer. But what’s a good haunt without some spooky booze? Yes, there will be two bars offering some deliciously demented drinks and a special VIP bar for you VIP folk. There are even some special hours if you want to bring your little monsters by, which you can check out on the Temecula Terror website HERE. And also HERE you can purchase tickets and find out more info on everything. So……will we see you there??? For your sake, I would say yes or else that creepy monster standing behind you right now might not be so kind.

Review: Candyman (2021)

I said his name 5 times looking into the bathroom mirror before I sat down to write this, so maybe I make it through to finish it….maybe I don’t. Anywho…..Candyman! And yes he can be pretty spooky in this sequel (yeah, it’s a sequel), which I know was a concern going in. Could it live up to the original Candyman from 1992?? But how will this movie be any good without Tony Todd?? What about the bees?? THE BEES!! I’m here to happily report that director Nia DaCosta has created a gothic and striking film, that not only pays homage to the original movie…..but elevates it to a new level that could (and probably should) garner sequels in this new Candyman universe.

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That One Time Coolio Was A Vampire In ‘Dracula 3000’ (2004)

Oh, Coolio. You used to be…..a thing, I guess. I always hated ‘Gangsta’s Paradise‘, but I know it’s what gave you your stardom. I much prefer the Coolio that was down with WC and the Maad Circle (look it up on Spotify or Apple Music and thank me later). I do not however, prefer the Coolio that was a vampire in the 2004 staight-to-cable movie Dracula 3000. I know what you’re thinking btw – the amazing movie Dracula 2000 had a sequel??? No. No it did not. Which makes Dracula 3000 even more puzzling in a terrible ‘why was this movie even made‘ kind of way. But I’ve spent wayyyyyy too much time talking about this shitfest, so let’s watch a clip of vampire Coolio in action!

I guess I should have warned you that there is delayed audio in that clip, but be honest….would it have mattered? I’m not sure what the highlight is here: Coolio’s tongue slithering? The fact that he used the phrase ‘ejaculate all over your bazongas‘?? Or maybe his lisp when he says ‘Snow White ass‘??? Actually – they’re all equal in greatness. I hope this clip made your day. Or maybe gave you another reason to dislike Coolio.

‘Son Of Monsterpalooza’ Coming Back To Burbank On October 8-10!!

Finally!! Finally we are getting somewhat back to normal and horror conventions are popping back up, and hopefully haunted houses for Halloween aren’t far off. And there is no bigger horror convention this year, than the gore-ious spectacle that is Son Of Monsterpalooza! And it’s all going down in Burbank, California on October 8-10.

Now….not much has been revealed so far about special guests, but I can tell you that Elvira herself Cassandra Peterson will be there! As well as Nick Castle (Halloween) and Tobin Bell (Saw). More guests, panels, and events will be announced in the next few months – but for now just know that you’ll see a ton of ghoulish vendors, amazing make-up artists, and spooky special exhibits. And don’t forget to dress up! (It will be the month of Halloween, after all)

Go grab your tickets and/or make some hotel reservations HERE, and I will scare you there!

That Time Clint Howard Gave A Cop An Ice Cream Cone With An Eyeball In It…..

Summer is in full swing, and you know what that means……..sharks are in the water eating people! And also a lot of people are enjoying ice cream. Why, just before I started typing this – I myself had a delicious mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. You know who else is all about making ice cream cones? Clint Howard! And he made the perfect cone in the cult classic 1995 horror/comedy Ice Cream Man. But instead of those gumballs you would see used for eyes on those ‘frog ice cream’ treats, he uses real eyeballs!

Every time I watch that scene I always think the same thing: How the hell does that cop not see the eyeball poking out of the top of the ice cream?!!?! I mean, I don’t just go licking something without looking at it first – and I think I would have noticed an eyeball poking out of my Rocky Road (Rocky…….Road?). But this is a move about a killer ice cream man after all, so I’ll let that tiny detail slide. The moral of this post – go watch Ice Cream Man! Because it’s Clint Howard’s best movie and summertime is the best time to enjoy his zany antics. Now how many of you did your inner Sloth voice when you read the Rocky Road part?

The Buzz Is Back: Thoughts On The New ‘Candyman’ Trailer

While everyone has a circle jerk for the new Halloween Kills trailer, I have been grabbing tissues for the new Candyman trailer that came out a few weeks ago. Oh you didn’t see it yet? Well take a look!

While I know the original 1992 Candyman, as well as Tony Todd’s performance, gets a lot of love….I still feel like that movie doesn’t get the credit it really deserves. And might as well also mention that I dug the sequel. Not that abomination of a third movie though. But anyway, back to the new Candyman! Directed by Nia DaCosta, with a screenplay by Jordan Peele among others – this new vision of our favorite bee-utiful hooked madman looks like it checks all of the boxes based off of the new trailer.

We’ve got some strong actors in this one (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Colman Jason Domingo), as well as some nice little cameos from the original movie. But the thing that really grabbed me with the new trailer (besides the fact that it didn’t give away too much like other recent…ahem….trailers) was that style and the visuals it gave off. This is one of those movies where I will probably go in with my expectations wayyyyyy too high. But I’ll leave them high for now (and leave them verrrrrry low for Halloween Kills) in hopes for the start of a new chapter in the Candyman franchise! Now let’s take a look at one more clip from the movie where Candyman gets his revenge on two morons that deserve it!

Ah ha! Just kidding. That was clearly from the movie Tommy Boy. Beeeeeees!!!!!!

Rapid Review Roundup: A Quiet Place Part II, The Conjuring 3, & Caveat!

I just pinched myself because I enjoy feeling pain at times, and also because it’s FINALLY safe to go back to the movies! Well, not if you consider’talking 10-year-olds sitting next to you while watching a horror movie‘ safe…….but still somewhat safe nonetheless. And the first movie in well over a year that I did see in the theater was…..A Quiet Place Part II: Electric Boogaloo. What a snappy title that would have been.

My rapid review for A Quiet Place Part II would go something like this: This was definitely not a sophomore slump for John Krasinski. Loved the opening sequence that showed the preface to the madness that unfolded in the previous film. Tense and loud (in a good way) from beginning to end, but also quiet at times because that’s the movie’s sweet spot. That bear trap part though (yikes). Cillian Murphy can do no wrong. Not much bad to say about it honestly, other than that I think the series needs to end with this one. But…..a third one already got green-lit (shrug).

Let’s move on to The Conjuring 3: Electric Booglaoo! Oh, I mean – The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It. For this one, I did not venture to the theater – but to my couch via HBO Max. So let’s talk: Very strong opening sequence in this one too. Uh oh – 20 mins in and I was already a little bored. I think I’m kinda over possession movies. But hey! Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson are still great. That big fat guy from the morgue though (yikes). Decent climax (that’s what she said), but I think I’m Conjuringed out. Definitely my least favorite in the series, but I didn’t hate it.

Time for the wildcard in this review roundup – a little Irish mood piece called Caveat, which is available to stream now on Shudder. So, let’s chew the fat on this one: Oh my, that toy bunny is pretty terrifying. One of my fears is having to be chained up to the point where I can’t reach the toilet in the bathroom. This movie is directed and written by Damian McCarthy and is his first feature! Extremely dark, unsettling, but interesting as well – it keeps things moving without slowing down too much. I had read that some thought the ending was abrupt and unsatisfying – but I disagree. Easily one of my biggest surprises of the year so far. Go check Caveat out on Shudder. PS – I liked it better than The Conjuring 3 (shrug again).

Update: ‘Antlers’ Is Still Coming This Year!

Few things have kept me staying positive this year so far. Yeah, we seem to be getting over the hump as far as this Covid thing. Yippee. And yeah, Ben Affleck and J-Lo seem to be back together. Hooray. But, the one thing that keeps me going this year is the fact that the movie Antlers (yes, that movie I have talked about constantly and will most certainly go into with my hopes way too high) is finally coming to theaters on October 29th!

Yeah, you can keep your Chris Rock wannabe Saw movies and your Halloween Kills (still a stupid fucking title btw) – I’m all about Antlers! I wonder how many antlers will be in the movie though. Just one pair? Several? A whole gaggle of antlers???? Only time will tell and we now know for sure that all will be seen and answered on October 29th! As I previously stated, my excitement for this movie has a good chance of setting the bar wayyyyyy too high and I could walk out of the theater cursing the very antlers that I was so interested in seeing. But…..I will keep my excitement level high! ANTLERS!