Attractions

Review: Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest (2021)

This year we have to give haunts a little bit of slack and not be too hard on them. Despite all odds, the creative team at Magic Mountain managed to pull off one of the best iterations of Fright Fest yet. There were, however, some issues.

Disclaimer: Six Flags Magic Mountain invited us as media to the event and provided tickets free of charge. We try to stay as neutral as possible. You can expect us to say it like it is – even if that means putting our relationship with the event at risk.

For the most part, Fright Fest remains the same as it has the last several years with the haunted houses utilizing the same spaces and themes. What was surprising was how the few changes they made improved the existing houses. Everything feels a lot more refined and detailed now.

The houses were overall very fun. Scare zones were interesting with scare actors engaging and scaring people with their excellent make-up and personalities. Waits were short even without express, in fact, the longest waits were for rides and to buy a maze wristband. This is something the park really needs to streamline. No doubt they’re losing out on serious cash.

The weakest part of the event was the entertainment, which was oddly absent from media night. For some reason, they didn’t have either show running on the second weekend. Having shows return is really what excited us the most too, so disappointed they were advertising them only to find out we were swindled.

Now for the bad. Parking: the lot was basically full when we showed up right before media check-in. They were using the overflow lot which isn’t a good sign of things to come. Remember this pandemic we’re still in? You wouldn’t know it at Six Flags. They packed so many people into the park that even in a normal year it would be too many. Sidenote: Six Flags recently commented to the LA Times regarding the new vaccine mandate…

“Our guests are not seated next to unrelated parties for extended periods of time, and we have ample room for parties to social distance”

Six Flags Magic Mountain via LA Times

Come on, guys… 🙄

The food lines extended into the main walkways with no employees around to help direct people to not block the walkways. Teenagers were getting out of control as they do, again with little to no employees around to stop them.

We talked to a couple of other media outlets at the event and the consensus was clear, there were way too many people there. It’s a real shame. The team putting the event on are extremely talented and dedicated but park management, whether it be corporate or locally, are ruining all their hard work.

Six Flags needs to make Fright Fest a hard ticket event instead of allowing anyone with park admission to stay in the park. Fright Fest has outgrown that gimmick.

Our recommendation would be to skip Fright Fest this year and support a smaller local event if you can. You’ll be safer and have a lot more fun.

Events

Reign of Terror Is Back!

Reign of Terror is by far the longest and most detailed haunted house you’ll find anywhere. This year they’ve somehow added more rooms and another attraction bringing the total room count to 130.

We’ve gone multiple times over the last several years and it really is an impressive event. They let small groups go at a time so you really get an intimate experience with the actors focusing on you. With this comes a long line to get in, but it’s always worth it. Oh, and it does in fact take up to half an hour to walk through. In past years we’ve had actors stop us to keep the pacing if we were walking too fast.

Also returning is special “Lights Out” nights where you will walk the entire house with no lights except a small glow stick. Now that’s spooky.

Tickets are now on sale. ROT runs select nights September 24th through November 6th.

FYI ROT has a new location in the Janss Marketplace.

Events

A New Haunt in Town: Ventura County Feargrounds

The Ventura Fairgrounds will be home to a new haunt this year opening September 30th and runs select nights through the 31st.

There’s three open-air haunts, one of which being a train ride:

  • The Cage: Your job is to survive, and their job is to stop you.
  • The Terror Trail: Evil has escaped! Apologies for the inconvenience – but if you stay on the trail, nothing will harm you. We have the matter under control!
  • The Fright Train: Enjoy a wild train ride through 100 fields of frights.

After all the scares, you can hang out at Surfers Point Live, aptly named The Dead End.

Tickets are on sale now.

Events

Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest is Back in 2021

Fright Fest is back in their 28th season with some familiar frights, new shows and family friendly daytime activities. The best part is admission is included as part of a park ticket or pass, however mazes require a mass wristband which you can purchase separately.

You can experience Fright Fest on select nights September 11th – October 31st. For full event dates, details and hours you can visit the Six Flags Magic Mountain website.

The lineup:

NEW SCAREZONE! The Deadzone
located in the newest area of the park, The Underground, unleashes a
new renegade group of cyberpunk zombies that feed on unsuspected visitors

NEW SCAREZONE! Terror Rising – Dark Developments
where everyone’s worst nightmares rise up from
the depths of hell and prey on the innocent who dare to enter this haunted cemetery. Beware of the dark developments that could haunt you for all eternity

NEW SHOW! Grave Games
is a dangerous and daring show featuring acts of crossbows and fire
juggling

NEW SHOW! Dark Minds
is a dangerous and daring show featuring acts of crossbows and fire
juggling

Willoughby’s Resurrected
where the haunts of Ghostober take on dark visions of spirits, haunted artifacts, and supernatural investigations gone wrong. Brought to Fright Fest by Discovery+, the streaming home of Halloween

Condemned – Forever Damned
is full of horrific haunts of a dilapidated home where the walls are alive and the spirits of those who once lived there unleash their fury on anyone who dares enter

Vault 666 Unlocked
returns as the fan-favorite maze, Vault 666, only this time demonic relics are locked in a dark and sinister antique shop, casting spells and haunting those who try and steal them

Sewer of Souls
takes guests into an underground world of lost souls and terrifying tunnels where evil oozes

Aftermath 2: Chaos Rising
is the region’s largest outdoor maze, covering more than 40,000 square feet where the spirits of the dead and the near-dead inhabit a post- apocalyptic city with larger-than-life props, fire, fog, and other special effects

Red’s Revenge
over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house they go, but in this “scarytale” the roles are reversed as guests and the wolf are hunted by Red and her demonic minions

Returning Scarezones:

City Under Siege

Witches Lair

Demon’s Door

TERRORtory Twisted

TERRORtory Twisted

Nightmares – A Twisted Fantasy

Exile Hill

In addition to all of the above, there’s also the Sliders of the Night show, VooDoo Nights, and of course LOTS of rides. Children can also get in on the fun during the day with trick-or-treating and Halloween crafts.

Important note: Six Flags is in Los Angeles County which requires everyone to wear a mask indoors (plus it’s just the smart thing to do anyways).

Movies

Quick Review: Old (2021)

Old is one of those movies where you’re not really sure if it should be a horror movie or not. It’s definitely on the line, but it’s a line director M. Night Shyamalan loves to toy with which makes Old a definite must-watch.

It’s really hard to even talk about what Old actually is without spoiling the ending. Think LOST, but time sped up to a lifetime being ~48 hrs. There’s a lot more going on that I REALLY wish got expanded on. The whole aging part yeah thats cool but I wan’t to know about the other stuff that was going on. If you’ve seen LOST you know exactly what I’m talking about.

© 2021 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

I kept feeling like they were setting the beginning and end up to be a new IP that they can explore further, similar to how Purge got its start. But once the credits hit I’m just not so sure that’s even an idea they entertained – and that makes me kind of sad.

Overall the acting wasn’t the greatest and the pacing was all over the place. The ending was great but again, I needed more of it. That said, Old was a great watch, it’s unique enough that any horror fan that likes movies such as Cube should give it a watch once it’s out of theaters (if it isn’t already).

Events

Haunt ‘O Ween 2021 Brings Family Friendly Fun to Woodland Hills

There never seems to be enough premium family friendly halloween events. That’s all changing with the return of Haunt ‘O Ween. Located in the Westfield Mall in Woodland Hills, CA, Haunt O’ Ween has six themed interactive areas to explore.

There will be trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, friendly graveyard, and even a maze.

Haunt 'O Ween Map

Tickets go on sale soon.

Events runs October 1-31st, 5pm – 11pm. Located at the Westfield Mall, 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Events

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride Rides Into 2021

One of the most iconic haunts in Southern California is making a huge return this fall with the classic Hayride, three mazes, and a 1985 themed scare zone. Haunted Hayride opens September 24th and operates select nights through October 31st at Griffith Park.

Tickets will be available for $34.99 starting September 8th. If you sign up through August 25th you’ll receive $10 off admission. Trust us, this is a great deal.

Experiences:

The Haunted Hayride Experience: Spirit of Halloween

Within the foothills of Midnight Falls, The Hayride leads to a thrilling adventure of horrors afflicting the town. Out in the darkness, a portal has opened spilling hideous creatures from its rotted mouth. The spirit of Halloween comes to life surrounding helpless victims brave enough to board The Hayride.

With summer’s end, as the leaves turn brown it is said the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. The witch of the woods has cast her spell to summon the spirits of the underworld to cross over and assimilate into form using various objects found among town including decorations used for celebrating Halloween. Dazed within the spell cast upon them, the Witch commands her army of crops and flesh to seek revenge on the people that have casted her out.

Midnight Falls: Scare Zone

Midnight Falls is proudly hosting its 13th annual Halloween Festival for 1985. However, this strange town is always celebrating Halloween and it’s always 1985. But that doesn’t stop the citizens from enjoying the festival’s bizarre celebratory offerings. Visiting the Midnight Falls residents in the town square, neighborhoods and exploring the local establishments reveal more of the strange and sinister secrets behind this eerie town.

The Town Square of Midnight Falls is the epicenter of the festivities. While guests walk around between attractions or hang out to soak in the atmosFEAR various townsfolk from the Midnight Falls community roam the space interacting with guests and attending to their local business.

Mazes

Trick or Treat

The neighborhood of Midnight Falls has sprung to life with the magic of Halloween. The various creatures and monsters have decorated their houses for trick or treaters while the mischievous little ghouls lurk in the shadows waiting to give a fright.

Midnight Mortuary

Dying to drum up more business, the local Mortuary is hosting an open house where guests can tour the property to see what offerings await their demise. Guests separated from their tour risk becoming the next customer of the sinister funeral home.

Dead End Diner

No description of this maze was provided.


Updated 8-20 – Updated info about tickets to reflect availability and presale.

Events · Press Releases

Halloween Horror Nights Returns for the 2021 Season

Universal Studios has announced the return Halloween Horror Nights at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida theme parks. We’re still waiting to hear about their other parks.

Contents:

Halloween Horror Nights 30

Halloween Horror Nights 30 at Universal Studios Florida runs select nights September 3rd through October 31st. This year they’re featuring 10 houses and five scare zones.

Tickets are on sale now.

The lineup:

Beetlejuice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWXbZa9AMjY

Technically this is a returning maze as it briefly made an appearance in 2020, likely due to contractual obligations. It was a huge success and will likely be the main event this year as well.

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House poster

Based on the hit Netflix show of the same name. It’ll be interesting to see if they adapt the show directly or if they just take hints from the creepy things throughout.

Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives

Finally the Bride of Frankenstein gets some representation.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

There might be some fans of this out there. We’re not expecting it to be anything special to be honest.

Halloween Horror Nights Icons: Captured

This is essentially the 30th anniversary maze. Should be really good.

Welcome To Scarey: Horror In The Heartland

© 2021 Universal Studios

There isn’t much information about this maze other than it takes place in Carey, Ohio. Sounds like it will be a fairly generic haunt – nothing wrong with that!

Case Files Unearthed: Legendary Truth

© 2021 Universal Studios

The poster alone looks cool. There better be rain effects – it’s always so cool to see that in a house.

The Wicked Growth: Realm Of The Pumpkin

© 2021 Universal Studios

We’ve got pretty high hopes for this one.

Puppet Theatre: Captive Audience

© 2021 Universal Studios

Puppet Theatre might be filler. The description from Universal isn’t exactly exciting – but we like to be surprised!

Revenge Of The Tooth Fairy

© 2021 Universal Studios

Just knowing they’ll have dentist drill sounds… ya nope 😰

Entertainment:

Jack

Jack is back!

Halloween Nightmare Fuel

© 2021 Universal Studios

Seems like this is going to be some kind of ‘Cirque’-like show with aerial acts and pyro.

Marathon of Mayhem: Carnage Factory

© 2021 Universal Studios

Return of the lagoon show. We recommend catching it while walking to another house – but not necessarily wasting time waiting for it.

Scare Zones:

Crypt TV

30 Years, 30 Fears

Seek and Destroy

Gorewood Forest

Lights, Camera, Hacktion: Eddie’s Revenge

Halloween Horror Nights

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood runs select nights September 9th through October 31st.

Tickets are on sale now.

The lineup so far:

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House poster

Based on the hit Netflix show of the same name. It’ll be interesting to see if they adapt the show directly or if they just take hints from the creepy things throughout.

Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives

Finally the Bride of Frankenstein gets some representation.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

There might be some fans of this out there. We’re not expecting it to be anything special to be honest.

The Exorcist

Returning once again. This was a fan favorite and will likely be this year as well.

The Curse of Pandora’s Box

It’s always nice to see ‘original’ mazes at the event even if they’re returning.

Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers

🥱 HHN Needs to bring in new IP.

Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge

Terror Tram: The Ultimate Purge

Entertainment:

Jabbawockeez

The dance group that’s completely baffling how it’s related to horror or Halloween is back. Seriously though, why is this still a thing?

Scare Zones:

Universal Monsters: Silver Scream Queenz

Chainsaw Rangers

Demon City

Social Horror

We’re back!

Wow. 2020 sure was something wasn’t it? As you probably noticed the entire Social Horror team took a nice long break. I just wanted to post quickly and say we’re back and we’re ready to jump right into this Halloween season and beyond. Thanks everyone for sticking with us and I hope everyone has a very spooky 2021.

— Troy

Movies

Short Horror Review: FEAR WISH

The other day I was scrolling through my personal Twitter feed and one of those “someone you follow liked” denoted tweets popped up. The tweet was a link to YouTube for a short horror called, FEAR WISH.

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down with a horror movie to do a review, or even watch a short for that matter—there’s a lot of reasons I had to step away from the horror world for a while, but when I saw this short, it took it as a sign I was ready to get back into this.

The video comes to us from Midnight Video, a channel on YouTube with a small but growing number of horror shorts. Here is their channel description with a little history on the creators, Zak White and Todd Spence that does a better job summing up what Midnight Video is about than I can:

Born in the midwest, Zak White and Todd Spence started out writing comedy sketches for Cracked and Screenjunkies but then decided to go back to their first love; horror movies. The horror section at their local video stores and TV shows like Tales from the Crypt and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? was a treasure trove of imaginative concepts, nightmarish tension and fun monster/creature designs, keys that stayed with Todd & Zak until they finally decided to create horror short films to, continue those traditions, and keep that type of filmmaking alive through their own work.

– Midnight Video’s about page on YouTube

Without giving any spoilers yet, the video starts out with a dark fireplace. A flashlight clicks on and briefly illuminates an empty, ashy fireplace, and then clicks off. I’m already freaked. OUT.

© 2020 Midnight Video

I have a fireplace like this. Although it’s no longer in use, the same kind of iron tools in this scene are there in almost the same spot, like a ghost of the fires long passed. It also has those same metal curtains and I’ve heard enough creepy noises coming out of my own fireplace, mostly from raccoons trying to pry open the grate around the chimney after galloping across the roof, which happens to sound like a full-grown human walking across it. But I digress.

I’m already on edge just in these first fifteen seconds of the film. The flashlight clicks on and off again. Nothing. But, I am already sweating because I know something will happen if he does it again.

That feeling, is what Sigmund Freud called, “the uncanny” which is an experience where something familiar is made strange and most of the time, unsettling. One of the most-used examples of this in horror is scenes where a loved one is turned zombie, seemingly harmless but creepy dolls and so on. You expect a familiar thing to be normal, but the context of which it’s in is anything but. The repetition of the flashlight on the empty and dark fireplace is used as a tool to connect your cumulative memory of the familiar and create the effect of the uncanny.

Further on here, there are spoilers, so if you haven’t done so already, please give the video a watch.

The third time, a huge stack of money appears, which is almost like a reward for being unsettled so much, but we know this cannot be the case. As we move on, we’re introduced to our main character, Rich, who is troubled and nervous. He paces, has put the pile of money that suddenly appeared on the table, and he’s on the phone with a guy named Mike. They’re in a discussion, and as these pieces come together, we realize we’ve stumbled upon some sort of wish ritual that comes with a price.

Wishmaster 1997 Poster
First Wishmaster was great, but I do have a fondness for the rest as well.

For me, this invokes a bit of the Wishmaster series. One of the campy horror gifts of the late 90s and early 2000s. The first produced by the late horror master, Wes Craven, also had three sequels, although they didn’t have as much impact as the first. Everything to this point in the film sets us up for somehow, this is going to go wrong. Our anticipation continues to build as we get into the, “be careful what you wish for” territory.

We now know that a woman named Julie (I am assuming this is Rich’s wife) enters the picture and we learn that she’s the center of this wish. We see that this guy is willing to risk anything to save the woman he loves from some sort of serious illness, so he goes through with the latter part of the ritual in hopes that the money that appeared for the treatment will remain a part of the equation. Mike assures him that it worked for him…albeit barely. (Thanks, Mike. Not actually assuring us right now.)

Will it all pay off for Rich? ©2020 Midnight Video

Then the creep-factor jumps from a six to a ten with three clicks of a flashlight.

When the metal curtains opened, I shouted. I wouldn’t call this a jump-scare moment, but it was certainly unnerving in a way that also brought me back into the uncanny. Something strange and unseen happening to something familiar.

Nope nope nope that’s a nope from me. ©2020 Midnight Video

Then Rich starts getting just about as freaked out us viewers already are. He thinks things have gone wrong. He admits his fear wish, that it’s all failed and she’s dead. Eventually we return to the fireplace. Silence and that slow zoom into it leaves us in a peak of anticipation, unsure if this build up will pay off. We may even feel a false sense of security in this moment.

It all pays off with a good jump scare.

Now, I am not a big fan of jump scares. Although this is just my opinion, it feels like nine times out of ten, they’re over-used and not put in without any sort of finesse. They’re a cheap—although for many, very effective—tool that sometimes makes a lot of horror movies feel like they have to reach some sort of “scare quota.” But, this was different.

All the visual distractions, pregnant pauses, and placement in the uncanny builds this tension and anticipation for a scare. Just when we think it might not happen, it does in an awesome, almost feargasmic release that made me squeal. It felt great. A release of tension and stress that put a smile on my face and a pep in my step. This is the horror-high that I am seeking when I go to the genre for stress relief.

To sum things up with my long-winded look into something with a duration of only three minutes or so, I leave you with this:

FEAR WISH, starring Nathan Sutton as Rich, Amy McRoberts as Julie, and Scott Whyte as Mike, uses the tenets of classic and modern horror film-making to pack only three minutes full of the same effect you can get with a feature-length film. It tells a story with depth in just that short amount of time while building up your anticipation of what might happen next. Then it delivers a feargasmic release that leaves you with a horror-high and you’ll not only want to watch it again, you will want to watch other people watch it and share in the experience.

I can confirm that a second (and more) watch, at least for me, still filled me with excitement. I can guarantee that the next time I have a friend over, I’m going to ask them:

Do you want to see something scary?

You can follow Todd Spence and Zak White on Twitter, the Midnight Video Instagram account, or check out the rest of their horror videos on their YouTube Channel.

Attractions

Album: Halloween Horror Nights Orlando 29

We feel a full review of Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Florida would be pretty much a rehash of what we’ve said in the years before. So instead of trying to break down and analyze the event, let’s just say it’s one of the best years they’ve had with an excellent collection of houses that can appeal to everyone. The entertainment is top notch as you’d expect from one of the largest entertainment companies in the world (although still miss you Bill & Ted!). With that said, how about a look at the scenic this year.

Note: as with every year, there’s no photography in the houses themselves – there’s other outlets that have video and images from inside but we feel that ruins a bit of the thrill.

Stay and scream house lines
The lines for houses in the Stay and Scream holding area are much more organized this year as there’s now two distinct lines for the two houses that open early.
Looks like a long line, but was only about five minutes.
Safe to say this was our favorite scare-zone. It just makes for amazing visuals.
Vegan / Vegetarian options are fairly plentiful this year.
Shockingly good. We must have ordered this four times.
The new water show is nice, but it’s nothing we’d wait around for.
😢 rip Bill & Ted
Stay and Scream makes this possible. Absolutely no wait
Left: s’mores fries. Right: pizza fries.
Both are disgusting despite the local pizza fries cult.
Probably one of the better uses of a plain facade to date.
Certainly the scariest thing of the event 😨
My personal favorite house. The suspense buildup from the soundtrack is insane. Honestly, this could make for a great movie. Universal, you listening?
This gag was awesome, we watched it every night we were there for a solid half hour. Props to the actress, she sold it!
Our buddy Owen is going to need a very long vacation after Horror Nights ends.

There’s a lot more that we’d love to show but just don’t have the space.

If you’re an actor we shared a photo of and want a full-sized copy, send us a DM on Twitter and we’ll hook you up.

Thanks to everyone involved at Universal Orlando for putting on another excellent show. We’ll be back for the big number 30 next year.

News

Stranger Things Returning to Horror Nights for 2019 Season

On the heels of the new trailer for the third season not too long ago, today’s announcement comes as no surprise to hardcore fans of Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights; the return of the exceedingly popular Stranger Things on Netflix to the maze lineup is most definitely, a welcome one.

Last year, Stranger Things was one of the most popular mazes; the wait times for both parks were sometimes two hours or more, especially during the busiest days to visit. There is a pretty obvious answer to why that is: the show is not only popular across a spectrum of age groups, but it also lends itself to a wealth of opportunities to deliver scares to fear-seekers with a similar intensity and surprise that is a cornerstone to the show. To add to this, Universal’s take in on the show, although varied between parks, stays true to the content for an experience you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

As someone who enjoys the show, and last year having the luck of getting an almost solo walkthrough of the maze in the Hollywood park, the possibilities and direction this year’s mazes could take as they explore the world of season two are numerous.

One of the promising, and what may have already been hinted at on Twitter, is the inclusion of the “Demodog” (technically a D’Artagan), a creature that had a sort of onscreen cuteness in the second season of the series when Dustin takes it in—of course until it ate Mews, which was downright heartbreaking. (At least for this cat mom it was.)

Exploring more of the Upside Down would likely also be a large feature of the upcoming mazes in their respective parks, and walking through parts of the underground tunnels that spread beneath the farmland of Hawkins in all its creepy gross-ness. We could be seeing large-scale props and facades from scenes like the battle on the bus and maybe even a tour through the laboratory facility where some pretty gnarly deaths and Demogorgon action takes place.

Whatever the maze interpretations for season two are, Stranger Things has a wealth of terrifying material and an extremely dedicated fan base ready to laugh, cry, and scream with what’s coming. And, with the added note from their press release, maze creators will be working directly with Netflix on developing “authentic representations of the blockbuster series,” adds even more intrigue and excitement.

Until then, we only have to wait until the 4th of July to get the next fix of the Upside Down.

You can check out the rest of the announcement here in the meantime!