If you were in the Long Beach area this last weekend, and are a Halloween fan, we hope you did not miss Midsummer Scream, the newest Halloween-themed convention to hit Southern California in what is becoming a growing trend. Although this was its inaugural year, you could not ignore the convention’s level of professionalism, large-caliber guests and presentations. The con floor was filled with vendors and artists, both large and small, giving the event a rounded feel with local flare.
With a day full of exciting panels about haunts, Halloween, and intriguing interactive experiences, there was a lot to choose from, almost overwhelmingly so. One could almost lose themselves in a schedule, trying to decide if a meticulous prowling of the rows of vendors, a day going from presentation to presentation, or just fill the afternoon in their spacious Hall of Shadows was just the thing to delight the creepy desires. Experiencing the convention alone, I found myself gravitating towards the things I enjoyed most about Halloween.
Smalltime crafts, traditional art, and pop-culture driven artists have become a staple of every convention known to man. While some produce tables full of themed art that might touch your fancy, there are sometimes those who make you stop and recognize some truly special pieces.
Paper Moon Gallery
We’ve stumbled onto this artists before at this last year’s Monsterpalooza in April, Kerry Schmidt, who makes some of the cutest and most disturbing pieces you’ve ever seen. At Midsummer Scream, she had a whole new line that was dark, delightful, and delicious. Candies, baked goods, and even avocados graced the table, and almost looked good enough to eat if they weren’t staring back at you with eyes filled with horror and dread.
Lume di Luna Designs
When it comes to art that’s fiber craft, I’m a sucker for it. Fiber work, whether it’s crochet, felting, knitting, or sewing, takes a much different set of skills than those who sculpt or draw. Kimberly Allison’s work caught my eye immediately and I was pleased to find out that she too, like many who practice fiber arts, began as a means of stress relief and keeping oneself busy. Her pieces are unique, not only in design, but in the materials used. A bulk of her work (with the exception of some felting) is made from recycled materials. Dolls are transformed into even creepier entities, and cashmere sweaters become cute little bats, and zombies that look a little too happy to have their entrails hanging out. What I enjoyed most about Kimberly’s creations, was that they seemed to have a life of their own. Her dolls were haunting, and her felted eyes looked at you.
Larry Bones is well known in the SoCal haunt scene. Most famously, he’s provided Universal Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights with delightful FX makeup, prosthetics, and unique, terrifying masks. Prefacing the Hall of Shadows with his themed haunt walk-through, TOXICITY, he proved that creativity in the horror scene isn’t dead.
Hall of Shadows
Now, I didn’t check out all the haunts that were available, but I did find a few that I knew I couldn’t miss.
While on the subject of Boneyard FX, let’s take a look at the Gentech scientists who obviously suffered some horrific uhh…changes when exposed to toxic waste. This walk through had lots of generous space, which is unlike any normal haunt. I thought it was enjoyable, as there was more space for scare actors to move around, and was incredibly accessible for those who were confined to a wheelchair, needed extra time to walk, or had strollers in tow. There were plenty of scares delivered and it enhanced the entrance into a realm of darkness.
Dead Zone 805
Now, this haunt has a soft spot in my heart, and although there weren’t enough volunteers to help haunt owner, Nelson Cooper, with putting on a show, I thought he put together a good preview for his yearly endeavor. In a spooky way, he told attendees about the haunt, where it’s located, and gave a taste of the special effects included in the attraction. There could have been a few more scares from the devilish flare that Cooper and his gang are known for, but it was a good teaser for what is to come for his haunt this year.
Scareventures Presents: Sea of Terror
With echoes akin to what Queen Mary puts on for their Dark Harbor event, I loved this attraction. The look, the actors, and the performances they gave were pretty great. Pallets draped with seafaring gear, fishermen baring ominous looking hooks, and verbal assaults, all gave a really great feel to what was such a short experience. Even the lighting, like the moon reflecting on the surface of the water, was just brilliant.
This small haunt experience was my overall favorite. Even the queue was a good time as some…ladies…insisted upon the patrons, and brought a smile to the face of every person in line. All the scare actors never missed a beat when it came to the real show, they simultaneously made you laugh, and scream at the same time. Western in genre, the whole experience was a hoot, and a little less appropriate for young ones in context, but for those a little more mature, it was great fun.
One thing I had a hard time with in the Hall of Shadows was trying to figure out where the lines were, and trying to see any of the haunts later in the day. Many of the haunts, did not seem to reopen after their lunch breaks, or lines just felt a little too long to sit through. Despite those things, the component was well put together and remarkable considering that the haunts only had volunteer scare actors. It demonstrated the real dedication that haunters have for their craft.
There was more, and just when you didn’t think there was more, something else surprised you. The Ghoulmaster’s Gallery featured many great local horror artists and photographers, and a live art display from the Ghoulmaster’s Playhouse. And of course, there was a kitten adoption from the Kitten Rescue LA, where horror and haunt fans did meet and greets with adorable furry familiars that could melt even the coldest of hearts.
The event was a huge success, and it would be hard to believe that no one in attendance this last weekend aren’t already dreaming of the mid-summer time next year.
Check out the photos below and if you missed it in Long Beach, you can bet your soul that it will be returning.