Los Angeles has no shortage of outdoor cinema options. The Great Horror Movie Night offers up something a little different than the rest.
The Old Griffith Park Zoo is delightfully creepy all on its own. Seriously. The long abandoned animal cages, and plaster cave ruins look like something out of a childhood nightmare. Which made it the perfect backdrop for the Great Horror Movie Night series. Throughout spring GHMN presents a selection of classic scary movies under the stars. This years lineup included Texas Chainsaw Massace, Leprechaun (in honor of St Patrick’s Day in March) Jaws, Halloween and Carrie.
As many of my readers will attest to, I’m seriously Halloween OBSESSED! If I could live in Halloween Town I would. So, count me in for any excuse to celebrate my favorite holiday all year round. It only seemed fitting that I attended the GHMN screening of the original Halloween last Friday. Finding the location can be a daunting task, but the website does offer up some helpful maps. I put the address listed online (4730 Crystal Springs Dr.) and then headed towards the parking lot near the merry-go-round. You can also park at the lot near the Haunted Hayride location. Both lots offer Free Parking. Once parked you head up the hill towards to old zoo. Thankfully there are helpful signs along the path and plenty of staff directing you where to go. The Halloween theme music greets you as you enter the space. The large inflatable theater screen sits at the base of the hill with movie-goers lining up in rows.
The doors opened at 6pm. I arrived closer to 7pm and still got a great seat. Low chairs and picnic blankets are allowed. Picnics are encouraged and I cooked up a tasty spread to feed my friends and I. Parsley-citrus carrots, corn fritters with Sriracha/yogurt sauce, mini quiches with bacon and green onions, and of course bagged candy for dessert. Because you can’t watch movies without some candy. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal. I also packed a couple bottles of wine. Now, some reports say alcohol is not allowed at this event, because it’s technically not allowed in any LA park. But I saw plenty of people drinking. I’m not saying you should, but if you do, keep it on the DL and you should be fine. Besides, once it’s dark who’s going to know? If picnicking isn’t your thing, a concession stand was setup inside one of the caves. It offered everything from soda, to chips, candy, bottled water and big bowls of delicious looking chili. There was also a Merch booth selling hoodies, sweatpants and some killer beanies. I may actually need one of those.
What sets GHMN apart from other outdoor cinema options are two things. First is the pre-show. Instead of just stuffing your face and waiting around for it to get dark enough to view the movie, there is a stage show to entertain the guests. People were invited to compete in a HALLOWEEN movie trivia game. As an intro, they each had to say their favorite scary movie, and the audience was encouraged to boo or cheer their choices. The game itself, was multiple choice questions about the film. Each person had to wear a bag on their head so as not to cheat by looking at others answers. Then hold up a paddle with the corresponding letter. It went on and on until we had one winner. It was great fun, and passed the time quickly.
The other difference are the roving monsters. Just like any scare zone, there are scare actors dressed up and wandering around the park. They try to startle you with jump scares and creepy sounds. I loved it. Really adds to the overall creepy factor. The MC announced a contest for the evening. Simple really, just find a scare actor, take a pic with them and tag it on Twitter or Instagram with #greathorrormovienight. At the end of the evening they would announce a winner who would receive tickets to the next showing of GHMN. I love contests. I enter sweepstakes all the time, so I knew I had to compete. I spotted Michael Myers a few times, but he wasn’t close by. Felt kinda weird chasing a murderous stalker. But when I saw him posing inside one of the abandoned caves, I saw my chance. I snapped a few pics just before the sun went down and headed back to my blanket.
The viewing experience was terrific. Sound quality was clear and loud. Picture quality was wonderful too. I’ve never watched something on one of those inflatable screens, but it looked like a regular projection. Really well done. Watching movies in a large group is always a pleasure. I enjoy watching people jump at the scary parts. Or hearing a random scream in the distance knowing some scare actor just did their job. Plus when you go with friends, it’s like your own live version of Mystery Science Theater. Everyone quietly making humorous commentary.
The film ended and we packed up our picnic. The MC got back on the mic reminding everyone to pick up after themselves. The final showing of GHMN will be Carrie, in two weeks. And now to announce the winner of the hashtag contest. “RockMe Underscore… (I started screaming…) Re. “That’s me!” I shouted. I won, I couldn’t believe I won! I hurriedly ran down the hill to the find the friendly MC. He took me over to the Ten Thirty-One Production Truck where I had to give my name and email. My tickets will be at the will call tent. WooooHoooo! What a perfect ending to my night. Now I get to come back on Friday June 2nd. I wonder if there will be another contest? What’s the prize if Carrie is the last showing of the season? Can I win two weeks in a row? I guess I have to wait to find out.