Halloween season is in full swing with plenty of spooktacular ways to celebrate the season of the macabre.
There are a plethora of Halloween experiences here in Los Angeles. I have my standard favorites I tend to gravitate towards each year. But I always try to add in something new. With so many haunts to choose from, costume parties to attend and only a few weekends in October it’s tough to pack it all in.
Over the summer I attended Scare LA. A Halloween convention celebrating all things dark, damned and delicious. There are plenty of activities. You can attend a screening of horror shorts or listen to panels featuring celebrities and special effects artists. There are vendors selling creatively creepy wares. Along with lots of walk through mini-haunts. All the big haunted attractions setup mini versions to give you a taste of what you can expect come fall. One of my favorites was for Reign of Terror. I even had a chance to speak with some of the staff afterwards and was really surprised I had never even heard of them before that day.
Reign of Terror is located in Thousand Oaks. It’s far away location (from where I live in LA) is most likely why I never made it out there in previous years. But when I spoke to the staff they told me it’s unlike other haunts. First of all it takes between 30-45 minutes to walk through all 105 rooms. Say what?!?! That’s a crazy long haunted experience. Usually with haunts like Fright Fest or Universal Horror Nights there are different themed experiences spread out with different lines for each attraction. In R.O.T. you wait in one line and enter the attraction. Once inside, you go from one frightening scare zone to the next with no breaks in between.
I arrived on a very rainy Friday night with some friends. Reign of Terror is located above a strip mall. You enter through an alley way to join the line. We all purchased the VIP pass which was 100 percent worth it. It was only $10 more than general admission and the line to enter was way shorter. Once inside, you walk up the stairs and a staff member checks your hand stamp. Again, as VIPs we were pointed in the direction of another shorter line. It’s dark and creepy inside with little vignettes, animated skeletons and a few roaming scare actors. The four of us only waited for maybe 10 or 15 minutes before we reached the front of the line. A staff member went though some basic rules about no touching, or running and sent us inside the haunt. No photos or videos are allowed inside. Images shown are credited to the R.O.T. website.
There are technically eight different themed attractions. Haunted House, Asylum, Infected, Miner’s Revenge, Casa Blood, Inbred, Quarantine and Fun House. As you exit the first attraction there is a single dark room with a sign letting you know you are entering a new themed room. Most of the themes were well thought out and very unique. But there were a few where I honestly couldn’t tell when we left one attraction and entered the next. My favorite was Casa Blood. It was a creepy house complete with bedroom, living room, bathroom and kitchen drenched in blood everywhere. I’m talking Evil Dead 2 level of sprayed blood on all surfaces. The toilet even gurgled and spit blood as you walked passed.
In Quarantine (or was it Infected, honestly, I’m not totally sure) you line up in a room with military personnel barking orders through a mega phone. You are informed that someone is carrying a virus and must go on ahead separately and deliver the information to the other side. As the line moves forward the attendant pulls out one person who is infected and must lead the others. Now I guess I have something on my forehead that says, “pick me!” because anytime there is an audience participation element, I’m chosen. Sure enough, I get pulled out of line and sent on ahead.
Scary clowns are a must for any haunt and Fun House delivered. After a quick intro by a high spirited devilish girl jester we entered the clown infested dark circus. Calliope music and creepy grins all around. As someone with coulrophobia, it’s my living nightmare. There was also a black light room and one of those walkways that appears to spin, yet doesn’t move at all. Completely throwing you off your balance and distracting you. Which the clowns took full advantage of in the next room.
What R.O.T. did better than many Halloween attractions was mixing animatronic elements with real scare actors. I marveled at an animatronic marionette puppet behind glass. Seriously my friends and I stopped to stare at impeccable details before moving on. Only to have the marionette come to life and chase the last person in our group. Excellent! There were set-ups so real I was waiting for the actor to jump up out of the rocking chair, once we were looking the other way, but the man never moved. It was robotic. This really keeps you guessing as to what is real and what is mechanical. I loved it. There were some very very large animatronics that came out of nowhere from behind a curtain and scared the pants off you.
The one issue with having a continuous haunt and no breaks between attractions is bottle-necking. There is nothing worse than being too close to the group in front of you. They get all the scares and you only see the actors resetting for the next group. Thankfully R.O.T. has non scare actors dispersed throughout the maze who’s only job is to hold you up for a few moments and allow the flow of people to adjust. This was particularly helpful for our small group. There was a woman in front of us who was dressed as a dead bride. I don’t know if it was her bachelorette party or what, but she kept stopping and talking to people and generally holding things up.
Overall I was very impressed with Reign of Terror. It took almost 45 minutes to complete and since I only paid $30 for my VIP ticket, I would definitely say I got my money’s worth. The continuous haunt experience was something different for me this year and I highly recommend checking it out.
Go to: https://rothauntedhouse.com/ for tickets and info!