The fine people at Evil Twin Studios have consistently put on some of the best local haunts that Fi and I have attended during our Long Halloween experiences. When we first went two years ago, to their Theatre of Terror event, we were expecting something low key, maybe fun, probably not particularly scary. After all, they were being put on in an old theatre (and former mortuary) in South Pasadena (i.e. one of the most unassuming stretches of suburbia in the San Gabriel Valley, and for the sake of transparency my old hometown), with all proceeds from the event going to the South Pasadena Educational Foundation.
Really, how bad could it be?
Well, after surviving the Theatre of Terror, we knew just how bad it could be. Top notch set work, innovative scares with enthusiastic actors, and some damn surprising, damn scary moments. Its quality rivaled, possibly even surpassed anything that Knott’s had done. It was a very pleasant surprise in a busy Halloween season.
But could it be repeated? Well, yes. Last year’s Raymond Hill Mortuary haunt was even scarier and more intense, with moments including a random monster appearance *under* us in a crawl through tunnel, and a trip on a mortuary slab, being standout and scary as hell moments.
After two years like this, we were excited to see what they had with this year’s experience, Ward 13, a fairly basic theme of a mental institute gone mad. So… did our sixth stop on this year's Long Halloween match up to previous years?
I don’t want to go into too much detail on this, because this is one of those haunts that’s best experienced, but I do want to share some thoughts.
Even though I’m reasonably certain most of this haunt is constructed in a parking lot, it’s nearly impossible to tell from the impeccable set design they do. Despite a few instances where it’s clear that the walls are made of thin plywood, most of the time you’d have a hard time telling that you aren’t walking through a creepy institute. The rooms are well themed and distinct from each other as you wander through admitting, the hydrotherapy and electroshock rooms, the rubber room, and the children’s ward (full of actual, very creepy-looking kids). Secret doors open to rooms open in walls, hiding under a bed leads to a secret, crawl-through tunnel, and a pitch-black maze lined with mild electric shocks in the walls finishes things off.
Long Halloween Tip # 14: Watch out for any narrow, pitch-black stretch of smaller mazes out there. It’s become more and more common to put minor electric shocks in, and if you don’t expect them, they can hurt like hell. They won’t kill you, but they’re annoying, and one of the few things I generally don’t approve of in mazes on principle, because most of them don’t warn you that they’re coming.
The true highlight of this maze was a tour of the exercise yard, while strapped into a wheelchair. Completely helpless and at the mercy of the monster pushing you, it’s a lot like playing an on-rails video game in the best of ways.
This haunt also brought one of my favorite memories of Long Halloweens, when I actually got a monster in the haunt to completely break down laughing. Now, as a general rule, I don’t condone people trying to get the monsters to break character. The monsters are good, hard-working people who just want to scare folks, and they’ve got a really hard job, all told, because so many people are just as apt to fight them as they are to scream. It’s well known that I’m a pretty hefty screamer when it comes to haunts, and, well, one thing led to another here, I was scared, and I may have shouted out a famous four-letter-word that began with the letter “F”, followed by the word burger. This bizarre compound swear word got a man dressed like a gorilla in a hallway made of hallucinations (long story), to completely break character and just keep loudly laughing as we walked away.
In retrospect, I feel bad that I broke the gorilla in this fundamental way, but at the same time, well, I hope I entertained him.
Tickets are $15 online, $17 at the door, and they’re open Friday and Saturday nights through Halloween night. Come on, take a short trip, enter Ward 13, and let the madness take you. You’ll have so much fun for it.
Thank you for joining me this Halloween season, and as always, please drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter! I'm big into liking/following back!
-- Matt Carter
(We know there's a lot of Matt Carter's online you could spend your time with, so thanks for hanging around this one!)