Posted on February 18, 2015
Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , , ,

It was a dark and freezing Friday the 13th, the night before Valentine’s Day. Seasonal haunted house Blood Manor opened its doors in New York for two nights only, encouraging couples and singles alike to step inside for some romance gone wrong.

Standing in line outside in nearly 0-degree weather is certainly one way to heighten the senses while anticipating entry into a haunted attraction. After climbing a creepy staircase, Blood Manor suddenly appears.

This haunt’s dominating feature is an abundance of half naked demon women airbrushed along many of its walls. It’s immediately clear that this is an experience aimed at adults.

While no touching from actors occurred inside this haunt (romantic or otherwise), the same can’t be said of its patrons. Bouncing from room to room, each scare seemed to send screaming guests grabbing for anyone and everyone around to hide behind. Put into a group with three girls I’d never met, I quickly realized I had to lead the way, as they physically pushed me ahead of them. But Blood Manor is smarter than that, ensuring that they got what was coming to them by scaring them from behind. Watching them bounce back and forth between wanting to be ahead or behind me was wonderfully entertaining, as no matter how much they tried they couldn’t escape the scares. And I wasn’t about to help them.

The Valentine’s Day theme was relatively subtle as an overlay to the haunt, which included a variety of fairly standard spooky rooms. Actors did make an effort to get close to guests, urging them to be their Valentine. And with some of the more scantily clad ghouls of the group, I was tempted to take them up on their offer. A variety of hearts and shades of pink and red was added as decorations, keeping the Valentine’s theme present throughout without getting in the way of the haunt’s existing look.

Halfway through, guests are given 3-D glasses to add some depth to the rest of the experience, particularly as those topless airbrushed demon girl paintings now seemed to pop out of the walls.

Blood Manor is a fun haunt, particularly as an off season event. It’s not mind blowing or particularly original, but it was nice to get a taste of Halloween in February. But as it turned out, the staircase on the way out was the eeriest part of the whole attraction, showing off the old New York building’s inherent creepiness, far more interesting than the painted flats that comprise most of the maze. When I suggested to them via Twitter they should use more of the real building and less of their sets, they replied “never know we just might.” Hmm.

More information can be found at BloodManor.com, which states that the event will return for Halloween 2015.


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Posted on February 13, 2015
Topics: Conventions, Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , ,

After two years of growth and success, ScareLA has announced an expansion to a new venue, the Pasadena Convention Center, for the event’s 2015 edition on August 8 and 9, 2015.

With over 100,000 sq. ft. of show floor space, ScareLA 2015 will be able to accommodate even more vendors, attractions, and entertainment. The haunt industry fan convention attracted nearly 4,000 guests in 2013 and more than 6,000 in 2014.

“We’re very excited by ScareLA’s rapid growth, and the Pasadena Convention Center allows us to provide room for more guests, more exhibitors, larger displays, and bigger monsters,” says ScareLA Executive Producer and Co-Founder David Markland.

The 2015 ScareLA program will take advantage of the new venue’s larger stages to host exclusive presentations from fan favorites such as Knott’s Scary Farm, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, Six Flags Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest and more.

Guests returning to ScareLA will find a larger show floor with more Halloween/horror vendors, expanded classroom and workshop spaces, and a wide variety of live entertainment and immersive “mini haunt” experiences.

More information can be found at www.scarela.com.


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Posted on February 13, 2015
Topics: Movies, ReviewsTags:

For all its controversy, you’d expect “50 Shades of Grey” to be the “Behind the Green Door” of a new generation. But as it turns out, the film is more romantic comedy than anything resembling the adult film so many have made it out to be.

There’s no doubt there are several sexual scenes involving some decidedly adult pastimes that most definitely occur behind closed doors. But they are few and far between and one – only one – is anything resembling extreme.

The vast majority of the film focuses on the particularly awkward relationship that builds – and doesn’t build – between young billionaire Christian Grey and young hardware store clerk Anastasia Steele. Grey can seemingly have any woman he wants, but winds up infatuated with Steele who seems to appeal to him due to her unique ability to “change” him for the better.

But Grey doesn’t take well to change, insistent on quite literally dominating any partner he finds. His sole goal is to find a mate that will obey his every whim. And those whims frequently include whips, cable ties, and a few more activities that are simply unmentionable on this web site.

Therein lies the controversy with this film. Twenty years ago, “50 Shades of Grey” would never have made it through the Hollywood machine onto big screens across the country. And it certainly wouldn’t be met with open arms by women (and some men, though far fewer) everywhere. But somehow society has deemed this sexually charged movie, and the book series it’s based on, acceptable to be part of mainstream media.

As such, it’s a fantastic opportunity for such a movie to make some tremendous leaps in changing social norms of what is and is not acceptable. But instead, the poorly crafted film seems to simply reduce adult audiences to giggling schoolgirls, exciting some, but leaving most laughing. While there is some actual comedy in the movie – more than anticipated – most of the laughter comes at the repetitive and shockingly dull sex scenes. For being a movie about an eccentric and somewhat disturbed man who’s into bondage and S&M, the film’s most “extreme” scenes are unlikely to excite anyone who has spent time on the Internet’s sauciest sites. Once you’ve seen the two lead characters naked (and Grey not even fully), there’s little else to get aroused about.

For conservatives and prudes alike, “50 Shades of Grey” will no doubt push some buttons, both good and bad. The film does leave viewers with a strong statement on a women’s ability to assert her place in a male-dominated relationship. But because of horribly cheesy dialogue and nothing but filmmaking cliches, the movie is little more than “50 Shades of Meh.”

Of course, this being a web site covering largely theme park / themed entertainment topics, this review would not be complete without noting that this film is released by Universal Pictures. It seems tremendously unlikely that “50 Shades” would become a Universal Studios theme park attraction, though that would certainly give new meaning to the term “ride.” (Perhaps it could replace Twister?) But there’s little doubt it will play an amusing part in this year’s performance of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure during Halloween Horror Nights.


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Posted on February 12, 2015
Topics: Entertainment, Special EventsTags: , , ,

This Valentine’s Day Weekend, haunted attractions across the country are opening for a bloody good time. After all, what better way is there to guarantee snuggling with a loved one than when crazed killers are coming after you?

Not too far from Orlando, The Shallow Grave haunted house is opening for “A Night to Dismember,” both on Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day, February 14th, from 7-11pm.

To amp up the scares, visitors will be walking through in the darkness, using only a flashlight to illuminate the descent into madness.

More information can be found at TheShallowGrave.com.


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Posted on January 20, 2015
Topics: Entertainment, Special Events, TheaterTags: ,

The increasing trend of bringing theater off the stage and into elaborate environments continues as the life and tales of Edgar Allan Poe have inspired the Maryland Historical Society proudly to create a new immersive experience called Mesmeric Revelations of Edgar Allan Poe.

Neither an historical reenactment nor a reproduction of Poe’s stories, Mesmeric Revelations of Edgar Allan Poe is an interpretive performance that will invite audiences into a Poe-inspired world that can be freely explored as stories unfold and secrets are revealed. Audience members will share moments directly with the characters, interact with the sets, explore the environment, and choose which stories to follow across six main characters that are pulled from Poe’s life and fiction.

It will all take place at the Enoch Pratt House, a circa 1840s Greek Revival home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Baltimore’s West End.

The two-hour performances will take place Thurs-Sat from March 26-early May, 2015, at 8 PM. For tickets and more information, visit myedgarallanpoe.com.


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