Boo!  We love Halloween; here are some ways creative innovators are celebrating it.

  • A New Influx of Zombies October 28, 2016

    jon-and-jon-with-friends21Zombies are once again stalking Knott’s Berry Farm.

    And Jon Asperin and Jon Cooke are the creative minds behind the mayhem.


    Asperin and Cooke  co-designed the new interactive maze Black Ops: Infected.  Black Ops: Infected, one of the largest mazes ever created for “Knott’s Scary Farm”, runs through Monday, October  31st.

    But, if you’re unfamiliar with the way this works: guests won’t just be looking at the zombies and screaming.  Black Ops: Infected enlists visitors’ “help”.

    The scenario is a continuation of the Special Ops: Infected series, first introduced in 2014.  In the 2016 installment, a zombie apocalypse has just occurred.  Guests arrive on the scene of a devastated city.  Now, their job is to form squads and help fight off the intruders.


    At Scare LA’s summertime Halloween convention, in Pasadena, Asperin and Cooke talked about the experience of creating the new maze, and offered a preview of what visitors can expect.

    On this edition of Over Coffee® you’ll hear:
    • How zombies first came onto Jon Asperin’s creative radar;
    • How he and Jon Cooke met and came up with the idea of the “Infected” series;
    • What the experience is like, premiering the first day of a new “Infected” maze;
    • Jon Cooke’s thoughts on the meeting/collaboration with Jon Asperin;
    • A “special appearance” by some unexpected scary guests;
    • What it was like, to develop the “Infected” series;
    • How Knott’s Scary Farm has implemented a new system for attendees;
    • One of the obstacles Jon and Jon encountered, that helped them grow and develop their interactive maze;
    • What the experience is like, for “Black Ops: Infected” attendees;
    • Survival tips, for navigating through hungry zombies in “Black Ops: Infected”;
    • The time factor involved, in creating the new 2016 maze;
    • Advice for anyone who would like to work full-time designing Halloween mazes;
    • Jon and Jon’s favorite memories of working “Infected” over the past two years.
  • “Terrifying” Talent October 21, 2016


    Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights are in full swing, right now.

    And one of their two brand-new mazes took eleven years to become a reality.

    That’s how long Universal had been negotiating for the rights to the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, said Universal Studios Creative Director John Murdy and Art Director Chris Williams.  Both had long hoped to have the opportunity to create an Exorcist maze for Halloween Horror Nights.

    This year, John and Chris finally had the chance to do that.


    At August Halloween convention ScareLA, in Pasadena, John and Chris previewed the two new mazes they were creating for Halloween 2016.    Not surprisingly, their new Exorcist maze was the highlight of their presentation.


    Among John’s tasks as Creative Director is making certain an environment is authentic.  So, besides thinking about the visuals and audio, he had to consider scents.

    Since the other new maze he and Chris have created for 2016 is “Krampus”,  John told ScareLA attendees, he had to come up with the smell of “burned Christmas tree”.

    And for The Exorcist?  We will leave that to your imagination.  But we can’t say we envy him that part of the job.

    After their presentation, John and Chris talked briefly about their experiences, finally getting to bring The Exorcist to Halloween Horror Nights 2016.

    On this almost-Halloween edition of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • How John and Chris tapped into their own fears to make this particular maze especially scary;
    • The biggest creative challenge they faced, as they planned the setting and effects;
    • A somewhat spine-tingling story about the day they announced the “Exorcist” maze (do you believe in coincidences?  If not, these are going to scare you!)

    Universal Studios’  2016 “Halloween Horror Nights” are happening from now through October 31st.  Here’s the link for times and their four locations.


  • “Season of the Witch” Coming Up July 25, 2016
    by Dot Cannon
    (ScareLA logo ©2016 by BoogerVampire, and used with permission.)

    (ScareLA logo ©2016 by BoogerVampire, and used with permission.)


    Summertime is here.  It’s going to be dark, creepy, spine-tingling and filled with sliding zombies.

    Decayed Brigade1_edited-1


    At least, it will be if you’re in Pasadena, on August 6th and 7th, as ScareLA celebrates “Halloween in summer”!

    ScareLA, Los Angeles’ first Halloween convention, is just about to host its fourth annual convention.  (Though that doesn’t seem possible–already?  They started in 2013.)    This year’s theme is “Season of the Witch”, promises to brew up some nightmarish fun at the Pasadena Convention Center.

    This year, Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, will be the official “Halloween Host”, presiding over the ghoulish goings-on.

    not checked for zombies

    ScareLA premiered in Los Angeles in the summer of 2013, and just keeps getting better.  Though admittedly, you’re going to have to choose from a LOT of Halloween “treats”, sometimes happening at the same time.

    lantern workshop


    Make-and-take workshops, exclusive panels and presentations, and, of course, creepy mazes will all be a ghostly “given”.

    waiting for the panel


    spooky hollows

    Likewise, the previews of new Halloween attractions, at Southern California’s most popular October “haunts”–such as Universal Studios “Halloween Horror Nights”.

    after the announcement

    Pictured above are Universal Studios Art Director Chris Williams (l) and Creative Director John Murdy (r), during During Day 1 of Scare LA 2015,.  They’d just announced the addition of a new maze, for Halloween season: “Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home”.

    Once again, they’ll have speed dating.  Mobile “escape rooms” will be waiting to test your skills–and your sanity.

    But what else has us screaming with delight?  Some of the new program additions, in this fourth edition of ScareLA.

    zombie patrol_edited-2

    This year, attendees get to jump out of their seats at ScareLA’s Scare Screenings film program!  Scare LA’s “scream team” says in a news release that they received more than 2100 submissions, from 20 countries.

    From these, they wound up selecting 75 films: features,  cult classics, new indies,  documentaries and shorts.  For the first time ever, the ScareLA will present an “Audience Award”, so get ready to shriek your approval!

    makeup on the floor_edited-1


    Hair-raising selections will include Rodney Ascher’s “The Nightmare”.  This is a Sundance-selected film, named one of the “scariest documentaries ever”, on sleep paralysis.  (That scares us–how about you?)

    mike2 (2)

    You can also get goosebumps at “Tales of Halloween”, the Halloween film anthology.  Expect plenty of monsters, ghosts, ghouls and horrific good times, as eleven local directors envision what could happen in a quiet suburb on Halloween night.

    In addition, you’ll get to see the first music video ever filmed at the Bates Motel, of Psycho fame!  (Titled “Creature of the Bates Motel,”  it stars Brian Evans and comedian Carrot Top, and is authorized by the Alfred Hitchcock estate.   We’d die if we missed this one!)

    Scare Fair passport2


    Oh, wait a minute–you have small goblins to bring, and you don’t want to scare them into nightmares?  They can chill at family-friendly films, including Halloween Tricks, Zomedy and a special animated block.  Here’s the link to the screening schedule, Goblin-rated and otherwise.

    Another chillingly thrilling addition to the program?  Illusionist Todd Robbins has designed a brand-new one-hour show, especially for ScareLA!  Get ready to laugh, scream and question reality, as he holds you spellbound with “Dark Illusions and Even Darker Reality”.


    And there’s going to be a premiere: ScareLA‘s first-ever original haunt!  Called “Blood Offering: Legend of the Iron Witch”, it’s four times the size of any haunt attraction they’ve featured so far.  Two legendary haunt designers teamed up with ScareLA to create this one.  You’ll be getting shivers courtesy of maze master Brooke Adair Walters, of Knott’s Scary Farm fame, and prop master Donald Julson , who created props for Steven Spielberg!

    We’ve barely scratched the tombstone surface of all that’s going on at Scare LA in another eleven days.  One post certainly can’t do it justice.  But we will tell you–it’s scary creative, and will definitely have you under its spell.


    Scare LA’s fourth annual summer Halloween convention runs Saturday and Sunday, August  6th and 7th, from 11 am to 7 pm at Pasadena Convention Center, 300 East Green Street at South Euclid Avenue.  Here’s the link for more information.

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