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

  • ScareLA Shrieks Into Its Fifth Year June 21, 2017
    by Dot Cannon
    ScareKA 2017 logo

    (Graphic courtesy of ScareLA, and used with permission.)

    OK, this is going to scare you.

    And you’ll love every minute of it.

    ScareLA™, the world’s first summer Halloween convention, has a brand-new 2017 “haunt”: the Los Angeles Convention Center!

    And on August 5th and 6th,  “Halloween in the summer” will bring hundreds of Halloween vendors and thousands of fans together in the Convention Center’s West Hall.  That’s a show expansion, from last year, to 200,000 square feet, for an early taste of the eerie, gory, creepy and downright scream-worthy!

    ScareLA™‘s  2017 theme,  “Monsters Come Together”, celebrates the diversity, unity and tolerance that is the Southern California Halloween community.

    ScareLA™ raised gooseflesh and set a record number of ghosts, ghouls and goblins screaming (and laughing, making things and being creative) in 2016.  Twelve thousand attendees ventured into the dark and creepy caverns of last year’s event, according to ScareLA™ staff.

    (And yes, those are real snakes, in last year’s “Basement of Horrors”!)

    “2017 marks a milestone for ScareLA™ and our fifth-year anniversary,” said Lora Ivanova, ScareLA™ Executive Producer and Founder, in a recent press release. “To celebrate this occasion, we are brewing up an incredible mix of entertainment, and preparing for what is sure to be our biggest and best year yet. We are thrilled to welcome fans to our new home at the Los Angeles Convention Center, our city’s premier event venue. We believe our community deserves the very best and we are proud to take our place among the best shows in the country.”

    This reporter has had the pleasure of following the show since its inception in 2013.  Among our favorite highlights from past shows were:

    2014: “Meet the Krampus”, a presentation by Krampus Los Angeles Directors Al Ridenour (l) and Al Guerrero (r), who explained the Krampus folklore behind the hit movie;

    2014: The  45th-anniversary observation of the opening of Disneyland’s “Haunted Mansion”.  “Doombuggies” podcast host Jeff Baham moderated a discussion panel featuring Disney legends Bob Gurr (who came up with the concept of the “Doombuggies” that transport Haunted Mansion guests), and Alice Davis, wife of late Disney artist and animator Marc Davis!

    2015:  “Zombie Joe”‘s wonderfully-weird show, and our favorite “haunt” (of six!), which managed to startle us into a good, loud scream!

    2015: A new Guinness World Record, set right onsite at ScareLA™!   One thousand 1,000  ScareLA™ “fear freaks” and “scream specialists” opened 1,000 bags of Halloween Sticky Candy at the same time.

    (Another 2015 highlight  was a visit with “Krampus”, on the show floor.)

    2016: A “zombie ballet” troupe introduces another total favorite: Universal Studios Creative Director John Murdy and Art Director Chris Williams, previewing the new Universal Studios Halloween mazes they’d just created!

    2016 also saw the introduction of ScareLA™’s first original maze!

    As well as Brian Evan’s live performance of his original song “Creature”: the first, and only, music video filmed at the Bates Motel, of Psycho fame.

    And, our every-year favorites include Decayed Brigade‘s sliders show.

    As well as Wicked Lit’s spine-tingling preview of their Halloween performances.

    And ScareLA™’s DIY workshops.

    And, of course, we never want to miss the “Timewarp”, a la Rocky Horror.

    (Perhaps the best thing about ScareLA™?  No matter if you’re a “make-my-blood-run-cold” Halloween aficionado, or more an”Elvira” enthusiast, you’ll have a blast.  ScareLA™’s exhibits, shows and special events span the full scary spectrum.)

    Over Coffee® is delighted to wish ScareLA™ a very Happy “Scarenniversary”!

    For a look back, here is a 2014 interview which ScareLA™ founder Lora Ivanova was kind enough to give us, as we first went independent with the podcast, in which she explains the origins of ScareLA™.

    Meanwhile, we can’t wait to see what Lora and her staff are brewing up, this year.

    ScareLA™ invites you to “celebrate Halloween early” as they haunt the Los Angeles Convention Center’s West Hall, 1201 South Figueroa Street, Saturday and Sunday, August 5th and 6th, 2017.  Here’s the link for information and registration.


  • 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.


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