REVIEW: MIDSUMMER SCREAM
August 26, 2019
REVIEW: MIDSUMMER SCREAM
While some enjoy the summer for the sun and beach, Halloween lovers are busy preparing for the upcoming haunt season. In Southern California we do Halloween right. From amateur makeup artists to Disney Imagineers, Halloween in SoCal always showcases the best and most creative ghoulish sights and experiences in the world. The season officially gets its start during the Midsummer Scream Halloween & Horror Convention located in the Long Beach Convention Center. This convention is the largest of its kind, and draws thousands of attendees from all over the country who come for the fascinating guest panels, the spooky vendors, and the pop-up haunted houses/mazes.
On the way to the convention center, we encountered myriads of fellow Halloween lovers dressed up in costumes which were either personal creations or homages to horror icons. It was a sight to behold when we saw Freddy Krueger drinking a latte under the hot summer sun. As we neared the convention center, the sights became more dramatic as we entered into the building. The smell of candy corn scented fog accompanied us as we walked past Halloween celebrities like the Knott’s GTS Bride, the mini-clown Tiniwise, and the 8-foot tall breathtaking Pennywise portrayed by industrial music legend Keith Arems. Once on the showfloor, where all of the vendor booths were set up, we were welcomed by the spectacular 2019 Haunted Hayride (created by their new partner for this season: Plague Productions) which contained great photo ops with new characters and makeshift chainsaws. Nearby was one of our favorite maze makers, Boneyard Productions, who had a wonderful photo op with mini Cenobites. Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist) was also in the Boneyard zone, signing her handmade cans of “Captain Howdy’s Pea Soup”. More incredible meet and greets included the legendary Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser) and Cassandra Peterson (Elvira). More wonderful photo ops were hosted by Thirteenth Productions, Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor, and Beware The Dark Realm.
As always, our favorite treats were within the Hall Of Shadows. This blacked-out portion of the convention center was transformed into an immersive experience of pop-up mazes and beautifully crafted Halloween displays. Per tradition, the entrance to the Hall of Shadows was designed by CalHauntS, whose theme this year was Tiki Terror. The display incorporated fantastic detail and innovation, including a massive volcano that spewed smoke to compliment its flowing lava. Our favorite sights in this display were the possessed Tiki gods, animatronic creations who were busy roasting human remains (obtained from a nearby plane crash) over glowing red coals. CalHauntS, the builder collective containing some of our favorite maze makers, always provides the best and most beautiful Halloween entertainment, and their creative genius is always a delight to behold.
As we delved deeper into the fog and screams of the Hall of Shadows, we encountered the “greatest hits” of Halloween talent - incredible mazes and displays by Opechee Haunt, Rosehill Haunt, Twisted Minds Productions, and Wicked Pumpkin Hollow. Field of Screams was a breathtaking experience with their glorious Amazon jungle maze which contained smoke breathing snake statues whose eyes shot laser beams across the showroom every few minutes. Between the different mazes we caught sight of the legendary sliders, Decayed Brigade, who performed shows on the floor throughout the day.
What we’ve described so far is only a portion of what we enjoyed at Midsummer Scream. The panels, meet and greets, and theater shows were all packed in during the festive 2 day convention. We especially loved the Haunted Mansion panel with legendary Imagineer Bob Gurr. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Haunted Mansion, this panel discussed the history, design, art, and creation of this legendary Disney dark ride.
As the fog dissipated and the house lights came up - the convention center cleared and everyone exited back out into the summer heat. Through the sun bleached air there was an undeniable creeping presence of Halloween. Midsummer Scream opened the doors to the first stirrings of the haunt season, igniting the flames of our inner Jack-o'-lanterns; proving once again that this convention is the perfect medium to get the 2019 Halloween season going. We loved being among fellow haunt and horror fans alike to trade ideas, experience scares, and enjoy the company of other like-minded ghouls.
August 26, 2019
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