And now for the big ones. The qualifying medalists of the HHN Olympics. The top three houses at Halloween Horror Nights 27. And yeah, they’re all originals!
3) Scarecrow: The Reaping – We were promised a ton of scarecrows in this one and boy did Halloween Horror Nights deliver. This was perhaps the most consistent house of the bunch in terms of sheer scares per minute (SPM possible new term?) and relentless terror. The set design was stunning, featuring a ton of corn stalks and a mostly wooden facade, giving each location a very real-world earthy vibe. The sets were packed with more scareactors than you could count, with some definitely over six feet and beyond. In addition to being one of the best houses of the year, Scarecrow: The Reaping takes the prize for perhaps the most disgusting room of the year. For those of you that may not have attended this year’s event just yet, all I’ll say is that you enter what I believe was a stable populated by a number of crows perched on planks above your head, cawing loudly. Someone must’ve given those crows a laxative…
2) Hive – If you like your vampires bloodthirsty and terrifying, then this is the house for you. There are no sparkling vamps here, unless you count the great glowing effect in the eyes of some of the creatures haunting this cavern. Featuring clear inspiration from Salem’s Lot, Nosferatu, and perhaps even a little bit of The Lost Boys, Hive was packed to the brim with all manner of terrifying vampires ranging from pale gaunt beasts to seven foot tall Count Orlocs to hanging vampire children that reminded me of Eddie Munster. The makeup effects here were among the best I’ve ever seen in an HHN house before, the scares were consistent, the sound and ambient noise chilling, and the southern-style cavernous sets were expertly done. I had a blast going through this one.
1) Dead Waters – As soon as I entered the stage and turned the corner to see the stunning riverboat assembled in all its grimy swampy glory, I knew I was in for a real treat. I clearly remember turning to a buddy of mine and saying, “This is the best thing they’ve ever built”, referring of course to the creative team at Halloween Horror Nights, who deserve to be showered with every possible bit of praise for what they’ve been able to accomplish with this house. The interior sets were just as impressive, with every prop clearly showing some level of age and rust and dampness, which gave the house a very old, abandoned, forgotten feel. From entering the boat at a disorienting lopsided angle to my encounter with the Voodoo Queen, I was in constant awe of every heat lamp, every piece of moss and mildew, every leaky creaky board, every voodoo doll, all given its own care and detail, which is what Halloween Horror Nights does best: immersing guests in a fully-realized hyper-detailed world and then scaring the crap out of them.
Agree with these picks? What was your favorite house of the year? I hope everyone has enjoyed or will have the time to enjoy this year’s event because it really was a great one. And soon we get to start looking forward to 28…
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