by Steve Biodrowski, special to Creepy LA
Arguably the greatest fan of haunted attractions in the Los Angeles area is Steve Biodrowski. He makes an effort every not to just visit the professional haunts, from Knott’s Scary Farm to Scary House, but also as many homegrown, “amateur” yard haunts as possible. His website, Hollywood Gothtique, is crypt-full of reviews and video of the scariest spots in town, from this year and Halloween’s past. Because he’s the expert, I asked Steve if he’d share with CreepyLA the top 5 yard haunts in town:
It’s Halloween night and you’re too old to trick-or-treat, so what do you do? You could spend $40 or $50 to wait in line for hours at Knott’s Scary Farm Halloween Haunt or Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. Or you could do the smart thing: visit the many yard haunts around Los Angeles – for free!
You’ve probably seen these amateur efforts popping up in your neighborhood. Some are so elaborate they are actually worth a special trip, but with many of them open only a night or two around Halloween, you will never get to all of them in time. Therefore, we offer this list of 5 Halloween Yard Haunts Not to Be Missed.
#1: House at Haunted Hill, 4400 Saltillo Street in Woodland Hills
Yes, it really is on a hill, with a huge yard filled with props, decorations, and moving mechanical devices. Elaborate lighting, sound effects, and music (all timed and coordinated with the mechanics) add to the spooky atmosphere. The haunt was great in 2006. 2007 promises to be even more elaborate; with a 20-minute scripted show featuring original score, it sounds like a mini-musical.
October 27-31, 7:00pm till 10:00pm (later on Saturday and Halloween Night)
#2: Boney Island, 4602 Morse Avenue in Sherman Oaks
This is the 10th and final year for SIMPSONS-producer Rick Polizzi’s “Skeleton Carnival.” This is one of the most whimsical and colorful yard haunts you will ever see – a laugh riot of sideshow attractions such as “Trick or Trout” and “Rotten Candy”. There is really nothing scary here, so this is perfect if you have kids.
Open dusk till 9:00pm until Halloween
#3: Malice in Wonderland, 907 N. California Street in Burbank
Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this one. Rotten Apple Productions changes the name of their haunt each year, depending on the theme. Unlike most yard haunts, this one actually provides a short walk-through maze filled with creepy delights. And it’s all for a good cause: the haunt accepts donations for charity (the Burbanks Arts Foundation this year).
October 27, 28, 31, 7:00pm until 10:00pm.
#4: The Haunt with No Name…Yet, 19351 Hatteras Street in Tarzana
Despite the identity crisis evident in the name (or lack thereof), this is an exceptionally spooky haunt perfectly located in the expansive yard of a corner house located on a very dark residential street. There are few if any mechanical effects; this haunt relies more on lighted Jack-o-Lanterns, elaborate statues, and fog-filled cauldrons for its spooky effects. It also has the best version of a gag we have seen at other haunts: an open tomb with a ghost seeming to float just inside the door.
October 28-31, 7:00pm till 10:00pm (later on Halloween Night).
#5: This is a tough pick:
Jackson Manor (22506 N. Myers Street in Burbank) would qualify, but they are not doing their walk through maze this year
(just decorating their yard).
The Witch’s Castle (4218 Shadyglade Avenue in Studio City) is another good one for children, but it is not quite up to the level of Boney Island.
The Pirate Cave (7919 Lasaine Avenue in Northridge) is also nice, especially if you want something different from the cemetery stylings of most yard haunts.
However, I will go out on a limb and award this slot to a haunt that I have never visited but which has received such glowing recommendations that it a must-see for me this year: The House of Restless Spirits, located in Santa Monica at 1008 Euclid Street, is run by a professional magician and an aerospace engineer; it’s no surprise, therefore, that Tim Doggett (“Effects Affector” at the late, lamented Hallowed Haunting Grounds) says the “amazing” illusions “blew me away.”
Open 7:00pm until 11:00pm on October 30 and 31.
Get more information on Halloween yard haunts at Hollywood Gothtique.