|Hollywood attracts many people looking at sidewalk stars or footprints in concrete. This time of year, ghosts of Hollywood’s past can be found at Paramount Studios, Hollywood Forever and the Haunted Hayride in Griffith Park as well as the infamous Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios.
To some, it is the old Celtic tradition of Samhain, others, the time when the veil between the human and spirit realms is the thinnest, but to most, it is the yearly celebration of Halloween. As the spirit of Halloween beckons to you like Stephen King’s "It" clown, Pennywise, Hollywood is booming with even more attractions than the usual scene. Like Old Twelfth Night, people from all walks of life come together to celebrate and create a fantasy outside of their everyday selves. What better place to bring that spirit to life than diverse and lively Hollywood?
Paramount Studios has one of the most vibrant and eccentric histories in Hollywood. The reason celebrities are even referred to as “stars” is because of the original 24 stars above the iconic Paramount depicted all 24 of their actors. Paramount Tours has the perfect experience for movie buffs and fans of Hollywood history. This time of year, Paramount adds its After Dark Tour, which incorporates the fun, fact-filled stories of the regular tour but with a dark twist. It also shares its lot with the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, which is the resting place of the stars behind some of Hollywood’s most notorious and unsolved stories and featured in the tour. The After Dark Tour caters to those who want to know the darker side of the industry and the real horror stories behind the people who still haunt the studio lot. It begins with an introduction to some of the history while having champagne to toast the last bit of glitz and glamour in the industry before the After Dark Tour begins. To some, the drinks provide an air of Hollywood glamour while surrounded by movie memorabilia, to others it is a little liquid courage for the tour to come.
If the haunted feeling of an empty unlit historic studio lot and tales about where people have died and other surprises isn’t enough to scare you, stepping onto one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles in the middle of the night surely will. For "American Horror Story" fans, they get a real look behind the mysterious story of Rudolph Valentino from Season Five, which depicts stories based on true Hollywood history, as they stand a few feet away from his crypt. There, as you listen to stories from his mysterious demise and about the deaths of the people around him that followed, you can see for yourself that it’s true that his burial site always has a bunch of roses from the one they call the “Woman in Black.”
A few miles north of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is Hollywood’s beloved Griffith Park, which has a dark history of its own. It is also home of the Haunted Hayride. Located at Griffith Park’s Old Zoo (an abandoned area with a few haunted stories itself), this year’s Haunted Hayride theme reflects current popular scares: clowns. The attraction features four zones of terror: Haunted Hayride, House Of Shadows, Trick Or Treat and, of course, Purgatory. Aside from unleashing a legion of clowns unlike any seen before, the Haunted Hayride features an all-new layout for Purgatory this year, which includes Theatre Macabre, Scary-Go-Round, Grub Shack, Bootique, psychic readings and twenty-foot Living Bonfire.
The clown theme has been in demand for a while and has finally come to fruition this year. The woman behind Haunted Hayride, Melissa Carbone, explains to fans, “Once we started, we got so sucked into this rabbit hole of incredible clown content that we couldn’t just do one finale scene. So we decided to take the number one fan favorite experience of our entire history and make it the entire thirty-acre attraction.”
The Shining at Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Nights
To the west of the Haunted Hayride is Universal Studios Hollywood, home to one of the most frightening and thrilling experiences of the year: Halloween Horror Nights. The event brings in big numbers of people who wait for hours just to experience the spectacle. Its mazes are everyone’s favorite horror stories brought to life in an almost exact rendition of the films they are based on. Creative Director of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Horror Nights, John Murdy, confirmed that every detail is considered in making the mazes from what clothes a character wears to a picture and frame hanging on the wall. Each detail is replicated to as close as you can get to the movie. Horror Nights is very much geared toward the uber fan from the details of the presentation to the exclusive scenes presented in the maze that didn’t make the final cut of the film. “We’re always looking for new ways to scare people,” Murdy said.
This year, Horror Nights bring the new "Insidious" and "The Shining" houses. The "Insidious" house is Elise Rainer’s old childhood home in New Mexico taken from the upcoming movie in the franchise, "Insidious: The Last Key." Although the franchise began in the recent decade, it has garnered somewhat of a cult status similar to classic horror films, and the creators of Horror Nights keep that in mind. The Rainer house includes scenes from past movies in the series to cater to major fans of the films.
Even more surprises await fans as "The Shining" attraction brings the iconic Stanley Kubrick film and Stephen King story to life as the Overlook Hotel. Everything from the unique carpeting to the numbers on the doors of the hotel are all matched exactly to the ones in the film. Murdy assured that every stand-out, iconic and bizarre scene from the classic film will be paid homage during the maze. The Overlook at Horror Nights captures the essence of a feeling of utter dread from the film while holding back on too many jump scares in order to match the story as told in the movie. This particular maze is the ultimate for the super fan as it captures even the tiniest details, sounds, music and colors from the film. How the maze recreates the iconic flooding elevator scene is another surprise.
Whether you like a good scary story of true events, an insane adventure through the depths of a haunted abandoned zoo or your favorite horror movie come to life, Hollywood has it all for locals and visitors alike throughout the Halloween season. So join the unique experiences in celebrating this special time of year, the spirit of Samhain awaits you…DH