This haunted house is offensive!

by  on Nov.11, 2014, under Haunted Houses, Rant

gacy2I’ve seen a lot of haunters losing their minds over haunts that they deem to be far too extreme.  They’re offended that there’s a haunt that’s for adults only with intense sexuality and nudity.  They’re put off that a haunt in New York actually involves the customer in the scenes and gives them a fairly terrifying or psychologically abusive experience. Their jumping on a band wagon to condemn a haunted house for using real serial killers in Chicago as part of their event.  Something that’s been done over and over again in haunts all over the country for decades.

While I’m not sold on the more extreme haunts where people are literally tortured by actors, I’m all for them being in operation and out there.  Its not my cup of tea but obviously it is for some.  These are events that do lower numbers and have, no doubt, lots of legal waivers they make customers sign off on.  I’m not really offended by this but I can see how the public might be, however haunters should know better than to publicly denounce another haunt as offensive.

Its a the job of horror and haunted houses for that matter to push boundaries.  Haunts should take people to places they may find uncomfortable and scary.  That’s the whole point right?  I’m pretty sure it is.  So what’s wrong with making people uncomfortable with a guy dressed as John Wayne Gacy, or terrifying a customer by pulling them into the story and making them do something in order to get out? Is it in band taste? Hell yes!  It will offend some, thrill others, and scare the rest! This is what a haunted house can and should do if the owners are so inclined.  There’s no rule that says all haunted houses have to be sensitive happy places.  There’s plenty of room for both spicy haunts and mild ones.

“Haunts should take people to places they may find uncomfortable and scary.  That’s the whole point right?”

The adult only haunts with nudity seem to be on the rise and you have to be an adult to go through it.  If I choose to go to something like this and pay my money for the ticket then I have a right to do so.  Just like the owners have a right to sell me the ticket.  Is it extreme and sleazy?  Sure it will be seen that way by many people but clearly that haunt is not trying to appeal to a broad audience and they won’t have the kind of attendance a haunt that eschews these themes will.  They have to contend with the same issues as any haunt. Safety codes, fire codes, complaining neighbors, bad press, good press, and the like.  Will it take down the haunt industry? No I don’t think so.

“Safety should be our top concern not content!”

Unfortunately 2014 reminded everyone the real danger is haunted events that don’t take safety seriously and that’s what can possibly take down the industry.  This year saw at least 3 people die in haunted hayride accidents and in all cases it was a lack of safety and oversight that caused these deaths.  No one should ever get hurt at a haunted event let alone die!  The industry as a whole should be far less concerned about what they find offensive about certain haunts and instead be concerned with making a concerted effort to make haunted houses safe!  This should be the goal of any and all haunted house associations.  They shouldn’t be commenting on haunts they think are offensive. Instead they should be out there putting together some type of safety code to protect not only the customers but the haunted house owners and actors.   Safety should be our top concern not content!

I realize the states and cities are expected to make sure these haunts are up to code and I know that most are pretty tough  and expect a lot of safety protocols in place.  But there are still places out there that don’t put safety first and clearly the haunt industry should be taking a stand together to do something about it!  This has been the biggest issue in the industry for as long as I have been involved in it and now is the time to get in front of it before it gets spun out of control by the media next season.  Lets make 2015 all about keeping customers safe so our industry has a long future ahead of it.

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The Case for a Green Hornet TV Series

by  on May.14, 2014, under Rant, Television

GH11-cov-LauI imagine most young people only know the Green Hornet as the crappy Seth Rogan film that came out a few years ago.  A film that actually had some comedic potential when Stephen Chow was attached to it not only as the Kato character but also sitting in the directors chair.  That all changed when he left the project and it became the mediocre boring film it is.  However The Green Hornet has a much longer history going back to the 1930’s where it started as a radio serial.  Later it became a part of the Saturday matinee serials that played in film houses throughout the 1940’s before TV became a factor.  But it perhaps became most noteworthy for the short lived TV version that aired in for just 26 episodes in 1966-67.  This series found an unknown Chinese actor by the name of Bruce Lee playing the Hornet’s sidekick, Kato!  When I was a kid and watched old re-runs of this show it was Kato that I found the most exciting and cool part of the show.  The car, the Black Beauty was probably second and The Hornet was last.  Bruce Lee’s Kato was pretty amazing and it was very progressive for its time to have an Asian man playing a main character in the 1960’s.  Remember during this same time period they had a very non-asian David Carradine playing a Chinese immigrant in “Kung Fu”.

So recently I’ve been reading Kevin Smiths Green Hornet Comic book series.  Its based of his unfilmed screenplay he wrote for a Hornet film long before Seth Rogan stepped into the Green Fedora, and its pretty damn good!  The series begins with the original Britt Reid and Kato back in the day doing their thing to fool criminals into thinking their on their side but in reality the duo are cleaning up the streets and making Century City Safe!  They pull off one last job that assures the safety of the city for a long time to come and decide to hang up their masks and move on with their lives.  Britt Reid is a new father with a newborn son while Kato decides to return to Japan and clean up the corruption there. (more…)

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A Rant about Funny Viral attempts at Haunted House Videos

by  on Jan.30, 2013, under Halloween, haunted house commercials, Haunted Houses, Rant

scarySo there seems to be a growing trend in the Haunted House industry to do silly funny videos in hopes of becoming the next “Gangnam Style” or “Harlem Shake” viral sensation. I’ve done videos before in hopes of them becoming viral and I’ve pretty much given up on it. I’ve actually listened to so called “web professionals” offer advice on doing viral style videos to let more people know about your business. In the past I’ve done videos with the intention of creating something funny that might go viral. I can tell you now this is exactly the wrong approach for any video project!

 

First the most OBVIOUS reason: The chances of your video going viral are astronomical. There’s very little you can personally do to facilitate a video going viral. It all depends on chance. I hear professionals say that all it takes is one person spreading it to some friends to get the ball rolling but that’s a lie. It takes thousands of people finding something funny or interesting enough about YOUR video to take the time to tweet it, facebook it, or email it to a their friends. The chances of that are microscopic so why should you base your entire production on creating something that in all likelihood will languish in Youtube obscurity? Why waste all that creative effort on something that you think might be funny or clever enough to go viral?

The Most important reason however, is your brand. Let’s say you own a haunted house that’s known for being Terrifying. People make the trek from miles away just to see a truly scary haunted attraction. But then you have some actor or web professional convince you that you need to have a viral video. So you get all your scariest actors in make up and have them dancing around and singing. Boom! There goes the scary from all your featured monsters!

This really really bothers me and I’m seeing so many haunted attractions doing it lately. STOP! Why are you diminishing your brand? The whole point of going to a haunted house is to get scared and have fun. Its not to watch actors in masks frolicking around to the latest pop music sensation! You’re doing it wrong and missing the point. I don’t care how slick and professional your video looks your not selling soda pop your selling fear! So make something that compliments what you do! Make something that’s scary!

Here’s the key: Go into a video project with the intention of making something creative and representative of your attraction. If you think it should be funny because your haunted house is funny then go for it. But if you are doing a serious event that’s seriously scary then make a video that represents that. Don’t ruin your scary characters by having them acting like clowns. There’s nothing wrong with having some comedy in your attraction but that’s not going to be the biggest selling point. People go see horror movies because they want to be scared. You don’t see horror movie trailers promoting the funny bits and one liners that might be in the movie.

Bottom line: Make videos that sell your haunt. Not videos that promote a fad or humor in hopes of internet gold.

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So long Supernatural, its been fun.

by  on Jul.16, 2012, under Horror Television, Rant

The TV series supernatural started back in 2005 and I watched it simply by chance and was very surprised by how good it was. It was something similar to shows like “The X-Files” but it was self aware. It knew the subject matter of monsters, vampires, and ghosts was silly and the characters pointed that out. The two brothers, Sam and Dean, went out each week helping some poor damsel in distress with her ghost or monster problem. Ultimately each season led up to a larger storyline and a final big baddie for the brothers to fight. By season three the larger story arc was becoming a very well developed war between heaven and hell with Sam and Dean right smack in the middle of it. In season 5 the war culminated in a final showdown between the Devil and the Angel Michael. Sam sacrifices himself in order to trap the devil back to Hell in a final moment of brotherly love. Dean survives to go live a normal life with a woman he was in love with. It was a perfect ending for the characters. Dean who always had the weight of the world on his shoulders and desired more than anything to have a normal life. Sam who always rejected the life of a hunter and left his family behind to attend school realizes family is everything and dies to protect his brother and the world. The series could, and should have, ended right there but it didn’t.

Series creator Eric Kripke left the show satisfied with the story he told for 5 seasons (as he should be) and handed the reigns over to new producers and writers who came in to soft reboot the series. Season 6 found Sam resurrected from Hell and Dean eventually pushes away his girlfriend to re-join Sam and be a hunter again. The show slowly became more about jokes than storylines and I found myself increasingly dissapointed in the episodes. The snappy one-liners that once so complimented the series darker storylines now become the focus of the series. It wasn’t nearly as good as it was the first 5 seasons but it was still entertaining.

At the end of Season 6 it started to look like the next big bad was going to be chthuhlu but that didn’t pan out. Instead we got a crappy race of creatures called Leviathan that were hell bent on making Americans fat and eating them. They’re leader was a walking parody of a Republican named “Dick” which led to Sam and Dean making Dick jokes the entire season. The Dick jokes got old about 2 episodes in. Dick was a boring villain and the Levithans plans got increasingly ridiculous as they were revealed each week. They were fattening up americans with food additives at fast food restaurants just so they could eat them. Then by the season finale they were trying to figure out a way to kill skinny people with fast metabolisms because they suddenly don’t like eating skinny people?!

The season finale was a mess of convenient things happening in the nick of time so the boys can kill the Leviathan and wrap up the season. With very few exceptions season 7 was a massive failure. The show was always funny but it used to know how to balance that with story. But season 7 became too meta for its own good and it lost a lot of what made it work well in the past. The Leviathan plot was too silly and ultimately dumb.

Amazingly season 8 begins this fall but I won’t be there to watch it. The show has lost the magic that made it work and I don’t want to watch it wimper and die. So long Supernatural. We had a lot of fun but its time to move on.

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The failure of AMC’s The Killing

by  on Jun.19, 2012, under Millennium, Rant, reviews

So AMC’s The Killing finally wrapped up and for those of us that held out we were rewarded with a outcome that was pretty dumb. I didn’t see the first season of The Killing until it showed up on Netflix so it wasn’t too painful to watch over the course of a few days as opposed to 13 weeks. A beautiful young girl named Rosie Larsen was found murdered in the trunk of a car. Two detectives are assigned to find out what happened and we follow Holder (Joel Kinnaman) and Linden (Mireille Enos) as they break the news to the Larsen family and then begin the work of piecing together the final days of Rosie Larsen in an attempt to find her killer. The first season of the show we seemed to have a new prime suspect with every episode. We were treated to so many red herrings that it became frustrating. Then the biggest punch in the balls came with the season 1 finale where it seemed like we were getting the answer to who killed Rosie but after a lot of build up we’re told it was all just a set up to end the cadidacy of a mayoral candidate. Then season 2 began and things only got worse.(Spoilers ahead) (more…)

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