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Cody's EP review


Cody
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Well, my quick blurb EP review ended up getting surprise shuffled over into the review forum (dammit Jeremy). So I may as well buckle down and edit this into a proper review of the event. Some caveats before I begin:

1. I didn't see either of the shows, but Rocky Horror is generally only differentiated by the actor quality. From what I hear they're much better than last year, but Rocky is an awkward weak link with a bad wig.

2. I saw all or almost all of the scares in each house. I didn't have a "bad run" or go through during a cast change at any point. I even turned around after passing booholes to see how they scared the people behind me.

3. These are posted in the order that I did them.

Houses

* Aliens vs. Predator: This house needs work. I saw them on cast B (the only house cast I can identify for sure), and I'm a bit disappointed. It's an extremely detailed house with a lot of potential, but the actors and puppeteers need to put more into it. The xenomorph puppets didn't move enough or fast enough for me to be satisfied with them, the Predators moved a bit slowly and awkwardly (one of them tried to make warlike poses at an alien across the hall and it came off as embarrassing more than anything), and the human actors seemed embarrassed to act out more and own their spaces. The Predator costumes look good in the dark and include the shoulder laser, but they start to look a bit cheap in detail; anyone who saw Bill & Ted in 2009 will understand. Fair warning, this is this year's "tunnel house". The crawlspace is the last scene, but I don't know what they have in the alternate path or if they have anything at all for scares. I'd be very disappointed if they didn't, as that would end the house on a sour note for anyone disabled.

* Dracula Untold: Surprisingly, this house was quite impressive despite my ambivalent feelings about the film. It feels a lot like a cross between the Dracula and Frankenstein houses from 2009 and The Forsaken from 2011 in terms of set design. The whole house takes place during the castle siege, so don't expect any cave action. The actors were quite good throughout and the house is set up well, with some neat effects (my personal favorite is the arrow room; you'll know it when you see it). It's a very fun house and I'm excited to go through it again tomorrow.

* From Dusk til Dawn: This was the sleeper hit for me. The sets are repetitive and not very high quality (they feel a little cheap), but the actors made up for it with their energy. I'm a jaded 9-year vet of the event by this point so the booholes were pretty obvious to me, but someone less experienced would easily be a victim of this house and the actors worked very hard for their scares. They've got a barker at the facade, so make sure to repeatedly bug him about what happened to the top half of the bar's sign.

* Roanoke: This house was decent, and has room for improvement. It's gory and cool and has a lot of potential, but I wasn't really feeling it from some of the actors and it feels like they're still growing into their roles. The rooms get repetitive after the first three or four and there's not really any big effects or clever scenes that wowed me, even the finale. Also, anyone who's a fan of Attack on Titan is going to be laughing hysterically toward the end of the house and I will leave it at that.

* Dollhouse of the Damned: It was really hard to choose between this and Giggles & Gore for my top original house, but Giggles edges it out just a bit right now thanks to the actors. Dollhouse is disturbing and creepy on a level that most HHN houses fail to achieve and I may or may not still be suffering PTSD from the crib scene (you'll understand why). It has beautiful, detailed sets and a lot of creativity.

* Giggles & Gore: This barely beat Dollhouse thanks to the ferocity of the actors. It's a loud, in-your-face house with wonderful detail and set design and good placement of the actors. It starts out at a high note and only grows from there as the house goes on. As the name suggests, it's probably one of the goriest houses.

* Halloween: Halloween is the top for me so far. The amount of detail in the sets and sounds is on par with American Werewolf from last year, and you can tell that a lot of love went into making this house. The Michaels are imposing and fast and there's even a handful of scares from other actors. Many of the famous scenes are there, and there's even some references to other Halloween movies (even the third one) and a certain sweater.

* The Walking Dead: ......hoo boy. Please tell me that this really is the end of the line, because this bitch has overstayed its welcome. The house was decent at best, which unfortunately means that lengthening the house to around 10 minutes just means that it extends a lukewarm delivery rather than giving you more of what you want. Despite the claim that this house features sections outside of the soundstage, this is only partially true: the facade is built on the outside of the building and has about one actor in it. Speaking of the facade, the set design made me facepalm: all the concrete (including the prison facade) ends up looking like painted plywood or cardboard, regardless of what material actually made it. The house does indeed feature hordes, but as expected they're stage tricks for the most part (including one embarrassing gimmick from Hollywood last year that I literally laughed out loud at). It does vaguely follow the plot of season 4, so viewers can guess at the layout of the house from there. I'll do this house again once, maybe twice again this year if the line is short. But I think I'd have more fun sitting and watching the scarezones.

Scarezones

The Purge: This is my favorite right now, having seen both casts but preferring what I think is B. The sound design adds to the chaotic feel and gives the actors a lot of atmosphere to play off of; a lot of people discount how important the backing atmosphere is for a scarezone or house, but I can guarantee that it wouldn't be quite as awesome without the music and sound. The actors worked their space well, though they tend to congregate around the Mummy area and slightly past that with only a handful of actors wandering to the edge of the zone. Some of them need a little work on picking their targets, but there's clearly a lot of veterans who are experienced at pulling off team scares and work together well. The scarezone also includes a scripted auction of victims that starts with the bread truck and its motorcycle escorts coming out; the vehicles remain in the zone afterward, but they simply make a circuit around the less crowded streets instead of cutting through the crowd like the 2006 Deadtropolis bikers.

MASKerade: This scarezone has a lot of potential, and it relies on the actors learning their space and role more. The girls need some more practice moving in those big dresses, and the dancing couples need to work on their team play so they can pull off team scares with more coordination. But I like where they're starting and I think they can get something good out of it.

Bayou of Blood: This zone is a bit disappointing, but I'm hoping they can pull through. My mother and sister saw a different cast than I did; they reported almost zero effort on the part of the actors (including one girl who appeared to barely be in character), while I saw three who were doing a good job (black afro lady is number one!). I missed any sacrifices, and I'm not even sure if they were going on. The whole zone was quite empty of guests, so I think the soundstage houses and the Purge off on the other side of the park were distracting everyone tonight. One big flaw with this zone is a distinct lack of atmospheric sound and music. Like I said with the Purge, atmosphere is key. Without setting the stage, the actors don't seem to mesh well with their surroundings.

Face Off: This is the true disappointment of the night. Face Off is set up a lot like 7 from 2011, with stages showing off the chosen creations and scareactors on the ground themed to each stage who actually get the scares. Unfortunately, the scareactors were doing relatively little scaring and seemed to be putting in a half-hearted effort. It has really great music, which should provide something for the guys and girls to play off of and pump them up (I know it does for me when I work the event), but they just weren't there. The zone ended up being a photo op more than anything.

Edited by Cody
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So.... In what way is the dollhouse disturbing? I don't doubt that it's that way, but I love creepy things :P Any chance of you being able to elaborate for meh without COMPLETELY spoiling the house?

It's really hard to elaborate without spoilers. But the costumes and set design play a big part in it, as well as the crib room. Just.....the crib room.

With most houses, you still feel like you're in a haunted house. Dollhouse has an atmosphere that makes you feel like you just accidentally walked into the lair of a bunch of serial killers while looking for the house.

Edited by Cody
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Just a quick note about AvP - the actors weren't embarrassed, they were in pain. There were a number of issues, from wardrobe problems hurting the performers to numerous effects outages throughout the night causing some blown-out vocal chords, that were holding the house back. Seems like no matter how many years we play this game, some things never change!

These are all valid concerns you brought up. Trust me, they're already being addressed.

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I'm bummed to hear about the Bayou scare zone. I thought I read earlier that the speculation was that this zone would be on the level of awesomeness attributed to "Grown Evil" which is one of my fave scare zones ever. I hope they make some adjustments and improvements to it. Even so - it's NOT TWD, so I'll take it.

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with the AVP tunnel thing, I will be able to let you know if they have an alt path by tomorrow. Since I guide my mother who is disabled through the house. So I will have to take her through the alt path.

Of course after we go through it, I will go back in by myself to experience the tunnel.

Edited by Doctor Cogstein
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I agree with JDW on this one. EP is always lacking in some ways, and some things aren't even there until Opening Night. But EP nights are mainly for the purpose of seeing the performance and efficiency of the scareactors, the lighting, sound editing, shows, props, puppets, etc. then after seeing the performances, everything that needs improvement will be fixed, adjusted. This is the night of tweaks, groove-finding and testing. So I'm not worried about getting my money's worth at opening night, unless it's the same as EP night. Usually, I don't judge HHN by rehearsal night.

Edited by RockinSight
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with the AVP tunnel thing, I will be able to let you know if they have an alt path by tomorrow. Since I guide my mother who is disabled through the house. So I will have to take her through the alt path.

Of course after we go through it, I will go back in by myself to experience the tunnel.

I know for a fact that they have an alternate path, since I saw it with an ops girl behind the Marine directing people into the crawlspace. I'm just concerned about it having scareactors or effects or something because otherwise the house is ending on an empty, loud hallway for any disabled guests.

Nope. They have a few of the recognizable gags around the event (crawlspace, every mirror trick, etc.), but no tunnel.

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I am a little torn not going opening night but at the same time I am glad to be going on Saturday for my first night. Sounds like this year is going to be fantastic. Also seems that with some of the more complicated effects (Walking Dead not withstanding :lol: ) more tweaking is needed to "get it right". I have convinced my girlfriend to go this Saturday and then two weeks later (we got Rush of Fear passes) to show her how much the event can evolve and improve after the cast has had a chance to find their groove and creative has done their night to night overhauls.

I'm sure I speak for a lot of the folks on here when I say thanks to Cody for sharing your insight!

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What is this crib room? Everyones been talking about it and does anyone know if there is a wendigo in the finale of Roanoke?

The crib room is I think the second room in Dollhouse. I don't want to spoil the effects in it. I will only say that it's the moment that I started to be massively creeped out.

For Roanoke, yes and no.

Edited by Cody
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