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Freak Presents: My Review of HHN 25! (You waited long enough)


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About a week ago, I just had a grand ‘ol time at HHN 25! If any of you are familiar with these people, I got to meet up with Tristan (hhnskaterfan16), Sir Own Disney, Psycho Massacre Films, and some other people that I doubt you know. But I was there for two nights and was able to go through all of the houses at least three times. I’ll get right to my house-by-house review as well as the scarezones and shows. Grab a sandwich and a beer....or soda if you’re underage, cause this may take a bit. I’ll later post my comparison review to Orlando and Hollywood for another thread or post as this is going to be long enough as is.

Okay, before I get into everything, let me preface by saying that this event got way overcrowded Saturday night. Like RIDICULOUS. What a difference Friday and Saturday were. It was shoulder-to-shoulder, Disneyland on a holiday weekend crowded. The Express line for Insidious was THIRTY FREAKIN’ MINUTES. If it’s that long, then that is ridiculous. They need to sell out. It’s pathetic how many tickets they clearly oversell. I am glad for stay-and-scream. That’s a great system and a life-saver to get everything done. Okay, NOW to get to the houses. Oh, there will be some minor spoilers mentioned in here BTW.

The Walking Dead The Living and the Dead: I’m like many of you people on here. I love the show, but sick of it at HHN. At least this year, it wasn’t shoved down your throats like it is still in Hollywood. At least our TWD house was pretty descent this year. That being said, this wasn’t that good. That facade was REALY lazy. Looked NOTHING like Terminus. The gimmick of the Walkers scaring in a hot tub was ridiculously pointless. I mean, if we were going over a bridge, which was what I was expecting after hearing about this, then it would have been kinda cool. But that scene fails. I did appreciate how tall some of the sets were and liked how the forest scene was pulled off. They had mesh netting everywhere to cover the walls and it felt real. Unlike Hollywood where they STILL HAVE BLACK WALLS. But yeah, the scares didn’t work for me and it was too dimly lit in several areas for me to appreciate the design. It’s pretty clear A&D is intentionally making this house suck ‘cuz they’re sick of it. Hollywood did a lot of stuff better with this. Least favorite house of the event, by far.

Overall: D

The Purge: I am fully aware of the whole Scream debacle and what this house could’ve been. This house had to deal with a last-minute curveball and it shows. Oh my goodness it really shows; so much so, that it’s what make it the most interesting to me. Although I may have gotten a total of two good scares in my run throughs, I just didn’t like this house that much. Everything was either too dim or ZOMGZ STROBES EVERYWHEREZZZZ IM GOIN BLIIND too much. I was amused how they try to cover up all of the Scream stuff and recognized all of the scenes from the movie. They even kept the sound effects which was very amusing! They kept the smoke alarm and knife swing sound in the first room, which was funny. They even had the garage which I found  amusing. The whole fun of it for me was trying to see what scenes were from Scream and how it would’ve flowed. Overall, the house had some great talent, but the last-minuteness really showed. Yeah, minuteness is a word now. GET OVER IT CHUMP. I’ll cut them a little slack for what they had to go through. It’s just not my style though. It’s quite a shame seeing that the Scream house looked like it could’ve been good.

Overall: C

Insidious: Definitely one of the most impressive facades I’ve seen HHN do. I know the whole side-door entrance worked for Halloween, but it doesn’t make sense to do it here....especially if the entrance clearly shows it going inside the tent. I did enjoy this house, but I never got a lot of great scares in here. Sure I had a few, but I’ve never had a great run through. I did enjoy our version in LA more than this. Aside from the facade, I really felt like this maze didn’t really match up to the greatness that was Hollywood’s this year. Also, I want to say the lady in black’s make-up looked TERRIBLE. That aside, there were some nice sets and some good scares. Not in my favorites, that’s for sure, but it’s certainly not bad.

Overall: B-

Asylum in Wonderland 3D: Now, I don’t like 3D houses. They can be too cartoonish  the scares can be too obvious, and/or they can have very bland, or undetailed sets. Being that the setting is in an issue of a comic book series, the cartoonish factor I’m willing to let slide as it is naturally developed. Although I didn’t get a whole of of scares, I got some REALLY good ones. While the sets weren’t exactly amazing, I loved how they did everything humanly possible to disorient me in there. It really threw me off my guard and gave me a good jump in several areas. Certainly better than TITE 3D and I think Hollywood should take a hint from Orlando. THIS is how you do a 3D maze. You disorient the crap out of people and not make the scares so well-lit and obvious. It just would be nice to have a bit more elaborate sets.
Overall: B+

RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears: I enjoy it when house facades start to blast metal at the front. It really set the mood for the chaotic atmosphere inside. I liked the setting for the show as Hellgate Prison. The whole house was very high-energy and fun. I got some good scares in here. There were some parts that reminded me a bit of Hostel from 2011.Don’t have much else to say about this except that it was fun.

Overall: B

Body Collectors: Recollections: Oh man, the facade was BEAUTIFUL. The setting and atmosphere for the whole house was wonderful, the talent was great, and I loved the more theatrical scares. That was pretty cool. It’s really nice to see an old-school/gothic horror house. Great original concept. The snow was a nice effect, but my only gripe is that it didn’t really feel cold. Anyway, it’s a great sequel to Body Collectors. Certainly some of the best sets I’ve seen lately.

Overall: A      
Freddy Vs. Jason: .....or as some people like to call it, Jason Vs Freddy. IDK why people wold want to call it that way, but....whatever. This is tied with another house I will mention soon for house of the year. I’ve always gotten a great run through on this. The Jasons and Freddys were AWESOME in here. I never got to see the original NoES or F13 houses from Carnival of Carnage here or in Hollywood. I feel like this house redeemed that for me. Although I wish I could’ve seen that upside down room or mattress hallway from that house in ’07, it was really awesome being able to see a life-size Freddy’s house in he maze. The approach of going through F13, then NoES, and then battle was very fitting and it worked great. The payed homage to famous kills from the movies and also made it very epic. I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t gone yet, but I’ll hint at what I’m about to talk about. That scene with that wide prop above your head and that showed Jason unmasked was great to see. It felt like a mix of an actual nightmare and being put into Jason’s world. It was a great effect and was REALLY cool room. Oh, and Freddy wearing a “Camp Crystal Lake” tee was great to see. Fantastic scares, awesome scares (Had to keep a death grip on my souvineer cup to keep it from flying out of my hand!), and it was executed very well. Hollywood won’t be able to top it. The only thing I found odd about the house were the screens. IDK why they put that in there.

Overall: A+

An American Werewolf in London: This was my all-time favorite house back in 2013. The house was darn-near perfect. What’s really cool as an AWiL fan is that I have seen all three renditions of the house. 2013’s, Hollywood’s last year, and then this. Now I have something to boast about to Landis if I ever get to talk to him. Hehe. Well, it’s almost the same with a slightly tweaked layout. The wolves, make-up, and the scares have improved, but I never got a good run through....which makes me sad. Those wolves looked MUCH better. I wanted to enjoy my flashback to 23, but I got the tail-end of ALL the scares which really annoys me. Boo. Oh well, I give it a good rating since this house still has had a great legacy in my eyes. Also, I don’t think Orlando should repeat houses like this. Give us all-new content.

Overall: B-

Jack Presents: 25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem: Whew! That was a long title. Only appropriate since this was a long maze. Unlike out TWD in Hollywood, which boasted as the longest maze in our event’s history, this one actually was LONG. Did they use the entire sound stage to build this, because it felt like it. With that said, this was HOUSE OF THE YEAR. EVERYTHING about this was FANTASTIC. I loved the Scary Tales scene with the HHN Bear. That puppet and scare was GREAT! Also it was great to see that high-bridge effect live and in person. Although it wasn’t perfect, it was such a fantastic effect. Scareactors were ON IT. I’m still thinking back to how awesome it was. This house is the reason why I love HHN. So. Freakin’. Good.

P.S. BEAR! BEAR! BEAR! BEAR! BEAR! (Chant that when you go in the bear scene).

Overall: A+

Shows

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure: It was pretty weird seeing this for the first time in two years. It was great seeing the Wyld Stallyons back in action. I thought the jokes were great, the villain and premise were used to their potential, and the pop-culture jabs were great. Loved the closing musical number! This was one of the better Bill & Ted shows IMO. Great to see Bill & Ted again. But until next year, “byeeeeeeee!”

Overall: B+

Jack’s Show: I loved how in-your-face and how sick and demented it was. This was clearly a huge “screw-you!” to everyone who is easily offended. If this show was in Hollywood, this would’ve been gone after weekend one. It was really great hearing Jack insult a little kid in the audience. LOL That dude is crazy. That’s why he’s my favorite icon and I don’t mind him being back. Great show.

Overall: A

Scare Zones

I’m too lazy to do them individually, but I will say they were all great. Unfortunately, I never had time to watch the mini-show in the icons zone. But the zone looked great. Unearthed was beautiful. Scary Tales was my least favorite. PsychoScarepy was AWESOME. The talent was crazy, the atmosphere was chaotic, and the mini-shows added a lot to everything. Loved the zones this year.

Overall, I thought HHN 25 was a very well-rounded anniversary year. We had continuing stories of fan favorite original houses, we had the show that made HHN more successful, a return of one of the best houses ever made, the return of two major horror icons, a “best-of” house, and the return of the legendary icons. I had a GREAT time at the event. Everything was very well-done. Probably my favorite year out of the three years I’ve attended HHNO. I hope I will be back next year. The set-design was top-notch, the scares were very creative, and everything else was just a lot of fun. For those who haven’t gone yet, you are going to love it. That’s my overall synopsis of the event. Now let me compare Hollywood and Orlando a little bit...

First, I’m going to say Orlando was better, no doubt. Although Hollywood had a solid year, 25 Years and FVJ was better than all of Hollywood combined this year. I noticed that all of the houses smelled like fresh wood, like Knott’s does. That’s unlike Hollywood where everything smells like crap, beef jerky, or vomit. I just find that interesting. I do like the bad smells honestly to feel like I’m there.

Something else I noticed is that, especially Insidious and TWD, is that the houses tend to have VERY dim lighting. I feel like Hollywood has an edge over Florida in this area as I think Hollywood used their lighting just right. We don’t have the lighting too bright to ruin the creepiness of the atmosphere, but we also don’t have it too dark to enjoy the sets. It was SO dark in TWD and I couldn’t make out a lot of the sets. Part of the enjoyment for me is being able to enjoy the set design in the houses. I want to feel like I’m there. Even in the Purge, the strobe lights were so outrageous, I couldn’t tell where I was. I mean, the strobes are great an an unnerving scare tactic, but when it’s just non-stop in your face, I don’t enjoy the house as much as I want to. In our TWD, you could totally tell where you were. I was able to see everything without the vibe being ruined for me. Anyway, I would like to see Orlando take note from Hollywood in terms of lighting.  

Another thing I found was interesting was how loud the houses and scare zones were. Oh my word, PsychoScarepy was BLASTING. If the zones were that loud in Hollywood, they would get noise complaints up the wazoo! No way they would let the zones in Hollywood be that loud, or the houses.

I’ve seen others complain on here about this, but the ops this year were a whole new level of WTC. It’s really bad in Insidious. The line would jam up and I would get sandwhiched 500 times in the conga lines. The ops would scream at us to keep moving and not hold up the line. Well, I CAN’T GO ANYWHERE NOOB! I’M STUCK! If I wanted to move I would! On that subject, Saturday night was TERRIBLE for crowds. It was like Disneyland on a day where all of the passes were valid. It’s really bad when the express lines reached THIRTY MINUTES. They clearly oversell tickets which I hate about Orlando. In Hollywood, you wait like five minutes MAX for express. They make sure it’s a priority. They sell out of them.  

I also find it funny how they get away with casts changes in the house. They walk right in front of everybody which would NEVER fly in Hollywood. The scareactors even stop to take pictures in the streets. Another big no-no for Hollywood. I do prefer what Hollywood does. Just a tap on the shoulder and switch out quickly while no one is looking.

Finally I will address the scares. They have some really cool scares with the mirrors and the one that’s RIGHT above your head. I think it’s pretty cool how they do some of it. I love how they use obstacles and crazy strobes to throw off your senses and scare you, especially in Asylum in Wonderland. That “head” scare got me every time! Also, in the bigger rooms, I like how they use hanging obstacles covering up the scareactor. That’s something Hollywood needs to learn. FVJ SPOILER: (For example, the cabin room as the first scene of FVJ. A line of hanging clothes and the bunks cover up Jason’s scare spot). That’s something Hollywood needs to learn for their larger scenes.

So yeah, that’s my review. Hope you enjoyed it.

 

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