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An actual review at event end (And some useful things to know about LASIK)


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All Points Review
HHN 27, 2017. 

I say All Points Review because ... Well, I'm considering all data points I have, including what I thought, what wifey thought, what friends and family thought, and what I've heard elsewhere, either here or in the park from people wandering around. Oh, and the UTH tour. 

I'm going to list stuff in the way we do them for our Grand Slam route. Don't walk into the park and go straight. I've done a stupid amount of nerd-calc on this. 

Oh, other note: We had FFP + Express, and everybody who went to see it with us had Express as well. 

First, Houses.
We saw this house once. I just list it here becuase we only did a full Grand Slam once this year. 

I don't have a legit reason we never did this house beyond wanting to get to Jacksonville as soon as possible and just... Not circling back. 

Last year, Krampus was here, and that was my favorite house of the year so we'd frequently circle back at the end to go see that, but that never happened this year. We started that One Grand Slam with Saw.

I ... Don't know what to say. Common Consensus seems to be that this was exactly what people thought it would be, which is about the same as the consensus for reviews of every Saw movie right? I mean, I'm going to see Jigsaw this weekend (I think), but I don't expect to be surprised... 

There's another couple wifey and I tend to go with pretty frequently, and I'm pretty sure they went every night on the FFP (or tried to). If they didn't do every night, they were close. That'd be my friend Butt-Head and his wife Beavis (definitely their real names).

This was Butt-Head's HOTY. That gives it a lot of weight that it may or may not deserve. 

UTH Tour Guide said this house was left off the tour because it was just a bunch of the same thing. I felt exactly the same on my way through. Sure there were GATs and that's fun but ... I ... Don't ... Think ... They did anything? 

Score: 4/10 with Butt-Head, 2/10 with me+UTH guide, SCORE UNKNOWN otherwise (not enough data) 

House of the Year for me, hands down. I MADE IT TO JACKSONVILLE!

UTH guide said this was left off the tour because "Nobody watches the show." Indeed, none of the people wifey and I went with watched the show. 

We did. It was still largely nonsense. Out of order, mixed between season 1 and 2, etc. etc. etc.

In a word, absolutely perfect. If it were HHN Mexico, I'd give it two churros up. Now, that's not a racist thing - that's just a great dessert. 

Everything I say is now peppered with quotes from Ash Vs. Evil Dead, which I've learned is indistinguishible from nonsense. 

God I love this house.

Only thing is (and Uni is aware of this) ... The line is STUPID. It's the same thing in and out! That's because of construction for Fast and Furious. 

Side note: THAT'S GOING TO BE .......... B....... Be. That's going to be. It will be. 

Score: 10/10, nobody else's opinion matters because I don't have time. Jacksonville awaits. 

(Side-side secret note: Pssst... If you haven't watched this show... WATCH THIS SHOW. ESPECIALLY if you are a Florida Person who knows about Jacksonville and ... how .... Uh... Kinda shit it is?) 

The facade of this house is amazing. 

I enjoy the fact that they planted real corn outside, then just stopped watering it a while before HHN. Mostly because I doubleplus enjoy the fact that the last time they did that in 2004 there was also a hurricane.

There's apparently a progression in this house, but I didn't really get it. The story is that the 1920s dust bowl in the US had people farming land but basically ruining it in the process, so ... Nature.... got mad and.. Sent... Scarecrows. Yes that's the official story. 

A little ridiculous.

Nearly everybody seems to think this is the scariest house of the year. Which brings me to a side note . . . And this is a Serious Note that People May Want To Consider ...

Last year I had LASIK surgery toward the end of July. At HHN, I was completely disoriented in every room where there were strobe lights. It was especially bad when it was red and blue, like cop lights (they had those in Ash but no points deducted because JACKSONVILLE)... 

That was fine; I could just put my hand on my wife's shoulder and she could lead me through whatever room. There were two other things, though, that remained a problem.

First, mirror rooms. They're supposed to be disorienting, but having been through one before and after the LASIK, I can attest that I can't do these rooms. 

Side note within side note: I get "scared" between 0-2 times in the year. I don't count noises making me jump, but if I did, it'd still be <5, even if we go 15 times. So when I say "I can't do these rooms," I don't mean they freak me out. I mean I need to literally close my eyes and have my wife blindly lead me through, even on the UTH tour (the mirror room in the Shining). So even with the lights on. 

Second, dark rooms. This is maybe a little bit of a stretch, but have you ever seen a dvd on a super high-res (yet still cheap) television, when the scene goes dark? And you can see like .. Pixellation? Like different levels of non-gradiated blackness? That's how dark rooms look to me now. 

That said, I do get Scared sometimes at HHN legitimately. Not "scared" where a scareactor "gets me," like I mentioned above, but where I am legitimately in fear for my safety. If there was a real Wet room in this house, I wouldn't go into it more than once. It's too dark and I lose my footing too quick.

It's entirely from LASIK.

Other changes since LASIK?

That damn fog. I remember reading a while back that they use two kinds of fog at HHN depending whether it needed to go up or down, or catch light, or what. One of them used to mess my eyes up when I'd wear contacts. It'd last for days. Now they both do. My eyes are still messed up today from seeing fog last night. That stuff just gets in your eyes and it's super bad for you. By the end of the night the moon was really blurry and I was getting starbursts off every light I saw, exactly as if I were wearing contacts that got somehow ... Dirty..

The above is the reason I'm posting this to the world. Because I had questions about it myself, and I didn't see any good answers. 

Note that my results are not typical. I had a rough recovery from LASIK. It happens. Some people DO legitimately go back to work the next day - that's not a lie. I can attest to it because I've seen it personally. That didn't happen for me. Feel free to contact me if you want to know more. 

This house was legitimately frightening for me because I was For Real worried about my safety at points the first time around. If there was a wet room, I was going to fall, no doubt. It's like I've heard SCUBA divers describe when they get turned around and don't know which way Up is, except I can't blow bubbles to figure it out. 

And let me tell you something . . . ACTUALLY being FOR REAL scared at HHN... Is not fun, at all. The only thing that kept me going that first time was actually the scarecrows popping out putting an interruption in the pattern (I'm told divers have this experience too in deep waters where it's dark). 

Score: 9/10 with all sources considered (and on the second+ time), 1/10 if you can't see

Side-Score for LASIK: 11/10. I regret nothing. When the moon isn't blurry because my eyes are covered in weird fog, I can see grey shapes on it. I didn't know that the moon was visible as anything but a white circle from earth before that. Seriously. 

I drive down Orange Avenue past the theater (Is that the Beacham...?) where there's a marquee outside. I can see the depth on the letters now. 

The depth on the letters. 

I'm not going to lie; this just clearly seemed like a contract-caused modified version of The Conjuring, like how the Purge house a few years back was clearly just the house from Scream, but modified because of contract stuff. 

Still, it was okay. 

That... That's really all. With the lights on you can see how much detail and hard work went into every inch of the place, but that's the case for every house I've ever been in. 

Thing is, whatever you can say about the event (I clearly thought this year was sub-par) or the marketing (not even close to previous years) or whatever else . . . The people building these houses are pouring their hearts into it. 

It's the ONE THING that drives them. And it shows. It absolutely shows. 

This house is awesome. 

The facade, as much as my UTH tour guide tried to make it sound like it was a legit thing, like "they wanted to make it look like a VHS tape from the 80s and show you there were vampires so you knew what you were getting into" ... Come on. This was thrown together.

Still pretty effective.

Score: 5/10 in the dark, 9/10 in the light 

No, seriously. LOL. 

What is this? 

A general comment about this year: why are there so many houses that are a mashup of several things?

Specific comment about this house: Aside from that, and aside from literally telling you on the walls which movies you were in (YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THAT - THAT MEANS IT'S NOT APPARENT! REDESIGN!), there was a bunch of stuff from Insidious 4.

Yeah, those of you paying attention ... Know ... That... Insidious 4 isn't out yet.

Even our UTH tour guide didn't know much. She wasn't withholding. She just didn't know. So what message does that send on a tour, when the tour guide is guessing just as much as you?

No. Just no. Insidious has never worked for others (I thought the creepy scene with the smiling family from the first one was cool) ... But every single person I went with was sick of The Purge by this point, and they hadn't seen the other TWO (TWO!) places in the park where the Purge exists front and center. 

Score: 1/10 in the dark, 3/10 in the light (the first room out of Sinister was cool - they had a copy of the book he wrote and everything)
This was awesome.

It had an awesome facade and an awesome interior.
I do feel like it may have blwon the budget on the facade and rested a litle bit too much on how aweseome it was.

And the scareactor at the very beginning when you look at the facade? Apparently he "gets" lots of people. I didn't like that. They put SO much work into that damn sinking ship - let people enjoy it without making loud noises at them. There's just .. Tons of ... Stuff... I don't know even where to begin. There were mirrors on the floor to make it look like water, the ship sinking clearly put you in a disoriented state, and you even knew WHERE YOU WERE when you walked in.

I expected this house to be like Garbage Gold Gulch from last year (I hated that stupid house). But even after I'd been through it once - when my expectations were no longer through the floor - it was still awesome, and it was STILL awesome with the lights on. Only complaint is that it felt short. Wifey's only additional complaint was that the scarification mask on the voodoo (hoodoo, I guess) queen was super-fake-looking, but I always got her hand in my face when I was walking in the room, which I thought was awesome.

Also awesome is that everything in that room is made of pieces of the ship. I noticed that in the dark. And then confirmed it in the light. I love when I can SEE THINGS in the houses at night. 

This also makes a wonderful counter to its neighbor. This house is defintiely a water house. There's even a room that uses the rubber flooring they use in rooms where you get wet, but there's 0 water in the house.

I wonder how the guy in the tilted hallway didn't get people falling on him constantly and I'm surprised he was still there at the end of the event, because I myself almost fell right into him and I was sober! 

This house is awesome. Only complaint is that it felt too short, but I felt like it was meant as a companion to Fallen. 

Only reason this doesn't beat out Ash for my HotY is that the boat sank before it got to Jacksonville. 

Score: 10. Just 10. Cut it any way you want. 
As mentioned above, this is an awesome bookend to Dead End. This is definitely a fire house, where Dead Water is ... a .. Water.. House.. OHHHH! "DEAD WATER!" I GET IT NOW!!

The official story of this house is that it's good vs. evil, but it's mostly just Hell. Wifey says they couldn't just outright say that because of potentially offending religious people.

But the official story is that this is good vs. evil. LOL where was the good? Nah. 

When we went through on UTH, we learned that all the rooms were different, but it didn't seem like that going through during the event. Just seemed like hell. 

And, like I mentioned above, I think it's meant as a companion to Dead Waters. Both felt super short.

But the END of this house, oh man! With the people flying overhead and toward you and falling down on you and ... Phew. Intense. The one guy falling straight down off the beam above you is one of the best effects I've seen at HHN, and even after seeing how it was done and having it explained to me, I have no idea how it was done.

Score: 7/10 in the dark. 8/10 in the light. Last rooms, though, with the track effects? 10/10, light or dark. 
This was the last 15 mins of The Shining. 

On the first night, this was the only house we did. We got our FFPs Will Call, but the Will Call kiosk said "GFY! Wait in line!" so even though we were there at 6, we didn't get in until 8, and by then we were pissed off and just did this house because it was the one I was most excited to see. Because I had no idea how they'd do it.

Make it the last 15 mins; that's how. 

The house ... I don't know. I can't write a non-boring review on this. It's exactly what it was supposed to be. It totally delivered. That... That's that.

Score: 9/10 in the dark and the light 
Same as the previous review, I don't know how to not-boringly review this. It was a bit of a muddled mess, but whatever. It was doing too much at once, and I don't know how they're going to continue this franchise next year. I think they should do one season at a time. 

They recreated scenes EXAAAAAAACTLY. 

But they also used stuff from the promo materials... So while I'll award Points for the creepiness of girls floating with their faces in the wall, those points are offset by the fact that the image is from promos. 

And . . 

.... Nope, nothing more useful to say.

Score: 7/10 in the dark, 8/10 in the lights

So, overall, the houses ... I don't know. My scale is skewed positive. Really I'd cut them in half to my own subjective feelings. Maybe after so many years I'm just kind of ... Over it? I know where every "scare" is now, and so does my wife, as do Beavis and Butt-head. It gets repetitive.

And like... Seeing Hive and Scarecrow next to each other like that... It's just a creepy environment and people in masks. 

Makes me think of that South Park where there's a trailer for a movie that's like "They need to stop the ... Aliens.. or..government.. Or.. zombies... Or.. whatever! F YOU!"

And... Scarezones, which I am renaming:

I'm not rating scarezones. If they weren't Trick R Treat, they sucked.

And just having the worst scarezone of all time means I can't rate them. 

Anyway this SZ was............



That's it.

Trick R Treat is awesome. Most people haven't seen it though, so they probably just thought this was a bunch of pumpkins in the trees.

We learned on the UTH tour that all 350 pumpkins were hand-carved, and that the hurricane took out nearly none of them.

Yet it destroyed the stage for the dancing-in-the-middle-of-the-park show. 

This was the best SZ of the year, but it's nothing new at all. Not even in the same location. 

..... And Thurman Merman is here, so... cool. 

If you don't get that reference... I advise you to find out.



Yet every time I walk through here, I hear someone at the beginning and the end say "this is my favorite part of the park!" 

I .. Don't get it.

On opening night one of them came up to wifey and said "chainsaw noise." Like, out loud, in words. 

It was just as effective.

Time to let this one go the way of The Walking Dead, Bill And Ted, and other annoying nonsense, in my opinion. But I recognize I'm alone.

I think my title here says it all.

This is the SZ with the pix you're allowed to take that will actually show up.

YEAH THAT'S RIGHT - They told me I'm not allowed to use flash photography in the scarezones this year. Not just the houses.

I completely disobeyed that once that guy was gone. 

But you didn't need flash here. Yet the stupid aliend would walk up and interrupt your pictures.

Look I get being in character and like ...ohhhhh aliens don't know what cameras are but....Come on. Don't screw with someone aiming a camera. 

One of these guys walked into me. Waited next to me til I had focus, then checked me like a shitty hockey army man. I have the effed-up picture to prove it.

This scarezone needed ..... A lot of things. Let's leave it as that. 

Seriously, the Purge again?

SERIOUSLY, THIS AGAIN? (Definite Cost-cutting Measure Edition)
Seriously, this scarezone is just "Stuff from elsewhere in the park?" 

Just .. Like ... cast C (Or D where applicable I guess) ? 

And they won't stop and take pix?

And they won't leave you alone if you're on the sidewalk looking in (this is the one and only cardinal sin for SZ scareactors, in my opinion - leave people alone if they're on the sidewalk or benches)?

Score: -1,000,000 

It's the only one I'm scoring. Because such a low number would break the curve and make all the other SZs score invalid numbers. 

Without this, though, I'd give the Purge SZ a -1,000,000





DOES THAT SCARE ANYBODY?????????????????????

/end that specific rant

And finally, the shows:
We accidentally fell upon this. 

We walked away when they went from "Paint it Black" to "Tootsie Roll" because. .. That was enough of that.

I will, however, give these guys a lot of credit for adapting their show. Apparently what we saw that night was the EIGTH iteration of that show...... So, despite the unfortunate musical choice, that's impressive.

Oh is it the last year of Bill and Ted?

Did they finally sit down and think "Wait, are Bill and Ted still relevant in 2017" ?

I hated this stupid show every other time I saw it (YOU GAVE KURT COBAIN THE WRONG GUITAR) and only saw it by force.

We realized we didn't see it yet when we went last night, but took one look at the line and just said....................... Nope. 

Plus, nearly everybody thinks this is as much of a farewell show as they believed Michael Jordan wouldn't come back.

Is that reference too old?

Bill and Ted is older.

<3 the movies..... But this show was stupid, for 20 years. Just like "Oh look I'm in a John McCain Mask" "Oh look I'm a dancing Joker" "Oh look Sarah Palin was a thing" and I'm sitting in the audience like THAT WAS THREE YEARS AGO.

But I (and everybody in every party I've ever been in) am the only one who feels that way so nevermind.

Other Stray Thoughts:
No, but seriously. The bars don't serve real drinks, whatever, but did you have to punctuate it (literally) with bony hands around it saying "bar" as you serve up that sugary crap in the useless half-cups with the stupid straws that most people just threw on the ground? Don't ... Uh.. Don't do that next year. 

I can tell you with Alleged Almost Certainty that all you accomplished by not selling liquor at the bars was having people pre-load and get drunk in the garage. 

I don't want to walk into HHN drunk. That's supposed to happen in the park :)

Seriously, no photography in the scarezones? Plus the limited photography in the UTH tour? 


FFP+Express+UTH for two people is enough effing money for us to be allowed to take pix. 

I took all the pix I wanted in the park as soon as the guy who told me not to was out of sight. UTH tour was a little different because I had a lens cap. 

But seriously, does Uni know how much of the people showing up are just there to take pix? 

Every time I've had to choose between HHN or UTH, I chose UTH. Why? Pix. 



The merch was cool this year. There was a ton of it. 

They clearly split the 'houses on the back' shirt into two things this year so kinda forced people to buy more than one but ...

I don't know. Capitalism.

... Yes. Capitalism. That's my summary in a word. Every year there's a new Eff You it seems. No pix! No drinks! No this no that no blah blah blah! 

Last year they told one of the people I was with that he was in a non-smoking area, but allowed to vape. And then later in a different place that he was allowed to smoke but not vape. It seemed like they were just screwing with him. 

Why don't the Capitalists just step out of the way and let the Artists make and share their Art? 

HHN is awesome, generally speaking, but they've got one more shot. This year was strike two with the "F You You'll Buy The Tix Anyway You Morons" nonsense. They underestimate their core audience....

I went again this year .... 

If I get the same bad taste in my mouth next year, there won't be another.

And you know what? That breaks my heart. Because so much stuff goes into HHN. So much work, so much care, so much artistry .. And to have to miss it because of ancillary nonsense... 


That's the true horror, innit?

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