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My opening weekend review

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I attended Friday and Saturday of opening weekend and did the AP party both days. We were there 5-12:15 both nights and ended up doing 29 house run-throughs and no shows in total (add that to a day and a half of walking around the parks during the day, needless to say, are legs are pretty tired). I will summarize my impressions of the houses from opening weekend (mostly) Spoiler Free in order of my least favorite to my favorite.
8. HAVOC: Derailed- 2 House Runs
I enjoyed the original HAVOC in 2010 a lot, but not enough to want a sequel. I didn’t mind it coming back but I never thought it was necessary nor was I ever really excited for it, but I figured if it has a ridiculously energetic cast again it’ll be fun. The military style train out front is pretty cool looking to me. The sets while on the train were rather repetitive to me though. There were like 3 rooms of DOWs in cages. I understand they’re there because that was the purpose of the house, a transport, but we didn’t need 3 of those rooms. The train crash scene was pretty cool I thought. After those scenes, the outdoor/wrecked train scenes are awesome. Some of the most detailed scenes I’ve seen in the Disaster! Queue. They have height and detail. There’s some great SA placement in a few rooms, but those are balanced off with some very out in the open actors. The cast is aggressive enough to make the house work and the house isn’t bad, it’s just my least favorite. Overall, it’s enjoyable enough to wait for, but not too long of a wait. Grade as of now: C
7. Resident Evil: Escape From Raccoon City- 3 House Runs
I have never seen any RE films or played any of the games, so I didn’t know much of what to expect of this house other than it’ll have several pretty cool looking creatures. The sets in this house are awesome. This is probably the biggest façade this year and my favorite. Some huge props too, like the cop car, the HUGE creature in the Pause room and the Helicopter. The dummy creatures were incredibly detailed and looked awesome. But that’s one problem in this house: a lot of dummies, not enough actors. The Pause room is really cool and had the house been 13/14 scenes instead of 8 it’d be welcomed, but it doesn’t belong in such a short house. Takes away from the already lacking action. Some rooms are set up in a way it’s hard for actors to get good scares, like the opening scene after the façade. This house seems to be lacking in energy the most out of all of them. I saw a lot of actors barely moving and not really trying to scare, but even the ones that did try weren’t getting many good ones. Finale is a HUGE and cool looking scene, but very empty and lacking any kind of excitement or climax to end the house.

you kinda just walk past the RPD building, there’s a guy with a machine gun in a tower next to the awesome helicopter, and an actor behind a barrel that’s easily visible. Then you walk out

That room reminds me of a lot of the scenes in Silent Hill. Big rooms with one or two actors badly hidden. Overall, the house in its entirety is far from great, But the sets are amazing and it’s still pretty fun to walk through. Grade as of now: C

6. Afterlife: Death’s Vengeance- 3 runs
Our third 3D tent house in a row. Not necessarily a bad thing, I just find it amusing we’ve had our 3D house the past 3 years in the same location (meaning both tents) lol. This concept had me really excited when it was announced. A spiritual successor to In-Between and a very dark/violent house with a neat back-story. This was the only house I hadn’t seen the façade for before I went on Friday and man was I disappointed when I saw it.

Two pieces of newspaper. Exciting. The newspapers hanging off the hut next to the car served exposition enough, so we didn’t have to walk into the newspaper. They could’ve made it the entrance to the penitentiary, like the first wall says it is.

We see “The Blade” get zapped and into the Afterlife we go. Some very neat set design and visuals in this one that I really enjoyed. Cool use of string, lasers and strobes throughout. Two rooms use mirrors very much to their advantage, and one of those is very reminiscent of a 08 favorite. They reused the exact same costume in one room from IB, but hey. It works so why not. It even got me once or twice this weekend <ahttp://www.horrornightnightmares.com/forums/uploads/emoticons/default_tongue.png' alt=':P'>. There’s one waste of a hallway with just an inmate walking back and forth

and mirrors on the floor to I guess make it look endless or give it depth

. This one kinda just ends. Walkthrough the vortex tunnel and down a blank ramp. I get why the tunnel’s where it is, but it’s not very climatic at all. Overall, I enjoyed the house good deal and while it’s not the scariest, it has its moments that are sure to give excellent jumps and is always fun to walk through. Grade as of now: B

5. Urban Legends: La Llorona- 6 runs
This was one of the houses I was most excited for. The videos from Hollywood looked amazing and the concept is very dark and disturbing. I started seeing pictures of the façade being built (I even took some) and the in-house pics they put on the site and it got me even more excited. This was the first house I did this year and walking up to the finished façade in person is awesome. It’s probably the best and biggest façade I’ve seen for a tent. It’s great. Now it was only 5pm, so the house was REALLY dark to me. we did it twice in a row since TWD was an hour and nothing else was open and after those two I thought it was just ok. From what I could see (which wasn’t much honestly) it looked beautiful. On my other two runs that night I could actually see and wow is it a well themed house. Church like sets throughout the first half, water based in the other.

The hallway of just a hell of a lot of mist/fog and white curtains that transitions the two was really neat.

Excellent scare opportunities the whole way through and just a pleasure to look at. It's probably not as good as i expected, but good none the less. Overall, I was very pleased with this house and it’s definitely one of the scenic marvels of the tent houses, up there with Poe. Grade as of now: B+

4. Evil Dead- 4 runs
I wasn’t excited for this house at all at first because I knew literally nothing about the house other than it’s gory and involves a demon girl and a cabin. The long walk along the screen to the start of the house was weird and I don’t really understand it. The façade is very interesting. The actual “Book of the Dead” part of the façade is really cool, but then after that before you actually enter the house is “Evil Dead” in giant red letters. I don’t recall them doing anything like that ever. I thought it was pretty neat. This house was designed really well. It looks great and has some neat effects. The cabin scene in the woods is incredible. Excellent scare opportunities throughout the whole thing and is pretty consistent with them. There’s only two spots I can think of that aren’t very strong with their SA placement/scare delivery (the opening scene and the hallway with the girl at your feet) but the rest of the house makes up for it. Overall, this house is awesome and very fun to walk through, whether you get scared or not. Grade as of now: A
3. The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven- 4 runs
I didn’t loathe last year’s TWD like some did. It wasn’t good by any means, but it wasn’t anywhere near the worst last year offered *cough*SH/AC*cough*. When I heard it was coming back, my immediate reaction was NO WHY JUST NO. I watch the show and enjoy it, but I didn’t see it necessary to bring it back a second year in a row. While thinking that, I also thought they would HAVE to make it way better than last year’s fail of a house. Then they released some in house pics and they looked excellent so I was feeling optimistic and WOW was I surprised how great this house turned out. Some very impressive sets and a lot better SA placement than last year. They even used a few familiar faces this time. This house felt the longest of all of them and it seemed to have the most actors who were all giving a great deal of energy and really going at it. Overall, this house is a real delight. It’s fun, scary, and energetic. Very impressed and they definitely took the right step from last year. Grade as of now: A
2. Cabin in the Woods-3 runs
When they officially announced this house with the interviews with the directors and Aiello I was dying of excitement and anticipation. I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited as I was for any single house. I loved the movie and the concept just seemed perfect for a house. A huge array of monsters and creatures to choose from and a few cool set opportunities. We were the second people to enter the house and were alone the entire time, which was awesome. Damn is this house AWESOME. SA placement is golden in this house. It’s one after the other and the casts were dominating all 3 times I went through. Awesome authentic looking sets with some neat nods to HHN past. I love the opening and façade. It’s gorgeous and surreal looking to me. they really brought everything with this house and my excitement truly paid off. There’s a LOT of characters from the film represented in one way or another in the houses, including some props like the betting board, wolf head in the living room of the cabin and others. Overall, an amazing house and one of the most fun houses to walk through I’ve been in. And it’s STILL not the best this year. Grade as of now: A+
1. An American Werewolf in London- 4 runs
When this house was confirmed I figured it was gonna be pretty great since A&D have been working with John Landis for quite some time on it and are all passionate about the property. I still (regretfully) haven’t seen the movie so I didn’t know much about the house. The in house pics got me a little more excited for it but I still wasn’t feeling it. Then people coming out of EP last Wednesday were all raving about it and after getting out of CitW, I was thinking how good could that house possibly be? Well holy shit it was spectacular. Just WOW. I was absolutely blown away my first (and every other) run through. The sets are grand and beautiful. The costumes are really great in this one too. The cast was always on fire and are absolutely my favorite casts this year. They’re incredible at getting scares. Very powerful. The transformation scene and the outdoor bus/Tardis scenes are my favorites. The subway scene is really cool and has an actual ceiling! However, even with all of that being as spectacular as it is, nothing at the entire event is as awesome and terrifying as those werewolf puppets. WOW. I wasn’t expecting them to be so big and have a full body but man, those things are scary as hell. Even when the light effect isn’t on and the SA in the back makes the puppet chomp his teeth and lunge a little is still intimidating. Those things are incredible. This is absolutely the house to see and probably in my top 5 of all time. Excellent job A&D/John Landis. Blew me away. Grade as of now and always: A++
As for the streets, I’m half and half on them. On one hand, I really like some of the set pieces. The tank and barn are awesome and some of the smaller props are pretty neat. “Clear” is really great to me. I love the lights on the building that look like spray paint like in the show and the “Turn around and live” at the beginning of Hollywood. The props are cool and the SAs were doing good at getting scares. This one and “The Woods” are the only ones I really liked. The zombies blended in well with the plants and people so that one worked too. The others were just meh and repetitive. Not to mention NY needing at least 10-15 more SAs a cast for that gigantic section they have to cover. SF is literally the exact same thing as last year minus the Sophia car that’s out front, so that was meh. Survivor’s camp looks nice and it works a little so it’s ok. But there’s a lot of space they could’ve easily put more actors and zones. Simpsons, Production Central, Shrek/TF Alley and even London could all get actors no problem. MIB had the chainsaws only one time I was over there which I thought was odd. The streets are overall improved from last year, but still aren’t all that great. They worked with what they had and did an ok job with it. Grade: C
Some other overall comments on my opinions on the event:
Crowd Control: This weekend felt a LOT less crowded than last year, with nearly every house staying under an hour for the better part of both days. And even with the still sizeable crowds there, it felt a lot less crowded than last year’s mess. It seemed they had a tighter control on crowds and everything flowed a little smoother. The front of the park was definitely the busiest part all night with four IPs in a row, and even those never rose above an hour, compared to last year’s 60-120 min SS lines opening weekend. All four SSs end up at the same exit, along the Evil Dead entrance between the Rockit and NY Library façade and it’s not as cramped of a space to walk as I imagined it being.
House Finales: This year was really weak on finales. A lot of houses either had unclimatic endings or just ended. Evil Dead’s was really amazing looking and I love it, but I feel like there should be a final scene in the cabin to end it. Afterlife end with the vortex tunnel and a ramp, but even the scene before that isn’t very exciting. TWD’s is awesome, but the actors are out in the open not really scaring anyone. Resident Evil’s is huge and cool looking but so very underwhelming in terms of a climax or scares. CitW could use another actor or two and it’d be great. HAVOC’s is decent. My favorites are La Llorona and AWIL’s. they have excellent scenic and scare opportunities.
Overall, this year’s event is a very fun time. Not a single bad house this year, though two are treading lightly on decent. It’s really a great event this year with a significant improvement over last year. Excellent detail, actual scares this time, and an enjoyable experience. Not my favorite year, but it’s in my top 5. Very well done. Event Grade as of now: A-
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good review! I only have one question....

HOW HAVE YOU NOT SEEN AWIL MOVIE????????????????????????????????????????????

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I meant to watch it last week before the event but school and other things kept getting in the way <_< i'm making it a point to see it and Evil Dead this week before Friday.

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AWiL is actually not on Netflix anymore. Not for instant streaming, at least.

It is available for free with Amazon Prime, though (Which offers a free 30-day trial if you haven't already cashed it in) :)

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AWiL is actually not on Netflix anymore. Not for instant streaming, at least.

It is available for free with Amazon Prime, though (Which offers a free 30-day trial if you haven't already cashed it in) :)

... ooooor TPB ^_^

In all fairness I tried to buy the movie or rent it locally and no dice. So I torrented it. I mean I have it on tape from the early 80's when I recorded it off HBO. Eh eventually I will buy it though.

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Now that the event is over, my views and opinions have changed a bit. This year was really great and one of my favorites. Some amazing houses, only 2 underwhelming ones and an amazing Bill and Ted.

My new house rankings:

8. HAVOC: Derailed (4 runs)

Old position: 8

Change: 0 spots

This one didn't change much, other than the fact that i ended up liking it even less. Second half has some nice sets, but overall the house is very boring, repetitive, and just not very well made. Very underwhelming house that i never understood why it was made in the first place. Was there really a demand for a HAVOC sequel?
Old grade: C

New grade: D

7. Afterlife: Death's Vengeance (7 runs)

Old Position: 6

Change: -1 spot

At first, I found this house to be pretty good. It wasn't very scary, but it was still pretty decent. As the event went on, i found the house to be more and more boring and not very creative. A lot of throw away scenes like the stabbing room and the ramp up to the vortex tunnel with the REALLY annoying screaming sound clip, among others. Some of the visuals like the jail cell floating above you in the first few scenes as you enter the afterlife were pretty cool and i liked the DE-style crowded dummy room. The headlines room would've been great had the actors had an actual place to hide. Overall the house felt like they didn't really try on it and was disappointing on the whole.

Old grade: B

New grade: C-

6. Urban Legends: La Llorona (13 runs)

Old position:5

Change: -1 spot

I was pretty excited for this one because it looked great the two times they did it in Hollywood and at first i thought it was very good. The sets are excellent but not as amazing as some make them out to be. It's a decent house, but it was mostly just average. I hate that my bottom 3 are the only 3 originals this year. They usually trump the IPs like last year but it just wasn't the case this time.
Old Grade: B+
New Grade: C
5. Resident Evil: Escape From Raccoon City (16 runs)
Old position: 7
Change: +2 spots
Talk about your most improved house. I've always thought the sets looked excellent, but at first i thought the house was set up in a way that it was kinda hard to get scares in some spots. But in the second half of the event they really found their stride and and made the house tons of fun. They added 5-6 more actors, including one in the pause room that really needed it, and they all became more aggressive. Ended up being a real fun house.
Old Grade: C
New grade: B
4. The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven (10 runs)
Old Position: 3
Change: -1 spot
I hated the fact that this was coming back this year and taking over the whole event, and while the street takeover was stupid, the house was great fun. Awesome sets, nice sized cast, energetic, and it had some good scares. Really fun house, and i think we should definitely leave the property alone now for at least forever.
Old grade: A
New grade: B+ (still love it all the same, just think it's not really an "A" house)
3. Evil Dead (22 runs)
Old Position: 4
Change: +1 spot
I wasn't looking forward to this house at all but it turned out awesome. Great casts, amazing sets and detail, and just an incredible house. All 3 of my top 3 are #1 material, but the other 2 are even better than this one.
Old grade: A
New grade:A
2. The Cabin in the Woods (18 runs)
Old position: 2
Change: 0 spots
Man did this house live up to my hype. The most energetic house this year, looks exactly like the movie, and overall just plain FUN. I love this house so damn much, and it's STILL not the best this year. Insane house.
Old grade: A+
New grade: A+
1. An American Werewolf in London (24 runs)
Old position: 1
Change: 0 spots
I think everything to be said about this house has been said so all i'll say is that this house is by far one of the most amazing things i've ever walked through and is tied for my favorite house that i've seen in the 9 years i've attended HHN.
Old grade: A++
New grade: A++
Casts had some fun with the streets and did great and some of the set pieces were cool, but overall the streets sucked this year. No originality and zombies, especially ones that don't run, just aren't scary. An improvement over last year, but still not good. Let's try for some real zones next year, Universal.
Old grade: C
New grade: D
Bill and Ted (5 viewings)
YESYESYES. THIS is how Bill and Ted should be. The best opening/closing combination i've seen and an incredibly funny show with a great cast. Wish i saw it more, and i REALLY wish i saw the final show last night.
Grade: A+
Overall (9 event nights, 114 houses, 5 B&T's)
Overall i'm already missing this year as i type this and as the houses are picked apart and being prepped for demolition. Excellent event this year, with some amazing houses that i'm sad to see go.
Event grade: A

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