Friday, October 11, 2013
Rob Zombie's 'Not so' Great American Nightmare
This is a tough review for me. Not only do I hate doing negative reviews, I've also pretty much loved everything Rob Zombie has ever done. This will be the first thing of his I am openly down on. But bare with me. I plan to talk about each element of the Haunted House event and discuss why, all in all, not one bit of it worked. I was highly let down with every aspect of the event, and I'm not hard to please. And yet, I see people online raving about it. So I figured I would be honest and try to save people the money, a 100 bucks in all, I wasted on terrible event.
Venue: The Fairplex is a pretty decent place. Lots of parking(at ten bucks a pop though). But if you live in Los Angeles proper or any of the surrounding areas, Pomona is pretty far. It took a little over an hour to get there. But once there, parking was easy and they had a little tram to take you to the event. At this point I was still pretty pleased with it all. Then, once I got off at GAN(Great American Nightmare), it started going downhill.
The employees knew nothing about the event and were very unhelpful. I bought the VIP package, and on the ticket it says to skip the line and go right to the gate. Well, at the gate they didnt even know what the VIP package was. After a lot of confusion, they scanned my ticket twice and said that I was already in the event. I had to go talk to two other people just to finally be walked in... with NO VIP stuff(which was supposed to be a shirt and special badge). I saw later that off to the side was a small booth that looked like a merch booth. Apparently at some point(though at no point I saw) there was a yellow piece of paper taped to the front that said VIP check in. But again, the ticket said go straight to the gate. And once inside, an employee told me the VIP check in was in the venue, down a red carpet. One we never found.
The Mazes: Over all, the set-up was extremely poor. All three mazes were housed in the same building. So you couldn't pick and choose. You had to start with Lords of Salem and end with 1000 Corpses. Which, had that been the only problem, I could have easily looked past. But here is the kicker and the worst thing about GAN. You can ONLY do the mazes ONE time. That's right. You pay anywhere from 35 to 55 bucks to go through one time. For a normal ticket.. maybe I can see it. But for a VIP ticket... one time? Ridiculous. When I complained they claimed it was cause of lines and so everyone would get a chance. Yet there was not one single person in the VIP line and only about ten people in the normal line. I could have gone through about 4 times without effecting a thing. And nowhere on their website do they mention this little rip off.
And you know how most professional haunted houses don't allow the employees to touch you? Not the case at GAN. They all kinds of grab you, push you, bump into you.
Maze 1 - The Lords of Salem: Terrible. Probably the worst haunted house I have ever been in, and I've been in tons of small town local ones. Basically you go in and they roughly put a bag over your head. Yup. A heavy, musty, black bag that no telling how many others wore. And your only option was wear it or leave through their charming "pussy exit". And they let you know right away that if you took it off you would be thrown out.
So you enter and wander around completely in the dark, bumping into walls and people while loud noises play. Three times someone jumped out and yelled. And that was it. 15 minutes of feeling a dark wall and getting bumped into. I even got stuck in a corner. There was nothing scary or unique about this. I've never been so annoyed in a haunted house before. And to top it off, the Lords of Salem had so much great imagery and this took advantage of almost none of it. How could it? You have a black bag over your head the entire time.
Maze 2 - The Haunted World of el SuperBeasto in 3d: This was the only highlight of the night, and even it was only fair. The best part was the walls. It had really neat 3D drawings of naked girls and monsters. When you enter there is a vertigo tunnel, but that was about it for unique stuff. There were no scares in this one. Just people dressed up as Superbeasto, Suzy, Dr. Satan, and a few other random characters. They wandered around talking nonsense or doing sexual stuff. I was getting the feeling by this point they had replaced scares with an attempt to shock. Sorry, seeing a guy in a kitty mask pretending to masturbate doesn't shock me. I'm not 14 or a soccer mom.
This was by far the best maze. And saying that, isn't saying much. Had it been somewhere else like Horror Nights, it would have been the worst.
Maze 3 - House of 1000 Corpses: Another big let down, maybe even worse than Lords of Salem because of what I expected. I had been to the last several years of Universal Horror Nights and been to the 1000 Corpses maze there. That maze was amazing. I was hoping for, and expecting, a larger version of that. Nope. They started over. In the Horror Nights version, you started with Spaulding's museum, entered the murder ride, and on to the Firefly family. This GAN version of the maze was extremely random. There was very little actual 1000 Corpses stuff within. Most was just weird redneck looking people and then depictions of Serial Killers and some of their crime scenes.
Maybe I'm getting old, but I actually found the Charles Manson section to be in poor taste. You enter the scene of the Tate murders and there on the floor is a dead, pregnant, mutilated Sharon Tate on the floor. In the center of it was a poor Charles Manson impersonator yelling at you. Again, not at all scary, just a poor attempt to shock. I think I was more offended at the cheap tactic than the scene itself. It was really juvenile. Then another room had a John Wayne Gacy masturbating a balloon and babbling at you. In yet another room, which I think was supposed to be a courtroom, had what looked like Jeffery Dahmer cutting the head off of another Jeffery Dahmer. It was more head scratching than anything.
And to make it all worse, when you are entering the maze there is a Baby Firefly and Tiny at the entrance. The Baby asks you if they can touch you. I'm a good sport, so I said yes. Wish I hadn't. The tiny grabs you by the head and uses a fake knife to carve something in your forehead. But what you don't see from behind is that the blade pours fake blood. So entering the maze I had fake blood running into my eyes and mouth.
So again, not a single scare. Granted, I don't scare easy, but I usually get startled at least a few times per Horror Nights maze. GAN didn't even offer that.
Scare Zone: Not even. The scare zone was one small stretch of road, mostly consisting of vendors, with four large anamatronics and a smoke machine. That's it. I saw a couple of costumed performers here and there, but not really in the 'scare zone'.
Vendor's Area: Mostly just T-shirt stands.
Concert Venue: Now this area was pretty cool. It was a nice room with good sound. Had it been a good band, it probably would have been pretty neat. And this is the only saving grace of the event. If a band you like is playing, a concert(though I think they are really short sets) could make the price of the ticket worth it. A great band playing, with a few haunted houses, would have been a pretty decent night. But this wasn't the case for me. It was some teenie bopper band I had never heard of. And with them came a predominately hipster crowd. I hadn't seen that many pairs of horn rimmed glasses since the last time I was at Little Tokyo(a big hipster hangout).
Final Thoughts: Lazy, poorly put together, and a complete failure to reach the potential it could have had. My honest recommendation is skip this event unless there is a band playing you really like. Then you might get your money's worth. But other wise, just save your money and go to Universal's Horror Nights. Granted, this is a first year event. Maybe it will get better. Trial and error. But the way people are kissing GAN's ass, I'm not sure.