Why is this horror convention different from all other horror conventions? The answer is that the focus of this
convention was haunted attractions. While haunted house tradeshows regularly occur throughout the year in
other areas of the country, ScareLA was the first in Southern California. But whereas this was my first haunted
house convention, it seemed a bit more of a general horror convention than an industry trade show for
haunted house owners and operators. That's not a complaint since I am neither a haunted house owner nor
operator, and I haven't been since about 25 years ago, when I re-designed my parents' basement and
charged neighbors a quarter to walk through it.
The convention, held on August 10-11 at LA
Mart, in Downtown LA, featured the usual
make-up demonstrations, fans dressed as
monsters and victims of bloody crimes, vendors
of horror collectibles and even a couple of
celebrities (Sid Haig and Butch Patrick).
Beyond that, there were panels, workshops and
film screenings which ran the gamut from basic
filmmaking tips for independent filmmakers to
how to design a maze for a haunted attraction.
Whereas some of the presentations were
geared towards informing the guests about the
logistics and business of operating a haunt,
they were typically much too short and general to be anything but entertainment for actual industry
professionals. However, for the fanboys who just wanted to ask Universal Studios' Creative Director, John
Murdy, and Art Director, Chris Williams, if anyone had ever puked in their theme park, there was plenty of
information to be gleaned.
Beyond satisfying the fanboys, the
programs did provide guests with practical
information and guidance in the event that
they were to open their own business.
Haunted Attraction industry icon Leonard
Pickel's seminar on the “Top 5 Things You
Need To Know To Succeed In The
Haunted House Business!” was filled with
essential information for people ready to
stop being dreamers and face the
business realities of operating a haunt. It
was probably the least romantic as well as
the most informative of the programs I
However, as horror fans, provided we are
surrounded by walking corpses, dayglow
paint under black lights and decayed
Who knows what terrors lurk within the seemingly innocuous walls of
the LA Mart?
Jason Blum (Producer of Paranormal Activity, The Purge), Chris Williams
(Art Director) and John Murdy (Creative Director) talk about creating
Universal Studios' Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights.
gothic veneers, we will be happy. Anything
beyond that is just sprinkles on top. That
being said, one more aspect of ScareLA
that really moved me was the realization
that there are many passionate and
talented enterprisers in the greater Los
Angeles area – people who are not
necessarily going to become rich doing
what they are doing; they do it because
they love doing it.
Amongst these, our peeps, were: Captured
Aural Phantasy Theater, a theater group
which performed readings of comic books
(including EC horror comics); Unbound
Productions, a group of performers who
excellently produce and perform
adaptations of horror literature; Darkest Jack, host of The Darkest Hours web / radio show; and, hell, pretty
much everyone who runs a haunted attraction. As I learned during Mr. Pickel's presentation: you don't get into
this business if you want to become rich.
Despite the cross-section of entertaining and
informative programs, a colorful assortment of
vendors and some just-as-colorful guests, I think
that the main attraction, for me, had to be the
immortalized spirit / rubber head of Rik “Perfessor
[sic] Evil” Cary, which was on display at the
Necrotic Creations display. Cary embodied
everything that a horror-lover's Halloween is all
about; he designed creative horror props and ran
a website for citizens who enjoyed making their
homes into Halloween haunts. As per his
specifications, a gory decapitated head prop was
made from a lifecast taken of him so that he could
continue to feed the spirit of Halloween from
beyond the grave.
A make-up artist tears a girl's face off...the hard way.
The now immortal face of grassroots haunt productions, Rik
"Perfessor Evil" Cary. Photos by Scott Feinblatt
To see MANY more photos of Scare LA, visit the
Horror Works Facebook page.