7 Wild, Creepy And Delightfully Strange Haunts For Halloween

By Abel Horwitz

Los Angeles' haunted house scene is strong. As I wrote last year, haunted houses in Los Angeles are much more varied the traditional "jump out at you" scare you'll typically find dotting strip malls across the country this time of year.

I have compiled a list of haunts in L.A. that I feel are worth highlighting.

Noticeably absent this year is "Delusion," the crown jewel in the Los Angeles haunt scene, as they prep for their year-round haunt opening in 2016 and "Blackout," which so far has only announced a San Francisco haunt.

But don't worry: L.A. has stepped up its game. These haunts will send shivers down your spine. As a tribute to the late legendary horror director Wes Craven, each haunt will be rated as one of his films.

Zombie Joe's Underground

"Horrifying, gruesome and bizarre," "truly distinctive" and recently named one of the 12 Best Theater Companies in Los Angeles, Zombie Joe's returns for their third year of "Urban Death Tour of Terror." This one's insane. (Full disclosure: I will be acting in this maze.) You start out in a maze and are handed a muted flashlight, two people let in at a time. Your flashlight falls on horrific performances, obfuscated just enough that you never know when the next one will appear. Then you are ushered into the performance space where you will witness some seriously deranged scenes—some funny, some terrifying, all great. Zombie Joe's Underground has been crafting some form of Urban Death for the past 10 years, and whatever you see is guaranteed to sear into your eyeballs. Absolutely leave the children at home.

Wes Craven Comparison: The sheer brutality of The Hills Have Eyes. Raw and unflinching.

URBAN DEATH Tour of Terror at Zombie Joe’s Underground is located at 4850 Lankershim Blvd in North Hollywood, 818-202-4120. It runs Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 8 pm and running every hour thru 12 am, October 2 through Halloween. Tickets are $13 at the door or online.


Drunken Devil Presents: The Sinner's Soiree

At 24, Matt Dorado is already well-established on the haunt scene. In 2013 he created Haunt SB in Santa Barbara, before setting his sights on L.A. After previewing his maze at ScareLA in August, Matt and his team are moving downtown into a full-scale Halloween haunt. Drunken Devil takes its inspiration from New Orleans mythology, old liquor bottle art and classic haunted house flair. My favorite haunted houses are the ones that have a bar at the end, and knowing Drunken Devil's attention to quality and detail (and a penchant for booze), this one has "must-see" written all over it.

Wes Craven Comparison: The Serpent and the Rainbow, black magic and campy fun.

The Sinner’s Soiree is located at Think Tank Gallery, 939 S. Maple Ave in the Garment District DTLA. Runs Friday thru Sunday, October 9th to November 1, 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Tickets are $18 GA, $25 Front of the Line and $50 VIP, purchase online or at the door, until sold out.


CreepLA

After Blackout's 2012 debut it seems that every year a new haunt steps up attempting to replicate the mystery and the rules that Blackout set: you must go through it alone, you must sign a release and you will be touched. ALONE, the first one out of the gate, has spiraled out into its own artistic direction (see below) and CreepLA appears to be taking up the torch.

This one's the wildcard of the bunch. A first-year haunt put on by a secret group with sparse information released. What intrigues me is the promise of them, but also the unknown quality that a new haunt can have. Not knowing what horrors are in store for us behind their doors is terrifying. The website is sufficiently creepy, and the information that they have given so far has me champing at the bit.

Wes Craven Comparison: The opening scene of Nightmare on Elm Street, where Tina is running through the boiler room. A mysterious Freddy Krueger chases her down, and she has no idea how she got there.

CreepLA is located at 718 E. Jackson St. (between Vignes St. and Center St., four blocks from Union Station). Runs Friday thru Sunday, October 2 to 31, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., as well as select Wednesdays and Thursdays (times TBA). $20 presale tickets, $25 online, $30 at door.


The 17th Door

Another Freshman haunt brimming with potential, a husband-and-wife team trying their hands at making the most depraved haunted house they can imagine. Their previews have been great and the production quality is on par with Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. In the story, you enter the mind of a young woman starting college who is trying to escape the horrors of high school, only to find out that college contains its own demons. Previews have compared it to Delusion, in which you enter into an immersive environment and watch a story play out in front of you. Located in Orange County (Tustin) so it ain’t close, but absolutely one to keep an eye on.

Wes Craven Comparison: New Nightmare. Great details, solid scares and a new take on the demons that haunt our subconscious.

The 17th Door is located at The Market Place in Tustin, 2856 El Camino Real, next door to Party City (spooky!). Abundant parking and restaurants. It runs Friday, September 25 thru Sunday November 1, select nights. Check website for hours. Tickets $21 - $35 depending on the night.


ALONE "Index of Absorption"

The fourth and final in a series of shows that ALONE has held this season using the theme of light and color to explore different shades of fear. Wild, wonderful and simply beautiful. Always worth checking out, but be prepared for the abstract. It's closer to an art piece than a haunted house. Go through it alone, get touched, come out weird.

Wes Craven Comparison: Scream. A haunted house that knows it's a haunted house. It subverts the rules of the haunt, yet still scares you silly.

ALONE (An Existential Haunting) location, date and tickets not yet announced.

Ghoulmaster's Haunted Playhouse

It's not a haunt, per se, but a stageshow. Promising one part Rocky Horror, one part Pee Wee's Playhouse, this show deserves some attention as one to check out if you're tired of monsters jumping out at you.

The Ghoulmaster gained a cult following and media attention from his six years of stage shows at Six Flags Fright Fest in Jackson, New Jersey, leading the audience through an evening of blood-soaked mayhem, dance, shocks, puppets, comedy and magic. Ghoulmaster is a variety show for those that celebrate Halloween year-round, and encourages you to let your freak flag fly. Dress to impress.

Wes Craven Comparison: Shocker. It's silly, silly, silly. Kind of scary. Pretty campy.

Ghoulmaster’s Haunted Playhouse is playing at the Hudson Mainstage Theater located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood, (323) 960-7724. It runs Friday, September 25 through Saturday, October 31, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets $25 online or by phone, $30 at door.


Fear Is What We Learned Here

It started as a "follow" on Instagram. Someone (or something) posting heavily shadowed images of Los Angeles and mysterious quotes. A quick dialog later and clearly there was something else. A puzzle to solve, a rabbit hole to go down, and soon an invitation to "join" their haunt. Pick a time slot, learn the rules, hope for the best.

Wes Craven Comparison: The Last House On The Left. You're gonna run into the wrong people.

"Fear Is What We Learned Here" is invite only. Find them, or perhaps they've already found you.