Event Report: Screams Halloween Theme Park - Dread Central
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Event Report: Screams Halloween Theme Park

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Screams has been around for over 20 years now down in Waxahachie, just south of Dallas, TX.  Built on the same ground as the Scarborough Faire renaissance festival every Halloween, Screams is not your average haunt.  Dallas is a mecca of sorts for haunts, but Screams is even unique among the rest of the “haunted theme park” style haunts in the area.

Screams entry gate with fire geyser.

With five mazes and a plethora of other activities for one low entrance fee, Screams is all about getting the biggest bang for your buck.  They aren’t as high tech or detailed as many of the other local haunts, but for the low 2017 entree fee of $30 per person, you can go through the mazes as many times as park hours allow and take part of much of the other entertainment for no additional charge.  Even the carnival games and booths aren’t priced badly, averaging around $3 a turn to throw some hatchets, shoot a zombie, or get executed.

More on that in a minute.

Accompanied by DC’s other DFW denizen, Freddy Ruiz, I hit Screams on the first Friday in October.  Haunt tip: early Fridays are a GREAT time to hit haunts.  Crowds are down, lines are short, but the show is the same.  Such was the case at Screams, with only one wait hitting close to half an hour all night long.  Another great thing about Screams is that their fast pass option is only an additional $15.  $45 for the whole package as well as fast pass entry?  That’s an amazing bargain given standalone haunts elsewhere in the region can go for nearly $30 a person for a single entry without a fast pass to skip the line.

Screams ticket booth.

The mazes at Screams are the star attraction, and like the rest of the haunt, they’re more or less outdoors or at least without climate control.  In the warmer early-October night, that was only an issue at Pirates of Peril Point.  That one got a bit…musky…in places.  Hey, pirates aren’t known for their hygiene, and they’re pretty active in there, so at least it attains the funk honestly.  Just be prepared when visiting Screams that this is definitely a climate-dependent attraction: if it’s hot, it’ll be hot. If it’s cold, it’ll be cold.  If it’s raining, it’ll be wet.

Out of the five mazes, Freddy and I were torn on which was the best.  It was a dead heat (no pun intended) between the Zombie Wasteland and Carnevil Clown Maze.  I preferred the zombies, despite my overall zombie fatigue.  The actors in this one were really, really on point.  Some incredible energy and performances going on over there.  The outdoor setting fit the haunt perfectly and gave the zombies plenty of room to work.

Freddy preferred the clowns, partially because of the performers (who I agree are excellent) and partly because of the format.  Carnevil is a true maze.  It’s free form.  Theming is limited, the scares come solely from the clowns roving the maze.  You could theoretically wander around in there for hours.  We honestly had a hard time finding our way out, and the constant interference of the clowns (THE CLOWNS LIE) didn’t help.  We saw groups just getting nailed in Carnevil by the clowns.  Not literally.  I think.  But absolutely terrified, intentionally split up into smaller groups to enhance the terror, working the environment to hit the same group again and again, just some fine haunt work. I’ve been a spook, and these folks knew their stuff.

Clown + chainsaw = Carnevil

The Castle Of The Doomed and Hotel Of Horror were in the middle.  Castle has the best setting of all the haunts: an actual castle, complete with huge fire plumes at the entrance.  It’s the most traditional of the haunts, is mostly indoors, and has some excellent decor.  However, maybe due to when we went or the time we passed through, the whole thing seemed a little sparsely populated.  We definitely didn’t get the energy we saw in the first two mazes.  This is also an extremely horny maze (you’re welcome, Steve) with loud horns going off throughout.  I get that it matches the war-based theme of the maze, but it was more annoying than unnerving.

The Castle Of The Doomed with 30-ft fire geysers…these guys get HOT.

Hotel is also mostly indoors, but suffers from a little confusion in theme.  It’s the Hotel of Horrors, but really seemed more themed to a restaurant than a hotel other than a bed here or there.  There’s a definitely Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe here, and your host out front is a mad chef. This just reinforces the twisted cannibal theme as opposed to a hotel.  The back third of the house or so is a little odd as well.  After 2/3 of heavily themed, high energy haunt, the back third is really just a black maze with some music.  A bit puzzling.

Both of those mazes, however, are a good time, don’t get me wrong.  They could be better, but they’re certainly a hoot.  The Castle’s theming and sets make it a worthy stop, and Hotel’s gruesome intensity adds a nice touch of gore to the other less-bloody mazes.

The only real dud of the set is Pirates of Peril Point, the 3D maze.  If you haven’t been through a 3D haunt, they’re painted in specific day-glow colors and you’re given polarized glasses.  This makes some colors jump out in 3D, leading to a weird, psychadelic effect.  They’re used often, everywhere from Knott’s Scary Farm to DFW’s own Thrillvania.  Here, to be honest, the effect isn’t used that well.  The 3D is never spectacular, and they don’t use many of the tactics 3D gives you, such as “blackout” costumes with 3D elements allowing a spook to completely disappear into a background for perfect scare opportunities.  The maze is small and tight, leading to the musky funk I mentioned earlier, but it also doesn’t give the actors much room to work.  While they appeared in all mazes, Pirates featured just an awful lot of what Freddy termed the “blowsplosions”: air cannons that go off as you pass with a loud noise, usually near your feet.  They’re a fine effect, but overused here.

Pirates needs a rethink, but it’s still worth one pass through.  That’s the beauty of Screams: if you don’t like an attraction, move on to the next, or do your favorite multiple times.  The problem with traditional haunts is that if you don’t dig it, oh well, that was that.  It’s not the case here; have a beverage, take a break, and head back to your favorite maze three or four more times before they close things up.

Some of the food stalls at Screams.

It also must be said that the acting throughout the park is top notch.  These guys and gals put it all out there and do a great job.

That’s something else well worth mentioning: Screams is brought to you by the same people that bring you Scarborough, so much of the same food and drink service is available.  It’s rare you find a haunt with a full bar, or sausage on a stick.  (And if they do, you don’t want the sausage…I’m looking at you, Carl Cleaver.)  They also have a full service (?!?) bar and restaurant, the Full Moon Cafe.  Freddy and I took a snack break there.  We got the Stuffed Potato Kegs, huge tater tots with baked potato toppings built right in.  They were very good, reasonably priced, and went down great with our hard ciders poured cold from the tap.  Sandwiches and other pub grub are available.  The service was also excellent thanks to the lovely and talented future vendor of costumery, Myranda.

Why, there’s Myranda on the right!

That’s really the feel of Screams and the entire selling point: it’s a ren faire from hell.  Take all the fun stuff from a ren fest, replace the knights and jousting with killer clowns and haunts, and put it after dark.  Voila, instant fun.  Karaoke contests, rock climbing walls, games of skill, shops and vendors, and yes, even an electric chair that will give you the buzz for a $3 fee.

Get executed…just $3!

This will sound like an insult, but it isn’t: Screams is the Wal-Mart of haunts.  Everything under one roof for a really great price.  There’s nothing wrong with that and everything great about it.  Even trucking along at a good pace and skipping most of the extra entertainment, we were still there for nearly four hours.  That’s a hell of a bargain at $30 a ticket.

Screams is open Fridays and Saturdays between now and October 28th.  Tickets are available via their website now, including Fast Pass and Group packages!

Screams hearse

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Lionsgate Actively Developing The Blair Witch Project TV Series

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Recently it was announced via Deadline that Lionsgate is gathering together digital content for their new brand Studio L.

In today’s fast-changing media landscape, Lionsgate is committed to creating and distributing various types of content for next-generation audiences with some of the most exciting creative voices and innovative partners in our industry,” said Studio L Executive Vice President Seth Laderman.

He continues: “The projects announced today signal our commitment to finding stand-out material, incubating new talent, and delivering authentic storytelling. We will also continue to cultivate and foster fresh opportunities with existing Lionsgate properties, all built around Studio L’s low-risk, high-reward distribution model.

One of the “existing Lionsgate properties” he’s talking about is evidently a TV series based on Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez classic found footage flick The Blair Witch Project. No further details about the series are known at this time but we will make sure to keep you guys up to date as news pours in.

Are you excited about a TV series based on The Blair Witch Project? Let us know below!

Synopsis:

Found video footage tells the tale of three film students (Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams) who’ve traveled to a small town to collect documentary footage about the Blair Witch, a legendary local murderer. Over the course of several days, the students interview townspeople and gather clues to support the tale’s veracity. But the project takes a frightening turn when the students lose their way in the woods and begin hearing horrific noises.

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Stephen King’s IT Star Jeremy Ray Taylor and More Join Goosebumps 2

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GoosebumpsI was a big fan of the Jack Black Goosebumps movie that came out a few years back. Makes sense. I was a big fan of the R.L. Stine book series as a kid.

It’s with this in mind I’m excited about the upcoming Goosebump 2 and today we have an update on the film via Variety.

Turns out the kid cast of the sequel has been gathered together, and leading the pack will be chubby Ben from Stephen King’s IT aka Jeremy Ray Taylor.

On top of Taylor, the other child in the cast include Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Ben O’Brien (Manchester by the Sea), and Caleel Harris (“Castle Rock”).

While we don’t know any details regarding the sequel’s plot, Variety suspects it will “focus on iconic characters and storylines featured in the Goosebumps series.”

Ari Sandel is developing the project with Neal H. Moritz and Deborah Forte producing.

We’ll let you know when we hear more. What did you think of the original film and how excited are you for Goosebumps 2? Let us know below!

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Attack of the Mushroom People Attacks Amazon Prime

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We don’t typically get excited about press releases wanting to the world to know a 55-year-old monster movie has just been made available for free to Amazon Prime subscribers, but when that movie is Attack of the Mushroom People

Not familiar with this trippy 1963 creature feature from longtime Godzilla director Ishiro Honda? If you thought Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster was the pinnacle of bizarro Toho filmmaking, then you’ve never seen Matango, aka Attack of the Mushroom People.

Synopsis:
After a yacht is damaged in a storm, its boarders stranded on a deserted island take refuge in a mysterious fungus-covered boat. With nothing else to eat, some members of the shipwrecked party begin to ingest mysterious mushrooms, transforming them into hideous monsters.

By “hideous monsters” they quite literally mean “mushroom people” that look like something Sid & Marty Krofft would have come up in the 1970’s had they ever attempted a Lovecraft-themed kid’s show.

H.P. Pufnstuf?

SGL Entertainment is pleased to announce they have just released this fungal fright flick on Amazon Prime in the United States and United Kingdom.

Well, you gonna drop some shrooms or not?

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