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Event Report: Reindeer Manor Halloween Park

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I was absolutely convinced I was going to be murdered.

Reindeer Manor Halloween Park is a collection of four haunts on one estate/farm just south of Dallas.  As is usually the case in Texas, you can drive 15 minute away from a bustling urban downtown and be in the proverbial sticks.

I’d followed Waze’s instructions south on 35, to a small road.  That road was paved and of decent width.  I then turned onto a smaller road.  It was narrow, and hadn’t been maintained since Ronald Reagan was president.  I then followed one of those old-fashioned signs with the flashing arrows on top.  No text, completely blank, but the arrow was flashing.  This turn put me on a gravel road, nothing but weeds or trees on either side.  After several twists and turns in the pitch-black countryside, I followed a spray-painted sign and left the gravel to start driving through a field.

This is when I became convinced I was going to be murdered.  It was only the presence of some parking staff in reflective vests that gave me hope this wasn’t some hillbilly cannibal cult’s way of filling their larders before winter.

Reindeer Manor sets the mood before you even enter the park itself, that’s safe to say.  Once you’ve parked in the field, you have a bit of a hike to find the actual entrance to the former Sharp Farm that houses the Halloween Park itself.  Inside, it’s laid out how one might imagine the Spahn Ranch looked during the Manson Family’s residence there.  A few old school buses, a couple of tents, some outbuildings, and the four actual haunts.  Random weirdos roaming amidst them, most of whom actually work for the haunt. I hope.

The original Manor is easy to consider the focus point of the park.  Located at the far end of one side of the property, the large, brick manor house has a graveyard in front of it and a picket-fence queue that wraps around said graveyard, leading up to the entrance.  Two different shows happen here while people wait to enter the manor.  One is a graveyard dance sequence set to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with various spooks literally climbing out of the graves to get down.  The other involves a man who really loves his chainsaw performing Jackyl’s “Chainsaw Song” while slicing up a body on the roof.  The geysers of blood that fly off the roof as he throws the body parts into the crowd certainly assist in setting the mood for what’s to come inside the house.

The fire roars during the rooftop chainsaw show

The Manor itself is a large, roaming building, and so is the haunt inside.  Continuously operating since 1974, it’s the oldest haunt in Texas and it is said to actually be haunted by the ghosts of a murder/suicide.  The theme is loose, although the haunt’s website describes the victims and perpetrators of a mass murder looking for vengeance.  This is a classic, old-school haunt, and I say that in the best way possible.  It’s a very, very old building (around 150 years old, I believe) and the sets work with that and set the tone of the haunt. The actors are in character, entirely makeup-driven (no mask work) and good at what they do.  You wander outside of the Manor into the back yard and farmland, so the haunt is much bigger than it appears to be on the outside.  A big finale features someone I’ve chosen to call “Bubbles”.  He looks great in pink chiffon.

The Manor itself

Near the Manor is the most recent addition to the Park, Shadow House.  This is a very strange little haunt, and I do mean little: this is a very small building and it only takes a few minutes to complete.  The owners seem to know this, and this haunt is only available with a general admission ticket.  (You can buy entrance to only one or two of the haunts, but Shadow Room isn’t an option for those tickets.)  It’s a bonus add-on for a full admission, and that’s really the only way it’d work.  A complete blackout maze, you’re given a glow stick on entry that’s a little too glowy.  I’d prefer a much dimmer stick like the ones Dark Hour uses for their Valentine’s Day blackout show.  This also doubles as the Park’s all-clown maze…and odd combination, as clowns are so visual, yet this is a pitch-black maze.  I’m not saying it doesn’t work, it was a fine little haunt, but it is definitely just a quick add-on to the three bigger haunts.

Heading back to the middle of the Park, you have Dungeon Of Doom.  This haunt originated in Arlington, some miles to the northwest of the Park’s location, and moved here in 2008.  The website describes this as an 80’s-style fun house.  I don’t know about that, it’s just a good, classic haunt.  The walls were rattling with the Van Helsing’s Curse album as we moved past scenes of various themes.  Everything from clowns to medieval torture appear in this one, and it works.  It’s not a narrative maze, it just wants to scare you.  It does a great job of that, with a strong cast and a fantastic gag at the end involving…well…lawn tools.  I’ll leave it at that.

Rounding out the haunt list is my personal favorite, 13th Street Morgue.  The name is downright strange: there are no streets anywhere near here, and the haunt is in the large, stone barn from the original Sharp Farm.  (Also said to be haunted.)  That oddity aside, the theme here is strong: this is an old-school morgue and mortuary you’re traveling through, and strange things are afoot.  Everyone from the reanimated dead to malevolent undertakers and gravediggers are here to threaten you.  This maze featured the best acting, the strongest narrative, and the best scares of the four.  It’s a strange haunt, to be sure.  At one point, I asked if everyone else in my group saw the pig man who had briefly appeared in a doorway.  I was afraid one of the substances I’d been sprayed with minutes earlier was laced with peyote.

The front of the 13th St Morgue

The Park has amenities other than haunts.  A food truck selling Tex-Mex goodies is available, with some covered outdoor seating.  One of the school buses has a photo service within.  There’s also a gift shop/snack tent with haunt merch and drinks available.

Reindeer Manor lives up to its reputation as one of the finest haunts in the DFW area.  They’ve been doing this for some time, and are on the second generation of family owners.  It shows, and they’re at the top of the game.  It’s worth the drive to parts unknown to spend a few hours roving the park.  Definitely forget about the partial ticket options: just buy the whole show and take the ride.  You won’t regret it.

Tickets and information are available via the Reindeer Manor website.

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KISS Meets Army of Darkness in New Comic Miniseries!

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Dynamite Entertainment just announced that they are planning to bring two of their bestselling brands together in “KISS/Army of Darkness #1”. The new comic book series will unite the rock band with none other than Ash for some Deadite ass kicking.

The series will be written by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims and illustrated by Ruairi Coleman. And the debut issue of “KISS/Army of Darkness” features three art covers from Kyle Strahm, Goni Montes, and Ken Haeser.

You can find all three covers below along with quotes from the creative team. After looking through all of that make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are about this new hybrid comic series in the comments below or on social media!

With Ash vs. The Army of Darkness, Chris and I were given kind of carte blanche to do whatever we wanted to the world of AOD, and we went for broke,” Co-writer Chad Bowers says. “We introduced some new characters and concepts, and built a legacy for Ash’s comics adventures that I’m immensely proud of, but not in a million years could I have guessed we’d get to continue that momentum with the added bonus of tossing the world’s greatest rock n’ roll band into the mix! I’ve been in the tank for KISS since I was in middle school. I remember buying the KISS tribute album, KISS My Ass for the Lemonheads (they covered Plaster Caster), which lead to me picking up Greatest Hits, and so on. But when I found out there was a KISS comic with blood in it, I signed up for life! Of course, I adore the songs (literally listening to Do You Love Me right now), but I’m just as obsessed with the way KISS transcends the music to become something of a genre themselves. It’s something I think about a lot, honestly, so no surprise, it’s a big part of our story too!”

“When it comes to Army of Darkness, I guess you could say that Ash is a bit of a gambler, but he’s nobody’s fool,” Co-writer Chris Sims says. “And since our first story was set back at Alan Shepard High, we’re looking forward to showing him some things that you can’t learn in school. Okay, okay, I’ll stop with the deep-cut lyrics now, but for real — if you thought Deadites at Homecoming and the Supernatural Military-Adjacent Response Team were taking Ash in a new direction, just wait until you see how we team him up with the Starchild, Space Ace, the Demon, and the Catman. In the grand tradition of the film, we’re tearing up the entire space-time continuum and if you think you know how weird this is gonna get… well, you sure know somethin’!”

“Having done some work for Dynamite in the past, I’ve really been wanting to get my foot in the door here for a long time so I can play in the sandbox of the amazing licenses they have,” Artist Ruairi Coleman says. “Chief among those, and high up on my bucket list, is Army of Darkness: Hail to the king, baby! So, when I was offered the job of drawing the KISS/Army of Darkness crossover, I couldn’t believe my luck! The concept is totally bonkers, but in a way, that would make complete sense in the world of Army of Darkness. Thinking about it, I’m surprised it hasn’t been done already and I’m honored (and more than a little intimidated) to be the guy who draws it.”

“After a more than 40-year career, KISS continues to be one of rock’s most celebrated bands, while Army of Darkness continues to be a staple in the comic book industry. We’re both honored to have the opportunity to work so closely with Gene and Paul to bring their world-renowned alter-egos to comics alongside our very own Ashy Slashy,” says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. “The raging guitar chords and pyrotechnic spectacle of their stage shows could have come straight from the pages of the Necronomicon, and this epic battle between The Demon and Deadites will appeal to the hellions in all of us!”

Issue #1 will be available on digital platforms courtesy of Comixology, Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Dynamite Digital, iVerse, Madefire, and Dark Horse Digital.

The KISS/Army of Darkness miniseries event hits February 2018.

Synopsis:

KISS is on top of the world and rocking faces until the night disciples of The Destroyer show up and the band disappears. With the tour canceled, a young Ash misses one of the most important events of his life that will change his destiny. Now the Chosen One has to get back on the right path and join the KISS ARMY OF DARKNESS!

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Jason Lives Director Pitched Follow-Up: Jason Vs Cheech and Chong

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One of my favorite entries in the Friday the 13th series is director ‘s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. The mixture of old-school gothic horror and comedy is always a welcome treat around these parts.

But why wasn’t McLoughlin asked to write and direct the follow-up?

Actually, it turns out he was asked to follow up Jason Lives, McLoughlin recently told Mick Garris on the Post Mortem podcast.

But his pitch – Jason vs Cheech and Chong – didn’t go over so well…

“[Frank Mancuso Jr.] wanted me to do another film after we did Jason,” McLoughlin says. “And I said, ‘What are you thinking? I don’t know what it could be now.’ And he said, ‘Well, what do you think about Freddy (Krueger) and Jason?’ And I go, ‘But Freddy’s at New Line and the guys at Paramount have [Jason].’ And it’s like, ‘Well, we’re going to try and see if we can work something out.’ So, I started thinking about that, going, It doesn’t make sense. I mean he lives in one realm and — you know, I take this stuff very seriously, what realm a monster’s supposed to stay in. And he came back, he goes, ‘Eh, forget it, it’s not going to work anyway.’ And I said, ‘You know what? You guys own Cheech and Chong. What if we do Cheech and Chong-meets-Jason? They’re like camp counselors or something. It’s like, ‘Hey, man, I saw Jason out there.’ ‘No, man, that’s a myth.’ But he said, ‘You know what? No.’”

Too bad. While I don’t know how well a Cheech and Chong/Friday the 13th flick would go, with McLoughlin at the helm, the film would have at least been funny as hell.

Plus we already got these two knuckleheads in Part III.

Are you upset we never got Tom McLoughlin’s Jason vs Cheech and Chong? Make sure to let us know in the comments below or on social media!

You can buy Friday the 13th: Part VI – Jason Lives on Blu-ray HERE.

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Blade Runner 2049’s Lackluster Box-Office Still a Mystery to Director Denis Villeneuve

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This past summer we were hit by director Denis Villeneuve’s stunning sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. While a hit with the critics and the audience that saw it, the film didn’t pull in quite the money the studio hoped for. Especially considering its budget.

With a budget of $150 million Blade Runner 2049 only managed to gather $89 million at the domestic box-office and $163 million worldwide.

Why didn’t the film make more cash? Well, director Denis Villeneuve has a few theories that he recently shared with Cinema Blend.

“I’m still digesting it,” he told the site. “I think because maybe people were not familiar enough with the universe. And the fact that the movie’s long [2 hours, 44 minutes run time]. I don’t know. It’s still a mystery to me. I make movies — I don’t sell them.”

Why do you think Blade Runner 2049 didn’t pull in more cash at the domestic box-office? Let us know in the comments below!

Blade Runner 2049 is directed by Denis Villeneuve from a script by Hampton Fancher (who wrote the original) and Michael Green. The script is based off a story by Hampton Fancher, which is in turn based on the original film’s source material “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Phillip K. Dick.

The film stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Edward James Olmos, David Dastmalchian, Lennie James, Barkhad Abdi, Sylvia Hoeks, Hiam Abbass, Carla Juri, David Benson, Ellie Wright, and Kingston Taylor.

Synopsis:

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

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