SFX ‘s West Coast Editor Joe McCabe gives the skinny on a Californian Halloween

There are few better places in which to experience Halloween than here in Los Angeles, a town that knows how to get its freak on most every day of the year. But throughout October, in addition to holiday-themed Mexican wrestling and burlesque, several local repertory movie theaters schedule horror film festivals and all-night fright film marathons. West Hollywood is the setting for an annual parade of costumes on the 31st, many of which are crafted by the professional makeup, effects, and costume folks who live here. And there’s no shortage of elaborate decorative displays adorning the homes and lawns of Burbank. (The reason for local boy Tim Burton’s holiday fetish is clear as you drive through town.) But that’s only the tip of the candy corn. This year, LA has special events like Danny Elfman’s first live music performance in decades at the Disney Concert Hall downtown (the first of three concerts was held earlier this week). Clive Barker introduced a special screening of his long-awaited Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theater last weekend. (I’ll have more on Clive’s plans for next summer’s DVD release of the film’s director’s cut, as well as his upcoming Hellraiser reboot, in the weeks ahead.) And the Dario Argento-movie-scoring Italian prog-rock band Goblin played their first-ever LA concerts at the Egyptian last week.

The theme parks get into the spirit of the holiday too. Six Flags Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm (dubbed Knott’s Scary Farm this time of year), and Disneyland all boast Halloween attractions, running through this coming weekend. But my new favourite just might be the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor.

Set on board and around the famous luxury ocean liner (which first launched from Southampton in 1936), Dark Harbor offers six themed scare mazes: Deadrise, Submerged, Hellfire, Village of the Damned, Containment, and the latest, Circus. All are equally thrilling, and possess a kind of relentless, authentic, almost DIY vibe that fuels the best indie horror films. (My favourite are those mazes that periodically fill their corridors with large pillows of air (blown bedsheets), which completely surround guests’ faces as they walk through them. I was fortunate enough to explore Dark Harbor a couple of weeks back with none other than SFX ’s resident horror expert, Penny Dreadful, who was working in LA for a few days. And I was happy to find that as many horror movies as Penny’s seen she can still enjoy a good scare. Here are some of the ghouls who terrorised us that night.

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The Los Angeles theme park kicked off its Halloween season with the opening night of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights – with a variety of scare mazes based on The Walking Dead , Insidious, Evil Dead , and other media properties – and the Eyegore Awards Ceremony. Each year the Eyegores honor a handful of horror luminaries for their contributions to pop culture. The worlds of film, TV, and music are well represented. On 20 September, I attended this year’s ceremony, hosted by Syfy’s Face/Off host Mackenzie Westmore. The honourees were Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne, indie horror mogul Jason Blum, Bruce “The Chin” Campbell of Evil Dead fame, Chucky creator Don Mancini, and beloved character actor Danny “Machete” Trejo, who shared some interesting news with me on the red carpet.

The Machete sequel, Machete Kills , recently opened in cinemas. But when I spoke with Danny at the Eyegores, after asking him what Machete would wear for Halloween (“A Lucha Libra Mask,” he replied, natch), I questioned him about the second Machete sequel, Machete Kills Again… In Space! (promised before the end credits of the first film). His words were few but intriguing. Check out what he had to say below…


Moonraker ? Seriously?! Good Lord, yes! That’s the perfect model of over-the-top goofiness for Machete. I’m happy to hear writer-director Robert Rodriguez is continuing to explore different genre film formulas as he chronicles the further adventures of our favourite taciturn Mexican hit man. Now if Rodriguez can only get Jessica Alba to don a form-fitting white spacesuit and Roger Moore to cameo as an evil megalomaniac, my life will be complete.

What do you think – what would you like to see Machete do on Mars? Besides wreaking gore-soaked, entrail-riddled havoc on a compound chock full of armed space criminals of course.
Joe McCab e @JMaCabre

Read Joe’s first Hollywood Hyperspace column.

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