Thank you to Chelsea Cook, Alyssa Concha and Taylor Winters for their contributions in writing or photography to our walkthrough home haunt crawl article.
Walkthrough haunts were few and far between this year. With all the Covid restrictions, many haunts switched to elaborate yard displays. However, there were a small few who created outdoor experiences, with all actors in masks and gloves and implemented strong line control to ensure social distancing. We checked out a few of these home haunts on Halloween night and were delighted by the sheer passion and heart that went into making these haunts come to life even if for only one weekend.
Nightmare on Elmer Lane
Nightmare on Elmer Lane felt like a party! Walking up at dusk, a DJ played a techno remix of the Nightmare on Elm Street theme song. We quickly got in line, marked by socially distant X’s and soon entered the haunt, in between two massive coffins entombing skeletons.
A long path up to the front door was beautifully lit and filled with fog with a singular shambling zombie perfectly silhouetted against the red glow beyond. Numerous Spirit Halloween zombified babies played on a playset to our right.
As we entered the maze-like, outdoor façade, the use of fog and light in this home haunt became even more apparent. Hanging material mixed with fog and a deep green light made navigating the space a treat; and the next area showcased large spider cocoons hanging from the roped netting above. A butcher in a skeletal mask cut limbs for our pleasure, and a massive disco clown party had us dancing through the room. The haunt ended with a classic chainsaw gag with a winding path through a cemetery.
Nightmare on Elmer Lane was a wonderful home haunt that packed a lot into its modest space. The acting was fantastic and it felt like a labor of love. The party vibe alone made this one I would have loved to hang out at and enjoy the good vibes.
Twisted Dreams has been on our lists for years, and we finally found the opportunity to experience this home haunt. This haunt was easy to see from the streets as a hearse filled their front lawn, obstructing the view of a home with boarded up windows.
We approach the haunt from the side-yard, as a girl in a nun costume lets us in. A small path leads us to a bloodied man in a wheelchair, cut up beyond recognition. It was tough to tell if he was real or not, so we did not wait around to find out. Entering the garage, the lighting was dim and foggy, reminiscent of any good horror movie. Dingy and creepy, we started to see signs of flesh, skin, and bone.
Turning a corner, a light covered in human flesh leaks out just enough light to showcase a work bench with a man strung up from chains and hooks rests above it. Intestines and bowels hang from the ceiling as well, as a man in a yellow rain jacket and a skin face laughs and brandishes a weapon to us. We’d like to keep our skin, so we escape back into the night with our faces intact.
The Virus was a short five-minute walkthrough home haunt that featured a quarantine zombie theme and ran on Halloween night only. Incorporating the current Corona virus situation into their home haunt, they tasked audiences with entering their haunt to find the cure for Zombid-13 and saving us all. With our temperatures checked and some hand sanitizer, we were sent in with our mission.
The first scene showcased a destroyed electrical box, hinting that zombies quarantined had escaped—we soon found that to be true. A combination of people in hazmat suits held the zombies at bay, protecting us and urging us to continue on our mission. A man trapped behind bars pleaded that we release him; he was not infected. We ignored his pleas and entered deeper into the haunt.
The experience quickly switched to a clown theme with a large animatronic clown towering over us before we entered back into a zombie quarantine zone. Straight out of The Walking Dead, a boarded up double door scene held more zombies at bay as hands reached through the windows and child zombies screamed.
“Here’s the cure!” A woman yells at us and she thrusts bags of candy into our hands. “Candy is the cure”. And with the cure, we return into the night, our masks still on to resume our home haunt crawl.
Bloody Acres Outdoor Haunt
Bloody Acres was one of the longest home haunts of our OC walkthrough home haunt crawl—and definitely one of the most fun. Tucked into a more affluent neighborhood of Orange County, this haunt invited us into the massive backyard of a family who loved their movies.
The first thing we noticed was a gigantic Hollywood sign set against the backdrop of their pool—the reflection against the blood red water setting the tone for this haunt. But the blood red look of the water wasn’t just lighting—a body floated face down in the water.
As we moved past the pool, we found the movie Scream projected onto a wall as Ghostface stood silently waiting for us to pass—and then he stalked us with precision. We entered a long tarped off area full of fog with a pumpkinhead-like creature waiting on the other end. This use of building dread as we approached the monsters worked wonderfully in their favor in this haunt.
As we navigated this foggy tarp maze, the creatures inside simply used the loud sounds of the tarp and the ability to pop in and out of areas to effectively scare us. It was simple, but it worked—and got some of the best scares of the night.
This haunt was a wonderful use of space and was effective in creating a dreadful atmosphere through actors who weren’t afraid to create tension and not just rely on jump scares. Bravo, Bloody Acres!
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