Once a year, around Halloween, a vortex forms near an eerie little movie rental shop called Horrorwood Video. If you are lucky enough to enter this void, you can live out the horror movies that you loved so dearly. But these aren’t your typical Friday the 13th films, rather, they are some of the darkest movies to line this rental shop’s shelves. If you can survive all eight titles, you might return through this inter-dimensional fissure alive.
Produced by Majestic Repertory Theatre in Las Vegas, Horrorwood Video is a perfect retro-blend of immersive theater and a classic haunted house. Relying on impressive interactivity over jump scares, this experience immerses audiences in these films from the moment they walk in the door. Each film takes on a sizeable footprint within the theater, contributing to an overall expansive feel for the work. Further, Horrorwood Video allows audiences to really appreciate the details, actors, and set design of each film as guests are not pushed through, but rather, allowed to explore the space and live the horror.
Leon, the store owner, perfectly conveys his love—no obsession—of these mostly fictionalized films. Quoting numerous recognizable lines from classic horror movies, he’s the perfect guide for this venture—if you can get past his enthusiasm and greasy looks. Moreover, the set design in here is perfect: foggy and illuminated by an orange light, the space is littered with movie posters as John Carpenter’s Halloween plays on a small 1980’s television. Blink and you may miss the nods to many of the fictionalized movies you’ll experience in the upcoming rooms.
The Hex is the first of the titles that Leon takes you through. An homage to The Craft, the film focuses on a young girl spurned by a lover who wishes to put a hex on him. Taking place in her bedroom, join hands, and participate in the curse. But don’t chant too loudly—her mom is in the other room. It’s this mix of horror and humor that helps differentiate Horrorwood Video early on from its contemporaries.
The Trees Have Eyes
The second movie is The Trees Have Eyes. The indoor space transforms into an outdoor campsite as a Friday The 13th- inspired masked-figure appears before you. After a scare, he removes his mask to reveal a friendly face and asks if you remembered to bring the beer. It’s quickly revealed that he is not the villain of this film—but rather, the woods are filled with thousands of eight-legged monsters, ready to devour you and your guide. This room further reinforces the expertise of Horrorwood video to play with expectations and add their own twists on classic horror tropes, often in frightening yet humorous ways.
Pool Party Massacre
As you round a corner, you are met with a charred woman in a bikini. This is Pool Party Massacre, your third title. As you stare at her body and a bloody severed head sitting next to it, a man with an ax suddenly appears behind you. It’s none other than the director himself, Drew Maverick! This movie is unique at Horrorwood Video, boasting the only real film title among them. With a threatening gesture from his weapon and warning, you quickly decide to take your leave.
Heretic Baby 2: The Reckoning
Heretic Baby 2: The Reckoning is a Rosemary’s Baby meets The Omen film. Walking into an ominously blue-lit room complete with fireplace and large stained-glass window, numerous silhouetted figures stand before a crib holding a newborn baby. As you approach, the scene intensifies with chanting, screaming, and a reveal of the baby. This room showcases the beautiful lighting design of Majestic Repertory Theatre.
Homecoming Hell Night
Homecoming Hell Night is a faithful recreation of the finale of Carrie. On the main stage a girl screams while telekinetically forcing one girl to drown herself in the punch bowl and the other to electrify herself on exposed wires. All the while, light and fog are beautifully reflected in a fallen disco ball in the center of the room. This room serves as a clear testament to the way Horrorwood Video surrounds you with their sets and characters, placing you in the center of the action.
Gym Class of the Dead
To continue the school theme, Gym Class of the Dead features a nerdy girl struggling to hold a massive door. You rush to help her as Leon enters behind you. Just as you think you’ve closed the door and sealing it off against the undead football team. Leon is grabbed and tells you that you must go on alone if you hope to survive. Gym Class of the Dead is a short, but delightfully fun film that feels much larger than it is.
The 13th Halloween
Now without your guide, you move into the fog filled hallway of The 13th Halloween. A child wearing a clown masks stands motionless as you walk forward. The tension breaks as she reveals she’s simply a trick-or-treater trying to get that last piece of candy on Halloween night. But she’s at the witch’s door—and she’s afraid to knock; won’t you help her out? The door creaks open after a few of your brave raps. Subverting expectations yet again, a kind old woman opens the door and offers you a bit of candy after warning you of a mental institute runaway on the loose. Before exiting the quiet street, a Michael Myers-like figure emerges from the fog and lurches toward you with a knife as you narrowly escape his blade. The 13th Halloween builds tension and dread throughout and elicits some of the best laughs as those expectations are constantly destroyed and the scare comes completely unexpectedly. This was a highlight in terms of design and misdirection.
Slaughter House Massacre 5: Pig Gut’s Revenge
Your final scene is Slaughterhouse House Massacre 5: Pig Gut’s Revenge. As you approach a chain link fence, an old man sits in a rocking chair quietly sipping from what appears to be a skull cap. His wife comes out to offer you a sampling of their wares: a platter of fingers, roaches, and millipedes. She comments on how tender you look, offering some of the only mild contact throughout the night. Pleased with your meat, she summons the dreaded Pig Gut with a squeal. A man wearing a pig mask and wielding a roaring chainsaw appears next to you for one last scare. A Chainsaw Massacre-inspired room, the experience ends as most classic haunted houses do: running from a masked maniac with a chainsaw. It’s a perfect end to a perfectly executed experience.
Horrorwood Video offers a fun and interactive way to explore new twists on classic horror. Beyond their artful use of lighting and set design, their actors are what fully immerse audiences within the narrative and provide some of the best interactivity from a haunted-house inspired immersive experience. They boast an ambitiously large cast which ranges in age from children to elders. All of whom perform their scares and scenes to perfection. It is apparent that significant coordination went into the formation and execution of this concisely conceived show. Each scene filled with rich stimuli and nuanced details to absorb from every angle. Taking fictionalized films, inspired by real-life counterparts, each film felt fun and provided a small puzzle to solve as audiences determined what was really happening.
Reminiscent of last year’s Horror Rewind in Los Angeles, which was produced by Delusion’s Jon Braver and The Great Company, it is a wonderful compliment to compare Horrorwood Video to this in regards to acting and set design—but also to say that it expands this concept further and develop it into what feels like a fully realized experience.
Majestic Repertory Theater is producing some of the absolute best entertainment in Las Vegas, and working diligently to build a vibrant immersive scene. With beautiful lighting, dream-like fog filled sets, and an amazing cast, Horrorwood Video blends immersive theater and a classic haunt to create a truly unforgettable experience. I would love to see this concept revitalized every Halloween with new films, new stories, and the same Leon to guide us into the vortex.