Our Visit to ScareLA 2014

Last Saturday we attended ScareLA, a convention for haunts, horror and Halloween. It’s not our usual scene but we had friends exhibiting there. When we received an invite as press, it pretty much sealed the deal. I should qualify this “recap” by saying that we pretty much stunk it up as press. We got there late in …

Last Saturday we attended ScareLA, a convention for haunts, horror and Halloween. It’s not our usual scene but we had friends exhibiting there. When we received an invite as press, it pretty much sealed the deal.

I should qualify this “recap” by saying that we pretty much stunk it up as press. We got there late in the day, thanks to the “Cajon Crawl” and the struggle to get our website back up after the fiasco with Squarespace. We missed a number of presentations including When Hinges Creak, a Haunted Mansion anniversary celebration with Bob Gurr and Alice Davis hosted by Jeff Baham of Doombuggies.com. Still kicking ourselves over that one!

What we were able to get to was a class on pumpkin carving taught by Joseph Yakovetic and Bridget McCarty, both of whom carve pumpkins at Disneyland back in the Big Thunder Ranch area come Halloween time. I haven’t carved a pumpkin since I was 10 or so, so watching them craft works of art and share what they’ve learned was pretty mind blowing. Michaela and I will definitely be trying out some ideas on our own gourds this year!

The convention was held on two separate floors of the LA Mart building. Many of the classes took place on the 7th floor while exhibitors had reign of floor number 2.

When I said that this wasn’t our scene, that might have been an understatement. It’s been a hard thing to wrap our heads around since we got back. We love the creativity, the talent and the imagination that so many of the folks at ScareLA had but violence and the grotesque just aren’t really for us. What’s really peculiar is that many of the people that love this sort of thing and walk around dressed as the undead or vampires are some of the nicest people.

We were a little… nervous to get off the elevator but figured, “What the heck? We just rode it with a guy dressed as a killer clown and a girl missing half of her face. It’s all down hill from here!” And for the most part it was. There were some incredible mini haunt previews outside the elevators on both floors. The show floor was grand and filled with opportunities to plan a scare or have one. There was even an interactive experience to survive a real zombie horde armed with only an air pellet rifle! Didn’t try that one, which is why, I suspect, I still have my brain.

We made our way hastily back to the Spectral Illusions booth which features the brilliant work of our friend, Rob Ostir. He specializes in haunt projections and Pepper’s ghost effects and general awesomeness. He had some new projections that we had never seen before that were just amazing. Michaela and I especially fell in love with the Phantom of the Park, seen in the first two images below. I’m thinking Disney needs to hire Rob to reimagine a Hatbox Ghost effect in the Haunted Mansion…

At Rob’s booth we ran into Eric Maurin who runs the House of Restless Spirits. We had just missed Matt and Lori Ford who run the House at Haunted Hill. Just thinking about that group of people makes me happy. It was nearly two years ago that Rob asked us to come out and take pictures of the their haunts. Meeting them all in one evening and being treated to their creativity and hospitality was a fantastic night I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Any preconceived notions I’d had about home haunts had the doors blown right off the hinges. There’s something really special about the things people make simply because they want/love to.

While we talked, Eric shared that Rob had worked with Garner Holt Productions and done the explosion scene in the new Calico Mine Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm—something Rob wouldn’t tout himself because he’s far too humble. Add that to my list of things to do/see now!

If you love Halloween, haunts and/or horror, ScareLA is a dream nightmare come true. If, however, you like to sleep at night… Kidding. Sort of. Despite our concerns, we actually had a good time. Michaela rocked most of these pictures while I hid behind her… The best part, of course, was getting to see friends. My only regret is that we got there late in the day and didn’t spend enough time with them.

About Matt Hansen

Matt is a photographer and designer based in San Diego. When he’s not working, he's charting his next adventure over coffee or craft beer.
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