Welcome the the 2010 Halloween edition of LL80sH, after a couple of months of silence. I know, it's been awhile, but did you think I would forget the busiest and most-favorite time for horror fans everyone? I think eh-not!
Tonight I'd like to bring to you a glimpse of this year's local Halloween attraction - the Chamber of Thrills, presented by the Greater Reedley Chamber of Commerce located in downtown Reedley, California. So what happens when one of the most beloved and well-known haunts in the area is forced to close down for the season? They ignore adversity and come back in a different venue with a vengeance!
So, being the avid horror fan that I am, I just knew that I had to attend this little psycho-fiesta. I always like to tell people that I meet that are interested in horror that there's nothing quite like the feel of walking through something as visceral as a haunted attraction. Sure, I could see that some would argue that with places like Six Flags and Busch Gardens holding their own version of scare-fests for the October season (with huge production budgets), but it doesn't compare to what the minds of a local group of people passionate about horror (and a low budget) can conjure up.
So the first thing I did when I arrived was walk in without any expectations, just like walking into a horror film that you're about to see for the first time. You know that you've seen films that have scared you half to death, but then again you have seen those that have bored the holy crap out of you that you never want to see again. If you expect too much in this genre, there's that chance that you will be disappointed. So I just sucked it up and got my tickets. I wore my "Ghostbusters" T-shirt in the hopes that someone in the crowd would recognize and appreciate the irony of it, but alas, the irony itself was the fact that the two dragon puppets (which were a fantastic and rather deranged tribute to Statler and Waldorf of "The Muppet Show") that welcomed you to the attraction, got the inside joke and pleaded with me to not call the Ghostbusters on them!
Before even walking into the attraction, I was treated to several choruses of young female screams as one of the actors playing a demon of Lucifer's legion popping out of nowhere and terrorizing the group of said girls. And by "terrorizing" I mean seriously scaring them. This actor was relentless about staying in character and chased the group as their screams echoed through the waiting are of the entrance. And let me tell you, it was pretty convincing. As I looked around, several of the characters made their presence known and it set a great tone for what was waiting inside: A creepy version of Raggedy Ann - along with her severed head in a basket, an actor dressed as a seven-foot rat, A man who adorned his face with barbed wire and blood (carrying a huge axe!), and a person with the body of a human being, and the head of a fox. Don't get me wrong, I know these were people dressed up, but you couldn't help but slowly get sucked into the madness that was about to happen.
The verdict: Amazing! From the moment we walked into the psychedelic and black lit 3-D prologue, I had a feeling this was going to be a memorable ride. Everything from deranged clowns, an insane asylum, to a very spooky walk through a cornfield - that seriously gave me the "Children of the Corn" creeps. What I was struck by the most was that everyone was in character and did what they needed to do to remain so. People popping out from the darkness to grab you and get you to scream out loud, to characters literally following you through the maze - and with (what looked like) real weapons!.
For one brief moment, if you're in the right mindset, of course, you are right in the center of a scene in a horror film. Complete with the rushing adrenalin and that real feeling that someone is after you! For me, though, having been immersed in 70's and 80's horror from such a young age was the attraction's closing point: Walking through the exit, thinking that it's all over only to be confronted by a chainsaw-wielding maniac! And with a real chainsaw! Now if that isn't enough to shit your pants - I don't care how tough you think you might be - then you're a lost cause. The perfect - and completely unexpected - finish to an experience such as this. And forget two two-minute lasting, people--waiting-in-long-lines-behind-you, gotta-move-you-quick-to-get-everyone-through nonsense. How about spending along the line of ten minutes within the annals of a twisted spectacle such as this thrown by people who obviously know what they're doing?
But, let's talk about what I loved the most: The cast. I don't think I've ever come across a more friendly, more experienced bunch of people. And they all knew why they were there and what their main focus was: to entertain and to scare the hell out of you. Though I have to admit that while I spent most of my time laughing (from all the fun I was having), I did have a moment or two in which the Jack McFarland in me came out and I yelped out like, for lack of a better analogy, a helpless puppy in search of its master. My friend Darlene (Admin for the Chamber) and her eight year-old son Paul accompanied me and needless to say it was a night that we would not soon forget.
I'm hoping that this particular attraction returns to Reedley next year soI can do it all over again (Thanks to Lore Callahan, who put this all together, for letting us experience it not once but twice.) Thank you to all the crew (in particular the two great gents who guided us into the attraction), and cast who took the time out to talk with me, and pose for great pictures: Creepy Raggedy-Ann gal, Axe-wielding man, the character known as "Monster", creepy guy with the machete, 7-foot rat guy, Fox-human (Lore), Hillbilly guy (seen above), Chainsaw guy, Insane Asylum doctor-guy, Hippie guy, and my two favorite characters: "Big Red" who was decked out in fabulous drag, and the guy I call, "Mel-Gibson-as-Braveheart-dude". You guys were wonderful and showed a horror-obsessed guy a really good time.
Happy Halloween 2010 everyone!
If you're the slightest bit of a horror fan, I recommend that you seek out something of this type in your local area. There's nothing like being scared and having a great time at a place like this.
To see all the great photos from my visit to the Chamber of Thrills (and some are pretty great), click here.