This year marked my first time attending Midsummer Scream — a Halloween and horror convention that happens in Long Beach, California. The annual two-day event is fairly new having been around for just three years. It took place the last weekend of July and paid special homage to the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein. In case you haven’t heard of or been to this ghoulish festival, here’s a look.
For those of us who can’t wait for Halloween, Midsummer Scream is an absolute dream, or shall I say nightmare? Monsters, goblins and villains from your favorite horror films make a special appearance. Many attendees go all out in full costume. I was excited to attend and had no idea what to expect.
The festival took place at the Long Beach Convention Center and there was an endless list of things to do. Although it was a weekend-long affair, I unfortunately could only attend Sunday. Despite that, even one day was an eventful experience! Festivities ran from 11am to about 7pm on both days (10am for Gold Bat passholders). It was apparent that there was an endless list of things to do and truth be told, I was a bit overwhelmed. I had no idea where to start!
For starters, there was an array of presentations and panels scheduled in various parts of the convention center. These included previews of the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor and Universal Studios Horror Nights; special performances like the Bob Baker Marionette Theater: Halloween Spooktacular; classes such as “Living in the Dark: Acting for Haunted Attractions & Immersive Theater” and a spirit board seminar by The Mystic Museum. Many of these overlapped, so I had to decide which ones I really wanted to check out. There was even a Black Cat Lounge where you could adopt rescued kitties!
I sat in on the “Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights” discussion, which introduced me to a new Halloween experience! Put on by Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, California, this spooky event debuted in 2017. The creators behind this gave a very enticing sneak peek at what to expect this year. On select nights in October, the backlot will be transformed into a haunted playground featuring mazes inspired by “It,” “The Exorcist,” “The Conjuring,” “Batman: Arkham Asylum” and “Freddy vs. Jason.” They are also having a separate attraction called Behind the Screams, which will be a tribute to Tim Burton showcasing props and costumes from his films, such as “Beetlejuice” and “The Corpse Bride.”
The other presentation I saw commemorated the 25th anniversary of “Hocus Pocus.” Three singers dressed as the Sanderson sisters recreated the scene where Bette Midler performs “I Put a Spell on You.” It was a fun number to watch. The panel included a few of the crew members as well as Thora Birch who played Max’s little sister Dani. They shared interesting stories about the long journey to getting the movie released, as well as on-the-set memories.
After, I made my way to the lower level where the Hall of Shadows was set up. This area exuded creepy vibes and delivered frights. Scares were waiting around every corner, plus there were several mazes with names such as The Hyde Street Massacre and Shattered Realm Inland Empire Asylum. I took a stroll through the Castle Frankenstein Portal Experience, which brought to life the dark lab inhabited by Victor, Igor and his creature.
There were also countless vendors selling the most unique and unusual items. From clothing to jewelry to art, you name it, it was here. Some of the brands present included Drklght Clothing, Bat in your Belfry, Trick or Treat Studios and Horror Writers Association, to name a few.
By the end of the day, I was a zombie (in a good way). I was exhausted and probably didn’t experience half of what there was to do — and that was just one day! I don’t know how people survive a full weekend, but I’m willing to attempt it next year. Now that I know what to expect, I can prepare and come up with a game plan, which I strongly suggest to anyone else planning to attend the 2019 festivities. Midsummer Scream has already announced it will happen in early August!
Overall, I had an awesome time, but I will share some tips that will hopefully help anyone going for the first time next year. First, it took a while to park, which caused me to miss some of the first presentations. Now I realize to either invest in the early entrance pass, give myself enough time to find parking, or take an Uber or Lyft. Second, it was chaotic once I entered the venue, which I know shouldn’t come as a surprise since it was a sold-out event. The upper level where presentations were happening got especially congested. Space was tight, and lines were long because people were cueing up to get into the various discussions and shows taking place. Get in line early if you want to sit close to the stage. There was a bar located at the main entrance, so a glass of wine helped with the waiting and crowds. Thirdly, as I’ve already mentioned, do some research beforehand to find out what’s happening on which days, so you’re not overwhelmed by what to do first.
Midsummer Scream has left me pining even more for October and the fall season, but it did give me enough of a taste to satiate my appetite. For more information, check out the official website.
For other ways to conjure up spooky vibes, read Best Ways to Keep the Halloween Spirit Alive Year-Round.