The City of Angels Goes Dark at Scare LA

Welcome to Scare LA
Welcome to Scare LA

Scare LA was the first weekend-long horror convention of its kind, debuting back in 2013. It inspired others, such as Midsummer Scream, another event dedicated to resurrecting the Halloween spirit during summer. This was my first time attending the festival, which took place in mid-August.  If you haven’t experienced it for yourself, here’s a look at what happened this year.

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Scare LA set up shop at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The event spanned two days, Saturday and Sunday, with different presentations, classes and movie screenings taking place. I checked it out on Sunday and, after learning my lesson from going to Midsummer Scream, I made sure to have a game plan of what I wanted to see and do.

Monster Stage hosts Pinche and Vander Von Odd at Scare LA
Monster Stage hosts Pinche and Vander Von Odd at Scare LA

All panels took place on the Monster Stage featuring Vander Von Odd and Pinche as the hosts. Both were former contestants on the drag show “Boulet Brothers Dragula” with Von Odd winning first place. This pair had such good chemistry and were hilarious. In between presentations, they relayed funny Halloween anecdotes from their childhoods and shared diva moments from their time on the Boulet Brothers show.

Evil Genius: True Crime panel from left to right: Bethany Jones, Adriana Padilla  and Trey Borzillieri
Evil Genius: True Crime panel from left to right: Bethany Jones, Adriana Padilla and Trey Borzillieri

The first discussion I sat in on was “Evil Genius: True Crime.” The panel included three producers of true crime documentaries — Adriana Padilla, Bethany Jones and Trey Borzillieri. The Netflix series “Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist” was produced by Borzillieri, who revealed engrossing details about the case and the research he did to create the show. Padilla and Jones also discussed cases they have worked on and the criminals they’ve come face-to-face with to bring these shows to life on the small screen. I’ve already added Netflix’s “Evil Genius” to my instant que!

John Murdy and Chris Williams
Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights creative director John Murdy and art director Chris Williams

Next up was a special feature by Universal Studios Hollywood: Halloween Horror Nights. I go to this event every year, so I was looking forward to the presentation. Creative director John Murdy and art director Chris Williams gave a fascinating, in-depth look at the inspiration for this year’s HHN, which is — get ready for it — the Universal monsters! Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, and others will be the stars of a new maze that will have several rooms, each dedicated to one of the monsters. I cannot wait to experience this attraction!

Slash, lead guitarist of Guns N' Roses, made a surprise appearance during the Halloween Horror Nights panel at Scare LA
Slash, lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, made a surprise appearance during the Halloween Horror Nights panel at Scare LA

As if it couldn’t get any better, Slash, lead guitarist from Guns N’ Roses, made a surprise appearance. He collaborated with the duo on the music for the maze and previewed bits of it for the audience. Listening to the tracks made my blood bubble in the best way possible. This is his second time composing music for Halloween Horror Nights.

Linda Blair, star of "The Exorcist," at Scare LA
Linda Blair, star of “The Exorcist,” at Scare LA

Linda Blair of “The Exorcist” made an appearance, but her time on stage was brief. She was slated to discuss the iconic horror film, but she refused to answer any questions from the audience related to it. Instead, she told them to watch a full-length documentary about the movie to get answers to their queries. She discussed her humanitarian project, The Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting animal cruelty. I have four pets and fully believe we need to do a better job of protecting animals and I appreciate the work she’s doing, but it was disappointing how she handled the topic of “The Exorcist.” It came across as if it wasn’t worth her time to discuss the film with horror fans, and for it being a horror convention, I was surprised she didn’t give it a bit more attention.  I think most of the audience felt the same.

"Haunters: The Art of the Scare" panel
“Haunters: The Art of the Scare” panel

The last presentation of the day that I saw made up for the previous one. It included a few of the folks from the documentary “Haunters: The Art of the Scare.” The moderator spoke with Blackout creator Josh Randall; “legendary monster and actress” Shar Mayer; actress and producer Jessica Cameron; and Donald Julson, the man behind the maze Nightmare on Loganberry and creator of two of the mazes at Scare LA. They shared their passion for horror and the thrill of the scare. After seeing this panel, I went home and watched the documentary. But more on that in another blog post!

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Besides presentations, there were tons of photo op areas, roaming monsters, terrifying mazes and exhibitors on the show floor. The convention put me in contact with many awesome vendors I didn’t know about and introduced me to macabre attractions coming to my area. One seller, Mary Manchin, had some awesome taxidermy on display and I left with a snow globe containing a floating bat inside.

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I’m glad I finally made it to Scare LA. The event left me brimming with ideas of attractions to visit. If you attended or have been before, let me know in the comments below.

To learn more, visit the Scare LA official website.

And read all about my time at Midsummer Scream here.

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