I’ve been to quite a few conventions here in California, but I have to say that none of them have been as refreshing as ScareLA. Which, I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting. Since this was the first year for ScareLA I expected there to be a bit of madness and mayhem, but everything from the staff to the venue itself exuded a level of professionalism that’s rare to find in smaller cons.
If you get the chance to go today (which is the last day you can go) or if you’re thinking about going next year, I have no problem in saying that it would be worth your time to check it out. With the industry big wigs supporting the event and the enthusiastic haunter community coming out in droves to share their knowledge, it would seem as if this event has a long life ahead of it.
Now, with that being said, let’s talk about what I saw at the panels. Unfortunately, I only had time to attend three of the panels, but the three that I saw were definitely the highlight of the day for me. The first of which was “Bob Burns- A Haunt Legend in 3-D!” This was a little bit of an emotional experience, which is the first time I’ve ever used that expression in regards to a horror con panel.
The panel was hosted by Eric Kurland who did an excellent job of introducing the audience to local haunt/horror legend Bob Burns. To summarize Bob Burns and his life in a short little blurb would be impossible, instead I’ll direct you to his website. From his work in special effects during the early days of sci-fi and horror, to his impact on masters like Rick Baker, and even to his incredible collection of movie artifacts Bob has lived a life that most horror geeks only dream of.
Photographs by Carmen Zapata
In the hour long panel Bob and Eric looked at photos taken throughout Bob’s life and talked about the memories behind them and the people who had profound impacts on his life. What was really unique about the presentation was that it was done in 3D. Bob Burns had actually taken the photos using 3D cameras of the time and, thanks to Eric’s involvement, they were able to transfer the photos so that they could use modern 3D techniques. This allowed for photos that were crisp and clear, as if they were taken yesterday. It was very intimate and touching presentation. Hearing Bob Burns talk was like listening to my grandfather fondly reminisce about the “good ol’ days.” You can’t help but to get caught up in his enthusiasm and passion. If Bob comes back next year, I highly recommend you get in to see him talk.
Next up was the “Jason Blum Presentation” featuring the man behind Blumhouse Productions, Jason Blum. While he may be better known for horror movies like “The Purge”, “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious”, he was attending Scare LA to talk about his upcoming project “The Purge: Fear the Night.” I’ll admit that I’m still not sure what to think about this attraction, but some of the things that they revealed during the presentation really caught my attention. Here are a few of the tidbits they let out:
- Originally the backstory of the Purge was going to be that the US defaulted on its debt so China bought us out and chaos ensued. It was then that China implemented a corporate-type government to try and run the US. One of the first things this new government did to restore stability was initiate the Purge.
- “The Purge: Fear the Night” is designed to be a non-linear maze. So one of the ways they intend to tell a story is simply through creating a full world inside the attraction with a fleshed out narrative. That means everywhere you look there might be a detail that somehow expands upon the story. However, this means that guests might not get every piece of the puzzle, but that’ll allow for people to come together and share their experience and what they saw to complete the picture.
- Guests are considered characters within the narrative of “The Purge: Fear the Night.” This means there will be personal interactions with cast members and the environment.
- There could be varying paths where groups are broken up and sent down different doorways. This allows for them to break groups up into smaller portions for easier scares and to give the experience a unique and personal journey. It’s not a traditional walkthrough. You’ll enter differently, groups will disband and come together. People might wind up by themselves at some point.
- There’s a heavy emphasis on crowd control and management. There will be limited tickets and limited times so as to ensure that people aren’t being forced through the maze or stuck in a conga line.
- Jason Blum talked about how events like “The Purge: Fear the Night” might pop up throughout the year. The live entertainment market is growing every year and the demand has become greater. It’s possible we could see events next spring and summer, not just around Halloween.
Finally it was time for the Halloween Horror Nights panel which featured Universal Studios Hollywood Creative Director John Murdy and Art Director Chris Williams. They also brought on a special guest to announce the next maze that would be coming to Halloween Horror Nights. In case you missed the post yesterday, the next big maze is “Insidious: Enter the Further.” I took video of the entire panel, which you can view below. Check it out! There’s also a few photos of some of the concept designs.