For the better part of a decade now, I’ve taken a decidedly low-key approach to the pagan-approved holiday known as Halloween. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the festivities of dressing up in freakishly oddball costumes (see every convention Geek Outlaw has ever attended for photographic evidence), it’s just that I’ve settled into the ritual of throwing on my Outlaw jersey as I hand out candy to costumed mini-humans all while I watch Ghostbusters within the relative safety of my humble abode.
This year, that all changed as an out-of-town acquaintance I hadn’t seen for a while motivated me to peel my hind quarters off my furniture and into the real world to take advantage of several goings-on the Southern California area had on display this year on the scariest day of the year (right behind my yearly physical).
To find out more about my Spooky Mulder-like adventures, you’ll have to scroll down to see exactly what kept my arm, chest and back hair on edge as my visiting company and I descended upon the infamously scary night of October 31st.
Rise of the Jack-O-Lanterns
Most years, I’m usually the first geek on the block to whip our my serrated pumpkin carving knife that can barely cut tissue paper in order to get my uniquely carved orange squash out on the front steps. This year I was lazier than a mailman on a Monday, and decided that instead of bringing the over-sized veggies to me, I would go to where the pumpkins gathered this time of year, RISE of the Jack-O-Lanterns.
The event, which originated on the east coast, has a simple premise: put over 7000 carved pumpkins on display, all with designs representing different aspects of science, human and pop culture. After seeing a few photos from the past years events, I knew I had to go during the inaugural year of the incredible display of pumpkins on parade in Southern California. What I witnessed is near impossible to form into words and literally needs to be seen to be believed.
With that said, I’ll let the rest of the photos do the talking.
Borderline’s Halloween Party
Like any other good (or bad) Outlaw, I enjoy me some country music. It was last year’s impetus for me to travel down to Borderline Bar and Grill – my local watering hole – to see how their Halloween bash staked up. I pulled a Rick Grimes, quite literally as that’s what my costume of choice happened to be, and led myself, unaccompanied no less, to celebrate Halloween amongst like-minded country music lovers. Fellow Outlaws may remember the blog I posted about this party last year, and the financial windfall that graced my wallet after teaming up with a female zombie to win best couples’ costume.
Needless to say, we became such the power couple, Borderline felt it necessary to plaster our mugs across their advertising poster for the event. I might have suggested against that tactic if the goal was to draw a larger crowd this year, but I digress. Apparently no one saw the poster, seeing as the entire event was bigger and arguably better than last year’s shin-dig. While I didn’t score any cash this go around, I did manage to spend some quality time with friends Mike and Julie–who are also fellow worshipers of my favorite movie ever.
Universal Studios Horror Nights
Having been born and raised in the Southern California area, one would have thought the Outlaw had made his way to almost any major theme park themed event. Well, one would have thought wrong. Despite having been to Knott’s Scary Farm and each of Disneyland’s 174 holiday transformations during the year, I had never managed to make my way to Universal Studios’ now venerable Halloween Horror Nights.
Seeing as how Universal commissioned not just one, but two official Walking Dead attractions, I decided this was finally the year to break the champagne on the virtual cruise ship and take my inaugural trip to the park after hours on Halloween weekend.
Even though I don’t consider myself a horror fan – mainly because I’m a wuss on the inside to the highest degree – I’ve never found myself truly scared while attending the local haunted houses that are setup en masse during this time of year. If anything, I enjoy going because I enjoy seeing the production values which go into undertakings of this scope.
Let me tell you fellow Outlaws, Universal Studios managed to score some major pumpkin pie points on both merits. Not only did the park sink some major resources into making their attractions top notch, but they also succeeded in scaring the ever-loving bio-waste out of my body.
For starters, the park itself was riddled with zombies, chainsaw carrying maniacs, and crazed knife wielding psychopaths who look like they got slapped with every twig of the ugly tree during their decent down the trunk of it.
The Walking Dead-sponsored Tram of Terror actually surprised me a bit in that we actually spent very little time on the tram itself. Instead, patrons are dropped off at an unknown location only a few minutes into the tour at a spot that has been completely transformed. It’s the starting point of a walking journey through the dark back lots of Universal’s property which are now crawling with zombified Universal employees (so literally no change in that department).
The other Halloween-based attraction I visited was The Walking Dead-themed End of the Line maze which, again, resulted in the Outlaw needing to dispose of his undergarments in the park’s restroom. Yes, admittedly, there were a few moments when I was caught off guard, and I give kudos to the hired guns doing the scaring. As a huge fan of The Walking Dead however, the most enjoyable part of the experience was seeing the detail and effort dedicated to bringing the show to life. The external housing of the maze was built to look like the prison at the end of season four when the Governor decided to use a tank as a fence-leveling tool. When stepping inside the maze, every room was carefully designed to resemble different locales and scenes of the show depicted throughout the season.
Oddly enough, the biggest kick for me was walking through the inner sanctums of Universal’s back lot for both experiences. It’s typically something one only gets to see by tram car during daylight hours. Ultimately, the scariest aspect of the evening was the fact it was my first time experiencing Halloween Horror Nights, and surprisingly enough, it may not be my last.