Events / Holidays / Horror

HOLIDAY: Geek Outlaw Scares Himself Silly at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights and RISE of the Jack O’Lanterns

Who ya gonna trick or treat with?


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

Either Jack Skellington edited this picture, or that’s rain.


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.


Walking Dead Pumpkin 2

So lifelike, it’s as if they could walk right up and bite you.

Walking Dead Pumpkin 1

Pumpkins that kick a$$ and take names later.

Video Game Pumpkins

They say video games rot your mind, but on the other hand, pumpkins just rot.

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Happy New Squash!

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I know what you’re thinking, but unfortunately Angelina has already adopted all four of them.

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Someone tell Linus I found the Great Pumpkin.

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Best… Pumpkin… EVER!

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“There’s no pie like pumpkin. There’s no pie like pumpkin. There’s…”

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That’s it, just keep holding your breath until Christmas.

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Witches and monsters and odd ball families, oh my!

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Epic is the only word I have for this pumpkin. Now excuse me while I go get my blanket.

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Mmmm… Frozen pumpkins… ahhhhh

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“I’ll be pie.”

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The only thing missing from this tribute was a pumpkin bowling ball.

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Hands down the scariest pumpkins on display.

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They just don’t make trees like they used to.

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“And all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t make Humpty tasty again.”

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Where pumpkins go to rot.

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Should have put a squash on it.

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So what you’re saying is, the earth is full of seeds?

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Our solar system according to orange squash.

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Help! Someone drove off with my pumpkin!

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Oooh, look at all the evil colors…

Not Easy Pumpkin

It ain’t easy being a green pumpkin.

Monster Pumpkins

Carvings as scary good as the movies they represent.

Hero Pumpkins

“Pumpkin seeds… tingling.”

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“Feed me Seedmour!”

Classic Celebs Pump

The classics never die, but they will start collecting mold if they sit out too long.

Big Bang Girl Pumpkins

(Knock, knock, knock) Pumpkins. (Knock, knock, knock) Pumpkins. (Knock, knock, knock) Pumpkins.

Big Bang Boy Pumpkins

If pumpkins could solve complex physics equations, they might look a little something like this.

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“We come in pieces… of pie.”

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What idiot said pumpkins don’t grow on trees? Oh wait, that would be me…

I like these pumpkins. (Care to guess why?)

Dino Pumpkins

If you can’t tell from the photos, these creatures where created by attaching massive carved pumpkins together. Needless to say I was in dino-heaven.

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Of course it’s not a pumpkin carving event without remembering those who we lost this year… in pumpkins.

Memorium Pumpkins

It took every last bit of will power to keep me from running off with that Egon squash. R.I.P. everyone, you will be remembered always.

I’m looking forward to it! (My wallet, not so much.)




Borderline’s Halloween Party


I had to make advance “reservation,s” but I was able to book a Tonto.


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.


Borderline Final

I spy with my little eye, something that looks like an Outlaw…


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.


Keeping parking lots safe from ghouls, specters, demons and people who park in handicap spaces illegally.




Universal Studios Horror Nights

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WARNING: What you are about to read is not for the faint of heart. The following text has been known to cause vomiting, diarrhea and loss of consciousness. Please proceed with caution.


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.


I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m getting mixed signals.


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.


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I’ve never seen The Purge, and thanks to Universal Studios scaring the bejeezus out of me, I now have zero desire to.


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).


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The first sign that I didn’t bring enough extra pairs of undergarments.

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Just so you are aware, I was almost BBQ’d alive for taking this picture. You’re welcome.


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.


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Ugh… looks like Glenn forgot to blow out the scented candles again.

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Why you should never let stressed-out politicians with eye patches drive military tanks.


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.


Why The Simpsons Ride is one of the best attractions of the park.



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