Haunted houses tend to be really lame. With curved mirrors and fake spider webs adorning a small room filled with generic ghostly music; these houses promise thrills but generally leave you without a single goosebump.
Not so for Hollywood Halloween.
Since Oct. 15, Hollywood Halloween has been delivering genuine spooks in two tents set up in the parking lot of Centropolis in Laval. Centropolis, Laval’s version of downtown located just off highway 15, complete with shopping mall, movie theatre and supper-clubs, has become a popular hangout for young Lavalois.
The night I attended the haunted house, the waiting line was surprisingly filled with some adults and young couples seeking thrills, but the majority of people in attendance were teenagers who had begun shrieking before they even touched the threshold.
Separated into two large tents, the haunted house was divided into two uneven parts. The first tent was a bit of a disappointment. It only lasted about 15 minutes, most of which was spent waiting in line. Once inside, you are handed a pair of 3-D glasses and are instructed to walk through the maze. Splattered with bright colours and lined with ghoulish creatures, the first maze felt more like a Jackson Pollack panting on acid than a horror show.
However, that did not stop the teenage girls behind me from screaming their heads off. “This is so scary, I’m going to cry,” one girl shouted to her friend. “Let’s hold hands.”
After the 3-D maze, we were led into an executioner’s den, complete with an enormous guillotine and a masked executioner who instructed us to get close and see the blood squirt when his victim is decapitated. Once the blade was released, the lights were cut and the audience was sprayed with “blood.” It was a cool effect that elicited some genuine screams of shock.
The second tent was even better than the first, and much more frightening. This maze, lasting a good 25 minutes, allows four people at a time to enter, holding onto each others shoulders in a conga-line formation. This maze is filled with rooms depicting famous Hollywood murderers (thus the name Hollywood Halloween) who come to life before your eyes and scare the living daylights out of you.
From Halloween’s Michael Myers jumping out at you from behind a living room couch, to Saw’s Jigsaw speaking directly to you on a television monitor, to 12-year old Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist leaping out at you from her bed, the haunted house delivers on stars and scares.
Besides the amazing prosthetics and sound effects, there are 50 or so local actors playing the various ghoulish Halloween characters. From girls begging for help behind barbed wire to the vampire who mock-bit my neck as I waited in line, the actors are committed and deliver believable performances.
If you do plan on making the trek down to Laval, however, make sure to dress warmly as there is no heating inside the tents.
“I’m definitely not in Los Angeles anymore,” said creator Dirk Hagen to the shivering crowd waiting inside the tent. Originally from Montreal, the Los Angeles. haunted house maker has a talent for creating spooks, but perhaps should have considered an indoor event.
Although, what is The Exorcist without a little frost?
Hollywood Halloween is open until Oct. 31. Tickets are $25 at the door, and $20 online. Schedule is available online at www.HollywoodHalloween.ca.