October 22nd, 2005



The Black Earth

{October 21st, XL. Pomona, CA}

On this wonderfully chilly night, the cool mist thickens as the darkness deepens into the night; following dinner at "Il Gioto" {"The Grotto", Italian; a delightful, and now a favorite restaurant reminding Me of the restaurant where Gomez, Morticia, Fester and Debbie went to in Addams Family Values}. I was delighted to learn that the same proprietors who run the Queen Mary attraction {which is impressive, although I imagine a bit disturbing to the resident ghosts residing there, considering the blasting music and light show}, and hoped that it would live up to the advertisements I came across, and it certainly did. Scareplex takes place at the Fairgrounds, an expansive location in Pomona, CA, which also hosts the L.A. County Fair {an Autumn Equinox celebration} earlier in the year {particularly the "Scare At The Fair" spook house, which was quite pleasing}, so I was curious to see what they had done with it, and it was a lot.

Utilizing the various plateaus in the area, it became a veritable "Draconia" {I wrote an essay about this total environment for Not Like Most #12}, with four primary elaborate 'mazes' to discover, which are:

"Reaper's Revenge" {where one dons '3D glasses' for a really enjoyable 'in your face' experience; i.e., various phantoms lurking about, specialized environmental paintings which really do 'standout', inclusive of an animated Grim Reaper character swinging his scythe, treated with said special effects mastery, bestowing it a most convincing sentience}.

Up a hill is "Mayhem Manor", a beautiful haunted mansion decorated to classic horror-movie aesthetics, with several delightfully gloomy rooms therein, each displaying a different terror-inducing scene, including a torture chamber, in which unfortunate victims are stretched on the rack, encased in the iron maiden, electrocuted, and spun on a wheel of pain, a seemingly "possessed" witch with an inverted cross on her forehead wields {gasp!} tarot cards {the Rider-Waite deck, incidentally} in a room reminiscent of the cover of Ozzy Osbourne's "Diary of A Madman" album. A ghoulish host greets one at the door; lightning flashes at the windows and various Victorian portraits gaze with bulging eyes.

In 'Voodoo Village', ghosts and blood-soaked zombies arise from the nearby foggy graveyard with animatronic hands and zombie skulls thrusting up through the earth with tipping gravestones.

Up another hill at "Massacre Mountain" {the sign displays a volcano, but is that blood seeping from the mouth?}, a cannibalistic madman flails his chainsaw seeking fresh victims for his vicious appetites - mutilated bodies array the area in various positions, hanging from trees, protruding from canisters, suddenly jutting to life with apparent death-throws as one passes by - an obvious take on "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" with "House of 1,000 Corpses" influence.

Towards the far end of the park, there was the option to go and "dance" at a club on the premises, but considering the rather plebeian quality of it, I opted to return to The Noctuary.

What I did appreciate about this attraction is the fact that there is a sincere attempt to frighten the populace, thus preserving the true essence of Halloween alive, instead of all the goofball cartoonish fluff perpetuated in current society, which is incrementally changing for the better. The musick permeating the the environment was most pleasant and made Me feel quite at home - I immediately recognized the strains of Midnight Syndicate and now, Nox Arcana echoing forth from the various horror dimensions.

The overall creation of the total environments are even better than the previous year, and the costumes and FX makeup have improved as well. Highly recommended entertainment fare. ∞