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Live Active Cultures

Halloween Horror Nights 2012: a preview

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This year's three remaining mazes may not have recognizable licenses, but art director T.J. Mannarino raised my expectations for the gargoyle-filled Gothic maze (look for the "terror dogs" from the long-gone Ghostbusters attraction among the elaborate cathedral architecture), and for the House of Horrors, which will present classic characters like Frankenstein and the Mummy in a way "completely different than they've ever been done before." (Hint: remember the black & white photo-flash effect from 2008's Dead Exposure maze?) Hopefully both will turn out as well as Dead End, which Mannarino describes as the "typical abandoned house at the end of the dead-end road that everyone has a story about, wherever they grew up." We explored it with full actors and atmosphere engaged, and I especially appreciated the imposing, decrepit facade and phantasmagorical effects like floating books and Pepper's ghosts.

Finally, while you will find the long-running Bill & Ted spoof (now written and directed by PB&J Theatre Factory vet Jason Horne) and the 20 Penny Circus performing "magic for people with questionable taste," you won't find any demarcated "scarezones" in the streets. Instead, director Lora Wallace is sending gangs of vampires, beasts and other "dark legions" rampaging around the property, with no area off limits from the scares. When I asked if that meant ghouls could infiltrate rides, restaurants and restrooms, she replied in the affirmative. Now that's an innovation I want to witness.

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