Friday was opening night for HHN XX: Twenty Years of Fear. I was able to spend Friday and Saturday night enjoying this year’s event. Speaking with T.J. Mannarino on Friday, he really wanted to drive home that this year was for the fans, and as you experience what the event has to offer, you can see the love for the fans. So without further adieu, here is my review of this year’s event. In those 2 days, I did every house and show save for Malice, Brian Brushwood’s new act.

*May contain spoliers*


Horror Nights: The Hallow’d Past
First Run – 8/10
Second Run – 8/10

The set design for this house is amazing. This house is basically a trip down memory lane for all Horror Night fans. So what it lacks in scares, it makes up in nostaligia. I’m not sure why they really only focused on the past 6 years of HHN instead of the past 20. The use of the Dead Exposure room was perplexing as I can think of better houses to borrow from. Also, both times I went throught the house, there weren’t any actors in the “Treaks N Foons” room, which I felt it was a missed opportunity.

Catacombs: Black Death Rising
First Run – 7/10
Second Run – 9/10

Another house with great set design. This is one of the better tent houses in recent memory. The first night, the scareactors were ok, I guess they were getting settled into their roles. The 2nd night was a more intentse experience. The actors definitely amped up their role and a few of the “doctors” came really close to my face. The finale of the house is sort of a let down however.

Havoc: Dogs of War
First Run – 4/10
Second Run – 9/10

I’m mixed on this house. The first night, the actors all just stood there, looking at us with little effort to try to scare. The second night, it was like they all realized it was time to step up and they just went nuts as I walked thru. The set design is ok, just your basic generic military theme. I have to go thru the house a few more times to really get a feel and give it a fair, final assesment. Apparently, there was supposed to be a machine gun firing at the entrance, but it wasn’t working the first 2 nights. Keep a sharp eye out as there are a few shout outs to the creative team in the first room.

The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes
First Run – 5/10
Second Run – 5/10

I really was disappointed in this house. To be fair, both times I went thru was during a cast change so I didn’t get to see a lot of Cindy. However, a lot of the scenes were pretty redundant. Burned room, child with mask, “boo!”. The entrance was well done however, with the moving see-saw. It was very eerie and was a great set-up to a mediocre house. Also, the flame effect is subtle, but effective.

Only Run – 10/10

Sadly, I only got to do this house once. I was surprised by how intense this house became after the lighthearted beginning. Everything was great about the house. The sets, the actors, the subtle smell. I loved how everything in the area was tied together, it had great synergy with the outside scarezone. Just a great, great house that I can’t wait to enjoy again.

Hades: The Gates of Ruin
First Run – 8/10
Second Run – 10/10

Probably right up there with Zombiegeddon for my favorite house. The facade and set design is stunning. The costume design is top notch, and the overall atmosphere of this house is phenomenal. The only reason it got an 8 for the first run is because some of the actors were changing out. I felt the Medusa room was pretty intense. I never scare, or jump. Well, it happened twice in that room.

PsychoScareapy: Echoes of Shadybrook
First Run – 7/10
Second Run – 9/10

Another house with great set design. It’s nice that his HHN Favorite is getting a proper send off. It definitely has left behind the light-hearted nature it started becoming. Also, make sure you press the Red Button! My only problem with this house is that the finale isn’t strong. I expected something a little better.

Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate
First Run – 7/10
Second Run – 8/10
Third Run – 8/10

The facade to this house is probably one of the best ever for Horror Nights. A major problem is that a lot of the neat effects that make the house “haunted” will be missed by most of the public. However, what helps the house is that an eerieness is felt the whole time you walk through. So whereas you might miss a big scare, you still feel eerie as you head to the exit. What really let me down was the final room. It’s just boring.


HHN: 20 Years of Fear

It’s nice to see all your favorites out, but a lot of it seems like a huge photo op. What works here though is that the actors turn the photo ops into scare opportunities. I’ve seen a few of my favorites (Gentleman, Dracula) but I haven’t seen Eelmouth or Nightmare.

Fear Revealed

Anotherphoto op zone. It’s great to see all the icons out with their new twist of being Fear’s puppets. There are barely any scares here though. I’m a little let down with Fear’s involvement in the zone. His presence is definitely great, but he just stands there, with his 5 souls, while the flames shoot out the “XX”. Just want to see a bit more.

Zombie Gras

Definitely more light hearted than it’s associated house. It’s a great zone for some laughs, but also grabs it’s opportunities to scare you. Plus, it’s zombies. You can never go wrong with zombies.

Saws n’ Steam

A small scarezone that packs a lot of entertainment. The high amount of fog creates a perfect atmosphere. The scareactors are great here, and Sting Alley has finally been utilized right.

The Coven

Nice atmosphere, just not a lot of scares. Most of the witches are just walking around, while creepy, just doesn’t work me. I do love the burning pilgrims though.

Esquelo Muerte

My guilty pleasure.  I think the purpose for this zone isn’t supposed to be scary, but a fun creepy that everyone can enjoy. The lighting and set design is fantastic and the costumes are top notch. I can probably spend a whole night just snapping pictures of this area.

Bill & Ted

Le sigh. It had it’s moments, but it was pretty bad this year. It’s not as bad as everyone made it out to be, but it was still pretty lackluster. To be fair, and they do make a joke out of it, there wasn’t a lot to work with for summer movies. Although I can proabably think of a few better options to make fun of than what they used.

What Worked: Twilight parody (Edward casting was great), Bieber, Nic Cage, “Hide Yo Kid” Reference, Lady Gaga, dance numbers, Katy Perry (She’s a looker )

What Didn’t Work: Plot, iPhone 4, Jersey Shore, Mel Gibson, Main Villains, Iron Man, Hit Girl, Mr. T

Overall, I’ve enjoyed the event. It’s great to see all the favorites, but still maintain a fresh twist on everything.