Well, it’s the end of July, and that usually means one thing. The spooky season is coming fast, depending on when you choose to jump into the purple and orange holiday. And while on the exterior, it looks unassuming, this weekend, Long Beach played host once again to the annual Midsummer Scream convention, covering all things creepy and kooky. The Shaq-enstein Monster statue is a good indication we’re in the right spot. This year, Casa Calaveras is outside of the Hall of Shadows and standalone, in a more family accessible area, a move I approve of, since it allows more people to encounter it that would otherwise be too timid to venture into the dark area of the show floor. The aforementioned show floor was busy this year, with lots of areas for photo ops.And the Hall of Shadows continues to feel completely refreshed every year. This year the Haunted Car Wash had a 360 Video opportunity. And the facades have really become beasts of their own. The Hauntbuster, which be at the Haunted Harvest this year, was beautifully laid out as an old video rental store, and that was actually just the queue! There was a mini-maze inside, once you finished looking at the curated collection. This year, the Hall of Shadows had a Dungeons & Dragons theme, which honestly worked perfectly, it seems surprising we haven’t seen more of it done before. The kids area was kept busy all weekend, too. With lots of shows and crafts at the table. Although we do wish the Bob Baker Marionette’s would return to having their show in a dedicated room. The volume level on the show floor has only grown louder over the years, making it hard to compete with all the relentless car honks, shaking tool boxes and other screams and yelps.PlutoTV was a major sponsor this year, and had a crane game where people tried (And quiet often failed) to get adorable plushes of Godzilla and Mothra. There were many panels, like Barry Under Your Bed hosting a game show, which was completely wonderful and chaotic in a way that only Jeff Heimbuch could put together. But it wouldn’t be Midsummer Scream without big panels. Knott’s Scary Farm is celebrating 50 years, so while they usually save the meat of their reveals for their own self-hosted events, they still packed the house with lots of teases and reveals. Ken Parks answered a lot of questions, like how much maligned Hanging show is likely to return in due time.And Karl Busche made sure the audience was hyped for the absolute gauntlet of merchandise he’s assembled for this event. Twenty one individual shirts, fifty unique collectible pins, spirit jerseys, tiki mugs, LongeFly backpacks, and now RFID-enabled lanterns that will interact with the mazes and scare zones. Six Flags Fright Fest is celebrating their 30th, and while their event is more consistent over the years, they had surprises in store that no one expected. While the major announcements hinged around the return of their Scream Break event and the Boo Fest, they also showed off a new monster icon, Nightmare, along with explaining how some scare zones and mazes were being completely reworked. Then came the Q&A where many folks chose to leave early, despite them explaining more was to come.And in the final minutes, they revealed two additional mazes this year, based on IPs with Warner and Lionsgate!
Jeff DePaoli hosted a talk in the podcast lounge this year all focused around the Haunted Mansion-themed Ghost Post. It was an amazing experience that was extremely limited and highly desired. So the fact he was able to share the details of the packages in a more public setting with some of the team behind it is an important part of history. And, most relevant to our site, the event always concludes with John Murdy doing a near-final reveal of all that is to come for Halloween Horror Nights out in Hollywood. You can read the article for more details.But as a summary, while John Murdy was alone on the stage, he spent a great deal complimenting all of the team he worked with by name and role. And this year’s house to detail was Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America. Inspired by the Dia De Muertos theme in Universal Plaza, and working alongside the DEI team, this house will go through a mausoleum holding all the victims of a trio of some of the most famous monsters across all of Latin America. And, at the exit is an appropriate scare zone, El Terror De Las Momias, all themed around a fake history of a series of mummy horror films. The level of thoroughness they went through to give this scare zone depth is unprecedented and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some part of this art come back in some fashion. Additionally, while the Universal Monsters Unmasked house was revealed just a few days earlier, Murdy went into details on the featured horrors inside on the 5th year of this theme. The Phantom of the Opera, The Invisible Man, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Dr. Jekyll are the core four this year. Of course, sharp minds might recount that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde haven’t been a part of the Universal Monsters brand. But that is finally corrected. We can date this incarnation back to Carl Laemmle’s 1913 silent film from IMP, the company that would later be renamed Universal Pictures. Going forward, expect to see more of the Doctor and his less-than-pleasant side.Finally, Murdy expressed regret that while he had a chance to give life to Bride of Frankenstein in a much beloved house, the character never had a chance to let the audience experience her full visage due to the reliance on masks. As a means of correcting that, expect to see the Bride when you least expect her during HHN, along with La Llorona. They have no set area where they’ll appear.And that wraps up our experience at Midsummer Scream this year! It’s always too much and so short at the exact same time, somehow hitting all the right notes.Future events and details are available at https://midsummerscream.org/