“You know what I love about Halloween? It’s the one night of the year chicks use to unleash their inner ho-bag. If a girl dresses up as a witch, she’s a slutty witch. If she’s a cat, she’s a slutty cat. If she’s a nurse…” – Barney Stinson
Halloween holds a special place in my heart. It’s a time of year where nerds can celebrate their nerdiness by crafting elaborate costumes and won’t be judged.
It’s a time when couples can come up with obnoxious yet inventive ways to pair their costumes.
A night where, as the great Barney Stinson says, every girl out there seizes the opportunity to flaunt their sexuality a little. And I know I appreciate that.
It is the most magical of holidays.
Halloween in Australia
We don’t really do Halloween in Australia. Oh, there are Halloween parties and kids at school work hard at drawing Jack-o-Lanterns and crafting glitter coated ghosts, but the holiday is a pale comparison of what is a $6 billion dollar industry in the United States.
I’ve had the pleasure of celebrating the holiday in the United States once before. I’ll have to share that story sometime.
But back to Halloween in the Land Downunder. Much like Valentine’s Day, the commercialism that makes Halloween so huge in the United States hasn’t really bled across to us here. It’s as if with each mile it has to pass over the Pacific diminishes its strength somewhat. So where scores of American children are out trick-or-treating while their older siblings bump and grind in their sluttiest outfits, Aussies seem content to make a token effort. A few persistent parents might organize a trick-or-treating run, but they’re destined for disappointment.
Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a home decorated for Hallloween that wasn’t hosting a drunken Halloween house party.
It’s a sad and sorry state of affairs, but that isn’t to say there aren’t some fun Halloween activities still on offer. And it was the opportunity to really celebrate Halloween that drew me to Fright Night at Movie World.
For the month of October, Warner Brothers Movie World on the Gold Coast throws open its doors at night for the big kids to come play.
The 1920s themed streets of Movie World are transformed by clouds of dry ice drifting out from windows and up from the sewers below. Murderers and monsters of Hollywood fame prowl the streets and the park’s most famous thrill rides remain in operation well after the sun has gone down.
A slew of more adult entertainment options take over the usually family friendly theme park. A racy vampire themed burlesque show; a demon fueled bit of acrobatic theatre; and a night club complete with cage dancers and snakes lure in the adults.
I love theme parks, I love horror movies, and I love girls dressed in very little. How could I say no?
I was fresh off an exhaustingly fun day at Dreamworld (read about that real soon) when I stepped off the bus out front of Movie World. The park’s day guests were slowly filtering out as I hunkered down underneath a tree and fought off the urge to call up like a homeless person and catch some Zzzzzs.
I’d been up since 5am having played impromptu babysitter for my friends Mark & Sheree’s adorable son and a day of roller coasters hadn’t done much for my energy levels.
As the regulars filtered out, a crowd of irregulars started to develop.
A pair of mid fifties couples dressed as witches talking raucously about their sex lives.
A mother in full skank attire with her three equally skankily dressed daughters in tow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen FMB’s on a 12 year old before.
Demons and ghouls. Ghosts and monsters. The front gates of Movie World were fully choked with revelers by the time my friends Temissa and Stuart arrived with Temissa’s cousins along for the ride.
Having spent my day on the road I didn’t have a costume on me and damned if I didn’t feel like the odd one out in a park full of vampires, witches, and Ghostbusters.
Temissa, dressed as a female Edward Scissorhands, issued us with our tickets and soon we were on our way. A day in a theme park in Australia will usually run you $70-$80. Fright Nights weighs in at a much more affordable $39.
We fought our way through the crowd and were immediately struck with our first tough decision. Roller coaster or haunted maze?
The younger girls made our choice for us, and soon I found myself standing in line for Scooby Doo’s Spooky Coaster. I’m not really a fan of wild mouse style roller coasters, so my review of this particular one will be brief. It bumped around a lot, it goes backward at one point, and there’s some unintelligible speech from an animatronic Scooby Doo from time to time.
The most scary part of the ride, for me, was a mid forties woman trying to seduce me. Thankfully she was (literally) too big to ride with her. I felt pretty bad for her when they had to inform her she was too large to ride. That can’t be good for your self esteem. I should know – I was denied my chance to parasail in China because I weighed too much. And the Chinese weren’t nearly as subtle as the poor Movie World staff member was.
My heart racing and my libido terminated, it was time to indulge in another American tradition – the haunted house.
Movie World boasted four spooky mazes this year. An Arkham Asylum themed one, a zombie outbreak, Psycho 3-D, and a maze based on the movies of the Saw franchise.
Escaping Arkham Asylum
I can’t decide whether this was my favorite maze because it was fun, or simply because it was the first haunted house experience I’d had since visiting a haunted house in the US in 2009.
After queuing for ten or fifteen minutes we were lead into the maze by a manically portrayed Joker who warned us that the inmates had escaped and it wouldn’t be safe for us. With hands on shoulders and the younger girls already screaming at virtually anything that moved, we plunged into the dimly lit halls.
It was your standard haunted house experience. Lots of people jumping out at you and shouting things. For the most part these things were characterful. The Joker continually cackled; Harley Quinn looked hot; Poison Ivy hissed as we passed; and various crazy people rattled bars and begged for freedom.
By the time we emerged the sun had gone down and the streets of Movie World were lit only by flickering lights and the big screen that projected images from classic (Warner Brothers) horror movies out over the street.
Spooky Rating: 7/10
Liked: The attention to detail was quite good. The scares were generic but in keeping with the setting.
Dislikes: Needed more Harley Quinn.
An exercise in frustration
Our next port of call was meant to be a ride. Superman Escape, Batwing Spaceshot, and Lethal Weapon were all meant to be open – but half an hour into our queuing for Superman Escape we were told the ride had to shut down and were hurried out of the line.
The ride kicked into gear again half an hour later.
Our attempts to ride Spaceshot and Lethal Weapon were also thwarted by long lines and early close times. We had to make do with haunted mazes and street performance. But those made up for it.
There was a surprising lack of evil clowns in attendance. I guess Warner Brothers don’t own the rights to It…
But there was a Circus of the Damned performance where the stunt driving show usually takes place. We were greeted as we entered by the impossibly tall ring-master and his chained slave and made our way up into seats for the show.
The show itself was a lot of fun, although the story behind it was definitely not kid friendly. A dead bride, a man hanging himself, and some kind of fight for his soul which he ultimately lost. Strange.
All told the show was a bit of spectacular fun. In between stunt riding, dancing girls, acrobats, and the world’s most buff gymnast putting all of us to shame, there was some great rock music from the likes of Evanescence, Guns & Roses, and Marilyn Manson to set the tone.
The Saw Maze
The second maze of the evening saw us queuing with my rotund friend from earlier in the evening. Not cool.
The maze itself did its best to draw on the Saw mythology. Jigsaw greeted us as we entered and various scenes of torture from the movies were presented. A girl struggled through a tub of syringes. A man was strapped to an electric chair. And all the while Jigsaw leapt out at us and shouted ‘boo’.
It was a bit underwhelming to be honest, but I’m not sure how a Saw themed maze could be anything else without being brutally realistic or interactive. It’s not particularly scary to walk through a maze full of other people being hurt.
Spooky Rating: 4/10
Likes: Some impressive recreations of scenes from the movies.
Dislikes: No real scares. Too well lit.
Zombie Apocalypse Maze
If my love of all things zombie wasn’t readily apparent, let me restate it here. Zombies rock my world.
When I’m not Zombie Walking, I’m watching The Walking Dead or playing Dead Island. The walking dead offer me no end of amusement.
The opportunity to explore a mist filled maze packed with the shambling dead was too good a prospect to turn down.
But for fuck’s sake, zombies don’t say ‘boo’ and they don’t run around aimlessly. They shamble! They groan or grunt. They reach desperately and moan.
And they don’t say fucking boo.
It wasn’t all bad. The maze was constructed of the kind of barriers you see surrounding construction sites and the mist made for some spooky moments when shapes loomed up out of the fog. This was used to great effect as occasionally you’d catch a glimpse of another group in the mist and assume it was more of the walking dead.
It was a bit of missed potential really. They could have made it downright terrifying, but seemed to be content to just push for a few cheap thrills.
Spooky Rating: 6.5/10
Likes: Mist made for some more realistic scares. Great use of light. Zombies!
Dislikes: Zombies acted nothing like zombies.
The final maze of the evening was a ‘3-D’ maze, but all I saw was a lot of colored paint forming vague but not particularly scary shapes.
There were lots of pictures of planets and galaxies. I guess that might scare a creationist.
By this point in the evening, with 11pm fast approaching and my day stretched out before me like the miles behind a marathon runner, I was pretty burned out on people shouting ‘boo’ at me. Indeed, with the exception of the girls’ inexplicable inability to remain standing in a completely motioneless hallway, the maze didn’t leave much of an impression on me.
Spooky Rating: 4/10
Likes: Good ambient music.
Dislikes: Having 3-D glasses on to make some ugly pictures leap out is not really a 3-D ‘adventure’.
Despite my reviews of the mazes and the disappointment of all of the rides being closed whenever I went to ride them, I still had a good time at Fright Nights. The live shows (special mention to the sexy/violent vampire burlesque show I failed to get a photo of) and the general atmosphere of the whole event were a lot of fun.
The price of admission was worth the four or five hours of entertainment I got, and it would have been more than worth it had I been able to get on any of the three thrill rides open for the affair.
All told, it was a nice change from Halloweens spent at house aprties with people I’ve seen in the same costumes before.