This weekend we went on a haunt bender, with Hellview Cemetery as the topper. As I usually try to do, I stopped by a little early for some daylight shots.
I always plan to take five minutes getting shots. It never works out that way, because I gotta talk to the people. I met Nikki (left) and Rin, fans extraordinaire (seriously, they talked about subfandoms I’ve never heard of), and helpers at the haunt. Nikki is an actor–and I didn’t spot her as I went through, which is impressive. Rin is one of the guides for the Scooby Doo tours, the less-scary version for munchkins. We had a great time talking. I’m glad it wasn’t too hot, or the Spousal Unit would have roasted waiting for me in the car.
Before the haunt opened to the general public, a couple of special groups went through. You can see a few of the Harry Potter folks in the background here.
There were also some lovely Whovians, including this fan in her awesome dress and matching kicks.
I also talked a bit with one of the organizers, Sally Gage. I didn’t get a picture of Sally (dangit!), but she let me hold her baby. This is Stella. She was such a sweetie, didn’t howl or anything.
We talked about the background of the hosts, many of whom hail from Halloween Horror Nights. They wanted to do something local, but still spectacular, for those who aren’t up for a drive to Orlando.
It’s difficult to gauge the size of the haunt from the outside. The entrance is near the exit, but that doesn’t mean anything. The facade is impressive, with some very nice foam work creating columns, stone walls, and a cathedral-like entrance.
The answer to how big: big. They have a fair bit of space, and use it well. Hellview lacks the usual claustrophobic feel associated with haunt mazes. Instead, it is mapped more like an amusement park ride, with the viewer moving from one large set to the next. The sets are fully realized, and rich in detail. If there’s one flaw, it’s this: the actors are too good. There was more than one instance where I wanted to stop and watch the mesmerizing performances of these charismatic professionals. Yep, toward the end of the haunt, the actors were saying (ominously, of course): “Move along! Faster, faster!” Heh, oops. Of course, that may be because the folks behind us were frightened, and running through. They were on top of us by the end. Chickens.
I will say the lighting could have been more dramatic. The Caretaker especially could have used a scary light on his face (mostly so I could get a better picture!), but it was still dusk, and it was their first run of the season. According to Sally, they had just finished the lighting, so I don’t think I got the best look at it.
Hellview was amazing. I may go up to Orlando next year to see the “big ones,” but for the most part, I think I’m done with pro haunts. They just aren’t as creative, they don’t show as much heart and art.