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Friday, November 19, 2010


  Who needs Ryan Reynolds when you could have had HorrO star in Buried? Yes, that’s right, I had my own little buried alive experience. Ok, it was only a simulation, but still. I purposely left this experience out of my post on Spooky Empire 2010 so I could give you an up close look at this unique simulation. Basically, people would lie down in a real casket while it simulated putting you into the back of a hearse, and soon enough buried alive.

  As I was walking around at Spooky Empire, I noticed there seemed to be a commotion coming from a certain area. I could see a lot of people gathered around, and kept hearing this banging sound. Curious as can be, I made my way over there only to find this casket shaking around, “what the hell did I stumble onto?” As I got closer, I could see a monitor on a table next to the casket apparently showing the recording of a person inside, “wow, there was really someone in that thing!” I watched as it finally stopped shaking, and a person stepped out of it. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t believe people were actually brave enough to get in that thing. Then, came the all-important question: Was I brave enough to get in the casket?

  After spending most of the second day of the convention going to Q & A’s, I finally got the opportunity to make my way back over to THE CASKET! No one was in it at the time, but plenty of people were standing around looking at it. They wondered the same thing I did: Who had the guts to ride it next? One of the owners of this simulation tried to talk people into jumping in the casket. I walked away to think about it again, but soon enough made my way back. I had to do it. When would I get the chance to do something like this again? I mean, you are only supposed to be in a casket once, and that is when you die. Plus, it would be something fun to write about (having fun now).

  So there I went. I paid $5.00 to get in the casket, and another $5.00 for the DVD. I took off my shoes, and stepped into the casket. I stood there for a second, but there was no turning back.  I laid down, and tried to get comfortable. The owner had to adjust the camera a few times by opening, and closing the casket to make sure it captured an up close look at me. Really, he was teasing me before he gave me some last words, “Rest in Peace,” and closed the casket for real this time.

  So it was just the casket and I. That was until I heard two voices start talking. They were saying how the boss wanted them to take this casket to the graveyard, and bury it. I focused so much on the casket that I forgot about the experience as a whole. Then, the casket started to bounce around, as it was simulating them picking it up, and throwing it into the back of the hearse. I heard the hearse start, and could smell the fumes of the car. The casket tossed around, and I could hear the car racing down the streets before coming to an abrupt stop.

  The two guys started talking again as it simulated them pulling the casket from the back of the hearse. They carried it to the graveyard, and dropped me in. They were laughing, and it was all at my expense. The casket was really shaking when they were carrying it, but it wasn’t over yet. They threw some dirt on top of the casket, which I could smell, and I was buried alive.  There was a pause before the final part of the simulation. I really didn’t know what to expect at that point. I thought it was over, but then the casket went crazy one last time. Something touched my feet, which I didn’t know was going to happen, and kind of scared me. Then, there were some weird sounds, and an awful smell took over the casket. The smell was so bad I could still smell it 15-20 minutes afterwards. After the final shake, there was another pause before the owner opened the casket. I stood up, and climbed out of the casket hopefully for the last time until it is for real.

  Immediately, people wanted to know what it was like. Was it worth the ride? I would say it was well worth it. First, like I said before, how many times am I actually going to get in a casket, none the less, get out of one. It was also fun because it wasn’t just sitting inside, and shaking all around. There was actually a story going on, and I was part of it. Besides the story, it also made me use some of my senses. Obviously I could feel the casket as it bounced around. The casket’s movements were as bumpy as it looked, and gave me a very good shaking. It was pitch black in there. The only time I could see anything, not that there was anything to see, was once or twice when the casket popped open for a split second while bouncing around. There was the smell of the hearse, the dirt, and then something fowl at the end. The silence was deafening when there wasn’t any sound effects. As soon as he closed the lid, I couldn’t hear a thing that was happening on the outside. I’m glad there was nothing to taste in there.

  Was I scared? Not really, but I was a little intimidated while watching others get in it. It was just a simulation, and I wasn’t really going to the grave. I guess there is just something about a “casket.” It makes people think of death, and it’s your final resting place. Surprisingly, the owner said most people took the experience well. They only had to stop it once for a girl that totally freaked out. I stayed pretty silent in the casket because I didn’t want them to think I was freaking out and stop it. I really wanted to scream, “let me out” just for the effect. I kind of wanted to ride it again to add some drama to the video, but decided against it. Maybe next time! Next time? Yea, I would do it again!

I would like to thank the people at 13th Hour Productions, Inc. for providing such an awesome, and unique experience. You can contact them at for more information on this ride.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


***Spoiler Alert- this review gives away storylines, and twists***

  This is the end of an era, the end of a franchise. Since this is supposedly the end, it should go out with a bang. So what is the bang in this movie? Is it the 3D? Is it the traps, or the blood and guts? Is there some amazing revelation that put a close to this story? How is this movie going to complete the Jigsaw puzzle?
  In the usual Saw fashion, there are a few storylines-taking place. Hoffman survives the trap that he is in, and tries to go after Jill. She escapes, but Hoffman will not stop until he gets his revenge on her. Then, there is a man named Bobby Degen, who claims to have survived a Jigsaw trap. Problem is he was never in a trap, but he is now. He is forced to go through a series of obstacles to save his friends from Jigsaw’s traps, which ultimately ends with him trying to save his wife. The final storyline here involves Officer Gibson, an internal affairs police officer, who Jill asks to protect her from Hoffman. Apparently, Hoffman has a score to settle with him.
  This is Saw “3D,” so let me start with the 3D effects. They didn’t do much for me, and I actually like 3D. They have some of the usual blood and guts fly at you early on, but then, there isn’t much use of 3D until the end of the movie. How can you just forget about the 3D throughout the bulk of your movie? Then, they try to save it at the end with more of the same blood and guts coming at you, and when Dr. Gordon throws the saw across the room. He never does that if this movie isn’t in 3D. They just didn’t do anything new, or different with the 3D. On top of that, the 3D ruins a lot of the traps. The picture is so clear that you can tell how fake the special effects are. Either that, or they just did a really poor job with the effects.
  Speaking of the traps, there aren’t enough impressive ones. The first trap consisting of two guys, and their cheating “girlfriend” is not as great as they make it seem. It may be impressive for the people gathering around it, but isn’t for the movie audience. She gets a saw to the stomach, so what? It doesn’t even go all the way through her, and the special effects are so fake. And how in the hell does Hoffman get that thing in the middle of downtown, and hook up the sound to speakers? Then, there are two traps that use the same style of pipes. One set of pipes going into a woman’s neck, and another into a woman’s face. How about something a little different? And when the guy is walking over the blanks, but just gets hung. That is not a very Saw-like trap if you ask me.
  There is some blood and guts, which is a big reason people like this franchise, yet they just ruin a lot of it because you can tell it is so fake. I would have to go back and watch some of the other Saw movies, but I don’t remember any of the other movies being as fake looking as this one. 3D actually backfires on this movie because it shows how fake the blood and guts are. However, the scene where the car takes off, and ends up killing 4 people is some bone crushing fun. Also, there is a good look at Jill after one of the traps rips her face apart. You just have to use a little imagination to get the full effect of the traps. And don’t get me started when Bobby pulls out his teeth. It is not really a trap, but I have an issue with teeth pulling.
  Then, there is Bobby’s storyline. How is it any different from William’s storyline in Saw 6? Both have to go from room to room to try and save people they have a relationship with. They both fail at saving their friends, and then fail again when it matters most. William’s storyline is good because it is original, and it gets the Saw franchise back on track after a miserable part 5. It doesn’t work for Bobby because it is the same story, and old at this point. How about something a little more original? They come up with a creative storyline to get Hoffman in the police headquarters to kill Jill, but are too lazy when it comes to Bobby’s storyline.
  Now let me ask you this: would A Nightmare on Elm Street be any good without Freddy through most of the movie? Would Friday the 13th be any good if Jason were missing throughout a majority of the movie? Where is Jigsaw through most of this movie? Yes, he is dead, but you still see plenty of him in part 6. He is nowhere to be found in this movie. There is one quick appearance at a book signing, which is actually a funny scene, but that is it until the end. Killing off Jigsaw makes this series different and works for a while, but it apparently becomes too hard to overcome in this movie. They really let this movie be Hoffman’s show, which makes it seem as if something is missing the entire time. Whatever could that be? At least they make good use of the doll.
  This brings me to my next point, which is they really could use someone like Tobin Bell in this movie because the acting is terrible. It doesn’t help that some of the writing is terrible as well. The woman screaming in the trap at the beginning is so unbelievable. She is screaming just to scream, and not because of the fear of the moment. Also, when Bobby is trying desperately to save his wife, the emotion is just as unreal as some of the special effects. The only actors that do a half way descent job are Costas Mandylor (Hoffman), and Cary Elwes (Dr. Gordon). The problem is that Hoffman never says a lot, and Dr. Gordon isn’t a factor until the end of the movie.
  Besides the traps, one of the other great things about this franchise is the twist at the end of the movies. Watching them, and trying to guess what is going to happen makes it a fun experience (I was usually wrong by the way). Knowing that this is the final Saw takes some of the fun out of it. The only thing left to wonder is how it going to end. I figured it would end with the death of Hoffman, and kind of wanted to see that. Well, that didn’t happen (told you I’m usually wrong). All they could give us is Dr. Gordon locking him in the room where the whole series began. Bringing it back to the beginning is fine, but couldn’t they at least torture Hoffman. Yeah, he did get his face sliced apart, but there should be more punishment for him. The twist that Dr. Gordon is one of Jigsaw’s accomplices works because it makes sense that Jigsaw needs another hand with his game. Jigsaw ends up having several people help him with his game, but how is Hoffman able to pull all this off without some help?
  I really hoped that Saw 3D would end with a bang, but it fizzles out instead. They didn’t make good use of the 3D, and it only makes the special effects look fake. Over all, the traps are not as impressive as some of the past movies. There is some blood and guts, but again too much of it looks fake. They need a better storyline, better acting, and more Jigsaw. Maybe one day, years from now please, someone will give this franchise the proper ending, and complete this puzzle (unless they remake it first). Since this movie makes me feel like there is still a piece of the Jigsaw puzzle missing, I give it 2 pools of blood. Game over!


Saturday, November 6, 2010


  Now that I have given you an overview of Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights 2010 in Orlando, Florida, I want to take you behind the scenes. This year I went on a behind the scenes tour of Halloween Horror Nights called “Unmasking the Horror.” I had some doubts about how interesting this would be because I wasn’t sure how much they would be willing to reveal. Well, for someone who has been attending this event for several years now, it turned out to be a terrific experience. I have added some videos, which I encourage you to check out because they will add some perspective to what I am talking about.
  The tour started off in a private room, where two guides went over the history of Halloween Horror Nights. They went through the years almost one by one giving us information about each year’s theme. Also, they explained how some of their horror icons were born, and how some other characters that were supposed to be icons never were for one reason or another. Take Cindy Caine for example. This character was a little girl, who is the daughter of The Caretaker (one of their other horror icons) that had her face burned in a fire. She was supposed to be an icon one year and wreck havoc on guests, but because of a recent string of child abductions at the time, they decided not to make her the focus of the event. This year she had a house dedicated to her storyline, which was The Orfanage.
  Another story they told us was how the events of 9/11 changed how they went about HHN’s that year. It was originally supposed to be their bloodiest year yet, as they were going to go all with the blood, and scares. Then 9/11 happened, and they had to decide if they were even going to hold the event. After a great debate, they decided to proceed with the event, but would get rid of all the blood. Instead, they toned down the event with green slim in the houses. It maybe interesting to note that they plan their HHN’s event at least a year in advance. While HHN’s 2010 is taking place, they are already working on HHN’s 2011, and maybe even 2012. There are eight people who are responsible for the designs, and themes of the events.

  After revisiting the HHN’s of the past, our guides took us to get a behind the scenes look at three of this year’s houses. The group separated, as each guide took about 12 guests into different houses. My group’s guide took us into the Hades house first. This house is based on the Greek God Hades. Before we got to the front of the house, we went into a sound stage where the house was located. In this case, there were actually two houses located in one sound stage, which I thought was pretty amazing. 

  After a brief description of the house, we started to make our way through it, as the guide explained many of the techniques they used in order to scare you. In the “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Hades House #1” video, the first thing you will see is an AAT device (Actor Activated Trigger), which the actor uses to scare the guests. It could set off sounds, lights, or some trick to get your attention as the actor jumps out for the scare. As you will see from some of the videos, each house has a series of twists and turns that lead into 3 or 4 main rooms, where there is something extra scary going on based on the theme of the house. In the same video, you see the first main room of this house, which is a room where bodies are being prepared to be eaten later on. This was a great up close look at the hanging heads, body parts, and a body on the table that had been carved up. Of course, this was scarier in the dark, and when there was a character working on the body. Also, as I mentioned in my look at HHN’s, Medusa made an appearance in this house, and in the video titled “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Hades House #2,” you get an explanation of how she scares guests. 

  The next house we went into was Psychoscareapy, which was home to the souls of the criminally insane. If you notice in the videos and pictures, they do a marvelous job with the entrances to the houses. It sets the tone for the house, as you brace yourself for what lies inside. This house had one of my favorite scares of all the houses. You would come into a tight hallway where there were bars with a series of hands gripping them. In the dark, it was hard to tell which hands were real, so as you walked through, all the sudden a hand would reach out at you. Also, the actors could bang on the window, and even reach through holes in them. In the video “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Psychoscareapy #1, you can even catch a quick glance at some fake arms the actors could use to scare you. 
  The other cool scare in this house was a fake guy on a chair getting electrocuted. In the video, the guide pretty much explains what happens. As guests walk by, they see the guy sitting there, and there may or may not be a nurse walking around in the room. Either by control of the nurse, or automatically, the chair will start vibrating, and the guy starts acting like he is being shocked. I was surprised that this was actually a fake guy. In the dark, it looked extremely real, as if there was an actual actor in the chair. I got to see this house twice, and saw this scene with, and without the nurse. The nurse was a good distraction before the guy got shocked. 

  The final house we went into was Legendary Truth. The theme here was a ghost team called the Ghost Seekers (like the Ghost Hunters), where called upon to investigate the possibility of paranormal activity in this bed and breakfast. Almost immediately when you enter this house, there was a scare that was very easy to miss. As you came around the corner, there was a glass bottom floor. If you weren’t looking down, you may have missed an actor dressed as a ghost sliding back and forth. They were able to do this scare in a way that is similar to a mechanic sliding under a car. On the outside of the house, an actor would lie down on a rolling platform, and slide under the house. Then they would push themselves back and forth under your feet. The guide told us they built the house higher at the front just for the purpose of setting up this scare. I missed it the first time, and just caught a glimpse of it the second time. If you weren’t looking down, which usually the really scared people do, I don’t know how you would know it was there. You can see this in the video titled “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Legendary Truth #2.”

  The main rooms in this house were awesome. After you got past the ghost on the floor, there was a living room with a fireplace. This was meant to distract you from these three pictures on the wall that you couldn’t see until these retina burning strobe lights went off. The picture was of the demon from the exorcist. As the guide mentioned, the image is supposed to be burned into your eyes so that you still see it for about a minute after the lights go off. Well, she wasn’t lying because that happened to me. I was confused in the house when I kept seeing it. It did take a minute or two to get that picture out of my mind (thought I was going nuts for a minute). You can see this in the video titled “Halloween Horror Nights 2010: Behind the Scenes Tour- Legendary Truth House #4.  
  Also in this video, you got to see another room where a girl was on top of a bed. As you passed by, she would hit here AAT device, and lights would start flashing around the bed. In the corners of the room, the dresser drawers would open a close. This was a good ghost like effect for the house. It may not seem like a lot, but when you are walking through and people are screaming, it brings out the chaos in this room. Also, if you check out this video and the one that follows, take a close look at the pictures. You can notice the faces change as the camera moves.
  Halloween Horror Nights is a great experience. It is a lot of fun, especially for us horror fans. After going on this behind the scenes tour, I have a greater respect for how much work they put into scaring guests. There is tremendous effort put into every detail, from developing the themes and icons, all the way to the props, and scares. Even if it doesn’t scare you, all that work pays off because it will probably scare the person behind you. 

Also, my post on HHN’s 2010: Halloween Horror Nights 2010 


Remaining Behind the Scenes Videos Below:

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