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It’s officially Fall season, which means Halloween is just around the corner. And with it, all the haunted house attractions and frights! Knott’s Scary Farm, the haunting amusements version of the Knott’s Berry Farm theme park, opened September 20th to a large crowd and gruesome displays. We highly anticipated the event and had the good fortune of experiencing every haunt new and old along with the scare zones which I’ll recount below.

Image via Ryan T. Cusick

DARK RIDE

Introduced last year, Dark Ride is a maze in the vein of Tobe Hooper’s FUNHOUSE. Except instead of one deformed maniac on the loose in a rickety old carnival ride, it’s a whole legion of freaks, psychotics, and killer clowns. The maze has a great aesthetic as you travel from the purposefully cheesy rusted dark ride ‘Castle Of Chaos’ and into the bowels of the facility. Traversing through dirty corridors and prop rooms that are now blood baths, ending with a hellish circus populated by crazy clowns and malfunctioning animatronics. A personal favorite from last year, I was happy and terrified to se this one return, even as I was jumped by clowns on stilts at the end!

DARK ENTITIES

One of the two new mazes in Knott’s Scary Farm 2018. Styled after science-fiction horror movies like Alien and The Thing, you travel to a space station called ‘The Shroud’ via teleportation- only to discover it has been overrun by a deadly and mutagenic alien species! Contrary to the name, this maze is actually mostly lit which diminishes the terror somewhat. There’s some freaky looking mutants, infected crew, and a cool animatronic scare toward the end, but Dark Entities unfortunately wasn’t all that scary. Great style and pretty cool to go through, it wasn’t bad by any means. Just not quite a terrifying experience.

THE DEPTHS

The other new maze this year, and definitely my favorite. You follow the path of The Nightwatch Mining Crew, an outfit sent to mine a cove where all kinds of weird things have been happening. The Nightwatch Crew disappeared- and you’ll discover why. Attuned to the works of H.P. Lovecraft combined with My Bloody Valentine, you’ll be assaulted by gas-mask clad mad miners before venturing deeper into the depths and discovering an undersea kingdom of cultists, human-fish hybrids, and giant monster gods of the deep. The Depths features a unique style for a haunted attraction and has all sorts of cool monsters, both animatronic and costumed.

PARANORMAL INC.

Hayden Hill Asylum has stood empty since it was discovered the diabolical medical staff were ruthlessly experimenting on and killing the patients. Until now. Join the ghost hunter TV show Paranormal Inc. as they attempt to unlock the secrets of Hayden Hill, contact the furious spirits of the institute, and delve beyond the physical realm and into a hellish dimension. A fun haunted house with some brand new twists and turns. The set-up is pretty cool as you’re guided by a Paranormal Inc. investigator and encounter ghosts, sprits, and the warping aslyum as you traverse a literal gateway to hell!

PUMPKINEATER

Picture by Ryan T. Cusick

A fairy tale world of the Grimm kind. Journey into a nightmarish fantasy land ruled by the Pumpkin Eater, a sinister pumpkin-headed ghoul that’s turned the land into his own personal stomping ground. A classic theme in the literal sense with all sorts of twisted storytime characters on the loose, from a werewolf grandmother to a giant spider across the tuffet. Also featuring all sorts of sinister scarecrows and pernicious pumpkin monsters.

SHADOW LANDS

Based on Japanese folklore, you’re sent from a haunted forest, through hallowed halls, and into a nightmarish underworld known as the Shadow Lands! This house stands out as unique being based upon Japanese monsters and spirits. Right off the bat, you’re besieged by kappas (water goblins), undead samurai, and Ring-like ghouls. Marvelous aesthetic with some neat scares from bungee-aided ghosts.

SPECIAL OPS: INFECTED

Image via knotts.com

A zombie outbreak has besieged your city, and armed with a state-of-the-art laser rifle, you must enter the quarantine, fight through the zombie hordes, and battle the giant ghoul in the sewers causing the epidemic! Not so much a haunt as a live action video game. The laser guns you use keep score and you work as a team in shooting zombie enemies like being dropped into Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 2. This year was a step-up from my last experience. The pacing felt a lot better and the zombie more co-ordinated, as last year felt like a bit of a rush. Not really scary, but tons of funs with a group of friends.

THE RED BARN

A mad farmer and his ilk believe they have found salvation through mutated animals, cannibalism, and of course… chainsaws! Another great holdover from last year, it’s a house of classic backwoods horror like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hill’s Have Eyes. Starting off outside the barn as one of ‘The Family’ preaches to the line outside. Fun scares, claustrophobic spaces as you navigate the blood and gore filled farmhouse from hell. I’m not afraid to admit that the second I heard chainsaws revving, I jumped!

TRICK OR TREAT: LIGHT’S OUT

It’s Halloween! And as you look for candy on your block, you stumble into the creepy home of the supposed ‘Green Witch’ that stalks children. Armed with only a flashlight to navigate the derelict house, you’ll discover to not be afraid of the dark… but what hides within it! A spooky house with a fantastic gimmick. You’re given a ‘faulty’ flashlight that responds to whichever room you’re in. So, in one room it might work fine, in another, it’ll flicker, or even turn into a blacklight! A very classical style haunt with ghosts, witches, and ghouls with floating furniture and moving objects. And one hell of a birthday party you’ll never forget!

Picture by Ryan T. Cusick

Aside from the haunts, there’s plenty of fun to be had at Knott’s. The rides are still running, there are shows such as Conjurers, a new magic stage show, Hacks! Cutting Room Floor a horror comedy improv show in the Charles Schultz theater where was formerly host to the Elvira show, and The Hanging a pop-cultural satire. And of course, between everything else, there are a number of Scare Zones featuring all sorts of monsters and madmen.

Picture by Ryan T. Cusick

CarnEVIL near the appropriate Dark Ride has a cadre of carnage loving clowns, Ghost Town Streets near Paranormal Inc. has a posse of cowboy poltergeists, The Hallow near Pumpkineater has sinister scarecrows, and the latest edition, Forsaken Lake has a congregation of waterlogged gothic ghouls.

With roving haunts and top tier FX, Knott’s Scary farm is a great destination for soem Halloween themed horror!