Know Guts, Know Gory


Hoping for a harrowing Halloween? Be scareful what you wish for. Here’s a glimpse of the season’s most terrifying sites, frights and other haunting delights.


Bone-chilling, blood-curdling Halloween haunts and other nasty nightmares
By Michael Benninger

Haunted Hotel
Selected nights through November 1
424 Market St., Gaslamp
San Diego’s longest-standing scarefest invites thrill-seekers to test their threshold for terror in the most menacing manifestation yet of Downtown’s insanely scary inn. This year, try to keep cool while crossing the dreadful Doll Island, then try to keep a clean pair of pants while passing through the super-scary Clown Subway.

Silent Screams
Wednesday Nights in October
Whaley House
2476 San Diego Ave., Old Town
Sin-loving cinephiles are invited to sit back and enjoy a series of shriek-worthy silent films in San Diego’s first public theater, founded in 1868. The movies, all of which were produced between 1922 and 1926, include Waxworks, The Bat, Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror and The Phantom of the Opera, with a different flick shown each Wednesday in October.

Monster Manor
October 17, 18, 24, 25, 30, 31
8235 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa
Though the Ghastley family burned to a crisp years ago, their tortured spirits still haunt the 13 rooms of their 4,000-square-foot home. Among the grievous ghosts to encounter inside are a bloodthirsty vampire, a berserk butcher and a cackling clown, all of whom are out to scare the dickens out of those who dare set foot inside. A word to the wise before entering the Manor: say “Trick or Treat” when knocking on the door, or face blood-curdling consequences.

Disney in Concert: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
Friday and Saturday, October 30 and 31
Copley Symphony Hall, Downtown
As the stop-motion film unfolds on the big screen, the San Diego Symphony Orchestra will perform the spellbinding score to Tim Burton’s ghoulish 1993 movie about a Pumpkin King who, tired of scaring his town on Halloween, decides to seize Santa Claus and deliver the Christmas gifts himself.

Past & Presence Ghost Tour
October 2, 3, 23, 24
Whaley House
2476 San Diego Ave., Old Town
Take an after-hours tour of the world-famous Whaley House, widely regarded as the most haunted home in the country, then learn the history and see firsthand many of San Diego’s other eerily inhabited environs including the Adobe Chapel and El Campo Santo Cemetery.

Haunted Trail of Balboa Park
Selected nights through November 1
Sixth Ave. and Juniper St., Balboa Park
A mile of contorted conifers and distressed deciduous trees line the trail in this ominous outdoor experience that’s not recommended for the easily spooked. This year’s themed settings include a perilous plantation, a bloody Bourbon Street and spine-tingling scenes from American Horror Story. Also be on the lookout for a cabal of crazed clowns. And if that’s not freaky enough for you, take your chances in a 3,500 square-foot labyrinth where the unnerving undead are on the offensive.

Scream Zone
Most days in October
Del Mar Fairgrounds, Del Mar
San Diego County’s largest haunted experience is back and more bone-rattling than ever with four fear-inducing haunts among many other aberrant amusements. Put your clown-killing skills to the test in Paintball Apocalypse: A Nightmare on Clown Street, then enter the heinous House of Horror, in which 13 threatening ghosts inhabit a dozen themed dens. If you survive that eye-popping ordeal, take a load off at the KarnEvil freakshow or ride the Haunted Hayride through an abundance of undead environments.

BOOmont Park
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October
Belmont Park, Mission Beach
Returning for a third sinister season, this inhuman incarnation of Mission Beach’s crown jewel dares you to step inside BOOmont Manor, a macabre maze from the twisted minds behind Balboa Park’s Haunted Trail and Downtown’s Haunted Hotel. Other abnormal attractions include a three-story zombie laser tag experience, a demonically decorated Giant Dipper rollercoaster, plus costume contests, a pumpkin patch with a painting station and free trick-or-treating for the little monsters in your life.

Ghost Hunting Tours
October 9, 10, 16 and 17
Whaley House, Old Town
Join San Diego’s Ghost Hunters and the Whaley House’s spirited staff on an eerie, specter-sleuthing excursion to some of the most cursed corners in the city. Learn how to find phantasms using state-of-the-art equipment and try out some time-tested techniques for approaching apparitions. Spots on these shadowy tours fill up quickly, so score your tickets early or risk missing your chance to see some famous phantoms.

Savage House
Most days in October
Westfield Mission Valley, Mission Valley
When police raid a local farmhouse and find the remains of more than 70 tortured individuals, the nefarious family who occupied the home eludes capture. Now, in this incredibly immersive adventure, it’s your turn to tour the property - but, with the former occupants still on the loose, the home may not be as secure as it appears.

Rise of the Jack-O-Lanterns
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October
San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Escondido
Behold the awe-inspiring sight of 5,000 jack-o’-lanterns (hand-carved and painted by professionals) lit up along a one-third-mile stretch of the Safari Park’s parking lot. Among the many pumpkin sculptures are an assortment of animals, a 50-foot dragon, classic cars and unforgettable movie stars.

HauntFest on Main
Friday, October 31
200 East Main St., El Cajon
This fourth annual family-friendly event offers three stages of live music, a classic car show, carnival rides and costume contests - plus a pumpkin patch, plenty of inflatables and many other frightfully fun activities for all.

Terror at the Tenth
Selected dates from October 1 - November 14
930 Tenth Ave., East Village
The Tenth Avenue Arts center welcomes warped and wicked minds to attend two paranormal productions this month. Mona & Cinnamon’s Spooky Spectacle is an uproarious, interactive show featuring Please Excuse My Zombies, a one-act play about a family’s struggle to stay together during the zombie apocalypse. And the maniacal musical Head spoofs a cult horror flick about a doctor who keeps his girlfriend’s head alive after a car crash separates it from her body.


Tears and fears mark the passing of a horrorful mind
By Michael Benninger

After scaring moviegoers sh*tless over a career spanning nearly 40 years, Wes Craven succumbed to a battle with brain cancer on August 30. The acclaimed filmmaker, who died at age 76 at his home in Los Angeles, leaves behind an unparalleled legacy that includes some of the most memorable films in the slasher genre.

After graduating from college with degrees in English, philosophy, psychology and writing, Craven entered academia, teaching at a series of universities in the Northeast. It was during this chapter of his life that he purchased a used 16mm video camera and began exploring his interest in film.

Soon after, the aspiring moviemaker abandoned his life as an educator and, having learned the essentials of film editing, landed a gig in the hardcore porn industry. Under various pseudonyms, Craven worked on many X-rated skin flicks including the legendary 1972 Linda Lovelace film, Deep Throat. It was in that same year that he wrote and directed his first horror movie, The Last House on the Left.

In the decades that followed, the ambitious auteur continued to write and direct an extensive catalog of horror movies, many of which transcended the typical bounds of the genre by invoking existential topics. His best-known work, 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, not only launched the career of a then-unknown Johnny Depp, but also spawned the knife-clawed Freddy Krueger, one of the most iconic characters in the history of horror. Beginning in the ‘90s, the Sultan of Slash released his New Nightmare and the semi-self-aware Scream quadrilogy.

It’s hard to undervalue the influence that this gifted and gruesome mind had on Hollywood, but one thing’s for sure. We’re not likely to see another artist who so masterfully manipulated the macabre anytime soon. Thanks for all the thrills, Wes. R.I.P.

The frightful filmography of writer/director

Wes Craven ( ?? = Wrote ?? = Directed)
The Last House on the Left (1972) ?? ??
The Hills Have Eyes (1977) ?? ??
Deadly Blessing (1981) ??
Swamp Thing (1982) ?? ??
Invitation to Hell (1984) ??
The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984) ?? ??
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) ?? ??
Deadly Friend (1986) ??
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988) ??
Shocker (1989) ?? ??
The People Under the Stairs (1991) ?? ??
New Nightmare (1994) ?? ??
Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) ??
Scream (1996) ??
Scream 2 (1997) ??
Scream 3 (2000) ??
Cursed (2005) ??
Red Eye (2005) ??
The Hills Have Eyes II (Remake, 2007) ??
My Soul to Take (2010) ?? ??
Scream 4 (2011) ??


How to look like a zombie

Haunted Hotel and Haunted Trail makeup manager Nicole Weaver transformed a mere mortal (Haunted Trail beauty Annette Cerdas) into an undead abomination, the likes of which will terrify and entertain thousands of America’s Finest fright fans at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Market Street in the Gaslamp throughout October. Nearly 24 haunters/actors will be on-site to bring the fright each night, and each character takes about two hours to bring to life. Make that “death.”


The Haunted Hotel, Haunted Trail, Scream Zone
September 25 - November 1
424 Market St., Gaslamp
619.696.SCARE (7227),


Halloween horrors and other Hollywood tricks and treats
By Michael Benninger

The stories are alive.
Action | Adventure
Starring: Jack Black, Halston Sage, Ken Marino
In theatres: October 16
Ghosts, ghouls and gnomes attack a Maryland town in this fun and frightening film that features a mashup of memorable stories by R.L. Stine, the bestselling author of the Goosebumps children’s book series.

Crimson Peak
Drama | Fantasy
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston
In theatres: October 16
In an effort to break loose from her tragic past, a young writer marries an English nobleman and moves into the decaying castle he shares with his sister. But the aspiring scribe soon finds out her new home holds more secrets, and more spirits, than she had bargained for.

The Last Witch Hunter
Hunt forever. Live forever.
Adventure | Fantasy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood
In theatres: October 23
Humanity hangs in the balance as a resurrected witch wages war against the reluctantly immortal hero, the last of his kind, who defeated her and her army hundreds of years earlier.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
For the first time, you will see the activity.
Starring: Chris J. Murray, Brit Shaw, Ivy George
In theatres: October 23
In the sixth and final chapter of this scare-tastic saga, a family of four moves into a Palo Alto home where they discover an unsettling set of videotapes and an old-school camcorder, which they soon learn opens a portal to a ghastly new dimension.

Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
Always bring protection.
Comedy | Horror
Starring: Halston Sage, Tye Sheridan, Patrick Schwarzenegger
In theatres: October 30
When a trio of horny boy scouts enters an unguarded strip club, they soon learn that a zombie epidemic is erupting, and that it’s up to them and the bar’s badass cocktail waitress to prevent the undead from wiping out their small town.


House of ill repute in America’s Finest back yard
By Stacie Daigle
San Diego offers arguably the most adrenaline-pumping, nail-biting, pants-soiling experience on the planet - and we’re not talking about surfing after it rains.

For 14 years, McKamey Manor has been creating recurring nightmares for thousands of people from around the world, horrifying customers with interactive house-of-sheer-terror experiences that last up to eight hours.

“Our waitlist has over 27,000 people on it, and I am flooded with requests everyday,” says Russ McKamey, the project’s deranged mastermind. Every weekend, McKamey invites guests (age 21 and older) to one of his five top-secret locations. Inside, psycho killers put their heads in vices, douse them with blood and lock them inside coffins.

“We have things that will make you lose your mind,” says McKamey, whose blood-curdling repertoire includes restraining guests in straightjackets before hanging them upside down in a Chinese water-torture chamber full of live moray eels.

This place is not for the faint of heart. Entering requires signing waivers.

“It’s just a big show,” says McKamey. “People come to us wanting to be the stars of their own movie, and we deliver.”

The craziest part: it’s free. All they ask is that guests bring dog food to be donated to Operation Greyhound Rescue. And maybe bring along an extra pair of pants (for your friend) for the ride home - in case you make it out alive.

McKamey Manor