As the story goes, many years ago an accident occurred at a theatre known for its eccentric resident magician.  This particular location was renowned as a center for the dark arts and was home to only the most extreme theurgists. One ominous night, a magician’s assistant climbed into a magical box and disappeared, never to return.  Shortly after, more paranormal events increased and the theatre was closed.  Rumors spread and the haunted passages remained closed to the public until today.

This October, haunt goers looking for a little bit more substance to their scares might do well to visit The Blumhouse of Horrors, just one block from the L.A. Live Complex. Blumhouse of Horrors took over the 88-year-old Variety Arts Theater building, located at 940 South Figueroa Street, and has created a unique new haunt experience.  Guests are invited to explore the wandering halls and corridors in search of what may have happened on that fateful night so long ago.

Produced by the folks responsible for the frighteningly delightful Paranormal Activity movie franchise and Insidious, The Blumhouse of Horrors was an idea that had been brewing for a few years.  During our recent visit, Jason Blum, founder and CEO of Blumhouse Productions explained that in creating his recent string of horror hits, he wanted to create story and scares in a new, inventive way.  Does it succeed?  Yes and no.

Upon entering the aged theatre lobby, guests are greeted by a series of ushers that carefully explain the setup of the story.  It is clear that you are in a place of foreboding.  Something terrible happened during a magic trick many years ago and the mystery has remained locked inside the creaky walls of this old theatre.  Once the exposition is out of the way we are let loose on the path.

Along the way we encounter brilliantly cast actors that portray the inhabitants, past and present, of the building.  The dark arts, regret, and love are recurring themes that string together the loose plot of magic gone horribly wrong. Guests are confronted by ethereal magicians, fortune tellers, magic portals and other-worldly creatures.

The production values here are some of the best you will find at any haunt this season.  The art direction is pitch perfect.  The set design and decoration creates a consistent mood and tone throughout. One truly feels transported to another time, surrounded by burnt tones and a musty color palette.  The special effects are used with enough restraint so as to really make the big moments shine.

Another mention needs to be made of the cast.  Each hit their marks perfectly during our two tours through the attraction.  Of particular note are the various actors playing the magician.  All have the same movement and mannerisms down that effectively creates the illusion that they are all the same person.  The cast should be very proud of their work here as it is solid.

There is no question that they are attempting something ambitious here, and must be commended for that. Average haunt experiences are a series of scares strung along an overarching theme. Here, they are attempting to create a story that an audience will instantly be drawn into.  To give the setup, the plot, and the conclusion in an average of 25 minutes is an onerous task.  Especially when most films have 90 minutes to get all of that work done.  The team at Blumhouse certainly gives it their best, but on the night I visited, the storyline was never pronounced enough to be compelling.  Thankfully, the scares and atmosphere, along with the novelty of touring one of Los Angeles’ most historic theaters is entertaining in its own right.

We hear that they have continued to tweak and refine this haunted experience, and we have little doubt that this talented crew will eventually get all the kinks worked out. We invite you to watch a little video we put together of the Blumhouse of Horrors:

You can purchase tickets by visiting the Blumhouse of Horrors website here.

  • jcruise86

    Thanks, Norm!
    There are now so many Haunted places to visit in Southern California.
    We all know about the major theme parks,
    but I’d love to read a complete round-up that compares and contrasts
    the Corona mazes,
    2012’s Queen Mary,
    the haunted hayride
    and about half a dozen of the biggest haunted places & rides that charge admission.

    Also, while I’m on the subject, why is Universal’s Orlando event so much better than Universal’s Hollywood Horror Nights?

    • I wouldn’t say that Uni Orlando is necessarily better than Uni Hollywood during Horror Nights. We did both this year, and the haunted houses in Hollywood were superior as was the Bill and Ted show. I was disappointed that Uni Orlando seemed to have given up on scare zones this year. Orlando’s only advantage was size of the event.

      You can expect more stories from Norm about various local haunts in So Cal. He’s working on several as we speak.

      If everything works out, we may be able to offer a MiceChat group trip to Blumhouse this season.

  • MiceChat Staff

    Hey JCruise,

    I wouldn’t say that Universal Orlando HHN is better. I would argue that they offer something that few other haunts in the nation do. Every year they create completely new walk throughs from the ground up that are bursting with original, innovative ways to scare. Hollywood Horror Nights is just as effective and original in their scares, but they tend to stick to franchises when building their mazes.

    As for the other haunts around socal, we are on it. I am writing a review of Queen Mary 2012 as we speak. We should be covering Coffin Creek, the Haunted Hayride, Reign of Terror and Delusion too.

  • Disneymike

    I would like to see how you folks like Delusion as I hear it is pretty fantastic.

    • kevandram

      Delusion: The Blood Rite was absolutely fantastic. If you had to pick between Blumhouse of Horrors and Delusion, I would suggest Delusion.

      I thought Blumhouse had a great production value as well but, I felt that they could’ve used the space a little bit better. It’s hard to compare Delusion and Blumhouse because they are entirely different experiences. Although they both have similar theatrical elements and talents, Delusion is very interactive, something I’ve never seen in ANY Halloween event.

      I too would love to see a Micechat review on Delusion: The Blood Rite.

  • Mort

    Any chance of a review of Blackout Haunted House? Not sure what to make of that thing….

  • BrianFuchs

    I live in L.A. but I go to haunts across the country every year, as well as most of the ones in CA. I post my very lengthy reviews on a site called horrornightnightmares (I’m not trying to promote that site – just saying what I do).

    I just got back yesterday from my big trip: Vegas, Orlando, Atlanta, Denver.
    So on that site, you will find my reviews of Vegas’ Goretorium, Freakling Brothers, and the Asylum. I have not added my reviews of the others yet (but Atlanta was outstanding). My ID on that site is zombieman.
    In coming days I will post reviews for Netherworld, Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse, 13th Floor, Zombieland, and more.
    I also tweet from the attractions as I visit them. You can follow me @I_Love_HHN.

    As for HHN on the coasts:
    Hollywood had a vastly better Bill & Ted (Orlando’s was the weakest in many years)
    Hollywood pulled off the “IP” houses much better
    Orlando’s lack of scarezones was a big letdown (but the roaming all-female chainsaw team was outstanding)
    Orlando has one of the best original content houses in many, many years (Gothic)
    The superior detail level of La Llorona matches that of Orlando’s Dead End.
    Orlando lost one house location, and one location in particular was razed and is now where Transformers is being built. As a result, Orlando’s Universal Monsters house was thrown together at the last minute (and has the feel of it). That house was never in the works for this year.

    This year was definitely a change for HHN, as Orlando has been a clear winner for the past 9 years have attended. One big change that Universal is seeing is the “synergize” mandate that the new Comcast owners has handed down.

    Synergy between the parks is management happy-speak for making the experience feel the same on both coasts. The fact that it happens save a lot of money by duplicating attractions and events at both parks is purely coincidental (right…)

    As far as HHN goes, the decision was made to use the IP-heavy content from Hollywood in Orlando (pay for the IP once and get to use it in both parks). Each park presents their IP houses in drastically different ways. I, along with many people, feel that Orlando does original content better than anyone else. The IP houses are not polling very well in Orlando surveys, but the original content houses are polling extremely well.

    It will be interesting to see which direction Compact takes HHN in the future. Will Orlando continue to “synergize” with Hollywood and have even more IP (and presumably repeat houses, as Hollywood does), or will corprate listen to the surveys and have Orlando return to what it does best?

    OR, will Comcast choose to have Hollywood “synergize” with Orlando, and move away from IP and more toward original content and no repeats? After all, the original content La Llorona house has been a runaway hit.