Events & Attractions

ScareLA 2017 Recap

This past weekend, August 5th and 6th, was the fifth annual ScareLA convention, held in its new home at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  2017’s event was MC’d by the Master of Scaremonies himself, John Kassir the voice of The Crypt Keeper from Tales from the Crypt and was packed with two full days of panels, experiences, classes and screenings.  We spent both days taking in a little of everything that the convention had to offer.

This year’s theme was, “Monsters Come Together,” a theme you can tell the convention tried to integrate into it’s 2017 program as it brought together horror and Halloween-themed panels and experiences from a variety of niches spanning Renn Faire, to gaming, to technology.  The convention itself was split into three main areas; the showfloor, which housed the vendors and the two major film experiences from the upcoming releases IT and Annabelle: Creation, SCARYWOOD, which was home to the Decayed Brigade Vernados Creepy Circus and some small haunts and the Main Stage, which was the location of all of the major presentations for the weekend like Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead.  What was nice about this setup is that despite the sheer size of the event, everything was in close proximity, making it easy to get from one thing to another without having to go to another building within the convention center.

The Show Floor

The show floor was home to nearly 200 vendors with wares ranging from apparel to horror collectibles to original artwork and comics to props and tools to better your home or professional haunt.  The show floor was also where John Kassir AKA The Crypt Keeper hung out for the weekend and every hour or so the voice of the Crypt Keeper would be heard over the PA reminding attendees what panels or presentations were getting ready to start.  The back of the show floor was also home to the Horror Museum, which featured props, photos and artwork that are part of the currently touring Hollywood Horror Museum.  You can see a handful of photos from the ScareLA show floor below.

Photos from the #ScareLA show floor this weekend.

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The Experiences

ScareLA was ambitious with its experiences this year and brought a lot of innovators in haunt technology to the convention.  Over the course of the weekend, we had the opportunity to experience a few of these in the VR themed experiences from both IT and Annabelle: Creation as well as the augmented reality (AR) maze “The Summoning” as well as more traditional experiences in the haunts in Scarywood.


The VR experiences from both major motion pictures were fun and were among some of the most popular aspects of the convention.  Both immersed you in an environment first and then plunged you into a virtual experience that tied into the upcoming film.  For “FLOAT” the IT VR experience attendees actually boarded a Derry High School bus, which lead them into the depths of the sewers where they would wait briefly as Pennywise played tricks on them before being taken in for the full VR experience.

The Annabelle Creation VR experience took attendees into the room where Annabelle originated and quickly plunges them into the ghostly happenings within the room via the VR headset.  The experience ended with guests getting the opportunity to be sent a photo that is captured during the experience, but sadly we never received our ours.

The Summoning

This AR haunted house from Clever Fox was an interesting concept.  Before entering the maze you had to download an app on your phone that then let you uncover via a “hidden dimension” what happened during a ritual in 1987 that left zero survivors.  The concept was interesting, but what made this hard was the lack of cues that would have helped you identify the AR experiences in the app.  During our time in the haunt we found two, the first which appeared to be a young woman first learning of “The Summoning” and the second which appeared to be a woman either pleading for her life or praying to some horned demon in front of a glyph on the wall.  There appeared to be a couple of other areas in the maze that looked as though something should have appeared in the app, but we never could get them to load.  The two shots we did capture you can see below:


Scarywood, which I was most excited about didn’t quite live up to what I had anticipated.  When I originally interviewed ScareLA founder Lora Ivanova and she shared her vision for what Scarywood would be, I pictured a facade that looked like a city or neighborhood with each building leading you into a haunt, or experience. That wasn’t quite the case and while the atmosphere of Scarywood definitely took you out of the experience you felt on the show floor I did feel it was somewhat lacking considering the amount of space dedicated to it. Another issue with the area was with how the haunts were laid out you couldn’t easily determine which haunt was which and what line you were getting into. Aside from The Summoning we only partook in a couple of the mazes that had the shortest lines. Being its the first year for Scarywood, I am hoping they can build upon it next year and improve the overall look and feel of the section.

The Panels & Presentations

We already did some fairly extensive coverage on two of the bigger presentations from this year’s ScareLA, but overall the event hosted upwards of 10 presentations each day across two stages with everything from Skin Wars and FaceOff artist panels to a presentation on Internet Lore.  One of the smaller presentations we sat in on was on day two, which explored Halloween at The Ren Faire.  The panel explored the similarities between haunts and Faire and panelists shared tips on how home or professional haunters can leverage things learned at Faire in their haunts, such as focusing your act on the less obvious “victim” and instead tailoring your scare or your “gig” to a family, a disabled person, or group of guys that most monsters would otherwise look over or ignore.

The Classes

Over the course of ScareLA 2017 we didn’t do a single class.  However, one thing I noticed and liked about the ScareLA class schedule was that classes would repeat.  As someone who spent the day bouncing from one thing to the next, knowing that if I wanted to take a class I had multiple time slots to potentially take it in was extremely relieving.  I personally feel that the classes were likely the most overlooked feature of the event.  If someone is looking to do a home haunt or semi-pro/pro haunt they were offering up a TON of knowledge on everything from how to scare, to making costumes, to makeup and decor creation.

Overall Thoughts

This was our first year to ScareLA and we recognize that this is the show’s first year in a new home so there were likely some growing pains that came along with it.  We did notice that organization was a bit rocky with entry running about ten-minutes or so late on both days and most volunteers and vendors weren’t completely sure how the Press and Fear Freak passes worked or what privileges they provided on day one.  The guest flow through the show floor was also a bit awkward at times because rows would be broken up by class or demo tables, but these sections didn’t align with the row and would shift the walkway to the left or right forcing you to go around.

As for the presentations, the ones I attended were all really well done, and I really do feel that ScareLA is trying to serve haunt, horror, and Halloween lovers from various interests and fandoms by diversifying the kind of content they feature in their panels instead of just focusing on haunts, or just focusing on education.

As I mentioned previously I did feel a little bit let down by Scarywood, but I hope this is something they’ll revisit in 2018 and maybe align the effort a bit more closely with the original vision for the area.  Minor issues aside I think this event was great and has a lot to offer especially for those looking to create their own haunted event at home or professionally.  We look forward to attending again in 2018 and hope to see everyone at ScareLA next year!

If you want to see more of what unfolded at this year’s event be sure to check out all of our updates from this weekend on Instagram and Twitter.

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