Movies, Reviews

‘Spooktactular!’ Review — Spooky World Doc is a Must Watch for Halloween and Horror Lovers

Spooky World promo poster featuring Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

Growing up in California, SpookyWorld, the first-ever Halloween amusement park, was never on my radar. Situated in the rural town of Berlin, Massachusettes, it saw its rise and fall in the 90s, drawing in swarms of people from around the country along with the who’s who in horror celebrities. So when I learned about the new documentary “Spooktacular!,” which chronicles the infamous haunt during this year’s Midsummer Scream, I was intrigued. And when I was given the opportunity to screen the film, there was no way I could pass it up.

“Spooktacular!” is directed by Quinn Monahan and tells the story of SpookyWorld and the mastermind behind the theme park, David Bertolino. The film tells of the annual event’s humble beginnings, its incredible growth, and then its ultimate demise at the hands of small-town politics. What I loved about this documentary was that even though I had never been to the park or even heard of it, the documentary drew me in and had me invested in the park and its story.

Admittedly, I was almost turned off by the doc when it suggested early on that SpookyWorld was the first, knowing good and well that Knott’s Scary Farm got its humble beginnings nearly 20 years before SpookyWorld, but I ultimately conceded that while it wasn’t the first, there’s no denying it had an influence on modern haunts.

The story is told through interviews, both new and old, news footage, and even behind-the-scenes video from the event itself. Among the interview highlights are horror icons like Tom Savini and Kane Hodder, who both appeared as guests at the event. It’s probably important to note that Savini also serves as Executive Producer on the film. Several former employees from the event also appear in the movie, capturing the heart of this event and why it mattered so much to those involved. If you’ve ever worked in the haunt industry, much of what they share will likely resonate.

Early in the film, Bertolino is compared to the movie roles of Vincent Price for his ambition and entrepreneurial spirit. To carry on this theme, Monahan injects several clips and scenes from Price’s horror catalog to help move the story along and add anecdotes to what’s happening. It feels as if Price gets nearly as much screen time as SpookyWorld, but surprisingly, it adds charm to the film.

While it may be a bit of a disservice to the hardcore fans of SpookyWorld, I appreciate that the documentary doesn’t go in too deep on one particular aspect of the park and its legacy and instead focuses more broadly on the park itself, the location, its evolution, and the people involved. By sharing some of the things at the heart of the event, like its location, celebrity guests, and wacky marketing ploys, you get a sense of why folks who worked at or visited SpookyWorld cherished it so much.

“Spooktacular!” is sure to be pure nostalgia for those who remember SpookyWorld. For the uninitiated like myself, it’s a great piece on haunt history and serves as a great reminder of the incredible origins of the haunts we love today. It’s a must-watch for fans of Halloween and horror alike.

“Spooktacular!” premiered at Fantastic Fest and was screened as part of BeyondFest, for the latest on the film and where it’s screening, visit

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