“YOUR LIFE IS ONE BIG HORROR MOVIE!” It’s a phrase I have heard countless times over the years by many. It’s almost like it’s a running gag joke amongst my friends and me. Not one of them bats an eye if I show up in a gore covered cosplay toting around my newest terror plushie that would send most children running for the hills. I take my position in the haunt industry with a grateful, but serious heart. You can call me a real life Wednesday Addams. I’m completely content living amongst a world of glamorous goth aesthetic, make believe monsters and slasher themed conventions…so, you can best believe when I heard there was a haunt called The Original Hollywood Horror Show, I was rather intrigued and made a mental note to check out this attraction. With a name like that, it certainly had to be entertaining, right?
In their own words, The Original Hollywood Horror Show, located in Snow Camp, North Carolina, has been terrifying customers in the state for 34 years. I would say that’s pretty impressive. This haunted attraction initially popped up on my radar at Carolina FearFest several years ago. I was still acting in the haunt industry at the time and tasked with passing out another haunt’s free parking passes. As I sauntered by The Original Hollywood Horror Show’s booth, I couldn’t help, but take notice of the high quality makeup and artistic definition their actors had. It caught my attention off guard and sucked me in instantly. I told myself one day, I would make it a point to visit this strange place. Due to schedule conflicts and a national pandemic, it may have taken me longer than expected, but I finally accomplished this goal and what a rather enjoyable trail it was.
Finding The Original Hollywood Horror Show is a simple process as long as you use your GPS to navigate you along the country backroads of Alamance County. Watch out for the random deers along the roadside. They frequent the many farmer fields nearby throughout the area and get tempted to cross the street a time or two. Once you have reached your destination, it’s obvious to spot with all of the flashing lights on both sides of the road. You’ll see a dim, bulb lined marquee sign pointing you towards the free parking lot across the two lane road from the attraction entrance. Pulling into the fog filled forest area, you’re immediately hit with an uneasy feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach. As you exit the safety of your car and make your way towards the ticket office, you’re swallowed up inside the heavy mist of the night and surrounded by darkness and shrubbery. It’s even more terrifying when leaving later in the night after most of the vehicles have vacated the permissions. I kept imagining Lon Chaney hiding in the shadows, carefully calculating the appropriate time to leap out and unleash his inner wolfman on us. Would anyone hear my screams? This natural backdrop creates a convincing, classic monster mash scenario for patrons. A mood that only continues on once you step up to the ticket booth.
Tickets for this haunt are available for purchase on location or online. If purchased online, they must be printed out on paper to gain access. I honestly couldn’t tell a time difference from those who purchased online between those who didn’t. Everyone in general admission seemed to have the same 2 hour wait time. If waiting isn’t your kind of thing, fast pass tickets are available for $45…keep in mind, this can only be done on site as a one time purchase. Once ordering general admission tickets, there is no option to upgrade your purchase. A unique thing The Original Hollywood Horror Show does when you purchase your tickets on site is give you an engraved “gold” coin as a your entry fee to pass through inside the trail. Similar to the legend of the Ferryman and the Styx river. I haven’t seen this done at other haunts. It was an innovative concept.
The Original Hollywood Horror Show’s midway is on the smaller side, but well contained. The construction concept is similar to an old freak show mixed with a middle school Halloween carnival. It leans towards the simpler side of themes, but still eye-catching none the less. There’s a paint chipped wooden, wheeled wagon with Carnival of Freaks written on the side as well as a monster trio collage with Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman for a few photo ops. The haunt also has a concessions stand, a Last Ride coffin simulator and its very own live fortune teller booth. For crowd entertainment, a realistic looking Freddy and Jason will do battle in front of customers. Ever so often, a big theatrical curtain will be pulled back to reveal a small scale, coffin decorated stage where zombified, rough weathered witches will perform to “Thriller”. The first time this happened without warning, it caught me guard off. I’ve seen enough horror movies to know nothing good ever comes from pulling back a veiled curtain. It wigged me out, but in a good way.
As you are ushered into the general admissions line, you get a distinguished view of the outside entrance to the haunted attraction. It’s a gigantic, expansive old barn with time bending wooden planks. A Victorian style window has been added on to the original structure. There are ghastly green and purple lights casting shadows on the building giving it a sinister presence. It’s reminiscent of the Munsters’ house on 1313 Mockingbird Lane. Something about the outside of The Original Hollywood Horror Show screams it’s been heavily influenced by early 90’s haunt feels and Stephen King vibes. The attraction even has the original “It” projecting on the side of the building entrance. I’m more of a Sleepwalkers girl, but it still does a good job at playing into the eerie setting.
Upon entering the haunt, you are ushered into a small circus tent and directly into a open casket funeral viewing with a corpse and all. Wait, what?! No…that’s actually a realistic mold the owners, the Jones Brothers, made of Vincent Price’s face after he passed while making Edward Scissorhands. The life like features are intense and rather unnerving. Here you will hand in your coins, listen to a few basic haunt rules and meet your guide. Yes, this haunted attraction includes a tour guide on your journey through. This is another unique feature about The Original Hollywood Horror Show. It was a different pace than I’m accustomed to. Our group had a child in an oversized black hoodie, carrying a flickering lantern, step in front and tell us to follow him to doom. We slowly began our journey into Twisty the Clown from American Horror Story’s side show of terror. It featured mutilated body parts and blood splattered sigils along the wall as Twisty himself heckled the trail goers. It was an attention grabbing, bloody good opener. Next, we ventured further into what I shall call the Bat Cave, a vampiric looking dungeon full of wood coffins, wax covered candles and a wide reaching Nosferatu styled bat hanging upside down. The attention to detail was clearly beginning to show. I only wished they had an actual Dracula lurking in this scene. I have a thing for vampires. No, not the Twilight kind. However, if clowns are more your speed, The Original Hollywood Horror Show has those too. Neon colored balloons litter painted walls with strategically placed Jack in the Boxes in this 80’s carnival styled room. Bozos are jumping at the bits to run out and greet new victims. Following further into the barn hallways, you enter into a Grimm Brothers witch shack cluttered with another body in a casket, cobwebs and dead flowers. I don’t know where Hansel and Gretel’s witch was, but I wasn’t sticking around to find out. Traveling into another scene, you encounter a golden Egyptian sarcophagus with a risen mummy prowling around. My inner Disney kid wanted to befriend him, call him Harold and take him home, but I feel like that would have been heavily frowned upon. While exiting this portion of the trail, you’re led down a long planked corridor decorated with skeleton parts and Victorian based mirrors and into a 3D glow in the dark Pinhead vortex tunnel. This combined with the blacklit skeleton maze where customers are tracked and taunted by ghoulish witches was very mind altering. It did a decent job at throwing you off balance. One of the most commendable scenes within this attraction is the cavern. It’s stimulates being inside a Descent styled cave with stalagmites and craters. You can see the small creases in the rocks. It’s like being part of an Indiana Jones movie that leads you down a medieval plaque passage way and into a Neverending Story styled area with a mystical looking waterfall tower. Every time you think that you have reached the end of the haunt, your guide takes you even further. There’s a pirate ship, you’re allowed to enter and briefly browse while swashbuckler actors duel swords outside. Think of when the Goonies find the hidden treasure because that’s what this boat resembles. Lastly, I also want to mention this attraction’s graveyard segment. It’s fog filled and spectrally lit. It travels in a circular pattern with enough tilted tombstones and grave markers to compare to Pet Semetary. Remember those ghoulish witches I warned you about? They’re back and crawling hands and knees to pursue cautious customers. It’s like a twisted version of Hocus Pocus, but ever so amusing. This trail took an estimated 35 mins to complete.
On your way out, make sure you visit the MOVIE MUSEUM, free of charge. It features props and various items from projects the Jones Brothers, the haunt owners, have worked on. You will also see some terrifyingly realistic face molds including those of Johnny Depp, Clint Eastwood and more. The walls are completely covered with autographed photos from multiple celebrities. I may or may not have fan-girled over my childhood hero, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Any movie buff would appreciate this unique collection of memorabilia.
Actor wise, there seemed to be a shortage at The Original Hollywood Horror Show this season. There was a handful of ten actors that I counted. However, those ten actors were giving it all they had to make sure trail goers were having a fun, fear filled time. They were no blasting screams to the ear or overzealous clowns annoyingly trying to square up with patrons like you see at some haunts. These actors let things flow naturally and played off the crowd well. They’d be in one scene popping out to scare you and then show up in another scene halfway across haunt chasing you with a chainsaw like it was magic. Seriously, I need to know this cast’s fitness workout because as a former haunt actor, I was baffled at how they accomplished this feat while still managing to keep the high energy going. The dedication and determination this team put forward was very noticeable.
This haunted attraction’s set designs were absolutely stunning. I was left speechless at the attention to detail in most of the scenes. It truly is like customers are walking through Hollywood film sets. The simplicity on the outside of The Original Hollywood Horror Show is 100% intentional. It’s because the show stopping visuals are inside. Just like an old school freak show, you have to pay to see to believe what’s hidden behind the curtain. While there are fog machines and several electronics throughout, the majority of the props appeared to be molded and handmade. There is no overage of blinding strobes or deafening robotics. This haunt is classic sets with high quality production…very pleasing visually.
To wrap it all up: The Original Hollywood Horror Show was a pleasant surprise for me. Did it hit the “ultimate terror” mark for me? Not quiet, but there is still a lot to appreciate and revel about this haunted attraction. At first, it may appear like your typical quaint, down home haunt, but I can assure all of you Scurryface readers that it is so much more than that! I personally viewed it as a haunted horror museum tour featuring creepy actors as opposed to an “in your face thrill ride” kind of haunt, but I could accept the laid back, chill experience that it had to offer. I could see this attraction being great for a middle aged date night or families looking to incorporate their young children into the haunt scene. Someone who considers themselves a long time fan of showbiz or the horror film genre should definitely plan a visit to The Original Hollywood Horror Show. It could quickly become a hidden gem for a lot of crowd goers.