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Frightening fun in Fresno: 13 Things to do this Halloween season
It's October and, besides the (eventual) cooler weather and the Big Fresno Fair, the countdown towards Halloween begins. Each year there are attractions that promise to scare the daylights out of you and put you in a Halloween mood. This year, despite the declining economy, there are more Halloween activities than ever before.
As with any Halloween season, Hollywood has its share of new silver screen shockers planned to fill the multiplexes. Films like "Quarantine," "Splinter" and "Saw 5" will be making audiences scream. But this year, Warnors Theatre is hosting its "Reel Scary Halloween," giving audiences a chance to experince a true classic - the original "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" - back on the silver screen the way it was originally shown in 1920. It will be shown one time only starting at 7 p.m. Halloween night.
"It's going to be early, so you can go to the fright houses that are everywhere else," says Ann Vermel, executive director of the Warnors Center for the Performing Arts.
True horror fans can appreciate the thrill of seeing this classic in the manner it was originally present 88 years ago. "These old movies, they didn't pull any punches," Vermel says. "They were made before censorship. This one has one of the most remarkable actors of his time. John Barrymore does the transformation from Jekyll to Hyde without makeup. And there's something kind of creepy about an old silent horror movie and an organ accompaniment."
Tickets cost $15 for balcony seating, $25 for ground floor. Details: www.warnors.com or (559) 264-2848.
John Barrymore as Mr. Hyde
Fresno Filmworks is planning a midnight showing of the recent cult hit horror-comedy "Shaun of the Dead" at midnight Halloween night at the Tower Theatre. Pricing and other details to be announced. Details: www.fresnofilmworks.org.
Hollyhocks Cottage is hosting a Spooky Tea on Oct. 23 at the Victoria Rose Cottage, 356 Pollasky Ave. in Old Town Clovis. This event will feature pumpkin-spiced tea and pumpkin-shaped pumpkin spice bundt cake in addition to demonstrations on Halloween-themed napkin folding and floral arranging. There are also rumors that a guest speaker will be discussing her work in tracking down real ghosts.
The Spooky Tea will start at 11:30 a.m. According to owner Maureen Shepperd, the event cost is simply the price of whatever lunch the participant orders from the Vintage Rose Cottage menu.
Details: (559) 324-8800, email@example.com, or (559) 322-4832 for reservations.
Harry Potter fans may want to get their tickets now for "An Enchanted Evening with Harry and Friends" starting at 6 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Victorian Rose Cottage, 325 Pollasky Ave. in Old Town Clovis.
"It's going to be fabulous," says owner Elaine Loperena. "We get the fog machines in here. We're all going to be dressed like witches. We even have a tea-leaf reader from England."
Professional actors will be portraying Harry and the people of Hogwarts. And just like in the books and movies, dining will be done at a very long table. The price is $60 per muggle for this limited pre-paid event and includes dinner, entertainment, tax and gratuity.
"It's going to be wonderful," Loperena says.
Details: www.victoriarosefinedining.com or (559) 322-4832
A classic corn maze is always fun in the fall and the historic Cobb Ranch is once again home to its annual corn maze and pumpkin patch.
"It's a great family time," says Darren Schmall, owner of the event. Schmall says that part of the corn maze's appeal is that it is interactive. "Out here, you're trying to determine which way to go. You make a wrong turn and you have to backtrack and find the right way to go. It's just kind of an alternative thing to do and it only comes around once a year."
Cobb Ranch is off of Hwy. 41, just north of the San Joaquin River. Details: www/cobbranch.com
Schmall is also opening a new attraction this year -- Raisin Hell Ranch. Opening Oct. 27 and running nightly through Nov. 2, Raisin Hell Ranch will be offering three separate attractions. First, there is a traditional family-friendly corn maze. But the fear will kick in should you dare to venture into either the Scarecrow's Revenge: Mayhem in the Maize or the Chupacabre Terror in the Corn attractions.
"Being in the corn maze business for all of these years, it's kind of a natural progression to haunt a field," Schmall says of his decision to take the corn maze idea to the next blood-curdling level. "Our haunt is going to be the basic of true scares. It's very realistic. All of our props are rustic and real farm equipment. This is all really creepy people doing really creepy things. It's all really gory."
Raisin Hell Ranch is located north of Fresno off of Hwy. 99. Take the Avenue 7 exit west to Road 32 and turn right. The attraction is on the east side of the road with parking across the street. Details: www.raisinhellranch.com
Hobb's Grove is back again this year. The Halloween favorite will again feature its Haunted Forest, Haunted Hayride and Haunted House, but they'll be back with a twist.
"There's always something new at Hobb's Grove," says Chris Giese, media director. "We change the path in the forest, the house and the hayride."
Hobb's Grove, now in its 10th year of fear, sits on 24 acres and all of the attractions stem from a walled-off entertainment area where haunt-goers can enjoy bonfires, dance with creepy characters or buy refreshments or souvenirs.
"People expect to be scared," Giese says. "But amidst all of the screams, there's laughter -- people having a good time."
Hobb's Grove is located at 14265 E. Goodfellow Ave. in Sanger and is running Oct. 10 through Nov. 1 this season. Also new this year, Hobbs Grove is sponsoring a contest. The Hobb's Grove BooTube YouTube Contest invites people to record their best scare of an unsuspecting person and upload the 2 minute of less footage on youtube. The winner will get a Hobb's Grove party with free admissions and food for friends and family.
Here is a commercial for Hobb's Grove from a past season:
Here's Hobb's Grove's hillbilly fashionista Delma Loo Hucklebuck-Hobbs being interviewed by Famous Whitewater for the Fresno Famous' Famous People section last year:
Haunted Fresno is a new attraction featuring a variety of haunts. Fortress of Fear is a a tribute to the movie "Van Helsing" and House of Zombies is an homage to George Romero's black and white horror classic "Night of the Living Dead" as well as other zombie movies, according to Drew Dominguez, a partner in the attraction. Dominguez promises Haunted Fresno will be a cut above the average haunt.
"A lot of haunted houses out there now are pretty cookie cutter," he says. "I've been doing this for years. It's very, very technical. It's not cheesy. I think when people see this, it's just going to knock their socks off."
Both Fortress of Fear and House of Zombies are combined under the one admission price to Haunted Fresno. A third attraction, The Seance, is available for a separate admission price or a discounted price when combined with the other two. Haunted Fresno will be open Oct. 16 to Nov.1, Thursdays through Sunday at 665 Fulton Street at Mono Street at the site where A Ghoul's Night terrified Fresnans in 2006.
Haunted Fresno is one of the new haunts in town.
Fright Night Scream Park makes its ambitious debut Oct. 10 and runs through Nov. 1. The scream park has taken over the old movie theater behind Target in the Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis and transformed it into four separate haunted atttractions. There's Asylum -- a journey into a psychiatric ward gone awry, Desecration -- a twisted trip through a morgue with a mad mortician, Necropolis -- a terrifying journey through a cemetery where the dead have risen to feast on the flesh of the living, and, if your heart can stand it, there's Psychosis -- a bizarre trip into the world of deranged carnival clowns made all of the more creepy by the fact that this attraction is in 3-D!
"It's 23,000 square feet of scariness," says Brandon Wright, promotions director. "There's something scary for everyone. There's just about every kind of phobia you can think of under one roof. We're just trying to bring something to the Valley that it's never seen before."
Open from 7 p.m. to midnight, Fright Night Scream Park will also be offering a Lights On Tour Nov. 2 where visitors can walk through and see how all of the creepy effects were accomplished.
Details: www.frightnightscreampark.com (For a recent article on Fright Night Scream Park, click here: http://www.fresnofamous.com/content/if-you%E2%80%99re-going-scream-screa...)
The video preview for Fright Night Scream Park promises lots of screams.
When a maintenance man appeared out of the dark and "scared the living daylights" out of Geph Neville one night while closing up the Tower Theatre, he was suddenly struck with an idea -- to turn the theatre into a haunted attraction. On Halloween night, you can be scared out of your wits at Terror at the Tower Theatre.
"We're doing it as scary as possible," organizer Neville says."We are going to have people being chopped in half. We are going to have a lot of blood and guts."
Neville says that he is trying to revive Halloween in the Tower District. He feels things have not been the same since the Mardis Gras celebration in 2001 that erupted into violence. He hopes to get the community involved. In addition to the haunt, there will be a beer garden in the back of the theater. The band Fusion Porn will play and zombie belly dancers will be performing. A costume contest is also in the works.
"If this is really big this year, next year we are going to try to do this for seven days," he says. "This is a trial run. We really hope to make this thing work."
The cost is $5 and the handstamp at the door will be good for $1 off of admission for the midnight showing of "Shaun of the Dead" (see listing above).
Details: (559) 281-1320
For those looking for something a bit spookier than the faux blood-splattered theatrics of a haunted house, there are many opportunities to have true-life ghostly encounters of your own.
The Haunted Tower Walk is back again this year. As with the event last year, guests are led along Olive Avenue, told about the history of the area...and given details of the ghostly occurences that are alleged to have happend. The tour is sponsored by Central California Paranormal Investigators and run by Nightfall Tours.
New this year is the Old Town Ghost Walk in Clovis where participants can hear tales of mystery, heroic deeds, scandal, robbery and even a supernatural love story. "Bring a good set of walking shoes," says Jackie Meador, C.C.P.I. leader. "I can't say what anyone may or may not experience, I just hope they all have a few laughs, some 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and a plain, old good time."
The tours are $18 each, for adults 18 and over, and limited to a small number per tour. The Haunted Tower Walk is running every Friday and Saturday night through Nov. 15. The Old Town Ghost Walk runs through Oct. 31. Tours starts at 7:30 p.m. and last approximately 2 hours.
Details: www.myspace.com/nightfalltours, (559) 260-1738, or www.ccpifresno.org (For an article on last year's Haunted Tower Walk, click here: http://www.fresnofamous.com/things_that_go_bump_in_the_night_in_the_tower)
Wolfe Manor on Clovis Avenue has held a long fascination with Valley residents interested in Halloween and the supernatural. Following its years as a hospital, sanitarium and convalescent home, the former Andleberry Estate became the haunted attraction "Scream If You Can." Since the spook house's closure, it has been visited by paranormal investigators, including television's "Ghost Hunters."
"Grant (Wilson) said that what he captured in that house was the best," says Todd Wolfe, owner of the house. "He said that he had been doing research for a long time and this was just amazing."
The house is also the home base for the Internet show "Haunted Wolfe Manor Live" that features weekly paranormal investigations of the house (www.ustream.tv/channel/haunted-wolfe-manor-live). Soon, it will be part of a planned "haunted hotel."
But for now, those wishing to tour the house and carry out a paranormal investigation of their own can do so. Tours of the house are available. With a minimum of five people at $20 per person, you can have a one-hour plus tour of the estate.
"It's unique," says Terry Campbell, paranormal investigator and manor tour guide. "There's no other place around where you can actually go and have your own paranormal adventure."
The house has been visited by people from all over the world and has had a lot of interest from Hollywood. The reason for this, Campbell says, is because it is genuinely haunted.
"We get paranormal activity all of the time," he says. "It's one of the most active in the state. You also get the history of the house. There are so many rumors, myths and legends. It's pretty intriguing."
Details and tour appoints: (559) 394-7778, www.wolfemanorhotel.com, or (559) 307-4994 (For an article on the Haunted Wolfe Manor Live internet show, click here: http://www.fresnofamous.com/node/15351)
And possibly the biggest boo-nanza for the person interested in the paranormal this Halloween season is the first Paranormal Seminar. Sponsored by the Central California Paranormal Investigators, the seminar is scheduled from Oct. 10 to 12 at the historic (and haunted) Sierra Sky Ranch in Oakhurst.
"There has been so much interest in the paranormal for the last five years," says Jackie Meador, leader of C.C.P.I. "There are conferences and workshops all over the US and California, but nothing in Central California."
Meador, who also teaches a class in paranormal investigation through Fresno Adult School, says the seminar will be made up of guest speakers in the field covering such topics as spirit photography, validating evidence, working with psychics and the dangers of the paranormal.
"The focus is on education," Meador says. "We have selected speakers who can enrich our education and enhance our understanding of the paranormal. Our speakers will be available to our attendees throughout the seminar weekend, especially on Sunday during the Q and A session, to meet and answer further questions and discuss various topics."
Nighttime paranormal investigations are also on the agenda. Rooms at the Sierra Sky Ranch are available for those wishing to make the experience complete by spending the night in a haunted hotel.
"I believe there is something out there, something more," Meador says. "Is there anything after this life? I have had a few personal experiences and seen many manifestations with my own eyes that cannot be explained. Proving the existence of ghosts may help answer the bigger question."
For other haunted attractions and spooky goings on, check out www.fresnohaunt.com. House haunters, those who make a big production of doing up their homes and front yards for trick-or-treaters, are also encouraged to add announcements so those who are interested can check them out.