There's A Meeting for That

Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

The Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival unites DIY haunted-house builders, entertainment-world horror pros, and ghost-story enthusiasts in Long Beach for some late-summer spooking. Who said October had to have all the fun?

Illustration by Carmen Segovia.

David Markland grew up in the northeastern United States, loving fall foliage and Halloween — two things that he missed when he moved to Los Angeles and began working as an event producer. A decade ago, he started a blog called Creepy LA to capture Halloween events in Southern California, and began to meet all kinds of interesting people — DIY haunted-house builders, entertainment-world horror pros, and ghost-story enthusiasts among them.

“Why isn’t there an event to bring all these people together?” he asked himself. Then: “Why not do it myself?” He and five other Halloweenophiles launched the Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival 2016 with the help of volunteers.

WHAT FRESH HELL? Among the mainstays of the festival are sneak peeks at what’s coming up next at horror-based attractions in Southern California, including “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios Hollywood and “Fright Fest” at Six Flags Magic Mountain. But horror professionals aren’t the only ones contributing expertise — the festival has also celebrated DIY haunters like the late Gary Corb, who created a legendary “Hallowed Haunting Grounds” in his front yard in Studio City. The festival “is a way to connect the fans [of horror] with other fans and with the people who make haunted attractions,” Markland said. “And it’s our sandbox, filled with fun ideas we want to try.”

THE HORROR TRADE There were about 250 vendors at this year’s festival, selling everything from props to jewelry, and offering immersive VR experiences and escape rooms. One booth’s 10-minute-long escape game, “The Asylum,” was designed for two people and carried a warning: “Not recommended for those who are claustrophobic.”

YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE Midsummer Scream’s “Hall of Shadows” offered even more ways to scare visitors out of their wits. A Halloween theme park installed in half of the convention center’s exhibition hall, it featured more than a dozen “mini haunts” created by both amateurs and professionals, and inhabited by zombies, mutants, serial killers, and other dark characters. A “Screaming Room” offered screenings of horror-related movies and videos.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.