Special Features
My Halloween 2019…Blood Fest, Sleepy Hollow, Reapers
Revenge & More  

By AL J. Vermette

     Yes this may be our first of the year issue 2020, but it’s also our after Halloween issue as well where
we talk about all the Halloween events and things that were yet to happen when we were putting that issue
together over the summer.

     Since as you may guess, the month of October is my favorite time of year as I try and cram as much
Halloween stuff in as I can into those 31 days.  I hit all the Halloween and non-Halloween stores where
anything scary can be sold if only to look at all the new creepy stuff on the market.  Along with my
pilgrimage to as many places that sell Halloween props, masks and costuming, I also got to go to a
Halloween themed block party in no other than Sleepy Hollow…..yeah that Sleepy Hollow, plus a haunted
attraction along with our own yearly Halloween show event Blood Fest.

     Okay sure, you all know the places like Spirit Halloween and Party City sell holiday props, costumes,
and masks, along with things like lighting effects, fog machines, and animated monsters.  But did you
know that Home Depot sells most of this too?  Okay not so much, but not only do they have masks and
costumes, but they have spooky props galore and lots and lots of animated creatures.  Who would think in
a place where you buy toilet plungers, wood and bathtubs that you can also find a 7-foot werewolf and a
Headless Horseman (with horse) animatronics?  As you may think, I made a visit there a few times along
with Spirit and Party City.

     I did this event last year and so this year I made a point to go again. Believe it or not, there are still a
few Drive-ins still in operation and one called The Circle Drive-In that hosts a horror film festival each year
at their location in Dickson City, PA.  Much like last year’s show, this year’s played an assortment of over
20 indie short films by up and coming directors in the horror genre plus 2 features films.  Some of the
movies were funny, most were scary but all were well made and very entertaining.

     The event all started with groups of vendors displaying their wares as we all waited for nightfall and the
rise of the full moon.  Then as darkness took over, the show began with so many films in one place it was
like horror movie heaven.  Plus this all under a very real full moon made it even better as its haunting light
shined overhead.  If you live near and can visit Dickson City in Pennsylvania near Scranton next year, look
for the Nepa Horror Film Fest held at the Circle Drive-In.  Trust me it’s one of the best horror movie
festivals I’ve been to.

     On the weekend right before Halloween itself, I spent those two days right in the mix of some truly fun
and scary stuff.  First kicking that weekend off was our own event Blood Fest 16 held again at the Queens
Library in New York City for Blood Moon Rising.  Like the past few years, Blood Fest started with a Spook
House with creature displays of graveyards, pumpkin patch, flying ghost illusions, and lighting effects.  
Accompanied by BMR’s own D.W. Jones and his son Danny, we scared the daylights out of everyone who
entered the Spook House including a mother and her two small children who she (the mother) hid behind
when facing me as a Scarecrow at the entrance of the Spook House….yeah!

     Once we closed the Spook House portion of the event and things moved to the library’s 200 seat
theater, the show opened with a magical light performance by the masked sorcerer Warlock.  Making red
glowing lights appear out of nowhere within his hands, the walls and room began to glow with lights
displaying colors everywhere as everyone enjoyed the presentation.  From there was a music video of a
singing skeleton with jack-o-lantern back-up singers plus our featured short film “The Pit” by filmmaker
Jonathan Zaurin.

     Like every year for Blood Fest, we held a costume and scream contest along with a children’s parade
around the theater for all their families to see as kids followed Jason Voorhees who acted as the grand
marshal.  Our very own Dark Soul once again was the Blood Fest stage host as he oversaw the costume
and scream contests as well as acted as the event MC.

     One of this year’s Blood Fest highlights was our Frankenstein’s Resurrection where a dead
Frankenstein Monster was brought back to life and then played Simon Says with the kids.  This very
interactive part was also hosted by me as I got to step out from being the show’s producer and jump into
the event theatrics.  Like all Blood Fest events, Blood Fest 16 ended with a rock band performance and
this year was a special treat as Decembers Fall played for us for the fourth time.  We always love having
Decembers Fall play for Blood Fest and after six years it was so good to have them back.  

     On my way home from Blood Fest 16, I was passing right by Sleepy Hollow, and yes, that Sleepy
Hollow where the Headless Horseman rides the night for their annual Halloween Block Party.  I had
stumbled upon this event a few years ago and made it a point to return this year.  With lots of spooks
running the streets, vendor booths, a DJ and live band, the show they put on was great.  They even had a
haunted hayride going on as well plus food and even a giant slide ride right in the middle of the street.

     I got a kick out of watching all the costumes walking by and even saw a few Headless Horseman as
well as dancing as music played from the band and DJ who was only a block apart.  If you are ever in or
near Sleepy Hollow around Halloween time, you have to check out their yearly block party, it will be one of
the highlights of your spooky season.

     I had just gotten home after Blood Fest and a visit to Sleepy Hollow at 7 am when a mere 12 hours
later I get a call from my nephew asking if I wanted to join him and his 10-year-old daughter at the Reapers
Revenge haunted attraction.  Being still dead tired from my long drive from New York back to Pennsylvania
with a stopover in Sleepy Hollow, I naturally said “Oh Hell Yeah!”  And off we went.

     Now I have been to many, many, many haunted attractions in every state I have lived in, like New York,
Kentucky, Florida and now Pennsylvania where my bones currently reside, but good god almighty, I have
never ever seen an attraction like this.  It’s hands down blows everything else out of the water as far as
theme, scope and the amount of entertainment this attraction delivers.  Set in the mountains of
Pennsylvania near Dickson City and Scranton, this juggernaut tour de force of a Halloween horror
attraction boasts events like spook trials, hayride and a dark room zombie world.

     It all starts with the Haunted Hayride and for most events, this would be the only highlight showcased,
but Reapers Revenge just starts with the ride that leads to all the other attractions within the park. Okay,
the hayride…..oh my god!  I have never seen anything like this before as it was like a 30 minute or more…..
who knows as you lose all sense of time and space as you ride through very real woods as creatures of all
sorts attack the trailer your riding in.  To add to the magic there just happened to be a dead white sky that
night of floating clouds like ghosts looming overhead watching down upon us as the cart moved through
the forest of very real dead trees.  The only thing that could have made this scene even creepier would
have had the full moon overhead.

     Unlike any hayride I ever saw where the spectators ride in a trailer pulled by a tracker and monsters
walk about the vehicle scaring the onlookers, Reapers Revenge really ups the stakes in this production by
using the trailer as a stage itself. This was most noted when the first creature…the girl from the movie The
Ring crept on board and in a herky-jerky, creepy crawling, bones creaking, body twisting manner played to
the audience right before us.  For each of the riders on the cart sat on the outer edges leaving the center
open for each creature to climb on board by a staircase at the back and perform a little skit right in front of

     Along the trail, I was in glee as we rode through a forest of hanging corpses, a land of giant Jack-o-
lanterns and spider’s lair.  The corpses dangling from ropes around their necks must have been in the
hundreds as they swung overhead, in the distance and everywhere…..it was so cool!!  It was so sick
looking that as I looked around, I was the only one smiling.  I’m just sick that way!  The whole disturbing
scene reminded me of a short story I wrote some 30 years ago where there was a forest of hanging
victims in the hundreds, it was like seeing that story come to life….it was great!

     Other creatures who made a visit to the hayride was Freddy, Jason, Myers and even zombies who
after they roamed around the cart, climbed on board and did their face to face scare.  After they
dismounted the trailer, disco lights came out of nowhere with a mirrored ball and the three zombies
danced to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.  Now that’s entertainment!

     Once off the hayride, there was The Lost Carnival attraction to enter that was an indoor/ outdoor maze
of creepy clowns, circus props and even a rusty full-size spinning Farris-wheel rotating right in the middle
of the woods.  This just blew my mind that they had this very real working Farris-wheel just as a giant prop
really showed Reapers Revenge’s production value and its love for their show.  This thing looked
amazingly creepy off in the distance through the trees as it spun bathe in a pale blue light.  So….so very

     From there, the next attraction was Pitch Black and its named right.  We were in complete darkness
within the entire maze as unseen creatures grabbed at us.  Worming our way in the dark as strange things
hung in our faces, nipped at her legs and under our feet made this really creepy and loads of fun.  After
Pitch Black, the last event of this tour of terror was Sector 13, a zombie apocalypse scenario where
everyone is herded into groups playing the part of quarantine survivors as army personnel line catwalks
overseeing the operation.  From there, you face the zombie hoards as they overrun the complex and
madness ensues.

     Now remember, we have a 10 year old little girl with us through all this insanity and so how to you think
this child did in all this with monsters in her face, total darkness, crazy clowns and zombie?  Hell, she’s my
niece, how do you think she took it…..with a smile!  Even though she was the only….only child in the entire
attraction, the actors did not go easy on her not once.  They got in her face as they did for anyone else and
in fact, on our way into Pitch Black, one of the workers there took me on the side and said that if this is too
much for her, she can be taken out if she freaks out and gets scared.  I said “Yeah don’t worry she’s just
fine,” and came out of the darkness smiling and wanting to do it again.

     Since we were the last group to leave the event, many of the actors now out of their scare zones and
done for the night were hanging out by the bonfire, most out of costume, and came up to us and
congratulated my little niece for being so brave.  They have never ever seen a child be so brave and in
fact, kids her age are hardly ever there to begin with, and when they are, they are scared shitless.  Even
just before we left, a tall scary Michael Myers actor walked right up to her and just stood looming over her
silently.  He stared down over her and she stood toe to toe with him looking up…. and it didn’t phase her
not a bit.  Watching this scene straight out of Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers in real life was
mind-blowing as only this version of Jamie faced the killer down undaunted by his presence.  Not drawing
the reaction of a Danielle Harris Michael expected, he walked away into the night.  Hey, she’s of my blood
and you can’t fear what you love….Horror.

     So now you know what this horror author and publisher did for the Halloween season of 2019.  I hope
you did something just as fun and who knows what fun terrors I’ll face next year.
2019 . . .  Blood Fest, Sleepy
Hollow, Reapers Revenge and
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