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The Seven Sickest Halloween Haunts in Los Angeles

Why take a chance on watching another new horror movie when you could be the star of one? The kind of great haunts that balance DIY creativity with new shocks, surprises, and screams in immersive worlds that feel like a living nightmare torn straight from the scripts of Clive Barker.

11:28 AM PDT on October 20, 2023

These are the six sickest haunts in L.A.

Why take a chance on watching another new horror movie when you could be the star of one? 

This is the immersive experience that a good Halloween scare maze can provide, thrusting you into a deranged nightmare of some creative professional’s most twisted design, to part curtains and turn sharp corners in the dark, hoping to creep past the populated hiding places of demons, shades, and the possessed before they reach out to holler in your ear.

We first cut our teeth as kids on the awesome amateur haunts organized by the Jaycees, before graduating as pre-teens to the big, scary spectacle of Knotts Scary Farm in the late 80s. All of which is to say, we know a good haunt when we see one. The kind that balances DIY creativity with new shocks, surprises, and screams in immersive worlds that feel like a living nightmare torn straight from the scripts of Clive Barker. The stuff our Halloween dreams are made of.

Take our hands as we lead you, intrepid reader, into L.A.’s six sickest Halloween haunts.

Urban Death Tour of Terror ~ North Hollywood

We’ll start with the sickest. If you’ve never been to the Urban Death Tour of Terror, trust us; you’re unprepared for what you’re about to see. A seasonal passion project from Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater, this haunt would go to bed angry if it failed to really shock, disgust, and thrill you. It’s a visual leap into an issue of Fangoria, where you’re sure to see some naked bodies, raunchy behavior, violent imagery, and scatological gross-outs. Sweet.

You begin in a warren of dark tunnels saturated with human monstrosities, stumbling psychos, and ghastly vignettes, led only by the failing flashlight in your hand. Winding and twisting eventually lead to a theatrical performance that’s more The Aristocrats Joke meets Saw than Moliere. There’s also an all-ages version on Saturdays with, one can only imagine, less defecation, full-frontal nudity, and less WTF-driven fun. Tickets start at $22

4850 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood, CA 91601. Closest Metro lines and stop: Bus Lines 224 and 501 - "Lankershim/Vineland."

Angel of Light ~ Downtown

One of the most entrancing, ambitious haunts we’ve witnessed in recent years, Angel of Light plays out in a multimedia affair combining video, haunted walkthroughs, random freaks, cocktails, and a live on-stage performance in a story of an ancient underground cult and the evil they unleashed on themselves and the golden age of Hollywood. The spectacle occurs throughout L.A.’s sterling 93-year-old, rarely-seen Los Angeles Theatre, allowing you to soak in vintage vibes and forgotten ghosts in a historical atmosphere similar to past haunts on the Queen Mary, only without Shaq. Tickets start at $53.

615 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90014. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B and D Lines - "Pershing Square Station" or Bus Lines 16, 18, 20, 30, 40, 53, 55, 60, 62, and 720 - "Broadway/6th."

Reign of Terror ~ Thousand Oaks

There’s something inherently scary when visiting a haunt that isn’t backed by a major production studio or theme park. A lingering chance that an “I” wasn’t properly dotted, resulting in the hire of some actually escaped maniac or, at the least, an unhammered nailhead waiting to give you lockjaw. Reign of Terror is more akin to the kinds of huge haunts full of mechanical giants and detailed scare actors that you see on The Travel Channel, packing a series of eight different, themed environments across 138 rooms and 28,000 square feet, making it the biggest indoor haunt in SoCal. 

The scares begin while you’re in line and continue at a non-stop pace for about 40 minutes, with undead creatures that have more tricks to frighten you than the endless popping out of the walls found at higher-priced haunts. This year, it also counts a new haunted Forest of Fear feature, which sounds like a terrifying addition, or like, the name for a really great black metal festival. And if you miss the haunt in October, they’ve been known to bring the whole thing back with a holiday theme once Halloween is through. Tickets start at $40.

225 N. Moorpark Rd. Thousand Oaks, CA 91360. Closest transit lines and stop: Thousand Oaks Transit Line 42 - "Janss Marketplace" or Thousand Oaks Transit Lines 41 and 44 - "Moorpark/Hillcrest."

Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights ~ Studio City

We love it when horror gets a deservedly big budget on the silver screen. And that extends to a haunt designed by Hollywood’s best. Universal remains a must-do, incomparable in size, scale, and breadth of activities. We love it, not only for the wonder of finding yourself lost in some of your favorite scary scenes from intellectual properties like Child’s Play, The Last of Us, and The Exorcist, but also for Universal’s freshly invented mazes, which show the haunt’s consistent effort in doing something new. Plus, you can’t beat those San Fernando Valley views… 

This year, the theme park’s originals mazes were among the biggest highlights, including “Monstruos, the Monsters of Latin America,” which paired visions of the gut-chewing Tlahuelpuchi with the bone-crunching El Silbón; “Universal Monsters Unmasked,” which artfully reanimated classic villains like Dr. Hyde and the Phantom of the Opera with the feel of a silent movie reel; and the fun, seasonally-themed “Holidayz in Hell,” which was almost as scary as Thanksgiving with the in-laws.

HHN not only keeps the scares coming amid violent vignettes of terror and gore that resonate deeply with our horror geek lizard brains, but it also lends the sheen of its big Hollywood budget to the things riddling your worst nightmares, transforming everyone into a Last Girl/Boy for a night. Tickets start at $87.

100 Universal City Plaza Universal City, CA 91608. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B Line or Bus Lines 155, 222, 224, and 240 - "Universal City/Studio City Station."

Delusion: Nocturnes and Nightmares ~ Pomona

If the Friday traffic to Pomona doesn’t scare you to death, Delusion probably won’t either. Still, it’s consistently called out as one of the region’s most immersive, engaging haunts, the annual production equally celebrated for its gorgeously immersive setting, committed performances, in-depth story, and great attention to detail. 

In Pomona’s 148-year-old Philips Mansion, guests are chosen to perform tasks, run, creep, crawl, and solve puzzles in an interactive play that finds you exploring the grand house. For extra money, guests now have a VIP option that allows them backstage to hang with the actors and even play a dead body that won’t get you a union card. But everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Tickets start at $94.99.

2640 Pomona Blvd. Pomona, CA 91768. Closest transit lines and stop: Foothill Transit Line 482 - "Valley/Humane" or Foothill Transit Line 480 - "Humane/Mission."

The Medieval Torture Museum ~ Hollywood

Ah, but what could be crueler, more shocking, more disgusting than man’s inhumanity to man? Hollywood’s Medieval Torture Museum is not a haunt in the traditional sense. Just a peon to the horrors wrought by puritanism, repression, and religion, as you walk through a macabre carnival of torture equipment that gets particularly specific as to which body parts should be pierced, torn in half, sliced, or stretched. It’s some fucked-up shit, to be sure. Proving nothing is scarier than people. They also offer a private ghost tour experience, where you can learn all about paranormal research and use some beeping, booping things said to be conduits to the spirit world.

6757 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, California, USA 90028. Closest Metro lines and stop: Metro B Line - "Hollywood/Highland Station" or Bus Lines 212 and 217 - "Hollywood/Highland."

The Haunted Rose/Threshold of Darkness ~ Whittier

If you really want to be afraid, bring your kids somewhere… anywhere. Or head straight to this annual fundraiser for the Whittier Museum. It’s been a family-friendly affair in past years, with all the professionalism and dedication of much pricier haunt experiences. Starting this weekend, director Ryan Banfield is debuting Threshold of Darkness, a four-night maze and classic monster experience that will likely be richer in haunting history and atmosphere than in jump scares. On the 28th, the museum will offer the Hearse Show, featuring 12 vintage and modern hearses from the Graveyard Hearse Mafia Club. Tickets are $10 at the door.

6755 Newlin Ave. Whittier, CA 90601. Closest transit lines and stop: Montebello Bus Lines Route 50 - "Pickering/Philadelphia", Montebello Bus Lines Route 10 - "Philadelphia/Milton", Norwalk Transit Line 7 - "Pickering/Mar Vista."

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