Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween Horror Nights 2009: My 3 Best Scares

I've been working Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood for the past three years. In 2007, I was a Chainsaw Killer Klown at Bates Motel in the Terror Tram. In 2008, I was a Chainsaw Pigman at the entrance of the Terror Tram. And this year, I was again a Chainsaw Killer Klown at Whoville in the Terror Tram. The key thing about scares is you want to get into a very efficient rhythm so that you can scare as many people as possible. The tramful of park guests passes by pretty quick. I developed several routines that allowed me to maximize my scares. By the end of this year's event, I must've scared thousands of people. Some people really enjoy the scare, like it's a fun game. Some people are genuinely terrified. At least once a night, we see people who don't even get past Whoville and ask show control if they can be taken back to the main park area without going through the maze itself. You work really hard to get these scares (especially with a chainsaw), and a lot of them are very basic and unremarkable. But I remember three in particular from this year that I really enjoyed, just because there was something that really clicked about each one. I'm going to write about them now so that I don't forget them. Scares are really a you-had-to-be-there kinda thing, so this may not read very interesting... but if you don't like it, go write your own blog.

In countdown form:

3. I was standing in the middle of the crowd and this girl backs into me. I think she was backing away from another clown. As she turns around, she says, "Oh, I'm so sorr--" and then she screams the second she sees I am also a chainsaw clown. This scare was very rewarding, particularly because I didn't really have to do anything.

2. Sometimes, after the crowd has passed, I immediately turn off my chainsaw and watch the people bringing up the rear to see if I can sneak up on them for one last scare. I saw this one girl talking to her friends. As I approached, I heard her say, "It's just not scary anymore. It's like--" then she turned and saw me standing there. The startling effect of my presence plus the embarrassment of knowing I had heard her criticizing the scariness made for a very effective combination. One of her friends goes, "You were saying?" To which she responded, "Okay, never mind, it's scary."

1. This was another case of me observing the people bringing up the rear, and is perhaps my favorite scare of 2009. I always do my best to scare as many people as possible, but I noticed a group of people pushing a girl in a wheelchair had slipped by me. So I silently ran up next to them along the side of the fence. As I approached, I heard the girl in the wheelchair in near hysterics, saying, "I HATE clowns and I HATE ch--" She was about to say chainsaws, but when I popped out, she unleashed a terrible scream of pure horror. Like, she was on the edge, and I pushed her overboard.

I don't really take pleasure in scaring people who don't want to be scared. I watch my fellow chainsaw clowns celebrate when they terrify someone into leaving or crying, and I marvel at their cruelty. I also can't relate to anyone who takes pleasure in scaring young children. The parents may be stupid for bringing them in the first place, but that's the parents' fault; not the kids'. In the case of the wheelchair girl, I didn't hear her shrill whining until I was already mid-scare. But her reaction was just awesome. I wonder what series of events led to her attending a park full of the things she doesn't like.

We also got a lot of celebrities. Because I'm scaring through a mask, in the dark, through a thick artificial fog in the middle of a fast-paced crowd, I usually only see people as shapes, and I just read the body language off the shapes, and that's how I conduct my scares. Whenever I go on break, I'll hear people say stuff like, "Did you see Diddy? He had his kids and bodyguards with him," and I'll remember having seen a big guy in a suit, obviously a bodyguard, and not noticing Diddy, or whoever the celeb was at the time. On Halloween (our last night), I was attacking people with the saw, as usual, swinging it at them like a baseball bat, when I noticed another bodyguard. Remembering the Diddy incident, I looked up to see if this was another celebrity. And it was none other than Tyrese Gibson. So I attacked Tyrese with a chainsaw and lived to tell the tale. We'll call that one an honorable mention.

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