Rob Zombie Launches ‘Great American Nightmare’ Festival [Exclusive Photos]
Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare is now open, and for fans of bloodcurdling horror, it is like a dream come true. Loudwire was on hand at the Fairplex (dubbed the “Fearplex” for this event) in Pomona, Calif. for the opening night of Zombie’s latest venture, which is bound to succeed on frightening levels.
Some background: Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare spans 150,000 square feet of hardcore horror and entertainment. For 15 nights (culminating with a Nov. 2 headlining performance by Rob Zombie himself), the experience blends stupefyingly advanced haunted house attractions with a music festival featuring top artists in the realms of hard rock/metal, rock alternative, EDM and Latin music. There are also many merch tents, autograph signings, screenings of classic horror films (including 'The Phantom of the Opera,' 'Horror Hotel,' 'The Last Man on Earth,' 'Carnival of Souls,' 'House on Haunted Hill,' 'White Zombie,' 'Nosferatu' and 'The Lords of Salem'), a DJ, food vendors, beer, wine, and a freak show cast of characters roaming throughout the grounds each night.
Opening night featured a pre-show red carpet where many celebs including guitarist John 5, comedian Andy Dick and of course Zombie himself met the press. As Zombie told Loudwire, “I’ve been very hands on throughout this entire process. I know I’ve driven some of the architects crazy with changes and things, but I had a vision and thanks to the team, we’ve created something very intense.” (For the record, Zombie shared that his all time favorite horror film is the original 'King Kong').
Co-producers Kevin Lyman (of Warped Tour fame) and renowned haunted house visionary Steve Kopelman both sang Zombie’s praises. Lyman told Loudwire that Zombie has been an involved, intense partner, and Kopelman agreed: “Our goal is to simply scare the living crap out of you. Rob had many ideas based on his work to make those goals real and I’ve been extremely impressed in his work style. He’s very involved and we’ve all had a blast.”
The complex has been taken over completely by colossal animatronic monsters, giant props from Zombie’s stage is set and additional horrific sculptures. Seemingly homicidal psychotics with chainsaws (and worse) troll the grounds, startling attendees left and right. Warning to those who enter: stay on your toes.
And then we had the privilege of being some of the first guests to experience the three different haunted house attractions, which are all attached, so that it is like one long attraction broken up into three separate chapters.
It begins with Lords of Salem In Total Black Out, based on Zombie’s 2012 'The Lords of Salem' indie horror film. First, an executioner’s hood is placed on your head, depriving you of all sight. Then it is up to you to navigate a maze in total blackness while fireworks go off, and charged electric walls shock you (among several other sensory-rich stimulations).
What a way to begin. It's actually ingenious how they break down your senses to the most primal impulses right at the beginning, as if to prepare you for the next two excursions.
Once you complete this complex maze, you then enter the Haunted World of El Superbeasto 3D – by pushing your way through a pair of giant, inflatable female legs – back to the womb, so to speak. Then, utilizing Chromadepth glasses, you are thrust into the bizarre world of Rob Zombie’s El Superbeasto 2009 animated exploitation musical horror comedy film (based on the comic book series). While there are certainly some startling moments in this black light, Day-Glo world which Zombie has created, humor rather than horror is the driving force. The 3-D effects are stunning. 3-D paint has been incorporated so that even the walls become part of the startling and refracted scenarios. The actors that appear throughout the various rooms also take on truly strange dimensions when viewed through the glasses. You may think you've seen good 3-D before. After El Superbeasto however, you'll realize that the rules have been redrawn.
But catch your breath, because these are the last light and humorous moments you will have for the rest of your journey. In short, prepare for hell.
It must be stated up front that the third part of the attraction, Haunt of 1,000 Corpses, is a truly intense and horrific experience that will most likely have an effect on you long after you leave the grounds. Forget what you know about theme park haunted houses. There is simply no reference foe this.
It's a walking trip based on the 2003 Zombie film of the same name. Yes the sets are expertly crafted and the actors are top-notch. This is Hollywood horror at its finest. But the content is an unspeakably brutal and ghastly journey through a myriad of death and gore. There are scenes depicting everything from the Manson murders to John Wayne Gacy to the Zodiac Killer. There are insane asylums, slashers and hillbilly corpse grinders. And blood. Lots of blood. The smell of death is literally piped in to various rooms and the air is thick with a mind-bending and gut churning amount of torture and mayhem. Scene after phantasmagoric scene play out and with each corner you turn, you wonder, how much more intense is going to get? Without spoiling too much, the Haunt of 1,000 Corpses truly is the heart of this nightmare. To Zombie's credit, he holds back nothing, delivering a truly frightening experience that is vivid and supremely unforgettable. It is provocative, graphic and quite daring. In a very real way, he has re-invented the haunted house.
We cannot wait to return.
See Photos of Rob Zombie's 'Great American Nightmare' Kickoff Below: