In the pantheon of theme park Halloween events, Disney’s is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Spooky. Universal Studios is Halloween Horror Nights. Scary. Disney is trick ‘r treating. Universal is haunted houses. If you want atmospheric, family-friendly fun, go to Disney for Halloween. If you want horror, Universal is where it’s at.
And so, if you are firmly and exclusively Team Disney on this point, I suggest you watch something thematically appropriate. I hear people like Halloweentown. But if you’re Team Universal, read on, because I have just the October movie for you!
HELL FEST = HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
I stumbled upon Hell Fest on Netflix a couple years ago, and while slashers are not usually my thing (I’m more of a ghosts/supernatural gal), I was immediately drawn in by the setting: a group of friends go to the poor man’s copy of Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights (or Busch Garden’s Howl-o-Scream or Knotts Scary Farm or Six Flags Fright Fest or…) and find themselves targeted by a serial killer.
Okay, that’s a bit unnerving, but still. A chance to relive my USF Halloween Horror Nights trip? Sign me up!
And oh my gosh, masked killer aside, that’s almost exactly what Hell Fest is: a traditional Halloween amusement park facsimile. You’ve got your scare actors, your scare zones, your haunted mazes, your regular rides, your overlay rides, and of course, the great Tony Todd. (Not that I’ve ever known Tony Todd to frequent Halloween Horror Nights, but I’m always happy to see him. Candyman, Candyman, Candyman!)
Is Hell Fest a good movie, in the sense of cinematic craftsmanship? Oh, heavens no. It’s not even really scary – the threat is just a dude in a mask who likes to murder. Which is bad for your health, sure, but there’s nothing uncanny about it. Still, if you’re a theme park enthusiast who likes Halloween, it’s a whole lot of FUN. And I, for one, am a big fan of Halloween fun!
Now for the catch: unfortunately, Hell Fest is no longer on Netflix, nor does it seem to be available on any of the major streaming players you’re likely to subscribe to already. Your best bet would be to rent it for $4 from Amazon, or heck, just buy it for $6.
BUT WOULD I LIKE IT?
Not sure it’s worth it? The trailer might help you decide:
Or this is a pretty good thesis statement for the movie as a whole (loving the video title, btw):
This captures much of the Horror Nights vibe I refer to:
And of course, Tony Todd:
Happy Halloween, everyone! Though primarily to Tony Todd.
Note the above Amazon links are affiliate.
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Syfy will be playing hellfest in December.