HHN Editorial: What’s in an Icon? I Don’t Know Jack!

The Director, the only Icon that was semi-shared with Hollywood

On both coasts, Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights is all about one thing, the houses.  Usually,  the Hollywood and Orlando parks have some overlapping themes, like this year’s “The Shining,” but there is one thing that the parks have really never had in common.  Say it with me, “Hollywood always skimps out on an icon!!!”

Year after year, around this time before the season, I find myself refreshing the Horror Nights web page, and solving clues on Twitter for both parks, eager to get that next taste of what is to come.  Also, year after year, I see Orlando get a cool, new icon, or a re-vamped favorite like “Jack the Clown” or “The Caretaker,” while the Hollywood park chooses to go without an icon.

I have always wondered why Universal Hollywood just can’t seem to get this right.  Every year I see fans of the event plead for an icon, and every year, we are disappointed, even when HHN Hollywood makes an attempt at creating an icon.

I know, I sound like a spoiled child, but come on!  Universal aside from 2006 and

Photo Credit: Undercover Tourist; Hollywood Harry stalks guests on the backlot near Bates Motel.

2007 when you used “Jack the Clown” and “The Director” as mainly marketing devices, with little use in the actual event, you haven’t really given the fans much in the way of an icon.

At the 2016 event, there was a fine attempt to create an iconic character in “Hollywood Harry” in the month leading up to the event.  The entire Terror Tram was even themed around this character who was really, quite cool.  Sadly, the only place you could glimpse “Harry” was by waiting to board the Terror Tram, one of the park’s most popular attractions.  Even a scare zone with “Harry” would have at least created the guise of a mascot.

The scare zone tactic was tried in previous years with La Llorona as a scare zone theme, and the face of the 2010 event in most marketing campaigns.  She even came out to meet the press at the Eyegore Awards, but sadly, her scare zone was pretty sparse and seemed more like a sneak preview for the maze she would own the next two years at the event.

Eli Roth at The Eyegore Awards Photo Credit: Metroplague

Hollywood has been lucky enough to have iconic celebrities in horror sponsor mazes.  Some of them include Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper to start.  While these mazes were popular, it would have been interesting for at least one of them to create an icon in their name that would control the madness consuming the park.

This begs me to question, why hasn’t HHN Hollywood taken the steps that it’s bigger sibling in Orlando has?  Does it really cost that much more to create a new character, or even utilize characters from Orlando’s prior years in a larger scale way, OUTSIDE of the Terror Tram?  I personally feel like it would increase appeal for the event and make the event seem a little more streamlined and themed as a whole.

La Llorona meets and greets the press

Don’t get me wrong, I love my HHN Hollywood but with Orlando having original mazes on epic scales (that’s another topic), and awesome icons,  I feel like Hollywood is severely lacking in the unique aspect of its production value, especially when it shares mazes with big names like “The Exorcist” and “Krampus” with the Orlando crowd.  Where’s the reciprocation, Mike Aiello?

Orlando and Hollywood fans alike, I am dying to know what you think of the lack of icons in one park and the abundance of icons in the other.  Is there something that Hollywood has that evens out the scale for Orlando?  Let’s get a discussion going.

999 Happy Haunts, but Always Room for 1,000

Photo Credit: Marc Davis, Walt Disney Studios

Disneyland and Disney World are the places of dreams for children and adults alike.  With happy-go-lucky vibes around, it is hard to pinpoint an ounce of sorrow behind any aspect of a Disney park…that is unless you’re the one fronting the bill. OR you are one of the unfortunate souls to remain in the park after your visit.

From ghostly shopkeepers to ashes spread where no ashes should fall, Disney does have its fair share of stories with a major creep factor.  Yes, the story about the crying boy in the haunted mansion, or the Small World suicide are all fun urban legends to joke about, but according to past cast members,  there are some very freaky happenings that go on behind the scenes (And we aren’t talking about Prince Eric and Belle, either).

As a short extra for you all, and a prelude to my Haunted Mansion history series in August,  I’ve provided a few videos that feature Disney ghost stories, famous Disney deaths, and my personal favorite Disney CreepyPasta.  Grab your Mouse Ears and make a homemade Dole Whip (Recipe HERE) before sitting down to this ghastly hour.  Until Monday, Plague Rats, enjoy.

 

Ghosts, Cults and Murderous Legends of Proctor Valley Road, CA

Photo Credit: World News
When thinking of San Diego, California, most outsiders quickly imagine lush beaches, palm trees, the sun, and an alternative rock playlist that seems to serve as a permanent soundtrack to the lives of the comfortable citizens of the landscape.

Sure, those things are technically there, you don’t have to look farther than your nearest billboard off of the 805 freeway to find the way to that type of scenery.  However, if you look past the beaches and pristine streets, you will quickly find the grime and crust of urban legends and violent pasts that stain the outwardly immaculate body of my beloved hometown.

As in all towns, there was the standard haunted house at the end of the darkest street, or the restaurant that was occupied by supposed demonic entities; but none of these tales could hold a candle to the fear that Proctor Valley Road could place into a child’s soul.

From hitchhiking figures to occult and Klan sightings, there were plenty of reasons to be dubious about Proctor Valley Road, and fortunately for me, I spent most of my life on a ranch in the suburb of Bonita that rested right at the entrance of this eerie hollow.

As a kid, my Uncle “C” used to tell me stories of how he would go out to Proctor Valley in the 70s and party with his friends at a well-lit bonfire.  However, one story always stood out to me.

“I was at the fire with my friends, you know, drinking booze and flirting with ‘chicks,’ then one of my friends started screaming in the distance.  We all ditched the fire and went towards the screams.  We found him about 50 yards out, near a tree where he had been taking a piss.  A young girl in a white dress could be seen hanging by a rope from a nearby branch.”

Now, he never went beyond what happened next.  Did they go to the police?  Was she a spirit?  Was she just “hanging” around the bonfire waiting for a drink?  We never knew.  I honestly think this story was one told to keep ill-behaved children on the right side of the tracks.  But his story is not the only story of murder on the road.  Proctor Valley was notorious as a place for local denizens of the underbelly to stash the bodies of their robbed victims, so who knows…maybe my uncle was onto something.  I sure know my Aunt “D” was with this next story.

“One dusk evening your cousins & I drove down the dirt road to get to Eastlake ( before the road was paved) on Procter Valley. We came across a young man walking & talking on his phone. My first thought was to ask him if he was lost but I had my 3 kids in the car & just moved on.  As we drove by him slowly he had a hooded jacket covering his face so we weren’t able to see him. The next day he was on the news with a covered blanket over his upper body. To make a long story short we were the last to see him alive….” she said.

There are also rumored KKK sightings and occult offerings made on the vast dirt road in the middle of nowhere, but really all it seems to be is stories, and the only thing I’ve personally found out there was childish pentagram graffiti on dilapidated farm houses.  But is it the real danger that kept us away from the road?  Oh no, my dear Plague Rats.  On that road, there were plenty of “Monsters” lurking in the shadows.

*The most popular monster myth on this road is the Proctor Valley Monster.  This is something that has so many versions of the story that I’ll provide you with a link to a great article from the San Diego Reader here.

La Llorona Photo Credit: Universal HHN
Of course, for any Hispanic child, the story of La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) is one that is sure to keep them in line.  Yes, there is a version of La Llorona on Proctor Valley Road.  Legend has it, there is an older lady who wanders the dirt roads crying out for her children…..best hope she doesn’t catch you, for according to legend if she does, it’s curtains for you.

Another mysterious woman is the Lady in Blue.  According to tall tales, she crouches down in the middle of the road and cries out for help as drivers roll by.  Should you pick her up, she will “surely” kill the driver before the car reaches its destination.  Should you leave her, your act of cruelty will also result in your death before reaching your destination.  Cheesy, I know, but there are some stories that only the witnesses can comprehend.

My Aunt was kind enough to provide another story of PVR.  While this is not the women that I discussed previously, this story is honestly a completely terrifying one and is enough to keep me off of PVR at the age of 30!

“My dear friend Marcia and I used to carpool, and she’d take the short cut daily to pick me up. One night after dropping me off she saw a lady in a white long dress with no face appear in front of her car. As she slowed down not knowing who or what she was the lady looked at her with no face and glided off! Marcia never took that road again at night!”

It’s a wild story, so believe it or not.  I just know in all my years my Aunt hasn’t lied to me.

The final legend and the one that I am most curious about is the story of Haven  Bakery.  This eatery used to reside in Jamul, CA, where PVR ended.  I believe it was demolished in 2008 to be replaced by something corporate.  As my dear friend Amy says, no matter how dirty the history, it’s a damn shame to see it replaced with a Walgreens.

The Haven Restaurant and Bakery
Photo Credit: thisissandiego.tumblr.com
According to legend, Haven was run by a father who one day discovered his daughter hanging from a noose in the basement, dead.  Wild with rage, the father is rumored to have killed all of the workers in the restaurant and leaving the bodies in the bathroom to rot before killing himself.  This building used to be a large haunt for teens and amateur ghost hunters to get into mischief, and it is no surprise that the bathroom and basement areas are deemed the most haunted based on the story.

I haven’t been able to find any factual evidence of a massacre, but it does make for a fun story to frighten oneself with while exploring a run down property.  Here is a video of the bakery from Vegas13adventure’s YouTube Channel.

Although there isn’t evidence of the actual murder taking place, there is a handful of proven accidental deaths on the property.

For some REALLY creepy first-hand Haven Bakery stories check out this Sub-Reddit!

Keep in mind that there are tons of stories based around PVR, and this post didn’t even scratch the surface. 

*In Rod Serling voice*  So, next time you find yourself in San Diego, California at night.  Take a chance and take a drive down that long dirt path at the end of Sweetwater Road.  Keep your headlights on and your wits about you, or you may just find yourself a permanent resident of….Proctor Valley Road.

If you have a PVR in your hometown, Metroplague wants to hear all about it in the comments section below.  Please subscribe to us so that we can continue to be DFW’s number one source for Horror and Goth culture.  Look out for our review of The Mummy on Friday!

Southern Gothic: Interview with a Vampyr

Jackson faces the light of the future head on.

Monte Jackson, AKA, Sans Mortis, is an extremely talented artist, tattoo artist, creator, and shop owner of the Etsy store Shoe Coven.  Did we mention that he also rocks a mean pair of fangs on the daily?

Yes, Metroplague had the chance to organize an actual interview with a vampire.  This Southern gentleman of the night was kind enough to grant our wish, and provided us with a video answering our questions from his very posh looking headquarters.  So sadly, there would be no turning for our reporters during this tale.

During the interview, Jackson discusses the secret to “immortality,” his inspiration for his art and Etsy shop creations, and of course, what his favorite horror film is!  So sit back, relax, and be mesmerized into buying all of his wares as you watch the confessions of Sans Mortis in the video below.

 

Help Us Shape the Future of Metroplague

I want YOU to make US better!

Since we started Metroplague a mere two weeks ago, it has already been a whirlwind of a journey with SO much support from the Goth and arts communities on a local, national and international level.  We have now simply become Metroplague.com and have several new topics coming your way.  Continue reading “Help Us Shape the Future of Metroplague”

Scarborough Renaissance Fair Blends the Beauty with the Beast

Instagram: @kkittydesigns
Showing off her Plague costume. Very fitting for our website!

Even ghouls like us need a staycation every once in a while.  With the family festivities and BBQs of Memorial Day weekend coming to a close, the Metroplague team made their way out to the final day of the Scarborough Renaissance Fair out in Waxahachie, TX! Continue reading “Scarborough Renaissance Fair Blends the Beauty with the Beast”

Finding ‘Home’ in the Goth Community: Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friends…

 

Editor’s dream BFFs

In celebration of World Goth Day, Metroplague has a week-long set list of content planned that covers several aspects of the Convergence 23 celebration of Gothic culture that graced the streets and venues of Dallas this past weekend.  The event was organized by members of Alt.gothic, and although music and drinks were aplenty in the numerous hosting clubs, the real essence of Convergence was the sense of community that spread over the black and vibrant outfits of the gathering members like a vampiric cloak of reassurance that felt like home. Continue reading “Finding ‘Home’ in the Goth Community: Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friends…”