Each Halloween season, Theme Park Adventure has its finger firmly on the pulse of Southern California regarding what happening. We visit all types of haunts during the season, from theme parks and stand alone attractions to yard displays. In 2013, TPA visited 30 different haunts between the end of September and the beginning of November. While we definitely get around, there are inevitably, some haunts we simply miss due to scheduling and time – or the lack thereof. We were aware of Big Worm’s Sherwood Scare home haunt/maze, but simply couldn’t fit it in to our initial Halloween schedule of events. However, once the second half of October rolled around, it was clear by the personal text messages and fan comments on Twitter that Sherwood Scare was not to be missed. Because of the amount of messages we received, we monkeyed with our schedule and fit Sherwood Scare in to the mix. Needless to say, we had high expectations…
A new epiphone that I had this season as we made the rounds: Theme Park Adventure will no longer “review” home haunts of any type. In our book, anyone that takes the time to spook up their home in any fashion to celebrate Halloween gets high marks with us. If a home’s decorating goes up and beyond window decals and a cluster of jack-o-lanterns on the front stoop, we are very aware of the costs and effort involved – and so, we’ll post about what we found on TPA, but will steer clear of the word “review”, simply because that’s not fair in the context to professional events that make money and are in the haunted attraction business for consumer dollars; they are all fair game and will be reviewed accordingly by us just as we always have. Home haunts will be appreciated and shared for what they are – home haunts. We love them all, big and small, and so we will celebrate without any critique from here on out, because the fact that people just want to share with their neighborhoods and community in the spirit of Halloween is awesome.
That said, we did have high expectations for Big Worm’s Sherwood Scare. I was regularly getting texts basically saying, “Dude. You have to check this home haunt out! It’s better than most pro haunts I’ve been to!” We were curious and very enthused to see what all the fuss was about when we drove to Northridge late in the evening to meet these haunters and see what they were up to for ourselves.
First off, I wanted to know what the deal was with the name. “Big Worm” isn’t frightening or typical by any stretch when it comes to a haunted attraction, so I wondered what that was all about. The second thing we knew about this home haunt is that its proceeds went to help in the battle against Cystic Fibrosis. It’s not uncommon that home haunts (or even some pro haunts) benefit local charities, from animal shelters to children’s hospitals. However, when I heard that a specific disease was targeted by Sherwood Scare, I figured that someone connected to the event must be personally affected by it. When we arrived and met with the team, I asked and was enlightened.
Matthew “Big Worm” Joyce was a vibrant young man from San Diego who, at the age of 19, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. CF if a disease that attacks one’s internal organs, including the lungs. Prognosis is not good, and those afflicted with CF are in for a long, life-altering battle. To learn more about Cystic Fibrosis, click here. In 2008, Matthew passed away due to surgical complications. In short, Matthew’s friends and family have decided to carry on and continue to fight CF in Big Worm’s name, directly supporting Big Worm’s CF Life Foundation. To learn more about Matthew and his story, click here.
We felt that it’s important that you also understand the thrust behind this particular home haunt, as it plays in to the whole story of what Big Worm’s Sherwood Scare is. Not only is the production itself mind-blowing, the team and reason behind it is also simply amazing, and we wanted to share that so we’re all on the same page.
The creative direction behind Sherwood Scare is Jacob Chase, a writer/director that is involved in the entertainment industry here in Southern California. As a writer, Jacob has ensured that Sherwood Scare not only has a theme – it has one badass back story that is completely solid and enables the haunt to become a “real”, completely immersive experience that absolutely works. When a haunt has a solid theme, a rich storyline to go with it is the icing on the cake. A writer myself, I found Sherwood Scare’s “Man in the Lake” story to be really refreshing, and beautifully executed. The full story is told to guests via video introduction as they are welcomed to camp; you can see it in our POV video flow-through of the maze!
When I say “maze”, I mean it; Sherwood Scare isn’t a standard yard display or show. It’s a full on, 2,000 square-foot maze, just about equal to some Halloween Horror Nights and Knott’s Scary Farm mazes, folks. The property that Sherwood Scare is built on each year is large; barely impacting the residence at all. While surprisingly big in scale, the design and production values are also pro level.
Sherwood Scare 2013 featured a full cabin facade, and an inner queue, where guests waiting can see and hear a couple of girls in a tent via shadow play as the story of the haunt is set up. Once inside the main attraction, there is an introduction video welcoming each guest to Camp Sherwood. From there, all hell breaks loose and guests are plunged into elaborate sets filled with great scares, amazing levels of detail and monsters galore! Mind. Blown.
This outstanding home haunt includes multiple soundtracks (can you hear the Pirates of the Caribbean track in the flow-through video?) and features some very nice effects along the way. Ultimately, Sherwood Scare delivers some seriously scary moments, incredible scenes and absolutely an experience that we would put right up there with any of the pro haunts we visit each season. The maze uses both masks and make-up on its cast. The make-up isn’t over the top, but it works very well in adding to, while not detracting, from the experience and theme as a whole. Many of the talent throughout the experience were really great; funny, creepy and downright scary in several cases! Awesome job!
In talking to Jacob about this major undertaking, he told me that if they do a haunt in 2014 (please, please, please do not disappear, you guys) that it will be completely different, which also blew me away completely. The team prefers to go with a completely different experience each season as opposed to keeping each set and adding to the maze as most people would. That further impresses us to no end; it’s hard enough to put up a haunt and add to it each year. To design and put up an entirely new experience from season to season, especially as a home haunt to this extent, is remarkable and borderline crazy! Huge props and kudos to the entire team for their excellence and desire to better themselves and push their own limits each Halloween.
If you missed Sherwood Scare this year (like we almost did), at least we have some images and a video to share with you so you can at least see what this talented and special group is up to on the outskirts of Los Angeles. They are a huge plus to the SoCal haunter scene, and by all means, as long as Big Worm’s continues to materialize each Halloween, it should be on everyone’s Must See list. We personally cannot wait to see what comes next for this team – they’re hard core and ridiculously talented, and we are so stoked that we were able to fit them into our schedule this year!
Did you pay a visit to Sherwood Scare? If so, what did you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts and have you become part of the conversation below!
- Rick West