*WARNING: SOME EXPLICIT CONTENT AHEAD*
Halloween? During the holidays? That’s usually the response we get when we tell people about our weekend at the Pasadena Convention Center for Season’s Screamings 2022. For some, the idea of combining the wholesome nature of the holidays with the wicked nature of Halloween seems just so odd. For us, it is something that goes together like peanut butter and chocolate. Now if you think otherwise about the combination of PB and chocolate, that’s a whole other discussion! For those of us who adore the Halloween season, when it ends, it feels too fast and almost like we didn’t get enough. Even though most Halloween celebrations start as early as July! So having a holiday horror convention just feels so right and we are here for it.
If you’re new to this convention, it’s put on by the same creative team that creates Midsummer Scream. While MSS calls the Long Beach Convention Center its home, Season’s Screamings calls the Pasadena Convention Center its home. While smaller than MSS, Season’s Screamings has plenty to offer those looking to get their spooky fix during the merry season.
THE SHOW FLOOR/VENDORS
As with any convention, you’d expect an abundant amount of vendors with a plethora of different fun items for purchase. Season’s Screamings is no different with over 200 different vendors selling a variety of spooky items as well as holiday halloween mashup. It’s the living embodiment of The Nightmare Before Christmas where you see two holidays collide! It’s fascinating because while we love Halloween, we’d never thought we absolutely needed a Krampus ornament, spooky magic wands, ghost ornaments or even Minnie Ears with Ghost Face on them! The intersection of Halloween, Christmas, and Disney seems to open up a whole new world of possibilities. That includes the likely possibility that we’d open up our wallets more often too!
While the show floor is much smaller compared to other conventions, I found myself going back and forth often because there was so many nooks and crannies to search through and find interesting items. I always ended up missing something or getting sidetracked by new and exciting things to purchase. For example, I was on my way to purchase a very specific Krampus ornament but completely got sidetracked because someone was selling vintage Knott’s Scary Farm event shirts.
As responsible adults, we gave ourselves a budget on what we could spend while at the event. Which means we left Season’s Screamings without all the items we wanted! There were so many unique and incredible items we wanted to take home, but thankfully we had the forethought to ask for business cards. That way, we can continue to support small businesses throughout the year instead of just at the conventions. We’d much rather buy our shirts from a small vendor, rather than a large store. Also, no big store is going to make awesome products like a Sam beanie.
HALL OF YULETIDE SPIRITS
As with any Midsummer event, there has to be a hall dedicated to haunts. It’s tradition at this point. It would be like if Santa didn’t eat cookies while leaving you presents on Christmas Eve. This year, the entryway into the Hall of Yuletide Spirits was crafted by Fear Farm and was called “The North-ish Pole”. The energy and humor of the monsters was drastically different than any other Midsummer event we’ve experience and we loved the change. Huge kudos to the wonderful people playing the monsters because they really set the tone for the entire hall.
As you move past the entryway, you’ll find 3 different haunts and a few different displays to peruse while you sip on an adult beverage. That’s right! There is a bar inside the hall and yes we did partake in some liquid holiday spirit.
On the left side of the hall, you’ll find The Holiday Haunt With No Name…Yet, The Pizza Planet Truck, and Casa Calaveras “Holiday Fiesta”. In the very back you’ll find “Holiday Fear” by The Dreich Society, then on the right you’ll find Valley Fright, Prism Haunted House “Milk and Cookies” and Santa Ana Haunt “Santa’s Naughty List”.
Hands down our favorite experiences of the hall this year had to be Valley Fright and Prism. Valley Fright, although far from holiday related, created one of the longest mini haunts we’ve experienced at any Midsummer event. And it was the only haunt to actually get a good scare out of me too. While Prism wasn’t a haunt and more of a display. It disturbed me how Santa was strung up and he was being actively milked. It didn’t help that they had milk and cookies for anyone who visited their booth.
While we understand the limitations of the hall, especially when it comes to size, space, and limited time; we’d love to see the Hall of Yuletide Spirits expanded ever so slightly. Maybe bring in the Decayed Brigade or QM Sliders for a holiday themed slider show! While the sliders weren’t at the previous SS show, we’d love to see them included. Without their inclusion, it just feels like a piece is missing to the hall of haunts puzzle. Besides that potential addition, The Hall of Yuletide Spirits was just incredible this year. Nothing is better than getting a fright while singing along to some merry tunes.
The team behind Season’s Screamings put so much effort into creating a line up of entertainment for guests that aren’t just celebrating the holidays, but are unique as well. While I only had time to attended two panels this year, the two that I did attended were phenomenal. Before we continue, we need to give massive praise to those who help do Set Dec for the main stage. It’s the perfect balance of scary and merry. We love it so much!
The first panel we saw was the “How The Grinch Stole Our Hearts!” panel. Out of the entire weekend, we’d have to say this panel of guests was the most impressive. And yes, that’s even up against Mike Flanagan!
A discussion of how the Grinch become a holiday tradition, featuring the people who made it and their families. Panelists include: Sara Karloff, who will talk about her father’s love of the Grinch project, and share the Grammy that Boris received for his beloved narration of the film. Phil Roman, the film’s last living animator; he’s a multi-Emmy winning producer/director that also worked on The Simpsons, and directed the animated Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer TV special. Chuck Jones’ daughter, Linda Jones Clough, and grandson, Craig Kausen join the panel representing the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity; they will share wonderful family stories, and give us a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film! Midsummer Scream’s Rick West will moderate this heartfelt discussion, which will conclude with a live Q&A from fans.
This is the type of panel that’s once in a lifetime. Hearing first hand and second hand stories about the creation of the most iconic pieces of holiday media was nothing short of incredible. Whether it played in your home, your friends home, or even at a store; everyone is familiar with How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Hearing the stories about its creation, the artistic changes, and everything else in-between was astounding and moving. It’s this type of panel that we’ve come to expect from the Midsummer Scream crew. Not only broaching the subject of the holidays, but also creating distinctive and monumental moments for those in attendance.
The other panel we attended was the History of Haunt Sliders panel. While not holiday related in the slightest, no Halloween event is ever complete without the inclusion of sliders in one way or another. As massive fans of Decayed Brigade and sliders in general, this was a CANNOT MISS panel.
Midsummer Scream’s Rick West leads a discussion with an esteemed group of haunt veterans as they delve into the origins and modern evolution of the popular scare tactic that traces its roots to Ghost Town at Knott’s Berry Farm. Joining the presentation are veteran haunt sliders Scott Dieterman of Slider Dynamix; Paul Frechette, original Decayed Brigade team member; Veronica Nihart, Decayed Brigade and Tales From the Fog Podcast; Jordan Allen, West Coast/East Coast haunt personality; and a special appearance by slider, stilt walker, and pumpkin carver extraordinaire, Trix The Trickster! Fans will have an opportunity to ask the group anything about sliding during a live Q&A session before the conclusion of the presentation!
We are both big fans of sliding and are very familiar with the history behind it. At Midsummer Scream, you can find us front row and center for the slider show each year. But what we loved hearing, which was rather unique, was the actual progression and major milestones that lead sliding into a new era. The discussion of “slider one” is prominent, but it’s the in-between and minutiae of the story of sliding that’s absolutely fascinating.
Sliding is synonymous with the haunt season and hearing from folks who played a part in why sliding has become iconic was a ton of fun. Also, you can’t beat hearing discussions on “best scares” or “best wipe outs”.
I’ll be perfectly honest, going into the weekend of Season’s Screamings. It felt as though Midsummer Scream just ended and this felt like overkill…no pun intended. We were worried that having another convention so close to Midsummer with similar tones might take away from the unique and special nature of either show. We aren’t sure what contributed to this feeling other than maybe being grinches. But we are happy to report how DEAD wrong we truly were about Season’s Screamings. The joy of the holidays wonderfully mashed together with the wicked humor of halloween will forever have a place in our hearts. While much smaller than it’s sister/brother event (Midsummer Scream) Season’s Screamings has all the passion and love built into it. As we say every year, the crew behind this event loves these holidays just as much as we do. And it feels like they plan from the perspective of fans, which helps create a much more rounded experience as a whole. It’s not solely about “what will fill this time slot” and cutting corners. It’s about “what will the community like?” and caring about providing quality content to everyone in attendance. We did say we’d love to see Season’s Screamings get expanded, but we don’t know if it’s feasible at all. But the fact that I leave this show wanting more says a lot about the quality of the show and the impression it left on us. But ultimately, it just made us realize how much we love having a bit of scary with our merry.
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