Spooky Hollows Presents Legends of the Swamp: 2017 Review

Spooky Hollows, Van Nuys, CA

Happy Halloween, kids!  It's our favorite holiday of the year, and we hope you've been enjoying all these updates from spooktacular attractions all across Southern California!  From theme park haunts to home haunted houses to independent haunted attractions to haunted theater and immersive experiences to even more, we are extremely lucky to have such a broad selection of Halloween-ish entertainment available in Southern California!

Today, we're visiting another home haunt--this one, the long-standing Spooky Hollows haunt in Van Nuys, which itself is the descendant of the old Spooky House professional haunt that ran for many years until its owners passing.  The brainchild of John and Tracy Cassella and Christopher Els, this haunt takes guests around a lovely front yard cemetery and into a swamp-laden back area, where creatures and hags and general spookiness abound!

A charming cemetery yard display at the front of Spooky Hollows.

A charming cemetery yard display at the front of Spooky Hollows.

Spooky Hollows has been a mainstay at many of the past few years' Halloween conventions, such as Midsummer Scream and Scare L.A. before it.  One of the most noticeable highlights of this haunt is hits use of tech effects to provide some fun scares and ambiance from projections and animatronics.  That is on full display here.  Guests who arrive at this unassuming street in the San Fernando Valley are greeted by a lovely grave yard scene out front (along with probably a decent line), which is actually more fun than terrifying.  Singing jack-o-lanterns croon through a window, while a skeletal horse and rider huff to life every now and then.  A few scare actors work the line on the sidewalk, providing startles and entertain for those waiting to go in.

This year, guests enter by going through a torn out fence on the side yard, immediately moving into the swamp area in the backyard.  After passing an abandoned campfire, they come upon an apparent dead end... until a hag in the shadows whispers out to them and tries to help them find a way out.  All of this turns out to be a trick, though, and guests must venture deeper into the swamp, eventually making their way through a dark and foreboding tunnel and a greenhouse where carnivorous plant experiments have gone dangerously wrong!

The hag tricks but doesn't treat visitors who run into her.

The hag tricks but doesn't treat visitors who run into her.

Things didn't turn out so well for this victim in the greenhouse.

Things didn't turn out so well for this victim in the greenhouse.

A mother-daughter duo make up the two hags that guests encounter in the maze.

A mother-daughter duo make up the two hags that guests encounter in the maze.

The maze itself is pretty dark, which makes photography a little challenging, but it is nonetheless beautiful, because there is still sufficient illumination for the human eye to take in details.  From the atmospheric swamp area to the overgrown greenhoouse to a nifty laser vortex tunnel (green lasers in mazes seem to have really been universally adopted this season!), there is plenty to take in.  Guests of Spooky Hollows' past mini-haunts might also recognize components of the compressed mazes incorporated into the full maze (or, more accurately, it's the other way around--the mini-haunt is assembled from components of the full maze).

Aubrey takes a rest between bites of human flesh.

Aubrey takes a rest between bites of human flesh.

Spooky Hollows has been a tight-knit family operation for a long time, and it is evident in the fantastic characters who roam the haunt both within and without.  The hags in the tunnel scenes were my personal favorites--full of spunk and energy and deliciously villainous.  They were relentless to those guests who were terrified, and they were delightfully entertaining.  The maze itself carries that sense of scary charm to it--the type that still reinforces the fun of Halloween and doesn't take things too seriously.  

This is probably the best gag I've seen at a home haunt.  Punny and silly, but expressive of the vibe of this haunt.

This is probably the best gag I've seen at a home haunt.  Punny and silly, but expressive of the vibe of this haunt.

Ultimately, John and Chris and the rest of the team have done a fantastic job carving out a great community niche with their Halloween tradition that also warrants a visit from spook fans touring haunted houses anywhere in or near the surrounding area.  This area of the Valley seems to be a bit of a hotbed for high quality and veteran home haunts, with places like Rotten Apple 907 and The Backwoods pretty nearby.  It's home-grown attractions like Spooky Hollow that continue to keep the spirit of Halloween alive and well!

An elaborate jack-o-lantern display showcases the love of Halloween and all things fun that the creators have.

An elaborate jack-o-lantern display showcases the love of Halloween and all things fun that the creators have.

Spooky Hollows concludes its run tonight and will be operating 7-10pm.  For those who can't make it but want to check this out next year, the last weekend before Halloween plus Halloween itself serve as this haunt's traditional operating run.  Spooky Hollows balances a great combination of scary and entertaining, showcasing the heart and love of all things eerie in a bewitching residential haunted house that also showcases an impressive amount of technology and sophistication.  May it continue to delight and dazzle for years to come!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.