Midsummer Scream 2018: The Entertainment

Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA

Today is a #FlashbackFrightday of sorts, as we spend some more time at last month's Midsummer Scream convention.  We've covered the Saturday and Sunday panels and the Hall of Shadows.  Today, we delve into the show options available to guests who attended this ever-growing Halloween and horror con!

(Photos in this update by Dan and myself.)

 Cecil the Sad Clown was one of many performers at the Midsummer Scream convention.

Cecil the Sad Clown was one of many performers at the Midsummer Scream convention.

Midsummer Scream has featured a variety of acts over the years, from big slider stunt performances to haunted theater to sinister magic.  This year was no different.  Outside of the exhibition floor, guests could partake in a viewing of Force of Nature Productions' Fallen Saints, a psychological exploration of one's inner fears that ran approximately once every 45 minutes throughout the day.  There was also Zombie Joe's Underground Theater and its infamous Urban Death, running 15 minute shows every half an hour.  We've written about Urban Death before--that shocking, disturbing, exhilarating cornucopia of horror and dark humor and tension and raw emotion.  The Midsummer Scream showing was one of four iterations of Urban Death being performed this year--the regular full show that ran in May, this Midsummer Scream version, a performance currently running at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, and the Tour of Terror half-haunt version that will once again haunt guests this fall.

 Fallen Saints was one of several show options located on the second floor of the convention center.

Fallen Saints was one of several show options located on the second floor of the convention center.

The entertainment spilled over into the Hall of Shadows as well, with magician Mudd the Magnificent and entertaining clown Twirly among many performers on the Hall of Shadows Stage.  That doesn't even get into the Theatre Macabre, featuring its own series of interactive shows, immersive theater, and live recordings.  There was also the Screaming Room, back for another year, curated by our pals over at HorrorBuzz.  In just three years, it has evolved from a side attraction showing classic eclectic horror cinema to a curated short film festival in and of itself.  It's a testament to the hard work the producers and participants have poured into this endeavor.

 Mudd the Magnificent was back to perform his dark brand of magic and comedy.

Mudd the Magnificent was back to perform his dark brand of magic and comedy.

Peepshow Menagerie

One of the shows we did spend some extra time at was the intriguing and ultimately inappropriately hilarious Peepshow Menagerie, occurring twice a day at the Hall of Shadows Stage.  This could best be described as a display of haunted burlesque--with some extra monster flair.  Imagine a burlesque striptease performed by iconic horror villains or creatures (or, in the case of our viewing, a very sad clown), and that's what this show brought to Midsummer Scream.  Part sexy, part confusing, part hysterical, it provided a most unique and most certainly NSFW flavor of entertainment.  But for those who appreciate the perverse humor, the shows were spellbindingly ludicrous!

 Ever wanted to see a werewolf do a striptease?  The Peepshow Menagerie had it!

Ever wanted to see a werewolf do a striptease?  The Peepshow Menagerie had it!

 It also had Cecil the Sad Clown doing the most hilariously sad burlesque ever.

It also had Cecil the Sad Clown doing the most hilariously sad burlesque ever.

 Then there was this sultry Michael Myers.  

Then there was this sultry Michael Myers.  

 Or perhaps Michaela Myers?  It was a killer lap dance.

Or perhaps Michaela Myers?  It was a killer lap dance.

Decayed Brigade

Of course, every year, we make it a point to stop by and visit and watch the talented Decayed Brigade performers.  This troupe of sliding monsters from both Knott's Scary Farm and Dark Harbor have really pushed the envelope of sliding to new levels, elevating it from a simply scare tactic to incorporating athletic stunt elements and theatrical shows with running storylines across multiple episodes.

 The Decayed Brigade had a nice booth of merch set up at Midsummer Scream.

The Decayed Brigade had a nice booth of merch set up at Midsummer Scream.

Decayed Brigade also had their own booth through the weekend, where fans could purchase merchandise or take pictures with their favorite monsters.  After the sliders received their makeup, guests could even have face painting of their own done by one of the talented make-up artists who volunteered their time for the Brigade.  These ladies are also veterans of Knott's Scary Farm and other haunts, and their skill in quickly putting together fantastic faces should be applauded.  They made everyone look great, and the production value as a whole rose once again this year!

 Spaz (left) and Spats pose with their makeup artists in the Hall of Shadows.

Spaz (left) and Spats pose with their makeup artists in the Hall of Shadows.

 Looking delightfully twisted!

Looking delightfully twisted!

 Decayed Brigade's resident mummy, Sequel, was back again for another year.

Decayed Brigade's resident mummy, Sequel, was back again for another year.

For those brave enough to venture into the Hall of Shadows might come face to face with the Decayed Brigade monsters, scaring folks between shows.  Of course, Hall of Shadows entry need not be required.  Some of talent hit the exhibition hall and lobby areas too!  Even if it wasn't at their actual shows, it wasn't hard to run into Spaz, Spats, Ducky, Sequel, Seaweed, Nonni, and others.  They were practically crawling out of the woodwork!

 Ducky, one of the female sliders in the Decayed Brigade, was one of many prowling around.

Ducky, one of the female sliders in the Decayed Brigade, was one of many prowling around.

 A group photo in front of the Castle Frankenstein entryway by CalHaunts.

A group photo in front of the Castle Frankenstein entryway by CalHaunts.

Of course, the big highlights were the actual slider shows, which once again took place within the Hall of Shadows itself.  This year, the sliding area was made more spacious, allowing for larger crowds and a longer runway.  Although it was once again in the middle of the mini-haunts layout, the extra space overall seemed to impact maze operations less than in previous years.  The placement of the two Terror Trucks--which are completely enclosed--nearby allowed for quasi operation during shows, while a solid third were located another row over and not really impacted by the show traffic.  While it would have been nice to have the Decayed Brigade completely out of the mini-haunts area to avoid disturbing those mazes entirely, this was the best set-up for the show that I've seen in all my years of attending Midsummer Scream and Scare L.A. before it.  

 This year's Decayed Brigade shows were once again action packed.

This year's Decayed Brigade shows were once again action packed.

 With flips and other acrobatics!

With flips and other acrobatics!

 They were also silly fun--with Boyd and Seaweed pulling Ducky along in this instance.

They were also silly fun--with Boyd and Seaweed pulling Ducky along in this instance.

Once again, the Decayed Brigade sliders presented three shows each day.  Each show bore a different narrative, loosely tying together to paint a story of descent into madness and nightmares.  Similar to last year, the first show featured the more traditional tricks and stunts, while the second show provided more focused storytelling, and the third show mixed the two with a culmination in the traditional long jump activities--each monster trying to best each other, and the record books!

 Ducky and Nonni with a handstand "n" and Boyd sliding through casually.

Ducky and Nonni with a handstand "n" and Boyd sliding through casually.

 Eerie pouring his vocals out.

Eerie pouring his vocals out.

 The first show ended with Nurse Nikki helping sedate and capture all of the Decayed Brigade.

The first show ended with Nurse Nikki helping sedate and capture all of the Decayed Brigade.

 But they turned the tables on her (see what I did there?) in the second show, taking her hostage for several jumps and slides.

But they turned the tables on her (see what I did there?) in the second show, taking her hostage for several jumps and slides.

What really struck me in watching the Decayed Brigade perform over Midsummer Scream was how effortless they made these complex sliding stunts appear.  To be sure, there were some mishaps--a couple mistimed jumps and unintended collisions--but by and large, the technical tricks looked easy.  The jumps, limbos, spins, and crossings looked elementary, and even the incorporation of multi-directional sliding with monsters coming across multiple cross aisles and angles intersecting the main avenue came off relatively smoothly.  Clearly, all the practice the Decayed Brigade has put in during the offseason has paid dividends.  Whereas most monsters slowly amp up during the summer into "haunt shape," the Decayed Brigade folks have been keeping in shape year-round.

 Later, Screech reeled in a series of monsters.

Later, Screech reeled in a series of monsters.

 The stunts could sometimes appear to defy gravity.

The stunts could sometimes appear to defy gravity.

 Helloooooo nurse!  Once again, victim to the Decayed Brigade terrors.

Helloooooo nurse!  Once again, victim to the Decayed Brigade terrors.

 This was a pretty cool and risky jump, since Nurse Nikki was in no position to protect herself from a miscalculation.

This was a pretty cool and risky jump, since Nurse Nikki was in no position to protect herself from a miscalculation.

 All of a sudden Spaz spazzed out and went crazy, forcing psychiatric nurses to restrain him.

All of a sudden Spaz spazzed out and went crazy, forcing psychiatric nurses to restrain him.

Another noticeable difference in this year's show was the theatrical lighting afforded to the team, producing some fantastic, dramatically lit photo opportunities.  A large projected screen in the background accented the production, providing some video overlay to support the motifs being narrated.  Props go out to the Brigade videographers, who put together some great sizzle reels to really make everything extra slick and polished.

 That didn't prevent more unique jumps from occurring.

That didn't prevent more unique jumps from occurring.

 Striking a pose...

Striking a pose...

 The second show ended with a healthy dose of barbed wire.

The second show ended with a healthy dose of barbed wire.

 Boyd performed an impressive reverse entry half flip jump that had the crowd buzzing.

Boyd performed an impressive reverse entry half flip jump that had the crowd buzzing.

 Onto the third show, where more stunts ensued.

Onto the third show, where more stunts ensued.

 When faced with a stick, a slider can either limbo under it or jump over it.

When faced with a stick, a slider can either limbo under it or jump over it.

It was also cool to see some of the new innovations the crew cooked up for this year's show.  The most notable was an addition seemingly taken out of the pages of park skateboarders--the introduction of a ramp during the third show that practically lunched the sliders airborne, allowing them to pose midair or do fancy aerial tricks before landing.  The use of multiple directions of sliding literally brought a new direction to the performance.  Using "body bag" mannequins as the first and last bodies for the long jump proved to be a smart and safer innovation, saving live bodies from injury (for those aiming for records, the first or last person was typically who received collision bruises from short jumps or late takeoffs.  Certainly, this year marked new innovation from the Brigade!

 The gravity once again turned off at the most inopportune moment for Eerie.

The gravity once again turned off at the most inopportune moment for Eerie.

 New this year was the incorporation of a ramp!

New this year was the incorporation of a ramp!

 There were some cool tricks off this thing.

There were some cool tricks off this thing.

 Spats high-fives his real-life wife and momster on a jump.

Spats high-fives his real-life wife and momster on a jump.

And that's what has really marked the growth of the Decayed Brigade.  Six years ago, they were mainly friends winging it with sliding tricks and jumps, putting together shows on improv based on the strength of their [back then] Scary Farm chemistry and personal friendship.  These days, the Decayed Brigade has really become a professional performance group, performing not only at conventions such as Midsummer scream and special haunt events like the Sliders Unite exhibitions at Dark Harbor but also special events for media companies and corporate parties.  And its membership continues to grow too, attracting top performers who fuel a passion for their haunted craft.  It's been exciting to see how far they've come, and it is even more exciting to see how far they'll go.

 The show concluded with the long jump series.

The show concluded with the long jump series.

 Nonni set and then beat her own record for most monsters jumped by a female slider--7, and then 8, in the same show!  Her personal record left her filled with emotion.

Nonni set and then beat her own record for most monsters jumped by a female slider--7, and then 8, in the same show!  Her personal record left her filled with emotion.

 Counting each additional person to be jumped as the rounds continued.

Counting each additional person to be jumped as the rounds continued.

If photos don't really convey the intricacy of the Decayed Brigade performers, here are videos of the three shows that I recorded over the Midsummer Scream weekend.

That wraps up the entertainment portion of Midsummer Scream.  We've got one more update to go--highlighting the exhibition floor and the interesting guests and ghouls found throughout the weekend at Midsummer Scream--before resuming our regular updates.  At least until Halloween season kicks off in earnest in mid-September.

Enjoy the weekend, and see you soon in the fog...

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