A Hauntingly Delightful Time at Midsummer Scream 2023

Originally published at: https://geektherapy.org/a-hauntingly-delightful-time-at-midsummer-scream-2023/

Author: Joe Di Gaetano

On the weekend of July 28-30, 2023, I ventured into a realm of haunting splendor at the Long Beach Convention Center. The world’s largest Halloween and Horror Convention, Midsummer Scream, beckoned, and I eagerly answered its chilling call. Midsummer Scream serves as a prelude to Halloween festivities. Whether it’s big names like Knotts, Six Flags, or Universal, or local haunts like Reign of Terror in Thousand Oaks or the unique Haunted Car Wash, the convention provides a tantalizing glimpse of what’s to come in the Halloween season.

Midsummer Scream isn’t your average convention. Forget the typical comic-centric events; this one is a haven for the horror community. Gone are the superheroes, replaced by iconic horror characters from films like The Birds and new horrors like Pearl. In three days, I immersed myself in a world where Melanie Daniels was as real as the cosplayers who donned her.

Navigating through the convention, I felt a unique atmosphere. The sheer obscurity of some booths makes the selection of merchandise challenging yet delightful. Unique finds await the diligent hunter. For newcomers, prepare to be surrounded by various gothic individuals and intricate cosplays, some of which might send shivers down your spine. It’s not just about gory makeup; some cosplays are so detailed that they might have shards of glass protruding from the skin! As for my venture into cosplay, there’s an unparalleled joy in having fellow attendees approach you, marveling at your character portrayal, and asking for photos. I blended into this macabre tapestry, cosplaying Nick from the famed video game, Left 4 Dead 2.

The festival is also differentiated by its curated haunted mazes. While they might be short, the lines can stretch long – a testament to their popularity and the scares that lie within. Moreover, unlike other conventions like Monsterpalooza and Son of Monsterpalooza, Midsummer Scream uniquely incorporates these mazes, offering an experience like no other.

One of my favorite mazes was Hauntbuster, a brilliantly crafted mock-up of the good old Blockbuster stores, albeit exclusively for horror movies. What seemed to be a mere nostalgic storefront led into a maze, effectively merging two worlds. The best part? You’d live the life of a store worker, trapped after hours, thanks to ticking off the wrong customer over late fees. Although the eerie films on display tempted many, they were not for sale – mere props for that nostalgic, spine-chilling ambiance.

The event showcases more than cosplays and walk-thru. One of the highlights of my experience was the panel discussions. At the Halloween Horror Nights panel presented by the astute John Murdy, attendees received sneak peeks into upcoming Halloween festivities. First looks at new attractions like El Terror de las Momias scare zone and the maze, Monstruos and The Monsters de Latin America, was met with fevered excitement. For the uninitiated, Halloween Horror Nights is Universal Studios’ annual Halloween fiesta, gracing theme parks from Orlando to Singapore. This spectacle, running on select nights between September to November, boasts haunted houses, scare zones, and riveting live entertainment.

I was particularly drawn to Cabaret Macabre’s panel, with performer Brittany DeWeese’s sensational dance that is seductive and disturbing. Then there was Exorcistic: The Live Musical, an adult rock musical parody that was an uproarious blend of horror and humor. Cabaret Macabre had me entranced with its disturbingly seductive dance sequences. For those who want a taste of its musical genius, all the songs from Exorcistic can now be found on Spotify.

Concluding my second year attending, gauging whether the event has grown is challenging. Yet, the essence remains: Midsummer Scream isn’t just a convention; it’s an experience. Whether you’re a horror devotee or a Halloween enthusiast, it’s the place to be. As for me, I’ll surely be back next year, diving headfirst into this hauntingly delightful world.

Did you attend Midsummer Scream? Let us know in the comment section below!