If you’re ready to be spooked from the safety of your car, hop in your vehicle and head to the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds for The Cinema of Horrors: Drive-in Experience, running on 15 nights from Oct. 8 through Halloween. Buy tickets ($69 per vehicle) before you go, but get them soon. This event is already half sold out, said Brandon Treadway, president and creative director of Treadway Events and Entertainment.
“Last year, we created this drive-in experience as a last-minute pivot due to COVID-19, and the demand was so great, we decided to bring the event back again for a second year,” Treadway said.
The gates open at 5 p.m., but Treadway said that last year folks started lining up as early as 3:30 or 4 p.m. to get the best movie-viewing spots. He added that people shouldn’t worry about space: The event lot can comfortably fit up to 250 cars with ample room between vehicles and “plenty of hiding spots” for monsters. Moviegoers can purchase dinner from on-site vendors selling fair-style food and drinks as well as kettle corn and popcorn for munching during the movie. Before the film starts, guests are also welcome to leave their cars for photo ops with monsters, but they should mask up in accordance with state guidelines, Treadway said.
A different horror film will be shown every night at 7, showcasing a range of hair-raising classics like “Evil Dead” and “Cabin in the Woods” to “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream.” The original “Halloween” will be shown on Halloween night, Oct. 31.
Treadway emphasized that these are scary films for older audiences (most are rated R) but for families with kids younger than 13, Cinema of Horrors offers PG-rated films like “Hocus Pocus,” “Halloweentown” and “Beetlejuice.” On these less-frightening nights, Treadway said, “monsters are present, but they’re not actively trying to terrify people. They’re just going around having conversations and they’re not super bloody.”
On regular nights, however, audiences should beware of things that go bump in the night.
“Over 30 monsters are roaming throughout the grounds, lurking in the shadows,” Treadway said. “We look at all the films and see where all the scares are, combining the live scares with what’s on the screen to really amplify the experience.”
During the movie, scare-seekers should expect to see professional actors dressed as zombies, werewolves, vampires and characters inspired by classic horror films with cinema-caliber makeup and costumes. Spines will tingle from jump-scares, boos and ghostly moans outside car windows along with industry-level lighting and special effects like thunderbolts and fog.
“The majority of our monsters are characters that we’ve created ourselves, but if there’s a monster in the film, we’ll try replicating that. When we show ‘Scream,’ there’s at least one ‘Scream’-based character going around. When we play movies like ‘Evil Dead,’ we definitely get bloodier,” Treadway said. “We try to dive into the abandoned movie theater theme. For example, we’ve got Sparky, who goes around jump-starting cars. He’s a little off his rocker. We have concessions workers who have been zombified and then we do have the iconic Halloween monsters.”
The audio track is broadcast to each car over FM radio, just like traditional drive-in films. Guests can even rent a stereo for the evening if they want to, Treadway said. The sound will also be played over loudspeakers for anyone who needs to leave their vehicle during the movie, but watch out for whatever might be lurking in the shadows.
Treadway and his team of actors, makeup artists and special effects experts seem delighted to offer a COVID-safe way to scare the socks off anyone in Southwest Washington. It’s definitely more exciting than a pumpkin patch, said Treadway, and more appealing to many people than a traditional, walk-through haunted house experience.
“The best part is definitely the intro,” Treadway said. “We welcome guests and minutes later, monsters rush out with chainsaws slashing and lights flashing and then the movie starts. It’s really an immersive movie experience. You’ve got the scent of gasoline from chainsaws. You’ve got monsters running around and sliding on the ground. They’re scaring people in their cars, looking into sunroofs and scaring people in their truck beds … All of it comes together and it’s a totally unique way to celebrate Halloween.”