In our modern era of Instagrammable, pop-up environments, creepy chills take a backseat to unicorns, rainbows, and oversized desserts unless it’s autumn or there’s an upcoming horror film to promote. But thanks to a studio known for its elaborate Comic-Con installations, the I Like Scary Movies Experience will give us a thrill this April. It’s a passion project from one self-described “Halloween freak” and horror buff to the rest of us, weaving together interactive scenes from IT (2017), Beetlejuice, The Shining, The Lost Boys, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Artist Maximillian Castillo (who goes professionally by his first name only) founded Ultra Productions nearly 20 years ago. The company has been a staple at Comic-Con since 2003 when it recreated Camp Crystal Lake for the Freddy vs. Jason booth. Guests entered and took photos in an ominous forest and gore-soaked campsite full of movie ephemera. Maximillian still has Mrs. Voorhees’ severed head (the prop, that is). Maximillian considers this installation, and the several other fan interactions he’s done since, foreshadowing for what he’s doing with I Like Scary Movies. Essentially, it’s a celebration of these beloved horror properties. And unlike many pop-ups of its kind, I Like Scary Movies is something Maximillian pitched to Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema as a fan—not something the studios pitched to him for promotional purposes. (Though it is worth noting that IT: Chapter Two comes out in September, The Haunting of Hill House director Mike Flanagan is directing The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep, and the CW is developing a Lost Boys series.)
“In essence, it’s kind of like you’re walking into a 3-D fan art experience,” Maximillian said. “I’m the fan, and I’m creating these installations and the things that resonated with me in these five movies.”
So if this isn’t promoting a film, why April and not October?
“Sports fans have their season, but really they can do that year-round,” Maximillian said. “[Horror fans] really get one day [a year]. I wanted to do something outside of the standard Halloween fare. I feel that when you look at the landscape and the popularity of things like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and you see movies like A Quiet Place coming out in the spring and summer, [you see] there is a voracious appetite for horror all year long now. We don’t have to wait until fall to see scary stuff.”
In terms of “scary stuff,” guests can expect to see, hear, feel, and smell recreations of iconic moments as well as new twists on scenes and characters. There won’t be costumed actors jumping out trying to startle you like in Halloween mazes at Universal Studios Hollywood or Knott’s Scary Farm, but there will be multi-sensory surprises along your winding path. One moment you might be wandering through Beetlejuice’s graveyard, the next, one might come face-to-face with a giant, 12-foot replica of Freddy Krueger’s bladed glove.
“Fans are going to be able to pull five-foot-long knives from Freddy’s glove around their body for their photo or video and feel the melted skin on Freddy’s palm,” Maximillian said. “It’s going to be a tactile environment and he’s going to be thrusting his hand through this massive furnace that’s in this boiler room environment.”
Other scenes include Pennywise the clown’s subterranean lair, the bold carpet from the halls of The Overlook Hotel in The Shining, and The Netherworld Waiting Room.
“We will have a few what I call ‘Easter egg’ scares where they’re a little more cerebral and unexpected,” Maximillian added enigmatically. “Things here and there that fans will have to find—or they may find you.”
All told, expect to spend about 60 to 90 minutes in the exhibit and, of course, feel free to take as many photos as you like.
I Like Scary Movies runs April 4 through June 16 at The Desmond, 5514 Wilshire Blvd. in Mid-Wilshire. Tickets are $39 and available here.