Ultra Productions’ new experience has real passion for its horror movie subjects
Selfie palaces, Instagram factories, millennial Olan Mills: whatever you like to call them, the photo-oriented ‘immersive’ experiences of our modern culture frequently get a bad rap — and for good reason. Too often, they seem like pitiful, capitalistic cash grabs in which someone’s taken a warehouse space, slapped up a couple of colorful backdrops with oversized, plastic food items, and attempted to charge aspiring influencers to come take pictures of themselves and their friends for a half hour. I recently went to one such ‘immersive’ experience that was so poorly executed, I killed my own article on the pop-up. It’s true; I, a freelance journalist, was so hard-pressed to think of a single good thing to say about it that I willfully canceled a paid assignment. So, I was equal parts dubious and curious about , which plunges its guests into interactive scenes from The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street, IT (2017), The Lost Boys, and Beetlejuice. And let me tell you: if you must be a selfie palace, be like I Like Scary Movies.
For one thing, artist Maximillian of Ultra Productions actually loves scary movies, as he told me in a pre-interview I did for WeLikeLA. It’s his passion for these five nostalgic horror flicks that inspired him to reach out to Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema to see if he could use their IPs to build his attraction. They said yes and the end result is a lovingly detailed and unexpectedly expansive exhibit that — while admittedly aimed towards photo-taking and the inevitable posting of said photos to Instagram — still manages to surprise and delight. There’s no real narrative to follow save for those expressed in the films themselves, but the sets are creative, fun, and frequently go beyond mere replicas.
The exhibit is housed in The Desmond, which is actually the name of a former department store that once took up part of the ground floor of the Wilshire Tower, an Art Deco building located on Wilshire Blvd. in the Miracle Mile. I Like Scary Movies is located on the second floor, accessible via stairs or elevator.
From here, the exhibit weaves through the films starting with The Shining, and each movie gets several dedicated rooms. There’s an elevator gushing scarlet room keys (blood was perhaps a bit too messy), a photo op with the Grady twins, that iconic carpeting everywhere you turn, and a door that you can peep through if you want to see a furry surprise. You can also pose in the frozen topiary garden, only this time the frosty hedges have been trimmed to spell out REDRUM. Or, you can burst your face through a splintered door a la “Here’s Johnny!”
A funhouse-style bridge will ferry you through to IT, where you can navigate a winding maze of paper boats or hide in Pennywise’s sewer. If you write down your greatest fear on a small slip of paper, you will receive a branded “penny” for your thoughts with Pennywise’s head in place of Abraham Lincoln’s.
Beyond IT, you’ll find several tucked-away homages to A Nightmare on Elm Street, including a throne of melted faces and a giant Freddy Krueger glove bursting out of a boiler room. Guests can manipulate each of the bladed fingers or, if they’re into it, touch his sticky, melty palm.
The Beetlejuice rooms are truly impressive. There’s a spot-on replica of the eponymous character’s gravesite, which guests are free to climb into or burst out of, and one of the Dante’s Inferno facade. Elsewhere, you’ll find the Netherworld waiting room, already occupied by the man with the shrunken head and the severed woman, or at least her legs (you’ll find the smoking man tucked into an alcove off the main hallway). It’s in the Netherworld area where you’ll find the obligatory ball pit. Every immersive experience like this must contain some kind of pit that guests can jump into; IT IS A RULE THAT MUST NEVER BE BROKEN. This one consists of chunky, black and white foam blocks and is located just behind The Maitlands doing their best Norman Rockwell.
The final scenes take you into The Lost Boys. Look out for a tiny saxophone in the vampires’ lair, a nod to Santa Carla’s sexy sax man; a precarious train bridge; and a giant box of very unappetizing noodles. This paves the way to the gift shop, where you can peruse a collection of horror-themed merchandise including Funko toys and printed socks. In all, guests can expect to spend an hour or more here, depending on how many photos they take.
Is I Like Scary Movies a selfie palace. Yes. Yes, it is. But is it a good selfie palace? Also yes. And truly, isn’t about time the goths and year-round Halloweeners had one of their own? So, if you like posing for photos and like these five scary movies, you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s best done with a friend, unless you enjoy asking strangers to photograph you. If you prefer narrative and puzzle experiences or interacting with actors, be aware that’s not what this is.
I Like Scary Movies runs through June 16. Tickets are $39.
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