The I Like Scary Movies interactive art experience is coming back to Los Angeles just in time for the fall Halloween season. And this time, they are bringing an all-new exhibit dedicated to the iconic horror franchise Friday the 13th. We caught up with creator and curator Maximillian to find out what’s new and what you simply can’t miss this time around.
Last Spring’s most screamed about interactive art experience will rise once again in the downtown LA arts district! Now you can step into the chilling embrace of the I Like Scary Movies experience as they unveil their all-new Friday the 13th exhibit, alongside returning fan-favorites A Nightmare on Elm Street, Beetlejuice, the first chapter of IT, and The Shining.
I Like Scary Movies gives fans the unique opportunity to interact and enjoy the films that they love in a completely new way with amazing photo opportunities to share with friends. This time around, horror hounds will be able to visit Camp Crystal Lake for something new and quite unexpected. I Like Scary Movies has been described as ‘the experience that all scary movie fans have been dreaming of, and the perfect thrill for those who relish in the eerie ambiance of the season’.
Maximillian is behind The I Like Scary Movies experience. The experiential artist is behind many Hollywood studio activations. As a life-long Halloween lover, he couldn’t resist re-opening for the Halloween season. We caught up with Maximillian to find out what we should expect this time around, when I Like Scary Movies returns for a limited encore engagement in downtown Los Angeles from September 20th through November 17th.
So let’s kick this off by talking about what’s new in I Like Scary Movies. You have the Friday the 13th exhibit coming in. Can you tell me a little bit about what fans who have already been to this experience can expect to see? Are we going see Jason Voorhees in here? Is there a Camp Crystal Lake setting?
Maximillian: I’m keeping some of the exact details a little bit under wraps until we get a little bit further along. But the one thing fans can definitely count on is, there’s gonna be a lot of imagery and vibes from the movies that they love, in sort of a re-mixed way. A little bit slightly different. So one thing that fans who’ve come the first time around, who like scary movies, can definitely count on this time is that we are taking everything that they’ve seen the first time and kind of turning it a little upside down. So I just can’t help myself, but to constantly reinvent, and to just keep going with things, and pushing the envelope and wanting to inspire fans in different ways and look at things a little bit differently. So, with Friday the 13th, we’re taking some tongue in cheek aspects of the movie, exploding them a little bit, definitely having some call outs to Camp Crystal Lake. But the one thing that we do consistently within I Like Scary Movies is we don’t really show any of the characters per se. That is definitely one of the big differences between a lot of the other IP scare mazes that happen versus what we’re doing over here. We’re more so about celebrating the content, and less about having figures of the characters, specifically.
I know there is a big rights issue with Friday the 13th right now. Warner Bros. has worked with you in giving permission to do all of these movies, right?
Maximillian: Yeah. So basically, how this came about, was that I had this crazy idea. I wanted to celebrate these movies in a different way. And so I came up with the concept and put together a bunch of conceptual drawings and ideas and approached Warner and said, “Hey, will you just let me play with your movies? Will you let me re-invent them in a little bit more of an artistic way, a different way than people have experienced before?” And I was very, very ready. I have to go into a big song and dance, and pitch to get them to sort of understand what it is that I was trying to do here. And shockingly, they got it right away. You know, they got that. I want to sort of, you know, remix the content in a different way. And so that’s what happened is, I sort of just came to them and they went for it with open arms. So it’s been really fun. Sort of see how far I can push it.
Anybody that knows anything about Friday 13th right now knows that there’s this whole lawsuit thing going on, and I’m wondering how that played into being able to get that property for this? And also, are you just kind of crafting it from the Warner Bros. versions? Since the Paramount movies might be off limits? I’m not sure how that all works?
Maximillian: Well, honestly, I started with Warner because the last thing that I did before starting I Like Scary Movies, was that I co-directed and lead-produced a show at the Hollywood Bowl. A sort-of live show for Willy Wonka with an all-star cast, John Stamos and Weird Al, and all kinds of fun people. And I actually got to know Warner Bros. very well. I mean, I’ve done a lot of things with Warner in the past, but I got to know this particular group very well. And so it was a natural next progression for me, because I had this great relationship with this group. After the Hollywood Bowl show, I wanted to pitch this idea to this group, because I knew that horror is a really big initiative for them. I’m a big believer that horror is 365 days a year, and not just during Halloween. And so we were of like-mind. And so that’s why I went to Warner first. But I Like Scary Movies is something that I own. And so I’m able to sort of take this to different places, depending on what the future holds. But Warner was really sort of a little bit of just a relationship thing, you know? And they have such a treasure trove of awesome movies to choose from. So as far as Friday the 13th? Yeah, there’s a little bit more screaming when it comes to what it is that I wanted to do. But thankfully, the first concept that I came up with, they were very open to, so it was pretty simple when it comes to that. But there were a few guidelines, you know, because of that whole thing going on for the movie.
Yeah, that’s what I was just wondering about. It’s on fans minds. We can’t get a new movie. So I think that’s what’s exciting for the horror fans, this is a new Friday the 13th experience, when there’s a lack of anything new right now. Can you tell me a little bit about how the rest of the exhibit has been remixed and rearranged. Are there special hidden Easter eggs? Or some hidden photo ops that some fans missed the first time they went through the maze, that maybe they should be on the lookout for? Or is that something you kind of want to keep hidden?
Maximillian: Yeah, Yeah. I mean, I’m a huge fan of that. I’m a huge fan of having it be a little bit of a treasure hunt, you know? For the hard core fans, the thing that I really love is that, the hard core fans can pick up on the subtle piece of what I’m focusing on. But it’s not just for them. You know what I mean? It’s for the casual fans to find something really cool and rewarding out of it. And if you get that Jack Nicholson was…When he was starting to crack up and really lose it…He was throwing this tennis ball against the wall trying to break his writer’s block. And it was making this fantastic sound as a tennis ball, against a side wall of the Overlook. And if you’re a fan who gets that reference, then you’ll understand why I hung hundreds of tennis balls over the hedge letters Redrum, in the main room, you know? But if you’re not a hardcore fan, you don’t get that reference. It’s still cool to see a bunch of dangling green tennis balls in this area. That kind of looks trippy, you know? So that’s a good example of an Easter eggs that the hardcore fans…They’re gonna understand. But the casual fan may not, but they still appreciate it.
So, in the room with the bear, there is the knocking on the door. Is that also supposed to be a tennis ball hitting the door?
Maximillian: No, Actually, it wasn’t that. That’s, uh, that sound effect wasn’t actually incorporated. I tried to play with it a little bit, to be honest with you, because it’s something I did want to play with, because I really love that sound. But isolating that sound out of the movie was really a challenge. I played with a lot of the sound files, to see if we could isolate that sound of that tennis ball going off the wall? But it just wasn’t really working, especially with the space that we were at prior, because it was so cavernous and echoey, that it just wasn’t really working. But, no. The knocking on the bear door was really just me. I just wanted to do a little bit of a fun jolt for people, you know, when they were focusing on looking at the the guy behind the door, and just kind of getting a chill.
Do you have somebody in there knocking on the door, hiding behind it?
Maximillian: No, it was just a timed pressure sensor on the floor. But that was one of the fun things that people couldn’t kind of figure out, how things were done. And that was one of the fun things to see people make up on their own. You know, hypothesis. What was going on here? How things were going, how things were happening, how the gag was actually manufactured, you know? And so yeah, people thought that was somebody back there behind the door. Actually, I was back there for a while, because I wanted to hear people’s reaction. So I was actually going back there with the bear. Getting people’s reactions. A few times I put my phone directly up to the hash marks on the door just to kind of, like, get video of people’s reactions. So great. So I was actually back there a few times. Scared people personally, which is what I love.
One of my favorite movies of all times is The Lost Boys. In the new press release, you just sent out, It doesn’t say The Lost Boys is included in the exhibit anymore. Were you kind of forced to take out one of the movies in this new space you’ve moved to? Is that how that work?
Maximillian: No, not at all. I love that movie. It’s such a quintessential sort of eighties vampire movie, and I love that movie, and it’s funny, because the first time around…You’re like me, where you’re a fan of that film. And a lot of people questioned me in the beginning about wanting to incorporate The Lost Boys, because it was usually the least known over the five on the first batch around. But I was really adamant about wanting to have it in their regardless of that, and as a result, we’ve sort of inspired people that want to go watch The Lost Boys, that maybe Millennials or someone didn’t actually know about this movie…And we sort of inspired them to go and check it out. But with this time around, we wanted Friday the 13th in it. I had a really fun idea for it, and it honestly was a space issue. Um, we’re not in the same location. We’re in downtown. L.A. arts district is also found in the same Buttercup building off the Santa Fe And Seven, in a really great little area. And it was just a space issue, you know? So in order for me to put in Friday the 13th I had to sacrifice something, and I decided to take The Lost Boys out. Just this time around.
It’s funny bringing up the millennial aspect, because when I was in there the first time, there was a younger girl who was so excited about The Lost Boys. She asked her friend if she’d seen it, and the other girl says no. And this girl goes, ‘It’s so good, it stars Charlie Sheen and River Phoenix.’ We’re standing behind her, looking at her. We just let her go. Now, Little Shop of Horrors is another movie in the Warner Bros. stable. Have you thought about incorporating that in a future show?
Maximillian: It’s been talked about. Warner has other things I have interest in doing. That’s one of the cool things about his genre. That’s why I’m using Like Horror, you know, in the title. That’s why I’m sort of being a little tongue in cheek with saying ‘like’ instead of ‘love’, because I really wanted it to be a little fun and encompass the dark universe. So I think that things like Little Shop of Horrors isn’t a scary movie per se, but it’s sort of in that world. So that’s the beautiful thing about ‘I Like Scary Movies’, that things like Beetlejuice isn’t a scary movie. But it’s been in a world…I mean, that sort of dark world…So we can integrate different things like that, and have a good time with it. So that is definitely something that’s on my radar.
When I visited during the first go around, Beetlejuice was the most popular part of the exhibit.
Maximillian: Yeah, we really saw that. Queues would definitely form for the different things within Beetlejuice. It was really fun because it’s such a movie that people love, and it’s so very near and dear to my heart. And I really had a good time exploring that world a little bit. And doing some things that were ripped from the movie directly and celebrating those things and then other things are a little bit of a stretch. I wanted to explore the world of Dante’s Inferno area. What would that world looks like around it? If that was actually part of that, a model, I wanted to do things like that. And yes, I saw the same thing. People just kind of coming unglued, interacting with anything Beetlejuice. Yeah, I had such great photo ops in there to have fun. Like every single one of them.
You have a quote from Joe Dante in the press release. Gremlins is a Warner Bros. movie. I know you don’t want to full on use characters from the movies, but is that at all an option for a future update of the exhibit?
Maximillian: Yeah, that could be the exception. That’s a good point. That I think is a definite exception. But not the rule. What we’re trying to do is not necessarily rest on character likeness. Because in my mind, it’s an easy way out, you know? I mean, it’s like, let’s put a big statue of stone…I think it’s a lot more appreciated. But with Gremlins, I feel like that is a little acceptance to the rule. We have to have some call outs to the creatures. That’s what it’s all about right? So you just can’t have a havoc kitchen. I would like to do it a little bit different and try to not necessarily read the characters. Joe Dante and I talked about it a little bit when he came. He was really encouraging, and loved it, and said every thought about Gremlins I said. Yes, I thought about it. I’d love to, you know. So that’s definitely something that’s in my brain, too.
You guys originally opened in April, now your are back for Fall and Halloween. Is there any chance you’ll reopen for a Christmas themed update? The Shining fits into that, and Gremlins, since it is a Christmas movie, could be the perfect new centerpiece for a holiday walkthrough.
Maximillian: Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like you’ve got my office bugged. That is definitely things we’re talking about. There’s things that we’re in discussions about right now, about those exact things. So we’re exploring right now as to what that would look like and what the timing would be, and all that stuff. I mean, there’s so many things that straddle the holiday season, you know?
As a fan of exhibits like this that pop up around Halloween, I’d love to see something that takes the same spirit into the Christmas holiday season.
Maximillian: Me too. That’s really where I’m coming from with this whole thing. What as a fan would I like to see? And so that’s it again. Warner has left me to sort of play with their movies that I’ve been really grateful for, because I just I don’t overthink it. I just go gravitate towards the first thing that comes to my mind. The thing that Warner said to me when I was first pitching, and showing them all my creative concepts…That still sticks with me to this day. It’s exactly what I was trying to achieve, and they picked up on that. One of the heads of Warner Bros. said, ‘You know, the thing that I really love about what you’ve done here is that just when you think you know what this is, it changes, and so you come into an environment and it’s an art installation. Then you turn the corner and it’s a photo op, when they turn another corner. It’s more of an experience and it just keeps mutating.’ And that’s really what I was trying to do, you know, is that when you think you know what kind of ‘formula’ it is, it changes on you. And I was very grateful that this person got that. And that’s what I’m trying to do as a fan, because I’m a fan. This to me is three-dimensional fan art. This is like stepping into fan art. And I’ve always been a big fan of seeing what these artists illustrating the little tidbits of plot point can explode in their art, and the subtleties. That means something to us as a fan. And then they really run with, and that’s what I’m doing. But on the three-dimensional level, and in sort of an environmental level, and sort of walking into these worlds and sort of just thinking about what I personally am inspired by. I was taking a big gamble to see if fans would sort of dig it like I do. And it was a really neat experience to see them embrace it and get what I was trying to do.
I think it was a Friday night when I first came. It was packed and everybody was having so much fun. And you’re talking about not bringing in the characters so much. One of the things I realized people were having a lot of fun with, was that Freddy Krueger selfie op. I think it was a mannequin set up, that was like taking a selfie. But then you have a Krueger hat sitting there. You can put the hat on, touch everything, maybe dress up and look a little like Krueger for your photo. I thought that was cool, because everybody seemed to be having a blast with that.
Maximillian: What’s funny is that it was a little bit controversial in a way, because my overall concept…Warner was like, ‘Wait a minute, aren’t you kind of making fun of the people who are coming to this thing?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but that’s the heart of the fun about it, you know, is that we’re sort of poking a little bit at the whole selfie culture.’ I love the idea that somebody was so focused on getting their perfect shot of themselves in an environment where they had no idea they are about to be a victim of Freddy. That there was this sort of disguise camouflage. She was just focused on her own little world. And we’ve seen that many, many, many times in our everyday lives, of people just really focused on getting this perfect photo. And the whole world falls away. We’ve seen that from people walking on the street with their devices and not looking up, you know, walking into people. It’s like people tend to get really absorbed in technology. And it was my little nod to this. Let’s enjoy this. Let’s not lose sight of who we are, and let’s be aware of what’s going on around us. But let’s have a good time at the same time, you know? I get it was another risk. A little gamble. Are people gonna appreciate it, or are they gonna be like, ‘Wait a minute?’ And they loved it. And then what? They were doing her exact pose. It was really a lot of fun. I really appreciate it.
Everybody seemed to be having a great time with it. My favorite thing was getting the Pennywise penny? Are you going to do something new with that this time around?
Maximillian: We’re not actually changing it. We’re keeping it. Because it was another little experiment. I wanted to do a Pennywise penny. I love the idea of doing this limited edition design. And then I was trying to figure out how do I give these away, but not just have them be some sort of give away, and have it be special. And I came up with the idea of doing this psychological experiment, sort of installation, about sharing your fears and really exercising your fears. If you were to exercise that fear, you would get a penny for your fears. And that’s why we had that written on the wall there. I really love the idea of hearing that, exercising it, putting it out there. And then also seeing what fears we all commonly share. And it was incredible when we first started off, this giant white wall just said a penny for your fears. And then as we continue to go on, thousands and thousands and thousands of fears started…At the end of the show, we ended up having well over 30,000 fears on the wall, which was incredible. I then took a bunch of people’s fears and actually took the same kids that were hanging around the Pennywise exhibit, floating, and we took a few of those and encrusted these kids in different positions within the wall itself. Which is sort of a statement on childhood fears. So we put them all into the walls, and had this three-dimensional aspect of kids being encrusted into the wall itself. They are Pennywise’s victims. And it was a really compelling, strong image. That’s one thing I really like with this show, as well, is seeing how we can keep adding to it, in keeping people intrigued, inspired in what we are doing. That is why we are doing that again.
In terms of souvenirs and merchandise, last time around you had a series of shirts with the I Like Scary Movie logo on it, and each different one had a little symbol for all the movies. What new souvenirs can we expect this time around?
Maximillian: We’re doing it again. We’re obviously bringing in the Jason Mask for an additional shirt. So we’ve got I like scary movies with Jason. It has the hokey mask at the end. So that people can choose which shirt speaks to them. And we’re incorporating a lot more merchandise. So that’s gonna be really cool. We learned a lot from the first time around about what people are asking for. Whether it be pint glasses or you know, what have you. And so we’re adding in a ton more merchandise based off of requests that a lot of people asked for. So the store is gonna be a little more populated. So that’s pretty cool.
I like how the last location sort of opened the Gift Shop into this abandoned alleyway. It added to the scariness of the whole experience as you’re leaving.
Maximillian: Yeah, we’ve got a little bit of a scary vibe here too. We’ve got a really cool alleyway here. That little graffiti. It’s dimly lit, spooky, but not dangerous. It’s actually really cool. So that’s kind of the pathway that people are going to take to get to the front entrance. That’s gonna add to the overall vibe.
How long do we have until you guys close shop again for this iteration of I Like Scary Movies?
Maximillian: Right now, we’re the 20th of September through the 17th of November. Okay, so we’re going a couple weeks into November, right before Thanksgiving. We’re not just a Halloween centric show. But we definitely wanted to come back out again for Halloween. And just really celebrate again here in our hometown.
Yeah, it’s nice to have this alternative to the other Halloween stuff going on around Los Angeles.
Maximillian: Yeah, I think so, too. You know, My biggest thing that I really want to make people aware of…I just want them to know that it’s not sort of standard Halloween fair. It’s not a scare maze. I’m just hoping that the fans know what we are, who we are, how we celebrate, because I love scares. Amazing. I’m a big fan. I’m gonna go to a bunch this year myself. But we’re doing something a little different, You know, so I’m hoping they take that, too. And they incorporated into their full season celebration.
Get in on the fun now. Tickets and information are available at ILikeScaryMoviesExperience.com.