OC LIVE! : THEME PARKS : Freak Show : Moonlighting as Monster Is Nightmare Come True

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Gena Pasillas is an editorial assistant for The Times Orange County Edition

After five gut-wrenching, arm-clutching, nail-biting years as the victim of countless ghoulish attacks at Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween Haunt, I've decided to make a journey into the morbid. Wanting a piece of the action, I got myself a moonlighting job as a Haunt Monster. Now, from Friday through Halloween night, it's my turn to terrorize.

It's in my blood. The anticipation swells every time I think back to those grisly nights of running through mazes while goblins and demons chased me . As my own 13 evenings of fiendish haunting get closer, I can't help but convulse and cackle. I finally will be a part of it.

When the opportunity arose, I wasted no time rushing over to Knott's to apply. During my audition I was nervous and giddy and shook myself so vigorously (attempting a dramatic portrayal of madness) that I almost made myself sick. It probably was my legs, arms and hair flying about the stage that prompted the judges to cast me as they did: as a freak in the Carnival of Death.

Or maybe it was my crawling and screaming, or my grunting. In any case, the judges apparently thought I'd make a fine freak. And this was before I had a costume or makeup. It was only me.

The same went for every other Haunt hopeful: We all were employed on the basis of our ability to spook sans accouterments.

I knew what to expect as a guest of the Haunt, but this will be my first time on the other side. My sleep has been enhanced somewhat by dreams of hiding in the darkness and bursting out to stop the hearts of the unsuspecting. I feel ready (especially now that my identity will be concealed) to release the lunacy in myself, to demonstrate my dementia to its fullest.

It's actually wonderful to have this chance. I'll be living out a fantasy, letting myself be wild beyond my daydreams. Talk about outlets to relieve stress and workday burnout! This will be like going to the top of a mountain to roar.

This year's theme is "Monster Bash" and promises to be more odious and nauseating than ever. If you love the exhilaration of horror, visit one of the 10 bloodcurdling rides and mazes where vampires, madmen, phantoms and zombies will be hiding in every shadowy corner. Knott's Halloween Haunt is the largest Halloween party in the country. How lucky we are to have it in Buena Park, in our own back yard.

Many rides have been re-themed to become as dreadful as possible. The Timber Mountain Log Ride is now Santa Claws Mountain. Come see Santa saw off the limbs of the naughty. The Kingdom of the Dinosaurs is now the Slasher of the Dark. Will you dare to elude the Slasher? The Calico Mine Ride has become the Cavern of Carnage. Nightmares come to life in the Wheeler Dealer Bumper Cars. The Gasoline Alley Auto Race has mutated into Industrial Evil, where the living dead occupy a post-nuclear-holocaust Earth.

Even the Bear-y Tales Play House is transformed! Now the House of Maniacs, it reveals the effects of human inbreeding. And don't miss the big-top tent that will house the Carnival of Death, where this insane freak will reside.

Three mazes have been added this year, and each should really leave you shaking. Ghost Town Dead and Breakfast is in the old Wilderness Dance Hall, now inhabited by famous villains from TV and the movies. Dominion of the Dead, the former Whirlpool, is a Gothic castleful of vampires. And then there's Curse of the Werewolf, where the Haunted Shack used to be.

Spine-tingling shows will take place nightly. I must warn the lily-livered that a new "face" will be appearing at the Ghoul Time Theater: "Tales From the Crypt's" Cryptkeeper will be starring in "Knott's Gory Tales." In Calico Square, spectators can contemplate the fates of those intended for "The Hanging '95." Neither these, a multimedia laser show nor the two other shows will be like movies, where you sit and watch a screen. These will be as in-your-face as it gets.

My waiting is almost over. There are only a few hours left before I'll be ignoring pleas for mercy and running amok amid the frenzy. Yee-haw! Yippee! Wheeee! Opening night is Friday, and this sicko is ready.


* What: Knott's Berry Farm's 23rd annual Halloween Haunt.

* When: 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Oct. 21, also Oct. 22, and Oct. 26 through 31.

* Where: Knott's Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park.

* Whereabouts: Take the Beach Boulevard exit from the San Diego (405) Freeway and go north, or take it from the Riverside (91) Freeway and go south.

* Wherewithal: $32 ($29 if purchased in advance).

* Where to call: (714) 220-5200.

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