The sad truth about life is that none of us, save for Hulk Hogan, is immortal. We're all gonna die. Hopefully in less horrific ways than the fashion in which characters die in the movies we all spend so much time watching... but nevertheless, there's going to come a day where and each and every one of us meets up with the Grim Reaper. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to take unlived experiences to the grave with me. Which is why, like Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson before me, I keep my very own Bucket List in my desk drawer, a collection of different experiences I want to have, both big and small, before my time on this Earth is finished. It's unlikely that I'll ever cross all of them off, but I'm damn sure going to try.
In the event that you don't have a Bucket List of your own, I want to help get you started with a handful of must-have experiences that are specifically geared towards horror fans like ourselves.
1. GO TO A HORROR CONVENTION!
If there's anything on this list that I would be incredibly saddened to hear that any horror fan went to the grave without experiencing, it'd be this one. Different horror conventions take place all year round, across the country, and there is simply no greater joy for the horror fan to experience than to be stuck in a hotel all weekend with sweaty fellow horror fans, geeking out and bonding over all the things we love, spending our entire week's paycheck on t-shirts and toys, and paying far too much money to get autographs from the filmmakers and actors we've spent so much of our time admiring. Quite simply, horror conventions are as close to Heaven as horror fans can come without actually dying, and I'd hate to see any fan go their whole life without experiencing the camaraderie and acceptance that is the convention scene.
Speaking of which...
2. GET CHOKED BY KANE HODDER!
I'm not sure when or how it started, but Kane Hodder provides a special service for each fan who gets an autograph and their picture taken with him: he chokes you... really, really hard. If you've ever seen a picture of a fan being choked by Kane Hodder, I can assure you that the choke is 100% real, and as you might imagine, it hurts. Getting choked by Kane Hodder has become a rite of passage for the horror fan, and the experience of being throttled half to death by Jason Voorhees himself is a thrill that no fan's life should be without. I'm not saying it's gonna feel good while it's happening, because it's not, but I can promise you it'll feel real damn good when you think back on it!
3. VISIT A FILMING LOCATION FROM YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE!
There's just something about traveling to the place where one of your favorite movies was filmed that bonds you even more with that movie, and really makes you feel like you're a part of it all. While that may not make sense to you right now, I can assure you that if you end up crossing this one off your Bucket List, you will totally understand. Whether you want to take a swim in the actual Crystal Lake, eat a hamburger at the restaurant the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre house was turned into (shown above), trick or treat down the sidewalks that Michael Myers roamed, or go shopping in the iconic Dawn of the Dead mall, you absolutely must visit at least one iconic horror movie filming location before you die. It's an exhilirating experience that will get you as close to actually being in the movie as you will ever get, and for that reason alone, it's one you need to have.
4. WATCH EVERY INSTALLMENT OF EVERY FRANCHISE!
If you're anything like me, you feel an incredible insecurity in calling yourself a hardcore horror fan having not yet seen every installment in all the big franchises, be it Hellraiser or SAW. Though I'm not gonna say this is going to be the most fun goal on this list to experience and cross off, it's just something you've gotta do, whether you like it or not. And yes, that means you are going to have to watch both Leprechaun in the Hood and Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood... sorry, but you're the one who signed up to be a die-hard horror buff!
5. SEE YOUR FAVORITE FILM ON THE BIG SCREEN!
I don't know about you, but most of my favorite horror movies were released either well before I was born, or well before I was old enough to go to the theater, which means I never got to experience the large majority of them on the big screen with a crowd. No matter how many times you watch your favorite horror movie at home by yourself, you just haven't fully experienced that movie until you've seen it in a movie theater, surrounded by hordes of fellow fans who know every line of dialogue and all the ins and outs of that movie. Trust me. I've seen prints of films like The Shining and The Exorcist with a crowd, and those are experiences I am so glad I got to have. So if you ever hear that one of your favorite horror movies is playing on the big screen at a theater near you, don't skip out on it because you've seen the movie a thousand times, or feel it's a waste of money to pay to see it when you can watch it for free at home. It will be worth the price of admission, believe me!
6. TAKE PART IN A ZOMBIE WALK!
When you're a horror fan, you haven't lived... until you've died. The early 2000s saw the birth of the "Zombie Walk," an event where horror fans gather together, slap on makeup and tattered clothes, and shamble around like zombies. Nowadays, in a time when zombies are more popular than ever, Zombie Walks have become incredibly common, and pretty much every state in the country plays host to one, at least once a year. So you've really got no excuse not to cross this one off your Bucket List. Channel your inner ghoul and check out ZombieWalk.com to find a Zombie Walk near you!
7. ATTEND HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS!
If you look on my personal Bucket List, you will see this written on there, an experience I've yet to cross off. Originally launched at Universal Studios Orlando way back in 1991, Halloween Horror Nights is now bigger and better than ever, a month-long event that runs through every October, in Orlando, Hollywood and even Singapore. For that one month out of every year, Universal Studios becomes a mecca for horror fans, the park outfitted with all sorts of haunted attractions, live shows and frightening experiences. Coolest of all, the attractions at Halloween Horror Nights are almost always based on actual horror movies, with sets from the films meticulously recreated so that you feel like you're actually inside of the movies. Now in its 23rd year, this year's Halloween Horror Nights will have attractions based on recent horror hits like the Evil Dead remake and Cabin in the Woods. But don't worry... if you can't make it this year, their lineup every year is equally as awesome, so any year is a good year to go!
8. SPEND A NIGHT AT THE STANLEY HOTEL!
Often times incorrectly cited as the hotel where The Shining was filmed, Colorado's Stanley Hotel is actually the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write the novel. Essentially, the supposedly haunted Stanley Hotel is the real-life version of the fictional Overlook Hotel, and if you were hoping that the owners of the Stanley celebrate and play up this fact, then you'll be happy to know that they most certainly do. In fact, The Shining plays on a continuous loop on a certain channel of each room's television! Spending a night in a haunted hotel is something every horror fan should do at least once in their lifetime, and if you're gonna do it, you might as well do it at the Stanley, so book your room (their room 217 was the real life basis for the Overlook's room 237), pick up some ghost-hunting gear and watch out for those creepy twins that like to hang out in the hallway. Oh, and don't forget to bring your typewriter... and a shiny new axe. Never know when you might need to hack your way through a door!
9. CONTRIBUTE TO THE GENRE!
More than any other genre of film, the horror genre is a fan-driven one, a community that thrives on fan interaction and contribution. If you want to be more than a mere fan, I encourage you to do everything you possibly can to take part in the genre and the community, and help to make it an even better place for current and future fans to hang around. The possibilities for getting involved are literally endless, whether you want to start up a blog to spread the good word on movies you like, donate money to help movies get made, or make movies of your own. If you truly love the genre, give back every chance you can get, and become an active part of the community that you so cherish. Because without us fans and our involvement, the genre itself is only as mortal as we are. Never underestimate the power you hold in keeping horror alive and kicking!
How many of these have you already crossed off your list, and what other experiences do you think are essential for the horror fan to have before they kick the bucket? Comment below and let us know!