Halloween Issue

Posted October 22, 2008 in Feature Story

Curtis Lovell II To Be Buried Alive
Escapologist to Temp Fate on Halloween Night

By Kevin Ausmus

Buried Alive. It was one of Harry Houdini’s most revered escapes, confronting what is many people’s greatest fear. He did it once and said “never again!” Now Curtis Lovell II, a professional magician from Los Angeles and a Houdini disciple, is coming to Grand Terrace to revive the death-defying stunt on Halloween night, which just happens to be the anniversary of Houdini’s death (he died 82 years ago this night).

Coincidence?  Not likely.

Lovell, who has been dropped shackled into the Singapore River, survived the Cube of Death, and fulfilled every American’s dream by sawing Paris Hilton in half, was approached by Grand Terrace’s acting city manager Steve Berry to perform a stunt “with a Houdini flair” for city residents live on stage this Halloween. The affable Lovell, who lists Houdini as “one of my dead idols,” knew immediately the date would afford him the chance to realize a childhood dream.

“I like to tamper with death,” Lovell says, when explaining his rationale for performing this stunt. It’s a long way from the days when his father would perform coin tricks to amuse him, or when his mother gifted him with magic kits. After mastering basic sleight-of-hand tricks, Lovell realized he was very flexible and double-jointed—and he used this newfound knowledge to get loose from handcuffs, neck braces, leg shackles and master locks. This led to a more adventurous path for Lovell, who turned professional at 18 years old.

And like any publicity-seeking magician worth his dexterity, Lovell feels a need to constantly push the envelope, not unlike his rival, the estimable David Blaine. Blaine himself famously performed the buried alive feat in 1999, when he stayed inside a coffin in Central Park in New York for a week’s time. Lovell has no intention of staying under quite that long.

But . . .

As part of Grand Terrace’s Halloween Haunt Extraordinaire, Lovell will be handcuffed by city police and positioned in a 6’x 8’ plexiglass coffin, which will then be chained and padlocked, placed in a hole and covered with hundreds of pounds of dirt. Spectators will be invited to stand by and see if Lovell can pick the lock, push the dirt off, and climb through the coffin. Easy, right? Only if all goes according to plan.

The buried alive stunt is rarely attempted because, unlike standard escape situations, there is a very real chance of mortal injury if something goes wrong. Despite Lovell’s confident demeanor, he makes it clear that he has no plans to become notorious for a risky stunt gone wrong.

“I’d like to stick around,” says Lovell.

Curtis Lovell II will attempt to escape from being buried alive at Pico Park, 21950 Pico St., Grand Terrace, 6:15PM-6:30PM


Looking for a party to hit this Halloween? Here’s a list that’ll scare the piss out of you.

Both Angels Roadhouse locations (32464 Dunlap Blvd., Yucaipa, 909.795.0665 and 13685 John Glenn Rd., Apple Valley, 760.240.6923) will be hosting specific Halloween events. There’s the “Monster Ball” at the Yucaipa Roadhouse and Roadhouse #2 in Apple Valley will feature an all-ages Halloween Party. (We’re guessing you can bring the youngin’s to see something frightening in the bar.)

Jambernardino’s Halloween Costume Party hits the Mission Tobacco Lounge (3630 University Ave., Riverside, 951.682.4427) featuring costume contests, live bands (Lucius Guardian, Alibi, Sachi, 42 Seconds Later) and the MTL DJ spinning tunes for the festive occasion.

If you’re in need for some quick bucks, get dressed up and head out to Stingers (194 W. Club Center Dr., San Bernardino, 909.872.0761) for the X103.9 “Haunted Masquerade Ball.” They’ll be giving away $500 to the best costume and another half-grand to the sexiest costume. The $15 admission will also buy you a performance from Hollywood Undead.

Angels Sports Bar (1650 E. 6th St., Riverside, 951.371.9738, Corona) is hosting its sixth annual “Freakin Halloween” Costume Party. Come dressed up and get three bucks off the $10 admission. Fittingly on stage is the Misfits tribute band Monsters, plus performances by The Walking Toxins, The Prostitute Marys and GOODvsEVIL.

The Wheelhouse’s (2850 W. Florida Ave., Hemet, 951.652.9968) “Hell-O-Ween Horror Ball” lives up to its name, as they’ve got the bands to prove it. With a roster featuring acts like Kill Victoria, Bloodturned, Soulless Desires and Deth Trap, you’re sure to get a fix of the dead for the $10 cover at this all ages event, which kicks off at 3PM.

Get your ghoulish garb together at Mario’s Place (3646 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, 951.684.7755) for their annual Halloween Costume Party, featuring live DJ music on the inside and “scary-oke” on the outside (yeah, particularly scary, depending on who’s clutching the mic). A $5 cover charge kicks in after 8:30PM and the party launches at 9:30PM.
Want a supersized Halloween flashback? (Remember when we were lil’ tykes, trickin’ and treatin’ our way to bands like The Fixx and Kajagoogoo?) Well, relive those lost-in-the-amygdala moments at Romano’s  (5225 Canyon Crest Dr., Riverside, 951.781.7662) Annual Halloween Bash featuring KROQ and Sirius Radio DJ Richard Blade, who’ll be spinning dance music from the ‘80s to the present. The fun begins at 10PM.

Heading back even further in time? The Shilo Inn (3101 Temple Ave., Diamond Bar) is the location of a ‘70s Halloween Costume Jam, featuring a cool $200 for the winner of the contest—though all costumes (from all eras, we assume) are welcome.

The Brandin’ Iron (320 S. E St., San Bernardino, 909.888.7388) is also giving away some bucks—a grand’s worth, to the best costume as part of their Halloween festivities. So, if you lost out at one of the other cash-offered contests, there’s always another chance at the green (or it could work the other way around—we know, the economy sucks).

And for one more shot at padding your wallet, there’s the 7th Annual Halloween Costume Contest at the 3rd Street Station (26998 3rd St., Highland, 909.425.9021), promising $75 to the first place winner and $25 to the runner up. Also featured is Karaoke with Terry, plenty of food via Robert’s kitchen and a batch of unusual costumes to boot.

Both RA Sushi locations (2785 Cabot Dr., Corona, 951.277.7491; 13925 City Center Drive, Ste. 2065, Chino Hills, 909.902.0044) will be hosting the First Annual “Boo Bash,” with a number of drink and food specials. The Chino Hills location’s party is Oct. 30 at 8PM, and features a costume contest where the winners will bag some great treats, including tickers to “Wicked” and Best Buy gift certificates. The Corona location happens on Halloween at 9PM, also features a host of drink specials and includes tunes spun by DJ Archaeo.

The Skeletones already have a Halloween-esque name, and they’re bringing their fun flavor of Riverside-brewed ska-punk to Q Bonkers (9364 Magnolia Ave., Riverside, 951.688.4866) for its all-ages “Skalloween” event, starting at 8PM, including Buddha Bomb, The Guilty Parties and Defunked for $10 (presale) or $15 (at the door).

Ardent followers of the band Gram Rabbit know that come Oct. 31, the act turns into “Grim Rabbit” when they perform at the fourth annual Pappy and Scarriet’s Halloween Party (53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, 760.365.5956), teaming up with guests Bartender’s Bible. Costume prizes and drink specials accompany the night, which starts at 9PM and costs $10.

More costume parties can be found at Biacci’s (775 N. Central Ave., Upland, 909.946.0990) at 8PM with Brothers performing, Killarney’s (3639 Riverside Plaza Dr. #532, Riverside, 951.682.2933) with Blue Fish at 10PM and a costume contest at 11PM, The Music Room (4360 N. Sierra Way, San Bernardino, 909.883.6513) at 9PM, and at the The Jazz Café (1113 W. 6th St., Ontario, 909.391.9119), where Secu will be appearing for the Masquerade Party.

The Saddle Sore Saloon (343 6th St., Norco, 951.272.3842) is offering its own Halloween party featuring Terry Hanson & The Westerners. Paradigm (13700 Calimesa Blvd., Yucaipa) launches the “Scare The Hell Out Of You Fest” with Impending Doom on stage, starting at 6PM for $5. And the Pharaoh’s Den (3579 University Ave., Riverside) is hosting a Halloween bash, as well as The Vault (14 E. Vine St., Riverside, 909.798.2399) and Barnacles (1936 Mentone Bl., Mentone, 909.794.5851).

The Pirate Island $500 Costume Contest is part of Chronic Cantina’s (220 N. Central Ave., Upland, 909.931.4410) Halloween celebration, with $3 Chronic bombs and plenty of other drinkage, we’re sure.

For more Halloween party action, nab the fun and excitement of the night at Liam’s Irish Pub (1089 S. Mount Vernon Ave., Colton, 909.422.9900) or the Redlands Underground (19 E. Citrus Ave. #103, Redlands, 909.798.1500). And don’t forget about the party at The Lark (925 Inland Center Dr., San Bernardino, 909.884.8770), where they’ll be having a Halloween Party in addition to their Rocky Horror Party.


It’s a tradition in our household to restrict our DVD watching during the month of October to horror movies, in preparation for Halloween. In past years, we’ve done the entire Friday the 13th catalogue, Scariest Movies of All Time (The Exorcist, The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby, etcetera . . . always under debate), cheesy horror (Motel Hell) and so on. This year, a two DVD box from the Icons of Horror Collection set the tone— Hammer Films: 4 Creepy Classics from the Hammer Films Archives.

A production company operating in England since the 1930s, Hammer gained fame for a series of “Hammer Horror” films made from the ’50s to the ’70s in a sort of gothic style: lavish sets, little actual gore. These were films with your classic pantheon of horror figures: Frankenstein, the Mummy and of course, Dracula. And by Dracula, in this case, it had to be Christopher Lee (seen more recently as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Count Dooku from the Star Wars prequels), who became so synonymous with “bad” that you can hardly see him in a film without expecting him to turn out to be the bad guy in the end. You could assemble a lovely October line-up just from Christopher Lee horror films alone (try Horror Hotel for a real creepfest). This Hammer Films collection has Lee in three out of four films.

Getting the non-Lee film out of the way, the set starts with The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964), a sequel to an earlier Hammer Mummy flick. The weakest of the bunch, it starts slow and gets sloooooower as it goes, saving the appearance of the Mummy itself until deep into the film. Scream of Fear (1961) is more of a twisty, Hitchcock-inspired thriller than horror, but it’s effectively eerie. The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) turns Mr. Hyde from ghoul into the kind of moral-less, suave, pretty-boy you might find out at a bar on Friday night (genius! Like Jude Law on X).

The true gem of the bunch, though, is The Gorgon (1964). Featuring not only Christopher Lee, but also Peter Cushing (who was Van Helsing to Lee’s Dracula in the Hammer world, and also Grand Moff Tarkin in the original Star Wars) and some hilariously awful special effects on a snake-headed gorgon who turns people to stone with a look.

Here’s where the true magic of Hammer exists though. Despite the lame FX, and technicolor wardrobes (which seem less “Period” than “Broadway”) these films still offer some spook factor. Jaded as we are by the wave of torture-porn and sick-minded horror that’s come out in the past few years, it’s hard to imagine that these low-budget efforts could actually be scary, but somehow they manage it . . . without gore. Using an effective sense of mounting dread, they call to mind that horrible feeling you had climbing the basement steps after turning the last light out, or the nighttime paralysis of thinking something was out there after the lights were out and you were sure that if you left your bed, it was going to get you. That’s a real primal fear they manage to tap, and although mechanical snake heads and bad make-up stick a pin in that tension, it still works to a degree, and—unlike now—good actually triumphs over whatever evil the Hammer Films concocted, which is as reassuring as a nightlight in the corner. (Red Vaughn) 


Be the first to comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.