This is the modern-day love story of two-horror-fans-connecting-on-Facebook-and-falling-in-love-in-haunted-houses that you didn’t know you needed and I’m here to tell you that you do.
When Bernard and Alicia Brown first connected, it was from 379 miles apart, as Alicia lived in Orlando and Bernard was living in Charleston, South Carolina. It was fall of 2017, and while Halloween Horror Nights (HHN) was certainly on both Bernard and Alicia’s minds, Hurricane Irma had just blown through Central Florida, and Bernard had some questions that he was posting in an HHN-fan Facebook group about flooded roads and the status of the event.
“Some people were responding to him, kind of snarky,” Alicia says. “You know how people can be on Facebook! So I told him, ‘Come on down, you’ll be fine. It’s OK.’”
That kind response elicited a friend request from Bernard to Alicia, and then, a few days later, Bernard messaged Alicia letting her know he was in town and at HHN for his birthday. Not missing the chance to buy Bernard a birthday drink, Alicia planned to be in the parks for his day.
Bernard and Alicia met up for the first time outside of Universal Studios’ Classic Monsters Cafe in Universal Studios Florida. Their first haunted house was Dead Waters and they ended up spending the rest of the day and into the evening together, exploring houses and scare zones.
“At the time,” Bernard starts. “I wasn’t looking for anything. I just thought she was being nice to me and it would be nice to — you know — just meet up and go with her through a few houses.”
“A few houses turned into all of them and then the next day we met up and spent the whole day together,” Alicia says. “We were holding hands at the end of the second day. I’ve never had that before.”
Both Bernard and Alicia express the same sentiment — they just hit it off.
The connection was so strong that eventually Bernard moved, the couple got married, and of course they continue to be fans of all things horror. Each of them had grown up watching scary movies, though with different experiences.
“My aunt used to terrorize me with horror movies,” Bernard says. “My mom used to work on the weekends and work overnight, so I would stay over at my aunt’s. She would always tell me, ‘If you watch this scary movie with me, you can’t close your eyes or anything. And if you go upstairs, you can’t turn on the lights.’ I was always scared out of my mind.”
If you’re like me, this is the part in the conversation where you want to understand HOW Child-Bernard, who was terrified of scary movies, becomes Adult-Bernard, who apparently loves them so much he attends an annual horror event. Willingly!
The answer is quite literally that he faced his fears. He’s a logical enough guy, so he started to question what it even was he was afraid of and to do that he went to what we used to call “Video Stores” and got his hands on classic scary movies. Eventually the fear turned into love! He was hooked.
Meanwhile, Alicia always loved scary movies. As a young child she used to watch them by herself and beg her horror-movie-hating-mom to buy her scary magazines to no avail.
Obviously this love of horror is what initially connected Bernard and Alicia. Alicia mentioned that, because the horror community is relatively small, it felt really special to find someone like Bernard who shared this passion with her. She had been coming to the event since 2004 (Bernard’s first year was 2016) and loved telling him about past HHN-houses, HHN-icons, and horror movies.
The Brown’s relationship is not the only relationship they’ve found through the event. Bernard explains that he has met several friends in the HHN-community, which he refers to as a very loyal, one-of-a-kind group of fans.
“Some people I have met waiting in line, some people I’ve met through Facebook and Twitter, talking about Halloween Horror Nights all the time,” Bernard says. “This is not just a couple-months thing, this is a year-round thing for a lot of us.”
In addition to their first haunted house, Dead Waters, the couple counts Scarecrow: The Reaping as their number one of all time. Alicia even recounts that she was so scared she literally fell over, and Bernard is a big fan of the way the teams at Universal take original content ideas and bring them to life (or, death, as the case usually is).
Bernard and Alicia have a handful of traditions surrounding Halloween Horror Nights. While Alicia likes to sit in scare zones and people-watch, Bernard is more likely to be found jumping from house to house or collecting all the lanyards and T-Shirts money can buy.
Even outside the event time-frame, or in a time like this when the event is off (check here for current fall offerings, including two haunted houses!), Bernard and Alicia find ways to keep horror top-of-mind.
“From the speculation maps to what movies will be there that we need to watch,” Bernard says. “We will go out and buy the movie and watch it ‘cause we know the house is coming. Even if we’ve already watched it, even if we watched it a week before we find out about the house, we’ll watch it again.”
“I’ll call him from work and say, ‘Look what just came out!’” Alicia says. “It takes a special type of person to really enjoy and get into it. It’s hard to find and when you find that person and you get along so well… not just horror, you’ve got to have other connections.”
“You could say horror brought us together,” Bernard starts.
Alicia adds, “But all the other things kept us together.”