Halloween Wars Season 10 premiere recap: Road trip disasters

The contestants with host, Jonathan Bennett and judges Todd Tucker and Shinmin Li, as seen on Halloween Wars, Season 10. Photo provided by Food Network
The contestants with host, Jonathan Bennett and judges Todd Tucker and Shinmin Li, as seen on Halloween Wars, Season 10. Photo provided by Food Network /

Halloween Wars traveled down a spooky road in the Season 10 premiere.

Are you afraid of the kitchen? Halloween Wars Season 10 premiere creeped into the Food Network lineup to the delight of Halloween fans. While these six teams seemed to have many tricks up their sleeves, the road to victory isn’t a straight path. Were these monstrous road trips too scary for words?

Each Halloween Wars season seems to go bigger, bolder and scarier than before. With Jonathan Bennet, Shinmin Li and Todd Tucker returning to the fan favorite Food Network show, the new competitors will need to impress with these pumpkin, cake and sugar creations. While the teams might want to push the boundaries, the scariest display is often the one that fails.

Given the success of this Food Network show, the competition’s premise remains the same. Teams of three compete in both the Small Scare and the Spine Chiller. At the end of the Spine Chiller, one team is eliminated.

The first episode of any Halloween Wars season always has some ups and downs. While some teams want to make a statement, other teams try to save their big ideas for later in the competition. At the same time, the teams must get to the next round.

Looking at the Small Scare, it was clear from the judges’ comments that they wanted to see more than a carved pumpkin. When a team has the ability to transform a pumpkin into something more than just a pumpkin, the judges will take notice.

The theme of the first Small Scare was “It Came from the Pumpkin Patch.” This theme offered the potential for a lot of creativity. Unfortunately, there were more pumpkins than crazy creatures.

While the Crave Diggers got credit for trying an interesting concept, they had faulty construction. As the snake head fell to the floor, it was clear that this team was not winning the first round.

This example is a good one for the first challenge. While an idea might sound amazing, the team has to execute. Clearly, this team did not choose the right path to bring their idea to life.

The most creative approach was Candy Coroners and their radioactive snail. From afar, the Halloween display did not look like stacked pumpkins. The interpretation and execution of the theme was on point.

It was clear that Candy Coroners would win the small scare. Their display was clearly different from the other teams. Sometimes it pays to stand out in a good way.


For the Spine Chiller, the teams took on a classic theme, a road trip, actually a monster road trip. Given that the road trip was the travel theme of the summer, it seemed fitting that Halloween Wars made this idea the first Spine Chiller challenge.

In addition to the dramatic display, the teams had to create a coffee infused tasting element. While these tasting elements might not be a huge visual in the Halloween displays, they do impact the success or failure of a team.

For the most part, these Halloween displays were somewhat expected. Scary monsters with their monstrous rides were headed on a ghoulish path. While each of the scenes read scary, a few elements seemed to be missing.

Since this Food Network competition is primarily about the visual, the teams need to see their display as a whole. From the color choices to the dimensions to the placement, everything needs to read from a distance and from up close. It doesn’t matter if a team has the most impeccable detailed fur on a werewolf. If the whole scene reads like a pile of muddled brown, the display doesn’t work.

For the Candy Coroners, they learned that lesson the hard way. Their father/son werewolf road trip had amazing detail. From the intricate details to the carefully sculpted pumpkin, aspects of the display were impressive.

Unfortunately, from afar, the display looked like a big brown and gray blob. While impressionism might work for some art, it doesn’t work for a Halloween Wars display. When team spends hours creating the edible art, everyone should be able to see it. A Where’s Waldo display was not the task. Going from top to bottom in the first episode is not a good choice.

But, going from bottom to top is a huge improvement for the Crave Diggers. After the Small Scare decapitation, this team impressed in the Spine Chiller. The colors captivated and the scene impressed.

While the scene might not have been the scariest of all the displays, it was a complete package. It had interpretation, expression and execution.

Plus, their tasting element was the smartest choice. Not only did the bolt shaped candy fit the Halloween display, it was the perfect combination of flavors. Coffee, hazelnut and chocolate are always a winning combination.

Joining the Candy Coroners as a bottom team was Ghouly Goblins. While some elements of the zombie themed display worked, it didn’t bring a big scare.

One of the biggest issues with this display was the lack of creativity with the pumpkin work. As the judges said in the first round, the pumpkin needs to be more than just a pumpkin, a bowl or a round object. These teams need to push themselves.

Additionally, the zombie didn’t read scary zombie. While the detail in the face was impressive, it didn’t convey the zombie story. That zombie could have been placed into any Walking Dead scene, but not necessarily a monster road trip.

In the end, the Ghouly Goblins were zapped by the judges’ proton pack and sent to the containment unit (aka eliminated). While this team could have produced some amazing displays, the three team members didn’t seem to gel. If the team can’t find the balance in their creativity, their time on Halloween Wars will be short.

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What was your favorite display from this week’s Halloween Wars Season 10 premiere? Have you picked a favorite team yet?