October is gearing up to give a good scare as always but before we delve into the spooky tenth month on the calendar, September really kicks off the “Halloween” season every year with Universal Studios Hollywood’s HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS. Read on for our review.
As the sun sets on a regular day here in Los Angeles, myself and field reporter Richard Trejo arrive at Universal Studios Hollywood. No we are not going to a movie set and no this isn’t a date, we’re here on business. The business that is Halloween Horror Nights.
Every year, creative director John Murdy and partner Chris Williams give horror fans what they want. To be scared. Hours are spent going over films and different scenes to make the “haunted attractions” here at HHN top notch. This year is no exception.
Many aspects in creating this event have to be considered. What movies shall be used for the mazes? What should we call the various “Scare Zones” around the park? What film, or string of films, will be used for the terror tram? These are just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to details and mapping out an event of this caliber.
Unlike some past installments of HHN, this year, both Universal Hollywood and Universal Orlando collaborated on themes for a few mazes. I feel that when this happens John Murdy and crew are forced to do mazes that sometimes, the folks here in California, could careless about.
As our night began, we first dived onto the Terror Tram. This year the tram’s theme was that of “The Walking Dead”. The idea was that the virus that caused the outbreak in Atlanta(like in the show) has now come out here and we are being taken through a zone that is dealing with the dead. Attention to details for this feature of HHN were well done, yet lacked true scare power in the overall scheme of things. The main reason for this was due to the fact that never once did you feel there was a zombie (or walker) herd coming to get you. There was no sense of dread whatsoever and the addition of a line where one could take a photo on the porch of the original house used in Psycho distracted from the back lot walk through greatly. I have seen way better from the Terror Tram and this year wasn’t on that list.
Each maze we visited was too packed with people for anyone to get truly scared. This problem has been a main set back for HHN in years past and it reared its ugly head once more. I really can’t delve too much into each mazes content. Where would the fun be in that? You need to experience them for yourselves. The attention to detail in each maze is outstanding and the cast is amazing as ever.
Some kills used that really bothered me were in the Silent Hill maze. If you are scared of the dark(literally) than this maze will freak you out times ten. Add to this an eerie soundtrack and some smells that no human could produce,Silent Hill was a pleasure to go threw.
I was thoroughly disappointed with both Universal Monster’s Remix and The Walking Dead mazes. Both lacked real scare factor and had far too many people in them to really warrant a jump out of me. Again though, set design and lighting made the mazes enjoyable if not scary.
One maze that surprised even me was Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D. The 3D was played out perfectly! Even better than it was described in press releases. The lighting this year was great in addition to the black light and red and blue paint. Everything in this maze works. The scares were legit and the actors were spot on. The best part of the maze is at the end when you travel to the center of hell. Remember this maze was based off of Dante’s original writing The Inferno and it played off both that and Alice Cooper’s music perfectly.
The last two mazes we hit were La Llorna and Texas Chainsaw: The Saw is Law. Both had their strengths but both did amazing jobs on scare factor and presentation than every other maze. TCM brought actual dialogue from Tobe Hooper’s original film and this made the maze super enjoyable since I love the film. Each section of the attraction was knee deep in gore and the actors were enthusiastically scaring people. La Llorna was a re-hash of last years maze and they made it even better. The larger than life use of prosthetics and set design detail made the maze eerie and more macabre than terrifying. All in all, these last two mazes made our trip well worth it.
I didn’t go too deep into detail this year since we were there at the very beginning of Halloween Horror Nights and usually, the scare actors need about a week to get into the real swing of things. Here’s hoping that this weekends event will raise the levels of fear for everyone who attends.
We look forward to this event every year and had a blast seeing so many fiends. May you enjoy HHN this year and get scared for us.
Details on “Halloween Horror Nights” are available at Halloween Horror Nights, on Facebook at: “Halloween Horror Nights – Hollywood” and on Instagram @HorrorNightsHollywood or #UniversalHHN. Updates from Creative Director John Murdy can be found on Twitter at: Twitter.com/HorrorNights, as he reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information.
“Halloween Horror Nights” continues on select nights through Wednesday, October 31. Event dates are: September 21, 22, 28, 29 and October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 31
(Photo Credit: Antonio Aceves)
Like what you see? Be sure to also visit Pissed Off Geek too for more news and reviews with a horrific edge. To stay up to date with the latest horror news and reviews from the site be sure to "like" Truly Disturbings's Facebook page and following us on Twitter!