It’s that time of year again! Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights” just celebrated it’s opening weekend this past Friday and Universal was kind enough to provide press access for Horrorbid! For those not familiar, Halloween Horror Nights is the annual Halloween event at Universal Studios where the theme park is transformed into a living nightmare! Chainsaw wielding clowns, zombies, and other armed maniacs are waiting around every corner for their next victim. This year’s scare zones included: Scream, Klownz, Zombieville, Freaks, and Reapers. This years Terror Tram was themed as Scre4m for Your Life! The most important part of the event is the one of a kind mazes! Halloween Horror Nights is known for its movie inspired mazes. This year the mazes were as follows: Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses in 3D Zombie Vion, Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare, Eli Roth’s Hostel: Hunting Season, The Thing: Asmilation, The Wolfman: Curse of Talbot Hall, and La Llorona: Villa De Almas Perdidas.Before I get into the maze details, there is something else unique to Halloween Horror Nights. Every opening night, the annual Eyegore Awards are held. The Eyegore Awards recognize some of the top names in horror and is hosted by the one and only Corey Feldman. Previous Eyegore recipients include Tobe Hooper, Tobin Bell, Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Rick Baker, d Haig and many more. This year the Eyegore Award winners were David Arquette, Bailee Madison, Rainn Wilson, Alice Cooper,
Jamie Kennedy, and Emma Bell. Among the presenters were Thomas Jane, Rob Zombie, Calico Cooper, James Gunn, Adam Green and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The stage was decorated with a cornfield backdrop complete with a creepy looking cabin and a live scarecrow! The event was very enjoyable and definitely not something you get to see every day!
Walking into the entrance of Halloween Horror Nights is my favorite experience! It is dark, strobe lights are flashing, multi colored lights are flashing all around, deformed maniacs with chainsaws are chang guests around and best of all… Slit throat Go Go Dancers! You can tell just from walking into the event that good horrifying things are awaiting. As for scarezones, they all work the same way, but they are all different themes. At the beginning of the park it is clowns and different chainsaw carrying ghouls chang you. Zombieville was set in the New England themed area of the park and was complete with a Funeral Home Van with zombie warnings written on it in blood. Freakz was my favorite area. Inde it were escaped carnival freaks. An alligator man, 3 headed people, a bird man, and many more roamed the area. You can ealy enjoy a snack and drink watching these guys do what they do best: Scare the living hell out of the guests! On the lower lot was Reapers. Skeletons in trench coats with chainsaws were awaiting at the bottom of the escalators for some fresh meat, and they sure got it! Now, on to the highlights of the night, the mazes!
Note: Due to poor low light performance of my camera, none of my maze pictures were usable.
The Wolfman: The Curse of Talbot Hall.
This maze was held inde of the House of Horrors, Universal’s year round haunted attraction. This fit well because the theme of the House of Horrors is that you are walking through many of Universal’s clasc movie sets such as forests, dark caves, and laboratories. So add some werewolves and bloody victims and your set! There was somebody waiting to jump out around almost every corner. The Wolfman costumes were very good looking! It was quite scary to see one jump out as a big flashing strobe lit it up!
Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses in 3D Zombievion.
This is a returning maze from last year, and it definitely deserved it. This maze is one of a kind. The degn of it is near exact to the sets that are you in the movie. The outde of it is themed as the Museum of Monsters and Madmen. As you enter the museum you are soon greeted by Captain Spaulding and Ravelli. You then actually get to walk through the “World Famous Murder Ride”. Albert Fish, Ed Gein and Dr. Satan are all on display. Each is very milar to how it looked in the movie. Next you are out front of the Fire Fly home complete with scarecrows that are definitely doing their job. As you enter the house Tiny is surpringly well hidden and enjoys welcoming victims into his home. The use of stilts was very effective! As you walk through several of the rooms you meet Baby and Otis. Now it’s time to meet Dr. Satan. As you walk through the underground tunnels you see corpses nailed to the walls, undead ghouls popping out at you from both des, until you finally reach Dr. Satan’s lair for one final scare. The layout of the maze was the same as last year but the 3D was much better. Everything from the wallpaper on the walls to the blood covered corpses was in 3D.
La Llorona: Villa De Almas Perdidas.
La Llorona is this the first original maze that has made it’s way to Universal in a while. Last year La Llorona was scaring people on the Terror Tram. I didn’t really like it last year, so I was skeptical of the maze. I was proved wrong! This maze was so authentic and detailed! For those who don’t know, La Llorona is a ghost story about a women who drowned her 3 children in order to have a man she wanted, but when the man wouldn’t have her, she drowned herself. In Mexico, near water, you can still hear the women screaming for her children. The façade of this maze was the best of the year. It was a rundown church bell tower complete with eerie lighting and lightning strikes. You are then right in the middle of a church floor complete with mourners, some still, some not so still. As you make your way through the maze you will notice many pictures and unique Mexican props to help create the creepy atmosphere. I really like the use of “hidden statues”. There were many areas with statues and one or two would actually be real. I liked everything about this maze. As much as I enjoy the movie themed mazes, it was good to see an original maze.
The Thing: Asmilation.
This maze was dark, both in theme and in lighting! It really has me wanting to see the new movie now. You are waiting outde of the lab in Antarctica. A large snow vehicle is parked next to it, everything seems very quiet, dead quiet. As you enter the lab you see the huge block of ice that the Thing has escaped from. Soon after, you actually see the Thing. This is what I thought was cool about this maze, it’s not a slasher or murderer. They are creatures! The suits that were used to make the alien creatures were extraordinary. As well as suits, they used some animatronics as well as puppets. As you walk through the lab you encounter people being taken over by the thing as well as the creatures themselves. Many of the rooms felt like they had freezer units running which helped build the atmosphere. The use of dark rooms and areas really helped build on the creepy factor. I’ll admit that this maze got the most jumps out of me!
Eli Roth’s Hostel: Hunting Season.
This is the only maze I cannot fully make my mind up on. It had a equal amount of Pros and Cons. This was probably the maze I was looking most forward to of the whole event. The movie itself is practically like walking through a maze! As you are waiting in line, two Slovakian women are flirting with guests trying to lead them into the Hostel, much like the movie. As you enter you are immediately immersed into several of the key trap scenes in the movie. The first couple of rooms were cool, but then I noticed they were all essentially the same layout. There wasn’t much theming that could be done bedes a victim, torturer, and some torture tools. One of my favorite rooms was towards the beginning of the maze. You walk through the middle of 2 chain link fences and behind those fences are a multitude of different weapons. Eli Roth let Universal use many of his personal props that he kept from the film. The ending was the best of all the mazes, as you walk through a small space, an animatronic or puppet dog head bursts out of a hole in the wall and comes within inches of you. I was definitely not expecting it! Overall, I enjoyed the maze, but I felt it was a little repetitive. It was the goriest of the mazes, but still could have used more in my opinion.
Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare.
This maze gets the award as my favorite of the year! I knew Alice Cooper would deliver on something cool, but I had no idea just how cool it would be! This maze was not the scariest, but the coolest as far as content and theme goes. Every room was entirely different but Alice Cooper was the one common thing. The scare actors were wearing Alice Cooper masks. Normal Alice’s, Stiltwalker Alices, and Alice’s in different themed costumes were all over the place. The outde of the maze looked a bit like a small voodoo shack with the song “Welcome to My Nightmare” playing. Once you entered the tone changes, it is a dark run down cabin, an empty bedroom, with creepy muc playing. The door is covered in clown stickers and there is a bed with blood on it. There is so much to look at, and as you are looking, a pajama wearing Alice with a
chainsaw runs out from a closet! I’m pretty sure this maze had the largest area. You are then taken through various rooms of different nightmare themes. A cemetery complete with a guillotine, a hallway of demonic toddlers, a snake room, and even a mental asylum. The use of large puppets made some very cool animal props. There was so much going on in this maze it is tough to remember all the details! Definitely put this on your must do list!
Terror Tram: Scre4m For Your Life.
Ghost Face made his way on to the Terror Tram this year. The Terror Tram is a scare zone on the ultimate location: The Universal Back lot. More specifically, the Bates Motel, Psycho House, and War of the Worlds sets! The set up this year is that “Stabathon” is happening on the back lot. Stab 8 and movies including Zombiez on a Plane are also being filmed on the back lot. The perfect opportunity for Ghost Face to strike! He does just that! As you are dropped off near the Whoville sets, you encounter mutant soldiers with chainsaws that scare you towards the Bates Motel. Once there you walk along the rooms and witness those lly teenagers being butchered. You then go through a a mple maze of sheets and curtains, Ghost Face and victims hiding through out it. As you make your way up to the War of the Worlds set you encounter various ghouls and set pieces, all themed for the supposed horror movie shooting on the location. Throughout the War of the Worlds set is ghouls, plane crash victims, ghost faces and zombies. Overall, the Terror Tram was fun, but I think it’s time to change up the layout. It is awesome walking on the back lot, but the past 4 years it has been the exact same layout. Time for something new and fresh!
Here is a video I cut together showing the highlights of the event.
Overall the event was a blast! Again I’d like to thank Universal for giving Horrorbid press access. I hope that reading this encourages you to make a trip down to Universal Studios Hollywood’s “Halloween Horror Nights”. If you do vit, I would really recommend purchang front of the line passes as waits tend to be near an hour long for most mazes. Get there early and start out on the lower level for best time saving.
For tickets and all other information vit Halloweenhorrornights.com
Concept Art from Halloweenhorrornights.com