For the second time, I’ve been lucky enough to attend Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights. Basically, Universal Studios decks out the park for Halloween, creates mazes based on horror films, and has masked people running around the park scaring patrons. It’s similar to Knott’s Scary Farm, but with more elaborate mazes (although there are fewer). If you live in the Los Angeles or Orlando area, it’s definitely worth attending for the dedicated horror fan.
As soon as you step through the gates, the world is transformed into a scary movie buff’s paradise. Fog-filled streets, men with chainsaws running at you, blood-covered clowns breathing down your neck, and a vast array of sounds and colors to craft a spooky atmosphere. My first visit had Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface mazes, with a psychotic clown killer theme running throughout the park. This year the chosen horror films were Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, Saw, and Child’s Play.
The Halloween Maze: “The Life and Crimes of Michael Myers”
This was probably my favorite maze and I am completely biased because I’m a crazy fan of Halloween. While we were waiting in line, you could see the silhouette of young Michael murdering Judith in the window of the Myers’ house, while the original sound from the film played. Inside the Myers house was a labyrinth full of dead bodies from the Halloween films. They had a couple of deaths from the Zombie film, but most of them focused on the original. There was a great re-enactment of the laundry scene, where Annie washes her clothes wearing nothing but a shirt. It was also fun to see Bob’s body pinned to the wall by a large butcher knife. My favorite bit was probably where Linda was messing around on a bed and Michael (dressed in the sheet and with Bob’s glasses) came out and choked her. There were a couple parts that of the maze that made me jump, as Michael Myers sprung out at me from a closet or when a decapitated corpse suddenly stands up. I was also surprised to see that Halloween 3 was included in the fun. A TV was playing, as well as the Silver Shamrock song, and there were bodies lying around with the pumpkin mask on. This was probably the most detailed maze in terms of recreating scenes from the actual films and I’m glad they mainly stuck with the original film as opposed to the remake.
The My Bloody Valentine Maze: “Be Mine 4 Ever!”
The mine stalked by Harry Warden was probably my second favorite maze. The design was fairly elaborate and had some great scares. I was happy to see references to both the original and remake in the maze. The best part was a room in which all of the miner costumes are hanging down and you have to walk through them, which was inspired by one of the best scenes in the 1981 film. One of the 6-foot-tall actors dressed as the killer miner charged through the swinging wardrobes, scaring the life out of the people behind us. I had a blast with this maze.
The Saw Maze: “Game Over”
This maze wasn’t as scary as the others, but it did have some fantastic set pieces. A man’s head locked in a tank of water, the naked frozen girl (with ice chunks covering you know what), the face removal of Jigsaw, Amanda digging through a pile of needles, and many other gruesome discoveries awaited us in the maze. I’ve only seen the first three installments of the Saw franchise, so I’m sure I missed out on a few references here and there. Of course, there were people in red robes with pig masks charging after people with chainsaws inside the maze and while you waited in line.
The Child’s Play Maze: “Chucky’s Funhouse”
Although they utilized the only part of the park already set up as a haunted house, it was my least favorite maze by far. Since it is normally the House of Horrors attraction, the atmosphere was dissolved by the sights of Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy and other Universal Monster paraphernalia throughout. While you were in line, they had a Chucky puppet controlled and voiced by an actor that was pretty funny. He would make fun of park goers and make snide jokes. There was also a midget dressed up as Chucky running around the maze, which freaked people out. However, the scares and sights just weren’t working for me with this maze.
The Terror Tram: “Live or Die”
Instead of the usual tram tour, you are dropped off on the backlot and have to walk through a large area decked out with villains from all the featured franchises. While on the Saw-themed Tram, we were shown a video that was dressed up like one of Jigsaw’s games. He told us that he gathered us horror movie lovers together to test our fascination with death. It was a hilarious video—a satirical piece on the notion that horror fans and filmmakers are sick people. When you are dropped off, you have to walk through the Bates hotel and the Psycho house. While there, you not only see Norman Bates and his mother but also Dollface from The Strangers. Along the path, there are tons of dead bodies that were surprisingly gruesome at times. In particular, I saw a great impaled body at the site of an airplane crash (the set from War of the Worlds). One of the best parts about the backlot was a Halloween 6-inspired scene. We had to walk through hanging sheets, while Michael Myers jumped out from behind the sheets and fences. As a kid, I always thought that scene when Debra gets killed by the sheets was scary. All in all, I was impressed by the attention to detail and how much they catered to fans who were actually familiar with death scenes from the franchises.