Going to a haunted house in September is a bit like drinking egg nog in October – it doesn’t quite feel the same. But when ‘front of the line’ tickets to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights went on sale last month and were close to $100 cheaper for September than October, that’s pretty much a no-brainer. Regardless of the September aspect, once again Universal didn’t disappoint (well, except in a few spots) and if you read on I’ll give you my thoughts on all of the madness!
This Is The End 3-D
Ok. Let’s start at the bottom. Now look – I honestly love This Is The End as a movie. But having a maze two years after the movie was released, and just having a maze for it in general, makes me scratch my head until it’s bloody and raw. Actually, me sitting in the maze and having people watch me scratch my head until it’s bloody and raw would be more entertaining than what this maze offered. And in 3-D nonetheless? Ugh. The 3-D is tired and it needs to be retired. Was I really looking at just the names of Seth Rogan and James Franco written on a wall in 3-D? That’s entertaining. I’ll give it one Dirty Horror head for the camouflage demons at the end of the maze, but that’s it!
(1 out of 5)
The Walking Dead: Wolves Not Far
I think this is the third year now (as least that I’ve been to) with a maze revolving around The Walking Dead at Halloween Horror Nights. Previous ones have been disappointing to say the least, so I had high hopes that they would get it right this time. Good news is that it was better. Bad news is that it wasn’t by much. The main difference this time was the maze length. Easily the longest this year out of all of the mazes and maybe ever. But longer doesn’t necessarily mean better, right ladies? I actually got somewhat bored (and this is from an avid watcher of The Walking Dead btw) and was kinda of anticipating the exit at the end of the maze. There were some cool set pieces from the show that dealt with Terminus (human cattle throat slashing) and also the revolving door scene which was a highlight from last season. Overall though, it was still pretty ‘meh’ and I’d be in favor of retiring The Walking Dead and moving on to something else next year.
(2 out of 5)
Crimson Peak: Maze Of Madness
This might be the first maze I’ve gone through without seeing the actual movie first. Considering that Crimson Peak doesn’t come out until October 16th, most who go to Halloween Horror Nights this year will be getting a glimpse of the movie in the maze before seeing it. I’m excited for the movie, and the even without seeing it yet, I can confidently say that the maze nailed the feel of it. Sticking out to me were the numerous spots that had the Mother Ghost dressed in black, the bathtub room, and a pitch black room where ‘someone’ or ‘something’ touched my neck. Shudder. This maze seemed to lack big scares for me, but the overall atmosphere hit the right notes and left me a satisfied Crimson Peak maze camper.
(3 out of 5)
AVP: Alien Vs. Predator
While this is pretty much a note for note redo from last year’s maze, the detail involved with it can’t be denied. We get numerous Alien and Predator actors in full on realistic costumes popping out quite a few times, a window breaking Alien chomping on a poor female victim, and of course the GIGANTIC surprise at the end. Quality wins over redundancy here, so I have no problem giving this maze a high rating again.
(4 out of 5)
Insidious: Return To The Further
Maybe my most anticipated maze of the night because I missed it a few years back, Insidious: Return To The Further nailed the overall vibe of the first three movies and may have even made me jump one or two times. I said may have. There’s something extra creepy to me about the Bride In Black, and she pops up a lot here and even manages to choke a chick too (a nod to the end of the first movie). For those wondering, “Tiptoe Through The Tulips” is definitely in the house as well. Also in attendance is the Lipstick-Face Demon because how could it be an Insidious party without the Lipstick-Face Demon? He knows how to throw down! Every room in this maze had incredible detail and creepy scares (the doll sitting on the bed looked like it was going to come alive). Top notch shit and it actually tied another maze for the top spot on my list……..
(5 out of 5)
Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home
Oh yes. He did come home. Several years back in one of my first years at Halloween Horror Nights, there was a Halloween maze and I think I took it for granted. Because I realized how much I missed it and realized that you can’t have a Halloween-time maze function without the one and only, Mr. Michael Myers! The details in this one are pretty amazing and most of it is from the first movie (with a few Halloween III treats sprinkled in). There’s even a smelly room where Michael Myers ate a dog because as Dr. Loomis would say “He got hungry….“. Speaking of Dr. Loomis, he shows up in full character trying to stop an angry Michael Myers as he comes towards you. Kudos for that and for the random, but awesome, ending room with the mirrors. Welcome home, Michael!
(5 out of 5)
I didn’t get to do the Terror Tram this year, but I was ok with that because I’m kind of all ‘Purged’ out anyway. I did check out the Jabbawockeez dance show and was pretty impressed. If they’re back next year, which hopefully they will be, my one critique would be to make the overall theme of the routine more horror-related. Speaking of critiques, the ‘Scare Zones’ just have become more and more uninspiring and vacant. There’s literally none on the bottom level (I remember in the past having the bad guys waiting for you when you got off the escalator) and it kind of hinders the overall experience. Step up the ‘Scare Zones’, get rid of the 3-D mazes, and focus on more classic franchises and Halloween Horror Nights will keep heading in the right direction after a strong outing this year. Oh – and make sure you get a giant Simpsons donut before you leave because they’re amazing……