Alright! One of my favorite times of the year is taking the trek out to Universal Studios in Hollywood for their annual Halloween Horror Nights extravaganza. After transforming the theme park from a boring daytime adventure, you’re transported to a place full of famous horror icons, stilt walking clowns, and overpriced cold churros. This being my 6th year at the event, I’ve seen mazes built around the likes of Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, and even My Bloody Valentine. Would this year top previous years, or would it make me regret paying $25 for preferred parking? Let’s take a look at the 6 mazes from worst to first:
Universal Monsters Remix: Ok – of course this one would end up on the bottom of the list, but I do have to eat my words a little or at least nibble on them. The dubstep music wasn’t as distracting or annoying as I previously thought, but overall the maze just isn’t that scary. There’s the Wolf Man and Chucky and a DJ/dancing girl combo in the middle of a strobe effect club scene. Maybe if they had a zombified version of Rerun from What’s Happening come busting out some pop-locking moves, I would have enjoyed it more.
The Walking Dead – Dead Inside: Well, this one hurts. If you’re a fan of the TV series or the comic, chances are you walked out of this one shaking your head. And if you were one the many to stand in the 2 hour (yes….2 hour) wait to see this, you most likely felt the need to punch someone in the face afterwards.
While they capture a few of the iconic scenes from the TV show (bloated well zombie, torso crawling walker), not incorporating any live action scenes with actors really hurt this one. You mean to tell me that they couldn’t get a T-Dogg lookalike to stand around and keep saying “Awww hell no!”? A huge letdown and I really needed to go buy a $10 soda after this to wash the bad taste out of my mouth.
Alice Cooper Goes To Hell 3D: Taking a cue from the House Of 1000 Corpses 3D maze of the last two years, we get to be transported into the twisted mind of the one and only Alice Cooper in multicolored neon 3D fashion! Not really scary, but visually amazing, you walk through Alice’s version of the “7 Deadly Sins”. Overall, the 3D is more effective here than in the House Of 1000 Corpses maze, but because of the low number of scares – this one falls somewhere in the middle for me.
Welcome To Silent Hill: Having been a fan of the video game series and of the visuals of the 2006 movie, I was curious to see if this one would impress. Immediately, you hear the air raid siren, insinuating that the darkness is indeed coming. All of the usual suspects are here: stilt walking Pyramid Heads, sexy no face nurses who lunge knives at your penis, and of course little Alessa in her purple dress. In the end, you’ll run into some pink bunnies that will make you think of a gift from Aunt Clara to Ralphie. This maze had some good scares and did a good job of capturing the feel of the game and movie. My wife now wants to see the movie based of off her experience through the maze, so mission accomplished!
La Llorona – La Cazadora De Ninos: This one blew my mind last year, so I was happy to see it back again in the revamped version based off of the Mexican folklore story about a woman who drowns her children to be with a guy, then kills herself. You begin by walking into a very creepy church scene where cloaked mourners lunge at your from their pews. As you make your way through, they really top themselves on every turn with impressive and freaky prosthetics and effective sound design. Even better than last year, La Llorona almost took the top spot for best maze. Unfortunately, a certain human flesh mask wearing gentleman wasn’t having that.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – The Saw Is The Law: Wow. Leading up to this one, the iconic camera sound from the original Tobe Hooper classic booms out of the speakers. Walking into the house, chickens are clucking and you actually feel like you’re in the movie and even look around to see if there’s an annoying guy in a wheelchair somewhere. Using the darkness to it’s advantage, this maze had a ton of scares and enough nods to the original movie and even the sequel, to make any horror geek grin from ear to ear. Oh and did I mention the smell of meat and shit for that extra added effect? Surprisingly, I was hungry after leaving this one. Easily the top maze of the year for me.
So there you have it. My 6th year at Halloween Horror Nights is in the books. Also need to mention the Terror Tram, which with a Walking Dead theme this year, takes you on the studio backlot and drops you off to walk around. Exploring movie sets and even the original Psycho house (picture ops this time, which was nice), make this one enjoyable each year and they do what they can with it to bring the scares.
So, in closing, if you’re a fellow Californian or want to come visit from out of town, I highly recommend it. But I also highly recommend getting the Front Of The Line passes unless you want to wait 2 hours to see a crappy version of the Walking Dead maze (sorry, had to take a parting shot). So until next year Halloween Horror Nights, here’s to you for once again for quenching my horror thirst. Now can we please get a Hellraiser or Exorcist maze???