Undoubtedly the scariest Halloween event in town is the annual Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights. And from what we’ve seen thus far, this year will scare the heck out of you.
“It’s even bigger than last year,” reported creative director John Murdy, who works with extreme horror make-up artist Larry Bones to head a team of innovative artisans who morph actors into ungodly creatures. There will be monsters and zombies, ghosts and goblins, everything that goes bump in the night around every corner at Universal Studios starting Sept. 20.
Last week at Universal’s Globe Theater there was an advance peek at the monsters being created for the event. Makeup artists, wig makers, costumers, and other creative studio personnel demonstrated their skills at changing mortal human beings into frightening creatures. Some members of the media also volunteered to get a few fake scars to personally understand the craftsmanship that goes into the horror creations.
In order to make Halloween Horror Nights a spectacular experience for everyone, Murdy explained, “Every year we go into it mentally thinking, ‘How can we top ourselves?’ And that motivates this relentless pursuit of horror perfection, worthy of the studio that produced the most loved horror movie classic of all time, Frankenstein, Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, Psycho, etc. One of the exciting things that makes this year extra special is that we’re taking our guests to an area where we’ve never taken them before on the famed Universal backlot. That’s our Metro set location, and that’s going to house two different mazes, and also a new scare zone, so it’s really neat to be able to use that part of our famous backlot.”
Halloween Horror Nights begins Sept. 20 and runs on 21 selected nights through Nov. 2, creating a long, exciting Halloween weekend. The event features a slate of film production quality mazes, terror-filled Scare Zones, and a fully re-imagined “Terror Tram” experience uniquely themed to the hottest definitive horror properties.
Murdy said, “We really just try to give our fans the ultimate fan fulfillment of the properties that they love. So no matter what that property may be, we treat it with the same passion as with everything that we do here. We try to get into the head of the greatest uber-fan there is and showcase their favorite properties, figuring if we can get it right for them, then everyone else will dig it.”
Attractions will include “The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven,” based on AMC’s hit zombie show; ”Evil Dead: Book of the Dead,” inspired by Sony Pictures’ remake of the cult classic; “Black Sabbath 13 3D,” based on the legendary heavy metal band’s darkest lyrics; “Insidious: Into the Further,” based on the 2010 film thriller and the upcoming sequel Insidious: Chapter 2; and destined to get the bodies moving, “The Universal Monsters Remix: Resurrection” featuring the music of Artist/DJ Figure. New original scare zones include “The Purge” and “The Curse of Chucky,” both based on unforgettable Universal horror movies.
Last year horror fans embraced The Walking Dead attraction, and since “the zombies are the hottest thing on television, we’re working with them again,” said Murdy. “But the great thing is, it’s a new year, it’s a new season, and that means new characters, a new environment, and that means an entirely new maze. Last year we featured a big zombie tank, now we’ve brought in a real helicopter. It’s big, and I don’t even know where we got it. I thought we were going to build it, but I literally saw a truck driving it on to our backlot today when I arrived this morning. They’ll set it up in the Walking Dead maze. We came up with that idea, obviously based on that memorable scene from the show. We really didn’t have any idea how we were going to do it, but now I can see we figured it out, that it just had to be a real helicopter, so that’s what it’s going to be. That’s my creative team hard at work. And there’s an entirely new terror tram with the Walking Dead theme.”
Last year’s fright festival was a sell-out, so Murdy advised to get tickets early, in advance of the lines of zombie-like bodies lined up at the Universal gates. “Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights has grown so big over the years because we know our fans, and I engage with them and talk to them year round on Twitter,” Murdy noted. “They’re ready for the best experience of their lives.”