Last Friday, we had the opportunity to check out Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights event as well as the annual Eyegore Awards at Universal Studios’ Globe Theatre. The event was as genre star-studded as ever – including having “the chin” himself, Bruce Campbell in attendance! I have covered several Eyegore Awards and never has he shown up until now – it was a real treat. The Eyegores were hosted by McKenzie Westmore, host of SyFy’s FaceOff, and even saw Black Sabbath making an appearance. Other celebrities of note were Melissa Mcbride from AMC’s The Walking Dead as well as Corbin Bernsen, Jason Blum, and Leigh Whannell. Click here to jump down to our Eyegore Awards photo gallery or continue reading to find out how the night unfolded.
After exiting the award show, we entered the 2013 Halloween Horror Nights via “London Street” – an area where, a few years ago, the park installed theming from Shaun of the Dead (it was awesome). This year, however, it was home to Chucky, the killer doll. Definitely not as exciting of a theme, but the area had a lot of cool props to look at. Also at the event this year is a street zone using the thriller/horror film, The Purge, as its motif. Both street areas worked well for park-goers and there was a definite energy to the monsters. Perhaps it is better training by their talent captains or perhaps it was just the first night. Either way, they were doing very well at scaring guests and staying in character. The most creepy scare zone of the park had to go to the French killer clowns of “Cirque Du Klownz”. Clowns are scary enough – let alone French ones!
As a big fan of movies in general, I was looking forward to walking down “New York Street” in the Universal Studios backlot. It has been a filming location for an incalculable number of motion pictures. This year, both The Walking Dead : No Safe Haven and Black Sabbath: 13 3D haunted mazes were located in this backlot area. Unfortunately, guests were unable to walk down the main street of New York Street, having to settle instead for the backside of this location. Still, it was pretty cool, but not quite what I was hoping for.
The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven, took guests through some of the events in the last season of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Some notable zombies made appearances – including the one that ate Lori. This maze’s outer prison facade was of excellent design and totally sold the experience from the outset. Once inside, it only continued to get better and the maze features the best automated prop scare I have ever had. Unless it happened to the group right ahead of you, you won’t see it coming and it was very effective.
Black Sabbath: 13 3D was the most expensive album advertisement I have ever seen. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me as a haunted house. The 3D effect, while entertaining, was simply not used as well as it has been in the past and, unfortunately, we saw at least two props from the SAW maze from a while back. Additionally, it looked as though some of the gimmicks and wall pieces were taken directly from their House of 1000 Corpses maze too. If true, this re-use is very out of character for the event, which prides itself on high production values every year.
Insidious: Into the Further, did an excellent job of taking guests through the events and set pieces of the two Insidious films. The Insidious series is known for its highly theatrical style and in-your-face jump scares. The maze followed this perfectly. Our only complaint with it was that it seemed (and smelled) like they re-used some of the wall pieces from last year’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre maze. Also, there were a couple areas of the maze where it clearly looked as thought monsters were supposed to occupy it and simply were not doing so for whatever reason.
Evil Dead, like the Insidious maze, does a great job of letting guests live through the movie’s plot and has a couple of the most awesome, high pucker factor, gimmicks that I have ever seen. Think power tools and get ready to cringe. Another excellent part of this maze was how they handled the “Mia” character throughout. Sometimes, she would be actively scaring – other times, she was simply standing there, laughing creepily at guests while they walked past. This must be taxing for the actress playing her but, it is very effective at breaking up the flow of frights. Also, there are some water gags in this maze, so watch out for your delicate electronics.
The Terror Tram once again took park-goers through the same route as last year which, depending on your point of view, is good or bad. I find it a tad repetitive. They once again use the chainsaw brigade at the first step in the off-tram tour. The problem is that the brigade members are dressed as the “tactical gear” zombies from third season of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Zombies don’t use chainsaws… Overall, I was disappointed with the terror tram – the best parts of the experience being that you get to walk right past the Bates Motel and house from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
The Universal Monsters Remix: Resurrection featuring the Music of Figure haunted house had the best climate control out of any we walked through as it is housed in the park’s year-round haunted house experience. The music was fun and kept a great tempo and the new takes on classic Universal monsters were a lot of fun.
El Cucuy: The Boogeyman featured the voice talent of Danny Trejo (From Dusk ’till Dawn, Machete), and had some well-made, albeit disturbing imagery and props of dead children. This is not surprising, as El Cucuy is basically the Mexican legend of the boogeyman who abducts children. Taking it even further into the realm of shocking, El Cucuy has a habbit of dismembering the children, stuffing their insides with pumpkin guts, then baking them on high for 30 at 350, served with a nice Chianti. So the cooking and serving instructions may not be true, but the grizzly rest is. Overall, I dug that this maze tried its best, and succeeded, at being disturbing.
Overall, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights is an excellent haunted attraction guaranteed to both entertain and scare you. While some of the elements took our group out of the experience, the event features some really awesome high points to balance those low ones out. You can get ticket information and more at the Halloween Horror Nights official website. There are multiple tiers of ticketing – we recommend the more expensive, but very-much worth it, Front of the Line pass. While we were there, wait times ranged from 40 to 120 minutes – and having one of those passes really helps the night go smoothly.