UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD
Universal Studios Theme Parks
Halloween Horror Nights 2016
at Universal Studios Hollywood
- Review by Steve Rowin
Universal Studios Hollywood premiered their annual Halloween Horror Nights for 2016 last night. There were some changes from previous years, mainly the containment of Zombies to the new Walking Dead permanent attraction and the introduction of Eli Roth’s killer clown known as Hollywood Harry on the Terror Tram! Returning from a few season’s ago is “The Purge” scare zones, based on Blumhouse Films latest Purge movie release this past summer.
Unlike years past, with multiple scare zone themes, The Purge was the theme park wide. There were four major areas where guests encountered familiar characters from the lastest film. For me this was a welcome change as the Walking Dead was starting to get a little spoiled and the stench of rotting corpses was a little much. By for the best scary zone was on the lower lot in the city scape facades. We saw the teenage girls that attach the convenience store in the movie and their car. The guillotine used in the secret convergence put on by the powerful politicians was ready to go!
The Terror Tram was a bit shorter walk on the back lot skipping the hillside forest area and keeping the story of Hollywood Harry to the Bates Motel and the War of the Worlds area. The clowns looked good and we jumped several times despite it being really crowded.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre:
It's been 5 years since a group of unlucky teenagers had a fatal encounter with a chainsaw-wielding psychopath named Leatherface and his cannibal clan at an isolated farmhouse in South Texas. Despite the best efforts of law enforcement, the farmhouse was never found, the murder weapon was never recovered and the demented killers were never brought to justice. Emboldened by their ability to literally get away with murder, The Sawyer Family has decided the time is right to expand the family business! Now that ChopTop, Leatherface's mentally unhinged brother, has returned from war, the Sawyers are ready to take the slaughter to an entirely new level and bring their cannibal cuisine to the masses!
My take! As creative director John Murdy announced at Scary LA, this attraction takes place after the last film. However, we get all the great scenes from the film. My favorite was grandpa in his wheelchair with Chop top holding a person telling grandpa to hit him! (with a hammer on the head of course). “Dog will hunt!” Leatherface was at nearly every turn as we made our way through. And Leatherface is a big boy! (all of them!) The only thing I would have added is the smell of chili beans!
Welcome to Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield, the terrifying sequel to 2015's Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home, the highest rated maze in the history of Halloween Horror Nights! Picking up where the classic film ended, you'll experience the shocking final confrontation between Dr. Loomis and Michael Myers in the Doyle house, only to realize that the real terror is just getting started! As Dr. Loomis well knows, "You can't kill The Boogeyman." Michael Myers is still out there... relentlessly pursuing his prey from the sleepy streets of Haddonfield to the labyrinth-like hallways of the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital. You thought he was finished. But it was just the beginning. This night of nightmares isn't over.
My take! Last year “Halloween” was one of my favorites, particularly the mirror maze and the backyard sheets scene with Michael Myers with hints from part three. This year is centered more around the second film. Lots of live acting between Michael, Dr. Loomis in a hanut that essentially is a walk through version of watching the movie. As always the sets are as authentic as it gets! Overall I just wasn’t into this haunt as much as some others were.
Get ready to witness the The Exorcist, a terrifying new horror experience based on the "scariest film of all time." Inside the MacNeil house, a violent battle is raging. A battle between the forces of light and all the powers of Hell! At stake is not only the soul of one troubled girl, but the soul of anyone who sets foot inside the house. Something beyond comprehension is happening to a twelve year old girl named Regan MacNeil. Some dreadful entity has invaded her body, transforming the innocent young girl into a horrid creature that is unrecognizable to her own mother. A creature that has been possessed by a demon… possibly the devil himself.
The demon knows you're coming. Stay on the path of the righteous...and fear the darkness!
My take! Spectacular! Where Halloween feel short the Exorcist was a solid 11 on the fright-o-meter! Spinning head, levitation off the bed, it was top notch and I’m glad Universal finally did this one. As you can see from the photos, the face of Regan is full daylight ready. Meaning she looks great fully lit which is unusual as these types of attraction usually save on the budget by counting on the dark environment. It was also notable that the classic visual of the movie poster was pulled looking at this haunt from the outside. While the whole movie takes place in one room, producers said that their concept was to work from the “banned trailer” (see it on Youtube). Thus we see the images of the devils face as a prominent character throughout this experience.
Everyone knows the story of Santa Claus and how he brings toys to good little girls and boys on Christmas Eve. But what is less well known is what happens to the naughty children who don't make Santa's list. Who visits them on Christmas Eve and what terrible "gifts" does he bring them? You're about to find out! Welcome to Krampus, a horrifying twist on the Old World Christmas legend based on the 2015 hit film by writer/director Michael Dougherty. For centuries, parents in Europe have frightened their children with stories of Krampus, the malevolent version of Saint Nicholas who preys on bad children during the Christmas season. Now Krampus and his nasty little helpers have come to America, to terrorize those who have lost the meaning of Christmas. It will be a lesson you will never forget...if you survive it.
My take! Wow! Recreating the visuals of a frosted over hell ridden winter evening must have really challenged the scenic team. The smells of Christmas and evil gingerbread cookies was in full effect. This one wins overall set design hands down almost to the point of distracting from the fact that evil elves were after us. I just can’t say enough good things about how immersive this haunt was in bringing us into that night when Krampus arrives. Nicely done was the projection in the windows that let us look out onto that familiar street from the movie. Tip: If you meet the postman in front of the house tell him you like gingerbread and he will give you a Krampus postcard!
American Horror Story:
Step inside the twisted world of American Horror Story, the award-winning anthology horror series that’s been terrorizing TV viewers since 2011. Your journey begins at MURDER HOUSE, a century old residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles with a tragic past. The unfortunate souls who perished inside are forever trapped within its walls and each room harbors its own horrible secret. Your next stop is the creepy backwater town of Jupiter, Florida where a struggling FREAK SHOW has taken up residence. The human oddities on display inside the big top are nothing compared to the murderous men and women who fight to control this psychotic circus.
Finally, you will check in to the HOTEL Cortez, a ruinous relic of a bygone era that conceals a torture chamber of murder and madness! Inside the hotel’s haunted hallways lies a host of supernatural characters bent on making you a guest for all eternity.
My take! Clowns. Season 4. Best part! Fans will appreciate the blending of characters from this series. As you know I was into the clown scene and all the big top bright glowing artwork as I think the Clowns from American Horror Story are the scariest looking characters from the show. Check out the pics, it wasn’t my favorite but worthy none the less.
Freddy vs. Jason:
Welcome to Freddy vs. Jason, a new maze inspired by the 2003 film that brought together two of the biggest icons in horror history.Prepare to be thrust into the middle of an epic battle between Freddy Krueger, from A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Jason Voorhees, from Friday the 13th. It's a battle that rages through the twisted landscape of nightmares from the haunted shores of Camp Crystal Lake to the house at 1428 Elm Street. Your experience culminates in a final showdown amongst the burned out ruins of an abandoned boiler factory, where Freddy's evil legacy first began. In this fight to the death, someone must win and someone must lose! Will you make it to the end to find out?
My take! These two classic characters battle for our souls as we wander through their world between nightmare and being lost in the woods. Jason’s mother is roaming in the trees and this woman isn’t mentally stable! It was great to see legit acting in many of the haunts this year. I think that was a directive to bring the rooms to life and it was done well. The melting of these two stories really comes together in a part where we walk through a hall that morphs from Jason to Freddy’s boiler room. I’ve seen this before when Universal presented Insidious and it’s still a great effect! I have to say this was the best hanut of the night for me.