REMINDER: This is based on opening night experiences, this event evolves on a daily basis. What doesn’t work now might work perfectly in the not so distant future.
Halloween Horror Nights is back once again in Hollywood with a brand new horrifying set of IP’s ranging from The Walking Dead to Insidious. This year seemed to cover a very broad spectrum of themes filling the most diverse of Horror fans hunger for all things bloody, gory, and down right raunchy. Included in this year’s roster of houses includes Evil Dead, based Sony Pictures popular 2012 remake of the cult classic. Insidious which is inspired by the popular films directed by James Wan, this maze is one of the first to be based on two films instead of a single entity. Also on the lower lot is the Backlot Experience which features two more mazes. Black Sabbath 13:3D, inspired by the brand new ablum ’13’, this brand new maze pays homage not only to the new album but to the whole discography of the Prince of Darkness himself. The Walking Dead sits just next to Black Sabbath with a towering prison façade based on season 3 of the Walking Dead as well as a mini-scare zone as guests enter into the backlot area. On the upper lot sits Terror Tram, also themed to The Walking Dead, El Cucuy, a brand new original themed maze starring Danny Trejo based on the latin telling of The Boogeyman, and lastly Universal Monsters Remix ft. Figure, the popular Electronic Dance Music artist in this dubstep inspired re-imagining of classic Universal Monsters. This year is one of Hollywood’s biggest by far.
This year Halloween Horror Nights went under a major evolution due to the massive re-imaging of the park itself which includes the new Despicable Me/Super Silly Fun Land as well as the upcoming Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Because of all the construction going on, Universal lost 3 maze locations that were used on a year basis before, so they expanding the footprint of the event into the beautiful metropolitan sets that on the World Famous Backlot. Something Die-Hard HHN fans have been begging for for years. In addition to moving into the backlot a brand new maze location was created just between London and Paris streets fit snuggly into the Parisian Plaza. In this review we’re going to take you into every scare zone and every maze going into detail and sharing our thoughts without spoiling too much of the experience. First let’s start at the front of the park in an all new area based on The Purge.
THE PURGE: SURVIVE THE NIGHT
Brand new for this year, The Purge is based on the 2013 film of the same name. The theme revolves around the ideal that the scare-actors are murders, kidnappers, all around bad people taking advantage of The Purge. Armed with chainsaws, knifes, machetes, giant wrenches and did I mention chainsaws, the monsters wander the streets looking for their next easy targets… you. After many years of having the main frontal scare zone being occupied by KLOWNZ, The Purge is similar (utilizing the giant iconic flamethrower tower) but very refreshing at the same time. The theme is very creepy and feels right at home in its current location.
We take a video walkthrough of the all new scare zone:
CURSE OF CHUCKY
What is very clearly the smallest of the new scare zones with seemingly the smallest amount of Scare-actors, The Curse of Chucky is occupied by one giant personality. The Chuckster is back to continue his reign of terror over Universal Studios Hollywood. This was personally my favorite scare zone of HHN’13. It’s small, it’s intimate and it had some of the best scares of the entire night all thanks to actor portraying Chucky. This guy was constantly on his feet moving through the crowds like they were nothing and getting massive scares! Hats off to him and everybody working this zone. They felt like a team and set up scares, misdirected and worked together better than any other crew that night.
Get mini with Chucky in our walkthrough video-Wanna Play?
CIRQUE DU CLOWNZ
Adjacent to The Curse of Chucky sits the Cirque Du Clowns. It wouldn’t be Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood if there weren’t clowns somewhere in the mix. Located on the Paris street, this scare zone had some wonderful French inspired scenery, as well as some of the best lighting of any of the zones, but the talent was either hit or miss. They were either on top of their game or just roaming around not doing much giving guests creepy stares. It seemed to lack the intensity of The Purge and Chucky but was heightened in the levels of pure creepiness. It’s an interesting new scare zone. For those expecting the high energy and loudness of KLOWNZ may be disappointed, but it’s a new take on a classic theme and that is always a welcome thing in my book.
Get Klowning around with our full video walkthrough
Compiled of a team of highly skilled stilt walkers, Scarecrowz infest and take over the lower lot of Universal Studios Hollywood. I give the talents tons of credit for what they do, scaring people on stilts is not an easy thing to do and these guys make it look easy. They lunge, sometimes chase after guests and do things I had no idea that were even possible elevated 3 feet off the ground. Does the theme of Scarecrowz fit the talent of stilt walking? Yes, but it is certainly not the first thing I would think of if I heard stilt-walking-scare-zone. Unfortunately there is a major lack of horror scenery in this area due in part to the major traffic of being a 4 way intersection of the most popular mazes.
Go in the field wth Scarecrowz in our all new walkthrough!
THE WALKING DEAD: DEAD ON ARRIVAL
This is the brand new scare zone that is located on the world famous backlot. I wouldn’t exactly refer to this as a Scare Zone as much as I would refer to it as being a walkthrough to the main hub of the backlot area. In fact I went back into this area to grab a few photos and the walkers/talent seemed to want me out of the area. They blocked me from going back even bumped into me with their bodies sort of pushing me back into the main hub, it wasn’t the most pleasant experience. The area itself was done up beautifully and featured lots of cars, a tank, tons of fog and of coarse lots and lots of walkers. It’s an awesomely horrifying entrance into the new backlot location.
Get on the backlot with our full walkthrough!
Now onto the main event, the mazes. I am going to place each maze on this list in order, starting from my personal favorite to my least favorite.
THE WALKING DEAD: NO SAFE HAVEN
The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven takes the characters and locations of Seasons 3 of cable’s highest watched television show and brings them to life in a larger than life way. This is easily the highlight of Horror Nights Hollywood. Some even say it’s the best maze HHN Hollywood has created since the event returned to the park in 2006. Starting with the massive façade itself, No Safe Haven sets the bar high from the get go and doesn’t let go until the end of the experience. In this maze you get to walkthrough the famous prison, The Governer’s “man-cave”, into Woodbury and a whole array of other famous locations seen in the TV Series. If this is any indication of things to come, it’s safe to say that as long as The Walking Dead is popular, we’ll continue to see it at Halloween Horror Nights.
EVIL DEAD: BOOK OF THE DEAD
As a fan of Evil Dead, the originals and the new, I came in with fairly high expectations. Luckily for me I was not disappointed with this maze. Evil Dead follows the sequences in the film from the very beginning to the very end and complimented the movie excellently. Starting with the famous tree rape scene, then moving directly into the cabin you are constantly bombarded with high end effects and lots and lots of gore. Something the fans absolutely look forward to when Evil Dead is the subject matter. The talent was top notch, some of the best of the night not only acting faithfully to the characters in the film but also managing to find creative new ways on scaring park guests. This is a must do if you end up visiting HHN Hollywood this year.
INSIDIOUS: INTO THE FURTHER
Having not seen either Insidious or Insidious: Chapter 2, I cannot rate this maze as a fan of the IP but more or less as a fan of good haunts, and Insidious is just plain fun. It manages to make a seemingly horrifying movie, and mix a tiny bit of cheeseball silliness while not breaking the theme or character of the maze. Plus the setting and theme of this maze is hauntingly beautiful. Even though I have not seen either of the films the divide between both movies is more than obvious using the further in a very clever way to split the films apart, the end result is a maze that feels as if it has two separate parts and could work very well as two stand alone haunts themselves. Based on what I’ve seen of the film (a few scenes here and there) this is a very accurate representation of the source material and is a must do for horror fans, haunt fans and fans of James Wans’ Insidious.
EL CUCUY: THE BOOGEYMAN
El Cucuy tells brings the Latin version of The Boogeyman to life in this new maze. Filling in the footsteps of the hugely popular La Llorona maze from the last 2 years, El Cucuy definitely has some massive shoes to fill. Does it fill the Latin maze void that La Llorona held so perfectly in years past? Yes, and no. Universal’s portrayal of this monster was done excellently. He is a terrible beast that I would certainly never want to come into contact with. He lives under your bed, in your closet, he is everywhere, and could be anyone. It’s a truly horrifying concept when you think about it. The problem comes in the design of the maze itself. It’s two very different mazes in one. In one half you are being stalked by El Cucuy In various dark real world settings, A movie theater, a child’s bedroom, ect all narrated by Danny Trejo (who is perfect for this role). The second half feels more whimsical with a very pumpkin themed undertone taking place in El Cucuy’s lair with lots of dolls, and stuff animals as his trophies. It’s not a bad maze, but I think it struggles to fully realize El Cucuy’s horrific potential in a coherent way. But La Llorona suffered from similar criticism its first year, the next year it came back to be one of the nations best which keeps me very optimistic for future possibilities.
Universal Monsters Remix: Resurrection
Universal Monsters Remix is back again with an all new soundtrack produced by popular horror EDM artist FIGURE. For those who are unfamiliar with Monsters Remix, it’s an overlay to Universal Studio’s year round maze “The House of Horrors”. Remix then takes all the characters featured in the House of Horrors and upgrades and updates them for the 20th century to the sounds of Dubstep. Fans of Universal monsters will surely want to see and experience this years version. Also this year, the winners of SyFy’s Face/off from the Future Frankenstein are featured in Remix as well. It’s fun, it’s fresh, and it’s simple.
BLACK SABBATH 13: 3D
This maze takes the world as inspired by the legendary fathers of metal Back Sabbath! You journey through Universal’s interpretation of many of the classic Sabbath songs from their newest album 13, as well as some of their most iconic songs such as War Pigs, Iron Man, Paranoid, and much much more. Sitting right next to The Walking Dead, the differences between the two mazes are very apparent. While The Walking Dead has a dark grittiness to it. 13 has a vibrant, colorful, cartoonish aesthetic. The two mazes work next to one another solely due to their major differences. It’s definitely worth checking out on your next visit to HHN.
Check out our gallery of even more pictures from HHN Hollywood:
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
Full review coming soon…
This year HHN Hollywood had some difficulties relocated 3 mazes to brand new homes as a result of the park’s ongoing expansion. The relocation to the backlot was brilliant and made fanboys as excited as they’ve ever been about an HHN event, and the results were brilliant. The scare zones this year felt refreshing and fit the theme of Hollywood’s “branded horror” ideals. The Walking Dead, Evil Dead, and Insidous were all solid mazes from the get go. Universal Monsters Remix: Resurrection was just as fun as ever, and Black Sabbath and El Cucuy still have some growing to do but are bathed in massive amounts of potential that could easily be unlocked before the end of the event. We definitely recommended checking out Horror Nights if your a local to the park or visiting from out of state or out of the country. Just be sure to arrive early. Lines can get fairly long pretty quickly.
That does it for this review of Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood. Keep checking back for updated photo galleries and videos which are soon to come.
You can purchase your HHN Hollywood tickets here… http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/hollywood/2013/tickets.php