Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood has kicked into high gear with this year’s huge new event. The annual scare fest is bigger than ever, and boasts more houses and scare zones than ever before. This year Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood not only brings some of the largest horror films to life, but they also bring in some of the most talked about TV shows. Plus, this year, Halloween Horror Nights has brought an epic battle to earth with Aliens vs. Predator. We were able to check out the huge new line up this year. We’ll be giving you a house by house review of all the action, telling you what worked for us, what didn’t and even taking you inside the houses for yourself!
This year Universal Studios Hollywood pulls out all the stops with seven jaw dropping mazes, and five completely immersive scare zones. Alien Vs. Predator, Dracula Untold, The Walking Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn, An American Werewolf in London, and Clowns 3D:Music by Slash is this year’s line up. Each one offers a little something unique, and takes us on a trip through films and the creative minds behind Halloween Horror Nights.
We’ll take you maze by maze and tell you what we thought about each one with what worked, and what didn’t. We’ll also keep this as spoiler free as possible!
Puppets, clowns and sexy vampire strippers are all in this year’s line up. Universal Studios Hollywood brought out six all new mazes this year and went for broke with several of them.
Alien Vs. Predator
This year Alien vs. Predator was a shared house. It was also done in Orlando. They both took Alien and Predator and brought them together. Many people have said that it’s based on the games, others say the films. They’re all wrong. For this brand new maze, the creative team, along with Fox, broke out an all new story. In Hollywood, there’s a crash landing in the mid-west, where two species are let loose. The Alien is set free from it’s prison, and the Predator must stop it. The only thing, it’s not a hero, because the Predator will come after humans too.
What Works-This year Hollywood’s strongest maze is by far Alien vs. Predator located all the way in Soundstage 747. This maze takes HHN Hollywood’s to a whole new level introducing and fully realizing its soundstage environment. The maze itself takes it’s inspiration from Alien vs. Predator Requiem (2) as a Predator ship had crashed containing Alien specimens who have begun ravaging a small town in the mid-west. AVP is nothing short of one of the best mazes Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood has ever produced. From it’s great theming, amazing puppetry, and its top notch, large scale sets. Not to mention one of the coolest finale rooms we’ve ever seen.
What Doesn’t- Fans of the series can pick it apart, but for us, it’s pretty much Mary Poppins. Practically perfect in every way.
The Walking Dead: End of the Line
For a third year the dead have returned, as the Walking Dead on AMC begins its 5th Season. The facade of the maze is familiar, The prison seen last year with a few changes, now it’s been attacked by the governer. Riddled with bullets and now with a tank crashed into it’s walls the Walker have entered the gates. Inside the maze, the first 1/4 of the maze features scenes that have been reused from last year. The rest of the attraction is completely new and includes the Big Spot grocery story, a morgue as well as the iconic tunnel towards the end of the season.
What Works-Despite a lot of the props and scenery being reused, the feeling here is completely fresh. Despite this being similar to last year’s maze in some parts and the 3rd year in a row for The Walking Dead, the maze continues to have some of the largest scale and most detailed sets and best talent.
What Doesn’t-Maybe we just suffer from Walker fatigue, but as fresh as the house felt, it seemed like more of the same. No matter how great the house is, The Walking Dead is still the Walking Dead.
Video-Make it to Terminus in the all new Walking Dead:End of the Line
Dracula Untold:Reign of Blood
The story of the most famous blood sucker is back with an all new twist, and an all new film. The film comes out in October, but the maze offers guests a way to get a special sneak peek by walking into the film, and seeing it come to life.
What Works –Dracula’s appearance at HHN Hollywood is that it completes the circle of horror. Clowns, Zombies, Werewolves, Aliens and of course it wouldn’t be Halloween without Vampires. Not to mention some beautifully done outdoor scenic locations inside of the maze add a unique dimension to the mazes small footprint.
What Doesn’t – The theme. While Halloween Horror Nights prides itself in putting you inside the horror movies. There is something about Dracula that just doesn’t sit right. Perhaps it’s because the movie hasn’t come out yet. The reason people love mazes like AVP and AWIL are because they’ve created memorable moments that fans want to see in person. Dracula feels passive, but hopefully that will change when the movie comes out. It always seems to be a problem when there is a property based on a film that hasn’t come out yet. You like some of the stuff happening, but you don’t understand the rest. Overall, beautiful maze.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Based more on the El Rey network show, and less on the hugely successful film, From Dusk Till Dawn takes place in the … Twister. An army of blood thirsty snake worshiping vampires lure people into the huge Aztec Temple, which just happens to take on the disguise of a strip club.
What Works- The talent in this maze is wonderful, both outdoors and in. The barker especially caught our eye and attention. He was wonderful! Inside the maze things get a bit sexy as the maze is occupied by lots of half naked stripper vampires. Not that that is a bad thing. The set design comes straight from the TV show as lots of memorable moments are recreated and explored. The new location is also wonderful! The backlot experience continues to grow.
What Doesn’t- Those who are unfamiliar with the TV show will probably be confused since this maze does not tell a linear story that some other mazes. It’s more of a series of scenes that happened to take place in the inner bowels of The Twister. Fans of the original film will see some familiar faces and scenes though. Plus, HHN is a PG-13 event. Can’t we get a little Titty, even if it’s just on the club title!
An American Werewolf in London
An American Werewolf in London is the classic John Landis film about an American who goes backpacking through Europe, only to be attacked by, and turned into a damn werewolf. Hate it when that happens! This is the second time that the film has been brought to life, the first being in Orlando last year. This year the team at HHN Hollywood have a go at it, and use not only puppets, but huge animatronics to bring the film to life.
What Works- This maze was awesome! Fans will absolutely love this one. The werewolf puppets are some of the scariest things HHN Hollywood has ever created. They’re fierce, fast and in your face. If you have a fear of rabid dogs, or animals on the attack, you will struggle with one. Using audio cues taken from the movie, the maze tells the story of American Werewolf in London with such precision. I could not have asked for a better attempt from the HHN creative crew.
What Doesn’t – Tents. One small, and I mean small issue I had with AWIL, was that I wish there was a bit more room. It was very apparent that there was limited space due to the tent size. The maze was so well done that it just left me wanting a tiny bit more. Regardless, it was fantastic and fans will die for it.
Clowns 3D:Music By Slash
This is one of those weird story mazes. In Clowns, the story is about a bunch of clowns who run a tourist trap. When people become afraid of clowns, they stop coming. The clowns offer free ice cream once a year, but they end up killing those who show up for free ice cream and turning them into ice cream. So, according to John Murdy, he actually got the idea of Clowns from an article by National Public Radio. The head of the Clown Union was extremely upset that people just don’t like clowns anymore. They have Clown Colleges, and huge deals, but no one wants to be a clown. So what if they got a little too upset? Well, you might get something fun, but you wouldn’t have Slash, who provides the music for this all new maze.
What Works – Clowns does a lot of things very well where other clown mazes in the past have failed. The 3D is insanely vibrant and pops like no other 3D maze before it and the overall theme is creative and unique. There were a ton of fun gags that I had never seen before and the soundtrack that was provided by Slash is absolutely perfect.
What Doesn’t- Even though it was very well done, at heart it’s still a clown 3D maze, just with a beautifully written back-story.
Video-Get frozen with Clowns 3D
Face/Off: In the Flesh
Face/Off: In the Flesh takes some of the best creations from SyFy’s hit show FaceOff and brings them to life in this maze attraction. Housed in the former home of Universal’s House of Horrors. FaceOff also gives guests a final look at the iconic home of the classic Universal attraction.
What Works – The talent in FaceOff is all wonderful and it’s a ton of fun to be able to walk through the House of Horrors once more. The music by Figure is FANTASTIC! If you’re into dubstep.
What Doesn’t- Unfortunately since the format of the attraction is a maze, it doesn’t really give guests a good look at the costumes and make-up from Face/Off. The characters, as detailed as they are pop in and out way too quick. I personally believe a Scare Zone would have been much better for the concept.
Video- Face your fears in Face/Off: In the Flesh
This year there are more scare zones than ever before. They seem to be a huge mix of beauty, horror and just plain fun. With unique ideas like Dark Christmas, and Mask-A-Raid, merging with properties like chaos of The Purge, it’s a run of unique experiences this year.
The Purge: Anarchy
Upon entering the gates you are thrust into the demented world of The Purge. The hit Universal thriller where crime becomes legal for 12 hours one day each year. Guess what? The day you’re at Horror Nights is that day. Prepare to purge or be purged. This is Hollywood’s second year having this theme as it replaced the old Clownz theme. It seems to fit the overall feel of the event much better and creates a beautiful transition from the real world to the world of Horror Nights and your deepest darkest fears.
The overall theme and execution is the same as last year’s Purge scare zone, though there are a few bits and details from Anarchy which have been added in. The talent in this zone is great and they take their craft in crazy very seriously.
Video:Experience The Purge: Anarchy-UNLEASH THE BEAST
This year Horror Nights introduced a Scare Zone that quickly became a fan favorite. This is of course Dark Christmas. A twisted and demented take on your classic Christmas eve. Featuring the Krampus as well as demonic versions of Santa, Jack Frost, Elves and other creatures. This scare zone has won the hearts of many with it’s unique take on something we’re all familiar with. It was very apparent that the talent was having a ton of fun in this scare zone. We hope to see this theme again next year in some shape or form.
Video:Forget Santa, Krampus is coming for you!
The Walking Dead: Welcome To Terminus
The Walking Dead: Welcome to Terminus is a very unique scare zone as it acts as a transition from the theme park to the movie backlot. It’s more of a large scale walk through than it is a Scare Zone since it only flows in one direction. The theming is always top notch and it’s so much fun to walk through the historic Universal backlot.
Video:Welcome to Terminus! Have some BBQ!
Skullz is the smallest scare zone in terms of talent and theme. Though it does occupy a large area of the park. It features Indian inspired stilt-walkers wearing animal skulls and skins in a very tribal way.
Video: Something ancient has awoken. Survive Skullz
Last but certainly not least is the scare zone that was choses by the fans. Mask-A-Raid. This scare zone featured some gruesome Victorian characters who happened to have some cannibalistic characteristics. The scare zone has a bright vibrant color palate and featured numerous figures in all sorts of gruesome mini-scenes.
Video Coming Soon!
This year marked the first year since Halloween Horror Nights returned to Hollywood without a Bill and Ted show. Last year the show was cancelled at the end of the event due to some backlash from a “blogger”. The lack of any shows really effects the feel of the event, and doesn’t allow for an escape from the crowds, resulting in longer waits for the mazes. In the end, it’s just not Halloween Horror Nights without Bill and Ted. Hopefully they’ll come back in some shape or form in the not so distant future.
This year Halloween Horror Nights continued it’s evolution to the Backlot. Once Harry Potter comes to the upper lot it’s a safe assumption that HHN may be a Lower/Backlot event only, and we’re perfectly okay with that. The backlot offers one of the most unique locations for a Halloween event with it’s towering structures and huge amount of available space and nearby soundstages. The overall quality of mazes and talent has improved greatly. As mentioned before AVP is on a whole new level in terms of themed walk-throughs. That maze alone is worth the price of admission. The rest of the event was solid and up to par with years prior giving a feeling of satisfaction once the entire event has been seen.The only thing that it seems to be missing is of course the shows.
Overall Halloween Horror Nights is very solid. The event will run on select nights until November 1st, and will be changing all throughout the run. Keep checking back for more videos and pictures in the coming weeks.