This year at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 24, the terror is everywhere. The event takes on a huge variety of scares, screams and nightmares from classic horror icons, to television terrors. There’s such a great eclectic mix of blockbuster franchises, and original ideas that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Once you’re inside the the dark mazes, you are at the whims of the creators, and many times you’re left with the burning question “How’d they do that”? If you’re the type that loves the horror that’s created, and you want to see more, then we have a treat for you! As in past years, Universal Orlando offers a unique Behind the Screams tour that allows you to “Unmask the Horror”. The tours allow you to get behind the scenes and not only see the houses with the lights on, but also get little tidbits of the making house, including special hidden things that you may not notice with the lights off as you’re screaming your way through. This year there are two tours, which gives you a total of six houses. We’ll take you through each house one by one, and give you a photo tour, as well as some little hints and information about the house. Are you ready?
Unmasking the Horror #1-Alien Vs. Predator
Alien Vs. Predator is probably the first big mash up of fan favorite franchises in history. It originally happened in comics, and was later brought to film. The maze is a mix of all the different properties, be it comics, films and even video games. There is not one specific property that the house comes from. When Universal went to Fox about making a house based on the characters, they originally wanted a house based on Alien. Fox came back with “Why not Alien vs. Predator”. You don’t get that kind of offer and turn it down. So the team came up with an all new story that is exclusive to Halloween Horror Nights. Since the house was used at both Universal Studios Florida and Hollywood, the story for each changed.
The whole story takes place in a Weyland Corporation research facility. The facility is set up in on the crash site of a Predator ship. If the facade looks familiar, it’s because part of it was used for Interstellar Terror in 2008. Once inside, we can see that the crash victims are still alive, and the Aliens have taken over the researchers.
As guests round the corner, and go into the facility further, we come face to face with the first of many Xenomorph puppets. Xenomorphs are commonly referred to as the Aliens. Like last year’s An American Werewolf in London, the Xenomorphs are puppets, operated by an actor who can see guests as they walk in. Each puppet is huge, ranging in about five to six feet in height. Most of the puppets even have the signature “tongue” inside the mouths of the Xenomorphs, making it difficult to operate. However, when the lights go off, and the Aliens are in full force, it’s an amazing effect.
One of the only times we get a really good look at the Predator is when one is on the operating table. We see that he’s had a chestbuster come out and it’s pretty much dead. This is a distraction scare. While you’re looking at the massive Predator on the table, you are gotten from the side by a researcher who has been sprayed with the acid blood. The glowing blood of the predator? It’s a mix of the chemical inside glowsticks and KY jelly. Very cheap, and very effective.
If you get a good look at the Aliens themselves, from all stages they look very sexual in a horrifying way. That was by design. A Swiss surrealist painter, H.R. Giger designed the look of the aliens from all stages. Director Ridley Scott was intrigued by the painters “Necronom IV” which showed a very human, yet alien creature. Giger took the approach that the aliens should retain a human look, but in a mechanical form. On the outside you see tons of exo-skeletal structures, but inside, specifically the facehuggers is very fleshy.
One really cool effect is that as guests walk by a series of windows, they are looking outside. The landscape is of course designed after the jungle in the first Predator film. It’s a distraction as well, because as soon as you see it, a facehugger comes slamming against the glass.
One iconic moment from any of the Alien films is the use of Androids. It was a particularly horrifying moment when the Android, after losing his head would speak, talking of the survivors chances. In the maze we get an “Ash-like” android, with an eye that actually follows guests as they walk by. The character also talks, and just as in the films, speaks logically after being so crazy. It’s an eerie effect that works amazingly.
To effectively demonstrate the chestbusters, the maze uses an actor with a chestbuster puppet. The actor simply slides in behind the puppet and then manipulates the puppet using his hidden hand. It’s a very effective scare that works to startle and distract.
One final scare comes from a vent Alien which is situated in a crawl space. This comes from out of nowhere for guests as they are huddling down to get through a crawl through path in the maze. Crawl through paths are very effective and puts guests in a heightened state. You have things happening all around you, now you have to crouch down and crawl? It’s very effective at getting great scares.
The maze is most definitely very Alien heavy, though there are some very distinctive predator moments. That was by design. The Predators are hunters by nature, and staying hidden is key to a successful hunt. The predators are in several key scenes, and each one is absolutely huge. In several scenes the designers took several elements from the different films and brought the predators to life. There’s also the very cool effects that predators use. One effect is the camouflage. We see a Predator disappear right before our eyes through a mix of a live actor and a screen effect called Musion. We also see a key scene where the Predator is ripping off the skin of a human, using a dummy with tons of fake blood.
Slideshow-Check out even more of the little details from Alien vs. Predator
Unmasking the Horror is a great way to get the full effect of the mazes and to see some of the things you’ve missed. It’s also a great way to get pictures of all the little details, as pictures are fully encouraged. We have had the same tour guide, David, for the past two years and he does an amazing job. The tour guides are always great, and have plenty of patience to allow you to take tons of pictures, even to pose with the props. However, video is not allowed. If you haven’t done the event, it can be a bit on the spoilery side, so it’s best to wait until after you do the event to do the tour. However, while lights on is great, there’s nothing like seeing the mazes with the lights off. The Unmasking the Horror Tour runs only on event days. Each tour includes three houses, and there are two tours daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each tour runs $79 dollars for one tour, or $99 for both tours and last approximately two hours. For more information on Unmasking the Horror visit the official website by clicking here!
Stay tuned for more from Halloween Horror Nights, and more Unmasking the Horror Tours! Be sure to get social with us on Facebook, and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!