Thrilling Highlights: 2019’s Halloween Horror Nights

Megan De Lara, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Universal Studios kicked off its scare season on Friday, officially opening the gates to Halloween Horror Nights. The chilling event will be opened on select nights until November 3. Attendees will have a variety of cult and classic horror experiences to choose from.

This year the park has a full lineup of spookiness. The haunt is complete with 10 mazes, 5 “Scare Zones” and the popular show Jabbawockeez. The lower lot pays tribute to the 80s with mazes based on films Creepshow, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Netflix’s Stranger Things (set in the early 80s), and Ghostbusters. The upper lot is home to original mazes The Curse of Pandora’s Box and Holidayz in Hell. Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses and Jordan Peele’s Us are also located in the upper lot. In addition, Universal’s ode to black and white classics returns with Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man.

Veteran Horror Nights visitors know the lines are a nightmare of their own and without an Express or a multi-night pass, the chances of getting through all mazes in one night is low.

Here are some highlights to help create your must-see list:

(CAUTION – SOME SPOILERS AHEAD)

Ghostbusters and Us: Don’t pass ‘em up

Definitely two of the more detailed mazes, Ghostbusters and Us should not be missed.

Photo By Megan De Lara
A large-scale Stay Puft marshmallow man awaits maze-goers.

Based on the 1984 classic film, the Ghostbusters is an illuminating experience. Even those unfamiliar with the franchise will enjoy the effects that go into making the maze successful. Janine Melnitz makes an appearance with her usual telephone banter, and you get to see a “real” Ecto Containment Unit up close and personal. Slimer serves up some scares in his fluorescent green glory. And the Proton Pack streams seen during the Stay Puft battle look so real, they mesmerize you like a porch lamp to a moth. Though the movie is mostly a comedy, there are enough jump scares and Terror Dog-pop ups to keep you freaked.

Us is less flashy in the light department, but the eerie-feeling still comes in heavy. From the forest to the Wilson’s living room, The Tethered follow you from beginning to end. The blood is there, but at a minimum, so most of the scares come from quiet, unexpected surprises. Instead of the usual pop-outta-nowhere-and-scream spooks, a lot of the actors stand in plain sight. They are so still, though, they blend in with the rest of the props. Without any safe spots in the maze (because admit it, we all hope for those small areas of relief), the anxiety runs deep. It’s a real treat.

Back to gore with House of 1,000 Corpses; Killer Klowns scare with style

While slasher films may not be the main theme for this year’s haunt, House of 1,000 Corpses still keeps the gore at a level 10. The maze, based on Zombie’s 2003 cult classic, is probably the most bloody out of the bunch – and rightly so. There are dismembered body parts scattered from beginning to end, and Captain Spaulding is your creepy host for most of the adventure. The maze is not dimly lit, but this is necessary to see the detail of the horror. While there are jump scares, the set induces fear mainly through its visual aspects. And, do not fear, the maze is Rob Zombie fan approved.

“It’s a good maze,” Horror Nights attendee Kory Davis said. “I’m very happy about this maze in particular…I’m a huge Rob Zombie fan.”

Photo By Megan De Lara
The “Killer Klowns” have found their way into Horror Nights.

 

Another maze that does not leave much in the dark is Killer Klowns from Outer Space, but it is definitely worth a walkthrough. Even though everything is pretty bright, the alien clowns are enough to stir up discomfort. Much like the tricks in Ghostbusters, there is a lot of fluorescents in the maze, but it works perfectly to bring the bizarre atmosphere seen in the movie to life. There are plenty memorable scenes played out realistically, including an area dedicated to those deadly pink cotton candy cocoons.

 

Stranger Things and Creepshow are wickedly fun

This year, Universal brings the highly successful Netflix show to life yet again. Located inside one of the lot’s sound stages, Stranger Things goes through seasons 2 and 3 of the current series. We get an immense glimpse at Will Byers and The Mind Flayer, and there are plenty of Demogorgons to come at you with a vengeance. In the end, the maze kind of falls short on the scare meter, but it is fun too look at, even for those who are not religious watchers of the show.

Photo By Jesus Manriquez
The sound stage where the maze Stranger Things is located. 

George A. Romero’s chilling Creepshow also has a maze in Horror Nights this year. The entrance features a giant print of a Creepshow comic, which strikes up the intrigue immediately. Infamous scenes like the Father’s Day cake are featured, and there are roaches, skeletons, and rotting flesh galore. A caveat to those who dare enter: Beware the seemingly innocent movie art hanging on the walls – it just might be the last thing you look at.

Dreadfully delightful

Overall, attendees this year are sure to have a frightfully fanciful experience. Arrive early, grab a drink from the Día de los Muertos-themed bar and be prepared for terror to strike.

For dates and ticket options, visit https://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/.

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