Monday, September 22, 2014

Universal Studios Hollywood Horror Nights 2014, Walk Faster Walking Dead

Halloween Horror Nights starts the theme park scare season first with its early September 19th opening night. TTDILA was in tow after the first open to the public Eyegore Awards, which were special, but were better when they were private and VIP only.The park had a whole new slate of mazes to get new scares. Though some of the mazes retread over the dead and may make some people who've gone through them turn over in their grave. Some mazes like "AVP: Alien VS. Predator" an "An American Werewolf in London" use their movie connections well. Then you have some strained ideas with "The Walking Dead" series, "Dracula Untold" and "Dusk Till Dawn".

We're ranking the best mazes from best to worst and the overall park in our overall list of scary things to do when your outside in LA for Halloween.

"An American Werewolf in London" had us asking,"Why are werewolves dressed as Nazis shooting guns at me?" Before we could answer we were screaming two octaves higher than we usually do as a werewolf suddenly appeared before us from a unknown opening in a maze wall. Werewolves in the walls come out to bite you more than once and they aren't costumes either, Universal went with over the top puppets. They snarl only to well.

Walk through the Slaughtered Lamb pub, into a hospital and into the streets of London. Watch as others succumb to becoming werewolves and others get eaten by them.

Though I wish there were a lot more British cockney orphans screaming for their lives, this maze gave us our top scares with placement and surprises. When a big werewolf comes out of nowhere in front of you it's hair-raising.

Coming a close second, an easily could have taken the top was "AVP: Alien VS. Predator". No heat-vision based room like when the Predator stalks Schwarzenegger. We do get a giant crashed alien ship to walk through and some face-suckers that want to get more attached.

The only reason this maze doesn't get the top spot is because as fans it can never be as good as what we want it to be. This doesn't mean they didn't do a good job, it just doesn't mean it's better now that Giger is dead so he doesn't have to see what they've done to his work.

After going into an impressive crashed ship make your way through a residential area where you get right between a Predator and Alien. The cutest spot might be when you see the chestbursters coming out to say, "Hello," in a living room. Aliens love to spit, so do remember to take it like a man, it's just a acid that can go through anything, felt like water though.

Facehuggers want to meet you up close at windows and some tracking Predator red lights might come on you throughout the maze.

At the very end an old dear friend wishes to see you again. She's royalty, so give her your greatest etiquette as she towers over you screaming horribly.

AVP takes some fun scenes from movies, but lacks a design area based on the work of Giger, an egg room and just some key Alien and Predator scenes that should have been added to the maze. There is a trophy room for Predator fans to stumble through before getting more caught up as a trophy themselves.

Getting stuck between a Predator and an Alien needs to be a picture you can take as a memory of your time before being ripped apart by which one scares you more.

Clown 3D has eye-popping madness of freaky bright colors. Walk through a clown's head to enter and then go on a trip to a messed up circus of ideas. This year we don't have Alice Cooper and we really missed him give announcements while taking the escalators down to the lower level of the park. "This is Alice Cooper telling you not to smoke or sit on the escalators, ohhhh, " something like that was said a year or two ago. Instead, Slash worked on his vision of killer clowns this year .If you ever wondered what it was like if clowns killed a bunch of people and took over a town by Slash, you don't have to think much harder anymore.

Forgetting the dark and making colors sickly and gross Clowns achieves to horrify in the light with so much sinister laughter it drowns out all other noise.

"Dusk Til Dawn" somewhat remembers the film from Robert Rodriguez. The outside looked better than the outside with commercials playing on a screen setup and a reconstruction of the Titty Twister. A teenager with friends behind us in line liked the Twister  so much he talked as dirty as Japanese hentai about how a certain area of him felt. That feeling should have been matched by the dancers around the place if not for so many of them looking like horrible monsters as we embarked deeper in.

If a fan of the movie or TV series on El Rey you'll get a better kick or should we say bite out of the place then we did. Mediocre design at best with small scares.

Now comes some of the worst mazes, with lack of creativity and overall scares.

"The Walking Dead: End of the Line" and Terror Tram are such rehashes we can't even consider them new.  The Walking Dead: End of the Line just barely scrapes by with nods to the new season of the Walking Dead. You head for Terminus, but most of it is forgettable, not just for fans, but regular maze goers. Like Dusk til Dawn, the outside waiting area has a better look than most of inside of End of the Line. Marching along to the same old scares once you get off to the "Terror Tram" made it seem more of a repeat of last year more than anything else.

"Dracula: Untold" or as I like to call it Dracula: Never Told, as no one is going to bother seeing it. Anyone bother seeing "I, Frankenstein" earlier this year? Based on a movie no one has seen yet, comes another vampire rehash maze and it sucks. It sucks in a bad way. The costumes for the vampire are just not creative and look cheap and due  no one seeing the film or ever seeing the film the maze has no connection to anyone.

A major miscalculation on Universal. The Purge Anarchy scare zone makes more sense and even though that film isn't well-liked it still draws a closer connection to a maze that doesn't rethink Dracula.

One of our group thought it was based on the Nicholas Cage movie where he exchanges his face with John Travolta and that would have been a far better theme than what we danced through. "Face/Off" was something we looked forward too and we should have known would have been bad as we heard the dub step while walking in. "Face/Off" failed to be scary and to our guess is a fun jaunt for stoners. The same maze as the year before without the classic Universal Monsters now has the faces from SyFy's hit show Face/Off dancing in a club. Instead of new areas to go with the creations seen on the show, it's the same maze as every year. It was the least scary, because how scared are you going to be when you hear Skrillex , oh no,dub-dub-dub-step.

The park overall itself has some fun scare areas "Dark Christmas" and "Mask-a-raid" stood out with enough mist for their monsters come out and spook you. Krampuses and evil elves scared us in the fearful holiday section. "Mask-a-raid" frightened with it's hungry French masses of murderers.

Hollywood Horror Nights only frights so much. Only a few mazes are really new. The connection to films isn't need, but AVP is a winner as is An American Werewolf. Fans, much like ourselves won't be as happy with The Walking Dead this year.

Shortly, on that note, enjoy a walk this year, unless pending night jitters, there were no trams to some of the biggest mazes to the park like last year. You have to hoof it just like The Walking Dead crew trying get to Terminus.

Another problem are the lines and what you have to do to pass the time. You'd think a studio theme park would know to play horror movies or just episodes of The Walking Dead while waiting the hour or more to go into a maze. Instead you have commercials for horror and sci-fi. Just play some old horror movies. You might want to make a deal with the AMC CityWalk too. Play some horror features after the park closes.

Rides are open late, Transformers is still worth it, but the brand new Minion ride from "Despicable Me" is for little kids.

Hollywood Horror Nights may have lost to Knott's this year in top scare park unless Knott's really lost it's way.