Sunday, September 17, 2017

Halloween Horror Nights 2017: Scares Starting For Halloween

The first big haunt of Halloween, Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights, has started up and TTDILA was there to cover the opening night. 

Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights  
Select Nights Sept 15-Nov 3
Universal Studios Hollywood
$tarts at $65 and goes up with different pricing.

Let's have a breakdown of mazes and our thoughts on them, but before that, let us just go over entry. As per usual, you're welcome to Universal by some dancing girls in cages and then shortly "welcomed" by a lovely group of monsters. We have to give some applause to the wonderful nightmares roaming the entrance of the park. Their designs this year, including a teddy-bear-for-a-head monster just make us love the creativity of the park.

What was missing though was more scare zones. This year we had three and they only covered a few small areas of Universal. Some did stand out like the Toxic Tunnel. Like the second creepiest rave you've been to, undead utility workers are after you as bright lights cascade on your trip to more mazes. There's a great look to the zone as the uniforms on the undead shine different colors with black light effects. This needs to be expanded into a larger area. We need a rave maze a mile long!

Scare Zones Hell-O-Ween and Urban Inferno were short, but sweet areas.

Specialty Halloween drinks were available. Blood bags for $12 and Jello Shots in a plastic syringe for $5.99. There's the regular grub throughout the park with a few special confections in cookies and donuts.
Now to the mazes.

The Shining

Hearing the iconic music as we approached only riled us up. That music just cuts down to your core. It was the music for The Shining and it fills you with dread even before taking a step in the maze.

This maze was an interesting choice for Universal as the film was made so long ago. Everything else from Universal this year is fairly recent for horror, though I'm still not sure why no one grabbed up IT this year. 

The Shining, a horror classic. First seen by me through The Simpsons making fun of it in a Treehouse of Horror episode. Hell, I was Jack Torrance for Halloween last year, been a fan of the documentary Room 237 and loved the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at LACMA a few years back. I guess The Shining is just in our hearts. 

As you enter, you'll start remembering iconic scenes. Laugh at what they did with Jack's writing, 
"All work and no play make Jack a dull boy." All the while you'll be afraid of someone in a red coat coming at you with an axe. This maze gets high marks for recreating some sets straight from the movie, but as a huge fan I gotta be a little bit more critical. No part of the maze where Jack's locked in food storage? You couldn't get two real short actresses playing the twins? And for the love of Stephen King, more hedge maze. Still, you're not going to find any other maze based on The Shining and you have to give Universal some respect for even attempting to do the maze.

Titans of Terror

Now this one also comes close to home. Freddy, Jason and Leatherface are shown love as a maze is devoted to them. Each of the iconic slashers get there own section. Freddy's first and of course the best. There's nothing quite as creepy as a recreated boiler room and Freddy Krueger's claw hand reaching out from you at every turn. Some great haunt pieces for Freddy's style. Jason was next with a visit to Crystal Lake, followed by Leatherface who wanted to share his food. He was still skinning it. I passed. 

For a fan of all of these killers or any of them, this is a great maze to be scared to death by any of them.

Titans of Terror Terror Tram hosted by Chucky
*technically not a maze
*check closing time, it closes earlier than the rest of the park

Those same serial killers get even more love and victims with the Terror Tram this year. Just like the maze they each get their own sections to scare fans. We get some frights from the start with Chucky from the Child's Play series. He's there for a few jokes on the tram and to greet you as you get off of the ride.

Line management was a bit rough as so many people can wander on the path provided, hopefully they'll learn from the first night and do better corralling patrons and timing people getting on the trams. 

My favorite sections were for Jason and Freddy. Jason is showing off his victims at a motel near Crystal Lake with some wonderful murder mayhem. Freddy on the other hand is at a plane crash and happens to be the face on every monster walking through, just like a nightmare.

More Chucky, please! If you're getting a talking doll, let's hear him!

Ash Vs Evil Dead

Hear them chainsaws screeching as you go through the show that's coming back this October. You'll venture through Ash's trailer and see him battling deadite ghouls through iconic scenes from the show including his childhood home/room and back to the cabin in the woods where it all started. Some old relatives are waiting for you there. For fans it's a shotgun blast of fun.

It's missing something though, in 2013Universal had a maze for the Evil Dead reboot film. Its ending of sticking a chainsaw through someones head and getting blood/water on you was not topped by this new Evil Dead maze.


Let's get creative...on the way we kill people. One of the more creative and fun mazes based on the source material, Saw had some great parts...many severed. Our favorite scenes might be the man who wants to breath, but is wearing a fish tank or just escaping from the halls of saw blades coming at us. Saw has a great look that scares us on how good it is at showing tortured victims.

If a fan of the Saw series it's a must.

The Horrors of Blumhouse

Purge, Sinister and the not-yet-released Happy Death Day are all housed together in the same maze. 

If you wanted to celebrate America with some of the most creative depictions of our flag made of spine and bones our guns and grenades, come here. With president masked monsters waving knives at us, we saluted and left Purge. Then we went past the creepy events of the Sinister movies. After, we were surprised by how creepy the killer from Happy Death Day looks up close. You think a baby mask isn't scary until it's right up in your face.

Insidious: Beyond the Further

For a few scary scenes I think it better connects to those who know the franchise. I'm not that familiar with it, but it must mean something for those who like it with a fourth film on the way coming out early next year.

American Horror Story: Roanoke

I guess they couldn't get a maze based on the new series in time. Based on the last season of the show, you're transported back to an older time with a lot of bad stuff happening. Guts are usually on the inside of people, right? There's a creepy girl who can contort and some other strange creeps stalking you in this maze. A bit more colorful than the other mazes this year.

So if you go, remember about wait times. I suggest getting the Switch, getting smart phone games you can play with friends or having a lot of topics for conversations. On opening night, the times fluctuated per maze, but the shortest time I think I saw was 40 minutes. They can go way up though. So maybe get an energy drink.

If you want mazes based on some franchises or films you adore you should head to Universal this Halloween. It's still a scream, just make sure to pick a maze ahead of time and set a course for that one first.