LOS ANGELES – Terrified screams and roaring chainsaws could be heard in the Universal Studios backlot, as visitors of Halloween Horror Nights ran for their lives.
Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is going into its 12th year, delivering fresh doses of fear this season with mazes inspired by horror movie classics such as “Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” and the “Universal Monsters” films, which was accompanied by music from Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist, Slash.
Entering the park, you immediately feel an eerie sensation. Visitors make their way down through the first scare zone: “Hell’s Harvest.” The attraction makes attendees face scarecrows with chainsaws and creepy rag dolls carrying metal pipes, swinging at visitors who dare walk down the path.
Those who survive “Hell’s Harvest” will be met with a maze based on the classic “Universal Monsters” horror films, each attraction continued with the original settings for its respective monster. The Wolf Man, Invisible Man, Mummy, Frankenstein and Dracula leave their cute animated personas behind and take a terrifying new face.
Entering the Egyptian-style room, there is a tall golden tomb inside a mummy wrapped in tattered bandages. Across the room, there is a glass case filled with spiders that begin to move with a blink of an eye.
“Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers” expertly mimics the movie from beginning to end. The repair shop in the maze was identical to the one in the movie, particularly in the illusion where Dr. Samuel Loomis is confronted with Myers.
Modern horror movies and shows were also incorporated into this year’s themes. The Netflix original sci-fi horror show, “Stranger Things” debuted with wait times lasting over two hours opening weekend.
Erica Hammill, a first-time attendee of Horror Nights, said she was in awe with the work Universal had done for “Stranger Things.”
“I am honestly impressed with what Universal did. The maze is exactly like the show,” Hammill said. “I only wish there was more space between each group. I had an idea when a jumpscare was coming. Seeing the Demogorgon right in front of me was honestly scary.”
Venturing on to the rest of the park, there are two attractions from the cult classic “Trick ‘r Treat.” One is a scare zone and the other is a maze. In the scare zone, visitors can see the bus massacre, while the dead children run around and scare visitors.
The detail that was placed into Horror Nights is incredible, especially in Mr. Kreeg’s house. An identical box of photos of the children from the bus massacre that is seen in the movie can be found in the maze. Small details like this make the experience exceptional, knowing the creator put time and effort to get the maze done correctly.
As visitors make their way to “The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter 2,” “The First Purge” and “Poltergeist,” you must get through a series of scare zones. The first scare zone,“Toxic Tunnel” keeps visitors on their toes as they face dead cops and construction workers tormenting visitors who dare to pass. Another scare zone, “Holidayz in Hell,” features a fog effect that snakes through the maze, disabling the vision of those roaming around all the while giving each holiday from Cinco de Mayo to Easter a frightening twist. In the Christmas section, Krampus roamed the halls on stilts, terrifying visitors and bringing horror into the usual jolly holiday.
The Blumhouse Production company is going into their second year with Horror Nights creating “The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter 2.” This year, the maze featured the movies “Truth or Dare” and “Unfriended.” A section of “Truth or Dare” places you in Rosarito, Mexico where you’re followed by nuns who have the iconic creepy smile from the film.
Surviving “The Horrors of Blumhouse: Chapter 2,” visitors will come across two other mazes: “The First Purge” and “Poltergeist.” Going through “The First Purge” the iconic sound of the purge is heard throughout the entire attraction with sights of various horrific crimes being committed by those who are purging.
“Poltergeist” followed the movie sequence very well, starting off in the house and leading to the end where the Indian corpses appear in the backyard.
The permanent attraction highlighting AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is based on the show’s first season and follows the episodes where the main characters try to survive the zombie apocalypse through Atlanta, the countryside and the jailhouse.
Down in the backlot of Universal Studios, the “Terror Tram: Hollywood Harry’s Dreadtime Storiez” brings a mobile fright to visitors. Stopping the tram halfway through the usual route, riders are welcomed to get off and walk through the set of what is usually “Whoville,” only to be confronted with men in dog masks wielding chainsaws. Visitors can walk near the “Bates Motel” and up to the “Psycho House” for a photo with Norman Bates himself.
Attendees can end the night with a live performance from hip-hop dance crew Jabbawockeez, the winners from “America’s Best Dance Crew” season one. This year, Jabbawockeez created a storyline about invading the cyberspace. Earth is threatened by a virus and it is up to them to save Earth. Their performance includes music from Childish Gambino, Drake, Cardi B, Dr. Dre and Tupac.
“I had seen them last year and it was pretty good,” Erick Hernandez said. “I liked how they interact with the audience, getting someone to dance a small bit for them. It’s cool, the entire show went by too fast.”
Halloween Horror Nights is running through Nov. 3. Students can buy discounted tickets starting at $61 online using their .edu email their university has provided.
This story has been updated to add a dateline.