UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HALLOWEEN HORRORS NIGHTS-HOLLYWOOD

In recent years, Universal Studios Halloween Horrors Nights has been the reigning king of Southern California Halloween events. HHN built its reputation on hardcore scares, high production values and high-profile licensed mazes.

This year, Universal again has enlisted some high-profile horror franchises like THE WALKING DEAD, CHUCKY, EVIL DEAD, THE PURGE and INSIDIOUS for its mazes, scare zones and Terror Tram.

HHN_BLACKSABBATH HHN_CHUCKY HHN_TRAMHHN_INSIDIOUS

So with all this fire-power, how is the 2013 version of Halloween Horror Nights, you ask?

The PURGE, CHUCKY and SCARE CROWZ scare zones are decent. A surprise cameo from a retired event, Chucky’s Insult Emporium is a welcome surprise. The best scare zone goes to CIRQUE DE CLOWNZ. This scare zone had the best reactions from the crowds as they sprinted away from a crew of predatory clowns. THE WALKING DEAD scare zone is a close second as surprisingly energetic zombies attack you from all angles.

HHN_WD2HHN_WD1

THE TERROR TRAM is mostly the same as previous years with the zombies of THE WALKING DEAD making a repeat appearance. It’s weakest part of the HHN experience.

The mazes this year are a mixed bag. The best way to cover them all is to rank them 1 through 6.

  1. THE WALKING DEAD: NO SAFE HAVEN-This maze is a dream/nightmare come true for fans of the show. The recreations of the season 3 penitentiary and Woodbury are spot on. The zombie make up is great and the scares are solid.
  2. EL CUCUY: THE BOOGEYMAN-This maze is a big surprise. The scares are top notch and the set design is great. Nice to see really strong work in this original maze.
  3. EVIL DEAD-Gore and gross out tactics reign supreme in this maze. It’s a faithful recreation of this year’s remake of the Sam Raimi classic.
  4. BLACK SABBATH: 13-I’m sure fans of BS will get a kick out of this 3-D maze. Well done, but a little low on scares.
  5. INSIDIOUS: INTO THE FURTHER-This one has crept up my chart by one spot mostly because other people I know love it. The sound design is great and some of the ghosts are down right creepy. Unimaginative design of “The Further” and a few too many appearances by the Lipstick Demon drag this maze down.
  6. UNIVERSAL MONSTERS REMIX: RESSURECTION-Basically the Universal House of Horrors has been transformed into a gigantic rave. This maze features monsters from the classic to modern era giving is a feel schiziod, but there is some nice energy fueled by the music in spots.

Overall, HHN 2013 is a mixed bag, but a fun experience nonetheless. It’s solid as usual, but the scares are starting to feel a tad bit stale for anyone that has gone to previous incarnations of the event. The scares adhere to a familiar formula that makes things a little predictable. First-timers will love it of course.

Scare Factor: 3 ½ of 5

 

Review and photos by Phil Crain

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