Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights opens tomorrow, September 20th, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s my favorite Halloween event (which is saying a lot given how many of them there are now) and I’m stoked to check out what they’ve got in store for this year’s installment. The active dates are September 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, October 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27, 31 and November 1, 2. Get tickets here.
One thing I already sort of have an idea about is the maze for Insidious: Chapter 2. Actually I should probably just call it the Insidious maze since it rather seamlessly incorporates elements from both films and uses the geographical layout of its space to travel through the narrative flow – and “The Further” – of both films.
Last week I headed up to Universal to take a look at the space – in the light of day with none of the “scare performers” on duty – and was impressed with what I saw. Granted, HHN mazes are always impressive but it was nice to be able to take a more leisurely, examined look at what makes them tick.
The film’s producer Jason Blum remarks that this is actually the first Halloween Horror Nights maze based off one of his films, “It is the first Universal one. We Have this and at the entrance of the park we have the characters from ‘The Purge’ too. The first half of the maze is the first movie and the second half of the maze is the second film.”
He then gives me a private walkthrough of the maze, showing me every nook and cranny (I feel like I’ll have the upper hand on my friends when we go through this one tomorrow night because I know exactly where everyone will be jumping out of). It starts off in the Lambert residence and then dives into several iconic scenes from the first film like the “gas mask seance” above. After that it goes on into The Further, which will be notable for its pitch black lighting and low-level fog, something Blum says was no easy feat.
HHN Creative director John Murdy is proud not only that the film’s creative team of James Wan, Leigh Whannell and Jason Blum is involved – but that one of his mazes last year helped inspire some moments in the film itself. “James, Jason and Leigh are all Horror Nights fans. What happened was last year I was in the park in the zone with the chainsaw performers, and it was James. And he had just gone through the La Llorona maze and I couldn’t hear a damn thing he was saying. But he was really inspired by the maze, he even told me that there’s stuff in the new ‘Insidious’ movie directly inspired by it. He really wanted to be creatively involved and so did Leigh. So we all got together over at Blumhouse and we talked about what the maze should be.”
Lin Shaye, who plays Elise in the Insidious franchise (and who will apparently figure heavily into the upcoming third installment) was also on hand to take in the first maze based off of any of her films, “To hear my voice when I was walking up, I was like ‘what the hell was that?’ I’m amazed.”
This year’s haunted attractions will also include: “The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven,” based on AMC’s Golden Globe-nominated, Emmy Award-winning TV show, “Evil Dead: Book of the Dead,” inspired by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s chilling remake of the cult classic, and “Black Sabbath 13 3D,” inspired by the darkest lyrics from the multi-platinum rock band’s 43-year history of Heavy Metal music. As mentioned above, there’s also a “Purge” scare zone.