Universal Halloween Horror Nights always strives to provide a balance of attractions based on classic and new horror movies, as well as original mazes. This year, Halloween Horror Nights has a maze based on Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Patrick Braillard, creative development show director for Universal Orlando, said they chose the middle sequel to pay off the original Michael Myers trilogy.
“We have previously done houses based off not only the original [John] Carpenter Halloween but also its sequel,” Braillard said. “This pushes our nostalgic button and our childhood button that gives us the opportunity to go back and tell what is essentially the end of that trilogy.If you skip Season of the Witch, which by the way we have done Easter eggs for Season of the Witch in each one of our mazes, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers gives us the opportunity to come back and tell the other part of that story and the transition to Jamie. I think it’s wonderful for us to be able to go back to Haddonfield and it gives us the opportunity to play still within that original trilogy previous to anything else happening.”
Of course, in the movies, The Return of Michael Myers began the Jamie Lloyd trilogy, and then there was H20 and now the new Halloween which ignores everything but the original. But Braillard grew up in the ‘80s when Halloween 4 was a welcome return of The Shape.
“Being able to watch and build upon Michael Myers’ story in the Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers is something that as a horror fan I couldn’t wait to get my hands on,” Braillard said.
Universal went all the way back to the original 1984 Poltergeist for another maze this year. The Poltergeist maze in Hollywood begins with Carol Anne at the television and goes through the end of the movie. The Orlando version actually takes guests into the other side.
“Our maze this year here in Orlando doesn’t just pay off the moments from the movie where you might have the unfinished swimming pool with Mrs. Freeling in the rainstorm, and you’ll have coffins bursting out of the kitchen and the moving steak and the face peel guy and the big white mantis creature and the tree and the clown. But also, we have the opportunity to go into the light and see the other side. Our partners at MGM were gracious enough to allow us to be able to expand upon that story and play within the things that you saw in the movie but how would we encounter those if we were to go to the other side with Jobeth Williams’ character and be able to experience that.”
While there’s fun stuff earlier in the movie, like the kitchen chairs stacking up, the climax is where Poltergeist gets really intense. David Hughes, manager of the scenic department and the house designers, expanded on the Poltergeist maze.
“Developing that property, we kind of decided early on that most of the film is kind of just a family drama with little bits and pieces of supernatural things happen,” Hughes said. “So we decided early on that we wanted to basically start at the climax of the movie. As you walk into the soundstage in our event, we start off by walking into the swimming pool, the muddy swimming pool with the coffins that first came out with the rainstorm and thunder and lightning and just keep it dialed up to 10 and 11 throughout the rest of the maze. Although we’re telling a story, it’s again hammering the guest over the head with the scares. It starts at 70 miles an hour and just continues to pick up speed throughout the whole thing. I think it’s a lot scarier than people think before they go in.”
For more recent films, Halloween Horror Nights offers The Horrors of Blumhouse, and in Hollywood a maze devoted to The First Purge. In Orlando, Horrors of Blumhouse combines The First Purge and Happy Death Day (Hollywood’s Blumhouse maze features Unfriended and Truth or Dare).
“This year is a double feature of The First Purge and Happy Death Day, which are two wildly drastic different movies, but they’re contemporary,” Braillard said. “They’ve come out in the last year which is another way for us to show the variety of our scale to our guests in how they experience the event.”
Halloween Horror Nights runs through the first weekend of November. Get tickets here.