Archive for HHN2016

Does this thing still work?

Posted in Other with tags , , , , , , on October 20, 2016 by dtrain1008

horror-nights2016 Horror Nights 2016

For those keeping score at home, this IS in fact my first post of the horror season. With only 11 days to spare… Many apologies from within these torrid walls. I assume you’ve all survived without me. Let’s see if we can fix that.

The last few months have been one of the most chaotic times of my life. I went to Europe for the first time ever, spent a few unplanned days back at home, and then went to Florida to experience this year’s rendition of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios.

For my loyal followers (mad props if you’re still with me after all this time!), you know the drill. Horror Nights is the premiere Halloween event, with several haunted houses– some based on movies and/or tv shows, and others based on original content. If you recall, last year’s event was the 25th anniversary, and featured our sinister clown friend Jack. This year, Universal did a spin-off with his creepy sidekick, Chance. Here’s this year’s preview:

As you can see, we’ve got some exciting mazes. There’s mazes based on Halloween 2, The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, American Horror Story, Krampus, and The Walking Dead. In addition to those are three original content houses– Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch, Tomb of the Ancients, and Lunatics Playground 3D. My co-contributor Adam and I tackled this event for two consecutive nights, and it was a grueling marathon to say the least. But we got our share of scares… so let’s take a journey through the mazes together.

I think I’ll go through these in order of my rankings, starting with my least favorite and building up. So let’s begin with (sadly) the Icon maze this year: Lunatics Playground 3D.

Lunatics Playground is a journey into Chance’s mind. In the queue for this maze, we’re presented a video with a backstory as to what’s happening. After last year’s Carnival of Carnage, Chance was arrested and taken to an asylum. We’re forced to enter her mind in a 3D horror maze. As for the maze itself… this was easily my least favorite of the event. The whole thing didn’t really make sense. It was more silly than scary, and if you ask me, the 3D mazes need to stop.

Up next, let’s talk about The Walking Dead. It’s baaaaack. AGAIN. At this point, I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but this maze is a broken record in itself. They’ve overplayed this franchise, and this year’s maze takes highlighted scenes from all seasons of TWD. There were some kind of cool throwbacks to the early seasons, but as was the case in previous years, TWD just doesn’t deliver the scares. Here’s to hoping this is the last time we see one of these mazes.

My 7th-ranked haunt at HHN2016 is The Exorcist. I was really excited about this house going in. When we think of horror movies, The Exorcist is one of the first ones that comes to mind on many people’s lists. And this is the first time the movie has made an appearance at Horror Nights, so I expected a great maze here. The entranced was good… you walk up the cobblestone path to the house, just like the priest in the film. But as much as I built this up, the maze was only okay. There are some very cool effects used, from see-through walls, good sound effects, and a few strong scares. But the Reagan animatronics were a little too cheesy, and there were a few hallways at the beginning that were pretty uneventful. As much as I wanted to like this maze, it just didn’t live up to expectations.

Onto the #6 maze: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Another movie based on a classic horror film, and I must say, I really liked the sets in this maze. They’ve constructed the actual house in Texas where Leatherface and his demented family shred up our protagonists. And as for the scares, it’s a lot of what you’d expect. Chainsaws-a-plenty. A good haunt, but far from the top.

That brings us to my Top 5 mazes of Horror Nights 2016. Coming in at #5 is Krampus, the Christmastime scarefest. I actually haven’t seen this movie yet, but I think I’ll need to after going through this haunt. This was a lot of fun. There were a lot of silly characters (elves, teddy bears, etc) that when simply observed, look almost comedic. But combined with some intense sound effects, the smells of gingerbread, a very fun outdoor section, and some solid indoor sets, they’ve turned Krampus into a frightening attraction.

In 4th place, we arrive at Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch. This is a classic Wild West maze in a ghost town, where the residents are… well, you know. But this was a really well-themed maze. As you enter the town, a light rain falls from above. And from then on, you’re encountered by all of the former townsfolk, each of them as restless as the next. Some are screaming about the gold they’d left behind. Others are just vengeful. But all of them are creepy in their own right, and this was a solid haunt.

My #3 maze this year is American Horror Story. This is the only maze we were only able to do once, due to the INSANE lines for this thing. In any case, I’m again not really up to speed on AHS, so a lot of the references were lost on me. But even with that, this was a pretty cool maze. It was probably the longest maze of the event, with scenes from 3 different seasons of the show. The clown from the Freakshow season (or so I’m told) made a bunch of appearances throughout, and there were plenty of other creepy characters along the way. Even as someone who hasn’t watched the show, I enjoyed this maze a lot.

And now for the final 2. My runner up this year is Tomb of the Ancients.  Themed to an ancient crypt of sorts, Tomb is all about exploring a lost temple that houses creatures lost for many centuries. It’s full of hidden crypts, undead half-breeds, and wonderful sets throughout. There’s some really clever scares in here, from drop floors to really cool animatronics. There are plenty of jump scares throughout the whole trek, landing Tomb near the top of the list… which brings us to our final maze.

Halloween 2 tops off this year’s Horror Nights event for me. It’s everything you’d expect in a rather unpleasant tour through Haddonfield. A terrifying jaunt through some back yards, where Michael Myers is behind who knows which sheet. Then you head into town and into some buildings, avoiding knife attacks behind every corner. The whole maze is beautifully laid out, and it’s simply packed with Michael Myers actors. On top of that, they do a fantastic job integrating the sounds of Halloween into the maze… the shrieking strings, the subtle note sequences of suspense.. the entire maze is simply terrifying. This was the first maze we went through at the event, and it stuck with me as being my favorite the entire time. Very, very well done.

With all of that said, I’d say this year’s event as a whole was a little “down” when compared to previous years. Last year’s 25th anniversary was truly something special, and really set the bar for what Horror Nights can be. I think there were 3 mazes last year that were better than any of the mazes this year. But even in a down year such as this, HHN still reigns supreme as the best overall Halloween event, and it’s worth the trip every time.

That’ll wrap up this review of Horror Nights. I’m hoping to get back into the normal swing of things, but this is a weird year for Halloween… Where are the scary movies?! It’s been a pretty disappointing year at the Box Office. Hopefully that resolves itself soon. I am hoping to post more haunt reviews, because not including Horror Nights, I’ve been to SEVEN other haunted houses this year. So stay tuned, because hopefully there’ll be more updates coming soon.

Until then, bring out your dark side.

-Dvo