Before October, I was a virgin. A Halloween Horror Nights virgin, to be exact.
As someone who loves horror movies and Halloween, I was more than excited to finally get the chance to attend Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando after spending every October at Busch Garden’s Howl-o-Scream.
I’ll say right now, I enjoyed Halloween Horror Nights over any Busch Gardens scare-event I’ve ever attended, and if I could, I’d head back again this Halloween season.
So here are my lists of the scariest, overall-best and most successfully adapted attractions from Universal Orlando’s 24th Halloween Horror Nights.
Halloween Horror Nights will run select nights through Nov. 1.
1. Halloween: Let’s start off with the fact that you’re in a house with Michael Myers, the terrifying masked murderer in the 1978 classic, “Halloween.” Not to mention the fact that he seems to literally appear behind every single corner, and at one point, you’re surrounded.
All around, HHN did a fantastic job with this on all fronts, especially the fear factor. I don’t consider myself someone who gets scared easily, but I’ll admit, I was frantically shoving my way toward the exit in this one.
2. The Walking Dead: End of the Line: A zombie jumping out at you in a dark house can be scary, but a “herd” slowly coming toward you during a lightening storm is way scarier. Actually that was the most terrifying part. Universal used more “scaractors” (scare-actors) in this house than they ever have before. The maze is three-times the size of any house built, which at points worked well because wasn’t the world overrun by these guys?
What would’ve made it scarier? Limit the amount of guests at a time. Allow small groups to go in, then wait for them to reach some sort of checkpoint, then send the next group in. Sometimes the conga-line-like nature of the house gave away a lot of potential scares. The lightening storm, which was basically a strobe light with an incalculable amount of walkers toward you, without a doubt won me over.
3. Dollhouse of the Damned: I don’t care how you look at it, dolls are creepy. With the recent release of “Annabelle,” a spin-off of “The Conjuring,” the dollhouse really couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. The house uses a creepier and disturbing tactic, however, with the incorporation of demonic porcelain dolls, giant buff baby doll mutants and mirror tricks, I’m now thinking twice before watching “Toy Story.”
Best adaptation from the original series:
1. Alien vs. Predator: Universal managed to collaborate with 20th Century Fox to bring their own original story to the table. Original yes, although, all of these movies basically hold the same plot: The predator hunts the aliens, the aliens hunt the humans and humans get caught in the middle.
The attention to detail in this house was literally jaw-dropping. The set, which takes place on the predator species’ spaceship, was nothing short of awesome. Both the costumes and props looked like they were plucked directly from the movie set.
Only disappointment? There wasn’t much interaction between the two species. Instead it was more like an infestation with a touch of human victims that faced an unfortunate demise when they got in the way. Either way, it was pretty well done.
As far as the scare-factor, AVP was pretty light. There was a bit of an overkill with the use of the face-hugger as a scare, but the house managed to redeem itself with the last full-scale attack scene.
Adaptation quality: 9/10
2. Tie: The Walking Dead and Halloween: Both of these hit the nail on the head as far as accuracy but weren’t quite as detailed as AVP.
It was pretty cool to see the different scenes so well done in the Walking Dead, but eventually they all seemed to blend together. The maze basically takes you through the beginning of season four. From the destruction of the prison, the walker-infested woods of Georgia, Daryls house, to the very last episode where we’re left in Terminous.
As a huge fan of the series and comics, it was nice to see little Easter eggs from the series.
While Halloween had a lot of scares, the separate rooms in the house seemed to blend together. Maybe it was the awful 1970s decorating that were plucked out of the film, but there weren’t too many “wow” factors as far as the set. However, the garage scene was very well done and redeemed the house to tie it with the Walking Dead.
Adaptation quality: 7/10
3. The Purge: Anarchy: As a big fan of the anxiety-inducing movies, it was very exciting to see this done as a scare-zone. If you haven’t seen the movies, they basically run with the idea that it’s human nature to kill, and once a year, are allowed to “purge themselves” while crime is legal for 12 hours. The story basically morphs into the more wealthy class “buying” lower class citizens to sacrifice in the safety of their homes.
With that said, the “scaractors” were dressed in street clothes and it was nearly impossible to notice them until it was too late and a chainsaw was rawring behind you. The extra touch of adding characters wearing prep school blazers and those obviously of the “higher class” was a nice added detail. The best part definitely has to be the auction show where “captured” characters were actually auctioned off to guests. It was a nice piece of interaction between the show and guests, but it would’ve been cool to see something done farther as far as the winners of the auction.
Adaptation quality: 6.5/10
Giggles and Gore: I’m not really sure why clowns were ever a thing for children’s birthday parties because they’ve never actually been anything but incredibly creepy. The idea behind this was that “evil clowns are not born, they’re made.” The creators ran with that and, well, the description reads that kidnapped people are “stretched, smashed and eviscerated, faces are peeled off, voice boxes are torn our and bodies are stuff with… other bodies.”
So there’s that.
Roanoke: Cannibal Colony: For the history buffs out there, the creators played with the idea that the reason for the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony in Virginia was due to cannibalism when a supply ship took three years to return. They also incorporated the legend of the Wendigo, the Native American spirit that is associated with cannibalism, so that was a pretty cool aspect. While the designs of the colonial costumes were heavily researched and well done, and the idea itself was awesome, the attraction itself fell a little flat and reflected that of another zombie house.
Dracula Untold: The Reign of Blood: Considering the movie still actually hasn’t come out yet, this was already an uphill battle. Especially considering the movie doesn’t look that great to begin with. The plot line was unclear and it felt more like you were stuck in the middle of a medieval war rather than surviving bloodthirsty monsters. The set overall was well done, but the labyrinth itself wasn’t very scary. Overall the maze was a disappointment as I’m sure the movie probably will be.
From Dusk Till Dawn: Maybe it was the snake aspect, maybe I was over the vampire scares, or maybe it was the fact that it was 1 a.m. and both the actors and I were exhausted, but I did not enjoy this. The attraction is based on the El Rey Network series and takes place in a remote biker bar in the desert that’s actually occupied by an ancient group of snake-like vampires. The “exotic” dancers are always enjoyable to watch and I will admit, the end scene was kind of cool.
Overall, I loved HHN. As I said earlier, the detail that Universal always has in its attractions is always fantastic, and held true for this year’s event. 9/10 overall.
Best overall attractions:
2. Walking Dead
3. Alien vs. Predator