By Ivy Velazquez
Do you love to be scared out of your wits? The suspense of knowing someone could jump out at you any moment? I do and it was in this spirit that I went to Universal’s 25th annual Halloween Horror Nights on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Being the 25th year, this was quite a milestone for the event and Universal definitely dug into some old archives for a few of the Haunted Houses and walkthroughs. That didn’t, however, keep them away from some of the more recent themes such as The Walking Dead and Insidious.
Going until Nov. 1, here’s a little overview of what to expect if you’re planning to go and some advice on how to go about your night:
25 Years of Monsters and Mayhem
This Haunted House is a medley of some of the biggest names in Horror Nights history such as Jack the Clown, The Caretaker and The Storyteller.
While I definitely didn’t find this one to be the best of the night, it was still pretty interesting. Though there were times that the actors made me jump, I mostly found it to be a bit of a history lesson. Like, “Oh, so these were the characters my parents grew up with!”
If you’re not a fan of clowns, you might want to stay away from this one, or at least prepare yourself. Really, they aren’t present until the end of the House but if you truly can’t stand the sight of clowns, then this isn’t the House for you.
An American Werewolf in London
Another classic to the event, this House features the 1981 John Landis’ landmark film. If you’ve never heard of the movie, the title pretty much tells you exactly what you’re going to experience.
A more mellow Haunted House, this is a good one for a warm up or a break from the more intense Houses. Despite this, it was one of my favorites of the night. The theme for this one is very entertaining and they did really well with the “special effects.” They even had a part of a man actually morphing into a werewolf, screaming for help. There was one aspect in which I was slightly disappointed but that was just a little Doctor Who reference that they had a couple of years ago when they did the House and didn’t this year.
So if you’re looking for a House that isn’t going to completely scare the pants off of you on the first go, this one is perfect. If not, maybe you should move on to this next one.
Freddy vs. Jason
There are few people who don’t know about the infamous Jason, the silent killer in a hockey mask from Camp Crystal Lake. He and the equally infamous Freddy Krueger, the clawed glove wielding child killer, battle it out on who gets to take the unfortunate victim–you.
I found this House to be one of the scariest of the night. I did feel that there was a lot more focus on Jason than on Freddy though. In the parts where both characters had their own stand alone areas, Jason’s was definitely longer. I just felt that Freddy should have gotten a little more of an introduction before melding the stories together.
This one is great if you’re like me and enjoy the thrill of feeling scared all the way through the House. However, it still wasn’t the scariest of the night.
Run: Blood, Sweat, and Fears
This one was definitely more of a thriller. Here, you’re part of a show called Run in which guests are the contestants. As a Runner, you’re stalked by skilled assassins competing on who can get the most kills. Just remember, the more horrible your death, the better the ratings.
I really loved the theme of this House. If felt very Hunger Games-esque, with “tributes” volunteering to be slaughtered for entertainment. But this House is definitely more about thrills than it is about terror.
Body Collectors: Recollections
Here you enter Shadybrook Asylum, in which the Collectors have descended upon the residents to collect the body parts they require.
This House was definitely one the goriest. It also had some of the best acting, with characters actually pleading with the audience as their killer came after them. Since it was also used as theme for one of the scare zones, there was a feeling of being within the story.
One of the most popular Houses of the event, it also makes sense that it was one of the best. This Haunted House takes you through all three chapters of the Insidious saga. Denizens of the afterlife are trying to make their way back into our world. But the house isn’t haunted–we are.
As someone who stopped after the first movie because I was freaked out enough by it, I didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps that was a good thing, since it allowed the actors to do their jobs all the better. But it was definitely one of my favorites; yet again, it wasn’t the scariest of the night.
I found this one to be the best and scariest of the night. It is again time for the Purge, in which no laws, including those against murder, apply for 12 hours.
Though it was only the second one I went to, I knew that this House had set the bar for the rest of the night. Maybe it was because the situation just seemed so realistic or simply because I was still fresh. But it definitely had the most success in scaring me.
Last year, The Purge was used a theme for a scare zone. Then it was just fun to look as the props and gawk at the actors. The House did a much better job of scaring guests.
The Walking Dead: The Living and the Dead
Based on the most recent season of the show, this House takes you through some of the biggest scenes.
I didn’t find this one to be super scary. It might be because I was expecting so much out of it and found it fell short. The make-up, however, was amazing and the actors did an excellent job as the infamous Walkers. As someone who isn’t a fan of the show, I can’t speak much to the accuracy.
Asylum in Wonderland: 3D
This House was just straight up trippy. As described by one of the employees, it makes you feel as though you’re on acid.
As one might have guessed, it’s based on the story of Alice in Wonderland. The creators definitely took the quote, “We’re all mad here,” to a new level. And the addition of glasses that alter your perception of the scenes just adds to that.
If you get dizzy easily or just don’t like feeling like you’re not walking straight, you might want to skip this one.
In addition to the Haunted Houses, there were scare zones, which weren’t all that bad but great for photo opportunities, and the two shows “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” and “The Carnage Returns.” I was only able to go to Bill and Ted’s and that one is absolutely hilarious and fun to watch. However, it’s definitely not PG-13.
Hopefully this has been helpful in planning your night. My advice is to go to the three “modern” movie themed ones first. They’re the most popular and so the lines will fill up quicker. Have fun!
Ivy Velazquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.