Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Horror Nights

Every year I come across photos like this from the Universal Studios Halloween event and every year I think to myself how anti-Halloween something like this must be.  Like is this really some kind of performance occurring?  And is it really Bill and Ted of all things? 

Anyone ever go to this?  Is it fun?  Does it make sense?  Does it fit into the scheme of Halloween things?

Bill & Ted say "Party on, dudes!"

14 comments:

Mr Black said...

You can't get large corporations to produce good Halloween most of the time. They want to be generic and appeal to the majority.The majority can't face fears or horror. they want to pretend the harsher side of life doesn't exist, but one day they will be forced to face it all the same. Without the kind of play Halloween provides they are emotionally stunted and will not be able to deal with it.

Portia Smith said...

We've been to Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights twice, and went to this show once. We walked out after about ten minutes, it was so bad!

The rest of the park was great!

Kyle von said...

Midway game prizes

Joel said...

However, the last few years have been different. HHN is inherently cinematic, featuring both officially licensed and unofficial homages to film horror. The Thing, Halloween, Psycho, Trick r' Treat, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre - you name it, it's probably been at least lovingly referenced somehow over the years. In the past, however, the real meat of the event was an original universe of creatures, characters, settings, and stories that were all specific to Halloween Horror Nights. One or two houses based on actual movies, even some relatively obscure themes like The People Under the Stairs, were the most you'd see. This year, all but two of the event's houses are based on movies or video games, and the assortment of differently themed outdoor scarezones has been replaced with a ubiquitous "the Walking Dead" theme. (One past year's scarezone lineup featured a series of cavernous wooden mineshafts, each hiding an actor in a gorgeous oversized costume with arm extensions that allowed them to run on all fours. Another year, Universal actually planted a cornfield and filled it with willow trees and scarecrows. These elaborate, self-contained worlds were replaced this year with an all-encompassing blanket of the most mundane and commercially overdone monster imaginable.) There are a few houses that I'm excited to see - An American Werewolf in London and Cabin in the Woods in particular - but for the most part this year feels like a great big commercial.

In summary, yes, Halloween Horror Nights does fit into the scheme of Halloween - for the most part. The "party" elements of the event cater to the holiday as much of America seems content to experience it. The "horror" element is always there in spades - I can't tell you how many times I've seen absolute terror writ on grown men's faces, often at my own hand (working as a "scareactor", as the performers are jokingly called, can be a fantastic outlet!) Unfortunately, it's the "Halloween" that I fear has lately been falling out of style; the sense of mystery, magic, and real evidence of creativity that make Halloween for me, and what used to be so wonderful about Horror Nights. At the end of the day, marketing concerns outweigh the need to create a mood that is classically Halloween. I'm still loyal to the event at heart, and have faith in Universal's creative team when they have room to innovate. But this year I'll mostly be experiencing the haunted attraction scene when I visit the folks in Ohio - a couple hayrides and some yard haunts will be refreshing.

Goneferal inidaho said...

Ha ha! We went to Universal Hollywood last year and had a blast. It is chock full of halloween (from the movies) at hollywood studio level perfection and attention to detail. I screamed and giggled like a little girl while I got to be put into some of my favorite scary movies and TV shows. They have several walk-through haunts based on movies and shows with the best scare actors I've ever seen, they put their all into their roles. Let's face it, these are people wanting to make it big in Hollywood. The level of detail is amazing. If you ever do go, get the front of line pass. We got to do our favorites a couple of times whereas people with regular tickets spend most of their time in line. As far as Bill and Ted, nobody with any sense would waste their time on these. I think these shows are there because they let people in fast (short lines, so they get some sort of satisfaction) while the FOL pass people get to walk through movie grade haunts like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the show the Walking Dead.

My expectations weren't that high and going to LA in October was something I never thought I'd do, but we had the most fun on that trip. We also hit up a night at Knotts Scary Farm which was really fun, but not as slick as HHN.

Jeff said...

yeah.... give me a good hayride through a haunted forest and some killer games for the kids on a crisp night with a big fire, ghost stories. The only way for me.

Sara said...

LOL!! No, haven't been. Probably never will. I went to buy Knott's Scary Farm tix and found out parking was $20.0. We're skipping it. :( Stuff like this is just too freaking expensive.

/rant.

Oh, and this is a MOST EXCELLENT post.

girl6 said...

you made a lot of sense Joel.. :)

Willow Cove said...

Yeah, I'm going in a couple of weeks with some friends who go each year and like it. Never been, even though i lived here all my life. Will let you know...

NoahFentz said...

In the summer of 95 we moved to house that I am living in now. In 96 I created a little one room maze in the basement for my daughter's Birthday/Halloween party. I think she was in the fourth grade. She invited all her friends...it was a hit! In 97 we did a family trip down to Florida around the end of October. My wife works for ABC News so we get in for free to Disney. One of my clients worked for MGM/Universal and got me a pass for Universal. We did the week at Disney and Halloween day/night at Universal. At the time it was our first experience at going to any kind of Horror Night. We had a blast. It was great to see the transformation to the regular park to the Horror Night...lighting,fog....We made our way to the Haunted Houses which kinda looked like the staff put them together. At one point my daughter turned to me and said, "You could do this in our basement Dad!"

If I went back now I would probably think differently but something like this did push me over the edge to do the haunt I that I'm doing today....

Ray said...

Hey Rot. I'm a member of the art & design team which creates Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights. The 8 haunted mazes, and street scare zones have movie-quality sets and offer guests a mix of known horror movie properties, as well as our own original stories. There is nothing generic about what we produce. The event is built from scratch every year. HHN certainly doesn't shy away from horror, but it also honors Halloween tradition. There are not very many events in the world where you can walk through woods with 400 flickering jack-o-lanterns hanging in the trees. As for Bill & Ted, it not specifically a Halloween show but it is an HHN tradition that spans the last 20 years of the event and pokes fun at pop culture. If you want something a little more macabre, we also have life stage performances of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" this year. Anyway, it's not a lonely, spooky stroll through an old cemetery, but it IS a fun overdose of all things Halloween. BTW- My home is in Chester County, PA, and your beautiful art and imagery are a great source of inspiration while I'm designing Halloween events during the dreadful Florida Summers.

Rot said...

Chester is beautiful.

Thanks for posting here.
Maybe the issue is that the stage performance aspect is the only one that gets featured each year and the more traditional aspects are ignored by way of photos.

Autumnleaf said...

I sure wouldn't mind walking through a wood with 400 flickering jackolanterns hanging in the trees but I'm guessing this is only at the Florida location, not S.Cal?

Joel said...

There are tons of great photos from HHN each year, especially on independent fan sites; some fans really dedicate themselves to documenting the entire event! A few minutes on Google should yield you plenty of shots of the beautifully lit sets inside the houses and around the park.