Behind the Scenes: Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights Press Day

Scars, curses, zombies and ghosts - meet them in person and be afraid.
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Have you ever been scared by a movie? Did the hair stand up on the back of your head? Did you jump?

If so, that might have been Robyn’s fault. (That’s her in the picture applying a nasty looking scar to my forehead.) Robyn Rebbe was one of a dozen motion picture makeup artists who showed up to demonstrate theirI get scarred at Halloween Horror Nights preview talents at the press-kickoff for Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights.

Halloween Horror Nights pushes the envelope of scary by infiltrating the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park with 120 creatures of the night. If you thought zombies were creepy on-screen, just wait till you look up from your latte and one is staring you in the face. You’ll be able to get creeped-out on select nights from September 21 till October 31.

John Murdy, Creative Director for the event (pictured with the scary chorus line) promised that this year will be the best of the seven years he has worked on the event. “We’ve expanded our repertoire,” he said, “adding new themes and reimagining old ones.”

Murdy explained that, besides randomly wandering the park, monsters will be found in mazes and taking over established Universal Studio rides.

The AMC award-winning TV series Walking Dead will pop-up in the maze “The Walking Dead: Dead Inside” and on the “Terror Train”, a.k.a., “The Backlot Tram”. Murdy explained that the “Terror Train” is one of the most popular John Murdy and friendsattractions. “It’s the only time,” he said, “people can walk on the historic Universal backlot where the horror film genre was born. The juxtaposition of the backlot’s rural setting amid a small town devastated by horrific plane wreckage complements the TV-series’ sets and provides the ideal backdrop for the ‘walkers’.”

The demented multiverse of the popular video game/movie Silent Hill also comes to Universal this year in the maze “Welcome to Silent Hill”. Guests daring to enter will find themselves confronted by creatures from another dimension. But don’t worry, a nurse will be on duty.

And if you think that “horror rocks”, you are in luck. You can be a horror groupie in the maze called “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell: 3D”. This original, one-of-a-kind maze features elements from Cooper’s stage performances including guillotine beheadings and electric chairs.  The journey through the seven deadly sins is accompanied by Cooper’s music (pretty scary all by itself) and guests will be able to peer into the abyss of hell, aided by 3-D glasses.

Not scared yet? You can meet Leatherface in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Saw is the Law” maze. ThisNurse from Silent Hill maze will reflect the story of the 1974 horror classic about a deranged killer and a family of cannibals. Bon appetit.

A taste for something ethnic? Here comes “La Llorona: Cazadora de Ninos” (“Weeping Woman: The Child Hunter”). This tale of woe is based on a Mexican legend of a woman who drowns her children in an attempt to win a lost love. When this fails, she drowns herself and is cursed to wander the Earth forever. When the actress playing this part at the press event began her mournful wailing, it was somber enough to make me want to go outside and make a phone call.

For those traditionalists who grew up on a menu of Dracula and Frankenstein, never fear...no, that’s not right -- fear a lot. According to Murdy, he and his team spent considerable time bringing these classic Universal horror stars into the 21st Century for “Universal Monsters Remix”. Don’t make fun of these old dudes, they’ll be accompanied by their brides, the Phantom of the Opera and the Wolfman.

After the press-event was over, my coworkers and I wandered around the park. Was Robyn’s makeup realistic? I made up half-a-dozen stories explaining to other park guests how i got that nasty gash on my head, and people believed me. Well, maybe not the story about being scratched by a zombie.

For more Halloween Horror Nights information check the Halloween Horror Nights website. Even the web page is scary.

Photos by Leia Sopicki.

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