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Universal Studios Has Brought All Your Favourite Halloween Horror Movies To Life & The Results Are Terrifying

Universal Studios Has Brought All Your Favourite Halloween Horror Movies To Life & The Results Are Terrifying

Imagine having a nightmare where Freddy, Jason, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Michael Myers from Halloween, hordes of zombies, the entire cast of American Horror Story, and the girl from The Exorcist in all her head spinning, vomiting glory all make cameos?

Now imagine that the nightmare is actually real life. Gulp.

While most Americans love to get in the spirit of Halloween, Hollywood seems to take things further, probably because so many locals are “in the business”. From giant spiders lurking in restaurant carparks to headless corpses sitting in hedges, Hollywood homes and businesses sure do go all out in support of good Halloween chills. Then there’s Universal Studios. Those folks take Halloween to all new levels with a popular creepfest known as Halloween Horror Nights.

The 2016 Halloween Horror Nights - Hollywood mazes at Universal Studios Hollywood Photo by David Sprague

In the lead up to Halloween, the theme park transforms into a Halloween horrorfest of pants-wetting proportions. Once the clock strikes seven and all daytime park enthusiasts (and people with heart conditions) have exited the turnstiles, the park is turned over to a celebration of all the best slasher films and horror series that have given you nightmares since you were a kid.

With seven mazes, a terror tram and random, pop-up ‘scare zones’, horror fans descend upon the park in masses to get the hell scared out of them.

Disclaimer: I’m the person who watches horror movies from between my fingers. I’m also the person who insists on not ‘sitting on the end’ at movie theatres, just in case the entirely fictional ghost/slasher/serial killer/devil decides to walk straight out of the screen, down the aisle to seat K10 to get me. I have no business attending such an event, but I brought a brave friend to support me and really, how scary could it be?

Answer: Scarier than anything I’ve ever experienced before.

Our first introduction to the experience involves being chased by zombies through The Walking Dead attraction. Complete with the series theme music to set the scene, visitors are herded through a creepy, abandoned hospital teeming with zombies. Just entering the line-up area is ominous enough, and surely results in many embarrassing ‘back outs’. I thought twice about going through with it, but put my big girl pants on and soldiered on into the abandoned hospital.

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Luckily there are ‘good guys’ in the hospital too, who provide back-up by shooting zombies as you run to safety. Zombies lurch at you from around corners, appear from behind secret doors and menace you from behind bars, reaching out to grab you with their festering hands.

Result: I screamed so much I began to lose my voice. Good start!

The Exorcist maze is a faithful recreation of the movie, from entering a bedroom with a levitating, vomiting demonic child being wrangled by a hapless priest to being chilled to the bone by the haunting theme music being piped throughout the maze, The Exorcist maze is a truly chilling homage to one of the most disturbing horror films ever made. Special credit to the priest who broke character and gave me a huge scare by lurching at me with no warning. Dude, you’re meant to be a good guy!

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While the whole experience is beyond-terrifying, it was the American Horror Story freak show that broke me. The only reason I made it through was because I was promised an ice cream if I did it. Just like with animals, food rewards can work behavioural wonders with adult humans too. Everyone has their fears and phobias, but put me in a house with demented, armed clowns, murderous circus freaks, deranged doctors dismembering corpses and other unidentifiable demons with bad intentions, and I turn to jelly.

This was the maze that would not quit. As room after room, and passageway after passageway of clowns and freaks unleashed hell on us from every angle, I began to think I would never get out, until I burst through the exit door, crying, laughing and shaking all at the same time.

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Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights_Texas-2

Other mazes cover the whole horror movie gamut from Freddy to Jason, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and beyond. Rounding out the offering is Krampus, a Christmas demon with a thirst for blood. What even is it? I don’t want to know.

While the mazes are all very intense, the fear of being crept up on isn’t limited to the boundaries of the mazes. Oh no, Universal Studios unleashes hell on you from all angles. Which brings me to The Purge. Built on the premise of a dystopian society that goes lawless for a night, The Purge is a nasty movie series filled with mask-wearing killers who enjoy rampaging around the city, murdering whoever they like.

The purge sign
Photo: Jo Stewart

At Halloween Horror Nights, without warning, pop-up purges occur anytime, anywhere, and there’s nowhere to escape. You think you’d be safe eating a chocolate ripple ice cream cone in a theme park right? Nope. Out of nowhere a masked, chainsaw-wielding guy runs straight at me while I’m enjoying my delicious treat. Then many other appear, as they run in packs and roam the park searching for unsuspecting dessert lovers to pounce on. By the end of the night I have no voice left from screaming and I’ve pulled a muscle in my neck from being so hyper vigilant with checking who is beside and behind me. I’ve also never laughed so much in my life.

Choc Ripple icecream
Even this experience was ruined. Photo: Jo Stewart

Universal Studios’ commitment to recreating the horror movie experience in real life should be both admired and admonished. Mixed in with my sheer terror at being stalked by knife-wielding, masked bandits, I am absolutely amazed at their realistic costumes, make up, props and commitment to staying in character no matter what.

Verdict: Five Stars. Could not do again

(All images: Universal Studios/supplied)

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