Halloween Horror Nights has been scaring people for nineteen years now, and as far as I can tell, they have only gotten scarier and better at their job. HHN is located in Universal Studios Orlando and for a few weeks a year, they transform their family-friendly theme park into the ultimate scare fest. This year they went with the story of The Palace Theater where rumors that the films have come to life are rampant and tales of murder are not far behind.
To tell this gruesome tale, Universal used the Character of the usher, a character that fits in well with the park’s ghoulish theme. The makeup and costumes on every worker was just fantastic. Getting up close and personal with some of them still didn’t deter your mind from what was happening. They are also very elaborate of their portrayal of that character. I was scared multiple times in the Scare Zone, Cirque du Freak by a certain vampire with long hair, a trench coat and razor sharp teeth that followed me very, VERY closely and hissed at me something hideous. I dreaded having to pass through the area again, because he was turning the others in my direction as well.
The films they chose to haunt your dreams with for the haunted houses ranged from Dracula to Saw to The Wolfman, which will be in Theaters in 2010. With a total of eight movie-themed houses, it’s needless to say that you will need some time to take up the task of strolling through each one. Along with the houses, Universal makes use of Scare Zones between the houses, a mini haunted house outside. I guess they’re thinking that you don’t need time to breathe.
I am in love with this idea. It kept me on my toes and shaking between houses. The two stand out scare zones are “War of the Living Dead” and “Light Camera Hacktion.” “War of the Living Dead” reminded me of the recent release, Dead Snow. As the “Dead” we’re dressed in Nazi garb in war mode and all had a very zombified look on their faces. The over all design of the scare zone was top notch and the performance by the characters were outstanding. My second favorite scare zone, “Light Camera Haction” was lead by the Texas Chainsaw Drill Team Massacre, a group of chainsaw-welding men that chase you through the tortured movie set. The drill team was not afraid to do anything for a scare, even putting inches between you and their gas powered friends. It was also frightening knowing that at any moment, they might put a hand on you to enhance the thrill. I watched a younger teenage boy get the crap scared out of him by a drill team member grabbing him by the shirt and revving his saw right at him. Then one of the other members looked at us and giggled while saying, “I guess we can touch now” as he started approaching us. Needless to say, we got the heck out of there.
Enough with the Scare Zones though, let’s talk about the real reason I came, the houses. As I said before, there were eight total this year: Wolfman; Dracula:Legacy of Blood; Frankenstein, Creation of the Damned; Leave it to Cleaver; Saw; The Spawning: Chucky, Friends to the End; and my favorite, Silver Screams. Each house was absolutely terrifying in it’s own demented way, but Silver Screams just had enough to leave it far above the rest. The premise of Screams was this: you walk the halls of The Palace Theater, walking into movie after movie as they come to life. They manage to set up each encounter brilliantly as between movies, each scare is introduced by it’s own nostalgic poster. This house had it all: My Bloody Valentine, The Thing, and even Shaun of the Dead. All of those pale in comparison to the not so scary fright of one of my favorite movies of all time: Evil Dead. Yes, that’s right, Ash himself is featured in this house. The way this part of the journey of Silver Screams was set up, is to be a fan boy/girl surprise as before, you’re walking and you are greeted by a movie poster called, “The Medieval Dead.” This threw me off at fist as all the other films had been stand out Hollywood fair. The only clue of what was to come was the Necronomicon hidden so cleverly by your feet. But, I must say that when the chainsaw-toting Ash ripped apart a force of the dead before my eyes, while saying the ever so quotable, “Hey! She Bitch, Come Get Some,” my fan girl heart did skip a beat. This is not to say the other houses were missing something, as all eight houses are brilliantly designed and equally terrifying.
Each house has something for everyone and will leave you shivering in terror. The only suggestions I can make are: to invest in the Express Pass option to skip the lines. While no one likes standing in line anyway, this pass allows you to bypass the tons of people lining up to see the same fright as you and by getting in sooner, you will have more free time to roam the Scare Zones and visit the houses more than once in a night. My second suggestion is: if you do choose to make a day of it at the parks, tread lightly, or by the end of the night you will be too worn out to be scared, and spend your night afterward rubbing your aching feet. Needless to say, I will be back next year.
I give “Halloween Horror Nights 19” 5 “I’m sleeping with the lights on” out of 5.
by Angela Davis