The Cure is blasting from the thumping sound system to a filled house of enthusiastic haunt lovers as they waited for Universal Studios Hollywood’s presentation at the inaugural year. The lights dimmed and the announcer’s voice boomed introducing Creative Director of Halloween Horror Nights, John Murdy and Art Director Halloween Horror Nights, the inimitable Chris Williams.
Murdy recapped by bringing up their most recent announcement of the slashers. For the first time ever Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, Jason, and Michael Myers will be represented at the annual Halloween event together . Michael Myers will have Halloween: Hell comes to Haddonfield, Freddy and Jason will have Freddy Vs. Jason, and Leatherface will be in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers.
The discussion began by noting that Freddy has been in the event three times. Over the years there were many tricks and visuals involved in bringing nightmares to life. One of the more striking scenes was in a rubber room built of spandex. writhing faces stretched from the walls toward guests looking for escape. Another amazing effect was a stroller from which Freddy sprang, scaring visitors.
Of note is that, like Freddy, Jason has also made three appearances at the event. One of the biggest scenic challenges, of course, was that the maze had to be in a forest. Thankfully they had plenty of trees to reuse after the closure of E.T. The Ride (moment of silence). Sadly not all of the effects worked. In the early days of mechanical effects, a thing called “Lickety Split” featured a mechanical cadaver that split as Jason was cutting it. the thing never moved fast enough and guests were moving on to the next scene before it was even finished. Yes, this proves things CAN be too scary. Thankfully the inventiveness did not stop and they found even more reliable ways to slaughter victims and startle guests.
After that they moved on to Freddy Vs. Jason. The maze will start in the abandoned boiler factory where Freddy met his demise. Well, one of his demises. There will be a major prologue that will set up the premise for the maze as guests wait in line. Once inside guests will encounter an abandoned cabin, Jason’s fresh kills floating in a nearby lake. The big news hit when Murdy let it out that Freddy Vs. Jason will feature multiple endings! Yes, depending on when you are there, you will see either Jason win, or Freddy slay them dead. I mean HOW COOL IS THAT?
Moving on the Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers, Murdy says that this has been consistently voted as one of the scariest mazes each year that it is created. Williams shines in these mazes with the cluttered nastiness of the dinner scene in the dining room. The new maze will actually be a sequel that does not exist. Taking place 5 years after the original Tobe Hooper classic, we will see that the family has developed a highly successful catering business. The atmosphere is festive at the Sawyer home as ChopTop, a character that made his first appearance in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, is coming home from Vietnam. His room in particular will be an insane mishmash of human remains and psychedelic 60’s imager. Next we will go to Leatherface’s room. Here it will be very 1950’s Cowboys and Indians, filled with a collection of dolls. Leatherface will have been hard at work, creating leather masks for each of his miniature minions.
Bringing up Halloween, Murdy says of last years Halloween maze that “That was by far, the highest rated maze ever on either coast” Referring to the 2009 Life and Crimes of Michael Myers maze Murdy admits, “It’s almost like a knock on the 2009 maze.” It was a good maze, but didn’t seem to capture the spirit of the film. That is what they set out to do in 2015.
Set in the 1970’s just after the murders had taken place, the original title for the maze was The Ghost of Michael Myers. However they changed it as they didn’t want it to be perceived as too supernatural. Doing the maze in 2015 again allowed them to work out certain kinks and to improve on others.
Now, speaking of Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield, Murdy is doing the sequel to the highest rated maze in Halloween History. Picking up right after Loomis shot Michael Myers in front of the Doyle house, we step inside, through the house, and into a back alley. We move on to a very 1970’s hospital, “You’ll be walking through the scenes in the movie that Michael Myers walked through” Says Williams. “We will be doing all the classic kill scenes, the hammer, the needle, the scalpel.” says Murdy. Of course, they will also be coming up with a brand new finale for the maze that will be even scarier than last year.
With that, Murdy ended the discussion and gave away a set of front of the line tickets With a behind the scenes tour, to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. While the discussion featured no maze reveals there was plenty of fascinating information and tidbits that satisfied. I mean, a maze with multiple endings? A maze that is a sequel to a classic horror franchise? A follow-up to the highest rated maze ever at Halloween Horror Nights worldwide? Yes. This was a good panel.
Below is video of the entire panel.