The Halloween season is officially upon us, which means that Halloween Horror Nights shenanigans are back at Universal Studios Hollywood. On select nights from September 13th through November 3rd, guests will be able to check out mazes for Stranger Things, Ghostbusters, Us, Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Creepshow, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Rob Zombie’s House of 1,000 Corpses, Holidayz in Hell and The Curse of Pandora’s Box, along with having access to the permanent walk-through attraction for The Walking Dead, five scare zones (Fallen Angelz, Spirits & Demons of the East, Christmas in Hell, Toxxxic Tunnel and All Hallow’s Evil), an all-new Jabbawockeez show, and access to Jurassic World: The Ride, Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, Transformers: The Ride-3D and The Simpsons Ride.
Collider, along with a handful of other press outlets, was recently invited to preview the Us maze to find out what went into bringing all of the little details of the franchise to life. After taking a tour with HHN creative director/executive producer John Murdy, we’ve compiled a list of 12 things to know about the maze and have included some preview photos.
When it came to bringing Us to life, Jordan Peele reached out because he wanted to have the film realized as a maze and worked directly with Horror Nights to be able to make that happen.
- Us is a difficult movie to translate into a live experience because it’s so multi-layered with so many references to other horror movies, and Peele was very specific in how he wanted the film represented. The use of blood in his films is very specific, and it was important to him that it be artistically applied, so they used many images from the movie, in order to properly represent that. For example, the amount of blood for Kitty (Elisabeth Moss’ character), when she’s the tethered Dahlia, and the way the blood is splattered on her face had to be very specific. And the reference to The Shining and the way the girls are posed had to be exactly like the film.
- There’s specific dialogue from the film used throughout the maze to tell the story, but it’s selective. In the audio, even though the maze doesn’t go to the lake, Peele wanted to have the motorboat heard in the background, so that you get the sense that it’s out there somewhere.
- The starting point for the maze is the starting point of the film, which is the Shaman Vision Quest with its funhouse forest, on the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Outside, you’ll come across young Adelaide with her caramel apple, waiting to get inside. The Us maze is a slow burn that builds in anticipation until you get to that signature moment in the film, when the boy says to his father, “Daddy, there’s a family in our front yard.”
- The maze’s first scare involves an owl that a prop artist sculpted to look exactly like the one in the film. It will have a performer controlling it, with the ability to make the owl’s eyes light up and who can control the sound effects.
- For the maze, they’ve done a spot-on recreation of the Wilson family cabin, using approx. 40,000 pictures to get it just right. One of the most tedious aspects of Horror Nights is the fact that every single thing in the mazes has to be attached to its specific place.
- Within the maze, you’ll come across the tethered versions of the Wilson family, whether it’s Abraham using a bat to drive you into the living room, or Pluto on the other side of a window, or Red demonstrating the unique choreographed movements that are specific to the film.
You’ll also enter the Tyler cabin, where you’ll come across Kitty and Josh (Tim Heidecker’s character) and the twins, Becca and Lindsey, as well as their tethered versions.
- Even the bunnies will make an appearance in a hallway, on your way to the classroom for the final confrontation, or the dance of death, between Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o’s character) and Red.
- Inspired by the movie’s ending, with the miles of untethered holding hands, they pitched a maze ending to Peele to take you into a space where you’re surrounded by the tethered and they’re all holding hands, and some of them are real and some of them are static. The sequence will include five live performers, constantly moving.
- Because music also played such a big role in Us, you’ll hear the theatrical score in the maze, as well as “ I Got 5 On It (Tethered Mix)”.
- Because they’re essentially building a theme park within a theme park, when they build Horror Nights inside of Universal Studios, they have a huge facility offsite to help with building and staging. When they build a scene like the living of the Wilson family cabin, they put it together in their warehouse facility and make sure it’s perfectly laid out, before transferring it to the site location. For the prop team, there’s a prop master and a crew of about 25 other people who, most of the year, are working on films and TV shows, as freelance prop artists, and then they either source or make everything that’s needed for Horror Nights.
Halloween Horror Nights is at Universal Studios Hollywood on select nights from September 13th through November 3rd, and tickets and special offers are available at https://hollywood.halloweenhorrornights.com/.