It’s that time of year again, when the theme parks go all out for Halloween events, and nobody does Halloween fright quite like Universal Studios, with their history of making horror films for over 80 years. The hugely popular Halloween Horror Nights features the most authentic scares from some of the biggest horror properties in film and TV, and this year it’s trying something new with “The Horrors of Blumhouse” maze, combining the four films from The Purge franchise with the two Sinister films and the upcoming Happy Death Day (in theaters on October 13th).
Collider was recently invited to preview the extensive new maze to find out from maze creator John Murdy what went into bringing all of the little details to life, and also chat with Jason Blum about why these three properties were chosen and what he’s most excited about with this live experience. We’ve included the highlights of the interview, along with a list of 10 things to know about the maze and some preview photos. All images are via Christina Radish.
Collider: What made you want to do a maze that combines different Blumhouse properties?
JASON BLUM: It was actually our idea and we pitched it to John [Murdy]. We’ve done our own live events, in the past. We did Blumhouse of Horrors. We did a Purge live event ourselves, separate from Horror Nights. John and I have known each other a long time, and I said, “It would be so fun to do this with you guys!” They do it better than we do. We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years, so I’m psyched to finally have this.
Was there much thought put into which properties you’d include in this maze?
BLUM: Sure, there was a lot of thought. Not every scary movie fits. You have to have big set pieces. The Purge is perfect because conceptually it’s so perfect for a live event. Sinister is one I’ve always wanted to do and never done. So, we chose the movies that we thought would make the best live experiences.
Were you looking for similar themes, at all?
BLUM: No, we weren’t looking for similarities in the storytelling. We were looking for characters or set pieces that would be conducive to a live scare. That’s what we wanted.
What do you personally enjoy about these three properties?
BLUM: Every movie lives in your brain in a very different way. First of all, my role on every movie is different. My role on Sinister 1 was very different from my role on Sinister 2. And Sinister 1 was the first movie I did with Ethan [Hawke], so that was the beginning of working with him on a bunch of different things. And then, we did The Purge together, so I think about that. On the first Sinister, we had a production disaster, so I think about that. It’s very personal to me, the experiences that happen over about 12-month period of making the movies.
People aren’t going to know what to expect from Happy Death Day, since it doesn’t open in theaters until October 13th. What should they know about it, coming into the maze?
BLUM: The cool thing about Happy Death Day is that we’ve never done a maze based on a movie that hasn’t come out yet. Usually, people have already seen the movie by the time they come to the maze. I think there’s something fun about going through the maze, and then a week or two later, seeing the movie. What’s different about Happy Death Day is that you get the live event before you get the movie, if you do it at a particular time. We’ve never done that before, and I think that’s really cool. The other thing is that Happy Death Day is a collaboration between Blumhouse and Chris Landon, who’s a very talented guy that I’ve done five movies with. We did four of the six Paranormal Activity movies with Chris Landon, so we have a long relationship. He’s as good as anyone at making scary stuff fun, and what people can expect from Happy Death Day is not only a great Friday the 13th scary movie, but it’s also a fun movie.
Do you think about spoilers, at all?
BLUM: We do. We think about spoilers and we try to stick to stuff that’s either been seen in the trailer or that’s not going to give anything away. If you go through the Happy Death Day experience, there are no spoilers for the movie.
Do you think that people will experience the maze differently, before and after they get to see the film? If they’re coming to Halloween Horror Nights before the movie opens, do you recommend they return to walk through it again, after they’ve seen the film?
BLUM: That’s up to them, if they want to come back, but it’s always different after you’ve seen the movie. The live experience brings back an image of the movie, so if you liked the movie, then for sure, come back because you’ll experience it in a different way.
At this point, are you desensitized to horror and scares, or is it still as fun and exciting for you?
BLUM: It’s definitely still as fun and exciting. We’re always trying to top ourselves and to do it better. I’ve never done a movie where I haven’t learned at least one thing, so I like to thing the longer we do it, the better we get at it. That doesn’t mean our movies are always better. Sometimes we miss the mark, for sure. I am desensitized to the scares in our movies because I’ve seen them so many times, but scares in other movies still get me very scared. When I go through the mazes for our movies, even if I’ve been through the maze before, I jump very far.
Are you somebody who loves Halloween?
BLUM: Yeah, I am. I love Halloween. It was my favorite holiday, as a kid. My mother and I used to start making my costume in early August. By this point, we’d have a lot of it together. At our company, we have no Christmas party. Our annual party is a Halloween party. I love Halloween. I love dressing up. I dress up, all year round, in various outfits, and I get really dressed up at our Halloween party. Now, I have a little kid, so hopefully our daughter will like Halloween as much as I do.