MouseInfo had the opportunity to take part in a super special behind-the-scenes tour with Creative Director John Murdy for a look at two highly anticipated mazes at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). Both are appearing at Universal Studios Hollywood for the first time ever: Netflix’s smash hit, STRANGER THINGS and the cult classic that could, TRICK ‘R TREAT!
Below we’re going to share the coolest things we learned from our time with horror master Murdy, so if you want to be surprised on your HHN visit, don’t read any further! Consider this your official…
Filmmakers love Halloween Horror Nights
Murdy mentioned that while some writers and directors are more involved than others, the Duffer Brothers (creators of STRANGER THINGS) and Michael Daugherty (writer/director of TRICK ‘R TREAT) are all huge HHN fans and were thrilled to lend a hand in bringing their screen worlds to life.
Daugherty in particular is a Halloween nut who goes all out at his own home and visits HHN faithfully year after year. He had proposed a TRICK ‘R TREAT maze to Murdy years ago, but the timing wasn’t right. Murdy had hoped to wait for the sequel to bring the property to HHN, but decided after Universal Orlando‘s successful TRICK ‘R TREAT scare zone last year that he decided he didn’t want to put it off any longer. Murdy loves when directors appreciate HHN and get involved: “It’s great to collaborate with people who know and love what you do.”
Details make all the difference
Murdy and his crack team of designers always create a visual feast for horror nerds. Murdy insists on using audio from the source material, and in this case, Netflix provided terabytes of digital audio files for Murdy and his team to use in the STRANGER THINGS maze.
Dustin and the other kids from the show are heard throughout on walkie talkies, and booming 5.1 surround sound systems will keep you guessing as to where the Demogorgon is hiding. Take it all in as you go through the Byers’ home – the scorched phone is there and every detail, down to the wallpaper in Will’s room, matches the show. The terrifying look of the Demogorgon comes directly from the original creature sculpts used for the series.
Both mazes feature a primary monster
The scares in STRANGER THINGS will come almost exclusively from the Demogorgon, who threatens you at every turn as you weave through the forest, the Upside Down, Hawkins Laboratory and the kids’ middle school. Your first glimpse of the monster comes as he tries to push through the Byers’ walls and into our dimension, and things just get worse from there.
In TRICK ‘R TREAT, little pumpkin monster Sam is constantly torturing guests as they wander through the cursed town of Warren Valley, Ohio. Sam, the spirit of Halloween, roams at night making sure the rules of Halloween are being followed. The maze follows the 2007 cult classic closely, weaving multiple stories together with Sam as a common thread, meaning he’s always around to pop out and scare the candy out of you. Eagle-eyed fans will notice an Easter egg paying tribute to Daugherty’s animated short that gave birth to TRICK ‘R TREAT, so keep your wits about you!
Seeing is believing is screaming
HHN mazes use multiple factors to disorient and terrify guests: live performers, audio, lighting, animatronics, puppetry, timed effects, you name it. Bringing specific worlds to life is relatively straightforward on film thanks to CGI, but making those environments in the real world requires ingenuity that Murdy and his Universal staff have in spades.
Spandex wallpaper allows the Demogorgon to look like he’s bending space and time to bust into reality. Fiber optics, cotton, wind, projections and a host of other tools will make the strange atmosphere of the Upside Down a chilling reality.
The opportunity to bring STRANGER THINGS to HHN meant finding an appropriate space in the park. Stage 29 is the maze’s home, and using a full production soundstage allows the maze to have some of the tallest, most enveloping sets in HHN history. All that and air conditioning too!
See it for Yourself
Universal Studios Hollywood proudly hosts Halloween Horror Nights beginning September 14, 2018.
In addition to STRANGER THINGS and TRICK ‘R TREAT, a host of other mazes are awaiting fresh victims including HALLOWEEN 4, THE FIRST PURGE, POLTERGEIST, THE HORRORS OF BLUMHOUSE: CHAPTER 2, and UNIVERSAL MONSTERS featuring an all-new score by Slash. A new twist on the TERROR TRAM, even more zombies in THE WALKING DEAD, and new scare zones will all be waiting to scare you to death.
DON’T MISS: Get your tickets now before they sell out!