Universal Studios Hollywood invited us up to the park this week to see first hand what horrific things are in store for their annual Halloween Horror Nights event. This year, Halloween Horror Nights will run weekends from September 20-October 31st. Universal is known for their distinctly immersive Haunted Houses & Mazes, with an attention to gory detail that few others can pull off. Then, after the make-up demonstrations on the upper lot, we took a walk through the brand new Evil Dead: Dead Inside maze.
Fair warning here: Universal is renowned for their gory, highly realistic makeup effects that they use on their scare-actors. If you have a weak stomach, you are better off stopping here.
Fair warning done? Ok! On to the gore!
In true Murdy style, John took to the stage in the foyer of the Globe Theatre and addressed the crowd. He explained that we were to be treated to a working make-up demonstration which would allow us to see the process by which normal actors are turned into hideous creatures for the delight of Halloween guests. He also explained that in the center of the room, we would get a chance to see samples of the highly detailed costumes that have been created for the actors in the mazes and in the scare zones.
We enter a large room with five makeup stations off to the right, mask displays to the left, and costume displays in the middle. At the opposite end of the room, there were two makeup stations where guests could try on some nasty makeup effects of their own.
The mazes this year are The Walking Dead: No Safe Haven, Black Sabbath 13 3D, Insidious: Into the Further, Evil Dead, El Cucuy, and Monsters Remix: Resurrected.
MAKE UP DEMOS FOR WALKING DEAD
Watching the scare-actors transformed into flesh-eating zombies was fascinating. First a glue-like prosthetic was applied to the actor. Then, as it dried, the artist begins to blend the flesh tones and blur the line between the actor and the artistry.
EVIL DEAD MAKE UP DEMO
This one effect is particularly fiendish and bloody. The actress here needs to look as if she has cut her cheek wide-open. In this case it will be up to the artist to create the illusion using prosthesis and paint.
color is added …
Another actress from Evil Dead was enjoying a more subtle, but just as scary, application. Makeup artist and coordinator for Halloween Horror Nights Larry Bones noted that of all the mazes this year, Evil Dead offered the most challenges. When asked why he answered, “The effects are surprisingly intricate. On one actor alone you will have a variety of prosthetic pieces applied to them. Not just one face mold, but little nicks and cuts all over their upper body. That takes a lot of time when you have a whole cast to get into makeup.”
MONSTERS REMIX: RESURRECTED MAKEUP DEMO
Here, one of the winning creations from the makeup reality show, Face-Off, recreates her design that will be used in the maze. It is a futuristic take on Bride of Frankenstein and it looks great.
MAKE UP DEMO ON FISHBULB
Then they made me get in the chair. I figured that anything they’d do to me would just make me look better.
In the center of the room were some costume samples for the various mazes. It is impressive that, even though guests might see these pieces in a fleeting glimpse, Universal spends a considerable amount of time and effort on the creation of these wonderful costumes.
Looking over at the wigs and masks displayed, we see a variety of wonderful creations.
After the demos were complete, John Murdy, Larry Bones and their collection of ghouls returned to the foyer for one final photo op.
That was pretty amazing but there was more in store for us…
EVIL DEAD MAZE PREVIEW
Just after the wonderful makeup demonstrations, Universal Creative Director John Murdy whisked us away in a van and took us down to the lower lot for a quick walk through the new maze Evil Dead. This is a highly anticipated walk-through attraction that fans of the franchise and the designers alike have wanted to see created.
John prefaced the tour with the caveat that what we were seeing was a work in progress. Many of the sets are still in need of dressing, others needed final blood splatters. It was a real honor to be the fist to see the layout of the new maze and envision what it would look like with show lighting and monsters. We don’t want to give away the flow of the maze but we will tease you with some interesting imagery.
Right off the bat, the experience will put you into the film. As with one of the more disturbing moments,
This maze was the first time that Art Director Chris WIlliams and Creative Director John Murdy have gone the extra step and created floor textures and ceilings. They felt that it was necessary as the cabin itself plays such an important role in the film.
Many theatrical effects are used to create startling illusions. For instance, if you notice behind John, the wall is a little transparent. During a key bit of audio, the wall will vanish, revealing monsters on the other side.
The attention to detail and even the props are all carefully selected. However, this is a maze with people shuffling through night after night. Chris Williams is said to constantly be doing breakthroughs, attempting to tear props from their affixed spots to ensure things stay in place.
But one thing we CAN tell you is that you will experience the scene in the film in which the skies begin to rain blood.
We are excited to check out the terrors that await us at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights both here in Hollywood and in Orlando. If you’d like to join us for Halloween Horror Nights in either Hollywood or Orlando, join our Haunt mailing list and we’ll contact you with event information.