Universal Studios Hollywood has announced plans for haunted mazes based on "The Walking Dead" hit TV show, "Evil Dead" film franchise and heavy metal trailblazers Black Sabbath for Halloween Horror Nights 2013.
Doubling down on the success of "The Walking Dead" zombie juggernaut, Horror Nights will add a scare zone this season to the haunted maze and terror tram attractions returning from last Halloween.
The 2013 version of the Walking Dead: No Safe Haven maze takes visitors inside the walls of the zombie-infested Georgia prison featured in the Emmy Award-winning show's third season. Outside the maze entrance a scare zone overrun with vicious, hungry and growling "walkers" will take over the city streets of the studio backlot, a first for Horror Nights and something I've long lobbied for. The setting should be truly unforgettable.
Based on the 2013 movie reboot, the Evil Dead: Book of the Dead maze will force visitors to venture into a blood-soaked cabin in the woods where they must dodge demon-possessed victims hell-bent on carnage.
Back in 1992, an early incarnation of Horror Nights featured an Evil Dead maze based on the original 1981 cult classic film, although I doubt most of the current target audience for this year's event was old enough to attend at the time.
Following the success of the Alice Cooper mazes of the last two years, Horror Nights returns with a tribute to recently reunited heavy metal pioneers Black Sabbath that walks visitors through the nightmarish graveyards, madhouses and battlefields of the band's sinister lyrics.
Infused with themes of the occult, addiction and war, the dark and haunting soundtrack of the Black Sabbath: 13 3D maze will feature songs from the multiplatinum band's four-decade career, including "Iron Man," "Paranoid" and "War Pigs." This is by far my most anticipated maze of HHN 2013.
Tied to the upcoming film sequel, the Insidious: Into the Further maze takes visitors along on a paranormal investigation into a mysterious childhood secret that has haunted the Lambert family for two generations. The maze travels through the dark realms of the family's tormented past lives where they confront evil spirits determined to bring suffering to the living.
After exploring the legend of La Llorona for the past two years, Horror Nights brings another infamous Latin American legend to life with the El Cucuy: The Boogeyman maze based on the mythical monster.
In the cautionary tale told by generations of parents to disobedient children, the shape-shifting monster with razor-sharp teeth and claws lays in wait under beds, in closets and on rooftops. Mustachioed movie tough guy Danny Trejo, who starred in "Machete" and "Desperado," provides the narration for the maze.
Last year Universal Studios added a DJ spinning electronica, industrial and dub-step music to the moribund House of Horrors, but it did little to improve the year-round maze that is always an afterthought when it comes to Horror Nights. Adding the winners of the "Future Frankenstein" design contest on SyFy channel's "Face Off" special effects makeup competition show won't help the rehashed Monsters Remix: Resurrection maze. Save this one for last and skip it altogether on a busy night.
Just inside the park's main entrance, visitors will immediately step into the madness of a lawless night where all crime up to and including murder is legal. Based on the 2013 science fiction thriller, The Purge: Survive the Night scare zone will be teeming with sadistic masked murderers wielding knives and chainsaws.
After hurling insults, taking over the Terror Tram and even landing his own maze one year, Chucky the homicidal toy doll will commandeer the Baker Street area of the park with his own scare zone. It will be interesting to see how Universal pulls off the "Child's Play" villain as a walk-around character. I'd love to see a pint-sized platoon of ax-wielding serial killers unleashed on the famed London thoroughfare.
The rest of the scare zones will be filled out with Horror Night's now familiar collection of generic Killer Zs. (You remember Toyz, Witchez, Freakz, Pigz, Lunaticz and Nightmarez from seasons past.) The Klownz return this season to French Street (nothing's scarier than that mime Marcel Marceau) while stilt-walking Scarecrowz will roam the Lower Lot.
And, of course, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" will be back with another round of tasteless jokes about celebrity foibles.
Now stretching over seven weekends, Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood runs Sept. 20, 21, 27 and 28; Oct. 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 31; and Nov. 1 and 2.
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