Universal Studios Hollywood has assembled the best Halloween Horror Nights ever whose lineup reads like a who’s who of modern and classic horror movies and television shows.
In a decade of attending Horror Nights, I’ve never seen a lineup as jam-packed with hits as this.
Any one of this year’s haunted mazes and scare zones could have served as a headliner in seasons past: The Exorcist, American Horror Story, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Walking Dead and the Purge. Halloween Horror Nights 2016 looks like a Lollapalooza mega-show of blood and gore.
Horror Nights 2016 will feature seven haunted mazes, four scare zones and a show on select nights from Sept. 16 to Nov. 5.
Here’s a look at what’s on tap:
I have been waiting for what seems like forever for Horror Nights to turn the 1973 supernatural thriller film into a maze. Finally, we will get to walk through Regan MacNeil’s home and witness her demon possession and eventual exorcism.
Horror Nights executives promise to faithfully render Regan’s levitating, head-spinning and projectile-vomiting scenes -- complete with authentic smells. But will we get to see her upside-down spider walk down the staircase?
American Horror Story
Horror Nights will draw from three chapters in the anthology TV series for the maze.
Visitors will encounter the tortured dead who previously lived in the first season’s Murder House, flee the murderous and deformed Twisty the Clown in Season 4’s sinister Freak Show and check into Season 5’s deadly Hotel Cortez run by the Countess, the hotel owner played by Lady Gaga in the television show.
In seasons past, visitors have asked for an American Horror Story haunted maze more than any other, Universal officials say. The FX anthology horror TV series has won 13 Emmys and two Golden Globes.
Freddy Versus Jason
Universal promises twice the terror when mass killers Freddy Krueger from the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie franchise faces off in a battle to the death with Jason Voorhees from the “Friday the 13th” film series.
The Freddy Versus Jason haunted maze will be based on the 2003 supernatural slasher film that first pairs the horror icons in a killing spree before pitting them against each other in an epic showdown.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Blood Brothers
The new twist on the familiar horror franchise takes visitors inside the Last Chance gas station and barbecue joint where Leatherface’s brother Drayton Sawyer serves chili made with human remains. The demented chainsaw killer teams up with his deranged brother Chop Top Sawyer in an effort to expand their cannibalistic family business.
Horror Nights took on the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” film series in 2007, 2008 and 2012.
Horror Nights explored the “Halloween” film franchise in 2009 and 2015. This year, the Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield maze focuses on the 1981 sequel to the original slasher film.
Expect to encounter Michael Myers dozens of times as the seemingly immortal killer stalks the Illinois town and the Haddonfield Memorial Hospital.
After staging Walking Dead mazes for four consecutive years, Universal decided to build a permanent year-round maze dedicated to the popular AMC zombie apocalypse television show.
The new indoor attraction adds special effects and 20 animatronic zombies (known as walkers on the show). The number of live scareactors will double to 24 during the Halloween season.
The year-round Walking Dead attraction replaced Universal’s House of Horrors.
The Krampus maze, based on the 2015 holiday horror-comedy film, recounts the folk tales of the mythical demonic creature that drags disobedient children to hell.
The fabled half goat-half demon horned beast teams up with a band of dark elves and sinister gingerbread men to terrorize visitors lacking holiday spirit.
Universal staged Dark Christmas scare zones starring Krampus during the last two Horror Nights seasons.
The serial killer clown Hollywood Harry takes over the Terror Tram in an original story conceived for Horror Nights by “Hostel” filmmaker Eli Roth.
The story traces the sordid history of Los Angeles resident Harold Kappowitz, who once starred in his own children’s television show as Koodles the Clown. Driven out of the entertainment industry, Kappowitz reemerges as Hollywood Harry to embark on a serial killing spree at Universal Studios Hollywood. Kappowitz recruits other outcast clowns to seek revenge on visitors riding the Studio Tour tram.
Universal has been teasing the Hollywood Harry backstory on Roth’s Crypt TV digital horror network.
The hip-hop dance crew returns for a second season as the lone show at Horror Nights.
The masked dancers, winners of the first season of “America’s Best Dance Crew,” pose, pop and break-dance to a pounding techno beat of rap songs.
The outdoor scare zones scattered throughout the park have often been an afterthought for Universal’s creative team.
For years, the vaguely themed scare zones have been populated with what I call the Killer Z’s: Toyz, Witchez, Klownz, Skullz, Freakz and Pigz. I could go on and on, just as Universal has done season after season: Lunaticz, Nightmarez, Scarecrowz, Corpz and Reaperz.
This year, Universal has chosen to populate all the scare zones with the sadistic vigilantes from “The Purge” trilogy of films.
As in “The Purge” movies, in which crime is legal for 12 hours during a government-sanctioned killing rampage, the knife- and chainsaw-wielding masked murderers will sow chaos and anarchy throughout Universal’s upper and lower lots.