Universal Studios: Halloween Horror Nights

Standing outside Universal Studios as the sun began to set brought on excitement, but also had me anxious. I do watch horror movies – and by watch I mean through my webbed fingers staring at the bottom right corner of the screen. I had seen YouTube videos of previous horror nights shows so I was expecting mazes with classic  horror characters jumping out of secret doors trying to send chills down my short spine. Pure evil villainous laughter came from beyond the Universal Studios gate. Every now and again a single drum beat could be heard. At this point I was thinking any of these characters could go rogue and this could turn out to be an actual horror night. Like in Scream. With me being the African in the group I’m bound to go first. Or I’d survive by pure accident.
The courteous gentleman on the speakers reminded us we would not be touched so to not touch in return. Thank you sir but those words are not going to be anywhere in my memory as a deranged clown runs towards me.
The gates finally opened, thick fog filled the grounds so you could hear chainsaws but couldn’t see which direction they were coming from. Most people were like me, you know you have to go through but you don’t want to. I was extremely nervous by now.  I turned to the best friend who had already started making his way to the gates with a huge smile on his face like a child in a candy store.
When you walk into Universal Studios there are a collection of grey iron statues depicting a director, cameraman and a sound girl. For tonight’s occasion they added a Fred Krueger statue. I thought that was pretty cool until the couple taking a pic next to him were frightened by his sudden movement. Well played Freddy, well played.
Up ahead was aforementioned deranged clown wielding a freaking chainsaw. He came full speed towards us and stopped inches in front of us. The best friend had a massive smile on his face encouraging said clown to do it again, meanwhile I had forgotten how to breathe.
Tortured souls and lunatics surrounded us. Half eaten corpses were hanging from rooftops while others had been strangled in their cars by more clowns.
Universal Studios looked and sounded terrifying. A job very well done. 5 mazes were on show in the form of Saw, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, House of 1000 Corpses and Dracula’s Castle.
First up was the blood sucking maze in Vampyre: Castle of the Undead. I braved this very first maze thinking I’d go in confident and be ok. It’s just normal people dressed up in costume right? The pathways constantly twist so you cannot see too far ahead. You see a door to the right side so you expect someone to jump out at you from there. Stick to the left then. Rookie mistake. The dim lights set that haunted mood, cobwebs brush up against you as you walk past, curtains quiver in the wind. The castle is huge with 2 levels to walk through. I had watched people ahead of me get scared as Dracula’s brides quickly sprung and retreated back into their hiding spots. We fell behind waiting for the other 2 to catch up. As we got to the stairs for the second level I let my guard down. To my left just behind my shoulder came this tall pale woman in a white dress and blonde hair hissing at me with her long glistening fangs. Naturally my hands went up to push her away. That message at the beginning of this journey was long gone out of my brain. Thankfully I did not feel her wrath and I was not escorted off the premises. The second level showed the way out below but also what was to come. Bridges over foggy rivers, more cobwebs and more frights but there in the short distance was that bright exit sign. I had not become immortal but I hadn’t become dinner either so we were even.
The 4 of us fought our way through the fog, crazed clowns, La Llorona zombie brides and menacing creatures to the far side of the park, down the escalator to the studio tour buses. We headed to the set of The Grinch Stole Christmas and were told to leave the bus. The Whos’ were no where to be found but several knife wielding Chuckys chased and scattered everyone. We gathered again and began our walk to Bates Motel. None of the lights were on but thankfully our buses waited just a short distance away. The couple walking in front of me suddenly turned around with zombie faces on. They say breathing is involuntary but twice on this night I had to remind myself how to. Staff members who had posed as visitors, with masks stuffed down their pockets. Who’d see that coming? We continued our walk past the wreckage scene from War of the Worlds decorated with zombie soldiers for halloween. Frighteners in camouflage ran at us from the bushes and chased us back to our trams and back to the start. Up the escalators and back to mayhem.
I am all for horrors as long as the villain is human. I have a fighting chance. The playing ground is even. There is potential to kick Jason’s ass. If something supernatural attacks you then you’re screwed, like Freddie. The next maze took us in to Camp Crystal Lake, into Mr Voorhees lair. The line snaked through the dense bush and foliage up to the cabin. My mouth was dry and my hands were cold. Inside the cabin were unmade bunks and you could hear Jason’s mother crying out for her son. As we moved from room to room we found more victims who were doomed to never survive. I saw the hockey mask wearing villain scare a group of young ones ahead from behind a curtain. I figured this was a good thing.  He won’t scare me now. But he must’ve read my thoughts as he cocked his head to the side to look my way. I refused to make eye contact. But he walked over and stood over me, all 6 ft something of him. My little legs carried me very quickly out of that maze. Next up was Freddie’s nightmare. I don’t like Freddie, he’s supernatural. I had a plan for this maze. I walked behind the bestie with my hands holding each side of his t-shirt, I’m quite sure I stretched it too. Dream sequences from the movie took us from room to room. Including the water bed scene that claimed young Johnny Depp. A young girl sat alone in a dark classroom, as we walked through she lost it at us. Freddie’s face came from a window,  I pushed the bestie his way. Another Freddie came from behind a door and I shoved my not so bestie his way. The final hall. I left the gang behind and ran for that exit only to have 1 final Freddie jump out with his claws. I’m sure my squeal could be heard by dogs miles away. The maze was done. I was shaking and the other 2 were nervously laughing and the ‘best friend’ was all smiles that the karma bus came around quickly to pick me up.
We walked past Moe’s Tavern to Rob Zombie’s monstrous creation in 3D. This was easily my favorite. Without the 3D glasses the walls were plain and dull. Once they were on bright colored blood dripped down the walls. A lady sat in a chair scalping a male victim as I walked past. His blood squirted all over my skin. I felt sick to my stomach, having to remind myself it’s only water. The air was cold. This was like a psych ward gone wrong, a circus of freaks. We made our way down long corridors with stringy cobwebs almost tangling us. Insane clowns laughing maniacally as we walked past. I took off my glasses for a second to reveal how dull the room actually looked. Amazing what a paper with a blue and red lens can do. Huge kudos to the people who designed this maze, mind blown.
 The final maze was Saw. I was looking forward to seeing what Jigsaw had in store for us. The lighting was very similar to that of the movie, greyish green. There were people stuck in traps hacking off their limbs for freedom. Occasionally sinister people moved in the shadows masked in the pig face and black cloaks. Billy turned up now and again on his tricycle asking if we wanted to play a game. No thank you.
With the mazes done and now being used to the characters around the park it was time for a ride. Jurassic Park is a movie close to my heart. I was 6 years old when Jeff Goldblum taught me to stay very still when being attacked by T-rex. We boarded the boat for our tour of the wonderful world of dinosaurs. The animatronics were excellent. Raptors hissed and sprayed us, just out of reach on the banks. The boat turned a corner and alas all had fallen apart. There were cars ripped apart, rooms torn apart and those sneaky raptors looked like they were filled up on humans. The roof above our boat opened up and down came T-rex’s snapping jaw. Before he could taste human flesh our boat dropped down a short waterfall that left us drenched and ended the Jurassic Park experience.
Before our night could end Bill and Ted took us on an Excellent Halloween Adventure. ‘Hi I’m Bill S. Preston Esquire. And I’m Ted Theodore Logan. And together we are the Wild Stallions.’ Dude! These 2 guys are some of my favorite ’80’s past times. Thankfully they rescued us from Justin Beiber.
This was a good way to finish Halloween Horror Nights 2010. I will attend a Halloween Horror Night again, there’s nothing like that feeling that someone is watching you from the shadows waiting for the perfect moment to stop your heart for a second.



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