Last week, I had the chance to attend the media preview of Warner Bros. Studios Horror Made Here. This being my third year attending, I was optimistic that Warner Bros would pull out all the stops to make this year’s Horror Made Here the best. Situated on the backlot of the studio, guests would have the opportunity to experience a slew of haunted mazes situated around a horror-themed carnival exploding with evil clowns, demonic entities, ghastly spirits, and everything in-between. To give you an idea of what you can expect by attending Horror Made Here this year, the following is a recap of all the mazes and an overview of the entire experience for all you haunt fanatics out there.
Description: The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum and will decide your fate. Escape The Joker and a host of DC Super-Villains and find out who is waiting for you as you break out of this twisted institution.
Review: When it was announced that Horror Made Here would be incorporating an Arkham Asylum house as one of their mazes, fans went absolutely nuts, and for good reason. Who doesn’t want to see inside Arkham Asylum, and with the level of design that Warner Bros. puts into their mazes, this one was high on everyone’s list to experiences. Though there were a lot of aspects that I really enjoyed about this maze, there were a few that left a lot to be desired. As far as the set design, it was absolutely superb, filled with neon colors throughout as well as our favorite villains from the DC Universe that included Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and everyone’s favorite, Harley Quinn. However, what was lacking from this maze were the actual scares, and since this was helmed as a haunted attraction, I was a little let down that there weren’t any scares throughout the maze. The first go-around there were barely any scare actors to begin with, let alone scares, but luckily during the second pass, there were A LOT more characters to interact with which was a major plus. Also, before entering the maze, there’s a really cool photo-op you can get done to show your friends and family what it’s like to be committed to Arkham Asylum.
THE CONJURING UNIVERSE
Description: Explore and investigate the most famous paranormal cases while trying to escape the demonic spirits that are lurking in the shadows. Be sure not to disrupt anything on your journey and fall victim to Annabelle’s devious games, for everything in this maze is possessed.
Review: When I first went through this maze last year, my mind was fucking blown. All I have ever wanted, aside from a Trick ‘R Treat maze, was to be able to experience a haunt that was part of The Conjuring Universe, and last year I finally achieved that. This year, Horror Made Here brought back The Conjuring maze, and though almost exactly similar to the one that premiered last year, there were a few added additions such as The Nun. Instead of entering through the shed/garage like we did last year, guests entered through the house and were instantly placed in the Warren’s Occult Museum where artifacts such as the Annabelle doll were located… except that Annabelle seems to have broken out of her cabinet and is causing destruction and mayhem within the house. Still one of my favorite mazes at Horror Made Here, I was once again amazed by the quality of scares and immersive feel that the experience had. My only gripe was that I felt like the experience was a bit rushed as opposed to last year. Other than that, I once again fell in love with this maze and appreciated all the small additions that they made to bring this house up-to-date with The Conjuring Universe.
THE EXORCIST FORBIDDEN SCREENING
Description: A church service you’ll never forget. Say your prayers while unholy activity disrupts this sinister service and brings the horrors of The Exorcist to life, and witness an evil beyond this world right from the pew in this forbidden viewing.
Review: The Exorcist is my all-time favorite horror film, so when I learned that there was going to be an experience at Horror Made Here I was overjoyed. Though not a maze, this experience takes place within a Church on the backlot and is a 10 minute screening of the scariest moments from the film. However, during this viewing, weird things begin to happen within the Church, leading up to a climactic moment that will have you clutching at your pearls while saying the Lord’s prayer. As a massive fan of the film, I enjoyed everything about this screening. Simple in nature, it doesn’t have the same impact that the mazes have, but if you happen to be sitting in certain pews throughout the church, you may find yourself experiencing much more than just a viewing of this beloved horror classic.
Description: Pennywise is back and is looking forward to seeing you float in the Neibolt House. IT knows what scares you and is waiting with more scares and surprises at every turn.
Review: 2017’s IT was, and still is, a force to be reckoned with. This year, Horror Made Here returned with The Neibolt House, only this time it had been re-imagined with new scenes, and new scares, that more than definitely delivered. This was easily my favorite maze of the night, not only because I admittedly got scared quite a few times, but because it incorporated some of my favorite scenes from the movie that I had desperately wanted to see translated into a maze. Unlike the one from last year, we only get to experience the first floor of the house as well as some of the outdoor areas as opposed to exploring all three floors. I originally wasn’t thrilled with that, but once I saw how the designers executed their creations, all doubt was erased from my mind. Guests had the opportunity to walk through scenes such as Ben Hanscom’s bedroom (outfitted with New Kids on the Block poster), to the sewer where It is located, as well as walk past the triangle of balloons outside of the Neibolt House. Scattered throughout are creatures such as the Headless Boy from the library, the sickly Hobo, and my personal favorite, the woman playing the flute. Overall, this execution of design and scares was pulled off flawlessly, making the Neibolt House one of my favorite haunted mazes of the year!
NIGHTMARE ON CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE
Description: Take a tour of the Warner Bros. lot and see filming locations from your favorite horror flicks including “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane” and “House of Wax”, with a detour to everyone’s favorite campground, Camp Crystal Lake. Sleeping bags not required.
Review: Somewhat new this year is the Nightmare on Camp Crystal Lake, and I say somewhat because it still incorporates the tram tour which brings you throughout the backlot to see where some of the best horror films were made. What is new this year is the walkthrough attraction that combines Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees to give us Nightmare on Camp Crystal Lake. I really loved the concept that Horror Made Here was going with this, especially since it infused two very much beloved horror icons, but I just felt like the execution could have used a little more work. That’s not to say that in the coming weeks it won’t get better, but I think those of us attending media night didn’t get the chance to see the whole production at its best. That being said, I think there is some real meat on the bones with this walkthrough and one that fans will go apeshit for. Though none of the scares got me, I did see one get a friend of mine, so much so that she jumped and accidentally threw her phone. There’s a lot to enjoy with Nightmare on Camp Crystal Lake and fans of Freddy and Jason will be happy with what they encounter on this dimly lit trail.
After finishing up all the haunted mazes, there was still a lot of activities to indulge in such as Fangtasia, the vampire bar from True Blood. Drenched in a red hue, this is a fantastic place to take photos and satiate your quench for whatever drink tickles your fancy. Fans of Lost Boy will love the arcade set-up where they can play video games to their hearts content. Also new this year is the Devil’s Drop Tower where guests can face their fears and take the 90 foot plunge. Once you’ve done all that the backlot has to offer, make sure to check out Stage 48: Script to Scream which features authentic props and costumes from Tim Burton’s films including Beetlejuice, Mars Attack, and The Corpse Bride.
My only gripe with Horror Made Here is a small one but one that I feel is worth mentioning. Guests have the opportunity to purchase Losers’ Club tickets, a VIP experience that will get you front of the line, free priority parking, a free IT photo opp, and 2 complimentary beverages. Since we got to be part of the Losers’ Club, it was a great experience, however as someone who is sober and doesn’t trick alcohol, I came to find out that the complimentary beverages ONLY were for alcoholic drink. I bring this up because I think it’s imperative to have a non-alcoholic beverage for those who are sober (whether for addiction reasons or because they choose not to drink) as limiting it to only alcoholic drinks could be incredibly triggering for someone working on their sobriety. Other than that, I think the Losers’ Club VIP ticket is definitely worth the cost and will save you from having to wait in long lines.
Overall, Horror Made Here is still one of my all-time favorite events of the Halloween season. It’s been incredible to see how it has flourished and grown over these past three years and I can only imagine how it will continue to build upon itself in the years to come. With Horror Made Here you don’t have to worry about conga lines or an overcapacity of people as Warner Bros has tailored this experience for smaller groups. With that said, I would still recommend getting the VIP ticket because the lines do get long due to the more personalized, intimate experiences. This is a Halloween event that you cannot miss, so get your tickets now before it’s too late!