From New Year’s Eve to Valentine’s Day, from Easter to the Fourth of July and from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Universal Studios Hollywood adds a demented twist to life’s biggest moments in the all-original Halloween Horror Nights maze, HOLIDAYZ IN HELL.
During yesterday’s Halloween Horror Nights panel at Monsterpalooza, Creative Director John Murdy and Art Director Chris Williams were on-hand to make the exciting announcement that they would be bringing an original maze back to Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood! Inspired by the popular scare zone of the same name, the HOLIDAYZ IN HELL maze will feature an original score by Electronic Music Artist and Producer Figure and offer guests new reasons to dread the holidays.
Speaking to both Murdy and Williams after the panel, I was curious as to why they were returning to original mazes after a five-year hiatus. Murdy explains, “[HOLIDAYZ IN HELL] kind of has a built-in fan base because it was a scare zone last year. It was the fan’s favorite scare zone in the history of our event and it just seemed natural. You could easily take that concept and extend it to a maze.” Williams was in agreement stating, “It makes a whole lot of sense. Every time I had a guest come through [the scare zone] with me they raved about it. Every time I could count on that.”
The maze will feature everything from a tortured Tunnel of Love, inhabited by a crazed Cupid on a quest for hearts to break or take which will make this Valentine’s Day anything but romantic; an unhinged Uncle Sam that will create a sinister July 4th killerbration; treacherous turkeys that will gobble, gobble an unsuspecting family; and a sick Santa will adorn Christmas trees with human body parts, along with many other milestone killer holidays.
This led me to wonder – in a maze that features so many holidays, was there one in particular that had the potential to be more difficult to execute over the others. Murdy was quick to answer saying, “We landed on the ideas pretty quick, but I think maybe Christmas, which is how we landed on this Christmas tree lot idea. We’ve done Christmas-themed scare zones so we had to come up with something we had never done before. That one took a little bit longer for us to come up with the idea of what we were going to do. Furthermore, we didn’t want to blow our whole wad on Christmas because we also knew it was going to be the theme of the scare zone. We came up with the idea of the Christmas tree lot to kind of take you out of the maze and then connect you to the scare zone.”
Speaking of scare zones, those who survive the HOLIDAYZ IN HELL maze need not let down their guard just yet as a creepy Christmas-themed scare zone will include additional frights that await to fill beating hearts with holiday fear. With so many holidays to choose from, the question arose as to which holiday Murdy and Williams were looking forward to seeing come to fruition. “For me, Fourth of July because of the effects and such,” Williams remarked. “But at the same time, I think it’s one of the most difficult ones in my head to pull off, but I’m looking forward to it.” As for Murdy, “Actually, my favorite character last year was Turkey Lurkey, so I’m really looking forward to the messed up 1950s Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving-inspired scene. I think that’s going to be fun.”
As for me, I’m looking forward to St. Patrick’s Day so as to see my Irish heritage come to life in the most horrific of ways. With Murdy now living in Ireland but continuing his work on Halloween Horror Nights, fans can expect to see a lot of inspiration from The Emerald Isle. “I literally take pictures of graveyards and ruined farmhouses and send them to [Chris] all the time from my phone” states Murdy. As for working together in different parts of the world, Murdy explains that they have a lot of late-night phone calls. “We’ve worked together for so long doing this event, but we had to rethink how we do it,” says Murdy. “Before, we would have the post-it notes version of the maze, where we would sit in my office together and literally put post-it notes on the wall until we locked in on what the flow was. Now we do it over the phone and once we get the ideas locked I write it out as a full-blown outline and send that to [Chris]. It’s a whole other step in the process that we didn’t do before, and afterwards, I have to go back and write the treatment.” But with Murdy having been in Los Angeles for Monsterpalooza this past weekend, there was one thing that Williams knew he had to do. “We’re taking advantage of the post-it notes stuff while he’s here,” says Williams, laughing.
In addition to this new original concept and the music of Figure, who previously created a series of original sounds for Halloween Horror Nights, guests can expect to hear a new rendition of their favorite holiday tunes, remixed to accompany this hellish new maze. Also, make sure to look through our images below to see some of the characters you most likely will come into contact with if you are brave enough to enter HOLIDAYZ FROM HELL!
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood begins Friday, September 13, and brings together the sickest minds in horror to immerse guests in a living, breathing, three-dimensional world of terror. Featuring an all-new slate of unrivaled film production quality mazes and frightful scare zones uniquely themed to today’s most definitive horror properties, Halloween Horror Nights will taunt, terrorize and torment guests with spine-chilling haunted attractions as part of Southern California’s most extreme Halloween experience.
For most information and to stay up-to-date, follow Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood at Hollywood.HalloweenHorrorNights.com and on Facebook at Halloween Horror Nights – Hollywood, Instagram at @HorrorNights and Twitter at @HorrorNights as Creative Director John Murdy reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information. Watch videos on Halloween Horror Nights YouTube and join the conversation using #UniveralHHN.