How Halloween Horror Nights Brought Ghostbusters And Us To Life As Haunted Mazes
We're already halfway through September, which means Halloween season is officially ramping up. It's the perfect time to get in the spooky mood by binging some horror movies and TV, collecting some disturbing toys, and, of course, heading to some haunted houses. Continuing their nearly decade long tradition, Universal Studios Hollywood will be throwing their annual Halloween Horror Nights celebration, complete with a whopping ten haunted mazes to terrify you, including attractions based on Stranger Things, Killer Klowns from Outerspace, Creepshow, and House of 1000 Corpses.
GameSpot took a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood to get a behind the scenes look at two of the lineup's most highly anticipated mazes, one based on the classic horror-comedy Ghostbusters and the other based on Jordan Peele's brand new feature, Us. So sit back, relax, and get ready to feel absolutely terrified as we peel back the movie maze magic and give you a sneak peek at what are sure to be two of the most popular attractions in the park.
Don't be fooled by the comedy
While Ghostbusters may be as funny as it is terrifying, don't expect the maze to be a laugh-a-minute walk in the park. The key to its design came from balancing the playful winks and nods to the more comedic elements while still packing on the scares. Horror Nights executive producer John Murdy explained, "You don't want to ignore what the property is, Ghostbusters is a comedy with a lot of horror elements. That's why we have characters that are like Janine Melnitz, Louis Tully, they're purely dedicated to pay off the comedic elements of those scenes but then the trick is, how do you scare them on top of it?"
So where does that balance come from?
"[Fans] just want to relive all those moments from the film, so it is a bit of a balance trying to balance the scare effect, it's like you're almost checking boxes, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, have to have him! Terror dogs, got to have that!" Murdy explained. "Library ghost, so it's just trying to hit everything that the fans would want to experience in a live representation of Ghostbusters."
Authenticity is key
To make sure the look and feel of Ghostbusters was maintained throughout the maze, Murdy and his team went right to the source, working closely with original director Ivan Reitman and his son, Jason. "They know their property, inside and out, and they're really in touch with the fan base. They had just done the big 45th anniversary, obviously, Jason is making a new movie right now. So I think it's a really exciting time for them. It's really cool to follow," Murdy said.
How does a movie like Us translate into a maze?
Jordan Peele had direct involvement in the conversion process for Us--right down to how the make up teams used blood on their scare actors. "He had a lot of things that were really specific," Murdy said. "The use of blood is very, very specific in his films, and that was something that was important. It has to be artistically applied, pretty much. But the good thing is we've got all these pictures, so I could literally give my prop guys, 'Okay, that's exactly the amount of blood.' For my makeup artist, for Kitty, the way the blood splattered on her face when she's the doppelgänger, Dahlia. It's all very specific."
Expect some plush rabbits, of course
One of the most iconic images in Us, aside from the red jumpsuits and the giant scissors, would have to be the rabbits--so naturally, they're getting the maze treatment as well--but they won't be locked in their classroom cages. We're going to be entering the scene after they've been released, just like the big finale of the movie.
"In that scene, the bunnies will have been released from the cage. You see the bunnies in the big hallway right before it. We've got tons of [stuffed] bunnies that are all waiting to [put into the maze.] It's like, one of the last things we'll do is blood and bunnies. Blood and bunnies, basically. Those are like the last two details, because people are dragging ladders through there, and we try to save those types of things to the very, very end so they don't get messed up," Murdy laughed.
The score of Us will also play a role in the maze. "Michael Abels' score--which is the theatrical score for the film--all of those tracks are in the maze. They're used where they make sense in the scenes where they were in the context in the movie." Murdy said. " And then, 'I Got Five On It,' the ... what they call the Tethered Mix, [that will be part of the maze as well]."