Hello everyone! This is Henry14 here with a review of 2018’s Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. After the disasterpiece that was 2017, a lot of fans were worried about the future of HHN. Is John Murdy finally retiring? Will Universal allow him to do original concepts again? Was 2017 just a fluke and will the event go back to being awesome? Or was 2016 the fluke and will the event be doomed for all eternity? And most importantly; WILL THE BLACK WALLS COME BACK??? Only one thing was for sure; I couldn’t wait for 2018, mostly because I needed the answers to these questions. As some of you guys know, the lineup got supposedly leaked once again. There were properties like It, The Thing, and AHS Asylum, and I thought it was too good to be true. Well it turns out that it was! We may have finally gotten the classic monsters and little Sam this year, but we have yet another Purge related attraction, a random Halloween sequel that isn’t even canon anymore, and an excuse to sell Blu-Rays of Blumhouse’s two worst films. So it was some good stuff mixed with some not so good stuff. The actual lineup overall was pretty solid on paper, but I was also preparing myself for some disappointing executions. This was my 5th year attending the event, second year I bought the Frequent Fear Pass, and my first time going on opening night. I’m going to rank the mazes from worst to best, talk about the terror tram, and grade the scare zones. So without ado, let’s get right into this!
7. The First Purge (*sigh* I miss Krampus)
I absolutely cannot believe that I still to this day have not been to a Purge-less HHN! Like most people, I was not excited for this when it was announced, mostly because it was Purge. But we’ve never seen an actual maze based on the property. Some would argue that we did have a Purge maze at last year’s Blumhouse of Horrors and the Gauntlet of Fear from 2016 but those don’t count. It’s never been under a black tent with trigger scares or special effects or Black Walls. So I was curious to see how this would be pulled off in traditional maze form. I’m not gonna lie, this maze was pretty bad. It started off strong with some solid scares, but on the halfway point it just goes downhill and falls flat. I haven’t seen the new film so I was hoping this house would visually tell its story. I did not understand a single thing! I mean yeah it’s the First annual Purge but who’s that Skeletor guy and what’s his deal? Who was that girl on the swing? What is the deal with all the mannequins? I had so many questions but I refuse to watch anything from the Purge franchise. The concept is interesting but every movie looks like the same exact thing and I don’t wanna waste two hours of my life watching something dull and uninspired. The facade was very cheap and tacky, I’ve seen home haunts that looked better than this. The sets were alright but the amount of Black Walls was insane. There was a long section of them and it was so dark, I didn’t know where the hell I was going. A maze host had to show me which way to go with their light wand. The maze had no proper finale, it was just a bunch railings with scare actors wearing extremely shitty Skeletor masks. In fact I think all the mazes this year ended like that now that I think about it. The First Purge had the potential to be intense and very scary and it does have its cool moments, but unfortunately the end result was totally bland and brought nothing new or game-changing to the table. As much as everyone is tired of seeing this IP, I do not see it going away till a very long time. At times, the lines for this were longer than Stranger Things. STRANGER THINGS! The GP just cannot get enough of the Purge so unfortunately it is highly likely that we will see the Purge again next year. I seriously can’t be the only one hoping that Blumhouse will finally stop making these movies so we can stop seeing it at HHN.
Final Grade: D+
6. Blumhouse of Horrors 2 (Still calling this Blumhouse of Horrors goddamn it!)
I was DEFINITELY NOT looking forward to this one. Unfriended and Truth or Dare are the type of IPs that we ironically talk about being at Horror Nights. Other examples include The Bye Bye Man, The Boy, and Rings. Now I’m legitimately questioning if those movies will ever become mazes. Truth or Dare is just a ridiculously stupid waste of time and while Unfriended isn’t exactly a terrible movie the whole thing takes place in a Skype call. The original ending was the only thing that made me actually want to do that damn maze. To make things worse, this was announced on my birthday! What a fucking way to celebrate it. :’) I’m glad the movie theater facade from last year is the main entrance for this year. The Truth or Dare segment was actually alright. It had neat sets and I especially like the room with the axe-wielding nun and severed limbs everywhere. To be honest I think the film should’ve been as over the top as that scene. When I first saw the derpy faced scare actor I did a double take and asked myself, “Wait the Purge is in this??” It looked like the polite stranger mask from The Purge, so it just goes to show how cheap the masks are. There wasn’t really anything interesting going on from a visual standpoint. Nothing memorable here in Truth or Dare. The Unfriended section was decent. I enjoyed seeing the stoner putting his hand in the blender but when he pulled it out and revealed his skeleton hand it turned me off. Like WTF is this, a cartoon??? The deep throat hair curler death was also cool but the mask for the victim looked so bad! The knife through the eye scene was cool as well but again the bug-eyed mask just killed it for me. Why couldn’t they just have the actor put on an eye prosthetic with a rubber knife glued on it? We barely see the Laura Barns character in the final jump scare of the film. The character in the maze was basically this vampire looking demon chick wearing jeans and a turtleneck sweater. Yup that’s our antagonist everybody! I can see what they were going for with the projector scare at the end but I thought it wasn’t really needed. After the Unfriended portion, you hear the distorted Lobby song again from last year and you think it’s over. But the maze bamboozles the guests and transports them to an original story based on the opening Blumhouse logo. This was my most anticipated part of Blumhouse and I was let down. The only thing about The Girl that reminded me of the logo was a light bulb. I was a little confused about the story, is the girl possessed by the demon or is she the demon’s servant? Or is the demon the devil and is the girl the anti-Christ? The demon itself was the most generic looking demon guy you could ever think of. Red skin, big horns, black robe, they could’ve done so much more with his design. I also didn’t like how this section had the most amount of Black Walls. Only two small rooms and long ass hallways of nothingness in between them. Overall Blumhouse of Horrors 2: Electric Boogaloo was better than its predecessor but it is far from being a favorite of mine.
Final Grade: C+
5. Trick R Treat (It’s about damn time!)
Ever since Trick R Treat was released to home video, fans have been wanting to see the film adapted as a maze. John Murdy said he was gonna wait until a sequel was made so the IP can be relevant again, but he just got tired of waiting and did it anyway! This was a maze 10 years in the making, but did it disappoint? IMO, it didn’t, I thought it was pretty decent. But I’m not gonna lie, after my first walkthrough of TrT I was vastly disappointed with it. Only one scene per story and the rest of it was just Black Walls. But after a few more rounds I started to appreciate the details and theming more and more. The facade was excellent, just like Krampus it gave off this cool fun vibe while hyping people up. This maze had a great first scene, I especially liked the Season Greetings Easter egg. The ghost sheet Sam was cute and the little bastard would always make me jump, even if he was scaring the person in front of me or behind me. I also loved the transitions between every story, not the Black Walls but the titles in glowing orange writing. The Principal had a good number of Black Walls before we saw the exterior to the Wilkins house which looked really cool. It looked like they repurposed the Jonah Hill puking dummy and made him look more like Thurman Murman which I don’t mind. The Principal Wilkins actors were extremely well casted, you could tell they were into their roles. Surprise Party starts off with more railing scares and even more Black Walls and ends with a really cool forest room. The werewolf costumes were awesome and I also loved how they reused the AWIL puppets, it made me remember how close those damn things lunged out at you in that maze. The School Bus Massacre was very epic, the school bus kids were creepy as hell and the quarry set was so grand in size. I am a tad bit disappointed we don’t go inside the bus in its pre-sunken form but at least it made an appearance in the scare zone. I would have to say that Meet Sam was my favorite part of this maze. Mr. Kreeg’s house looked fantastic despite it being in a tent in the Mummy venue. I liked all the nice little details in the staircase and Sam climbing on the ceiling spitting at everyone was also very fun. The bedroom from the film was extremely well replicated in the maze, I loved the flaming jack-o-lantern but it’s an effect that requires you to walk through the house during the night to fully appreciate it. The final scene with the zombie school bus kids was a cool little tableau, but I wished they had a real actor pretending to be one of the dummies. Before the maze ends, we see the title of the movie and get our last dose of Black Walls and boo-hole scares. I don’t think Murdy planned to include the Black Walls when he first wanted to create this maze, his original vision was probably totally different than what we got. So even though the abundance of Black Walls was ridiculous in this particular maze, Trick R Treat still manages to have a lot of fun moments, some great set pieces, and plenty of good scares.
Final Grade: B
4. Stranger Things (The Force Awakens of HHN)
I’ve been wanting to see Stranger Things as maze ever since I saw the first season. Sure it isn’t the scariest IP ever, but I thought it would be so cool to go through the Upside Down and see the Demogorgon in person. I was very excited that we were getting a soundstage as a maze location again. I hope they use it again for 2019 but it is probably unlikely since filmmakers need soundstages too, and when it comes to Universal it’s movie studio first and theme park second. Now the reason why I called this maze the Force Awakens of HHN is because when fans first experienced it they really enjoyed it. But after a couple of more experiences and a lot dissecting and deep thinking, they start to find the flaws and dislike more and more. And then there are the hardcore purists that absolutely hated it from the very beginning. As for me, I liked it! The 80s music playing in the queue was nice, it really set up the mood and hyped me up every time. You could never go wrong with Africa by Toto! I actually don’t mind that there’s no facade. If people are that upset about Stranger Things not having a facade, then why is AVP being forgiven? That crashed spaceship is technically inside the maze and not a main entrance because it’s one of the multiple indoor facades in that maze. The sound design work at Horror Nights never seizes to amaze me, and this maze was no exception. I loved how you can hear Mike, Lucas, and Dustin on the walkie talkies and it’s like they’re with you almost guiding you through the maze. The soundtrack sounds great in the show and sounds great in the maze as well. The set design was amazing, I can see why people say that it didn’t feel like a soundstage maze but what they had was still impressive. Now let’s talk about the Demogorgons. The costumes could’ve been better, like way better. The color scheme was off, it looked like the Demogorgons were albino or dehydrated. I also don’t like how they only appear in their open face form, I don’t understand why the makeup department can’t make more than one mask for the same character. Ash from AVED, Jack from Shining, and now the Demogorgon have fallen victim to having only one emotion. The scares were pretty weak in this one but I think it’s because they needed to tone down the scariness since the demographic for this property mostly consists of little tweens. I can understand that but I, like other haunt fans, would’ve enjoyed the scares better if they were more hard-hitting or less predictable and obvious. Now I’m going to say a really unpopular opinion about a certain something in this maze so just bare with me. *inhales*...the Upside Down wasn’t all that bad! Orlando’s Upside Down is obviously a thousand times better but you can’t deny that Hollywood was at least trying their best with their version. They really wanted to try something new and while many people thought the end result was bad, I personally thought it had some cool elements. I wanted the Upside Down to last longer and maybe cooling down the temperature would’ve added to the experience but they did an okay job with what they had. As a maze at Halloween Horror Nights, it definitely had its shortcomings. But as a Stranger Things experience, they completely knocked it out of the park. It could’ve been a lot better but it also could’ve been a lot worse.
Final Grade: B
3. Halloween 4 (The Quest For Peace)
Michael Myers Comes Home was an excellently well-crafted maze and they managed to top it with Hell Comes to Haddonfield! It was kind of a stupid decision to get the rights to the fourth movie of the franchise instead of the newest film. But as long as Michael Myers is at the event, the GP and Horror Nights fans will come and see him no matter what movie it’s based on. The film itself is okay but it wasn’t really maze-worthy so I was curious to see how it would be pulled off. I had mixed emotions on my initial experience. I loved some of the scares and sets but it felt like they ran out of ideas while making this maze and ended it abruptly with Black Walls. I was expecting something along the lines of the last two Halloween mazes, meaning I was expecting exact recreations of the scenes, a lot of amazing scares, and a badass ending. That wasn’t exactly what we got with Halloween 4 but it is definitely not a terrible maze. I liked the Penney’s Diner and Gas Station facade, it was quite large and realistic looking. The garage was pretty cool but why did they get rid of the mechanic’s hanging corpse? I guess it was to make scaring easier for the actor but it’s the little details like that that give these live recreations of any film at HHN an extra layer of awesomeness. The Loomis shootout scene where he confronts Michael is one of my favorite scenes of the movie and seeing it in person was pretty epic. One thing that really bothered me about this maze was that they overdid an effect in there. You have a Michael dummy appear in a Pepper’s ghost effect and a Michael scare actor comes out from the opposite side. It’s a cool gag and all but it got really repetitive and predictable. As for the design of the entire maze, it felt as if John and Chris were making an original maze that took some inspiration from The Return of Michael Myers. Sure they got the shotgun kill, the electrical plant with Bucky, and Jamie’s bedroom but the majority of this maze was basically Michael terrorizing the suburbs of Haddonfield at Halloween night. The scares were great in this one. Some of the Michaels here were ferocious, one of them made a friend of mine run into a wall and another Michael made another one of my friends back all the way up to the previous room. But the scare that got me the most was actually little Jamie hiding under the bed. I noticed her and I thought it was just a nice little detail but she came out and scared the living shit out of me. I am upset that there wasn’t a cool finale to end the maze in a high note, they could’ve easily done something with the last scene of the film with clown Jamie but I guess they didn’t even wanna bother to go into that part of the story. So instead we got...more Black Walls and railing scares. Whoopdee Fucken Doo! Out of all the Halloween mazes I’ve experienced, this is definitely the weakest one. But that doesn’t mean it was bad, it was just pretty underwhelming compared to the 2015 and 2016 mazes. The Halloween 4 maze was still very solid and a strong addition to the 2018 event.
Final Grade: B+
2. Poltergeist (Run to the Rapture Vortex Spotlight, Carol Anne!)
I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like if Poltergeist was at HHN. I just never thought of it too much because it seemed like it would be pretty difficult to translate into a haunted attraction. But if they did The Exorcist and The Shining...and Unfriended.....and This is the End.......they could pretty much do anything at this point. The film has a lot of spooky moments but to me there wasn’t really anything that screamed Horror Nights. So I was curious to see how they would pull this one off, and it honestly really delivered. Poltergeist surprised the hell outta me and ended up being one of my favorites this year. Just like Stranger Things, the sound design is ten out of ten. The voice actress who played Zelda Rubenstein’s character did a great impression and John Murdy’s daughter as Carol Anne wasn’t bad either. You also got the film’s score accompanying the maze which is great. I was in awe with how accurate the facade looked and the lighting made it even better at night. This maze definitely had the most varied scares out of all the mazes in 2018. You have the projector scare, the under the bed scare, the room full of dummies and actors scare, the giant puppet scare, and of course the boxhole/railing scare. On a side note I think this maze has the most clever use of the projector scare with the ghost claw coming out of the static screen. That room with the dead bodies was terrifying, it reminded so much of the Further scene from 2015’s Insidious maze. The sets were fairly basic, nothing remarkable, but what do you expect when the setting of the film is a house in the suburbs? I noticed that this maze tells the story differently from the movie. First you have Carol Anne talking to the TV people, then there’s the guy ripping his face off, but we then see the tree trying to snatch Robbie. In some ways this doesn’t work for me because it’s not in chronological order but in other ways it does work because it makes sense if your supposedly exploring the Freeling house. It’s kinda hard to explain. You go to a living room, a kitchen, a small bathroom, a bedroom, then you go in a closet, then in the Other Side, then you’re out of the closet and go back to the bedroom, and you eventually get the hell out of the damn house. So it sort of plays out like a paranormal house tour! If the scenes were structured the same way as the film it would take multiple choppy revisits to certain rooms and that would be very repetitive. There was a long ass hallway of nothing but Black Walls that lasted about 30 seconds, not as long as the ones in AVED but still pretty long. The puppets in this maze were fantastic, I think this is the most effects heavy maze since The Exorcist. If you think about it there were only about three rooms that had live actors and the rest of it relied on blackout performers. I loved how over the course of the event the Beast puppeteers got used to their roles and weren’t afraid to have them lunge out pretty close to the guests. However I don’t like that they got rid of the water effects. So if you put that one long section of Black Walls aside, you have yourself an extremely well made maze with a ton of great effects and awesome scares. To end this discussion on the Poltergeist maze I will say this; If you walked through the coffin scene without even flinching, you are a god damn cyborg!
Final Grade: A-
1. Universal Monsters (Take Notes, Dark Universe)
Ever since he saw Frankenstein at the age of 4, John Murdy has been a hardcore fan of the Classic Universal Monster movies. He grew up with characters like the Phantom, Wolfman, Mummy, and of course, Frankenstein’s monster. He considers himself a purist when it comes to those films, his love for the monsters is so big that he has an entire collection room filled with memorabilia and merchandise for everything UCM. It was his lifelong dream to create a maze based on these guys but he was always worried that he would pour all of his heart and soul into it only to have people hate it or say it wasn’t scary. So he waited for the appropriate time to do it...then he did Monsters Remix with Figure, which I think we can all agree was a horrible maze. And in 2018 Murdy announced that he was finally making his biggest dream maze, and I was ecstatic. But it was also revealed that Slash would be involved, and that’s where I started to worry. Luckily I attended Scare LA and saw the HHN panel where I heard some of the tracks he made and I was even more ecstatic! So I absolutely could not wait to see what was in store for Universal Monsters. When I laid my eyes on the facade while waiting in line I thought to myself, “This is gonna be a good one”. But after I finally walked through the whole damn thing on opening night, I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a good maze...it was a phenomenal one. I LOVED UNIVERSAL MONSTERS!!! Is it the best HHN maze ever created? Not necessarily, but it’s definitely one of the best. The character designs for the modern day versions of the monsters were outstanding. Frankenstein’s monster looked scary but at the same time he looked very sympathetic, which is perfect. The Wolfman was awesome, the Phantom of the Opera was horrifying, the Mummy was creepy, Dracula and his brides were incredible, Renfield was fucking disturbing, Igor was really gross, the Bride of Frankenstein was gorgeous, and the Invisible Man was so beautiful. The set design was gothic as hell, since it was located in Parisian Courtyard I was a little hesitant about the sets but luckily they were incredible, I especially adored the Phantom’s music room and Frankenstein’s laboratory. I also like how they used screen used props from The Scorpion King and used it in the collection room with the Mummy. The scares in Universal Monsters were pretty good, some might argue that it wasn’t scary but I can see why. Murdy was going for a more theatrical experience rather than a trigger scare fest which I honestly don’t mind. It really adds to the atmosphere and whole aesthetic and even the actors clearly understood that. The invisible man is a perfect example but even some of the ones that had trigger pedals were acting instead of scaring. But when they did scare you they were still great, the coolest use of the projector scare goes to this maze. The final scene was everything I wanted and more! On my first walkthrough the We Belong Dead sequence was timed so perfectly and I have never been happier while exiting a maze in all my years of attending HHN. The story seems simple enough, the characters we know and love from the Universal Classic Monster movies have been resurrected in the modern world. A couple of my buddies were a bit confused about the story but I just told them not to think about it too much, this maze was purely made for fun and scares. The music that Slash made was top notch. I loved how every room had its own theme, unlike Clowns 3D where it’s just one big song. I was expecting loud ass electric guitar through the whole thing but it was actually very atmospheric and had a lot of variety. My personal favorite tracks are the main theme which can be heard in the escalators and the Phantom’s theme. While this maze does seem perfect, it really wasn’t. My biggest complaint was that each monster didn’t get equal representation. Frankenstein’s monster definitely appeared the most, as he’s Murdy’s favorite, there was more Phantom than Wolfman, and Dracula’s cameo was a little Easter egg compared to the Invisible Man’s beautifully epic cameo. And where was Gillman? Where were Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide? And of course, I can’t talk about flaws without mentioning the Black Walls. It’s funny because the thing with this maze was that to me it looked like they wanted to have as little Black Walls as possible. They were so desperate to cover them up they even added stone brick wallpaper in some areas. Looks like Parisian Courtyard will give whatever maze that’ll be located there not one, but two long hallways of Black Walls.(one before the facade and one in the little archway between Mel’s Diner and the cafe.) This would’ve been an A+ maze if it wasn’t for the Black Walls and the monsters not having equal maze presence. But everything else including the sets, monsters, scares, music, and overall experience was perfect! Mr. Murdy, you’ve done the monsters justice. Easily on my top 5 of all time!
Final Grade: A
Terror Tram: Dreadtime Storiez
In 2016, Hollywood Harry was born and terrorized the world famous backlot. In 2018, he returned and brought his murderous creature friends to play. Klowntasm in ‘16 was the best Terror Tram in my five years going to HHN but that isn’t really saying much. When it was announced that Koodles the Clown was coming back I was pretty much the only one that wasn’t all that excited but I was still curious to see how different it was from its predecessor. This Tram is actually pretty decent, I would say it’s on par with 2016’s Tram. I enjoyed the video they played in the beginning, I’m really into anthology horror like Creepshow and Tales From the Crypt so the vid was a delight to see. A lot of people say it’s cheesy, but for me I thought it had the right amount of cheese. The Who Let the Dogs Out section was alright, not the best chainsaw brigade but I still like it. I was in tears when I saw the shitload of reused props and gags in the Kill Billiez Inn. Saw, Roanoke, TCM, it was hilarious! I get why they repurposed everything and it does fit the theme but all those props stuck out like a sore thumb. I hope whoever thought that the zig zag line queue next to the Psycho house was a good idea got fired immediately. That area has had serious conga line issues since 2016 and I guess they tried to fix that but it made the situation even worse. They could’ve at least had some more scare actors roaming around interacting with people cuz it was just an awkward long halt to the whole experience. Some of the actors from Scarecrowz Revenge were scary looking but others were wearing masks from the Hell-O-Ween scare zone. The actors in Clowns On A Plane were all sorts of awesome, they really embraced the “clown” of their clown characters. There was one cool effect where a clown pushes a baby stroller around and the baby was able to squirt piss all over everybody. I really hated the shitty unneeded Dubstep that was playing in the background like in 2017. The masks for the characters in the Nightmarez section were very creepy looking but as for the section itself, it was just the same old ‘people getting tortured’ routine we’ve seen a bunch of times. And that concludes Hollywood Harry’s Dreadtime Storiez! It’s almost as if Immortal Masks hit John Murdy up with some of their masks and he was like “Hmmm? Maybe we’ll use them for Terror Tram and let’s also dump some of our old props, masks, and gags in there as well!” That’s basically what it felt like, but I ain’t complaining, to me I think that’s okay. This was a decent tram and it was light years better than Chucky’s Big Cringey Advertisement Extravaganza!
Final Grade: C+
I enjoy scare zones in the event but they never really scare me. It’s been a couple years since I legitimately jumped or got startled in a scare zone. I am grateful that the frights and scares continue out on the streets but I think they need to go all out, make sure there are as little dead spots as possible. As for 2018, the zones were definitely an improvement from 2017. First you got Hell’s Harvest which is one of my favorites. The chainsaw performers were awesome as always but what I really liked was that each doll creature had their own name (Savage Sammy, Jigsaw Johnny, Lobotomy Larry, Hatchet Hannah, etc.) The whole story is a bit confusing and the lack of decor does not help that. The Bonesy Brothers were a nice new touch and I hope they return in some way or form or at least have some kind of scare zone entertainment like that in 2019. The Trick R Treat scare zone is better than Hell-O-Ween in terms of the aesthetics and decorations, and the return of the fire towers made me really happy. But unfortunately there were so little actors and while they did an awesome job acting their parts, they weren’t scaring everybody. I think the fire towers startled people more than the actors. A lotta people were disappointed with the school bus photo op, I was expecting static dummies so it met my expectations. I knew real performers weren’t gonna be involved. The actors aren’t gonna stop doing their job just to take a quick selfie with a couple of youngsters, this isn’t Orlando! Monster Masquerade was a kickass unofficial finale to a kickass maze. I loved the design for the costumes and masks. The scare actors were on fire, you could tell they had so much fun. The Festival of Fools skeleton dioramas were a bit lazy but the lighting and the incredible soundtrack helped carry this zone. The Toxxic Tunnel was...better than last year. I did like the new masks, even though some of them were from Exterminatorz in 2015, and I did like the blacklight elements. Holidayz in Hell was purely and simply amaze-balls! The characters were so cool, my favorite was the Turkey. Sure there were reused props everywhere but it felt like they were there for a purpose. There were times where I was completely alone in that zone and the scare actors made my experiences so much better. These zones could still use a little more work but Murdy and his crew were definitely taking a step in the right direction.
Hell’s Harvest: B+
Trick R Treat: C
Monsters Masquerade: B+
Toxxic Tunnel: C-
Holidayz in Hell: A
This section of the review is dedicated to some complaints, praises, and other random thoughts that I had concerning 2018’s HHN.
• Enough with the Black Walls, Universal! I doubt they’ll go away anytime soon but this is more like wishful thinking. The higher ups need to give Murdy a boatload of cash so they can make a boatload of cash. The last time the budget was huge was in 2016, and almost every night that year was sold out. And if you’re gonna decrease the budget, then I don’t think increasing the maze count would be a smart move. They should put the maze count back to 7 so they wouldn’t have to worry about the quality of the houses and they would also have to worry less about finding new maze locations when certain attractions are being reconstructed.
• I really want to see an original maze. The only original I’ve been through was Clowns 3D in 2014 and that was a crappy maze. HHN Hollywood’s mentality is that if the maze isn’t based on a movie or show then people are gonna hate it, but that’s not true at all. If a maze manages to be really fun and scary, people will love it no matter what the story is. Orlando has shown that their original houses can be way better than their IP houses. The best mazes and moments at Hollywood were either original or IPs with original spins to it (La Llorona, Freddy vs Jason’s story, Halloween 1 & 2’s endings, Universal Monsters) I hope Universal will let Murdy do more OGs, the guy’s creative and I wanna see his creativity at its peak!
• They should add more scare zones. Like I said earlier, it would be cool to have as little dead spots as possible. Back then there were up to seven scare zones, now we’re down to 3-5. During the last two nights of HHN, I saw three chainsaw guys just roaming around the park. I hope that was some kind of testing to see if certain areas can be filled with actors. It’d be cool to see something similar to Orlando’s roaming chainsaw clowns. But then again they tested out Harry Potter being open during HHN back in 2016 and now they won’t even acknowledge it anymore.
• More rides should be open! It’s a good thing that Jurassic World is gonna be quite the crowd eater in 2019, but with the event being more popular now that’s not gonna be enough. Why did they close Minion Mayhem all of a sudden? I know it feels out of place with the rest of the event but so is Simpson’s and Transformers. Let’s hope the rumored Secret Life of Pets attraction is open by 2019 so that could eat more crowds as well.
• They really really REALLY need to get rid of the Jabbawockeez! If they’re not gonna do that then they should at least add a second show in the Animal Actors stage, another attraction that can eat up crowds. I know there are some people who genuinely like the Jabbawockeez but they’re more out of place than the rides, including Minion Mayhem when it was open.
• I do appreciate how John Murdy is being more brutally honest when it comes to all the behind the scenes stuff. Whenever someone complains on Twitter about a crappy scene or a Black Wall marathon, he’ll flat out complain too and tell them what the Black Walls were originally supposed to be. I also don’t like how Murdy is pretty much in charge of everything. The big bosses at Universal all count on this one dude to make HHN and that’s not good. He always says he’s writing the treatments, mixing and editing the audio, and adding finishing touches to the mazes. Some people say that he just says all that cuz he’s a self-absorbed prick but other than Chris Williams and the celebrities they work with, nobody else has any creative input on the event. I mean how many more times can we see a hallway filled with body bags or have actors come out of a boo hole? Murdy really loves the event and most of his work does show that, but once he finally retires, I’ll be happy, not because of his absence, but because of the new blood that will bring new innovation to the table. But what Hollywood really needs is a whole team like Orlando’s A&D.
• There was a lack of smells in the mazes. The only smelly mazes that I can think of were Trick R Treat and Blumhouse. I know some people don’t like them but I think the scents add more to the realism.
• All the mazes ended very abruptly with Black Walls that had 2-3 actors coming out of boo-holes. That needs to change immediately! Halloween 1 and 2 had awesome endings, the Queen Alien from AVP was phenomenal, even the alternate endings for Freddy vs Jason was a total game changer. But in 2018 there’s just...nothing. I miss cool endings, I miss endings period!
• I took my first HHN survey on opening night. It was an online survey and they asked for my honest opinion, so I told them Universal Monsters was excellent and First Purge was hot trash. I also added that there should be more scare zones and have more theming other than Party City lights and Dubstep. According to these “fan polls”, Jabbawockeez was the highest rated attraction, but I told them that I didn’t even bother to go watch the show. Yeah...I think it’s safe to say these polls are either rigged or biased.
• They need to come up with new and better scares. One of the reasons why Poltergeist was one of my favorites of 2018 was because of how different every scare felt from each other. It wasn’t the same old “scare actor comes out of a secret door and steps on a pedal that turn on strobe lights and a recorded scream” technique in every room, they managed to make every scare fresh and unexpected. The monster coming out of a hole surrounded by Black Walls gag is getting annoying already, just because it worked well in the Exorcist that doesn’t mean it’ll work well in everything else.
• And lastly, I wanna say this before I wrap up this review. I feel like everything that I loved about the event when I first started going in 2014 is slowly fading away. Maybe it’s just me getting older but now it feels like HHN is starting to become less of a fun and scary wonderland that didn’t give a single person mercy and more of a soulless and bland product made by a corporation that tries way too hard to please all audiences. But just because I complain about the quality of the event, that doesn’t affect the amazing experiences I have. I always compare HHN to pizza, cuz even at its shittiest it’s still pretty damn good. In fact, I think 2018 was the year I had the most fun in. I met some really cool people and made some awesome new memories. 2016 is still my all time favorite year but I have more memorable moments in 2018. So even though HHN is not always perfect, it is, and always will be, my home away from home.
So that finally concludes my review of 2018. Nowhere near as amazing as 2016 but not as bad as 2017. I would have to say that it’s slightly better than 2015 but just barely inferior to 2014. I attended seven nights this year which is a record for me and I had a lotta fun every night. After the final night of HHN I couldn’t wait to write a review but I was little hesitant as well. It looks like Horror Night Nightmares is becoming more and more dead every year and that kind of depresses me. The Orlando people are still kind of active but on the Hollywood side everyone either migrated to Inside Universal Forums or just completely vanished. As I am writing this review there are over 315 posts for HHN 29 and only 9 posts on HHN 2019. And every time I worked on this review I kept telling myself, “What’s the point, no one is even gonna read this!” If any lifelong HHN fans are reading this, I’m curious to know what you all think about this. Did everyone just get over HHN or is there more to it than that? It’s pretty sad to see the pioneers of HHN just simply not give a shit anymore. But with all that said I’m gonna end this review on a happy note. I had a blast in 2018! I really enjoyed the majority of the mazes and the people I hung out with made my experiences a thousand times better. I am definitely looking forward to next year.
HHN Hollywood 2018 gets an A-!
Thank you all very much for reading and I hope you all have a great day!