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agalloch

A disappointing year, agalloch's review.

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Preface: I've attended the event since HHN 14. Each year has its positives and negatives, however my opinion is that the event has gone down overall since its mid-teen years. This year, early rumors intruiged me, the marketing early on had me interested in seeing where they would go with it, and I thought the year would be a solid return to form. However, when the website went up, houses were revealed, and "scare zones" shown, I was cautiously disappointed.

Overall: The event was simply not that good in my opinion. I won't get into specifics here, but let's talk about the overall trend. Increasing IP usage severely limits creativity - even in the best houses this year (AWIL). The trend to have no overarching theme, no cohesive story, and massive disconnect from marketing and the event itself is horrible. Even the commercials weren't original and seemed completely generic. Shared or borrowed content from HHN Hollywood is not greate because of a taming in its overall intensity and content comparatively. Its terribly clear that the creative minds behind the event are being severely cut off by management and marketing. And, no icon, again. Actors need to be more interactive with guests and the theme needs to be more adult.

Ambience: Where was it? Where are the fantastic first sections of the park older attendees loved? I remember walking into HHN 14 seeing the massive tesla coils, lasers, huge stilt walkers, and memorable music and it setting the mood for the event. I remember seeing Path of the Wicked, the Terra Queen, etc and loving everything I saw. Even the pumpkins, which even though used a lot, are now gone. From the ENTIRE event I honestly don't remember a single piece of music except for "Blue Moon" from AWIL - otherwise, the ambience delivered by Midnight Syndicate / Nox Arcana is gone. There was no sense of unease - how could there be? Beer stands everywhere, nurses walking around near scare zones, slow zombies every single place, etc. I remember wakling in Islands of Fear between scare zones and they intentionally had music playing that was unsettling, even when nothing was going on. The event felt real, it felt genuine, it felt unnerving. Oh, where are the videos projected for each house? Where are the actors waiting outside of the house inviting you in (a la Dungeon of Terror: Retold)? No entrance gate ambience besides some fake looking roots? Give me the amazing ambiance from HHN 19's entrance with the ushers, video screen, light from their flashlights, etc.

Houses: Improved from last year, but that's not saying much as last year's houses (besides Dead End and Gothic) were horrific. Please, stop using IPs. At this point the event really does not need an IP to draw crowds in because it is so well established. The Walking Dead needs to go - zombies are overdone, especially this year.

  • American Werewolf in London: 8/10 - Excellent house, worthy of being titled an HHN house, and probably the only one this year that I adored. The wolf puppets, needless to say, were extremely well done and had movement that impressed me. However, they were VERY visible when walking down a hall - I know the limitations of why they had to be like that, but it removed the anxiety of where it was. Sets and music were all great in all but two areas. 1) When in the "moores" you could see the "forest" was short, fake looking, and you could see the black carpet behind it. Give it depth. 2) Piccadilly Circus - not much was going on, the bus looked terribly fake, etc. Nonetheless, extremely memorable, mostly well done, and a near perfect execution of an IP (and I hate IPs for the most part).

  • Cabin in the Woods: 7/10 - Pretty good house. The sets the first half were fantastic. I loved the wide open first cabin room, but then the transition into the facility was horrible. It came out of nowhere, the entire facility looked completely cheap (especially the room with Jack and Caretaker), and did NOT have enough scare actors in the blood room nor cheap looking room. The fishman was terribly fake looking and did not feel like a threat - something about that room felt useless and should have appeared more "techy". Like in other houses, the AATs (actor activated triggers) need to have TWO sounds that rotate because some actors used their sound in quick succession that you knew it felt fake. I admire the costumes, intensity, etc but at no point did I feel threatened. By the way, I loved the actor who ran down the hallway with an axe. Again, what happened to the huge opportunities the second half presented that fell flat on its face?

  • Evil Dead: 6/10 - I wanted to love it, but my god did it fall short. First, I loved the massive "EVIL DEAD" logo in blood red. Amazing way to set the stage. But, why did we have to walk into the massive soundstage that far of a distance just to see it? The pages hanging in the air, well, I guess I knew what they were going for - to set up the reading of the book and get you ready, but it seemed a bit ridiculous. Then when we saw the prop of the guy reading the book? Fell HORRIBLY short. That NEEDED someone to be panicy, to have sounds randomly that caught his attention and made him panic, it needed the urgency that we saw in the remake as he read it. Then after that it became ridiculous - random corridors of woods, a poorly executed tree rape scene, random entry back into the cabin, etc. The level of gore needed to go much higher like Hollywood. The burning cabin and "blood rain"? Terribly fake looking. There needed to be some real rainfall, not just wind, with actors that were VERY well hidden. I'm sorry, but they had a great opportunity to knock it out of the park but it just fell short. And, with TWO cabins in the same event, it didn't work.

  • La Llorona: 5/10 - Average, in fact disappointing. The facade was quite nice! But, the audio and projection was not easily comprehendable. I did NOT like we'd be stealing from Hollywood, but if they are to do it, I thought I could expect Orlando to do it well with its generally more thematic elements. Wow, did it fall short. Everything past the white-water-tunnel, so what they came up with, was horrible (and really? Transition into her mind using the tunnel? Terribly done. If you have to explain what it is on a tour then they didn't do a good job whatsoever of creating it). The second half were borring corridors and a terribly anti-climatic ending. The first half was enjoyable, sort of. If I recall, I enjoyed hearing the creepy sounds of children weeping! But the sets needed to be more colorful and less dark - just like they should have looked in the media photos. The scale of the rooms were SMALL, too. The lack of the Hollywood monster is extremely disappointing. The mirror room was very well done, though, and I like the subtle details that I saw on the tour. Unlike Howl-o-Scream, any mannequins were very, very obvious and that needs to be fixed because a rooms' effectiveness. Like Nemesis in Resident Evil, why was she standing at the top of stairs so fake looking? Gah.

  • Resident Evil: 4/10 - Gorgeous sets cannot make up for horrible costumes, lack of intensity, and a lack of actors. Wow, probably the best sets this year. Wide open, detailed, amazing. However, the cartoony feel was extremely stupid. The monsters were terribly done. Why was Nemesis not menacing just like Frankenstein was a few years ago? Where was the amazing finish the way you feel when completing a game? I would have even argued it would be cool to see Leon struggle through monsters and then, at the end, "defeat" the Nemesis and (for a change) let the good guys win. Not much else to say, maybe except for having IPs are generally dumb.

  • Havoc 2: 4/10 - The "masculine" feel of the house was cool. However, there was literally ONE actor in the house that did a good job - one of the earlier ones who "ripped" off the table. I loved that sound, it felt brutal, it felt real, it felt angry. However, the rest of the actors were oddly off-limits / distanced from the guests. This house would have been GREAT if they did it more like Saws & Steam, or Run 2 - dark, gory, masculine. Except, while the post-train filp (lol) sets were oddly maze like - in a good way, the guns were dumb. None of that felt like a threat. The simultaneous pop out was silly. Did not hold a candle to its above-average original. And, if you are going to bring back an original house for a sequel - really do it, like PsychoScarepy: Home for the Holidays did.

  • Walking Dead: 3/10 - Just, bad. The front gate looked dumb. Zombies absolutely need to go. The prison section was the only cool set, and it was at the end? Not much else to say, extremely dull.

  • Afterlife: 1/10 - Seriously, besides People under the Stairs, the absolute worst house they've done. The 3D was extremely terrible. The random costumes (demon costume, what?) were dumb. Actors were extremely visible. It was not scary. Very short. No threat. Dull. Did not take advantage of the cool story behind it. The only reason I gave it a point at ALL was because of the part where the prisoner was stabbed. I dug that. But really, we did this once because it was horrible.

Scarezones: They were there? Having tea-pees of woods is not scary. Having a forest you walk through with slow moving, terrible looking zombies isn't scary. Having dull costumes is not scary. Having set pieces designed for PICTURES AND NO INTERACTION is extremely dumb (eg: deer, the actor never moved off of it). Having the single best piece of all the scare zones - the cabin with half cut zombie in the back - relatively "hidden" or requiring effort to see is not a great idea. Having no worthy ambience is not great. The survivor camp was ridiculously dumb. New York was atrocious - one piece, a tank, that literally was not interacted with. Having no battles of the zombies and any survivors was not intelligent. Was Sting Alley even used? The only two pieces was the legless zombie - GREAT actor and visual, and (I'm hesitant to say I enjoyed it) the truck that would let zombies out - again, they should have "broke" out and then had actors shoot and fight the zombies off. Have some choreography, if need be.

Edited by agalloch
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the truck that would let zombies out - again, they should have "broke" out and then had actors shoot and fight the zombies off. Have some choreography, if need be.

...in the show, The Walking Dead, which the scarezones were based around, they had somebody drive walkers in a truck....to the prison...and...

....you know, forget it.

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...in the show, The Walking Dead, which the scarezones were based around, they had somebody drive walkers in a truck....to the prison...and...

....you know, forget it.

That's all you can say? Well, the actual "prison" was nowhere near where the truck was. Second, and admittedly I didn't see the show, but do they just let the zombies out like they did in the event? And then not fight back? If so, they should not include the truck as it is dumb. There was nothing menacing about it - they move SLOW.

And even if they followed the source content 100%, doesn't mean that content was a good thing for the event. Here, the scare zones SEVERELY missed the ball.

Edited by agalloch
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That's all you can say? Well, the actual "prison" was nowhere near where the truck was. Second, and admittedly I didn't see the show, but do they just let the zombies out like they did in the event? And then not fight back? If so, they should not include the truck as it is dumb. There was nothing menacing about it - they move SLOW.

I actually agree with this and I'm a huge TWD fan.

In the show when the van shows up walkers definitely attack the characters when this happens....here, I don't know what they were going for.

They let the walkers out to attack guests I guess (I don't know why they would uh do this? The survivors of Woodbury never attacked its own citizens unless were supposed to be like the characters in the prison) and then the survivors stand by and guard the area. I guess guests are supposed to be a threat to the Woodbury survivors like the prisoners, army was in the show. Well without the Governer mentioned in the park this doesn't really work because the survivor woman near the entrance and in the opening scaremony is on our side. She's not trying to attack us. So this whole thing just comes off as a bit weird. Especially due to the fact that if they are trying to get the walkers to attack us, why rally them back in the van at the end? It makes no sense.

It would have been a lot more interactive if Universal added some hidden actors as guests when they did these scenes that the walkers could go after. This would have accomplished much more of what they were going for. The survivors could attack the walkers then instead of just standing there.

And once again, this would have been a great opportunity for the characters from the show to make an appearance and turn this into its own "show". People would have loved that.

Instead, yeah they pretty much let them out, they wander around, the survivors guard the area and then throw something in the van, they all move and the van drives away. I actually got one of the suvivors to break character because I was looking in the van lol.

What they should have done if they wanted to be faithful to the show is have the truck show up, walkers come out. Van stays parked and the driver runs away. Survivors come into the area, yelling at people to move and attack the walkers that come out. Scaractors disguised as guests get attacked and a breakout occurs. I understand walkers being shot would have to fall down, but there could be a solution to this. A survivor that showed up could take control of the van and rally the other survivors to drag the dead walkers back into it and drive away with the survivors having saved most guests. If walkers have to fall to the ground from being shot, obviously it could be a safety issue so security would need to be nearby whenever this scene happens. They could also block the area off after the survivors win allowing everyone to clear off.

Otherwise after the scene everyone scatters through the zones backstage like the other areas and just have the van drive around to the designated area and repeat different versions of the scene through the night like in the Atlanta zone.

But yeah, this would have been such a perfect opportunity to have the characters make an appearance and save the guests of Universal just like it happens on the show.

Edited by somebody85

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  • Like Nemesis in Resident Evil, why was she standing at the top of stairs so fake looking? Gah.

The mannequin at the top of the stairs is not La Llorona, but the narrator of the story. If I remember correctly, there is some narration audio in that room.

Edited by Coast

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Or a better way would be for the guards to grab a "Survivor" and dump him in the van, attracting all the zombies, Eating the survivor once the doors close. :P

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That's exactly how I feel about the event now. I've been going since almost the beginning and their is a MAJOR difference in the intensity. I have to say that it has lost its feel. Seems like a lot of people here have not experienced the earlier years so they can't compare it. It seemed more "adult" themed, less of a party environment like it is now. The music from Midnight Syndicate. The feeling of just walking in the entrance of the park was unsettling. They would cut off the lines when wentering the houses instead of having one slow moving conga line like it is now. The scares and houses were much more intense. Where did all of that go?

Edited by matthhn
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That's all you can say? Well, the actual "prison" was nowhere near where the truck was. Second, and admittedly I didn't see the show, but do they just let the zombies out like they did in the event? And then not fight back? If so, they should not include the truck as it is dumb. There was nothing menacing about it - they move SLOW.

And even if they followed the source content 100%, doesn't mean that content was a good thing for the event. Here, the scare zones SEVERELY missed the ball.

yeah, that's all I can say. You're just not worth arguing with; sorry to let you down.

...wat?

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That's exactly how I feel about the event now. I've been going since almost the beginning and their is a MAJOR difference in the intensity. I have to say that it has lost its feel. Seems like a lot of people here have not experienced the earlier years so they can't compare it. It seemed more "adult" themed, less of a party environment like it is now. The music from Midnight Syndicate. The feeling of just walking in the entrance of the park was unsettling. They would cut off the lines when wentering the houses instead of having one slow moving conga line like it is now. The scares and houses were much more intense. Where did all of that go?

It's absolutely gone. Once the creative team built it to a household name in Florida, even outside of it, management/marketing started to milk it for what its worth. And, sadly, they're starting to hear the feedback for how terrible its getting. Look at last year's feedback - completely trashed it. And, this year, if you go on Facebook generally you'll see a lot more comments about needing the event to be original, scary, less IP, and more original zones.

Completely agree with you. And you'll hear, "Rose colored glasses," thrown around but it isn't that. There are a NUMBER of changes that are gone. Hell, want the ultimate proof the event is less adult now? It used to have girls scantily clad dancing seductively in certain zones, and in the houses (remember Castle Vampyr - the girl on the bed?)

It's gone. It's not HHN anymore. If anything, it's a toned down HHN-Hollywood.

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How can you say the event has gone down since the "mid-teen" years when you didn't start attending until 14.

The "increasing" use of IP's? If you attended in 2007, you'd realize that there we just as many IPs that year compared to this year. And many people consider 2007 one of the best years since the event started. 2002, mostly IPs, again, considered one of the best years of the event.

You're using your opinion as FACT, and it's not. I personally love IPs and original houses. I love being able to go through something I already love and experience it in real life. 2009 is probably one of my favorite years because of this; basically all IPs, and the best house (next to Cleaver) was a use of many IPs. Hell, this year American Werewolf is one of the best houses I've seen in the 15 years of me attending this event, and that's saying A LOT.

HHN is still HHN. If you attended pre-2004, you'd see that the event feels like what it did in the 90's and early 2000's, and that's not a bad thing. Yeah, I'm still waiting for that HHN-18 again, where everything was PERFECT, but I'm very satisfied with what everybody is doing.

Edited by armyofrobots
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Also, I built the TV Tropes page for Halloween Horror Nights. The Trivia section of that page happens to include all known properties used each year of the event. Take a gander.

The size of it is deceptive, as I (and the mysterious others who contributed) include every individual property that showed up in even a single room of a single house (such as listing every property used in Silver Screams in 2009). Not only has literally almost every year included IPs, their prominent usage dates back to 2003 with the Director's house featuring four different ones. 2006, which I still regard as one of my favorite years of the "modern" HHN, had three different IP houses and one of them featured four different films. The Body Collectors that you love so much are an IP ripped straight from Buffy the Vampire Slayer with their character changed.

Hell, want the ultimate proof the event is less adult now? It used to have girls scantily clad dancing seductively in certain zones, and in the houses (remember Castle Vampyr - the girl on the bed?)

This might be one of the most ridiculous things out of your finger-mouths.

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Cody - use of IP is use of IP, no matter the scale. I am fully aware that Body Collectors were INSPIRED from Buffy, but their role in the show is COMPLETELY different than it is in the house. If they are using an IP to INSPIRE a house, that's totally fine. But to have it ACTUALLY exist is boring.

And, like I said an IP is an IP - the trend shows increasing use of IP, particulary to the SCALE of its use as well.

How can you say the event has gone down since the "mid-teen" years when youdidn't start attending until 14.

Because of everything I've already said in the "is gone" list. It's still factual, all that I wrote is actually gone.

And the best thing from 2007 was Psychoscarepy, then NOES, then a HUGE drop off in the rest especially with the lack of genuien scare zones. Every other house is very average that year.

Come on man. I know it's your opinion but there are GLARING flaws with the house. It's lacking actors, the puppets are visible from a mile away, certain sets (eg: Circus) are VERY fake looking, a feeling of emptiness, etc.

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For every American Werewolf, we get a Fear Factor. For every Screamhouse, we get a Disorientorium.

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I think 2011 was really the best year in terms of houses & scare zones. While there were some drawbacks that year (no coherent theme, Bill & Ted was the worst I've ever seen), I don't think you can match that year's quality, variety and creativity of houses and scare zones to any of the ICONIC years.

Also remember that HHN always changes. Back in the early 90's it was more like Pleasure Island: a parade, a scarezone, a few houses and a rock concert on the weekend.

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