First I'd like to thank Universal for giving me the opportunity to film inside of the houses! It's something they have never done before and when they first asked me, I was extremely skeptical. Why?!? Well, given that it's my first time to walk through the houses, it would be a 100% genuine reaction to the scares. That wasn't the problem, the issue was that it was going to be on film for everyone to see! Publicly scared? I wasn't sure what to think about that. I knew I had to get over myself and of course I signed up!
My HHN Exxperience was nothing less than amazing! I was fortunate enough to be able to go through every house and scarezone at least once and even had some time for repeats. For those who don't know much about Employee Preview night (EP), it's only open for a few hours (7:30pm – 11:00pm) and is pretty much a working dress rehearsal/preview for the real deal. If I had to put a percentage on it, I'd say its about 90% of a finished product since there are some kinks to work out here and there and not all of the effects are on. That didn't stop me from enjoying it though.
That being said, on to my review!
***CAUTION! CONTAINS SPOILERS***
- Horror Nights The Hallow'd Past – I cannot say enough about this house. Being a fan of HHN, this house really hit home. You encounter just about everything that you can remember about the event. You'll see the vortex, rat lady, treaks, mirror maze….EVERYTHING. Very good execution for a memorable house. This house was done in a way so that even the "old" stuff fit perfectly in a new house without me ever feeling like "oh, thats random for that to be there." It fit like a glove. It's a good way for guests (old and new) to catch up on the last 20 years.
- Catacombs Black Death Rising – This house was very unique. I will say that at first it caught me off guard and I had no idea what had just happened. Then I did some googling about "Black Death" and it made so much more sense to me. It's likely because I'm 22 and never really learned too much about it in school. However, once it clicked, I was amazed and can't wait to give it another shot. The detail in this house was spot on. There is a good amount of "beaked" scareactors in this house and it really confused me. Their costumes/masks reminded me of the "spy vs spy" cartoon. It wasn't until I started googling it that I figured out what the beaked masks were for. Apparently the doctors would fill the cone of the beak with flowers so that they wouldn't have to smell the stench of death. This house was clearly a "The More You Know" Public Service Announcement in disguise. I'll need to go through this house again before I can really review it.
- HAVOC Dogs of War – Talk about intense! This house was loud and crazy. Even from the start the concrete facade had lasers scanning the queue and the house was filled with strobes and all sorts of effects lighting. You come face to face with the "Dogs of War". They were bald and mutated with more energy than a power plant. They were raging bio-hazard killing machines. Also you will also find quite a few easter eggs in this house (There were some familiar names plastered all over the walls in this house) Lots of potential and I also suggest you read up on "Dogs of War" to really understand this house.
- The Orfanage Ashes to Ashes – Finally Cindy gets her 15 minutes! This house was creepy. Something about children being loose and wearing masks while singing songs in the dark is extremely creepy. One thing that really stood out in this house is that is the first to use an open flame! While it wasn't anything like the massive fireball in the lagoon, it fit very well in the house and you definitely feel the heat. Most of the scares were resetting for me, but I did catch Cindy in the last scene. I did enjoy seeing the old Skool masks in this house.
- Zombiegeddon – Zombies!!! I really enjoyed this house. From the beginning to the end, it was fluid. First you get instructions from a guy named Howard, he lets you know about the various stages of the zombies (thankfully they are color coded with lights) and he tells you how to fight them off, I specifically remember to make sure to shoot them in the head. I would like to note that this was the best possible role for Scott (Invader_Butters on the forum). This house was lots of fun, went back for seconds.
- Hades The Gates of Ruin – I love sound stage houses. They really get to show off their creative skills when it comes to building these houses. The facade for this house was incredible. It didn't stop there! Everything was detailed! The costumes were amazing. This was another one of the houses where I missed most if not all of the scares. However I did see some awesome scares go to the poor kids in front of me. Lots of potential here but I'm going to give it another go around before I give a review.
- PsychoScareapy Echoes of Shadybrook – In my opinion this is my favorite HHN franchise. The PsychoScareapy houses have always been fun and provided me with many laughs. This rendition was the complete opposite. This isn't the Shadybrook we've seen in the past, although the facade is back, its much gloomier. This house was dark and I'm not talking about the lighting (although it was rather dark too). Just to give you an idea, I think I saw an inmate with an egg beater in her eye. Creeeeeepy.
- Legendary Truth The Wyandot Estate – This was quite possibly the house I anticipated the most. The facade really stole the show. It seriously looks like they built a two story house inside the sound stage. One thing is for certain, you will be immersed. Normally I'd say that ghost themed haunts don't typically go the correct route and are usually quite lackluster. This on the other hand was far from that. Lots of new techniques and advanced scares in this house. Not the same old mirror tricks, this house takes it to the next level. I'm all for moving forward.
To be reviewed:
- Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure (Although I saw this show, It's much to early to review this)
- Brian Brushwood: Menace And Malice (Follow him on Twitter @shwood)
- Scarezones. I was able to walk through them all, but I was in too much of a hurry to really review them.
Also, be on the lookout for Kelly's review. More to come in the VERY near future. I'll be at Universal throughout HHN's opening weekend. If you see me, feel free to say hey! See you there!