Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood offers eight mazes this year. Which are worth your time, and which should be avoided? Here is a handy guide, starting at the bottom and working up.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood: Blumhouse of Horrors Chapter Two
Having real trouble remembering much about this one except that it offers bits and pieces from numerous horror movies produced by Blumhouse.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood: The First Purge
The Purge works better as an outdoor scare zone than an indoor maze - exteriors make it easier to simulate a city under siege when law and order are put on hold. Calling this maze the "first" Purge does little to distinguish it. It's still a bunch of people going homicidal - rather generic, without a memorable monster.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood: Halloween 4 The Return of Michael Myers
Part of the effectiveness of the Halloween movies was that they were set in everyday locations, making it easier for audiences to relate - it was your home town, not a spooky European castle. Unfortunately, that does not make for interesting environments in a maze, especially when big chunks are made up of black plywood corridors. We lost count of the times Michael Myers appeared suddenly with knife in hand - very repetitious.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood: Netflix's Stranger Things
This maze has a fun house feel - that is, its attempt to simulate an outdoor setting is very unconvincing. Like the Halloween 4 maze, this one features the same monster over and over. At least there's one nice large room near the end that has an impressive amount of scale and production value, along with a character delivering some dialogue. It's almost like a real scene instead of another simple jump-scare.
Halloween Horror Nights HOllywood: Poltergeist
Like Halloween 4, the Poltergeist maze uses everyday settings. Fortunately, this maze features a variety of scare-inducers: the sinister TV screen opening a vortex into the unknown, the creepy clown doll, the bloody steak inching across the kitchen counter, the tree reaching through the window, the giant skull head from another dimension, that weird ghost thing with the goat-skull head or whatever it's supposed to be, and best of all, the guy with his face peeled off. The variety makes this one worthwhile.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood: Trick 'r Treat
Basing a maze upon a cult movie not so widely known is laudable, and Trick 'R Treat comes through, offering a solid seasonal feel and several memorable images. Unfortunately, one of the monsters is a werewolf - one of which appears in the next maze as well, creating a bit of redundancy. Ultimately, this is essentially the Murder House Home haunt from Halloween 2017 (click here), produced on a larger scale, but it's a good concept and worth expanding.
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood: Universal Monsters
If nothing else, this maze benefits from being filled with numerous memorable monsters, providing the variety sorely lacking in the Stranger Things and Halloween 4 mazes. There are still some plywood corridors, but the major settings are fantastic: graveyard, crypt, castle, artifacts room, etc. The monster makeups are amazing, bringing the iconic characters into the 21st century. The segue from the maze to Masquerade scare zone (populated by the Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Phantom of the Opera, along with various vampires and werewolves) is a clever "but wait - there's more" strategy, extending the horror from the interior sets to an outdoor location. And the stilt-walker figure of Red Death in the scare zone is particularly agile. Very impressive.