THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is not exactly our cup of blood: sure, it’s scary, but Halloween should be about bats and ghouls, not the abatoir. Nevertheless, we have to admit that for Halloween Horror Nights 2008, Universal Studios Hollywood turned the Leatherface maze into a convincing journey into blood-soaked terror. The Slaughterhouse – Knott’s Scary Farm’s generic riff on CHAINSAW-style terror – is reasonably effective, but it cannot compete in terms of the convincing sets and makeup at Universal, where the craftsman recreate memorable settings and images. The “highlight” (if such a term can be applied to something so gruesome) is scene wherein Leatherface literally “defaces” someone, peeling the facial skin off his head. – you won’t see anything like that at any other Halloween attraction.
If we have a complaint it is that the maze is essentially the same as last year. Some details may have changed, but the overall effect is the same. Still, there is so much to see inside that you don’t catch everything on a single trip, so a return visit one year later reveals much that was overlooked before (which makes it almost like new).
The Chainsaw maze is located in the park’s lower level, near the Jurassic Park and Mummy’s Revenge Rides. You have to take several steep escalators to get there, so once people arrive they are pretty well committed to waiting in line – no matter how long the line may be. The result is that the waiting period tends to be longer here than for the Elm Street and Friday the 13th mazes located elsewhere around the park.
The are also features a “scare zone” but a rather generic one that takes little advantage of proximity to Jurassic Park and the Mummy (we counted one mummy wandering around near where we stepped off the escalator). Instead, those crazy mutant pigs (who used to lurk around the New York toxic spill scene) have been relocated here, presumably because their chainsaws make them spiritual kin of Leatherface.
The maniacal pigs do present a memorable visage, running out of the fog, but they were easily upstaged by a zombie flasher (the joke is he’s a skeleton under his overcoat, so he has nothing to flash). In general, this scare zone is less memorable than Deadwood, London, or Medieval Village, because there are no pre-existing facades to provide an appropriate Halloween setting for the horror.