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This Is The End: Like Elvis, demon shown only from waist up

This Is The End – the maze in this year’s Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, not the 2013 film starring James Franco and Seth Rogen – features the Elvis Presley of demons – which is to say, family audiences are allowed to see him only from the waist up. When the King of Rock-n-Roll appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, this was achieved through careful camera anglesso that the television viewing audience would not be exposed to his gyrating hips. When King of Hell appears in the new Halloween attraction, he lunges through gaping holes in the cracked walls, the gaps conveniently set at waist level, so that customers will not be exposed to his demonic… ah, appendage – which was so vividly rendered in the film (through CGI, no less, since the film version of the character is a Godzilla-sized juggernaut.

I made this point in the text accompanying our video of the theme park’s new maze, but I wanted to highlight it here, because it may not be an isolated incident. Rather, judging from this and from 2014’s From Dusk Till Dawn maze, Universal Studios Hollywood is very much sticking to typical movie industry value judgments regarding what is “adult” and/or “offensive.” In other words, it is perfectly acceptable to wade knee-deep in gore (bisected torsos, dangling intestines, half-eaten bodies), but the word “titty” must be removed from Dusk Till Dawn‘s Titty Twister Bar, and god forbid you should see This Is The End‘s anatomically correct demon from the waist down (or, for that matter, hear the masturbation-ejaculate argument between Jess Franco’s and Danny McBride’s characters).

The From Dusk Till Dawn maze managed to survive the absurd name change, but This Is The End falls short of its potential. The tone is right; the effects are great (particularly the demon, his cracked skin glowing with internal hell fire); and some memorable scenes from the film are faithfully recreated. Unfortunately, there is just not enough happening inside the maze, and part of the reason, I think, is that much of the film’s deliberately tasteless humor was deemed too offensive for Halloween Horror Nights.

This is most regretable, because making a maze based on This Is The End was the kind of imaginative and unexpected idea that Universal Studios Hollywood needs to enliven their annual Halloween attraction. If the theme park fears offending families with children (who really shouldn’t be there anyway), then instead of toning down the material, Universal should add ratings to the mazes, designating some as “adults-only.”

Because we all know it’s okay for kids to see a zombie’s disemboweled victim with entrails dangling between his legs, but seeing a dangling, demonic penis would warp their fragile little minds forever.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.