Campus Circle was able to attend a sneak preview of Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights amidst preparations for the grand opening on Friday, September 21. This year’s festivities will bring to life an assortment of chills including “The Walking Dead:  Dead Inside,” “Terror Tram:  Invaded by The Walking Dead,” “Welcome to Silent Hill,” “Alice Cooper Goes to Hell 3D,” “La Llorona: Cazadora de los Niños,”  “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Saw is The Law,” and the “Universal Monsters Remix.”

Every year Halloween Horror Nights creative director John Murdy and make up artist Larry Bones work painstakingly to develop the best in scares for the fall season. Together they work from concept to fruition to showcase quality performances in the immersive art of mazes and “scare-acting” that set out to make attendees nightmares come to life. There is even a scare academy that performers train in the right and wrong ways to scare which Murdy describes as “A combination between a revival and exorcism.” From illusions of realistic looking wounds, grotesque beings, distressed costuming and recreations of terrifying sets, their teams of experts up the ante every year as more people demand new ways to be scared.

The key to scaring is something Murdy has mastered from a young age. He got his start creating haunted houses growing up with his family and stopped when hundreds of people would show up at his garage. When he was 14 years old, a local maze hired him to help organize, and since then his career led him to revamp Halloween Horror Nights every year. This year, the bar has been raised yet again!

After being led through the back-lot, Murdy greeted us as we toured one of the most anticipated mazes for this year’s festivities: “Welcome to Silent Hill,” based on the hit video game franchise and movies (Silent Hill: Revelation 3D comes out this fall). Fans of the series will be happy to know that they have a lot in store for them in this maze that pays homage not only the movies, but also the games (Clue: Keep your ears open for a particular radio station and DJ).

Through the official Halloween Horror Nights Twitter, Murdy was able to receive a lot of suggestions from fans as to what they’d like to see as a part of the maze. In fact, when deciding what pieces of Silent Hill music to set the maze to, the outpour of choices led him to create a special mix of the most beloved scores from the series. Special intelligent light fixtures are in place in the maze to simulate the "flashlight" component of the game to make it seem like you’re truly making your way into the woods of the town.

What monsters can you expect to see in the maze?

You will definitely see he notorious Silent Hill nurses, and the terrifying Pyramid Man will be making appearances as well as the central character of the games and movies, Dark Alyssa. Without giving away the tricks in the maze, it should be noted that the maze has many Easter eggs, and attendees can even participate in a scavenger hunt nightly via Twitter for special surprises.  They should also never let their guard down.

When it comes to plans about what may be seen in the coming years for Horror Nights, Murdy remains cryptic. Not only does he have plans to look into the newest in what scares audiences, but also some of the infamous in the world of fear. There are horror properties he has sought after for years that have been hard to acquire due to contract rights that were non-existent before the ‘70s.

Other attractions include the ever-popular “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure” and theme park’s favorites such as “Transformers™: The Ride –3D,” “Jurassic Park® In the Dark,” “The Simpsons RideTM” and “Revenge of the MummySM – The Ride.”

Opening night for Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights is Friday, September 21.

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