Last year’s Halloween Horror Nights event brought to fans five all new scare zones featuring almost entirely new content. With the exception of Chance, every zone was an entirely new world and story for hardcore fans of the event to explore. And those fans did just that; several of the scare zones from the event managed to develop its own unique subgroup of fans. While MANY people loved the kitschy aesthetic of Vamp 55 (some of whom even dressed entirely in vintage attire themselves), there were also many fans who loved the originality and heavy effects of Dead Man’s Wharf. However, I think one of the most overlooked scare zones of the event was Survive or Die: Apocalypse.
Post-apocalyptic themes for scare zones or houses at Halloween Horror Nights is nothing new. Many zones or houses that came before Survive or Die were set in a similar world and I’m sure many zones and houses will continue to be in the future. Famously, of course, is the event’s multiple Walking Dead themed houses, all of which are set in the post-zombie-apocalypse world from the famed television show. In HHN19 we were presented with another, similar, scare zone called “Apocalypse: City of Cannibals.” So these end of the world type settings are nothing unfamiliar to fans of the event. But what made Survive or Die unique to these predecessors was that this was an original content area with a diverse world of people within the lore of this zone.
Survive or Die was actually very story heavy in the most discreetly detailed way. If you only went through this zone once or twice, or went through it too quickly, it would be very easy to miss the full story of this zone. After a world-altering event has ruined the atmosphere of the earth and ended life as we know it, what’s left of humanity has divided into three communities to survive. The Dominion, a group with values strength of it’s members above all, has a machine that creates oxygen and is led by one man called the Overseer. The remaining two factions both want control of this machine for their people. One of these factions is Artifice, which believes itself to be smarter than the rest and enlightened as they follow their Mother, a prophet-like woman. The last group is called the Hound: a group of wild men and women armed with chainsaws and vehicles, and who have a Mad Max-like worship of machines. Each group has it’s own flag, symbol, and even color, and tries it’s best to recruit newcomers to their territory. Join a group or face death.
If you stayed put in this zone, one of the most interesting things to watch was how the three warring groups interacted with one another. From Mother and the Artifice coming into Dominion territory occasionally to demand the Overseer hand over his oxygen machine, to the Hound playing what was essentially an intense match of Capture the Flag with the other factions, there was a lot of story to be told. With so much lore and source material to this scare zone, it’s only natural that it developed so over the course of the event. But it leads to beg the question: how much further could the story of this zone develop if allowed to come back in a future event?
While original content zones returning in some capacity is limited to just a few, some of the most beloved recurring zones and houses for fans are those of original content. Notably on that list are Psychoscareapy and Body Snatcher, both of which have been featured at many HHN events (both in houses AND in scare zones) and are tied very heavily into the lore of Horror Nights’ most beloved icons. But a zone doesn’t have to be tied into the lore of the icons to be repeated. Scary Tales was featured as a house alone no less than three times and it came back to us in the form of a scare zone in year 25. Similarly, Asylum in Wonderland started out as just a scare zone during Reflections of Fear and later returned as a house in year 25. While certainly not all original content zones and houses get the opportunity to scare us again, it’s definitely not unheard of.
Survive or Die: Apocalypse blended the perfect amount of deep story with scares to allow it to become a prime candidate to return in future events. The mix of types of scares (from the creepy maniacal stares of the Artifice, to the intimidation of Dominion, and even to the classic chainsaws of the Hound) really meant that this zone had something to scare anyone and everyone who walked through it. But to the fans who slowed down and took in their surroundings, it became a very immersive world that I think Horror Nights fans would love to relive and get the opportunity to explore again.
Did you enjoy this scarezone? Let us know in the comments!