Another Halloween Horror Nights 27 Review – Part II

Welcome back, kiddies! We’re counting down this year’s Halloween Horror Nights houses from least to most awesome and today we’re looking at numbers 6 to 4. If you missed numbers 9 to 7, you can find them right here. Now, onto the countdown!

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6) The Shining – Like last year’s The Exorcist house, The Shining was arguably the most highly anticipated haunt at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights. While only taking the number six slot on my list, that should in no way give the impression that this house was anything but great. The fact that it’s number six just goes to show the spectacular quality of haunts present this year. The house opened with the snowy exterior of the famous Overlook Hotel, snow gently falling over our heads as we’re lead into a hedge maze. After a few turns through the maze, we’re right into a hotel hallway and see the first of what felt like many axes through doors. If there’s one main criticism of the house it’s the overreliance on that single moment from the film. Still, it’s really more of a quibble than a criticism. Standout scenes from the haunt included a mirror reflection trick involving the Grady twins, Danny Torrance on his big wheel peering into an endless hallway, and the Gold Room set built in eerie detail complete with Lloyd the bartender and all. Most impressive was the recreation of the elevator of blood scene, which appeared to have been accomplished by either a projection or by filling an actual room with blood. I want to believe it was the latter, but guessing it may’ve been some form of the former. Also, kudos to the team at Halloween Horror Nights for creeping me out by included the man in the bear costume…

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5) American Horror Story – Following last year’s popular house (and one of my favorites), American Horror Story returned to Halloween Horror Nights with a very strong sophomore effort. First off, this house was LONG, so for non-Express Pass attendees, this is one haunt to visit if you want to get your money’s worth. The Asylum portion alone felt like it could’ve been it’s own house with the rec room and the surgical room being especially impressive sets. The Coven and Roanoke portions were shorter, but no less packed with familiar characters and a number of consistent frights, most notably Kathy Bates’ character Delphine LaLaurie coming out for a big scare once you’ve explored her torture chamber. Oh, and while you’re in queue waiting to enter the house, keep your ears open and you may just hear “The Name Game” song as featured in Asylum.

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4) The Fallen – If you’ve been keeping tabs, you’ve probably figured out that there are four picks left and there hasn’t been a single mention of any of the four original houses. That is, until now. As I said when they were first announced in August, 2017 is the year of the original house. First up is The Fallen, a shorter house that felt like a rock n’ roll cross between Game of Thrones and Hellraiser. Upon entering, our first image is of a horned red demon chomping on some unsuspecting victim. This was the perfect first impression because HHN didn’t try to hide the scares and the beautiful makeup and costumes until the end. Putting that giant demon right at the start felt like their way of saying, “Yeah, we’ve got demons. And they look badass.” The rest of the house didn’t disappoint. With gorgeous sets reminiscent of 2012’s Gothic house, The Fallen featured a number of demons swinging next to, above, and AT attendees, oftentimes giving the feeling of being surrounded by monsters from all sides. With such impressive visuals and terrifying imagery, I didn’t expect that my biggest scare would come in the form of a simple gag that I should’ve seen coming a mile away. Note to self: if you see a hanging torso with a giant hole in the mid-section, assume an arm is going to come out of it.

Come back soon for my top three houses of the year!

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-Freddy

 

HHN Prep Marathon 2017

It’s a no-brainer to say we’re excited for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, but now that all of the event’s houses and scare zones have finally been revealed, it’s time to let the anticipation build to terrifying levels of – well, terror – with our very own HHN Prep Marathon. This year the team at Halloween Horror Nights is showering us with an embarrassment of riches in terms of original content and IP houses. To prepare for the event, we’ll be looking at the films and television shows that are being directly adapted for this year’s IP houses and scare zones as well as some movies that appear to have inspired the original haunts.

Depending on how much time you’re willing to spare and how much viewing you’d like to do, we’ve divided this marathon into three parts:

  • The Essentials– Obvious picks, but these choices are a must-see before stepping into this year’s event.
  • The Second Tier– Have a few more hours to spare? These are a few more flicks to get you hyped for this year’s HHN.
  • The All-Nighters– Calling in sick on Monday? Well, if you think sleep’s overrated, you can’t go wrong with these picks.

The Essentials

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The Shining (1980) – If you watch only one movie to prepare for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, let it be the Stanley Kubrick classic The Shining. Like last year’s The Exorcist house, this maze has garnered the most buzz even before it was announced back in May. We’re all waiting to see how the talented cast and crew at HHN are going to bring to life some of the most memorable scenes in horror film history: the elevator of blood, Danny’s big wheel rolling through the hallway, the “Here’s Johnny!” scene, the chase through the snow-covered hedges, and too many more to name. Of course, none of these scares will compare to turning a corner and seeing a grown man in a bear costume…

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Insidious (2010) – The first of three series featured in the Blumhouse haunt, Insidious is a film ripe for the Halloween Horror Nights treatment. Featuring memorable monsters, some quality scares, and great locations like the ghostly dimension known as the Further, the only negative to having Insidious at HHN this year is that it has to share the spotlight with two other film franchises.

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Ash vs. Evil Dead (Pilot) – For the sake of time, we’re limiting this selection to just the pilot episode, but in reality, the entire series of Ash vs. Evil Dead is definitely worth a watch. Get ready for scares, gore, gallons and gallons of blood, and a few belly laughs along the way. Because the show is a direct continuation of the Evil Dead trilogy, there’s a good chance that this year’s house could feature some familiar locations from the original three films. Perhaps we’ll also see director Sam Raimi’s Classic Oldsmobile Delta make an appearance.

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The Purge: Anarchy (2014) – Although the Blumhouse maze will be featuring Insidious, The Purge, and Sinister, I really do think the house will focus primarily on the first two, as the films in both the Insidious and Purge franchises offer a greater variety of scenes and locales that would lend themselves to memorable HHN set pieces. Of the Purge films, specifically, I believe we’ll see a focus on the second installment in the series, Anarchy, simply because the team at Halloween Horror Nights may want to avoid some of the more heavy political content of the third movie, Election Day. Arguably, Anarchy also happens to be the best film of the trilogy.

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American Horror Story (Pilots for Season 2, 3, and 6) – As we all expected, American Horror Story is back at Halloween Horror Nights and this year’s house looks to focus on the events of season 2, 3, and 6, subtitled Asylum, Coven, and Roanoke, respectively. As a fan of the show though, I do feel these are the three weakest seasons, with Roanoke being the low-point in the series. Regardless, there is enough creepy imagery across all three seasons to make for a really terrifying maze.

The Second Tier

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Trick ‘r Treat (2007) – Perhaps the best film to utilize the Halloween holiday since John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), this anthology film weaves multiple tales all set during the same evening on October 31st. The film spawned one of the newest horror icons in Sam, the boy with the big bagged head. Expect to see Sam wandering the streets of Halloween Horror Nights in his scare zone along with witches, wolves, and all manner of ghosts and creatures from the film.

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Saw (2004) – This year’s Saw: The Games of Jigsaw maze is set to be a best of compilation of the most memorable and brutal traps throughout all the films in the Saw franchise including the soon-to-be-released eighth installment, Jigsaw (2017). While Saw 2 (2005) and Saw 3 (2006) are real standouts in the series, there’s no way we could recommend any film other than the one that started it all and created a tradition that ran for seven consecutive years: “If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw”.

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Hatchet (2006) – One of 2017’s original houses, Dead Waters, features a Louisiana swamp, voodoo, and a decaying haunted village. Adam Green’s 2006 film Hatchet features much of the same plus a hatchet-wielding mutant named Victor Crowley. Sure, there are probably better horror films set in New Orleans, but none are as purely joyous and visceral as Hatchet.

The All-Nighters

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Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987) – Frankly, the entire Evil Dead trilogy is worth watching repeatedly, but if you’ve only got the time to watch one, let it be Evil Dead 2. Essentially a remake of the original film, this Sam Raimi-directed sequel ups the gore, the gags, the goofs, and the comedy. Best of all, with most of the movie’s characters trapped and unable to cross a broken bridge, the bulk of the film rests on the very capable shoulders of the great Bruce Campbell. Hail to the king, baby!

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Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) – When Invasion! was revealed as one of this year’s scare zones, my mind’s eye immediately shifted to black and white and I couldn’t help but think of the classic sci-fi horror films of the 1950s. Movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), It Came From Outer Space (1953), and Howard Hawk’s The Thing from Another World (1951). If I had to pick one film from the decade though, I’d go with Ed Wood’s hilarious but totally earnest foray into extraterrestrial terror Plan 9 From Outer Space. For those unfamiliar, Plan 9 is one of the great original “so bad it’s good” movies. The film’s production and director were so bizarre that the story was later told in 1994 in the film Ed Wood, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp.

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Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) – It’s only appropriate to honor the dearly departing staple of Halloween Horror Nights that is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure by watching the movie that started it all. For many HHN fans, the Bill and Ted show has been an integral part of their yearly Halloween Horror Nights experience and while we’re sad to see it go, we’ll always have the memories and we’ll always have the movie to remind us that while it’s perfectly fine to be bogus, we must never forget to stay excellent to ourselves and to each other.

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What do you think of our list? Any other suggestions we might’ve missed? Please let us know!

-Freddy