Are You Ready To Face Your Fears?
For a few years in a row, Warner Bros. Studios has been hosting a smaller scale Halloween event on select nights in October using their archive of classic and modern horror movie properties. This year they’re ripping off the little kid’s arm and throwing their bloody clawed glove into the ring with a bigger multi-night Halloween event. We love that they’re making the commitment to present a new haunt event in Southern California and from the preview night, it’s clear to us that Universal Studios (HHN) is no longer the only haunted movie studio in Hollywood.
“We’re not just a scare factory or a haunted house – as the creator of legendary horror films, what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a party on the Warner Bros. backlot? We’re thrilled to welcome guests who are ready to brave their deepest nightmares,” said Gary Soloff, Director of Marketing, WBSTH. “Due to the overwhelming demand from last year’s event, we’ve extended our nights and hours and made this year’s festival, night tour, and mazes bigger, better, and scarier, so our guests can expect more pulse-pounding terror than ever before.”
As with any new major haunt event, there definitely is room for improvement. Over this haunt season, they will have to climb the learning curve to smooth out some of the event’s operations, staff training, and scare actor presence. Given that the WB Studios doesn’t have the infrastructure of a major theme park they’ve done an incredible job at converting their studio backlot into an intimate small-town style Halloween festival. You really feel as though you’re walking through the streets of Derry Maine, Springwood Ohio, or Monroe Connecticut. Off to an impressive start, WB has successfully created an adult-focused Halloween event that we feel is best suited for more mature haunt fans who are either tired of the chaotic HHN experience, seek a nostalgic horror movie experience, or just want more haunts to go to.
Mazes & Experiences
IT Knows What Scares You
From New Line Cinema’s 2017 record-breaking film IT, Pennywise returns with a vengeance in this year’s reimagined maze, with even more chills and thrills than ever before. Guests daring enough will have to brave their way through the Neibolt House and remember that “It Knows What Scares You,” as terror awaits with every twist and turn.
The settings and effects of this maze are impressive and recreate some the most memorable and frightening scenes from the movie. If you’re a fan of ‘IT’ then you’ll be thrilled to explore the Derry neighborhood, sewer tunnels, and hallways of the Neibolt House. As with the other mazes and experiences at Festival of Frights, ‘It’ is a little different than the typical high-intensity, monsters around every corner haunted house. Here you’ll feel as though you’re exploring the sets of the movie right after they’ve finished filming and some of the characters just haven’t gone home yet; lurking about to give you a few scares. The length of the maze was impressive with effects that are at the level of quality you’d expect from a major Hollywood studio. If anything, we just wished there were a few more scareactors with better timing. This really would have elevated the ratings. Such as, instead of the town bullies taunting us as we went through the sewer tunnels they should have recreated their grim encounters with Pennywise. There also was a few too many “Georgies” walking around asking for help and giving warnings. You may not get terrified in this maze but ‘IT’ should still keep you on edge with its creepy atmosphere.
Escape from Arkham Asylum
For the first time ever, the infamous Gotham City institution for the criminally insane is constructed on the Warner Bros. backlot, where fans will come face-to-face with the iconic and unhinged characters from WB Games’ Batman: Arkham Asylum. Visitors will be driven to the brink of insanity as they navigate through the gruesome asylum, and those unlucky enough will be sentenced by The Joker™ to be a prisoner for life.
The Joker, Harlequin, and other Batman villains aren’t they typical monsters and ghouls that people usually think about for Halloween horrors but WB has successfully utilized these characters for a unique twist on the traditional haunted funhouse and asylum themes. Years ago, The Joker was also the host character for a clown maze at Magic Mountain’s Fright Fest called The Joker’s Hideout, but here at WB he’s far more menacing. For fans of the darker side of D.C. comics, this maze will bring a Joker’s sized grin to your face as you venture through the asylum’s hallways and encounter some of Gotham City’s worst villains. Similarly to ‘IT’, we just wanted to see some more ghouls and scares. There also could have been a variety of more villains throughout the maze as we didn’t see the scarier goons like Bane, Zsasz, or Killer Croc, which was a little disappointing. Of all the WB mazes this has some of the simpler sets but it does have some of the best scareactors. The Jokers were especially good in recreating the villain as portrayed in the Arkham Asylum video games.
The Conjuring Universe
A host of satanic spirits will surface as guests get a glimpse inside the world of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren from New Line Cinema’s The Conjuring Universe. Fans will fall victim to Annabelle’s devious games and come face-to-face with The Nun, lurking in the dark shadows behind every corner.
The Conjuring Universe plays out more like a haunted play than a haunted house. Here you go through a few rooms, each from the different movies in The Conjuring Universe as a tour group. As you venture through the rooms, such as the Warrens’ basement occult museum, Annabelle’s bedroom, and the family room from The Conjuring 2, you get to freely explore the sets and props. In each room, a character explains the supernatural dangers of the scene you’re in before the ghostly effects take over. This maze utilizes mostly lighting, sound, and prop effects but there are a few scareactors roaming around for good measure. The last scene features one of the freakiest effects we’ve seen to date in a haunt, making it one hell of a finale! Bravo!
Nightmare on Camp Crystal Lake
Campers beware of the deep, dark woods that conceal the ghastly presence of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, waiting to turn your greatest nightmares into reality. Take a night tour of our iconic backlot with a detour to everyone’s favorite, Camp Crystal Lake. If you survive, you’ll get to explore behind-the-scenes of beloved titles in horror entertainment, including iconic filming locations like New York Street, where the 1953 House of Wax was shot.
Freddy and Jason are finally home on the WB lot and battling it out for your blood in this outdoor haunted trail. The setting is the iconic Camp Crystal Lake, which is perfectly recreated on the WB backlot. It’s actually a far better recreation than we’ve ever seen on Universal’s Terror Tram. You’ll explore the complete wooded lake with its canoe docks, campgrounds, archery range, and cabins. As you make your way through Camp Crystal Lake, overly hysterical camp counselors come screaming out of the dark woods looking for help and warning you to get out of the paths of Freddy and Jason who are also stalking close by. This maze is a lot of fun but it would be even better if they included some of the well-known music and sound effects from the movies. Without it, the suspense of going through the maze is lacking. Also, once inside the cabins the lighting was way too bright and the scareactors were not well hidden limiting the number actual scares we received in the maze. With some tweaks, this maze could be one of the top terror fueled haunt attractions in Hollywood.
The Exorcist: Forbidden Screening
In this 4D experience, guests will enter the safe haven of our backlot church to relive the most terrifying scenes from the 1973 classic The Exorcist, right from the pews.
This attraction really surprised us! We thought that this was just going to be a “best of ” clips show from the classic movie with some added sound and lighting effects in the theater. Well, it was more than that. They do a great job in creating an original story on how the movie, which should never be screened inside a church, triggers demonic activity and brings it to life around the audience. The effects and surprises were more than expected in this fun and scary experience featuring the enduring horror classic. We suggest sitting the first four rows for the full effect.
Additionally, Horror Made Here features carnival games, live entertainment, a “Little Shop of Horrors” where guests can purchase Halloween and Horror Made Here merchandise, plus fun food and beverage options, including the goth-punk Fangtasia Bar featured in the HBO series True Blood, serving regular drinks for humans and “Tru-Blood” for vampires It also offers a series of attractions and activities, including:
- Stage 48: Script to Scream: Enter the world of Tim Burton and see authentic props and costumes from his iconic movies Sweeney Todd, The Corpse Bride, Mars Attacks! and for the first time ever on display at Warner Bros., original props from the Halloween classic, Beetlejuice.
- Devil’s Drop Tower: Adventurous visitors will have the opportunity to take the 90-foot plunge into the air for the scream of their life.
- Horror Makeup Demonstrations: Learn how makeup artists bring terrifying characters to life with our special Horror Made Here SFX makeup demonstrations throughout the night.
- The Lost Boys Arcade: Play iconic games in the retro Lost Boys-themed arcade. Games include titles like Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Mario Bros., Space Invaders and Terminator 2 Pinball.
What we could be witnessing is the rise of an all-new annual Halloween haunt experience in Hollywood. Remember when HHN was rebooted in 2006 they only had two mazes, the terror tram. and some scare zones. If WB Festival of Frights continues to build up, haunt stalkers could have an equally scary and fun alternative to the ever so popular (and crowded) HHN. Don’t get us wrong we’re not saying to pick one over the other but having both provides an alternative to feeling trapped among crowds at HHN and allows die-hard haunt stalkers to double down on two Haunted movie studio attractions. Plus, WB has Pennywise, Freddy, and Jason which probably means that HHN is S.O.L. in seeing these guys on their lot again anytime soon.
We went on a preview night and it was busy. Not sure what the crowd flow will be on regular operating nights but we suspect that it will be popular this season so we do think it’s worth to splurge on the VIP pass as it also includes additional perks like parking and drinks. Some of the attractions like The Conjuring Universe and The Exorcist have longer waits due to them having “show” elements that takes time to reset between groups so we recommend seeing those first with or without the pass.
For 2018, Horror Made Here has been extended from six to 13 nights starting October 5, 2018. Tickets start at $59 per person at horrormadehere.com. This year introduces the “VIP Fright Pass” to accommodate those looking to jump to the front of the line for each attraction and night tour, as well as providing free priority parking and two complimentary beverages.
Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights is a special ticketed event, held on October 5-6, October 11-13, October 18-21 and October 25-28, open from 7PM to 1AM. The event ticket includes access to the festival, all scare mazes, and the night tour. Visit horrormadehere.com for more information.