Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights 2016

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With haunt season officially upon us, the team here at All Hallows’ Haunts kicked it off by visiting Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. Now because we had different views and thoughts on the event, we decided to list each of our opinions on the event. Below you will see the opinions of AHH members Andy Shultz (@Andy1701) and Lola Tarantula (@Lolatarantula).

 

the-purge-at-universal-halloween-horror-nights-hollywoodScare Zone: The Purge Anarchy

Andy- Going into HHN I wasn’t too excited about The Purge Scare Zone. Universal has used The Purge as its main Scare Zone the last few years and it gets rather repetitive, so I was expecting to see the same thing as before. Though, I am rather happy to say that I really enjoyed it this year. Universal made the choice of having only one theme throughout all its Scare Zones, and I think it really worked. It would be interesting to see how it grows in upcoming years.

Lola- I didn’t enjoy this year’s Scare Zone theme very much. I will say that The Purge functions better as a haunt theme than a film, but still after several years of The Purge, I’m just over it. It’s the same stuff you’ve seen for the past several years, and nothing else. I will say that in the upper lot there is a part of a scare zone that’s basically a maze but without a wait. This part is actually kind of neat. There’s some weird art projects made from old doors, spray paint, and trash heaps. If you get a chance, walk through it. Other than that one exceptional part, I think this theme has overstayed its welcome.

 

hhn_2016_terrortram_8003_ver1-0Terror Tram: Presented By Eli Roth

Andy- The Terror Tram in the past has always been hit or miss with me. Still, I’m a fan of Eli Roth’s work and I was really looking forward to seeing how this evil clown infused Terror Tram would stack up. I left the Terror Tram very disappointed. I thought there were quite a few operational issues. I noticed in two main areas of the Terror Tram: 1) They chose to use shipping containers as tunnels, which caused the lines to back up and bottle neck as only a few could walk through at a time. 2) They crammed way too many people down there at one time, which made the usual 15 to 20 minute experience more like 40 minutes, but not in a good way. To make things worse, we had to wait almost 20 minutes at the end for a tram to pick us up.

Lola- As usual, the Terror Tram is the worst attraction at HHN. I had hoped that Eli Roth’s influence would be enough to transform the generally lackluster Terror Tram into something different. However, I think this year’s Terror Tram is among the worst I’ve ever seen. Like Andy said, the way the route was layed out caused major foot traffic, which made it take way longer than it ever has before. Not to mention, there’s nothing unique about the creepy clowns. By the time we got to the end of the trail I was one cranky spider.

 

Mazes

halloween-horror-nights     Krampus

Andy- I really enjoyed this maze. I know most people don’t want to think about Christmas this time of the year, but with the added horror of Krampus, it was a lot of fun. Now, I haven’t seen the film yet, so I can’t really compare the film to the maze, but it was really cool walking through this house that’s being terrorized by a monster over the holidays. My favorite thing about the maze was the use of scents in each room. Some rooms smelled like ginger bread,  or vanilla, and even Christmas trees. Yet, it wouldn’t be HHN with out some of the burning disgusting smells as well. Overall, the maze is fun and now gives us a good excuse to extend Halloween all through Christmas.

Lola- I’m a fan of the Krampus film and the maze definitely captures the spirit of the movie. My favorite part of this maze, besides the smells, is seeing the toys in the attic come to life. Those who’ve seen the film will know what I’m talking about.

 

hhn_2016_freddyjason_7608_ver1-0Freddy vs Jason

Andy- Going into the event, a lot of friends who attended the preview night said that this was the best maze of the event, so I went in with some high expectations. I’ll tell you, I wasn’t disappointed. Universal took their own approach with the story and brought these two juggernauts of horror together into one epic show down. I felt the maze was fantastic. The story was compelling; the maze itself was perfectly dressed with some amazing scenes to walk through. Most of all, it was the only maze of the night to get a few scares out of me, which is rather difficult to do. Most of all, it did both Freddy and Jason justice.

Lola- The Freddy Vs. Jason maze is pretty damn cool. While quite a bit of it is stuff fans have seen before, there were a few unique touches that helped elevate it to a new level. Unlike Andy, though, I didn’t necessarily feel that they hit all of their story beats. That is to say I didn’t feel the story they were trying to convey was mapped out quite as well as it could’ve been. Still, it’s worth the wait. I like that they have alternate endings, depending on the night you attend. Some nights Freddy wins, and some nights Jason comes out on top.

 

hhn_2016_halloween_7601_ver1-0Halloween: Hell Comes To Haddonfield

Andy- Let me just start off by saying that this is by far my favorite maze of all time. The maze looked beautiful. The scares were great and it continued to tell the story of Michael Myers. Some of the rooms used the glow in the dark effects brilliantly. It really set a new standard for mazes. What blew me away were the giant pumpkin rooms we walked through. We were literally inside giant pumpkins! It was my favorite thing ever.

 

Lola- I have to agree with Andy, this maze is probably the best thing I’ve ever seen at HHN. I can’t add much more than that. My favorite part of the maze is the black out room with multiple glow in the dark pumpkin masks. Some are props and some are actors. The actors jump out at you as you walk past. This is what I think Horror Nights does best, it uses a movie a springboard, to create something entirely new, but still resembles the original film or films.

 

img_2741The Walking Dead

Andy- Now this maze obviously differs from Walking Dead mazes of the past as it is now year-round. Obviously, this maze had the most attention to detail as it is permanent, which definitely keeps you in awe. There were times when I thought I was really on the TV show, which was fantastic. The performers were top notch and on point. My only complaint is that I feel that the walk-through was way too short, especially for something that’s a year-round attraction.

Lola- I love The Walking Dead, and it was such a treat to be able to see the show come to life like this. I’ll agree with Andy, that the attraction felt a bit short, especially considering how much material TWD has to pick from. However, it’s still a near perfect depiction of what life is like amongst walkers. Those who’ve been through HHN’s previous Walking Dead mazes will probably recognize some props and ideas, but it’s been revamped enough that it still feels like a completely new experience. Consider this year-round haunt to be a love letter to walker fans, everywhere.

 

American Horror Story, The Exorcist, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre Mazes

Andy- Due to the extreme wait times for the mazes, we were unable to get into these mazes before the event was over for the night. Wait times were averaging three hours, and with the park being sold out, we couldn’t hit up all the mazes.

Lola- The fact that we weren’t able to see three mazes pissed me off. If you have to spend the kind of money HHN is asking for then I think you should be able to see all of the attractions. Now with that being said, I wrote to Horror Nights to tell them I was upset, and they were surprisingly reasonable. They offered me a comp ticket, so I plan to return and go through these mazes.

The Jabbawockeez

Andy- I’m not a huge dance fan and with the long wait times for the evening, we opted not to see The Jabbawockeez show.

Lola- Unlike Andy, I am a huge dance fan. I danced almost every style for several years, but the time constraints just didn’t allow enough time to check out the show.

 

 

Overall Thoughts

Andy- From an artistic, design and performance standpoint, and from what attractions we saw, this was easily one of the best HHNs in years. Each maze was enjoyable and they were fun. From operational standpoint, this one of the worst I’ve seen. Three hours is way too long to wait for a maze, let alone most of the mazes. Universal needs to either lower the number of people allowed in to HHN each night or add additional attractions. There were just too many people, which resulted in a less enjoyable evening. I understand Universal is trying to make money, but at some point, there is a huge loss in quality. It is also our understanding that in an attempt to correct this issue, Universal has started to do early entry earlier to reduce overall wait times. So hopefully, future HHNs will run a little better.

 

Lola- I’ve had a love/hate affair with HHN for years. With the exception of the Terror Tram, most of the mazes were high quality. Of course, I’ve yet to see three of them. The mazes seemed more creative this year than in the past. Still, 3 hour wait times can sure spoil anyone’s Halloween fun. The ticket prices and the wait times seem to go up every year. I must say, though it seems like Horror Nights is starting to take steps to correct some of this nonsense. I was impressed by their speedy response to my complaints. Also, I guess early entry has been moved up to 5PM. Hopefully, this helps make the HHN run in a more efficient manner.

 

 

Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights throughout October and the first week of November. Visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com for event info and to buy tickets. We do recommend buying tickets ASAP as the event has sold out almost every night of the run so far. We also recommend getting their early and doing early entry as wait times are long.

 

Be sure to follow All Hallows’ Haunts here and on twitter-@HallowsHaunts, for more information of Halloween, Horror and Haunt events in Southern California.

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Creepiest Pokemon Countdown

With the recent popularity of Pokemon Go, I thought I’d take this opportunity to express my own love of Pokemon. I grew up with Pokemon, so these weird little creatures will always hold a special place in my heart. While all Pokemon are kind of strange, some are definitely weirder than others. With that being said, today I’ll be counting down the creepiest, most bizarre of the batch. For the purposes of this article, I’ll only be focusing on the original 151. Alright, let’s get started!

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10. Primeape is very much a Planet of the Apes type Pokemon. Primeapes have nasty tempers and are prone to violent outbursts. Once you’ve angered a Primeape, there is no escaping it.

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9. Muk is exactly what his name implies, he’s a pile of poisonous goo. Though Muk is mostly a benevolent creature, he has a tendency to contaminate everything he touches. His essence can kill plants, cause Pokemon and humans to become sick, and even pollute entire lakes. Muk can be found in your typical dirty alley, sewer, or garbage can.

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8. Gyarados is modeled after the mythological dragons of ancient China. How a wimpy Magikarp evolves into such a majestic and powerful creature is beyond me. Apparently, in China, it was believed that a carp could transform into a dragon by swimming upstream. Gyarados are easily angered and have a tendency to cause Godzilla level destruction. Gyarados have burned entire villages to the ground. It’s safe to say that pissing off one of these water dragons is a bad move.

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7. Slowbro is the evolved form of Slowpoke. Slowbro is actually two Pokemon combined into one. This is where the creepy part comes in. A Slowbro is a Slowpoke that has a Shellder attached to its tail. The Shellder bites down on the Slowpoke’s tail, latching on to it. The Shellder releases toxins into the Slowbro which eliminate the pain of the bite. Though this evolution is mutually beneficial, that doesn’t change the fact that Slowpoke has to go through life with a giant poisonous crustacean biting its ass.

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6. Victreebel reminds me a lot of Little Shop of Horrors. This carnivorous plant uses a soothing waving motion of the vine on its head, and emits a sweet smell to lure in small animals and Pokemon. Then it shatters the false sense of security by swallowing its victims whole. Victreebel are thought to live in hordes in the depths of the jungle. Many have gone searching for them, but none have returned. Also, keep in mind, these things are as tall as a human! I’m definitely getting a vibe similar to The Ruins from this Pokemon.

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5. Gengar is one of the coolest Pokemon in existence. He is the most evolved of all the ghost types. He is able to take the form of an object or person’s shadow, allowing him to hide in plain sight. Like a real ghost, Gengar’s presence causes the temperature to plummet. He is known for terrorizing lost travelers and taking pleasure in the fear of its victims.

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4. Cubone is jokingly referred to as the Norman Bates of Pokemon. The skull that Cubone wears over his face is thought to be the skull of its dead mother. When the full moon is out, Cubone cries, because the moon reminds him of his mother’s face. The crying reverberates through the skull, coming out as a strange cry unique to Cubone. I have to wonder if maybe Cubone killed his mother himself. Maybe they could make a separate Pokemon type called serial killer. His cute appearance is a front, don’t be deceived.

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3. Hypno is one of many psychic pokemon that uses hypnosis. Hypno is known for carrying a pendulum and munching on the dreams of others. It particularly enjoys eating the dreams of children. According to Wikipedia, Hypno once hypnotized and kidnapped a child. It’s believed that Hypno never sleeps. Hypno’s base form, Drowzee is said to suck people’s dreams out through their nostrils. Hypno and Drowzee are based off of the mythological Baku, a chimera that devours nightmares. The Baku is made up of an elephant’s trunk, an ox tail, rhinoceros eyes, and tiger paws.

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2. Mr. Mime doesn’t really have an interesting backstory, he’s quite simply a mime. Being a mime is enough in my book to land him on this list. According to the Pokedex, Mr. Mimes begin as Mime Juniors. They are born with the ability to mime and they evolve from copying the mannerisms of other Pokemon. Mr. Mimes seem to take on human jobs like cooking and housekeeping. In the show, a Mr. Mime lives with Ash’s family and takes care of household chores. I quite like Mr. Mime, he’s so benevolently creepy.

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1. Jynx may look like a drag queen, but she’s actually based off of popular Japanese Yokai lore. Jynx is said to have derived her appearance from Yuki-onna and Yamauba. Yuki-onna is a pale white ghost woman with long black hair. She appears only in winter or during snow storms. She is often thought of as a malevolent entity that causes humans to freeze to death. Those who have read Kwaiden or seen a film version will recall a particularly chilling story about Yuki-onna. She also shows up in Kurosawa’s film, Dreams. Yamauba is a crone like creature, that is said to feast on children. Legend states that she phas an extra mouth on the top of her head hidden beneath her hair. Now Jynx isn’t as vicious as her mythological ancestors. Her method of attack usually involves kissing her enemy into submission. Still, though, would you want to be kissed by this weird Pokemon lady?

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There you have it folks, my top ten creepiest Pokemon. Throughout the writing of this list, I think I’ve realized that the more anthropomorphic a Pokemon looks, the creepier it is.Which Pokemon do you think is the creepiest? Let me know on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below.

 

Until Dawn- Horror Video Game

Before we get started. I should state that I know almost nothing about video games. Zip, nada, zilch. My brother practically forced me to play Until Dawn, and boy am I glad he did. I was lured in with a promise of gore, wendigos, and psychological horror. What I got was all of that and so much more. The plot of Until Dawn follows a group of twenty somethings that return to a cabin in Canada where their friends disappeared the year before. As they attempt to deal with their grief, and unresolved conflicts, they begin to realize they are in grave danger. They are surrounded by threats both human and supernatural. Not to mention the freezing weather that prevents them from seeking help. As they investigate further, they stumble upon an old mine and a horrifying mystery dating back to the 40s.

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I’m being purposefully vague about the plot. There are several major plot twists that I didn’t expect, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Also, this is a game about choices. Every decision you make alters your fate, so everyone’s experience is different. The game keeps track of your choices, and explains to you how they relate to what occurs.

One of my favorite aspects of the game are the impromptu therapy sessions. There are interludes during which one of the characters (You can’t see which one.) is talking to a shrink played by Peter Stormare. The doctor has you analyze pictures to get to the root of your psychological problems. You’re even forced to rank your friends based on how much you like or dislike them. The sessions are nerve wracking and bizarre. Although it’s never mentioned in conversation, you’ll notice that the appointments are being held inside an abandoned house or something of the like. It comes complete with torn curtains and broken windows.

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Another great thing about this game is you play as almost every character. There is a clear cut protagonist, played by Hayden Pantierre. However, you’re given equal time with each character. It’s fascinating, because they start out as bland genre tropes, and as you get to play them and make decisions for them, each one begins to feel like a real person. There were characters I started out hating and by the end I loved them. This makes it a painful experience when one of them dies. If you’re a good gamer, you’ll be able to keep all of them alive. If not, you’ll witness some violent deaths like a guy being hung on a giant meat hook.

As for the actual game play, the majority of the game is just spent walking around and collecting clues. You do get to do the occasional shooting, when you encounter a monster. If you’re a fan of mystery/horror games like Silent Hill, it’s safe to say you’ll enjoy this one. However, if you need a game where you’re constantly running, jumping, or fighting, then maybe Until Dawn isn’t for you.

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Until Dawn is available exclusively for the Playstation 4. I absolutely adored it. It’s as good if not better than most of the horror movies coming out right now. It’s not easy, but it is playable for even the most inexperienced gamer. With it’s top notch writing, unique monsters, and creepy atmosphere, this is not a game to be missed.