One of the most highly-anticipated maze of 2015 at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights is Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home. Announced to cheering fans during ScareLA this summer, this marks the second time Myers has been featured as part of the HHN lineup here in Southern California, the first being in 2009.
Creative Director/Executive Producer of Halloween Horror Nights and Art Director of HHN here in California, John Murdy and Chris Williams, both have a long-standing love of John Carpenter’s Halloween, and have been waiting for the perfect time to bring The Shape back to terrorize the inhabitants of Haddonfield, and the thousands of guests who flock to Universal Studios Hollywood each night during the world-famous Halloween event.
After 6 years, Michael Myers has come home.
Recently, Theme Park Adventure was included in a small group of media outlets that was given a sneak preview/tour of Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home by John Murdy. We have done this in years past with other mazes, and our stance remains the same; we’ll show you a few things and discuss the overall design of the maze. However, if you’re looking for a blow-by-blow account of everything to expect in this new HHN experience, TPA isn’t the place to find it; we want you to get out and visit Halloween Horror Nights. There are some written and visual spoilers ahead – but not anything major, as we never want to ruin the spooky fun for our fellow Halloween fans.
Once again, Halloween Horror Nights fans are introduced to the maze via the facade of the Myers House. However, differing from 2009’s Halloween maze, the home is as it was depicted during 1978, 15 years after Michael Myers brutally murdered his sister on Halloween night, 1963. There will be familiar projection gags incorporated in the facade’s show, as well as a voice-over track that fans will recognize from the original film, to set the mood and story.
Stepping inside the old Myers House, HHN guests will be transported back to the ’70s; the scenes are really well done, and as a kid that grew up in that groovy time, I can attest to the authenticity of the props, paint colors and overall vibe going on inside the house. You will leave 2015 behind, and it will be 1978.
Unlike the 2009 maze, Michael Myers Comes Home will feature only the John Carpenter properties, not Rob Zombie’s incarnations. Of course, many fans know that John Murdy is a huge fan of Halloween III: Season of the Witch. And, just as he did in 2009, Murdy has paid homage to the third installment of the Halloween franchise. See if you can spot it as you move deeper into the maze this season; I bet you can!
Most of Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home takes place indoors; inside the homes he terrorized on Halloween night 1978, to be clear. The first time Halloween was brought to HHN, Murdy felt that certain scenes weren’t as strong or as “accurate” as they could have been, so we will see some scenes repeated again.
That said, Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home features plenty of new content as well, which will thrill Halloween fans to no end. One of the tools Murdy and Williams are using in this year’s Halloween maze is Pepper’s Ghost, a theatrical illusion technique that dates back as far as the 1500s, and was perfected in modern attractions including Disney’s Haunted Mansion, Mystery Lodge at Knott’s, and Monsters, Inc. at Disney California Adventure (keeping it local for our SoCal fans). Pepper’s Ghost isn’t something that Universal Studios Hollywood has ever used very much in their mazes; according to Murdy, they are really excited about its incorporation into Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home. As he explained it to our group, it sounds really neat, and we’re looking forward to seeing the effect for ourselves during the event!
This year’s Halloween maze is located in the Parisian Courtyard, on the Upper Lot of Universal Studios Hollywood, near Universal Plaza, which is undoubtedly, where the monstrous queue for the maze will be. Not a terribly large footprint, John and Chris have managed to pack a lot into the space, which they are masters at, considering most of their locations have been historically, fairly compact and challenging in years past. The entire maze has been constructed up – elevated – since the courtyard itself is cobblestone. A lot has gone into the build of this maze, and John praised his crew entirely for their hard work and dedication to the event.
Music obviously plays a huge role in the Halloween films; even folks who haven’t seen the original film (you know who you are) know the simplistic, theme music that has become just as famous as the movie itself. The soundtrack of Michael Myers Comes Home will be a mix of music and sound bytes from the film that support the story/visuals that are taking place.
In designing mazes for Halloween Horror Nights, John Murdy and Chris Williams sometimes cross-reference their sister park in Orlando and its Horror Nights event, which is spearheaded by Mike Aiello, its Creative Director. In the case of Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home, fans may notice a particular, somewhat abstract/dream-like scene that was inspired by the 2014 Halloween maze in Orlando. In fact, much of the approach to Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home is somewhat ethereal, really playing up the “spirit of Michael Myers” aspect of his legendary status.
As a life-long fan of Halloween, I am really excited to see this maze come together so nicely. It’s definitely a slippery slope when Universal brings mazes/intellectual properties back multiple times; redundancy is really bad when you only have a handful of mazes to focus on. The good news is, both John and Chris know how to mix mazes up and really make old new again, giving fans very different, terrifying experiences while retaining the familiar IPs from year to year, whether back-to-back or in the case of Halloween, many seasons apart.
Thank you to John and the team at Universal Studios Hollywood for letting us take a peek inside the Myers House and beyond as evil once again prepares to return to the sleepy little town of Haddonfield!
Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights 2015 opens Friday, September 18. For tickets and further information, please visit HalloweenHorrorNights.com.
– Rick West