CreepyLA was invited to participate in a top secret shoot for the “Saw: Game Over” maze at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights.
As the glow from the La Canada Station Fire crept loomed over the backlot, I managed to go through two dates over the evening – the first I used as a shield, as seen in the below photo. The second was snatched by the robed pigman, the details of which I’ve been sworn to secrecy (via a non-disclosure agreement which Universal insisted I sign in blood before the events transpired).
The maze itself is a recreation of numerous dank interiors reminiscent of key scenes from the Saw films. Horror Nights visitors will find themselves face to face with a number of “traps,” the pigman, among other threats, as numerous surveillance cameras keep an eye on their attempts at survival. Visitors will occasionally have a peek at the video and be able to catch a glimpse of additional terrors awaiting them and other victims from an alternate angle.
John Murdy, our host for the evening, is to Halloween Horror Nights what Jigsaw is to “Saw.” The creative director has spent months designing and now building the terrors that will soon befall Horror Night’s attendees, as he has since 2006 (prior to that he designed rides for Orlando’s Universal Studios, and long before that began as a tour guide for the theme park).
In spite of the long hours and intense demands to have the park readied in little more than a month, Murdy appears more than comfortable in his element, as he should be. He tells me he began creating haunted houses at the age of 10 while growing up in Whittier, where he says they used real knives and other sharp objects. “We didn’t know any better.” One of these was a “Star Wars” themed yard haunt, following the film’s release in 1977. His first professional haunted attraction gig, for a local charity, came when he was only 15 years old.
For the “Saw: Game Over” maze, while real knives, chainsaws, or traps will be used, it appears he wants the threat to seem as authentic as possible to illicit raw fear and real screams from anyone who’ll enter. And if he succeeds, he’ll probably be the one who’s had the most fun out of anyone who enters the park.
Additional advance reports from Halloween Horror Nights to come…