Saturday, October 19, 2013

Halloween Horror Nights XXIII, pt1

            Last week I and some friends went to Halloween Horror Night 23, it was the first time I had ever been there and the first time in maybe a decade or more that I had gone to the Studios side of the Universal parks (For instance, the last time I went the highlights were still King Kong, Jaws, and E.T.).  We hit up Islands of Adventure first and did the big rides (I had no idea that the park had upgraded Spiderman so much, Hydro-Man, Hobgoblin, and Doctor Octopus all had character model upgrades and everything looked a lot more fluid).  We finished up at the gate Horror Nights and thanks to two of my friends superpowers, speed pass from one of them, and copious knowledge of Orlando parks from the other we were able to blitzkrieg the entire thing, visiting each horror house at least once, and some multiple times.
            Because I like to I will now rank the 8 of them from worst to best and express my happiness for having went to the thing overall.  It was a lot of fun.  The Walking Dead theme for the majority of the park was cute with zombies randomly yelling and shambling all over the place (one of our party members is a five foot tall woman who looks about 14, conversely I am 6'1", so she got targeted almost to the point of inspiring pity, while I just laughed like a mad scientist in the face of each actor trying to scare me).

Apparently I was laughing my ass off through the whole thing because I like getting spooked.
            The lowest was not by any means poorly executed, it had its charms, but someone has to be the bottom and since "Resident Evil" is more of a B-Movie hokey horror action thing it wasn't about the scares as much as the others.  It was fun to see the health spray and ammo under tiny spotlights making them stand out like they would in the game, but since "RE" does not illicit any nostalgic feelings in my soul the whole thing was just sort of 'meh'.

Mad science can be scary, but this just isn't to me.
7) "Havoc"
            This is an original story concocted to create a house at the park and it is alright, maybe it was just fatigue in that this one came later in the night and was only okay but nothing about it was especially memorable.  A train loaded down with deranged super soldiers crashes and they begin rampaging against the troops trying to contain the threat.  It doesn't really sound like the plot to a horror movie, really more of a Sy-Fy action movie, so it didn't get any points for tone either.

It is not a bad idea for a very small scale thriller movie, like "Predator" or "Alien".
6) "Evil Dead"
            My brother, who was part of the troupe, tells me that this was a very faithful adaptation of the movie, it is all there.  I didn't see the movie.  And I have no intention to as my brother told me the movie was not very good, and I am not a fan of gore as a selling point.  That all being said it does have HORROR as a central theme which puts it above the other two.  Though I must say, putting it in the same show as "Cabin in the Woods" seems to be the biggest possible handicap because "Evil Dead" plays the idea of stupid isolated kids attacked by monsters straight, and that whole idea was put to death by "Cabin".  It is an odd mood killer for "ED".

I don't even have all that much affection for the original and that has Bruce Campbell in it.
            This was the de facto theme for the whole park with shambling undead actors everywhere and the remnants of a military resistance to the horde left broken and empty all over the place, the house itself takes you back to societies downfall, with military fighting zombies and losing.  If you don't mind zombies still being a thing (and I kind of do, because seriously "Dawn of the Dead" was 10 years ago this stuff should have boiled off to a new fad by now) then you will get more mileage out of it.  It might actually be ranked higher just because it was the first house we went through and so got me at a fresher state of mind.

WHY ARE ZOMBIES STILL A THING?
6) "After Life"
            This one will hurt your brain.  Using laser and lighting effects combined with 3D glasses there are neon ghosts EVERYWHERE, and I got so lost in the crazy hellish imagery that I had to be pointed in the right direction by helpful park employees several times.  This actually works to its advantage because it is the most visually distinct thing in the whole park and getting literally lost in the visuals is kind of awesome.  And it is really creepy as you are going through hell.

MY EYES!  THE GOGGLES DO NOTHING!
            I find this movie to hit that sweet spot between overrated and classic.  Yeah it is a little slow by modern standards but the effects are still good today, and it is still studied in film classes and special effects workshops for its cutting edge practical effects and makeup.  You can tell the people who made this house loved the movie and have a great familiarity with the material, the house moves through the story and has some great scenes on display, it is a lot of fun.  Probably will rank lower for people who haven't seen it, in which case I would recommend watching the movie.

It will not measure up to its classic status, but totally measures up to its status as a classic.  It is a paradox.
            This is a hispanic legend about a woman who murdered her own children to be with the man she loved, only to be spurned by him, go even more crazy and start kidnapping and killing more children.  Since this was a legend I had not heard before, and it has a legitimately creepy aspect with very vulnerable victims and great images of a murderous woman in a wedding dress and drown kids the house works really well.  I think it actually worked even better on me because I seemed to be going through it at just the right time.  Actors who had just finished jumping out at the people 10 steps ahead of me would be discretely hiding and slipping into shadows, which made them much more ghostly, fleeting from vision, then something would jump out or move just enough so that I could become aware of it in the shadows, it was less jump scare and more just unnerving.

Totally did not expect anything from this, and it ended up getting a silver medal.  Good job guys.

            I love this movie, and apparently so did the prop and make up department because they were able to go bananas with the 50 different monsters coming from every direction.  Two of my friend with us had already gone to an earlier weekend and went through "Cabin" without having seen the movie, and had no idea what was going on, but it inspired them to go see the movie and they loved it, and they then loved the house more as a result.  It is a wonderful tour of a great movie that shows the full range of horror's creative nature, FANTASTIC.

It is so god damn good.


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