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Dread Central Visits Halloween Horror Nights and Chats with Creative Director John Murdy

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This past Friday Dread Central received an invitation from John Murdy, the creative director behind Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights, which kicks off September 24th and runs through October 31st at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, for a tour of the then-in-construction maze A Nightmare on Elm Street: Never Sleep Again.

Greeted by the always energetic Murdy, we accompanied him for an illuminating tour of the frightful attraction (although much like this year’s Friday the 13th: Kill, Jason, Kill maze, devotees of the genre can expect the attraction to eschew the concepts of the original franchise, taking their creative cues from the recent Platinum Dunes reboot of the same). Leading us through the halls of Badham Pre-School, the hallways of Springwood High and into Freddy’s eponymous boiler room, Murdy happily waxed on his approach to what will be this year’s multi-layered sensory experience Elm Street (we’ll leave the scares under wraps for the time being, as at the time scenic and prop-dressing were under way), as he did on this year’s new maze, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses: In 3D Vision.

It’s going to be awesome,” said Murdy of the attraction, which in keeping with Hollywood film producers’ current fascination with 3D, is set to bring the filmic conceit into an altogether organic environment. “It’s actually the biggest haunted attraction we’ve ever done. It goes through the whole ‘Murder Ride’ and the Firefly house with ‘Otis’ and ‘Baby’ and all of them, and then it goes through the whole Dr. Satan lair. That one is going to be just crazy.

Dread Central Visits Halloween Horror Nights and Chats with Creative Director John Murdy

As for his approach in delivering a cutting-edge 3D walking experience, Murdy stated, “With 3D attractions they’ve always used black-light, and I didn’t want to do that. Lighting technology has changed dramatically in the last few years, and what we have now, especially with LED lightning, are lights that have the entire color spectrum. Depending on how you compose colors, you come up with different levels of depth. What we found with days of walking around with 3D glasses on and experimentation is that with LED lighting you can have that entire color spectrum run by a DMX-controlled lighting program and can shift the color spectrum and do moves, meaning we can force the color red and take all of the green out and can make things appear and disappear and appear to recede or to come out of the walls. They way I would describe it is like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. That’s kind of what I’m going for. It’s trippy! So you can make everything seem like it’s kind of alive.

To clarify, Murdy stated of the 3D, “It’s an overlay to the whole thing because we are still building an attraction that has every bit of detail as any of our other attractions; it just has this overlay of 3D as well so you do wear glasses. I think that’s confusing for a lot of people, though, because they think 3D can only take place on the screen, but this is an attraction you’ll actually walk through. It’s still a movie-quality set and environment with characters. We still have a lot of props left over from the original film – as it was shot here (on the lot) – which Rob gave us years ago to hold on to, so we’ve incorporated them into the attraction. But when you overlay the 3D over it, it’s a trip-fest, especially in Otis’ room and the Murder Ride, where the 3D is especially the strongest, because you are already dealing with something that’s supposed to be a carny roadside attraction, so we are trying to do it a little differently than what’s been done before.

As for Murdy’s decision to tackle House of 1000 Corpses, “It seemed to make sense. I was talking to Rob, who comes here every year, and being that 3D is the rage right now, and how immersive the (new) King Kong ride is, Corpses really lent itself. The whole film has a lot of saturated colors, and the characters’ designs in the film are great. Rob did all of those designs himself, and his first maze here I believe was called Rob Zombie’s American Nightmare (writer’s note: which took place in 2000, before Corpses was wrapped). It pre-dates me. Rob would dress up and perform in it every night! He’d just show up and dress up and scare the park-goers!

Dread Central Visits Halloween Horror Nights and Chats with Creative Director John Murdy

Other mazes visitors can expect to experience this year include Vampyre: Castle of the Undead (“albino vampires and crazy amounts of blood,” said Murdy, which is taking place in the static Universal attraction The House of Horrors) and Saw: Game On (with newly added traps), as well as six Scare Zones and a more extensive Terror Tram, in which riders will not only be spooked by the Mexican folk legend La Llorona and Psycho’s Norman Bates (it’s the 50th anniversary of that film) but also the diminutive ginger Chucky (who’s apparently incensed over his failing film career and has raised an army of doll-like soldiers in order to exact his revenge). As an added bonus, riders of the Terror Tram will also have the ability to experience the park’s newest attraction, the much-celebrated King Kong 360 3D.

Horror fans always want more so we need to raise the bar every year,” concluded Murdy.

Updates on “Halloween Horror Nights” will be available at the official “Halloween Horror Nights” website and also on Twitter and Facebook, as Creative Director John Murdy reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information. Fans are invited to follow John Murdy on Twitter or via Facebook. Stay tuned for our exclusive report on the star-studded Eyegore Awards coming soon.

Dread Central would like to thank Nicole Canizales for arranging the visit.

Dread Central Visits Halloween Horror Nights and Chats with Creative Director John Murdy


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Poster Debut: Nicolas Pesce’s Piercing Starring Mia Wasikowska and Christopher Abbott

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One of the films that I’m most interested in hearing the feedback about during this year’s Sundance film festival is director Nicolas Pesce’s psychological horror-comedy Piercing.

Not only did Pesce’s last flick The Eyes of My Mother impress the hell out of me but his new film boasts a killer premise and cast including Mia Wasikowska (Stoker) and Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night).

The movie will be premiering at Sundance this weekend and today we have the film’s poster to share with you guys. You can click on the poster to the right for a higher-res version.

After checking it out let us know what you think!

Piercing is based on the critically acclaimed cult novel by Ryu Murakami and directed by Nicolas Pesce (The Eyes of My Mother) and stars Mia Wasikowska (Stoker) and Christopher Abbott (It Comes at Night).

The film hosts its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival Saturday, January 20th.

Synopsis:

Reed (Christopher Abbott) is going on a business trip. He kisses his wife and infant son goodbye, but in lieu of a suitcase filled with clothes, he’s packed a toothbrush and a murder kit. Everything is meticulously planned: check into a hotel and kill an unsuspecting victim. Only then will he rid himself of his devious impulses and continue to be a good husband and father. But Reed gets more than he bargained for with Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), an alluring call girl who arrives at his room. First, they relax and get in the mood, but when there’s an unexpected disruption, the balance of control begins to sway back and forth between the two. Is he seeing things? Who’s playing whom? Before the night is over, a feverish nightmare will unfold, and Reed and Jackie will seal their bond in blood.

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First Details on Eduardo Sanchez-Directed Supernatural Episode 13.13 – Devil’s Bargain

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The upcoming 13th episode of the 13th season of “Supernatural,” titled “Devil’s Bargain,” is notable for two reasons: (1) it’s directed by none other than Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project, Lovely Molly), and (2) it features a guest appearance by series star Jensen Ackles’ wife, Danneel Ackles (“One Tree Hill,” The Roommate).

The CW has released the official synopsis for the ep, which you’ll find below.

Are you still a fan of the show after all these years? Looking forward to seeing how Sanchez leaves his mark on the Winchesters? Sound off in the comments section or on social media!

“Supernatural” Episode 13.13 – “Devil’s Bargain” (airs 2/8/18)
Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean (Jensen Ackles), and Castiel (Misha Collins) search for Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino), who, meanwhile, strikes an unlikely deal with a local faith healer named Sister Jo (guest star Danneel Ackles). Asmodeus (guest star Jeffrey Vincent Parise) inches closer to finding Jack (Alexander Calvert). Eduardo Sanchez directed the episode written by Eugenie Ross-Leming & Brad Buckner.

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George A. Romero’s Daughter, Tina, Wrote a Script For Queens of the Dead

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The loss last year of director George A. Romero was a huge blow to the horror community, as well as the filmmaking community at large. The passing of the man responsible for creating the modern day zombie and whose work influenced “The Walking Dead”, Dead Alive, 28 Days Later, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out was felt far and wide but we take solace knowing that his work and legacy will live on forever.

Something that brings a smile to my face is hearing that his daughter, Tina, who DJ’s under the name DJ TRx, has written a screenplay for a zombie film that is called Queens of the Dead. And yes, it’s very gay! Romero has not only written the script but also plans on directing the film herself.

Romero tells The Saunder Blog about the film, saying, “Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.

Romero’s father always brought some sort of social message into his work, so to hear that she will continue that tradition is inspiring, especially since it comes on a topic that is so discussed and topical.

If you want to read more about Romero and her DJ career, click on the link above.

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