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Behind-the-Scenes at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights

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Next to getting loaded at costume parties, the best part of Halloween is the haunted attractions, and Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights has long been king of the mountain. Every year creative director John Murdy and his team have consistently topped themselves, and their 2011 park boasts a record number of mazes: The Thing: Assimilation, Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare, Hostel: Hunting Season, The Wolfman: The Curse of Talbot Hall, the Mexican folklore themed La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas, and the grand return of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.

A few weeks before the big launch, the press usually come down to Universal Studios Hollywood to get teased with video promos, dances and auditions. This year Universal decided to do things a little differently and invited us in to get a behind-the-scenes look at the park’s elaborate gore and make-up FX. As John Murdy greeted us, the doors were opened to a giant ballroom full of costumes, concept art and live make-up demonstrations.

This year is kind of special,” exclaims Murdy, “We’re working with a dream team – or scream team – of filmmakers and personalities uniquely associated with horror.” And while Murdy is excited to be working with people like Rob Zombie and Eli Roth, he tells us that working with Alice Cooper on a maze has been one of the biggest thrills of his career: “I’m a lifelong fan; I grew up on his music. Working with Alice, I get to take all the characters from his music and his stage show and create a horror movie out of them.

One of the most interesting curiosities is how Murdy is collaborating with actor Diego Luna, famous for mainstream dramas like Milk, Frida, and Y Tu Mama Tambien, on designing La Llorona – a scare zone at Horror Nights 2010 that is getting its own maze this year. He’s also been working closely with Dimension Films for Ghostface’s first Universal appearance in Terror Tram: Scre4m For Your Life: “The set-up for Terror Tram this year is our guests are going to Stab-a-thon, which is the movie-within-a-movie in Scream. And of course, like in any good horror movie, things go horribly, horribly wrong.

In addition to all these teases, Universal sent us some concept art showcasing several characters you can expect to encounter when the park opens up. Halloween Horror Nights runs September 23rd through October 31st, and tickets are already on sale at the official Halloween Horror Nights website.

Check out our epic gallery for a sneak peek of the make-up, costumes, art and more!

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.