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This past Thursday, September 12, Universal’s “Halloween Horror Nights”’ Creative Director John Murdy gave Dread Central a preview of their then under construction ”El Cucuy: The Boogeyman” fright maze. Read on for word and our photo gallery!
Arriving in the afternoon near the newly constructed Universal Plaza at Universal Studios (part of the $1.6 billion NBCUniversal Evolution Plan, which is transforming the park), Murdy discussed with us his approach in creating (with Art Director Chris Williams) the maze. Based on the titular Mexican “boogeyman” legend of “El Cucuy,” the attraction intends to plunge park guests into the murderous world of a mythical monster who wreaks havoc and dines on disobedient children, set to a narrative voiced by horror veteran and Machete actor Danny Trejo.
Traversing the corpse, bone and pumpkin-strewn maze, Murdy enlightened us as to the several different incarnations of the shape-shifting El Cucuy which guests will encounter as well as his approach to the development of the attraction.
Taking visual inspiration from the Francisco Goya painting “Saturn Devouring His Son” (which depicts the mythical Greek figure of Titan Cronus eating his own child), as well as from the Portuguese myth of “the Coco,” which Murdy described as, “A ghost with a pumpkin head,” the attraction is an amalgamation of ideas.
The Spanish Luchador films of the 1960’s (which feature masked wrestlers as heroes battling iterations of classic Universal monsters) also come into play as, upon entering the maze, park guests will initially find themselves in a theater screening a Luchador film (Murdy produced and stars in the original clip as the character “Dr. Albondigas”) as they follow in the footsteps of a boy who was abandoned in the movie house, only to find himself in the lair of El Cucuy.
“We are big believers in research,” stated Murdy of the development of “El Cucuy,” “particularly when we take on someone else’s cultural heritage. We wanted to make sure that we got it right, and I think it’s incumbent on us (to do so). I mean, if you go on Wikipedia and read about El Cucuy there’s not that much (information) so we talked a lot with our friends at Telemundo and had brainstorming sessions. A lot of it though is also completely original.”
As for the maze’s voice actor, “I literally had the voice of Danny Trejo in my head while I was writing it,” Murdy told us of Trejo’s involvement. “I didn’t know him, but we got in touch with his people, and it was really cool that he was into it, and it was fun to record him because he’s such a unique talent and has such a voice. It’s funny because he was telling me that he used to terrify his friends with the story of El Cucuy.”
While we don’t want to give much more away in terms of the narrative and scares (these attractions are best experienced without heavy spoilers), you can check out our photo gallery above, and keep your eyes on Dread Central for our annual coverage of the Eyegore Awards and the grand opening of “Halloween Horror Nights,” which kicks off this coming Friday, September 20th.
More info on “Halloween Horror Nights” is available at Halloween Horror Nights.com. Updates from Creative Director John Murdy can be found on Twitter, as he reveals a running chronicle of exclusive information.
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