The showdown continues this year.
Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights will be bringing back Alien versus Predator, a haunted maze attraction based on the 2004 film of the same title. Horror Nights opens Friday and Alien Versus Predator is back by popular demand.
The Alien versus Predator maze debuted at Horror Nights last year and John Murdy, Horror Nights creative director, said survey results proved it was a fan favorite, prompting its return.
The maze is one of the most challenging projects the Horror Nights crew has worked on to date, Murdy said (although he noted that their new maze for the film Crimson Peak this year has also been uniquely challenging). The creation of Alien versus Predator involved making numerous complex alien creatures of varying sizes as well as a full-sized spaceship.
“The creatures alone are insane,” Murdy said.
Creature designs for the aliens in the maze were particularly complicated and detailed. Fortunately, Murdy said the Horror Nights team was able to access the original molds used in the films—which means the aliens guests encounter in the maze will really be straight out of the movies.
“All of the creatures you see in here were basically made from the same mold [from the film],” Murdy said.
After guests enter the maze through The Predator’s spaceship they will find themselves facing The Predator himself, “face-huggers,” and aliens—including a 16-foot tall queen alien—from the Alien and Predator franchises. Many of these creatures will be puppeteered by performers who will lunge at guests from the darkness.
The maze also sets scenes to help build the suspense for visitors. In a room holding “face-hugger” aliens in tanks, two glass cylinders are broken and empty, leading guests to await the attack of these freed creatures. They will loom over the body of a life-sized, unconscious Predator. As the story progresses, guests will find themselves wandering through the wreckage of a suburban household where the aliens have run amok. Eventually, they will encounter the gigantic alien queen towering over her eggs.
As with all Horror Nights mazes, the performers within are not allowed to actually touch park visitors. But Murdy said his crew finds other ways to surprise and frighten guests brave enough to enter these attractions.
“You want to break the fourth wall,” Murdy said. “You want a physical impact on the guests.”
Guests at Horror Nights may find themselves lightly sprayed with water, disoriented by lighting effects and, of course, shocked at the sight of full-sized aliens on the attack.
Murdy said although many of the effects in the maze are sophisticated and complex, he also mentioned that much of what makes a good haunted attraction work are the classic techniques.
“Some of it’s simple,” he said, “stuff I did as a kid in my grandma’s garage.”
He referenced simple scares: string dangling in the darkness that feels like cobwebs, figures leaping out of the shadows.
“We try to create a multi-sensory experience,” he said.
But for Alien versus Predator specifically, Murdy knows that a large part of the maze’s popularity is the rich attention to detail in each of its creatures and in its setting. He said his team was excited for the opportunity to bring back the creatures they had worked so hard to bring to life last year.
When asked if either the Alien or Predator franchises would return to Horror Nights again in the future—particularly the classic sci-fi/horror thriller, Alien—Murdy could not yet say. But he added that, of course, he would be open to the idea.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I love that film.”