Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood is Southern California’s premier Halloween event, and on select dates through November 1st, you can experience a slate of new mazes, an exciting hip-hop dance show from the Jabbawockeez, a new Terror Tram experience “Survive the Purge,” and terrifying Scare Zones. Along with “Crimson Peak: Maze of Madness,” “The Walking Dead: Wolves Not Far,” “This is the End 3D,” “Halloween: Michael Myers Comes Home” and “AVP: Alien vs. Predator,” “Insidious: Return to the Further” brings together the most sinister scenes of all three films in the highly popular horror franchise.
As you enter the maze through the Lambert family’s eerie Victorian home, you will find yourself as a guest at a seance that unleashes chaos and horror. You will journey into The Further, which is a supernatural realm that houses tormented spirits, where you will face deadly ghosts and demons, like the Woman in Black, the Red-Faced Demon, and the Oxygen Mask Demon, that will stop at nothing to infiltrate the world of the living.
Before Halloween Horror Nights kicked off this year, Monsters & Critics was invited to preview the “Insidious: Return to the Further” maze, where we got a tour from maze creator John Murdy and learned about how their partnership on Insidious evolve, how they’ve re-imagined the 2013 incarnation, and their use of some new technology and scares, this time around.
“Years ago, director James Wan, who did the Insidious movies, the original Saw movie, and most recently Fast & Furious 7, came to our event,” said Murdy. “He actually went through our La Llorona maze. I had never met him before, and he called me up, that same night, and wanted to work together. So, in 2013, we partnered on Insidious.”
Murdy continued to say, “The movie is a paranormal ghost story that starts off as a slow burn, and then the action picks up. So, in the first scene, it was important to James that there weren’t any characters, whatsoever. He wanted it to be a total paranormal moment, and that’s what we’re doing with the audio and lighting with the scene. The lamp sputters on and off, you hear a weird electrical sound, and you see the demon speaking over the baby monitor. And then, you see the Black Bride on the other side of the mirror.”
The “Insidious: Return to the Further” maze is based on all three films in the Insidious franchise. Even though the first Insidious maze they did in 2013 was the highest rated maze in the history of Horror Nights with fans, they wanted to change it up this time around.
“We wanted to approach this all very differently,” said Murdy, “so if you happened to experience Insidious in 2013, this is a very different maze.”
Like the first time around, the maze starts off out front with the Lambert house, which is the iconic house from Insidious. This time, they then take you right into The Further, which is the spirit realm where the demons live. The visual cue for that realm is low-lying fog that they create to appear like creepy ground fog in several sections of the maze by using dry ice.
“We do all of these crazy science experiments when we have an idea, but we’re not really sure how we’re going to do it,” said Murdy. “It’s just trial and error because we have to invent stuff, all the time.”
One of the science projects in the maze was their recreation of the Red-Faced Demon, also known as the Lipstick-Face Demon, crawling on the walls of the house, because it had to be replicated without live actors. To do that, they used projection technology as a special effect.
Explained Murdy, “When we built the set and lit it, we photographed it at a very high resolution and gave that to our designers. Separately, I filmed the Red Demon on a green screen stage with a camera way up in the air, looking down on the ground, and I just filmed him crawling in place. So, we’re using mapping technology to project the wall back onto itself. It’s a projection of the same wall back onto the real wall. And then, we’re moving the Red Demon, so that it appears that he crawls out from under the bed, crawls across the wall, and disappears into the broken section of the wall. At the end of it, the Demon disappears into the whole and the actor comes out. And that’s all at the control of the actor. The actor pushes a button and it creates the whole lighting, audio and projection sequence.”
The Red Door is iconic to the Insidious franchise because it’s the portal into the other world, so they decided to use the Red Door to not only take you into the demon’s lair, but to transition you from film to film, as you walk through the scenes. But to get to the scenes of the third film, you go through a red elevator because the movie is set in an apartment.
They also use various different ways to scare people, whether it’s a character popping out, audio and lighting, or a visual scare. One example of a visual scare in the Insidious maze is the Black Bride strangling Elise Rainier, played by Lin Shaye.
The final scene of the maze is in Elise Rainier’s seance room, which is very prop heavy with specific props that represent her collection of artifacts. Every prop and detail in the maze is from the film, whether it’s the child’s drawings in his bedroom, the origami birds, the lights on the bed, or the demons footsteps throughout. These mazes tend to be so detailed that you’re likely to see something new, each time you walk through it, and because they’re similar to a live theater performance, the experience will change every time.
Clearly very passionate about the work they’ve done to provide a new experience to fans of this franchise, Murdy said, “If you’re a fan of Insidious, hopefully you’re getting the best of all three films.”
If you’re interested in attending Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and checking out some of the spectacular attractions they have to offer this year, you can purchase tickets at www.halloweenhorrornights.com/hollywood/2015/.