Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights
Look out Universal and Six Flags. There’s a new player in town to compete with your scary mazes and costumed ghouls. Warner Bros., despite not having a theme park, makes a big splash this year with Horror Made Here, constructed entirely on the studio backlot. Creating a big budget Halloween attraction from scratch isn’t easy, and Horror Made Here is smaller than some of the other major haunts. What they lack in quantity, they make up for in quality and diversity though. There are 3 mazes, a tram tour, a 4D screening, and a variety of other activities.
The three walkthroughs are themed around IT (2017 movie), the Conjuring Universe (The Conjuring, Annabelle, and The Nun), and Arkham Asylum (video games). Arkham has some really creative sets and interactions, starting with a performance by Joker. He has taken over the Asylum and sentenced everyone else for being too sane. You go through processing for a souvenir photo before entering the prison depths. Classic Batman villains are represented well, and in a surprising feature, the lineup changes throughout the night! My first time got me Riddler and Penguin, but the second time included Poison Ivy and Scarecrow. Joker, Two-Face, and Harley Quinn are constants, of course. This maze is not really scary, but more about the characters and scenery, and I liked it quite a bit.
The IT house is an upgraded version of the free one that promoted the movie in Hollywood last year. I was not so impressed by that experience, but this new version was probably my favorite. The house is simply huge (it actually goes through multiple house sets on the lot), and you walk through nearly every famous scene of the film. The sets are elaborately detailed and diverse. The scare actors do a good job too. Pennywise the Clown is the audience favorite, but the creepy flutist from the painting makes an appearance, as does Georgie, of course. I loved how it felt like I was discovering something new around each corner.
The Conjuring maze is the last one I did, and it had the longest wait. There is a kind of holding room at the beginning. Everyone was expecting a scare here, but there wasn’t any. After that first room comes another massive set, encompassing two houses, and the outdoor “yard” in between. There are scenes from all 3 of the series in the Conjuring Universe, and the finale includes one of the best practical effects I’ve seen in a maze to date. I wanted to applaud, it was that good.
Nightmare on Camp Crystal Lake
Hopping on the WB Studio Tour trams, we learned about classic horror movies shot on the lot, along with some tour guide jokes. We were let off the tram at Camp Crystal Lake, the famous summer camp made famous in Friday the 13th. Walking outdoors through trees, next to a lagoon, we were alternately stalked by Freddy and Jason until we arrived at the cabins. Corpses of campers were strewn about. Walking through the interiors offered some more gory scenes, along with our pals popping back up to threaten us with their machete and finger-knives. Luckily we all escaped and were told by a cheery camp counselor to come again next summer.
The Exorcist: Forbidden Screening
Taking place in the church set of the studio backlot seems like a great idea to show one of the scariest movies ever made, right? Right. Of course, there isn’t time to show the full film. Instead, there is a 10 to 15-minute presentation that includes an introduction and an edited montage of some of the best scenes from the film. These scenes are accompanied by effects all around you, as the demonic force in the film infests the very faux-church you are sitting in. Not all of the effects impacted the whole audience. In any case, everyone seemed into it and the supernatural elements included a lot of fun details. It even made me want to rewatch the whole film, which I’ve only seen once, probably 20 years ago.
Besides those main scare attractions, there was a lot more. A bar called Fangtasia, themed to True Blood, was quite popular. I’ve never seen the show, but the decor inside was really cool and the fans were impressed. There was the Devil’s Drop, a freefall carnival ride, in the center of everything. It never had a long line but always had people riding it, a nice change of pace from the mazes. The Little Shop of Horrors is a literal shop selling merchandise from nearly every scary franchise that Warner Bros. has. A DJ was playing music all night on the main stage, which at one point features a re-enactment of the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.
Keeping a bit of real Hollywood magic mixed into the night, the tram from Camp Crystal Lake returns to Warner Bros.’ Stage 48. Visitors can walk through displays of authentic props and costumes from famous Tim Burton films like Beetlejuice and Corpse Bride, along with regular displays for superheroes and Harry Potter. A side room had professional make-up demonstrations, and food and drink options were plentiful and always nearby. Especially popular were the Blood Bags at Fangtasia. They do look perfect for the event, although I cringed at the amount of plastic waste.
I heard a lot of conversation snippets that night, and it was nearly all surprisingly pleased. People weren’t sure what to expect with a new Halloween attraction of this size being launched. Yet Warner Bros. seems to have pulled it off with high quality and unique attractions, featuring iconic brands and characters. There is certainly room in the Los Angeles Halloween marketplace for them, and I’m glad they’re here. Horror Made Here runs weekends through October 28th. Space is limited, so buying tickets in advance is recommended. More information, including ticketing, is available at their website here.
All pictures were taken by Media Geeks writer Lacey Rae.
Disclaimer: The author is employed by Warner Bros. in an unrelated role to Horror Made Here.