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October 08, 2007
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Prepared to be scared. Universal Orlando promises the scariest Halloween Horror Nights in history.
This year's events, called the "Carnival of Carnage," will be themed as an evil circus. Universal's own Halloween icon, "Jack the Evil Clown," is the star of the show, with three of the world's best-known slasher-film characters -- Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Jason, of "Nightmare on Elm Street," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Friday the 13th" films.
"It's a huge partnership for us with New Line Cinemas to get these icons," said Michael Roddy, manager of show development, and the head scaremaster. Roddy has been a horror film fan himself so creating the frightfest was "a playdate" for him.
"We knew we wanted to do more than we've ever done – more mazes, more live shows, just more of everything," said Roddy. His plan is to put visitors to the Horror Night houses in the same environment as world-class horror icons.
Roddy said there are so many fans of Halloween Horror Nights that many Web sites devoted to Orlando's theme parks and the yearly October event have been trying to guess what's in store this year. Well, guess no longer.
On a recent walk through the house of 1428 Elm Street, Roddy gets giddy when he talks about the chilling effects he and his crew have put together to have guests come face-to-face with Freddy Krueger. At each station, horror fans meet each of Freddy's victims, which will be live actors not animatronics. "We think that the live actors will bring an even scarier element to it," said Roddy. Walk through another maze and you're in Freddy's sleep clinic, and around another corner is the creepy boiler room.
Roddy gives away the secret to building the scariest houses on Earth. Just like a magician, the maze design is to turn the visitor's attention to something else "like a sound or a light trigger." Then when they least expect it, Freddy comes from somewhere else, or they are startled into looking in a different direction.
In addition to "The Nightmare On Elm Street: Dreamwalkers" house, "The Texas Chain Massacre: Flesh Wounds" traps guests inside the Hewitt family home and "Friday the 13th: Camp Blood" gives visitors a tour of the abandoned remains of Camp Crystal Lake, Jason Vorhees favorite slay grounds. "Vampyr: Blood Bath" is located inside an abandoned industrial building and "Psychoscareapy: Home for the Holidays" turns a sleepy town into a nightmarish neighborhood when a transport bus of crazed residents overturns and brings some unwanted visitors home for the holidays.
More freaks are lurking in the live, aptly named "Freak Show," a collective of the most amazing and ghastly national acts, including a tattooed performer whose body is a canvas of torture. One of the newest stage shows is a live version of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," with the ceremonial toast and other interactive elements intact that made the movie a cult classic.
Jack guarantees a good time and is ready to scare the heck out of anyone who crosses his path.
"This year, they've given me a show," said Jack the Clown. "Fools. They say show business is in the blood, but is it my blood or yours?"
Halloween Horror Nights runs 23 nights this year, Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 3.
By the way, Universal Studios Hollywood has its own version of "Halloween Horror Nights," in case your travels take you to Southern California.
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