Monday, October 10, 2011

Shangrila Shock-tober 2011 - Halloween Horror Nights XXI

All Hallows' Eve draws near, and, as usual, Shangrila Towers will be running a series of themed posts covering all sorts of scares, spooks, and shocks. Today's adventure: a journey to Universal Studios Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights XXI - Nobody Beats the House...



It was a dark and stormy night when we visited HHN XXI, and dreary weather changes the tone of the event. The temperature drops, the crowds thin, and the performers desert the outdoor scare zones (Universal policy). The focus immediately shifts to the core of the Halloween Horror Nights experience, the haunted houses:

Highlights



Nevermore: The Madness of Poe - This house is inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe. You'll see references to "The Raven," "The Pit and the Pendulum," and "The Tell-Tale Heart," among others. I particularly liked the segment based on "The Masque of the Red Death;" costumed revellers dance around and scare guests.

The In-Between - This year's 3D house. Wearing the 3D glasses fits in nicely with the house's premise - a pulp horror comic story about a kid being sucked into an alternate dimension. The 3D effects work really well here, with strange glyphs and symbols popping off the walls like nobody's business.

Saws n' Steam: Into the Machine - Overall, this house was our favorite. It's basically a live-action "BioShock" - steampunk stuff everywhere, a dystopia planned by a madman, and weird extraction machinery (here it's flesh being harvested instead of Adam). There's even a giant faux Big Daddy waiting for you at the end behind a waterfall.

The Thing - This one's a tie-in with the upcoming prequel, and was obviously allotted the highest budget of any of the houses. You explore the Thule Antarctic station, where the survivors of the Norwegian research team battle with various horrific creatures. It follows the movie pretty closely (there's even a performer playing Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character), and I think fans of "The Thing" will dig it.

Lowlights

H.R. Bloodengutz Holidays of Horror - A comedy horror house with gory parodies of non-Halloween holidays. There are some good bits, and they try pretty hard, but it's just plain impossible to make a scary Fourth of July or Presidents Day.

Bil & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure - Bill & Ted is never that great of a show, but this year's edition was pretty bad. Some of that is 2011's fault (Charlie Sheen and Mr. Chow feature pretty heavily in the show), but it really boils down to the writing, which wasn't funny at all.

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