Halloween House of Horrors 2013

October is the season of horror, with classics and cult films resurrected on the big screen, season video releases, and a myriad of haunted house events, many of them based on horror movies. Universal Studios Hollywood specializes in this kind of attraction, as you can see from this video, set in the House of Horrors. This year-round attraction on the studio tour features classic movies monsters such as Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man, who were brought to the screen by Universal Pictures back in the 1930s and 1940s. For the Halloween season, the number of monsters is magnified, and a contemporary dance soundtrack is added.
Also on view: a trip through the Universal Studios’s back lot, which is overrun by walkers from AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD.
Full-size video below:


Clutter Magazine's Josh Kimberg: New York Comic Con 2011 Video


As I mentioned in Random Hunks o’ Con, I’m of two minds when it comes to collectible toys. On the one hand, I cannot quite reconcile myself to the idea of toys created expressly to be looked at, and not played with. (What would Woody say?) On the other, surveying the detail and artistry that’s being invested into the ever-expanding world of vinyl figurines and designer action figures makes me realize that, had I discretionary income, I’d likely be scooping up every exquisitely detailed trinket I could.
For those who can afford the hobby, or just wish they could, there’s Clutter magazine — at once the field’s premiere art journal and passionate cataloger. Managing partner Josh Kimberg was at Clutter‘s New York Comic Con booth when I showed up with my camcorder, and we got to talking for this video:


Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Ashley Eckstein: New York Comic Con 2011 Video

DC, Marvel, Dark Horse all claimed significant shares of turf at this year’s New York Comic Con, but only STAR WARS staked out its own universe, incorporating numerous vendors within the confines of its expansive area (including Hallmark, for all your limited-edition Xmas ornament needs).
And there in the midst of it was Ashley Eckstein — a.k.a. Ahsoka Tano of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS — greeting fans and promoting Her Universe, her own clothing line designed to appeal to the geek girl in all of us (but mostly in geek girls). We got a few minutes to talk to her, check out the garments, and ponder some universal truths in the war of geekish sexes.


Random Hunks o' Con: New York Comic Con 2011 Video

Cinefantastique hit the floor of New York Comic Con 2011 and discovered… people. Lots ‘n’ lots of people. NYCC sold out for the entire weekend, and the upshot was that even the isolated reaches of the show floor became navigational nightmares at certain points during the day. Woe betide the mortal wandering Artists Alley who had a sudden hankering for a bagful of Japanese fruit chews. The trip from one end of the show to the other took slightly longer than traversing the Silk Road.
Nevertheless, in the course of producing his scheduled interviews, Dan Persons had time to wander the floor and snap up a few random encounters and events with his handy pocket camcorder. Come join him to discover 3D printers, pickled punks, Romanian comics, redemption for the Black Eyed Peas, and much, much more, including special guest appearances by cartoonist Bill Plympton and Troma’s own Lloyd Kaufman.
Check out a larger version of the video below, or watch it on YouTube.


Halloween Horror Nights: Red Carpet Celebrity Interviews

Unlike other Halloween attractions, Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights is closely tied in with the horror film genre – perfectly appropriate for company created such classics as DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, and THE WOLF MAN. Each Halloween season – which, for the major theme park events, launches in September – Universal offers mazes and monsters inspired by contemporary horror films. 2001 includes attractions based on  SCREAM IV, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, the upcoming prequel-remake of THE THING, and the recent remake of THE WOLFMAN, among others. (The latter two are Universal properties – marking the first time the Halloween event has taken much advantage of its own classic library, as opposed to hiring monsters from other companies.) Breaking with tradition, this year’s Halloween Horror Nights also features  mazes inspired by  “La Llarona,” a ghostly Mexican legend, and by shock-rock pioneer Alice Cooper, who recently released a sequel to “Welcome to My Nightmare,” his classic 1975 solo debut album.
On Friday, September 23, Universal Studios launched Halloween horror nights with the Eyegore Awards, which are handed out to celebrities in the horror genre. This year’s recipients were David Arquette (SCREAM), Jamie Kennedy, Rain Wilson (who starred in Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES before going on to THE OFFICE), Bailee Madison (DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK), Emma Belle (FINAL DESTINATION 5), and Alice Cooper. Corey Feldman (THE LOST BOYS) hosted the event, whose presenters included, Rob Zombie (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES), Adam Green (HATCHET), Thomas Jane (THE MIST), James Gunn (SLITHER), and Calico Cooper (Alice’s daughter, who accepted the award on his behalf).
As usual, the awards show was preceded by the red carpet arrival of this year’s presenters, recipients, and other horror celebrities. Check out the video for interviews with James Gunn, Sid Haig (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES), Derek Mears (FRIDAY THE 13TH), Calico Cooper, Adam Green, and Halloween Horror Nights Creative Director John Murdy, who explains why FINAL DESTINATION 5 would not make a good Halloween maze but THE THING does.
Revenge Of the Mummy 1All of this of course, was merely prelude to the Halloween activities inside the Universal Studios theme park, which you can read about here. Along with the special Halloween attractions, Halloween Horror Nights also includes all the usual Universal Studios theme park rides: The Simpsons, Jurassic Park, and Revenge of the Mummy.

Pratchett on 'Discworld' TV Series

The UK sci-fi magazine SFX hosted and recorded a pitch session for the Terry Pratchett Discworld TV series, apparently to focus on the satrical Fantasy book series’ Ankh-Morpork’s police department, the City Watch.
From the official Press Release:

“Sir Terry Pratchett and Rod Brown, managing director of Prime Focus Productions, have announced an agreement for the unprecedented and exclusive worldwide television rights to create brand new storylines for the iconic characters of Pratchett’s phenomenally successful Discworld series.
“Terry’s universal success has seen him create one of the leading fantasy fiction franchises of all time, with 70 million worldwide sales of his 38-book Discworld titles. This will rise to 39 following another book to be published in October 2011. While there have been three successful mini-series adaptations of his Discworld books made for television in the UK, this is the first time Pratchett has granted a production company the international rights to his characters and their world. The agreement will see Prime Focus Productions create a series of new stories exclusively for a television audience.
“The main focus of the series will be the bustling, highly mercantile, largely untrustworthy and vibrant city of Ankh-Morpork. It will follow the day-to-day activities of the men, women, trolls, dwarves, vampires and several other species who daily pound its ancient cobbles. This will of course also include Igor in the forensics department. Terry commonly refers to the City Watch police force series as ‘the jewels in his Discworld Crown’. These richly developed and highly compelling characters will feature in a ‘crime of the week’ episodic storyline. As each weekly adventure unfolds, viewers will be taken on a ride through Pratchett’s genius imagination, with the author overseeing the creation of the series. In this world, wild and exciting encounters with werewolves, dragons, dwarfs, trolls, golems and the classic heroes and villains are an everyday occurrence… many of whom even make outstanding crime fighters!
“‘I believe the globally successful Discworld franchise will readily translate to the small screen in the form of a high-end, mass appeal weekly drama series, giving the audience the anticipation and excitement of brand new Discworld stories every week through the medium of television, rather than books,’ said Rod Brown, managing director of Prime Focus Productions. ‘It’s a huge responsibility to get this right for Terry, his legions of Discworld fans and the new followers that we’ll attract along the way. I believe they’ll be in for a treat with a high calibre writing team already attached, including Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Gavin Scott (Small Soldiers, The Borrowers). We’ve already spoken to a number of international broadcasters who’ve shown early interest and we hope to move forward very quickly to bring this exciting project to fruition.”
“Sir Terry Pratchett said of the agreement: ‘I’m very excited and incredibly happy about this because Rod was co-head of the team that produced the very successful Sky One adaptations. My message of encouragement to him now is: don’t bugger it up!’”

The Sky One adaptations mentioned above include TERRY PRATCHETT’S HOGFATHER (2006), THE COLOUR OF MAGIC (2008), and GOING POSTAL (2010).


Saw: Game Over at Halloween Horror Nights – Video Flashback

For the past few years, Universal Studios in Hollywood has employed a strategy of building their annual Halloween Horror Nights attraction around established film franchises. Last year, they featured walk-through mazes based on SAW and HALLOWEEN, among others. The HALLOWEEN maze is gone for 2010, but SAW is back for another year of terrorizing eager fans. Although I am not a huge fan of the franchise, I must admit that its multiplicity of terror traps offers ample opportunity for memorable live-action scares, as recreated by the Universal team.
A larger version of the video is embedded below:

Universal's Halloween House of Horrors: Video Flashback

Ever since Knott’s Berry Farm began basing their annual Halloween Haunt mazes on titles like THE GRUDGE 2 and QUARANTINE, there has been a tendency for Halloween attractions to seek inspiration from horror and fantasy movies. No one has taken the concept further than Universal Studios in Hollywood, whose annual Halloween Horror Nights features, among other fearful entertainments, the House of Horrors, a year-round walk-through attraction loaded with many more monsters during the October season. House of Horrors is a bit like a trip through the history of the genre, starting with an older black-and-white style of horror, and moving through the generations toward more modern variations.
For 2008 (as seen in the video), the House of Horrors included characters from THE STRANGERS. A larger version of the video is embedded below.

Freddy, Jason & Jigsaw to haunt Universal for Halloween

Universal Studios has a long and honorable tradition of classic horror films and monster movies, so it is no surprise that when October rolls around, they look to film franchises to inspire attractions for their annual Halloween Horror Nights (which takes place at both the Hollywood and the Florida locations). Since the Hollywood version was resurrected in 2006, Jason, Freddy, and Leatherface have haunted the lot on two occasions (2007 & 2008); Michael Myers, Jigsaw, and the guy from MY BLOODY VALENTINE took over last year. The question is: Are there enough popular horror franchise to offer something new each year? Apparently not: 2010 sees the return of Jason, Freddy, and Jigsaw, each of whom will haunt his own walk-through maze. There will also be something called “Vampyre: Castle of the Undead” situated in the theme park’s year-round “House of Horrors” attraction. Plus, Rob Zombie is contributing a maze based on his film HOUSE OF A 1000 CORPSES.
Vampyre Image-thumb-540xauto-644Sadly, Universal’s own classic monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolf Man, etc) are not being given the spotlight, although many of them do show up in the House of Horrors, and there are year-round rides inspired by Universal movies: JURASSIC PARK, REVENGE OF THE MUMMY, and KING KONG 360 3-D. You can also take a walk through the back lot, where Norman Bates can usually be found outside the PSYCHO house from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 classic; Chucky the Killer doll is also expected to be on view there.
Dates are September 24-25, October 1-2, 8-9, 15-17, 21-24, 28-31. This is a separate event that takes place every evening, after the Universal Studios theme park closes for regular business.
Tickets are $59 at the front gate. Advance online orders can save you from $5 to $25, depending on which night you attend (earlier in the season is cheaper). Of course, there are also more expensive Front of the Line Passes ($69).
Title: Halloween Horror Nights
Location: Universal Studios Hollywood
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608
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