Summer had been officially over for some weeks and signs of rain were apparent for the upcoming winter season. The gray clouds covered the skies throughout most of the day and had yet to disperse with the arrival of the later hours of the day. As the skies darkened, drops of rain finally began to fall as sunset arrived. It was a somewhat rare occurrence in a year that had been full of hot weather, yet there was no other day better suited for such an event for today was Friday the 13th in October. Universal Studios, a movie company that has had much success in the horror movie genre, was ready to unveil a secret to the public.
In an attempt to continue its success, Universal hired a Slovakian director by the name of Pavel Pranevsky to create the ultimate horror movie. Pranevsky, who came to the United States looking for artistic freedom, had a distinct vision in creating movies. He wanted to make films that felt real and would truly horrify the viewers. He successfully completed this task in his home country, causing him to be banned from the Slovakian film community, which ultimately led to his arrival in the U.S.
Pranevsky received full creative freedom for his new film and on June 6, 2006 filming began. However, when Universal received updates on the film they were appalled by what they saw and cancelled the film. Pranevsky’s film was shelved and he was asked to leave the Universal back lot immediately. It was assumed Pranevsky had left the lot but in the upcoming weeks sightings of the director had been reported. Pranevsky was said to have resumed his film in the cover of darkness, vowing to not allow anyone to ruin his production.
This is the storyline behind “The Director,” who is featured in the Universal Studios Halloween Horror Night advertisements and is also part of the main attraction on the back lot tour. The Horror Nights marked its return Oct. 13 after more than a half decade away from public eyes.
As the highlight of Horror Nights, the back lot tour takes you into the filming areas of the park and allows pedestrian access to normally inaccessible areas. A tram drops you off in a dark part of the back lot where you will encounter clowns, knife-wielding maniacs and zombies. Along the trip, guests come across one of the sets of “War of the Worlds” as well as the Bates Motel.
The Bates home from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” sits on the top of the hill, with an unexpected corpse rocking in a chair in the top floor window, waiting along the way of the back lot tour. Guests come to within touching distance of one of the main sets of what can arguably be called the original slasher flick. While on the back lot tour, guests’ experience at the Halloween Horror Nights is noticeably shorter than the regular tour, but any horror/suspense movie fan can fully appreciate the privilege of coming to within such close contact of a horror movie classic.
Universal’s House of Horrors and the Asylum mazes prove to be an entertaining experience as you encounter some of horror movies’ greatest killers, such as Leatherface and Michael Myers. Other characters recognizable from some of Universal’s top movies are also present in the mazes, waiting just around the corner, so keep your eyes peeled. Graphic details on both the characters and the settings make them interesting sights. A movie studio is the ideal location for an event such as this.
Created particularly for the Halloween event, Carnival of Carnage and Chucky’s Insultorium offer a break from the freaks stalking you from the darkness. Carnival of Carnage offers a list of freakishly unusual tricks such as sword swallowing. Chucky’s Insultorium adds a little humor to the night as the doll, possessed by killer Charles Lee Ray, picks on unsuspecting guests with his dirty humor. His humor may seem offensive to some as he touches on sex and race in some of his jokes.
Apart from these events, Universal offers little more than their usually less than ideal attractions. Jurassic Park in the Dark, Back to the Future and the Mummy the Ride are open to entertain the crowd. A shortage on Halloween-themed attractions may leave you wondering if the full price is worth it.
The event, which opened last weekend, will run on Oct. 20-21, 27-28 and Halloween night. It begins at 7 p.m., after the regular park closes, and will run until 2 a.m., except for on Halloween, when it will end at midnight. The Student Union ticket office offers tickets at discounted prices if thye are purchased before the day of the event.