ORLANDO, Fla. – Universal's Halloween Horror Nights is officially underway.
The popular event features 10 themed haunted houses and five scare zones. This year's houses are based on popular films and TV franchises--Ghostbusters and Stranger Things--as well as original concepts from Universal like Depths of Fear and Yeti: Terror of the Yukon.
Each house offers something different, whether it be scares, thrills or nostalgia.
What follows is a completely unscientific ranking of all 10 houses. These rankings are based on first impressions after one walkthrough of each house.
10. Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses
Fans of Rob Zombie will appreciate the House of 1000 Corpses house, which captures the twisty feel of the film. It's a walk of horrors with plenty of carnage.
9. Nightingales: Blood Pit
This is one of the original concept houses from Universal. The set pieces, which put visitors back in and while it's light on scares, this might be the one of the goriest on the list. Universal's team said they researched ancient torture methods for Blood Pit and they're on full display in this house.
8. Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Killer Klowns more zany and kooky than scary, unless, of course, you're afraid of clowns. It includes moments from the 1988 cult classic including a larger-than-life Klownzilla. The Killer Klowns house has an interactive element to it. As you make your way through the house, you might spot a big red button or two. Be sure to push one to see what happens.
7. Depths of Fear
Depths of Fear, an original concept from Universal, is one of the best themed houses. You’re transported to an underwater mining facility that has become infested with parasitic creatures. What helps create the look and feel of the house is the water effects, the sound effects and the low ceilings. If you don't like tight spaces, Depths of Fear might feel a bit claustrophobic.
6. Graveyard Games
Graveyard Games takes you through a Louisiana graveyard. You'll encounter vengeful spirits upset that two teens defiled "their place of rest." The house is full of crypts, skeletons, ghosts and cobwebs. The house uses quite a few special effects to give off a paranormal vibe.
If you haven't seen Jordan Peele's Us, the house based on the film might not make much sense. But if you have seen the film, the house Universal has recreated will likely exceed expectations. Although not scary, the house certainly captures the creepiness of the story. From the moment you enter through the carnival fun house, you venture through key scenes from the film. There are mirror effects and there are even rabbits. And be on the lookout for the Tethered.
4. Stranger Things
The Stranger Things house is so much bigger than last year's. And by bigger, I mean there's so much going on. This time around, the house features scenes from season two and season three. You'll wander through Hopper's cabin, the arcade, Dustin's room and yes, even the Starcourt Mall makes a brief appearance. The scares come from the demodogs lurking around every corner. This house also has its fair share of strobe lights, which makes it that much harder to see what's about to jump out at you. One of the biggest wow moments comes at the end.
3. Yeti: Terror of the Yukon
Another one of Universal's original concepts, Yeti: Terror of the Yukon takes visitors through a snow-covered Canadian wilderness. And lurking around every corner is a blood-thirsty Yeti. What makes this house work is the use of effects to create the atmosphere. There's cold-air blasting throughout which causes literal chills. And then there's the sound of the yetis ripping through flesh.
2. Universal Monsters
By far one of the most creative houses in the lineup, Universal Monsters brings to life horror classics like Frankenstein, Dracula, the Mummy and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. For the most part, each scene is tailored to each monster and offers plenty of details and effects. The Phantom of the Opera section has a particularly notable effect to reveal the monster.
Is the Ghostbusters house scary? No. But it's just really, really cool. With props and special effects, the 1984 movie has essentially been recreated in the house. You'll see props like the proton packs and the jumpsuits, which are film accurate. One of the best moments in the house is the effect used to create Slimer. And yes, a very large Stay Puft Marshmallow Man appears.
Universal's Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights through November 2.
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