As someone who’s not really into horror, gore and the quintessence of Halloween, I felt tricked into a treat in the Halloween Horror Nights 8 (HHN8) at Universal Studios Singapore (USS) recently. I could only imagine how hair-raising this event must be for true fans of Allhallows.
This year’s HHN features five haunted houses, three killer live shows, and two scare zones, all of which are scattered around the 20-hectare amusement park. To get everyone in the “spooktastic” spirit, the theme park is transformed into an eerie venue at night—the lights are in dark shades, the music creepy, and actors dressed like cannibals, zombies and other scary characters who chase you around the park at night.
What stood out among these new and interesting attractions:
Immediately after HHN8’s press conference on Sept. 24, we were treated to a premiere of “Dead Talks” at the Pantages Hollywood Theater. This show, somewhat a parody of “Ted Talks,” features Gideon Grim, a motivational death coach who entices the audience in a seminar on how to scare and “put the boo in you.”
What seemed like a show for children turned out a high-energy variety show filled with stunts, acrobatics and dance numbers. The witty script was packed with jokes the youth could relate to.
This year, USS brought back Zombie Lasertag, which now has a bigger playing field. This laser tag experience is different from the one we’re accustomed to (the classic two teams battling it out for laser tag supremacy).
In Zombie Lasertag, a group of eight members led by a troop leader (one of the actors) goes through a realistic obstacle course to kill a ton of zombies and grab a code to save the “infested” area. This outdoor arena is filled with smoke, thematic lighting, and zombies coming at you from every direction.
What makes this game difficult? You can kill the zombies only via headshot, and some of them could regenerate to bite you back when you least expect it.
Stranger Things Haunted House
For its first team-up with a TV series, USS collaborates with Netflix on the prime-time, Emmy Award-winning “Stranger Things.”
The haunted house presents 12 thematic rooms (the most, to date) that recreate memorable scenes of the series, such as Joyce Byers going ballistic looking for Will in their Christmas-lit living room.
In stunning and lifelike set designs, fans of the show will feel like they truly are in the fictional settings of Hawkins, Indiana, and the Upside Down themselves.
The sudden appearance of “demogorgons” rampaging in the dozen rooms will leave you screaming and begging for Eleven’s help.
Perhaps my favorite of the haunted houses is the Killuminati, which is run by a secret society of vampires. It is filled to the roof with unexpected stunts and mind-boggling twists.
I remember being sceptical when I heard one of the guides outside the entrance uttering, “Your experience will be different each time you enter and reenter the house.” She was right.
In the house, guests are constantly separated into smaller and smaller groups scattered in different areas, allowing different encounters for each individual. At one point, you may actually be scaring others without you even noticing.
Attention to detail
While these, for me, are the most memorable attractions, what differentiates every haunted house in HHN8 from the others I’ve been to, so far, is the attention to detail. Each set design, prop, texture and smell—yes, even the various scents of different areas in each house are well thought out and incredibly crafted.
I remember particularly the smell of moss and grass in Pontianak and the horrible smell in the underground cave setting in Killuminati.
Such elements contribute to the realism of the haunted attractions. Add the fear, the threatening and anxious feeling you get and the unique experience each time you enter the houses, and they will all equate to an unforgettable evening at the Halloween Horror Nights 8.
Halloween Horror Nights 8 is running on select nights until Oct. 31. Visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com.sg for more information.
Special thanks to Jonathan Yu Choong Tong and Resorts World Sentosa.