What an excellent day for an exorcism… maze.
Universal Studios Hollywood is in the midst of putting the finishing touches on the seven distinct mazes for the popular Halloween Horror Nights event, which did not take place last year due to the pandemic.
One of this year’s mazes is The Exorcist, which terrifyingly (and painstakingly) recreates several iconic moments from the 1973 horror classic. The Hollywood Reporter on Friday got a behind-the-scenes tour of the maze, which features a levitating Regan MacNeil as well as a head-spinning, spitting Regan among several other creepy moments in the enormous attraction inside a sound stage on the backlot.
The maze is a particular favorite of John Murdy, creative director for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, who deeply loves the William Friedkin masterpiece.
“When The Exorcist first came out, there was a trailer that has since been referred to as the banned trailer … and it freaked me out. I had recurring nightmares,” Murdy says. “And when I started doing Horror Nights, this became my Moby Dick.”
The Exorcist maze made its first appearance at Horror Nights in 2016. Murdy took inspiration for the trailer that deeply bothered him and built the maze around it. “It’s in my top 5 of mazes I am most proud of,” he notes.
Guests will go into rooms of the house, a number of which feature Regan at different stages of her possession. “This maze is heavily special effects,” Murdy says. “It’s really complicated.” In addition to effects, the maze features a total cast of 40, including some blackout performers (operators of certain puppets and objects) and others in assorted roles from the film. Universal employs hundreds of cast members annually for the fall event.
Halloween Horror Nights began at Universal Studios Hollywood in October 1997 and has occurred every year since then — except last year — which makes this year’s event more meaningful for Murdy, crew and guests.
“It was pretty gut-wrenching,” Murdy says of last year’s absence. “Horror Night has become such a tradition for Angelenos. It’s funny to say, but it really has become a family tradition for some.”
Halloween Horror Nights begins Sept. 9 and runs select evenings through Oct. 31 at Universal Studios Hollywood in Los Angeles. In addition to The Exorcist, mazes this year include Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween 4: The Curse of Michael Myers and Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives, among others.
For more information and advance ticketing resources, visit the park’s official Halloween Horror Nights website.
— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) September 3, 2021