How people jumpstart the jumpiest season of the year in other places likely runs the ghosty gamut. It can be as simple as purchasing that first bag of candy corn or sniffing a pumpkin-scented candle in the grocery checkout line.
But in LA? We tend to go for state-of-the-art mazes rocking movie-style special effects and marquee creative collaborators. Such is the creepy case with Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, which pushed open the door, creeeeeeakily, to the new season of scares.
The scares are scaring, scarily, on select nights through Sunday, Nov. 2.
So what's new? A new partner in musician Slash, who scored the brightly hued, deeply devious Clowns 3D maze. There are fresh plot points from the last season of "The Walking Dead" (if you're thinking of the most frightening couple of moments, you're right on tunnel -- we mean, track). And does the still-to-be-released film "Dracula Untold" get a vampiric spin within the park? Best grab your bestie and clutch tight.
John Murdy, the macabre 'n mirthful overseer of all things Horror Nights, says this is the biggest year yet, in terms of the number of mazes, original touches, classic revisits, and, of course, the Terror Tram, where a visit to the exterior of the "Psycho" house is on the knee-quaky schedule.
We're not going to bag on bags of candy corn or the purchasing of apple-scented room sprays or anything else that people do to get fall moving forward; they're part of the atmospheric whole. But it is hard to top a dark-night visit to the actual Norman Bates home or a walk-through -- or a wail-through -- the "From Dusk Till Dawn" maze or a ride on the Jurassic Park attraction by night.
Could you do it all in one night? You could come darn near close, if you don your tennies and pick your must-sees. Will you soak in the street action, from the wandering undead to the monsters who dash up to you, the better to elicit screams and/or giggles? You will.
Will you feel Universal's long, monstery past? It is, after all, the cradle of the creep, the nursery where movie werewolves and vampires first flourished.
Yep, we'll go candy corn, and candle, too, to get our Halloween going, but an evening at Halloween Horror Nights, makes for a shrieky, cinematic start to the holiday.