Balancing Scares And Laughs In Ghostbusters At Universal Studios’ Horror Nights

It’s been 35 years since Ghostbusters first hit theaters in 1984, giving the world one of the best horror-comedy movies of all time. Since then, the franchise has spawned a sequel, cartoon adaptations, video games, a reboot, and an upcoming continuation of the original film. What it hasn’t led to, however, is a haunted maze at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. At least, not until this year.

Ghostbusters is a featured Horror Nights 2019 attraction at both Universal Studios Orlando and Hollywood, giving fans a chance to step into the movie and experience some of its biggest scares–and funniest jokes. Because that’s the line you have to carefully walk when you’re adapting a film like Ghostbusters into a haunted maze. Thankfully, the creative teams at both parks–who created two different mazes–were up to the challenge.

“That is a question we asked ourselves for a couple weeks. How do we tackle comedy and horror?” Charles Gray, show director at Universal Orlando, admitted when GameSpot asked about finding the right balance between horror and comedy. “All the punch lines and everything is delivered a very specific way.” He’s not wrong. Chances are when you think of Ghostbusters, Bill Murray delivering a classic Venkman line floats through your head just as often as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man getting roasted.

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Instead of trying to work around those iconic lines and moments, though, Gray and his team instead integrated them into the horror. “What at first was a challenge of all these things you want to see [and] things you want to hear that are not scary, [we then] started to develop a way to use us to our advantage,” he continued. “So as you go through and you are enthralled by the decor and the scenery of the scene, all of a sudden, boom, a terror dog is right next to you, because you’re so engrossed in what’s around you. We also found ways to include lines of dialogue that you wanted to hear at the end of other triggers. So randomly as you go through the house, you will hear those lines that you want to hear.”

The result is a maze that doesn’t skimp on the silliness or the screams. While you’ll see some of the best scenes play out from the movie–and indeed encounter a Venkman proclaiming, “We came, we saw, and we kicked its ass”–you’ll also get slimed by Slimer, venture through the iconic firehouse headquarters of the team and face-off with the aforementioned giant marshmallow monster.

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It’s unlike just about anything the Horror Nights teams on both coasts have tackled before. And while it might not be the most disturbing maze you’ll see at Horror Nights on either coast–good luck surviving House of 1,000 Corpses–it’s definitely one of the most fun you’ll experience.

Halloween Horror Nights is open now at both Universal Studios parks. It runs through November 2 at Universal Studios Orlando and November 3 at Universal Studios Hollywood.

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Author: Chris E. Hayner