With the heritage of making horror films for over 80 years, Universal Studios Hollywood goes all-out on the most terrifying Halloween event in Los Angeles. Featuring the most authentic scares from some of the biggest horror properties in film and TV, this year’s attractions include mazes for The Walking Dead, Insidious, Halloween, This Is The End, Guillermo del Toro’s highly anticipated Crimson Peak, and the return of Alien vs. Predator, as well as the all-new Terror Tram: Survive The Purge experience on the backlot, four new scare zones and a brand new live stage show featuring the Jabbawockeez.
Collider, along with a handful of other press outlets, was recently invited to preview Crimson Peak: Maze of Madness, which is only appearing at the theme park in Hollywood. Even though it’s not quite finished yet, as they’re doing a tremendous amount of custom design work on it, the one thing that is quite clear is that it will not only be exquisitely beautiful to look at, but it will be spot-on in bringing the incredible visual stylings of Guillermo del Toro to life. After taking the tour and chatting with maze creator John Murdy, we’ve compiled a list of 15 things to know about the Crimson Peak maze, but be aware that there are some spoilers for the film’s story.
15 Things to Know About the “Crimson Peak: Maze of Madness” maze:
- John Murdy has known Guillermo del Toro for three years, since they met at Halloween Horror Nights. They’re both big Universal horror fans and wanted to work together on a maze. In January of 2014, they met and started talking about doing something. That same night, del Toro got the call that Universal was going to push Crimson Peak into production early, which meant he wouldn’t be able to do something in 2014, but that they could do a maze of the film in 2015.
- What’s unique about Crimson Peak is that the maze is, in essence, the trailer for the movie. HHN opens on September 18th, but the film doesn’t open until October 16th. Therefore, it’s important to communicate the basic idea of the story, so that everybody understands it whether they’ve seen the trailer or not. Del Toro filmed a custom piece for the tram ride guests will have to take to the maze on the backlot, which explains why he wanted to make the movie and what it’s about.
- The maze follows the linear path of the movie, which is a gothic romance, along the lines of Edgar Allan Poe or the Hammer horror films of the ‘50s and ‘60s. It’s high horror, and not a slasher film, and is very different from your typical horror movie.
- HHN is about delivering the scares, but working with del Toro, you also have to deliver the sets. He’s one of the most visual directors in Hollywood with a very specific style, which meant they had to make a lot of custom pieces. They had to have the archways and windows cut by computer, and some of the walls are slanted.
- Del Toro’s make-up design is also very intense and specific, and they have to get that to work for the maze. If you put a scareactor in a creature costume, or any elaborate make-up or a mask, they have to be able to perform every 10 seconds, or approx. 60,000 times total.
- In order to get everything right with the design, Murdy went through 38,000 pictures from the film to study the sets and the movie and figure out how to work it all out. The sets and ghosts in the film were all done practically, with some CG enhancements. The entire process in bringing everything to life for the maze was very collaborative.
- When looking out the windows inside of the maze, del Toro wanted to see the night sky, snow falling and moths, so that’s all been created with visual effects and audio. Because the performers are not able to touch the people walking through the maze, you will feel the moths on your face and body.
- In the story, Edith is haunted by the ghost of her dead mother, as a child, who gives her a warning, “Beware of Crimson Peak.” Years later, she’s swept off her feet by a romantic but mysterious Englishman who marries her and takes her to his family estate, which is crumbling and falling apart. He lives there with his sister, Lucille. As soon as she moves in with him, something is wrong, but she can’t figure out what’s wrong. And then, she starts to see ghosts.
- The maze starts in a cemetery for the funeral of Edith’s mother, and then you go through the entrance of the mausoleum and into a hallway to make the transition to America. The wallpaper in the hallway is directly out of the movie, so they had to track it down. And then, you’ll see the ghost of Edith’s mother, which is being brought to life with a theatrical lighting illusion. The mother ghost is a thread throughout the maze, in the beginning, middle and end.
- After seeing Edith’s childhood bedroom, which has the dolls and furniture and wallpaper that appears in the film, you transition into the estate after she’s gotten married. In the transitions between, you hear the sound of moths and feel them fluttering against your face.
- The house is called Crimson Peak by the locals because it’s built over a clay mine, and the clay comes up through the floorboards of the house and out the walls. The house is a character that lives, breathes and bleeds, which you will see throughout the maze.
- To establish entering the mansion, they had to take a portion of it that would still allow you to feel the size and scope. At the center when you walk in, there is an exact replica of the film’s portrait of the estate’s matriarch, and there are curtains and tapestries everywhere.
- For the bathroom scene, del Toro wanted to see blood flowing in the bathtub, which is tricky to do when you don’t want the people going through the maze to get bloody water on their clothes. It will ultimately look like bloody water is flowing over the tub.
- The mural of the kids on the wall in the attic scene and the drawing of the tree are replicas from the film. They were painted in the film, but for the maze, digital files were created by the art department, so that they could then recreate them to look like paintings.
- For the performers in the maze, the physicality is really important to get right, down to the detail. The ghosts move almost like their bodies are broken, and they’re jittery and twitchy, so the actors are being directed to look at the movement work of Doug Jones. For Lucille, it’s about playing the madness of the character, with big sweeping gestures, but without being melodramatic.
Halloween Horror Nights is at Universal Studios Hollywood on select nights from September 18th through November 1st. You can find more details at http://www.halloweenhorrornights.com/hollywood/2015/.
Here’s more from the Crimson Peak maze. All Images via Christina Radish.