'An American Werewolf In London' Comes To Halloween Horror Nights, John Landis Explains Details

This seems like the year that Universal is pulling out all the stops for the Halloween Horror Nights experience at Universal Studios Orlando on select nights from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2.. The first announced attraction, based on Cabin in the Woods, made the event a must-visit for some horror fans. (Edit: I'd originally said that The Purge and Curse of Chucky would be represented with attractions as well, but those  will be ScareZones in Hollywood, not Orlando.)

And now here's the big one: John Landis has teamed with the Halloween Horror Nights team to create a huge maze based on his film An American Werewolf in London. We talked to Landis and Mike Aiello, the Creative Development Director for Halloween Horror Nights, who explained that he and his team have tried to do this dream project a few times before, and have finally made it happen. We have more info from them below.

The short version is that the maze based on An American Werewolf in London will trace the full story of the film, starting at the Slaughtered Lamb pub on the moors of England, where backpacking friends David and Jack stop off before a fateful werewolf encounter that leaves Jack dead and David primed to become a werewolf at the next full moon. Then the maze moves to London with scenes set in the hospital, the flat of nurse Price, a tube station, and Piccadilly Circus.

There will be a puppet recreating the famed werewolf transformation, a cast of sixty actors filling out the scenes, a recreation of one of David's nightmares (which is "quite horrific," says Landis), and even appearances from the increasingly decomposed ghost of Jack. The Elmer Bernstein music will be featured (and one or two of the pop tunes used in the film will probably be heard) and all the sound effects have been taken from the original sound stems used in the film. The audio has been remixed to sound proper in a non-movie theater space, but the howl of the werewolf won't just sound like the one from the film; it will be the one from the film.

Here's John Landis and Mike Aiello to explain more, from a talk I participated in with them a couple days ago:

Landis: It's one experience for people who are very familiar with the movie, and it's something a bit different for people who've never seen the movie, I think it'll be a little more shocking! These things are all realized full-size, and it's an immersive experience. Something I'm excited to hear is... they're so specific about capturing the ambiance of the film and what's going on in the movie that they actually went to Twickenham, where I mixed the original picture, and got the original tracks and stems. So they're using, remixed for the live environment, the original sound effects and the music.Aiello: For any fan of the movie it is a completely authentic experience. The reasoning started with the fact that we wanted to make sure we could have the wolf sound like it does in the movie. The wolf's howl on the moors is iconic. Anyone in love with the film knows that sound. If it doesn't sound that way then you, as a fan of that movie, are going to know. It was very important to us that we had access to those materials. And one thing I'm excited for people to hear, because I don't think they've heard it a lot, is the score for this movie.Landis: Yes, Elmer Bernstein did about seven and a half minutes of music, it's a brilliant score.Aiello: Which we are featuring in the maze. That will carry you through these scenes. And the maze really is a montage/best-of for all the things you remember from that movie. We attacked this maze as a passion project. We want to make sure that if you, as a fan, went through this with a checklist in your hand, you'd have all those boxes checked before you leave.Landis: For me, it's equally important for people who haven't seen the film. Some of this stuff, I have to say, is pretty intense and visceral. These mazes work on a number of levels, they create the ambiance and the atmosphere, but it's lighting and the fact that they've gone to so much trouble to build these total environments. You're in the places in the film! Some of it is quiet, what's the word, gruesome. Do you have ratings on these things?Aiello: We recommend that no one under 13 attend the event, but there is no specific rating on Horror Nights.

Here's the press release:


Orlando, FL (August 16, 2013) – You can feel someone...or something...following you. But it's already too late. The hair rising on the back of your neck is the last thing you feel before you're ripped limb from limb by the blood-thirsty beast...This fall, the terrifying classic "An American Werewolf in London" will be reincarnated as it becomes an all-new haunted house at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 23. Universal Orlando's Entertainment team is partnering with the film's critically-acclaimed writer and director John Landis to create a disturbingly-real haunted house experience that pays homage to one of the greatest lycanthropic stories ever told.The iconic film follows two American college students, Jack and David, as they backpack across the moors of England. On a misty, full-moon night, the men are attacked by a supernatural creature that kills Jack and taints David with its horrific curse. When the full moon rises again, the killing spree continues, and this time, the blood is on David's hands.Beginning September 20, guests will step inside the film and experience a retelling of the horror classic – from the attack on the English moors to the hospital nightmares to witnessing the bone-crunching transformation of David from human to bloodthirsty werewolf. Guests will encounter David's vicious werewolf form as he wreaks bloody chaos through London's subway tunnel, Piccadilly Circus and more."It's terrific that guests will be able to actually experience some of the scarier scenes from the film," said John Landis, writer and director of "An American Werewolf in London." "I had fun working with the Universal team to bring one of my more insane movies to life.""'An American Werewolf in London' is a must-see for any true horror fan," said Mike Aiello, Creative Director for Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights. "The haunted maze mirrors John Landis' horrifying story and having him work with us in the creative process was really the only way this could authentically come to life." Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 23 runs select nights from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.halloweenhorrornights.com/orlando.