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SYFY WIRE Halloween Horror Nights

Watch: Greg Nicotero walks us through Universal's spine-tingling 'Halloween Horror Nights'

By Josh Weiss
Greg Nicotero Halloween Horror Nights tour

Just in time for Halloween, we have a deep dive into what it takes to craft the blood-curdling scares and thrills of Universal Parks' recurring scare-fest Halloween Horror Nights.

There are no strings on Greg Nicotero (yet) in the chilling sneak peek below at the latest haunted maze created for Universal Studios' Halloween experience in Orlando, Florida. The Walking Dead director/special effects wiz is your guide as he dives headfirst into Puppet Theater: Captive Audience, an experience set within the bloody ruins of a collapsed San Francisco theater. The puppet troupe from Eastern Europe ended up going nuts and started turning trapped members of the audience into Pinocchio-like abominations.

Take the tour for yourself:

While Universal offers mazes based on existing brands like Ghostbusters and Stranger Things, Nicotero is turning his attention to original concepts (such as Captive Audience) that keep guests on their toes.

"There's just something about things that you have seen in movies or seen on TV shows and then it's right in front of you," he said. "You have that opportunity to experience what it's like and with the original mazes, you get taken on an entirely new journey and you don't know where you're going, which I think makes them a little more fun in a different way. With the other mazes that are based on IP, you kind of know, 'Oh yeah, I know what this gonna be.' It's still cool to walk through those moments, but with the original mazes, people are walking unaware of what's gonna happen."

"The one thing that I've always respected about Halloween Horror Nights is the fact that Universal Studios created the modern day movie monster and that lineage and that honor that we have to be able to create under that banner," said Michael Aiello Sr. Director of Creative Development at Universal Orlando Resort.

"You feel like you want to go through each of these houses multiple times because there's so much to see," added Nicotero. "Universal Studios and Halloween Horror Nights give us this opportunity to step into it and to be surrounded and immersed in it. What you guys are able to do — not only using fantastic art direction — but great tricks of the trade, it really is, for me, always a joy to be able to see more and more. You process something different every time, so you have a different experience every time you come through the maze."

Puppet Theater: Captive Audience is set to raise the curtain at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights in 2021.