LOS ANGELES (Circa) -- Meet John Murdy, creative director of Halloween Horror Nights, and the mind behind some of the most terrifying haunted houses and horror mazes of all time.
Since the creation of their annual Halloween horror event 13 years ago, Universal Studios Hollywood has entrusted John and his team to adapt iconic horror properties into mazes such as “The Shining,” “Saw,” “Poltergeist,” “The Walking Dead,” and this year’s featured maze, "Stranger Things.”
When we’re doing something like “Stranger Things,” the first thing that comes to mind is the Byers' House, The Upside Down — when we study these things, we think of all of those iconic environments and how can we bring them to life.
Using psychology and even geometry to create frights, John's mazes have become an icon in Southern California with a reputation for being the most intense horror experience around. And after more than a decade, John says the process runs like a well-oiled machine.
Whenever we look for a property that we’re going to turn into a maze, we always look for three things and it never changes: awareness, characters, and environments.
John began designing mazes in 1977 at the age of ten. It was the summer “Star Wars” was released, and like most kids at that time, John was obsessed. He transformed his parent’s home into a Star Wars-themed maze and would spend the next four years honing his craft at that same house.
It wasn’t until his father caught him using a real butcher’s knife to recreate the infamous shower scene from “Psycho” that he was finally shut down. But John’s appetite for theatricality and scares never yielded.
What it comes down to is there's a certain kind of person who just loves to scare people.
You can experience John's mazes for yourself at Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights now through Nov. 3.