La Llorona returns to HHN Hollywood as fourth confirmed maze theme for 2012

LA LLORONA returns to haunt Universal Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights in 2012This morning Universal Studios creative director John Murdy confirmed that LA LLORONA returns to Halloween Horror Nights as the Hollywood park’s fourth maze theme for this year’s annual haunt event.

The tagline La Cazadora de Niños translates to “The Child Hunter,” referencing the popular Hispanic legend of a young woman who drowns her children for the love of a rich nobleman only to be spurned by him. In her remorse, she drowns herself in dispair, but her spirit roams the land in search of her lost children. The scare factor arises from La Llorona (“the Weeping Woman”) who supposedly will kidnap bad children in the night as her tragic search continues.

I liked this maze a lot in 2011 when it made the rare graduation from scare zone to full haunt: it’s design and art direction were top notch for the year, and the surprise appearances of La Llorona throughout played well on her creepy legend. A lack of terrifying scare surprises dropped my review score of the maze to 3 of 5 stars, and Murdy admits this was the main fault of the debuting maze last year. Don’t expect a repeat of that mistake. As Murdy tweeted today:

  • This will not be the exact same maze we did in 2011. Gonna make it scarier, adding new scenes, new special effects…and her children!
  • Here’s my honest critique of the maze last year. Thought the set/design was one of the best we’ve ever done but thought it could be scarier
  • That’s the goal with this version…make it scarier, more disturbing, like a child’s nightmare…that’s what we’re looking to create

LA LLORONA maze facade at Universal Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights 2011I’m glad Murdy and Universal gave LA LLORONA another chance this year, as indeed it was a highly ranked maze by HHN guests last year and its facade promised chilling thrills inside. It was a refreshing addition to several movie-based haunts and its cultural roots put a unique spin on the maze design and character development. The ending with the monstrous, nightmarish La Llorona head devouring a sleeping victim certainly stuck in fans’ minds and imaginations longer after HHN concluded in 2011.

The maze’s only drawback was its apparent trade off of big scares for superb art direction, an anomaly for HHN as Murdy and his creative team usually combine both expertly in maze after maze each year. As noted, Murdy paid heed to the guest comments from 2011 and assures fans that LA LLORONA will offer plenty of soul-stealing scares for visitors this fall.

Speaking of which, Murdy also revealed Universal Hollywood’s event dates for Halloween Horror Nights in 2012: September 21, 22, 28, 29 & October 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 31. Online ticket sales are not yet live but you can sign up for email updates on the HHN Hollywood official site.

For those playing the maze theme guessing game on Murdy’s twitter account, LA LLORONA is the answer to the Maze #1 set of clues, with The Smiths being the code name referencing their song “Suffer The Little Children.”

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