Quick udpate that Universal Studios’ creative director John Murdy and AMC have confirmed that THE WALKING DEAD is the 2012 theme for the Hollywood park’s Halloween Horror Nights tram tour.
Seeing Universal and Murdy doubling-down on the popular horror cable series theme demonstrates what a death grip zombies and the undead have on current pop culture and horror media in general. AMC’s hit series successfully stretched the undead concept into a long-term, serialized story (based on Robert Kirkman‘s excellent and enduring comic series) which helped expand the scale and visual scope of an undead epidemic in America. It’s not a pretty picture to be sure, but it’s a dramatically engrossing one that has piqued horror fans’ interest in reanimated corpses to new heights.
Now Universal extends THE WALKING DEAD beyond its previously announced maze theme, appearing in the Orlando resort’s park as well, and applies it to the Hollywood Studio’s exclusive backlot tram tour for HHN 2012 as well. This theme seems a natural fit for the sprawling Terror Tram tour as it transports event guests through the shadows backlot cityscapes and drops them off to walk the woodland hills behind the Studio. Flesh-craving walkers can easily spring out from nowhere (and everywhere!) to menace and terrify guests bundled on the tram or hoofing it along the dusty trails and through Uni’s WAR OF THE WORLDS set with its disaster-destroyed suburban neighborhood. The scene is rife for a zombie apocalypse: just add dozens of cadaverously made-up performers to roam the darkness and instant scares abound!
THE WALKING DEAD theme also could harken back to early days of Uni Hollywood’s Halloween extravaganzas when stuntmen on horseback would ‘attack’ a stopped tram in the dark periphery of the famous Six Points Texas western sets. I recall one such attack where one of the horsemen pulled a tour passenger out of the tram from the end seat right next to my girlfriend. Obviously the passenger was another stuntman planted in our tour group, but her shock was quite real. I don’t think Murdy and team will go to such extreme lengths with the Terror Tram this Halloween, especially since the undead tend to lose their equestrian riding skills, but THE WALKING DEAD is a theme suitable both to driving and walking through on the backlot.
I’ll be very interested to see how USH pulls off this zombie jamboree when Halloween Horror Nights opens September 21st.