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The art of the scare: John Murdy's decade of horrific mazes

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The Universal Studios Hollywood creative director describes mazes as 'mini-theater,' but with the same scene every 10 seconds.

John Murdy's job is to turn the horrors of cult classics into life.

As creative director of Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights series, Murdy has spent 10 years perfecting the art of the scare.

The Universal Studios Hollywood creative director describes mazes as "mini-theater," but with the same scene every 10 seconds. And Murdy's arsenal of scare tactics involves arming his "scare-actors," as he calls them, with small video monitors to know just the right time to break through hidden walls and passageways.

To see this master of maze in action, Take Two host A. Martinez headed down to Universal Studios Hollywood to ask Murdy what goes on behind the scenes of his favorite maze based on the film Halloween.

To listen to the full interview, click on the blue audio player above.

Interview Highlights

On the attraction of scary mazes

Murdy: I think its a little bit like the same desire to ride a roller coaster. I think part of it is pure adrenaline. You know, a lot of times when you watch people when they are being scared, they'll scream, but then they'll immediately laugh afterwards.

A lot of times I'll just sit at the exit of one of our mazes and watch people coming out. And yes, they're screaming and crying sometimes, but they're also smiling. I think it's escapism. I think, people always need to escape from their lives, and horror movies is one of the ways they'll do it.

On working with "scare-actors"

Murdy: I direct every single one of them. I go through every cast, and I block every single scene with them and really what's different about that type of acting is that we say there's a new show every 10 seconds, because that's about the length of time it takes a person to walk through a particular scene. So a lot of times what they're doing is very repetitive, but it has to be that repetitive because this isn't a ride...

On his daughter's love of horror

Murdy: My two-and-a-half year-old kept bugging me, "I want to see where daddy makes monsters, I want to see where daddy makes monsters."

So one day I brought my daughter down...and I walked her through the [Halloween] maze...I covered all the bodies. I got to be a responsible parent.

But I forgot about [the room] with all the Michael Myers and I went "uh-oh" and she just looked at them, and she looked at the mirrors and she went..."I love all the Michael Myers." And she started running around hugging them and kissing them.

I think she might succeed me one day. 

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