Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort is relying heavily on media tie-ins this year, including Silent Hill (of which I have a lights-on tour video), The Walking Dead, Vegas magicians Penn & Teller, and rocker Alice Cooper.

I don’t have strong feelings one way or another on media-based houses vs. originals. Some of my favorites have had a tie-in, like Saw and Freddy, while originals like Catacombs, Leave it to Cleaver, and Havoc also rank among my top picks in years past.

This year, I’m shocked to say that over the past month, Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare has risen the ranks to become my favorite Halloween Horror Nights of 2012. I’m not an Alice Cooper fan, so I never expected to give him a high ranking. However, it wins on general good haunted house criteria, and the Alice tie-in doesn’t really matter one way or another to me. Instead of worrying about how it ties to the album, just go in and enjoy.

Virtual Reality haunted experience

At the beginning of the season, The Walking Dead and House of Horrors vied for my top slot. The former slipped rapidly because it seems to be much tamed down from its vicious aggressiveness in the 2012 season’s early days. The latter is still a favorite, but it’s something of a one trick pony. It relies on darkness and strobes for its effect, and this is true throughout the whole place. That makes for great scares, but it’s lost a bit of its appeal for me as the weeks have gone by because I like more scenes and types of scares.

Meanwhile, Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare at Halloween Horror Nights has retained its aggressiveness, and it incorporates a number of different scare elements. It has jump scares, strobes, scareactors in the ceiling, and a suitably freaky finale where you might get ganged up on. I prefer a scareactor-heavy ending rather than a finale that has one or two major timing-dependent elements that can easily be missed if you walk through at the wrong time.

scary woman with clownface or dollface

The Alice Cooper house is very old-school in terms of effects, and it has a lot of scenes laid out in various rooms. The strobe area is suitably disorienting, and there are several spots as you walk through where stealthy scareactors can hide and target you.

Gothic has also risen in my rankings, mainly due to its visual beauty. It’s a lovely attention for detail, with some truly sweeping expanses that make good use of the soundstage, and it has decent aggressive scares, too. You can see some of it in my lights-on tour.

However, when Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort is shuttered for the season, I think Welcome to My Nightmare is going to be the venue I miss the most.

As recently as a month ago, Marc Webb’s status on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was up in the air; he’s since signed on, and, with the first film headed to DVD and Blu-ray next week nad possibly online free, he’s been on the press circuit discussing both the original film and the upcoming follow-up.
Mark Webb

One of the most prominent news items that emerged this week attached Jamie Foxx to the role of Electro, the villain who will appear in the sequel. In an interview, Webb has confirmed that Electro will indeed be the bad guy in the next full movie because he’s “an incredibly visual, exciting, dangerous villain.”

Webb hasn’t confirmed Foxx’s participation, but he did reveal an appreciation for the actor’s previous work, dating all the way back to his run on In Living Color. Officially, Foxx is in negotiations for the role, but a tweet from November the 1st that claims he “dressed up as Electro for Halloween” seemingly indicates that he’s probably going to nab the role and we can watch his in the upcoming movie.

Other topics of discussion for Webb have included the overarching storyline concerning Peter Parker’s parents. While the marketing for the first film promised to reveal this untold story, it actually skirted around this issue for the most part.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie

However, true believers should take heart in Webb’s insistence that the subplot is a “long shadow that’s cast over the three films,” and that “there’s a slow burn” element to it. Claiming that he needs “to have some juice for the second movie,” he goes on to say that the serial nature of the storytelling “is one of the more exciting things” about coming aboard a Spider-Man project for the long haul.

Other predictable topics were both broached and rebuffed; while Webb was eager to reveal that the Spider-man suit will see some subtle changes this time around, he was more hesitant to reveal any particulars about the role Mary Jane Watson will play in the film.

According to Webb, the script is done save for a few tweaks, which should put the film on track to go into production soon in order to hit its May 2014 release date.