Eyegore Awards Kick Off Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights

The awards were a prelude to the chance to run the fright-filled mazes
Courtesy of Universal Studios
The 'AVP' maze

Halloween kicked off a little early this year as Universal Studios Hollywood unveiled its popular Halloween Horror Nights attraction with the Eyegore Awards Friday.

The awards ostensibly honor names who not only have had an impact in horror but coincidentally (or commercially) are also connected to the creation of this year’s new horror mazes. The event was held on a small soundstage at Universal Studio Hollywood, with a crowd that was half film-horror geeks and half fans foaming at the mouth to get their scare on and run through the mazes.

“The Eyegores are like the badass version of the Oscars,” noted Danny Trejo, the cult actor who was presenting an award to Robert Rodriguez, whose cult movie and now-TV show From Dusk Till Dawn was one of the season’s new mazes.

“Don’t get me wrong, the Oscars, that’s the shit. With the Oscars, you go, ‘Ahhh,’ ” Trejo continued, patting his heart. “But you get an Eyegore for scaring, and going ‘Aaargh!’ ” He finished with a rousing growl.

(Rodriguez, when accepting his award, also picked up on the theme of primal sounds and re-created a blood-curling shriek his mother used to do.)

The Walking Dead: The End of the Line was one of the new mazes, so Walking Dead comic and TV show creator Robert Kirkman and Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick presented an award to make-up guru Greg Nicotero, who has not only worked on the hit zombie series but whose credits stretch like gutted intestines back to 1980s movies such as Evil Dead 2 and Monkey Shines.

Kirkman, when he wasn’t joshing with Hardwick on stage, noted that a zombie series could not have been done on television for the longest time because the makeup made it look unrealistic. He credited Nicotero for pushing the field and allowing his undead creations to live on the screen.

Rick Baker presented an award to John Landis, who was honored for An American Werewolf in London and Michael Jackson’s classic Thriller video.

“Wow, I got this for one movie and one short,” said Landis, who is perhaps better known for his comedies, ranging from Animal House to Trading Places to Coming to America, but whose Werewolf in London is one of the new attractions at the park

Baker, who won his first of seven best makeup Oscars for London, said, “Little did I realize that 43 years ago, when I met this loud, hyperactive, talks-like-a-sailor kid, the impact that he would have on my life and the industry.”

Baker noted that he met his future wife on one Landis’ movies and that another movie led to a long and fruitful collaboration with Eddie Murphy.

Guitarist Slash, who produces horror movies and who provided an original score for the maze Clowns 3D, received an award and closed off the show with a performance.

With the show over, the crowd got to the (dead) meat of the evening, running the new mazes and getting the bejeezus scared out of themselves.

In addition to the Walking Dead, Dusk ‘Till Dawn, Werewolf in London and Clowns mazes, there were new fear zones AVP: Alien vs Predator, Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood, Face Off: In the Flesh and The Purge: Anarchy.

Halloween Horror Nights has become big business for the park and has grown in popularity every year. The park expanded the dates this year and also the physical stamp of the attractions. At least three of the mazes (Walking Dead, Dusk ‘Till Dawn and AVP) are located on Universal’s backlot as opposed to being squeezed in the park itself.