LOS ANGELES — Ozzy Osbourne can’t help himself.
While on a behind-the-scenes trek through a Universal Studios Hollywood attraction based on the recently released Black Sabbath album “13,” Osbourne spots a bloody mannequin corpse reclining on a phony altar. Without hesitating, the gruesomely theatrical Sabbath frontman leans down and acts like he’s devouring the blood from the decapitated body with his tongue.
Faced with increasingly hardcore rivals and savvy visitors, organizers of such Halloween attractions this year have conjured up several new theatrical and technological innovations in hopes of licking the competition, as well as promoting entertainment fare like horror films and records. For Sabbath, it marks the first time their tunes have been turned into a maze.
“It adds another dimension to what we do, which is incredible because we’ve been doing it for 45 years,” said Osbourne while standing inside the attraction. “It’s been a remarkable year because we had our first No. 1 album in America — believe it or not — and now this. I’ve never seen anything like it. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up.”
“Well, don’t wake up in here,” joked Sabbath bassist and lyricist Geezer Butler next to him.
For the first time since Halloween Horror Nights returned to the Universal Studios backlot in 2007, creative director John Murdy has incorporated video effects into a maze. In a room inspired by the song “Electric Funeral” within Sabbath’s colorful 3D realm, monitors made to look like windows broadcast explosive 3D visuals in tandem with a wind machine.
“I just thought it would be cool to have a nuclear bomb go off and our guests be in the middle of that,” said Murdy.
In recent years, Halloween Horror Nights traded warrens based on long-running slash-’em-up franchises like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” for attractions inspired by more contemporary properties, such as the “Hostel” movies, “Silent Hill” video games and “The Walking Dead” television series.