Ah, Halloween Horror Nights. The strobe lights, the gallons of fake blood, the loud and sudden arrival of manufactured evil – we remember it fondly, since it gave us teenagers an excuse to finally clutch our crushes in “fear,” though ideally, they would do so first. But the Universal Studios attraction, now in its 21st year, is more than just a tool for the cowardly, pubescent lover – it’s a work of art, punctuated with eight haunted houses, six “scare zones” and two live performances (one of which is described as an “extreme drumming experience”). The most-hyped addition this year is a haunted house that tells the story of the Thing, “a creature that has the ability to turn itself into an exact replica of any living being.” And guess what, fellas: The story is set in Antarctica, so have a coat ready for that cute girl to your right. – Jeff Gore (6:30 p.m.-midnight Friday, through Oct. 31 at Universal Studios at Universal Orlando, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza; $81.99 general admission; 407-363-8000; halloweenhorrornights.com)
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