Eli Roth is taking his teeth-chattering talent for horror to the small screen.
The director of Hostel and Cabin Fever — who considers Halloween his Christmas — is behind Universal Studios’ new trailer for their annual Halloween Horror Nights scarefest.
“I had never shot a commercial before, and Halloween Horror Nights is really my favorite event of the year,” Roth, 45, tells People exclusively. “It was a pretty simple idea, but it was really fun getting to shoot this wild Eyes Wide Shut-style party for it.”
The clip, titled “The Mourning After,” follows a group of friends as they attend a Halloween party that unfolds with a series of twists and turns that emulate iconic scenes from The Shining, American Horror Story and the Saw franchise. (Watch the commercial above and a making-of featurette below.)
“It was fun to basically take every single horror movie I’ve ever seen and put them in a blender to throw them all into this,” Roth says. “I was having a fun time playing in that world and filming characters that I dearly love.”
While on location in Mexico City for filming, Roth says he was excited to find two little girls that looked like The Shining’s famous Grady Twins.
“I would like to think that if [The Shining director] Stanley Kubrick were alive, that he’d smile when he saw it,” says the director-actor, who costarred with Brad Pitt in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds.
“I left the theater, and I was so scared that I threw up,” he says. “When I made Hostel years later, and people were running and vomiting, I felt like the circle was complete.”
He adds: “If someone sees a scary movie and gets so scared that they vomit, it’s like a standing ovation.”
Having previously worked with the theme park to create a Hostel-themed maze and spearheading last year’s clown-themed “Terror Tram” attraction with his digital network Crypt TV, Roth also got a chance to witness guests’ reactions first-hand as a scare performer.
“There are few things that are more fun than when someone jumps, gets scared and then starts laughing,” he says. “But it is exhausting — I have so much respect for those performers, because it’s not just jumping up and saying, ‘Boo!’ They have to do shifts of 20 minutes because they’re so in character.”
Don’t expect Roth to be hiding in one of Universal’s mazes this year, though, as he says he’ll “be in the maze of my own creation” while shooting Amblin’s new children’s Halloween movie, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, with Jack Black and Cate Blanchett.
“My favorite thing to do on Halloween is to make a scary movie, and I’m going to get to do that,” he says, adding that the film can be compared to the 1984 movie Gremlins. “All of my friends have been asking me to make something that they can bring their children to, and I’m finally going to make that.”
Halloween Horror Nights kicks off at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort on September 15.