In a Halloween event that is already festooned with zombies, extra-dimensional predators, masked killers, swamp yetis, and crazed carnies, what else could Universal possibly throw into the mix?
The answer, it turns out, is surprisingly easy: aliens.
Seeds of Extinction is the sixth haunted house announced for Halloween Horror Nights, and it posits a future (or is that an alternate reality?) where a “cataclysmic” meteor strikes Earth, resulting in humanity’s extinction – paving the way for a new “monstrous” lifeform to take up dominion of the planet. As Universal itself puts it:
The virulent growth has swept across the planet, covering everything and choking out civilization within moments, creating a tableau of what once was. What appears to be a lush and green graveyard hides the most terrifying and hungry of meat eaters. Predatory plants of all species use strangling vines, razor-sharp thorns, and poisonous pollens to encroach from all sides as you invade this new world.
If the story sounds a little on the light side, especially when compared to the likes of Slaughter Sinema or, more especially, Dead Exposure: Patient Zero (with its elaborate backstory), there’s actually a bit more here than first meets the eye. Seeds of Extinction seems to take its inspiration from The Color out of Space, a 1927 novella written by one of the most acclaimed American horror authors, HP Lovecraft, that traces the aftereffects of a meteorite that crashlands in the forested hillsides of Arkham, Massachusetts in the 1880s. Unknown to the rural residents of the region, the more-plastic-than-rock object has some sort of extraterrestrial organism embedded deep inside it, which takes the form of globules of an indiscernible, indescribable color – since it falls outside of the visible spectrum as we humans know it here on Earth – that disperse when punctured.
The resultant effects this entity has on the surrounding organisms, from the plant life to the Gardner family, whose farm the meteor lands on, are numerous and disturbing: the Gardners succumb to the alien presence one by one, losing first their sanity and then their lives; the local wildlife, from rabbits to deer, have their physiology and behaviors altered in small-but-strange ways; and the neighboring flora and fauna are engorged, poisoned, rendered luminescent in the dark, and then, finally, destroyed, made into a fine gray ash that doesn’t seem to stir in the wind. Even worse, this taint continues to affect the area even after most of the strange extraterrestrial biological entity seems to leave the planet – it transmits itself as a beam of powerful light that is that same unknowable color into the night sky, never to be heard from again – with one inch of that “blasted heath” spreading each and every year over the course of the next four decades.
Generally regarded as one of the very best of Lovecraft’s many works (and one of the author’s personal favorites), The Color out of Space’s blend of science fiction and horror has not only gone on to greatly influence the literary medium, including countless novels and short stories, but also that of film – several adaptations, direct or otherwise, have been produced since the 1960s, with the most recent being this year’s Annihilation.
It would seem that Universal’s (apparent) interpretation of the story falls into the indirect category; there are several notable differences in Seeds of Extinction, starting with the time frame (the haunted house is set just moments after the meteor’s impact, as opposed to 40 years afterwards) and running through to the alien entity’s effects on the local vegetation (Halloween Horror Nights attendees will come “face-to-face with horrific, humanoid plants, strangling vines, [and] deadly blooms,” which are a far cry from Lovecraft’s more subtle aberrations).
You can read HP Lovecraft’s novella for yourself, if you’re so inclined, for free – since its copyright has long expired, moving it to the public domain – here.
Seeds of Extinction will join Stranger Things, Dead Exposure: Patient Zero, Trick ‘r Treat, Slaughter Sinema, and Carnival Graveyard: Rust in Pieces at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, which runs for a record-breaking 34 select nights, from Friday, September 14 to Saturday, November 3.
Find out (part of) Halloween Horror Nights’s backstory for this year in our complete write-up. Is the event not your bag? See why you should still check it out, anyway, in our HHN guide for non-horror fans.