UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- Heroes and villains from the worlds of horror, fantasy and sci-fi shared the stage at Spike TVs annual Scream Awards.
More television event than traditional awards ceremony, the Scream Awards were presented in an amphitheater built on the Universal Studios backlot just for the occasion.
The Saturday night show was as much about how the awards were presented as who got them, but for starters, the top honorees were Harry Potter, Darth Vader, Nicolas Cage, Pee Wee Herman and Robert Downey, Jr.
Resembling a psychedelic circus, one side of the stage was a life-sized dollhouse populated by costumed characters, the other a staircase topped by a giant keyhole, and in the middle was a lake that lit up with fire.
Fans picked the night's winners and also filled the makeshift theater for the 2 1/2 -hour presentation, which is set to air Tuesday as a two-hour special on Spike TV and VH1.
The show literally began with a scream, opening with a giant crane carrying a woman across the sky, then dropping her into the fiery lake. Blasts of fire and various stunts continued throughout the program.
Potter took the night's top prize. The eight-part film franchise was named the Ultimate Scream, which awards presenter Chloe Grace Moretz described as "the most awesome, most rocking thing that the universe has ever seen."
Audience members were given glow sticks before the winner was announced, and when "Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe accepted the prize by video from New York, fans there were waving the same lights. Co-star Ralph Fiennes, who played Lord Voldemort, also appeared by video to accept an award for favorite villain.
Vader, though, won the Ultimate Villain award. "Star Wars" creator George Lucas presented the Sith Lord with his prize.
Vader, who accepted the award personally, said he's found it difficult to concentrate on his work recently because he's constantly "living in fear of how George Lucas is going to digitally enhance you for the next DVD."
Meanwhile, Lucas announced that the first "Star Wars" film converted to 3-D will open in February. He also offered a peek at his latest project, "Red Tails," about the Tuskegee airmen.
Herman, also known as actor-comedian Paul Reubens, rode his shiny red bicycle across the lake (on floaties) to accept the Visionary award. He thanked his fans and "the academy of Spike TV."
When Cage received the Maverick award from Quentin Tarantino, a motorcycle appeared on stage and the lake blasted with fire.
Before Downey accepted the Hero award, audience members were given placards emblazoned with his image and the word "hero" and told to raise the signs when the actor made his entrance. They practiced a few times before the big moment.
Colin Farrell introduced the "Iron Man" star by saying, "No one plays the hero with more swagger than this man." Up went the placards. Fireworks shot from the stage.
"Thank you. It's a great honor," Downey said. "As your hero, I want you to know I would never, ever, consider using this moment to crassly promote an upcoming movie.... Will you please enjoy this very special world premiere of the new trailer for Sherlock Holmes?"
Downey wasn't the only winner who unveiled his latest trailer. Cage showed "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," Radcliffe introduced "The Woman In Black." Trailers were also shown for "Piranha 3DD" and "Paranormal 3."
The show was punctuated with circus-worthy acts such as aerialists, fire dancers and contortionists who performed inside floating plastic balls. There were also plenty of stars and special effects.
The most anticipated movie was "The Dark Knight Rises," and stars Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt took the stage to thank fans for the honor. Bradley Cooper accepted an award for "Limitless" and J.J. Abrams was on hand to take a sci-fi prize for "Super 8."
When Darren Aronofsky accepted the best director award, a massive black swan floated by in the lake behind him. Peter Dinklage is in Croatia shooting "Game of Thrones," but he somehow managed to accept the supporting actor award from underwater.