My dear friend, actor extraordinaire and the man I have called the ‘Lon Chaney’ of his generation has taken on a new role. Us HHN fans all know him best as the mischievous and maniacal HHN Icon: Jack the Clown; under the greasepaint he’s known to everyone else as James Keaton and has been entertaining audiences for many years in a huge variety of roles. That’s why when local Orlando based production company needed an actor who can morph into just about anyone, they turned to James.
Layne Stein and Tony Wakim who created Pattycake Productions are releasing a number of “unexpected musicals” with various tributes, this one however is for Walt Disney. Shot locally using the great talents of Central Florida the piece is inspired by the P.T. Barnum film The Greatest Showman and charts the history of how a boy from a quiet backwater ended up changing the world with his love of animation and storytelling.
Entitled The Disney Showman: The Legacy of Walt Disney, it is a new four minute music video charting the story of Walt using songs from the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman. This is not the first feature in their impressive repertoire of mixing cultural references, other works include: the story of Maleficent mixed with Michael Jackson and Beauty and the Beast entwined with Juston Bieber songs (plus many more!).
Pattycake turned to James as they know they needed someone with the skill to pull-off the greatest showman of all. Pattycake producers had worked with James a number of times, no less at HHN and when he played Beetlejuice for a number of years back in the day. James said:
“It was great experience,” adding that he “fell in love with the concept and hope everyone enjoys it. I enjoyed going back and watching lots of Walt interviews and footage. Tony and I would send videos and stuff back and forth before production. The idea of playing Walt was a bit nerve-wracking, but once we started to play it felt comfortable.”
Click below to watch. It is awesome whether you’re a Disney fan or not!
Join Universal After Dark and Jason Perry as they talk the end of the Bill and Ted show at Halloween Horror Nights. It’s a most excellent episode you do not want to miss. Listen below or download via your favorite podcast app.
A campaign has been created on Change.Org to have our time-travelling duo return for more shows at next year’s HHN28.
The petition which is addressed to Thomas Williams the CEO of USF makes a compelling argument, it reads:
The Bill and Ted Excellent Adventure show has been a staple of Halloween Horror Nights! Not only has the show grown a fan base of thousands of people, but has created traditions, memories, reunions, laughter, and much more! Bill and Ted has also provided in a sense a “cool down” or desensitizing atmosphere for many. The body produces adrenaline when we get scared, henceforth the human mind and body becomes hypervigilant; the Bill and Ted show provides an escape from the adrenaline and hypervigilance.
Society is always changing; for the good and the bad; Vegas for example, Bill and Ted was able to touch upon it that not only showed tribute to the lives taken, but helps make light of the dark; also while refreshingly being the one true redeeming stab at pop culture from year to year. The signatures speak for themselves for the fan base and income brought in for the Bill and Ted show!
A new campaign Facebook Group has been created, along with petition specific T-Shirts all to help spread the word, they can be found here. The petition, which has over 1200 signatories, believes that every time 500 people sign the list it gets emailed to Universal, so the purpose of the petition is being heard by the very top of the organization.
Right now the future is looking bleak for our pair of time-travelling dudes. Back in 2013 HHN Hollywood cancelled their show mid-run due to a small number of complaints, with the show never returning to the West Coast. Over in Orlando with the sheer amount of construction that is rumored to be beginning soon and the fact that Universal have already said that last year was the final year it is hard for us to see a way through them.
It was strongly rumored that their run of shows was to actually have ended last year on their 25th. It was rumored that Art and Design along with a number of current and past Bill and Ted collaborators managed to persuade Park Management to bring it back for one last run which was this year’s show at HHN27.
Will Bill and Ted return for HHN28? Will this group #savebillandted? Let us know in the comments whether you would want them back for 2018…
It has been confirmed by both coasts in Orlando and Hollywood that both HHNs smashed all records this year on attendance numbers, customer satisfaction and more. On Orlando USF’s Senior Director Entertainment Creative Development Mike Aiello tweeted:
Team Accomplishment Shout Out: #HHN27 broke every record! Attendance, Ratings, Revenue. Most of all it was a hell of a lot of fun to put up! Cast, Crews, Creatives, Artists, Technicians, in all disciplines.. everyone. Amazing job! .@HorrorNightsORL
While over on the West Coast HHN Supremo John Murdy tweeted:
Back in the office for the first time since HHN ended. Amazing to see we broke all our previous HHN records for the 12th straight year! That’s the support of our fans! Will be always be eternally grateful to the people who support HHN! THANK YOU!
It was definitely noticeable by our crew at HHNU that most nights the attendance ranged from busy to packed for Orlando, with the last few nights being absolutely rammed; though that is more likely down to the vacating Bill and Ted factor.
It goes to show how successful our ‘little Halloween event’ has grown, from a small few party nights that pulled in mostly the locals to THE premiere world-class event it is today.
So thank you every Creative, Scareactor, Producer, Performer, Artist, Operative, Makeup Artist, Costumer, Technician, Custodian and everyone in between.
Universal you did it again, you smashed it, so here’s to HHN28!
HHNU posted a link to an Orlando Sentinel article yesterday, where The Sentinel had devised a drinking game for patrons of HHN to undertake while they enjoy the event. The article can be read here.
HHNU has for the last 3 years brought the best news and rumors for HHN fans, constantly looking for sources and information to pass onto the diehard fans of this event. We told you about The Shining and Scarecrows loooong before any other news outlet. However that said, we have also tried to be the mouth-piece of the scareactors who work tirelessly every year to make this event the success we know it to be.
That’s why we were shocked to hear last night that patrons who had read this Sentinel article and were trying the game were becoming a nuisance to the scareactors. Reports came to us last night of actors being grabbed, pushed, shouted at and otherwise verbally and physically abused.
This is not acceptable by any definition.
Yes, drinking is an ingrained activity at this event and is actively encouraged by Universal with all the different concoctions of drinks that they sell but bad behaviour is not.
If you get so drunk as to actively hurt, endanger or just touch a scareactor, then that is not okay. No one says here that drinking should be banned but bad behaviour towards these actors cannot be tolerated. They should be respected at all times.
HHNU apologies for sharing this article and our small part in this debacle. However, Orlando Sentinel wrote this article and it is still being read by their millions of readers right now – so in respect of safety to the scareactors, I ask we all petition The Sentinel to remove the article post-haste.
This is the show to take with you on the flight down. First up is 30 Minutes with Patrick Braillard – Show Director for Creative Development and we talk all about HHN27
THEN 40 MINUTES with HHN Superfans, The American Nightmare & Mrs. Nightmare CODY & BRANDI RHODES. They know their stuff and we had a blast talking to them!
Follow Patrick: @hhnmeanone
Follow Brandi: @thebrandirhodes
Follow Cody: @codyrhodes
PICK UP ALL OUR MERCH AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED AT SCAREZONE.COM and join us on the PODCRUISE.
LIONSGATE’S HORROR BLOCKBUSTER FRANCHISE SAW SETS THE ULTIMATE TRAP
AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS’ “HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS”
WITH A TWISTED NEW MAZE BASED ON THE
ICONIC GAMES OF JIGSAW
All-New Maze to Feature a First-Look at Lionsgate’s Upcoming Eighth SAW Film, JIGSAW,
Debuting at the Nation’s Premier Halloween Events in Hollywood and Orlando
The SAW series – one of the highest grossing horror film franchises of all time – makes its return to “Halloween Horror Nights,” bringing the blockbuster’s most terrifying traps to life in an all-new original maze opening at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort, beginning September 15, 2017.
Based on the Lionsgate and Twisted Pictures hit horror film franchise, “SAW: The Games of Jigsaw” will bring to life the scariest game yet. In this all-new maze guests will come face-to-face with the work of master craftsman “Jigsaw” and a collection of his most infamous traps from the SAW film series and upcoming eighth installment JIGSAW.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering again with Universal Studios on an immersive experience that celebrates everything that our SAW fans love,” said Lionsgate Senior Vice President of Global Live and Location Based Entertainment Jenefer Brown. “The maze features the most terrifying traps that made the SAW franchise such a Halloween tradition, including some of the best from our upcoming film JIGSAW. What better way to complement the film’s release this Halloween than taking audiences into the over-the-top action at Halloween Horror Nights.”
“SAW is one of the top grossing horror film franchises, and we’re thrilled that the fan-favorite is making its return to ‘Halloween Horror Nights,’” said John Murdy, Creative Director at Universal Studios Hollywood and Executive Producer of “Halloween Horror Nights.” “‘SAW: The Games of Jigsaw’ will encompass the greatest collection of traps featured in all eight SAW movies to bring to life the most twisted SAW maze ever produced, and we can’t wait for our fans to relive moments from the films.”
“We’re excited to bring SAW back to Halloween Horror Nights and to take fans even deeper into the mind of ‘Jigsaw,’” said Charles Gray, Show Director for Creative Development, “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Orlando Resort. “Filled with unimaginable horrors from the hit saga and the upcoming film JIGSAW, this maze is truly a trap in itself.”
Created by James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the SAW film series has ratcheted up tension and invention with each successive film, while rattling millions of nerves worldwide. The eighth film of the powerhouse franchise is scheduled to hit theatres on October 27, 2017 – in its traditional opening weekend slot leading into Halloween. JIGSAW is written by Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger and directed by The Spierig Brothers
Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 20 years, guests from around the world have visited Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood and Orlando to become victims inside their own horror film. The streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing “scare-actors” lunge from every darkened corner. Multiple movie-quality haunted houses are erected throughout the event, based on everything from iconic slasher films to hit horror television series to haunting original stories.
The Evil Dead has had a complex history with both Universal and Halloween Horror Nights, which all started in 1989 when HHN was just pipe dream in the minds of the creatives at Universal.
Sam Raimi who was hot off the back of the initial success of the early Evil Dead movies was approached by Universal to direct their next feature. Raimi had tried to springboard from the success of these movies to direct his “ultimate” comic book movie. Universal knew that he had attempted to obtain the rights for The Shadow and had been in the running to direct the new Batman movie, losing out to Disney alumnus Tim Burton. When Universal approached Raimi with a deal to create and then direct his own comic book movie he grabbed at the chance. That movie would ultimately be Darkman, (who incidentally would appear at HHN2 in his own house), and it was released in 1990 to much praise and solid box-office returns.
After the success of this comic book movie, Universal were keen to see Raimi do another fantasy based movie though Raimi was more keen to make another Evil Dead movie. The Studio and the director meet in the middle and created Army of Darkness, the sequel to the two original movies. Creating the sequel would prove complex as with new distribution partner Universal on board (who had no handling of the original two movies) would see them having to step change the sequel away from traditional lodge in the woods setting, which was not as bigger deal as many people made out, as Raimi had plans to set the movie in the Middle Ages (which is what happened). The movie was not the success that Universal had hoped (though was profitable) and both director and studio parted ways amicably.
Away from the movies and TV shows the franchise picked up steam in the renaissance that the comic book industry was experiencing in the 1990s, all the while the movies were garnering cult statuses on VHS and later on DVD. Universal saw the popularity of the franchise pick up with horror fans and planned to have an boomstick handling Ash at HHN in the early 00s – this however never came to pass. It wasn’t until 2009 that the idea seriously came onto the table.
The idea was to create a house based on Army of Darkness where guests would follow in the time traveling footsteps of Ash all the while he protects his bunch of traveling companions from a fleet of gruesome deadites. The house promised to be gory, have splattering special effects, chainsaws a-plenty all wrapped up with elaborate sets with a healthy comedic twist. Unfortunately the house would never come to be.
2009 proved to be a bumper year. It would be a big year with big ideas and a much increased use of IPs. The house got planned and it got pitched. Initially, the house was thought to be an easy win for the event, a “quick add to the roster” but unfortunately it wouldn’t come off. As USF had obatining the rights to some very big names in horror for that year (SAW, Chucky; Wolfman movie to promote etc.) they decided that the house should be condensed into a single scene and placed in the Silver Screams house of that year.
Ash and the Pit Hag were in the scene but there was a problem, it was rumored that someone in Legal had spotted that the movie was not outrightly owned by Universal. On this basis and just to cautious it was rumored that the scene would be downplayed. To keep Ash in the house but without the full rights they altered the film poster seen in the connecting scene leading into the room – the movie was given the title “Medieval Dead” instead (which was the actual original name for the film!) Furthermore the prop located next to the poster was the Necronomicon from the film – especially made by USF’s prop department. HHN fans have argued whether this was in fact Ash or not. For me, it was, the name was pulled but the detail wasn’t – that scene had Ash – the Ash we know.
Skip forward to 2013 and Universal were keen to circle back on their original idea. Unfortunately, TriStar along with Raimi were about to release a new reboot of the series (what with reboots being the ‘in’ thing in the last few years). Universal were supposedly counter offered and the new reboot was accepted. In 2013 on both coasts we received the rebooted movie house which made fine houses. And although the movie was not a huge success, the houses proved to be very popular.
Shifting to 2015, the same production team of Raimi and Campbell wanted to make a sequel to their original movie franchise. Countless comic books, video games and even a popular musical had ensured the brand was very much ‘undead’. For whatever reason, the will they had manifested into a brand new TV show. Universal, however were not on board. It appears that shortly before this time, Universal started making preparations to make a sequel to Army of Darkness but without Raimi or Campbell – an ability they had being that they handled just the third film in the franchise. Likely due to this no mention of the third film would be seen in the new TV show. Bloody Disgusting wrote about the issue last year:
In fact, when we talked to producer Robert Tapert back in April, he eluded to this…“’Army of Darkness’ doesn’t exist,” says Tapert before clarifying a bit. “Well, certainly Ash went through a bad experience, but we’re not really referencing it [on the show], specifics from that, but he certainly has that in his memory.”
However, after the show was a hit, the legal issue was quickly resolved, Universal became on board and now the third series is in production and will make reference to AoD. Which leads us to 2017 where Ash will once again return to HHN and finally get the house we have been waiting on for so many years!
Are you excited for the Ash Vs The Evil Dead house? Let us know in the comments!
Phew, what a news week! After decades of supposed under funding for new attractions at Walt Disney World, Bob Iger in a blaze of final glory has opened the money taps that would make his predecessor Michael Eisner blush (remember him?). D23 reported on new WDW attractions, lands, resorts, transportations, restaurants and more! And although Universal has plenty of it’s own going on right now (Nintendo, Furious and third/fourth gate), we at HHNU thought we’d throw our two pence into the mix and list down the line what we think Universal’s response should be…
A Year Round Haunt at the Studios
We spoke about this a few months ago when we received a solid tip that USF were reconsidering the idea after putting in on the ‘back-burner’ since last year. Universal Hollywood have a long tradition of year round haunts, they’ve had Van Helsing, Classic Monsters and now a super duper Walking Dead haunt. Orlando on the other hand has had none of these. A year round haunt perhaps themed to the HHN icon’s or a more generic haunt that can be redressed every Halloween would be a welcomed addition to the parks! They could even dust this idea off and give it a go…
2. Bring Jaws Back!
Last year they brought old banana breath back after a hiatus of 14 years away from the resort. Kongfrontation had been an opening day attraction that although had operating issues and was expensive to run, it was an excellent attraction that modern attractions and their screens will never compare to. Kong’s return was hailed as a success and gave Universal great marketing opportunities. That’s why when the decision was made 5 years ago to get ride of old Bruce it was a double-edged-sword that he would be replaced with a Potter expansion. Yes we all love Potter but we all loved JAWS too! ‘The Shark in the Dark‘ experience at HHN of riding the Jaws ride at night was always a must do for HHN aficionados.
JAWS was the classic attraction that despite it continued faults and whole rebuild was dubbed by Universal Parks then CEO as “an excellent attraction where guests are continually being chased as food.” JAWS has never left Hollywood or Japan’s parks – so it needs to return to Orlando in one shape or another. Imagine the house of mouse’s shock if such an iconic and popular movie was to return – they would not be able to compete.
Whether you’re 4 or 94 you know the sound that people make in every beach and pool across the world, John William’s classic “dur dum, dur dum, dum, dum, dum, dum, dum…” It’s brand awareness like that that your Shrek’s/McStuffins/Zootopia’s etc etc will never reach.
3. Jurassic World
Jurassic World was a box-office phenomenon a couple of years ago. A surprise hit that matched drama, peril, disaster and action in equal measures. People loved this movie, that’s why it is no surprise that many of the original cast members are currently filming the sequel to this hit right now ready for 2018. So how cool would it be to take your own adventure in a geo-sphere or come face to face with the impossible Indominus Rex?
4. More Potter
Disney’s gonna build the world’s first fully immersive and interactive hotel resort based on the Star Wars movies. It’s also slated to not be very big and to cost upwards of $1000 a night. Disney are banking on this crossing the zeitgeist and becoming this huge meta sensation, BUT, imagine the look on the Disney Executives faces if Universal announced that down the road you could stay in a Harry Potter themed hotel, that was just an immersive, just as interactive but was bigger and cheaper per night. Disney would not be happy. This has to happen!
5. Even More Potter
People love Potter, so in the words of the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels “give ’em what they want!” Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released last year to great praise and applause and with Universal being firmly in partnership with Rowling, wouldn’t be awesome to see this movie made into a full E-Ticket somewhere within one of the parks. On top of this there is also the rumored Ministry of Magic and other worlds within this franchise that could be explored for theme park potential.
HHNU Add: If Universal does plan to implement any of these ideas – please remember to leave space for HHN! Or better still, build us some spaces to build houses!
So there you have, Universal now has the land and it certainly has the talent, so what’s stopping you guys – let’s beat Disney – hashtag #ThemeParkWar. Do you like these HHNU ideas for park additions? Let us know in the comments!