Halloween Horror Nights 26 SPOILER Review – Yet Another Take

image

2016 marks my tenth consecutive year attending Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights. I’m happy to report that after a decade, I am just as thrilled and chilled by the results of this year’s showcase as I was after 2007’s Carnival of Carnage. Please note I won’t be reviewing the scare zones, as I didn’t spend a great amount of time in either of them to really form a cohesive opinion. Dead Man’s Wharf was definitely the most visually interesting, but as someone who can only go to the event once, and even with added benefit of an Express Pass, it’s tough to get everything done in one night without rushing.

Now, as if the title wasn’t enough warning, there be SPOILERS ahead…

Top 3 Houses:

img_9565

1) The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – In the weeks leading up to HHN 26, whenever I was asked which houses would be featured in this year’s event, I’d just about always forget to include this one. Not for any particular reason. Among heavy-hitters like The Exorcist and American Horror Story, it would just slip my mind. Color me surprised to find that my favorite house this year would be the very one I just about forgot existed. Although perhaps the shortest in length, this house was densely packed with a barrage of scares. The set dressing, sound design, and overall precise attention to detail were all top-notch. From the couch made of bones to the dark room lit only by the light of a camera flash, and accompanied by the sound of the film’s familiar screeching, sight and sound worked in perfect harmony to bring to life all of the film’s most memorable moments. The familiar sliding door kill from the film is presented in all it’s gruesome glory, and just when you think you’ve made it through the exit and out into the night sky, no less than two more Leatherfaces are ready to give you an extra rush.

Best Moment: Approximately three-quarters of the way through, I was already sure this would be my favorite house of the year. Then, amidst a cacophony of chainsaw whirs coming from all directions, a performer playing the role of the film’s protagonist, Sally, leaps through a window, followed closely by Leatherface in pursuit, dramatizing the movie’s climactic chase scene. A genuinely impressive stunt cemented 2016’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre house as not only my favorite of the year, but one of my absolute favorites of all-time.

img_9538

2) American Horror Story – If American Horror Story is going to be a recurring staple for years to come, then the creative team at HHN has made a great first impression. As a greatest hits from the first, fourth, and fifth seasons of the popular FX series, this house gave us all the scenes and characters we wanted to see, mostly to very satisfying results. The red room with the rubber suit figures was a little too small and rushed, but the inclusion of just about every memorable character from the show was a delight. We got a heavy dose of Twisty, a few versions of Lady Gaga’s Countess, the Murder House maid, and Jessica Lange’s Elsa from Freak Show with David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” echoing through the room. The inclusion of actual dialog from the show helped give the house a look and feel that was very authentic.

Best Moment: The bed scene from the Hotel season was the most terrifying and well-realized moment in the house. As the faceless creature comes out of the bed, the room’s flickering lights give the monster’s movements a more otherworldly and jarring effect.

img_9543

3) The Walking Dead – With the popularity of the show only growing, I don’t expect this year to be the last time we see a Walking Dead house, but if it is, this would be one hell of a swan song. I’ve never been a huge fan of the TWD houses, but I’ve also never been against having them included in the event, as they’re genuinely decent enough experiences. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this haunt. Perhaps the longest house at the event, this year’s iteration of The Walking Dead at HHN played as a greatest hits of the show’s first six seasons. We got the famous “Don’t Enter Dead Inside” hospital scene, Dale’s trailer, the bloated zombie at the bottom of the well in Hershel’s farm, and countless other scenes all fully-realized in gory detail. If I have one main criticism, it’s in the use of masks versus makeup. I felt the zombie scareactors were more effective and terrifying than the actors in covered in rubber masks, which were very limiting and seemed to add extra bulk, giving the actor a bigger head that just doesn’t compare to good old-fashioned prosthetics and natural facial performances.

Best Moment: The bathtub throat slit room in Terminus was perhaps the most effective, not least of all because you not only see and hear it happen, but if you happen to be in front of the victim as I was, you might just feel a spray of blood on your shirt

Middle 3 Houses:

img_9572

4) Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield – This house, based on Halloween II, faithfully followed the film’s chronology from start to finish. The house opens, as the film does, with the ending of the John Carpenter original. We walk through the closet and hear Michael Myer’s struggle with Laurie Strode. We’re then brought quite literally into the middle of the battle between Michael and Dr. Loomis with the dialog from the film echoing around us. Hearing Loomis shout “I shot him six times!” was a particular treat. We’re then transported into the rest of the movie, through the suburban backyards of the homes of Haddonfield, and into the film’s main set piece: the hospital. We see a projection (an effect used in a number of this year’s houses) of a nurse undressing and getting ready for a bath before moving into the next room and finding Michael Myers dunking her head in boiling water, a very effective mix of animatronic (nurse) and scareactor (Michael). While the majority of the house was a real treat to behold, I was a little underwhelmed by the ending, which recreated the film’s explosive climax. Granted, I wasn’t expecting to see any explosions or pyrotechnics, but I thought we’d have more fire effects showing the hospital in flames rather than just the aftermath showing the scorched walls and burned Michael. Still, a great house nonetheless and a worthy follow-up to 2014’s popular Halloween house.

Best Moment: As a fan of the Halloween II movie, the moment that brought me the most joy is one that may go completely unnoticed by most. As you are exiting the house, you can hear the song “Mr. Sandman” being played. The song was also used in Back to the Future when Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly first wanders Hill Valley in 1955, but in Halloween II, the song is played during the film’s ending credits. Although not a major moment in the house by any stretch, it’s a very nice touch for fans of the movie, and a testament to the love and dedication that goes into creating one of these houses.

img_9569

5) The Exorcist – Although suffering from a slow start and an overabundance of empty white hallways, the much-anticipated house based on the William Friedkin classic gets a lot of things absolutely right. How do you make a haunt with multiple set pieces when the majority of the best moments in the film all take place in the same room? HHN’s answer isn’t to just simply repeat the same room – although that is done numerous times – but to also include manifestations of Regan’s demonic possessions in the form of hellish settings of pure terror and macabre. Yes, we get the famous spider-walk and head spin, both brought to life by excellent animatronics, but between those classic moments are scenes of caves of red and brown rock with depictions of the movie’s terrifying demon face projected onto the cavernous walls. And speaking of projections, like the Halloween II house, The Exorcist features a very impressive projection effect where an entire wall seemingly disappears and reveals the Iraq setting from the film’s opening.

Best Moment: The “power of Christ” room was a real standout. This was a great blend of voiceover, scareactor, and prop that blended seamlessly to create a memorable room inspired by a classic moment from the film.

img_9511

6) Ghost Town: The Curse of Lightning Gulch – This house was enjoyable, but I can’t exactly say it’s very memorable. I’m a sucker for a good western, and I will say that the place where Ghost Town shines brightest is in its set design and atmosphere. Unfortunately, not much else from this house really stood out to me as unique, including the scares and character designs. On a recent episode of the Scare Zone podcast hosted by Logan Sekulow and HHNU’s own Chris Ripley, I recall hearing that each time you saw a corpse in Ghost Town, the subsequent scareactor would be the ghost of that dead person. Knowing this information, I still had a difficult time identifying which actors were supposed to be ghosts and which ones were living townsfolk.

Best Moment: In the saloon scene, there’s a corpse sitting on a stool at the bar. While my attention was captured by the body, I was given my best scare of the house when suddenly a woman appeared from behind the counter with two handguns and fired them directly at me. Of course, I played along and reacted to the shots accordingly.

Bottom 3 Houses:

img_9512

7) Tomb of the Ancients – Like Ghost Town, the scenes in this house seemed to blend together into a haze. I know many have pointed to Tomb of the Ancients as their favorite house of the event, but unfortunately, this was one of three houses that just didn’t work for me. I can’t say there’s anything this house does particularly wrong. In fact, it does a lot of right: a great forested entrance, a claustrophobic setting, good animatronics. It may’ve been the hype and the early buzz for this house that got my hopes up, which ultimately places Tomb of the Ancients in my bottom three of the year. One last note: I will always give credit where credit’s due. One scareactor was particularly good at his job and scared me sober twice. This gentleman popped out of a wall, reached out with a gloved hand, and gave me a good audible expletive-filled jolt. Then, as I turned the corner and completed a U-turn into the next room, the guy pops out the other side of the wall and was the recipient of another few good F-bombs.

Best Moment: The giant alligator animatronic at the end. ‘Nuff said.

image

8) Lunatics Playground 3D – This house had the makings of a great double act, but one side was ultimately favored over the other. The scenes in Chance’s house are divided into the asylum setting of the “real” world and the bright neon fever dream of our icon’s lunacy and fractured mind. I was most intrigued by the asylum sets because they featured a darker tone and a truly terrifying harlequin that seemed to find real pleasure in the pain and suffering of her victims. However, these scenes of the straightjacket-wearing Chance were few and far between and by the midway point of the house, ultimately scrapped in favor of the more colorful 3D scenes. These scenes did nothing to distinguish themselves stylistically or tonally from previous 3D houses, and instead relied on an overuse of flickering strobe lights, which actually got a little nauseating by the time I reached the exit. Like previous icon houses (Bloody Mary’s house in Reflections of Fear or Jack’s 3D house in The Carnival of Carnage) I hoped chance would get her own unique iconic house (pun intended) with a great story, but ultimately, character and story suffered in favor of flair and spectacle.

Best Moment: My favorite thing about this house wasn’t exactly in the house itself per se, but rather in the queue. The music played while in line is a fun mash-up by a band called The Black Sweden featuring the melody to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and the vocals from Abba’s “Take a Chance on Me”. You wouldn’t think it’d work, but it does.

img_9524

9) Krampus – The biggest disappointment of the year. This house had the potential to be the sleeper hit of the year, but ultimately felt like a house of missed opportunities. Where to begin? The opening exterior of the house would’ve been the perfect place to include the creepy snowmen from the film. In fact, they could’ve been used as hiding places for a scareactor or two. Instead, we get repetitive scares from elves throughout the entire house even though they only appear in the film’s climax. Speaking of the elves, their masks were underwhelming and too big. Picture the elves from the film, but with a “Big Head” filter like in NBA Jam. Yeah, I went there. Additionally, I don’t recall seeing the winged fairy doll from the film, which is probably the creepiest creature design in the whole feature. I hate to be so negative, but with the exception of the kitchen scene (see below), each room seemed to produce a response of “That’s it?” I loved breathing in the smell of gingerbread in Krampus’ lair, and anxiously awaited one final confrontation with the title character, only to see an exit sign and an open door signaling the end of the haunt.

Best Moment: While re-watching the film the night before going to HHN, the scene I was most hoping to scene recreated in the house was the kitchen scene with the horrifically adorable killer gingerbread men. Although, the most of the house was a letdown, this particular room was a diamond in the rough. Rest in pieces to the little gingerbread man spiraling in the kitchen sink.

Well, that’s my review of this year’s Halloween Horror Nights’ nine horrific haunts. But that’s not all. Come back very soon for my full review of Halloween Horror Nights’ new VR experience, The Repository. That’s right, I paid the $50. But was it worth it? Visit us here at HHNUnofficial.com soon to find out.

-Freddy

Did Universal Just Secretly Announce A House for #HHN27!?

Did Universal Just Secretly Announce A House for #HHN27!?

Okay we admit, it is SUPER early to be talking HHN27 – especially as this year’s event hasn’t even finished yet!  But we have good reason, promise.  It seems Universal’s A&D department might have been playing a game with us HHN fans, a game that seems to be going back a long way!  Allow us to explain…

Halloween Horror Nights back when it started in the early 90s was an event that took a few months to organize.  Often, the crews who planned the event would look to start forming their ideas and designs around the late summer. Into the late 90s as the event grew in size it started to need far longer to plan, so 6 months was taken to get everything done.  Into the early 2000s and the event was planned from around 9 months ahead and in recent years the planning is anywhere from 12 months to 2 years – depending on the IP or technical ability to pull off the scares.

the-exorcist-lr

Some IPs, such as The Exorcist for example, have been in negotiation and development for far longer (though the norm is 12 to 24 months).  This being said, A&D probably have 3 or 4 houses that are locked in and in development already for #HHN27.  Yes, these guys are the true undead as they never rest sleep!

So knowing how the event is planned – could A&D be teasing us with clues for the coming year inside the houses of this year?  If true, this could add a whole new level of excitement to the current slate of houses…

We have it from a variety of sources that Universal has an actual track record of hiding clues to the coming year’s houses inside the current year’s houses.  Clues have been hidden, where they can, in select houses pointing to the houses that would be coming for the following year.  So here’s a few of the past clues that we knew about (we’re sure there are many more):

  • In 2013’s Urban Legends: La Llorona there was a copy of the original Dracula novel placed on a shelf in the church scene, then in the following year of 2014 Universal presented Dracula Untold: Reign of Blood.
  • In 2014’s AVP: Alien vs. Predator located on one of the shelves in the scene with the first alien was a very Jason-esque looking hockey mask.  Skip forward to 2015 and Universal presented Freddy vs. Jason for the first time.
  • In 2015’s The Walking Dead house during the early scene within the house at the prison, there was a Sheriff’s hat placed at high level which for many, they expected this hat to belong to Rick Grimes (it was reasonably prominent within the scene).  However, on closer inspection the badge on the front was inscribed ‘Lightning Gulch’.  Skip forward to this year and Lightening Gulch returned for Ghost Town. [CONFIRMED FACT AS THIS IS CURRENTLY MENTIONED ON MOST BEHIND THE SCREAMS TOURS]

So these are just the clues that we have noted in previous years, we’re sure there are many more!  So this brings us onto this year…  Every year Universal places tonnes of Easter Eggs or cameos into the houses, it’s near impossible to find them all and indeed most of them are random or based on props at hand like Indiana Jones’ temple idol which has been in every house in the last 5 years or the bunny slippers in The Walking Dead that have been present for last 4 years – there’s scores of Easter Eggs!

So the ones we must be concerned about are the ones that are displayed within a reasonable location to see for the diehard fan and the ones that do not reference past or current houses (or any that reference non-horror related franchises, we’re looking at you Dr. Who’s Tardis!)  We also need to discount the amount of recycling of props and sets that Universal needs to do.  But right now there’s only one Easter Egg that stands out from the crowd…

img_0285
HHN Hollywood’s Krampus House

 

In the Krampus house towards the end of the house there’s a variety of model houses that are displayed within a number of snow globes.  This references the movie where the homes he has visited are displayed within a snow globe in his lair.  They houses are all made by the highly creative Ray Keim who is currently a consultant with Universal’s Art and Design Team.  Ray has worked on HHN for years and in his many years he has made a number of designs for house facades that you can download and make for yourself.  Click here to go to his site.  Literally most of the buildings inside these snow globes can be yours to make at home right now (including a few Disney ones too!).  Seriously, go check out his site, it’s awesome.

So which buildings are located in the snow globes?  They are:

  • Freddy’s house from Nightmare on Elm Street (seen in 2007 and 2015).
  • Halloween house (seen in 2014 and 2016)
  • Shadybrook Asylum (used a number of times)
  • The Skool House (2008)
  • Legendary Truth house (2010)
  • Caretaker’s house (2002 and 2003)
  • Boris Shuster’s Office (2008)
  • Psycho house (1993, 1994, 1999 and 2006)

There’s one more and this one has never been seen at Halloween Horror Nights before and that final building within one of the snow globes is…. The Amityville Horror. Could this franchise be coming to HHN27?  It surely stands out from the others placed within this room!

849-7714739-3

Here’s a few reasons why this could be the case:

The franchise has a new sequel coming out in 2017 entitled Amityville: The Awakening which is being produced by Jason Blum who is the same guy that Universal worked with to create the past number of Purge and Insidious houses and scarezones on both coasts from last year and before.  He has also just worked with Universal on their latest horror offering Ouija: Origin of Evil which is currently being cross-promoted at HHN in Hollywood.  The snow globe can be seen below (photo taken on the tour before the photography ban was issued in week 2).

14787092_10157583854905484_1253529532_o

And above all else, as Universal Orlando steamrolls into using more and more IPs at their event, they have never used this franchise for a single house, ever.  And for a franchise that has been going since 1979 and has 18 movies worth of materials to mine, it could be a safe bet that the franchise would sooner or later cross paths at HHN.

Whatever the answer, this sure brings a whole new dynamic to the event for the remaining nights!

So what do you think?  A cool fan theory or maybe something for #HHN27? Have you ever seen any past clues for future houses too?  We’d love to know on both!  So let us know in the comments…

14787092_10157583854905484_1253529532_o

10 Great Reasons Why The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Will Rock at #HHN26!

So…. unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few days, you might have noticed that HHN just announced their first house, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  We at HHNU love this news, so-much-so that we thought we share with you the top 10 reasons why this house will be AWESOME!

13015154_10153608098583233_7729652703107090181_n

1. TCM has been done many times before, including HHN Orlando (2007) and at HHN Hollywood on three separate occasions (2007, 2008 & 2012), as well as other venues. And to be fair, all of these were pretty solid houses.  The 2007 Orlando house for example was fantastic.  Sadly, it was located in the former Earthquake queue, with that semi open-aired feel it made the for a really authentic experience, a joy we will receive no more.
RIP Earthquake/Disaster.

2. 2007 was a mighty 9 years ago. To a 30 something year-old that may not seem so long ago, but to an 18 year-old that’s half their life. The younger fans probably won’t remember this house. And the youngest fans amongst us probably never saw it.  So for 2016 everyone will finally get to face Leatherface!

3. This house is not the same TCM as 2007. Thomas Hewitt and Bubba Sawyer may both be Leatherface, but they are still different in many ways.  Plus the more modern films just aren’t as good as the original!

4. Leatherface is not an overused character at HHN in Orlando. He’s only been 4 times in 25 years. A scene in a house in 1995, a cameo in 1998, a scene in 2003 and the house in 2007. Many characters have been used more than him who are not usually thought of as overused. The Caretaker for example has been 7 times, 8 if you count the figure in Cabin in the Woods. Leatherface has been used exactly the same number of times as the Cryptkeeper.  The actual last time that any serious attempt was taken to make this movie into a house was at Fright Dome Las Vegas in 2014. Every major character from 2007 has been used since then already except Leatherface. Even Mary Shaw showed up in a scarezone in 2010. It’s time for old Leatherface to return!

NE2OL463AkDw54_1_1

5. The movie has A LOT of heritage.  For those of you that don’t know, the movie is inspired by the horrific real-life crimes of Ed Gein.  Ed was found to have dug up a number of graves and even murdered a number of women.  He then used their bones and skin to make a number of keepsakes (masks, chairs, lamps etc).  He also had a mother fixation, a fixation that was with his dead mother.  Any of this sound familiar? Well it inspired countless books and movies including: Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, House of 1000 Corpses and, of course, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  What could be creepier than a house based-off of a movie, based-off of a real-life crime?

6. And this is the big one, the reason that there MUST be TCM at HHN 26.  On November 7, 2015 Gunnar Hansen died. It is only right and proper that he be honored at the very next HHN held since we lost him.

7. The news of the first house release made HHN trend worldwide on both Facebook and Twitter, therefore this house is ensuring our little Halloween event is now turning heads on a worldwide basis. Now that’s impressive!

8. HHN Orlando confirmed that the house will be in one of the Sprung Tents.  In the past, some amazing houses have been located in the Sprungs.  Last year for example, it had Scream The Purge and Insidious, the latter of which made the event for many fans.  The Sprungs are obviously the place to be!

9. Chainsaws, chainsaws, chainsaws, chainsaws! Come on, who doesn’t are freakin’ terrified of LOVE chainsaws?

10. It’s a movie with basically one protagonist and one antagonist which lends itself perfectly to any sort of haunted attraction because really the only thing a haunted attraction needs is a terrifying antagonist – and what could be more terrifying than Leatherface!?

leatherface-officially-saws-his-way-into-halloween-horror-nights-934656
He’s coming for you!

So there you have it, our top 10 reasons why we think TCM will rock this year at #HHN26 – but what do you think?  Let us know!

Our thanks at HHNU go to our dear friend Dr Jimmy for his gracious help with this article and for our own in-house writer Scott who did much of the legwork.

UPDATE: Penn & Teller, plus other clues…

Editor’s note:  We’ve had two tip-offs from two of our blog readers (who have wished to remain anonymous) who have confirmed it is not just Mike who has been making trips to Vegas this year.  Several other A&D members and Universal Orlando executives have also been making the rounds in Sin City since January.  So thank you for your messages – please do keep them coming!  Together we can work this puzzle out!

 

The mission to ensure both Orlando and Hollywood work together is continuing.

As preciously rumored by us HERE back in February, it would appear that both teams are very close to signing up a third-party IP to be a house on both coasts this year.

FullSizeRender

HHN Orlando posted the above tweet after the, what can be described as successful(?) pitch, to the IP holder.  Murdy on his Twitter feed confirmed the joint meeting, but he also mentioned that it was for a “movie studio”, so for him it would be nearby as they were both still in LA at the time of the tweets.  Warner Bros is right next door to Universal City, likewise Paramount and Fox are also a short drive away.  Lionsgate is also nearby on the coast within Santa Monica (just down the road), so thats another possible. Warner Bros, incidentally, now holds the new head office of New Line Cinema, after it moved to LA from New York City recently.  Likewise, its also possibly not Legendary Pictures, as they are tied to Universal already, though anything is possible with these clues.  Legendary already has a deal with the Universal to make HHN houses, read more HERE, so this might refer to other studios where links aren’t so formal just yet.

So what could it be?  It was rumored previously by us that Krampus could be on both coasts, however, these posts would suggest that the movie would be something from outside the Universal family, which as Krampus is made by Legendary that would rule this movie out (though it is still probably going to appear at one of the coasts!).

If we went with the idea that New Line Cinema are the company who they presented to this would add some fuel to the rumors that The Conjuring could be coming soon to HHN (cob-webs anyone?), incidentally The Conjuring 2 is set for release on June 10, 2016.  So some cross-marketing around “reveal-time” in June (when individual houses are sometimes revealed early), could be a nice tie-in to the release date of this movie.  Perhaps a commercial at the end of the trailer for HHN26 could be used?  They have done this type of thing before with SAW and The Wolfman movie, though the latter was a Universal picture…

Or, they may have gone down to the beaches of Santa Monica to see Legendary Pictures, who have a certain movie about a  certain chainsaw wheedling maniac coming soon, you may have heard of him?  The movie Leatherface is due for release this fall. This would bring back everyone’s favourite chainsaw mad monster, who was absent from HHN25, and has not been seen at the event since he appeared with Freddy and Jason in 2007.

Both ideas are possible, particularly as Mike Aiello from HHN Orlando prevented himself from working on a plane as he flew to LA, which some have speculated as being work to houses based on movies that have yet to be released, so this would fit these two movies as they haven’t been released yet and little is actually known about them!

Interestingly though, Mike was then on a plane heading away from the city shortly after the pitch.  And anyone who has driven in LA knows that LA at rush hour is HELL, it was also stormy yesterday in LA so it was much worse than usual.  However, he was on his plane pretty quick with all things considered, which LAX (the airport he used) is just up the road from Legendary Pictures HQ – so in terms of timings this would also work (just call me Sherlock).  I once got from Santa Monica beach to LAX in 15 minutes, so its pretty close!

BUT more interestingly than that!!  He flew to Las Vegas, AGAIN.  That’s like the third trip this year to Vegas now?  It’s obviously work related as he’s usually on his own.  So what’s he up to?

FullSizeRender

Well according to his own Twitter and Instagram feeds, he’s enjoying watching David Copperfield’s Magic Show.  And Mike LOVES magic, he’s confirmed this enough in the past.  So what else could he possibly be doing?

Well, we rumored back in February, with HHNRumors.com providing some excellent subsequent investigative work a few weeks later, that Penn and Teller are definitely a strong possibility for HHN26.  The fact that nearly every month Mike flies into their town would also really add fuel to this rumor.

FullSizeRender

Mike then tweeted the above news of his successful week away in la la land.  The tweet confirmed he was in Vegas, it also confirmed his exact location that he sent the tweet from as Paradise NV.  For those of you that don’t know, Paradise is a district within Vegas that encompasses most of the famous Strip, but not all of it.  It does however hold the famous Rio Hotel, which being off the Strip is annexed away from most resorts in Paradise.  And guess which famous magical duo have their show and offices in the Rio?  Yep, you guessed it, Penn and Teller.  Both of whom are most definitely there this week rehearsing and performing (as confirmed by their respective Twitter feeds) for their TV show.

So there you have it, we have Penn and Teller still in the fold, The Conjuring, Leatherface and even Krampus still.  And not one single mention of The Walking Dead!!!!  Hurray!!

But what will actually be at HHN26 is still unknown…. so what are your thoughts?

We’d love to hear them!

88df093155b20029c787cd562c85e22a

What we know so far for HHN26…

There has been literally hundreds of rumors and speculations this year.  So to cut through the fact and fiction, we thought we’d update you all on what we know for sure and what we 99% know for sure, so here goes…

Jack at HHN25_LR

  1. We know when #HHN26 will happen…

The event will run on select nights from September 16 to October 31 2016.  The event is starting earlier than ever and will have more nights than ever before, which is a trend that has been in progression since the event began.

masks

  1. We know where the event will take place…

We’re 99% sure that the event will not be a dual park affair, but will in fact just be located at the Studios Park.  Thank the British for this early heads up on this one.  As you may know, they go on vacation for far longer than most nationalities, and because of this fact they tend to book their vacations months, sometimes years in advance.  So due to this, the Universal Studios UK page and a number of UK based Universal ticket partners started selling their HHN tickets early (like January!), and within the terms and conditions, it specifically said that the event would be at the studios location.  So thank you Britain for your strong cheese, bad dental work, Prince Harry and now, an early heads up for info on HHN.

walking-dead-attraction

 

  1. We kinda know that The Walking Dead are coming back…

Come on let’s face it, they’ve been there every year for the last four years and right now the show is still wildly popular around the world.  TWD people are currently working with Universal in Hollywood to build a year-round haunt within their park, they’ve also confirmed that TWD will not be returning to Hollywood’s HHN because of this fact, so that just leaves Orlando to pick up TWD baton!  Also, the crowds still swamped their house last year, so it MUST be a given that Rick and his team along with scores of blood thirsty zombies will be back, whether you like it or not…

Cdf8_1VWAAA77Qy.jpg-large

  1. Cobwebs?

It was released via the official Universal Orlando HHN Twitter feed that a house by the codename of “Cobweb” is currently in production.  We know that the house is going to be entirely original and not tied to any licensing agreement or third party property.  Some have rumored a western house, others have said it will be a sequel to an already established HHN house.  Other than this, we have been issued with a snippet from the layout as seen above.  Any ideas?  Here’s what we thought HERE.

 

newposter-krampus

  1. Krampus

Looking at the evidence presented HERE, it suggests to us that Krampus is a likely property being developed for HHN on both coasts.  We do not know this for sure, though the evidence seems to point to this movie being used.  Universal even has a deal with the production company to make HHN houses, read more HERE.

 

  1. Packages are now on sale…

Since February 18th select packages to tie in with Universal’s current and coming hotels are now bookable with HHN.  The packages include:

  • 3-night on-site hotel accommodations at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – Universal’s newest on-site hotel
  • 2-Day Park-to-Park Ticket
  • Early Park Admission one hour before the theme park opens to one (1) Universal Orlando theme park as determined by Universal Orlando
  • 1-Night Admission to Halloween Horror Nights (Sunday – Friday)
  • Access to select live entertainment venues at Universal City Walk
  • Plus, for a limited time – guests can receive a FREE $150 hotel dining credit (per room) that can be used at restaurants throughout Loews Sapphire Falls Resort when they book a stay of three nights (Sunday – Thursday).

Starting at just $209 per person, this is a fantastic deal and can be booked HERE.

IMG_4796

 

  1. Unmasking the Horror Tours will run this year and are bookable (well kinda!)

If you take advantage of the above package deal, you can go ahead and add the behind-the-scenes tours to this offer for $79.87 per person.  The tours are a HHN fan must do.  Be sure to look for our review of these coming very soon…

 

  1. Add-on passes are now available

Available on select nights, the add-on ticket is a great way to spend all day and night at Universal Orlando.  Dates: September16, 18, 22, 23, 25, 29, 30 & October 2, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 20, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31.

IMG_9211

 

  1. There is likely to be just 8 houses…

Universal may have had their concord moment last year with the addition of 9 houses.  We all celebrated this fact and to Universal’s credit, even with the Scream issues at the last minute, they did a fantastic job at highly theming every single one of them; quality was surely not compromised at all!

However, what with the respective Twister and Fast & Furious construction projects, Universal has now lost spaces for an additional show, a haunt location, queue space and footfall areas.  When this happened before when Transformers was built, the event did revert back to having one house less than the previous event, therefore there is precedence for this move.

Universal could try adding a house in the Terminator show or perhaps moving into another soundstage, that’s if the Shrek theater is also used again.  Likewise, they may build another tent or temporary haunt location, though this is unlikely as no permits have yet been filed for such a move yet.  This would all suggest that 8 houses is now a given…

 

file_275131_0_performance-center

  1. WWE will have a house at HHN26…

That’s right the World Wrestling Entertainment franchise is coming to Universal Orlando as a house for HHN26.  The deal to provide a WWE themed museum come restaurant in City Walk fell through, so whilst at the table Universal offered to have a haunted Wrestlemania type house built for the event.  We hear that the house is currently in development and will actually feature the recently retired The Sting wrestler, well after all what is he doing at the moment?  So join Triple H, The Big Show and all your other favorite wrestlers in the most haunted, horrific and spooktacular house to date…

Okay, okay, that last one was an April Fools’ Day joke!  But we’re sure you already knew that.

All other 9 points are either 100% or 99% a given for HHN26, so what do you think?

Are there any we missed?  Let us know in the comments!

“Cobweb” = The Conjuring !?

Cdf8_1VWAAA77Qy.jpg-large

So recently the above picture was released by HHN Orlando’s Twitter page with the codename of “Cobweb”. Many HHN fans are currently speculating as to what “Cobweb” may mean, so here’s what we found…

Depending on your level of attentiveness, you might have noticed the presence of a particular strong connotation in horror books and movies: cobwebs, they’re everywhere. If you’ve never noticed a cobweb in a horror movie or missed its presence in a good horror book, then most likely you were skipping scenes or simply flipping pages for the fun of it. So in order to pinpoint why a house might be codenamed “Cobweb”, it might take some detective work.  Lets look at what possibilities there are for this…

Cobwebs are ever-present in practically every work of horror you can think of but they are usually overlooked or their significance greatly underestimated.

2a1a8b3e71e3355b5f999982defc4d41

Cobwebs have been portrayed in horror works as far back as Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic novel “Dracula” to Thomas Ligotti’s short story “The Glamour” (published in 1991) and even in more recent books and films. They paint a picture of desolation and abandonment, perfect settings for the supernatural or non-supernatural haunting events of terrifying occurrences to take place in. They exist as an indication that a building or area has been long out of use and in horror works, an abandoned area is reason enough for some harrowing experience to take place.

Cobwebs are passive hints that something gruesome will take place, as a type of warning of coming events…

d4d458e72427e7defa53dc1e747797ee

The Glamour

Sometimes though, the presence of cobwebs in a horror piece do not present such an air of indifference; their actions are more active than passive. In the 1991 short story, “The Glamour” by Thomas Ligotti, the unnamed narrator wanders into a strange movie theatre. Strangely, the admission is free and he enters. He finds that the entire theatre glows with purple and pink lights; it’s almost like he’s inside a human body. The theatre, including the projection screen, is also covered with thick cobwebs, reminiscent of human hair.

As the story progresses, it becomes evident that something spooky is truly going on and when the protagonist tries to escape the cobwebs come to life and restrain him forcefully in his seat.

the-conjuring-poster-1

The Conjuring

In the 2013 movie, “The Conjuring”, The Perron family move into an old farmhouse. The family consists of father mother and five daughters. Papa Perron discovers a basement riddled with cobwebs early in the movie and later when the paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren come to the house, Lorraine Warren steps into a cellar equally filled with cobwebs.

The movies from this franchise are all released by New Line Cinema, a company that has worked closely with Universal on and off since 2007; these were also directed by James Wan who has worked with both HHN Orlando and Hollywood to bring the SAW franchise to both coasts in the past. Could this existing relationship mean that this movie is coming to HHN? Well maybe, the only problem is that Universal Twitter feed did say that “Cobweb” would be an original house and not based on an IP – but could this be a bluff to put us fans off?

51HHZNKKY1L

H. P. Lovecraft

A HHN fan favorite who has been speculated about for years. Lovecraft was an author of all things horror, and despite his careers being cut-off relatively early in his 40s, he made a huge contribution to the genre and inspired horror and fantasy authors for years to come. His works often mentioned cobwebs and a lot of his classic 1970s book covers depicted huge clouds of sticky spider webs.

Uncle Ted01

Uncle Ted’s Ghoul School

In 1974 Edwin Raub began starring as Uncle Ted, the horror host on “Uncle Ted’s Ghoul School”. It was broadcast on WNEP-TV. Later additions to the set included a dark painting in the background, a sign that read “No Cunning” and a liberal placement of cobwebs.

88df093155b20029c787cd562c85e22a

Dead Silence

2007’s HHN in Orlando featured a house from the movie “Dead Silence” the movie starring Donnie Wahlberg was not a hit but again, like The Conjuring it was directed by James Wan. The house’s first scene when you entered after the graveyard, guests found their way into a basement that was FILLED with cobwebs. For those that remember, cobwebs featured all the way through this house. The other reason why it has been speculated for return is the fact that this house was popular back in 2007, but it’s props have been reused and reused ever since. Even last year in The Walking Dead was there a collection of headstones from this house. So could this house make a return?

450px-CryptKeeper

Another horror TV show which depicted cobwebs was New York City’s Creature Feature late-night triple movie feature, aired on WNEW-TV in the early eighties. The show usually began with an exterior shot of a haunted mansion; the shot zooms into a window and focuses on the lead character, “The Creep”, sitting at a kitchen table in a dark room with an abundance of cobwebs all over the place; which was kinda similar to The Cryptkeeper – did someone say it’s being rebooted? Hmmmm…

 

Other interpretations

Seeing as cobwebs are a staple in many modern and classic works of horror, it is pertinent to discuss its possible interpretations. This might help us further understand why are they are used time and again in many horror books and movies.

Fear: It might not be immediately obvious that the presence of cobwebs strikes fear in people until we realize that arachnophobia, the intense fear of spiders, is the most common phobia in the world. Therefore the simple presence of cobwebs in an area is enough to trigger responses of terror in many individuals. This is used to great effect in horror books and movies to skillfully place the reader or viewer in a state of terror.

Warnings/Omens: If you ever find cobwebs in a place, what first comes to mind? A lack of care for the place, a sense of abandonment and non-occupancy. Where else would scary creatures and ghoulish monsters want to inhabit but a lace where nothing or nobody has lived in for years? The overwhelming consensus in horror works about buildings is this: if it’s unoccupied and unwanted, it’s probably haunted. Little wonder, the moment a camera pans sideways and zooms in to show us a shot of thick cobwebs in a corner or across a doorway, our hearts beat a little faster; something terrifying is around.

Psychological Entanglement: Cobwebs also have another striking, less-obvious quality to them: they inspire a sense of entanglement, of being trapped or stuck in situations beyond your control. Granted, cobwebs even in large quantities, are not the same as industrial glue or chains or duct tape and might not have their holding power or sticky qualities; still they are a hindrance and getting them off can be a chore, a creepy chore. The sight of cobwebs, especially in movies, evokes in us a sense of being in a sticky situation. This might generally be as a result of watching smaller insects being trapped in a cobweb and then later accosted by the cunning spider. All energy expended by the prey at disentangling itself is wasted; in fact the opposite effect is generated: the prey gets stuck even more in the web. Whether we witness this first-hand at home or on a documentary channel transmitted to our TV screens, the effect is invariably the same. This sticky situation is not the type most people like to be in and as such it has a great terror-value, one which creators of horror fiction have continually used for years, not sparingly but liberally.

Other than the above, the house could just feature spiders, like lots and lots of spiders…

Lets just hope it doesn’t refer to the 1990s Will Smith flop “Wild Wild West” with that giant metal spider thing, urgh…!

Let us know your thoughts below!

creepy-crawly-cinema-great-movies-about-insects-image-3

Our sincere thanks go to Dr Jimmy in his assistance with this article.

My Wish List: Crimson Peak

Daniel Ryan here, what with all the rumors lately, I wanted to tell you all about my number one wish for HHN Orlando, and this is not a rumor!  Just a fanboy wish unfortunately….

Rumors have swirled lately about a number of different houses coming to HHN Orlando.  I however, would love it if they brought Crimson Peak to life on the east coast.  Please, if anyone wishes to start this as a rumor, then please go ahead, if it leads to helping this house could to Orlando, then I’m all for it!

Universal has created houses before that have hopped between the coasts or even been present on both coasts in the same year. Like a number of houses before it, the house would act as a teaser for the movie, a tie-in between the event and movie, that would help sell each other. After watching the trailer for the movie, I knew I had to visit the Hollywood event last year to experience this house…

The house follows the storyline of the movie in quite a lot of detail. The gated archway announcing Crimson Peak is your entry to a Victorian home that the heroine was told to stay away from in a dream. There would be no movie if she obeyed her dream and no house to visit but you just know that falling in love with a man that owns a creepy old mansion is not going to turn out good…. for anyone.

large_large_pCj8zem1NDAODdtvha9WFEB6iWR

The details of the décor in the house and maze were fantastic. The copies of original Victorian furniture, pictures, bathroom articles, pillows, and bric-a-brac are stunningly authentic. The décor helps set the mood. The painstaking detail that has been taken to make this house a reality is surely staggering.  It also reminded me of the old British Hammer movies of the 1960/70s.  Gothic, creepy, chilling and as gory as heck!

You need to understand that the decorations of the house when you first enter are setting you up to be scared, just like the movie, the architecture is as scary as the characters! You first see a simple setting that includes dolls, a huge picture of a slightly wicked looking old lady in a black dress with a destroyed building and a black background, the dolls’ house located here is in homage to the Bates House from Psycho. The sorcerer’s signs in the circular windows and the stark gray walls of what are supposed to be cut granite are part of the set up.

cp3

Every room of the house and maze has exquisite detail and hints at what is about to happen in the room. Slight hints as to the less than happy home and the circumstances and horrors that happened in each room are subtle. A row of tumbled candlesticks hints at impeding fire. An innocent looking little doll with a head dress of plastic wrap hints that something is not quite right everywhere you look. Then there are the moths! There were stacks of them, everywhere.  On the walls, in the windows and even in your face!

It does not take long for the bleeding and the screaming to begin. A bloody statue, a dead child in bed, and a multitude of mechanical and human ghouls and murderers threaten you. The woman in a Victorian claw-foot bath tub with a hatchet in her head and bloody water flowing out is a sure thrill. The designers made a special effort to prevent any blood from getting on visitor’s feet in the bath, but despite this, blood can be found everywhere, literally running down the walls.

John Murdy, HHN Hollywood’s design guru, actually struck up a friendship with the film’s director Guillermo del Toro, a few years previously at HHN. Del Toro is a massive HHN fan and supposedly has been visiting the Hollywood event for years. Murdy and he had wanted to work together for some time. Soon the stars aligned and the project was a go. Working closely together and with a number of the original movie’s staff, they created this wickedly detailed and horrific house.

crimsonpeakblogjpg-2dbd09_1280w

The production is a real class act. Details and sequencing that follows the movie exactly makes this one of the best haunted houses ever (in my opinion of visiting HHN Hollywood). This would be perfect for Orlando’s HHN and if it comes to Orlando I’m sure it would be a fan favorite!

Having Guillermo del Toro open the maze in Orlando would be a nice touch and guarantee a sure spike in interest for the event. Reprising the film in all Universal associated local theaters when the show opens in Orlando would help incentivize old and new fans of horror and del Toro’s work to visit Crimson Peak for our event. Imagine the fantastical façade that could be built! This was missing in Hollywood (due to space limitations), but imagine the spectacle of a full-sized Crimson Peak manor; that would be amazing!

So Universal if you’re reading this, please can we have a Crimson Peak house at Orlando this year and if so, my wife would love it if you could bring Loki himself over too, Tom Hiddlestone, but I doubt that would ever happen! She can hope though…

crimson-peak-ghost-slice-600x200
Photo courtesy of collider.com

Would you like to see this creepy movie at HHN Orlando? Let us know!

*QUICK UPDATE* Penn & Teller

Just a quick update on our Penn & Teller rumor that we broke back in February, it now appears that more evidence is coming to light about the supposed return of everyone’s favorite magical duo.  Our friends at HHNRumors.com recently updated their site to show their evidence and investigation into the now HEAVILY rumored P&T house.  Like us, they cite additional twitter conversations and dates that all marry up.  In addition to this, there has been no update to the P&T website to include their autumn dates (though nearly all the other Vegas shows have already) and there has been a rumored survey doing the rounds from Universal mentioning P&T (though some say this is from previous years – we can’t confirm that).  Could Universal be lining them up for more than just a house, could they do a show?  Or, could they in fact be the icons?  Nobody knows yet, but keep an eye on us and we’ll do our best to provide you all with the latest info!

Other than the above, stay tuned for more great HHN rumors, speculation, planning and reviews.  Plus checkout HHNRumors.com, as Chad does excellent investigative work over there.

12821559_994554773924313_461062928875097921_n

 

HHN Orlando Teases 1st Info

Just a quick update for you…

The Official Universal Studios Orlando Twitter feed has been teasing us dear fans with their 1st posts about the work they are currently doing to bring the event to us this fall.

The process of making the codenames for the houses public is something that has originated from HHN Hollywood with John Murdy, he has been teasing Horror Night goers for years with his codenames and innuendos.  Whereas back on the Atlantic coast us fans have had to dig around to find the codenames, often gleaming them through investigative work undertaken to find the building permits with the City of Orlando, but no longer!  Read more about that here.

The official twitter feed of Orlando’s HHN has handed us our first codename, “Cobweb”.  They also replied to a tweet from our very good friend Sir Owen Disney who asked whether the house was going to be an IP (Intellectual Property not owned by Universal) or would it be a wholly new house designed from scratch in-house.  The answer was an emphatic “original”.  They also went on to say this about the Orlando codenames:

Don’t read into them too deeply. They allow us to speak out in the open about content without revealing anything. I have to confess UO maze codenames are for team functionality – For ease of speaking when in meetings. Usually one to two syllables.

They then posted a screen capture from one of the latest houses they were working on, which was or was not necessary “cobweb”.

Cdf8_1VWAAA77Qy.jpg-large

Looking carefully at what is posted we can see the typical transition corridor with possible ‘boo-doors’ on either side, with the typical scareactor runs from the outer sides.  The small floating object in the main room appears to be a bird or bat, these props hung from above are called SIF (Stuff In Face) by the event’s creatives. The long tubes to the left are strange, they could be ventilation pipes added for effect…  What do you think?  We know the die-hard HHN fans will be VERY pleased to hear they are working on brand-new original content for the event, as many of the longterm goers to the event do prefer original content houses over IPs (though this author likes both!).

If this is the “cobweb” house, could it be vampire related with bats?  Or is the prop a bird and is in fact the designs of the rumored Alfred Hitchcock house?  Only time will tell…

For all the latest news and rumors be sure to follow us on our social media channels over here  —————————>

And let us know what you think!

 

 

 

Gone Ghostface?

scream

Hi, I’m Dan one of the new staff writers for HHNUnofficial.  I wanted to start off my new role by talking about a very contentious issue: the ‘Scream’ franchise and there lack of for last year.  The following report is my a mixture of hearsay, speculation, my own research and opinion.  So disclaimer out the way, let’s talk about ‘Scream’ and whether it’s coming back for HHN26….

Scream was removed at the last minute to HHN25, we all know that, but could it ever come back?

Universal’s Art and design Team were reminded of a similar problem that they had back in 2012.  They had spent all year cleaning out and preparing the old Hercules/Murder She Wrote soundstage to allow them the space to build a new house.  The building hadn’t been used for years and it needed a lot of work doing.  The work to build the new house was well into construction when suddenly a famous call from Hollywood HQ was placed, and within days the new Transformers ride was green lit, to go right in the place of this soundstage.  Within a month the whole building had been razed to the ground.  This led Universal with a problem, they needed another haunt location, the demands on the event to the masses was reaching an all time high.  They couldn’t begin the event with a house down.  They needed space to build a house and a subject matter that was quick and easy to design (i.e. no lengthy IP negotiations).

 

IMG_5801
The Purge Terror Tram at USH’s HHN 2015

They turned to a HHN staple of year’s past and one that needed little to no discussions, the classic Universal monsters.  The house would be called ‘Universal’s House of Horrors’.  It was rumored to have been designed and built in little over two months, which is exceedingly rapid compared to some houses.  The result was that Universal had another house to add to lineup, and okay it was a bit shaky (lets just say it was not the best!) but Universal’s Art and Design department learned a valuable lesson that year: ingenuity is the mother of invention.  Which is exactly what they did last year.  They had the sets for Scream built, all they needed to do was to fit another Universal owned property around what they had already built and boom – house done.  The idea was quickly set on incorporating The Purge into the house.  The green light was granted from Hollywood HQ, the designers moved in and made the sets look more distressed, new costumes were made (some were reused from last events where the Purge featured) and the house was ready.  Just like in 2012, they had moved swiftly to prevent the notion of losing a house for the event.

But will Universal ever double back and use the Scream franchise for HHN?  The chances that Halloween Horror Nights will ever vie to license Scream again are relatively slim, especially since Scream’s original creator, horror genius Wes Craven passed away in August last year. The maze which would have opened if there had been a compromise by Art & Design would most likely have been dissatisfying for both Dimension, Universal and HHN fans.  All that was left after the negotiations, were an uncut version of the original HHN25 commercial featuring Ghostface (still floating around the internet) and a suspiciously placed popcorn Jiffy Pop left on the cooker in the now re-themed “Purge” house.  And although old Ghostface has made plenty of unofficial appearances at the event in the 90s, the likelihood of him returning officially is slim to spectral in my opinion (see what I did there!).

You can read more on how the event is designed with all the behind the scenes stories here.

scream