Clues Clues Clues

Hello everybody, I know its been a rather long time since you’ve heard from me but the seemingly endless lull in haunt season is over and we have RUMORS!!!! It’s around this time every year that we start to watch both the HHN Hollywood and the HHN Orlando Twitter feed to see what clues they release to us and recently they have been providing some interesting theories. I know the HHN fan Facebook page has been abuzz with fan theories and suggestions but here is what we know for sure, I will start with Hollywood and finish with Orlando.

For Hollywood we have been given three codenames, via their Twitter feed and the ever so awesome John Murdy. The first Codename we have is “Lemonade”. We know that this maze will be based on a movie but we have no confirmation on what that title will be. Based on the Tweet John had sent out it was roughly 119 pages long but yesterday seems to have brought some different ideas and apparently while working on the 4th maze there was some “substantial redesigning” of that first maze treatment. According to the team the codename works even better now so perhaps we have sunken deeper into the IP material.

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The Second Codename for Hollywood is “Charles”. This project apparently holds a special place in John’s heart and is apparently “the trickiest maze they have ever done”. Could this mean a property never seen before as a haunted attraction anywhere? Many people, including a good friend to this site Dr. Jimmy, believe that perhaps this is a direct link to The Shinning. Now Stephen King has long blocked any attempt to make any of his properties into haunts but maybe just maybe Universal was able to woo him with what they created in The Exorcist maze last year. One tweet that caught my eye when looking at the tweets for this second code name said this “In the middle of writing the treatment for maze #2 and working on a super iconic scene that is damn near impossible to realize in a maze…”. Does this mean the Iconic river of blood streaming from the elevator doors?

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The third and final confirmed Codename as of right now for Hollywood is “Writers Block”. This tweet came with a picture of a nice little present from John’s wife and an interesting hint. “The M and the N are gone! A clue?” is this a clever clue or is he simply trying to throw us off of the trail. The thing about Codenames is, so early on it is hard to really get a good feeling on any of them because the possibilities are nearly endless.

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Now moving on to Orlando and the tweets from the always entertaining Mike Aiello. HHN Orlando has been relatively quiet on the Codename front but we do have one to work with so far. “Checkmate” Mike has said almost nothing on details for the house so as of right now any thing you hear is really just rumors but some of the rumors that I have been hearing flying around the HHN fan Facebook page are; Hellraiser, Chucky, SAW and The Shinning. Orlando tends to keep us guessing on codenames a bit longer then Hollywood but I do expect to hear more being announce in the very near future.

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I hope you enjoyed the article ladies and gents. I know how excruciating it can be waiting for haunt season to arrive once again but as always keep your eyes posted on HHNUnoffical and we will bring you the latest info as soon as it is released. Also let us know in the comments what you think those codenames mean!

A Sincere Thank You From the HHNU Team

Well after months of speculation, teasing, and finally getting to live the event, Halloween Horror Nights 26 has come and gone. This year brought us unbelievable experiences, incredible houses, some of the most immersive and entertaining scare-zones, and of course more cherished memories of HHN passed.14938109_1479869852042081_8749950505396506563_n

I wanted to write this post as a thank you not only to Universal Studios for creating this event some 26 years ago, but to all of you who bring this event, its characters to life each year. As an administrator for the HHN Facebook fan page I get to see and talk with so many of the scare-actors for the event, and I love all of the characters each of you has created and made their own over the course of the season. I especially revel in how much you all love what you do! To scare on such a large scale is no easy task, and certainly not everyone can do what you do, but I am absolutely thankful for every scare and every ounce of sweat put into the event. img_0292

As much as those on the front lines are a huge part of HHN, I would be leaving out so many important people if I chose to stop there. A huge thank you needs to go to everyone at Universal Studios for the hard work they have put into the event this and every year. From Mike Aiello and everyone on his creative team to the A&D Department for the amazing treatments and scenes they have created. From Security, for keeping all the employees safe along with the couple hundred thousand guests who attended throughout the month, to the lighting, sound, and stage technicians that allow us to have a completely immersive experience.img_9561

To every employee at Universal Studios, both onstage and off, I want to say thank you. I grew up loving the idea of “riding the movies”; Halloween Horror Nights has always been my passion and it’s a dream to be a part of the event even just in a small way. Without all of you that make it happen every single night and every single year, my dream wouldn’t be possible. While many of you may be tired of the rushes and more so the drunks, I want to say never stop thinking that your job is crucial to every guest. It means so much more than you know, especially to those of us that have followed the event from the start.img_9483

Before I begin to ramble I will wrap myself up. Thank you to every single employee who had even the smallest to do with Halloween Horror Nights and every day operations at Universal. As a fellow theme park employee myself I understand how hard it can be while working, but what you do is creating a whole other world. By doing so, you allow people to escape and have fun. We here at the HHNU team want to personally thank every scare-actor that we had the privilege of seeing at the event,  and we wish all of you safe scaring in the many years to come. Stay tuned to HHNU for more updates throughout the year!

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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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…

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  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.

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  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.

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  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…

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  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.

 

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  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.

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  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.

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  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…

 

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  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 !?

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Photo courtesy of collider.com

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

Confirmed Rumor: The Walking Dead is Coming to Hollywood

As rumoured previously, a year-round The Walking Dead attraction is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood, to open this summer!

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Nothing beats a truly scary all-year-round maze, and Universal studios is trying to take proper advantage of this by creating a top notch walk-through maze that would blow the minds of visitors. One of the most popular ways to spend Halloween for Southern Californians is by visiting Halloween Horror Nights at Universal studios. Universal is therefore trying to merge visitor’s high expectations with a quality spooky experience.  The previous year-round house of Universal’s House of Horrors did grow stale, long before it was demolished.  It is hoped that the new attraction will be open year round and be “plused” just for HHN.

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Universal theme parks have long been renowned for their ability to aptly recreate scenes from movies, giving visitors a complete feeling as if they are within the movie. The inclusion of year round walk-through of ‘The Walking Dead’ is certain to captivate the hearts and minds of visitors and promises to be the perfect balance of fun and fright. Greg Nicotero (the show’s creator) summed it all up when he said “There are so many iconic moments that it is really difficult to pick and choose which ones”. The re-enactment of the show is sure to be a hit with both fans of the show and HHN.

The new rumored attraction is said to contain all new sets, landscapes, special effects, props, animatronics, staging, costumes and makeup and will be packed with real actors depicting survivors and walkers from the hit AMC show.  Both Nicotero and his team from his special effects company, KNB Efx, who manage the effects and makeup of the show have already designed every inch of the attraction.  They will also fly out in due course to manage all the finishing touches, to enable the attraction to mirror the show for every exacting horrific detail.

Universal Studios Hollywood president Larry Kurzweil said in a statement:

“We’re taking its intensity to the next level by collaborating with the show’s award-winning production team to create an authentic living representation of the series that can only be experienced at Universal Studios Hollywood.”

AMC was then quoted:

This summer, fans can venture into the post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead at Universal Studios Hollywood in an all-new, year-round attraction.

Follow in the survivors’ footsteps for a fully immersive journey, using both animatronics and live performers — the next best thing to actually being on The Walking Dead.

The attraction’s landscapes, special effects, props, staging, costumes and makeup were all created in collaboration with the show’s award-winning production team, including executive producer and director Greg Nicotero.

In the meantime, don’t miss the next episode of The Walking Dead, Sunday at 9/8c on AMC, or watch full episodes on amc.com and the AMC App right now.

Gone Ghostface?

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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).

 

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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.

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Halloween Horror Nights Presents… Alfred Hitchcock??

There are a number of rumors swirling that this year we may get an Alfred Hitchcock maze at Halloween Horror Nights Orlando; this said, we thought we’d take a look at what elements from his back catalogue (and future productions!) could be used to fill any potential HHN houses…

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The ‘Psycho’ Franchise

Hitchcock literally gave birth to the chiller genre with ‘Psycho’ which would go on to inspire countless directors ever since. This heavy mixture of thriller and horror would spawn a franchise that still rumbles along to this day with NBC’s ‘Bates Motel’ series. Psycho with its iconic shower screen, horrific murders and macabre plot line is perfect Halloween Horror Nights fodder, and has in fact already at Universal Studios Florida, and had a full motel and Psycho house built in the area where KidZone is now placed. It was here in 1993 and 1994 that the first Psycho mazes were built, read all about it here. There were also further ‘Psycho’ mazes in Orlando for 1999 and 2006.

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The Psycho movies and TV shows would all be perfectly placed within any potential HHN house. Previously, the Psycho mazes would be more dream like with guests walking into the mind of Norman Bates (queue larger person-sized knives and reams of shower curtains), whereas with the sequels, remake and now TV series they could use other less well known moments to create great scares, such as: The Phone Box murder from the Anthony Perkins directed ‘Psycho III’ or the Pot Farm shoot-out from ‘Bates Motel’; there are a great number of possibilities!

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The Birds

What do you mean you haven’t seen ‘The Birds’? Go now and watch on Netflix. We’ll all wait here until you come back.   ….   Okay you’re back – what do you reckon? Yep, that would be a technically difficult house to pull-off but what a house that would be! Every house has a certain SIF factor. SIF is an official HHN term used by the designers of the houses to design the amount of Stuff In Face that can be deployed on the public. A piece of string here or a strap of leather there, the amount is carefully considered to ensure enough is made to make guests jump but not too much to make it become a burden. So what with poor Tippi Hedren having to literally pull birds off her face – how can they add this factor into the house? Bags of feathers maybe? Side note: Tippi is a regular with her family to HHN Orlando. So the likelihood of this movie being used is high. The movie was also used notably (along with Psycho) in the Alfred Hitchcock attraction that was located in Orlando from park opening to 2003 when it was replaced by Shrek. Darn you Shrek…!

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The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog

The recently restored edition of this silent black and white movie would be a great addition for any potential house. Don’t believe me? Three words: Jack the Ripper. This 1927 movie was the first movie of Hitch’s to use what he had learnt from working in the expressionistic German movie business to great effect. Foggy, eerie streets, an enigmatic leading actor with starry eyes across a backdrop of panic in the streets. Think cobbled streets, back alleys, fog, fog, and more fog with a knife-welding maniac running around and there you have it. HHN has never had a sole Ripper house before, however one of the Body Collectors houses did feature a sequence implying that they were in fact responsible for Jack’s ‘work’. This movie utilized Hitch’s first attempt at building cinematic suspense, so just think of the anxiety that could be created in the queue waiting for this sequence!

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Hitch didn’t just make movies, he was a living, breathing franchise of his own making. His company, Shamley Productions, put-out books, magazines, comics, merchandise and even TV shows – some of which he even directed. Running originally from 1955 to 1965 and then syndicated ever since (there was also an updated version in the 1980s), Hitch would direct several of the most famous episodes, including one very familiar installment called ‘Back for Christmas’. Sound familiar? Ahem, ‘Home for the Holidays’ anyone? This was where the HHN 2007’s ‘PsychoScareapy: Home for the Holidays’ name was inspired from. The tale was that of a murder of a wife and the husband’s eventual comeuppance around the holidays. Factor in mad men on the loose, burglaries gone wrong, suicides, narrative twists and even more murders and you get the gist of the series. All of which were topped and tailed by the good man himself giving his usual sardonic monologues (think Crypt Keeper!) and there you have every episode. I’m sure there are enough sequences that HHN Orlando could mine to provide some classic scares. Fun fact: To keep costs to a minimum, Hitch used his TV crew from this show to make the original ‘Psycho’, this gave it a more real-life and therefore terrifying feel.

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Rear Window & Vertigo 

Not horror movies by any stretch but good movies that could be used for great affect. Rear Window with its voyeur windows and flashing camera bulbs (think flashes of light, ala HHN 2008’s Dead Exposure) to Vertigo with its dead imagery and crashing sense of heights (think HHN 2012’s Gothic). Pepper in the fact that the previous Alfred Hitchcock: The Art of Making Movies attraction featured both of these movies as final set pieces to explore and you get the drift. A fear of heights, death imagery and flashing lights could all be stretched to feature within a proposed house.

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Dial M for Murder

A late 1950s movie that starred Grace Kelly in the title role that featured a healthy dose of murder and blackmail, all wrapped up in a heap of his trademark packed-to-the-rafters suspense – not unlike many of his other movies, so why add this? It marked Hitch’s first and only attempt to make a 3D movie (yes they had them in those days!). So what if, the house was done in 3D? This would allow HHN’s creators to build a house that warps our minds and makes us nauseous, creeping from sequence to sequence; it’s just a thought, it could even start scary and then end in a comedic fashion, just like the TV show. So what did Hitch think of 3D technology? “It’s a nine-day wonder, and I came in on the ninth day.” Guess he didn’t think much on it then…

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The Man Who Knew Too Much

Did you know he made the same movie twice? Yep, ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ first came out in 1934 and then again remade in 1956 with James Stewart and Doris Day. The second of which was made in color and features a majestically fine finale where the suspense is ramped up to factor 12 in a prolonged bout of sniper fire at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The theater location could be used with classical music and gunfire delivered in a hypnotic scene with disorientating edges.

At the end of the day, be there a coming Hitchcock house or not, what will be, will be, que sera sera… hintity hint hint here via Dr Jimmy

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Conclusion

Universal actually purchased Shamley Productions at the end of Hitch’s career. A move that he actually facilitated to ensure his franchise of movies would be in good hands. So the rights to use his movies and any features of them are all totally up to Universal. No third party agreements or IP contracts, Hitch and his masterful movies are ready to be deployed to HHN now…

 

 

 

HHN’s Crypt Keeper

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Good evening boils and ghouls, how much do you know about HHN Orlando’s first icon? Well anyone who has even the mildest interest in horror movies knows immediately who The Crypt Keeper is. Most famous for his HBO show Tales From The Crypt which aired from 1989 through 1996 (and later on Fox). HBO ran 93 episodes and most of the episodes were based on the original comic book series from the 1950’s. Because Tales From The Crypt aired on a premium channel (HBO) they were not held to the censorship rules of the networks. This gave HBO the freedom to show sexually suggestive scenes as well as profanity, gore and nudity. Once the show began to air on syndication and basic cable channels it was edited to remove that content so it could be aired.

The Crypt Keeper was a freaky looking ghoul that appeared to open and introduce the show and end the show with wise-cracking ghoulish themed jokes. One of his trademark wisecracks was addressing the audience and “boils and ghouls”. As mentioned, HBO did not invent the character. In actuality the Crypt Keeper was around for decades before the HBO show was aired.

The Crypt Keeper got his start in the 1950’s with the horror comic series titled, Tales From The Crypt produced by EC comics. Though it is the same character, he looked a lot different in those days. On the HBO series he was a decayed skin and bones character. In the comic The Crypt Keeper was an evil looking old man with wild eyes, long white hair and a smile that could send chills down your spine. He was often pictured holding the skeleton of some dearly departed soul and he generally seemed happy to do so.

In 1972 there was a movie version starring Joan Collins and Peter Cushing (and a few other folks). The 1989 Tales From The Crypt gave rise to a couple of feature films that aired in the mid-1990’s called Demon Knight and Bordello of Blood.

The success of the Tales From The Crypt rebirth spawned an animated series aimed to entertain children which was produced by Nelvana and aired on ABC on Saturday mornings. The content of the shows were edited and rewritten in a child friendly format. Nelvana hired a child psychologist to review the cartoon before it was released. The content restrictions were stricter at that time. Though the puppet was considered for the show, it was deemed too scary and a gentler Crypt Keeper was introduced (only for the cartoon version).

 

Halloween Horror Nights V

In 1995, Universal Studios licensed the character “The Crypt Keeper” which became the face of Halloween Horror Nights V (subtitled Curse Of The Crypt Keeper). Halloween Horror Nights V was the fifth annual event of that name held in Orlando Florida at Universal Studios. The idea of using and event icon,”The Cryptkeeper” (their spelling) from a popular horror show was new and became an instant success. It was well understood that anything associated with The Crypt Keeper meant horror. The character would flash across the screen in their advertising sending people racing to the event. The on screen Crypt Keeper is a puppet operated by master puppeteer, Van Snowden. The voice of The Crypt Keeper is the voice of actor Johnny Kassir.

Halloween Horror Nights V featured three mazes and two scare-zones complete with enough terror to chill the most hardened heart. In October of 1995 Halloween Horror Nights V produced three shows a night and ran for 12 nights. No matter which show one attended, the lines would be long and the customers were not disappointed.

 

The Crypt Keeper Bio

In the episode titled “Lower Berth” the birth of The Crypt Keeper was explained. It seems his father was Enoch, a two-faced sideshow freak. His mother was a 4,000 year old Mummy.

 

Funny Trivia

The final episode entitled “Oils well that ends well” The Crypt Keeper makes reference to one of the actors that he found especially talented. He was actually referring to Johnny Kassir, which is the same Johnny Kassir that is the voice of The Crypt Keeper.

He has made his way back to Orlando’s HHN on numerous occasions starring in many anniversary scarezones.  Did you ever manage to get your photo with him?

 

Conclusion

There have been many shows that tried to follow on the apron strings of Tales From The Crypt. Some had minor success, but nothing close to the original. There have been radio shows which released a series of shows with the title and sounds of the original, but it was short lived. DVD’s were released many of which were purchased by collectors. Some of the DVD’s feature the original Crypt Keeper though some actually feature a different Crypt Keeper.

The Crypt Keeper was a global success and it was aired around the world. In Germany a box set of DVD’s went on sale beginning with season one in 2010. Tales From The Crypt has been nominated for (and the winner of) various awards from all aspects of the film industry. The final series of the show was moved to Britain and revolved around British actors.

 

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Coming Soon…

There is a new ‘Tales from the Crypt’ reboot currently being planned by thriller/horror aficionado M. Night Shyamalan, but supposedly the Keeper we know will not be present. Shyamalan said on Twitter, “I’d never make Tales without the CK! Will be a new take on him as the puppet is property of HBO. Promise he’ll be cool and dark!” But knowing this director, this could just be a double-bluff; a type of twist that the old Crypt Keeper himself would be very proud of.

Do you remember the glamorous ghoul – the master of scareamonies and would you be excited for this new series?  And could it one day make its way back to HHN?