Halloween Horror Nights 26 SPOILER Review – Yet Another Take

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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).

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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…

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HHN Prep Marathon

If you’re a disciple of Halloween Horror Nights, there’s a pretty good bet that you’re anywhere between a moderate-to-hardcore fan of all things horror, particularly of the film variety. Now, if you’re like me – equal parts column A and column B – your ideal HHN experience includes a healthy blend of both original houses and existing IPs. With just over half of this year’s haunts gaining inspiration from the worlds of film and television, there’s no better way to build up anticipation for this year’s (or any year’s) event than by having your very own Pre-HHN Prep Marathon.

Depending on how much time you’ve got to spare and how much viewing you want to do, this marathon list is split into three parts:

  • The Essentials – Obvious picks, but these choices are a must-see before stepping into this year’s event.
  • The Second Tier – Have a few more hours to spare? These are a few more flicks to get you hyped for this year’s HHN.
  • The All-Nighters – Calling in sick on Monday? Well, if you think sleep’s overrated, you can’t go wrong with these picks.

The Essentials

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The Exorcist (1973) – There’s no better place to start our marathon than with what many consider “the scariest movie of all time”. The Exorcist also happens to be the longest movie of the bunch, with the Director’s Cut clocking in at just about 132 minutes. For this viewing, you’ll want to catch the aforementioned Director’s Cut, as this is the only place you’ll see the famous “spider walk”, which is sure to be replicated in this year’s house. Note to first-timers: the opening 45 minutes are a slow crawl, but the payoff is definitely rewarding.

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Halloween II (1981) – Although not officially named after the film, this year’s Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield appears to be a direct adaptation of the sequel to the original Halloween. While the 1978 John Carpenter classic continues to be required viewing for many during the fall season, few are familiar with its sequel. It may not be as ground-breaking as the original, but it’s still a more-than-worthy follow-up and an essential watch before walking into Halloween Horror Nights.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) – While there are a number of reboots and sequels in the franchise, this year’s house is based on the 1974 Tobe Hooper original. Therefore, this is the one to watch. Considered at the time as one of the most violent movies ever made, modern audiences will be surprised at just how bloodless and tame the film is by today’s standards.

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Krampus (2015) – How about some Christmas viewing for Halloween? From Michael Dougherty, the director of the underrated Trick-r-Treat (2007), Krampus is required viewing for anyone visiting Halloween Horror Nights this year. It’s a family comedy wrapped in a horror film sprinkled with equal parts Christmas cheer and, well, Halloween horror.

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American Horror Story (Pilot Episodes for Seasons 1, 4, and 5) – While our first (and surely not last) AHS house may possibly include bits from all five (now six) seasons of the FX series, the focus appears to be on the stories and characters seen in seasons one (Murder House), four (Freak Show), and five (Hotel). While viewing of all three full seasons is encouraged, it’s not required. All you need is a taste of the terror and HHN’s haunt will provide the full meal.

The Second Tier

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Halloween (1978) – It wouldn’t be Halloween without Halloween. Although it may seem like an obvious pick, make sure to pop this one in before watching Halloween II, as both films are set during the same day, with the sequel beginning exactly where the original ends.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) – This remake surely won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, I won’t even go so far as to say the film is “good”, but if this Michael Bay-produced reboot does anything right, it’s upping the ante in terms of gratuitous violence and bloodshed. If this movie doesn’t make you want to immediately go take a shower, I don’t know what will.

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The Walking Dead (Pilot Episode) – Rick without a beard. Pre-pubescent Carl. Remember Shane? Let’s go all the way back to where it all began for the AMC monster hit. All the way back to before we started referring to zombies as “walkers”.

The All-Nighters

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My Bloody Valentine (1981) – This one’s a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. Based on early reactions to HHN 26, the runaway sleeper success of this year’s event appears to be Tomb of the Ancients. Our very own “scottyrif” ranked it as his #1 house of the year. While not based on an existing IP, the first image that came to mind when researching the theme of the house was the killer miner from this 1981 film. In a nutshell, My Bloody Valentine is a slasher flick set in a small mining town featuring a central killer dressed in mining gear. I said it was a stretch.

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) – Unlike Halloween II, this film has just about nothing to do with its original. This sequel, also directed by Tobe Hooper, is as disturbing as it is hilarious. Anyone who’s watched this one would probably agree that the less said the better. Anyone who HASN’T watched this should be prepared for a few “WTF” moments. I mean, just look at the poster!

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The Walking Dead (Season 1) – Now that we’ve watched the pilot, why not continue with the remaining five episodes of the first season of the AMC hit? To think, only six episodes were ordered for the first season to gauge whether or not the show would be a success.

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American Horror Story (Seasons 1, 4, and 5) – We’ve come this far, so why not add three more seasons of television to the marathon? I said they weren’t essential viewing, but if you’ve got the time, you can’t go wrong with the basis for this year’s American Horror Story house.

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Jaws (1975) – As one of the greatest movies of all time and the inspiration for one of the greatest theme park rides of all time, there’s no better way to end the night (or weekend, at this point) than with Universal history. With the Dead Man’s Wharf scare zone having a nautical haunted harbor theme, it’s not that far of a stretch to get feelings of nostalgia for the now absent classic Universal Studios ride. Besides, do you really need a reason to re-watch Jaws?

Anything missing from the list? What would you add? Feel free to let us know and happy viewing!

-Freddy

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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Krampus is Coming?

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The two above tweets were respectively tweeted out within 24 minutes of each other. Mike Aiello who usually mans the Orlando account (at the top) posted this cryptic message that many have speculated is a house that has been agreed by Hollywood, but will be at both events.

Since the early 2010s there has been a great effort by both coats to work together in sharing IPs (Intellectual Properties). The reason for doing this is the shear fact that obtaining these permissions to use third-party properties for their event is a long and costly experience (just ask anyone who dealt with JK Rowling on the Wizarding World at Islands of Adventure or anyone from Disney after they lost the deal!).

It was seen prior to 2010 that both coasts were actively going after different properties and at times there was probably a lot of overlapping. So the decision was made further up the managerial chain at Universal HQ to bring both coasts together to share time and costs on obtaining these permissions. Since this new unification has occurred, there has been many properties shared on both coasts for the same event years, these have included: Both coasts sharing the prequel version of ‘The Thing’ in 2011, Silent Hill and Alice Cooper in 2012, The Evil Dead remake and the first The Walking Dead house in 2013, Dracula Untold in 2014, Insidious in 2015 with Aliens Vs Predator, Halloween and other The Walking Dead houses on other alternate years (or every year in the case of TWD!).  Have houses that are located on both coasts allows for join marketing for both events and allows the filmmakers of these films get their message out with this cross-promotion.

But this spirit of collaboration isn’t entirely new, as Orlando created properties such as Jack the Clown and co, plus New Line Cinema’s Big 3 (Freddy, Jason and Leatherface) have also been shared amongst both coasts prior to this new formal agreement coming into play.

So back to our tweets, if this means both coasts are again sharing a property, what could it be?  Well the answer can be pointed to by looking at John Murdy’s tweets (from @horrornights), where he is a little more elaborate with what he is up to than the Orlando tweets, though just as cryptic!

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The maze/house that is apparently being shared is Maze #2, so far on Twitter Murdy has dropped the following clues about this house:

His first tweet said:

“As part of my prep for maze #2, i’m listening to lots of old pop songs from the 50s and 60s. They all have the same word in the title…hmm?”

His second:

“Maze #2 now exists in “post it note” form on the wall of my office. Now I have to write it! The facade alone took 10 pages to describe!”

Third:

“Deep into writing the treatment for maze #2, which feels more and more like an original maze (even though it’s not). Hmmm…”

Fourth:

“About half way through the treatment for maze #2. The opening line of dialog/voice over for this maze is a strange secret ode to The Smiths.”

Other tweet:

“Previously we learned that the letters “Q” “Z” and “B” do not appear anywhere in this year’s maze slate…the letter “P” does appear…once!”

Final:

“Have started writing the treatment for maze #2 (two scenes in, 29 pages so far). Also formally secured one of the properties we were chasing”

So those are the clues, but which property do they point to?  Well we think we have the answer. It must be 2015’s Krampus movie. Here’s why:

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“As part of my prep for maze #2, i’m listening to lots of old pop songs from the 50s and 60s. They all have the same word in the title…hmm?”

Could this word be Christmas? It’s very easy to search iTunes for Christmas songs, as so many of them have the word Christmas in the title. Currently Spotify have an actual 50s and 60s playlist ready to go that has 26 songs ready to listen. Murdy has said on various outlets before that he uses said music streaming service, so it would not be a stretch to think it could be this very playlist. Also, with the likes of the Rat Pack, Andy Williams, Perry Como and others, the 50s/60s was a golden era for Christmas songs. Andy William’s ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ even appears in the official trailer, link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6cVyoMH4QE

“Maze #2 now exists in “post it note” form on the wall of my office. Now I have to write it! The facade alone took 10 pages to describe!”

Could the façade be the family’s home covered in snow with the Krampus and his sleigh a top. If so, it would take some describing! Imagine the Bodycollector’s house from Orlando last year, all that snow and detail it could easily fill 10 pages of blurb.

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“Deep into writing the treatment for maze #2, which feels more and more like an original maze (even though it’s not). Hmmm…”

It wouldn’t be Krampus’ first appearance in Hollywood. He appeared last year and the year before in the scarezones ‘Dark Christmas’. Whether these were official or unofficial appearances are not clear, though I would imagine the latter to be true for 2014 and the former to be true for 2015. Various news outlets went with the fact that the movie was hotly anticipated in 2015, so for it to be official last year is not a massive stretch.

“About half way through the treatment for maze #2. The opening line of dialog/voice over for this maze is a strange secret ode to The Smiths.”

I’m not a Smiths fan! Slightly, by a few years, before my time, however I can say that Krampus does need a narrator (like all good Christmas stories!), so to have an opening narrator for the maze would fit with the theme. The Smiths however, have done many songs that could lend themselves to horror, though I’m not enough of a fan to fathom the connection (if any Smith fans out there – please write to me!). The Smith’s albums names are very interesting, they include: Meat Is Murder (1985), The Queen Is Dead (1986) and Strangeways, Here We Come (1987) and The Smiths (1984), the latter of which has song titles that include: “You’ve Got Everything Now”, “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle” and “Suffer Little Children” – could these phrases have made their way into his treatment enough to make him think of The Smiths; especially that last track!

“Previously we learned that the letters “Q” “Z” and “B” do not appear anywhere in this year’s maze slate…the letter “P” does appear…once!”

Krampus does not have a Q, Z or B but does have a P!

“Have started writing the treatment for maze #2 (two scenes in, 29 pages so far). Also formally secured one of the properties we were chasing”

This doesn’t sound much but it appears to show the detail of what the house would have, hence the length. As with Christmas houses of HHN past such as ‘PsychoScareapy: Home for the Holidays’, ‘H.R. Bloodengutz Presents Holidays of Horror’ or as previously mentioned, ‘Body Collectors: Recollections’ – these houses were packed with details! So it stands to reason that if a Krampus house was being developed it would be lengthy on detail.

And finally, in our 2015 book, we spill the beans on the Legendary Pictures deal that Universal struck a few years ago to actively cross promote their properties and bring their creations to life in other mediums, not just movies, but in online content, games, and yes, Halloween Horror Nights. So guess what? Krampus was made by Legendary! So there is already a deal in place. Murdy mentioned early on that Maze 2 was already locked in, so it would stand to reason that this house was already secured due to these previous arrangements.

So there you have it guys and ghouls, our first proper investigative and speculative suggestion on what we believe will be one of the houses for #HHN26. Do you agree? Would you like to see Krampus for HHN? Let us know below or via our social media channels, we’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime, our 2015 book is still available at all good book stores and via this link to Amazon.

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All pictures copyright Universal Studios and Legendary Pictures, respectively.