Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights event has been scaring the pants off park patrons for nearly 30 years, inviting them to brave intricately crafted haunted houses based on popular fright-filled films and franchises. Previous years have raised goosebumps with attractions inspired by everything from all-time classics to cult-favorites, including The Shining, Halloween, Trick ‘r Treat, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
This year is no different, as six of its ten haunted houses borrow the best elements – and buckets of blood – from a number of Hollywood’s most bone-chilling properties. We recently attended a media preview of this year’s event (running on select nights through November 2nd ) and lived to rank its experiences based on how often they continue to pop-up in our nightmares.
Based on the original spook-slaying film, the Ghostbusters house is the event’s least frightening, but perhaps its most fan-pleasing. This is expected, of course, as the movie’s more comedic than creepy. With that in mind, the house does a spectacular job recreating fan-favorite moments, from Janine Melnitz hilariously fielding calls at the firehouse headquarters to Stay Puft getting toasted.
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Inspired by the cult classic of the same name, this one can be equal parts frightening, funny, and fragrant. That’s right, the smells of cotton candy and ice cream play a significant role in the colorful, circus-like atmosphere, tempting you with sweets before bringing in the Klowns. You needn’t be familiar with the film, either, to be amused or scared – depending on how traumatized you are by creepy clowns – as this one’s beyond-bizarre characters are a treat/terror for any horror fan.
House of 1000 Corpses
This house will be a favorite among fans of Rob Zombie’s pulpy classic, as it’s packed with call-outs and characters from the film. Graphic scenes from the Firefly homestead are brought to life with blood-soaked detail, while the clown-faced Captain Spaulding – played by some very dedicated live actors – pops up on more than one occasion. Even if you haven’t seen the movie, the excessive blood, gore and, of course, corpses, should elicit a few screams.
Based on seasons two and three of the Netflix hit (Universal tackled season one last year), this detail-drenched house is brimming with the Upside Down’s ugliest inhabitants, from Demogorgans and their canine counterparts to the massive Mind Flayer. When not scaring Eleven and the gang, these nightmare-conjuring creatures can be seen tearing up everything from poor Bob Newby to the Starcourt Mall food court.
While not based on a specific film, this one brings together a terrifying mix of Universal’s classic horror film characters. Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein and more star in dedicated scenes packed with a surprising amount of gore-soaked detail. We expected a nostalgia-stinging trek through recreations of black-and-white movies, but were instead treated to the sort of violence and viscera that could make a serial killer cringe. If you never considered the Phantom of the Opera or the Hunchback of Notre Dame particularity scary, you’re in for a surprise…and some sleepless nights.
Jordan Peele’s latest horror hit mixes its effective frights with some humor provided by the Wilson family. Universal’s haunted house based on the film smartly forgoes the latter elements, instead focusing on the characters’ scariest, most disturbing encounters with their Untethered doppelgangers. Fantastic live actors, atmospheric effects, and immersive audio work – Red’s staccato voice is a spine-tingling highlight – ensure you won’t be able to forget this maze when you turn off the lights.