Halloween Horror Nights mini reviews for HHN 2022’s haunted houses

Halloween Horror Nights has returned to Universal Studios, along with the usual gang of screamers, lurkers and thousands of eventgoers in black T-shirts.  Yes, there’s an appetite for this in early September. The first three nights of the event were sold out by Friday morning, Universal said.

Creators have given the 31st edition of HHN a traditional theme as bunches of witches, monstrous creatures and jack-o’-lantern-based baddies roaming the streets and haunted houses.

But all 10 mazes are all-new this year, with characters ranging from a lonely werewolf to a global musical superstar.

Word on the streets and queue lengths during Friday’s opening night revealed a lot of interest in the houses named The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare and Bugs: Eaten Alive.

“It is a haunted house with a club environment,” said Lora Sauls, one of the HHN masterminds, of The Weeknd house. “We are taking some of that popular ‘After Hours’ music and setting it, programming it to life. … It has an awesome bass.” There’s also peril provided by Universal’s weapon-wielding scare actors.

In the interest of being not-so-spoilery, here are 10-word reviews of the houses, presented alphabetically and designed to tease with just a taste of the mazes’ atmospheres.

  • Bugs: Eaten Alive, an original insect-oriented house: Big bugs in face with blackout effects. Ack, still itchy.
  • Dead Man’s Pier: Winter’s Wake, an original, watery house: Frightening fisherman second fiddle to widow, eye-catching visual effects, ship.
  • Descendants of Destruction, an original house in underground setting: Sounds like the subway to the Black Lagoon. Moist, mushroomy.
  • Fiesta de Chupacabras, an original house centered on a legendary creature: Keyword: Blood. Conga line through village disrupted by pop-up puppets.
  • Halloween, based on the 1978 film “Halloween”: Tension so thick you’d cut it with a knife, Michaels.
  • Hellblock Horror, an original house set in prison: It’s gore gone wild with caged creatures plus claustrophobia, strobes.
  • The Horrors of Blumhouse, based on “Freaky” and “Black Phone” films: Twofer maze’s theme is dark then darker, figuratively and literally.
  • Spirits of the Coven, original house in a 1920s speak-easy: Something’s brewing with flappers of best-dressed house. Also: Pigs?
  • Universal Monsters: Legends Collide, featuring Wolf Man, Mummy and Dracula: Bones, bandages, bites, bats around every corner plus thrilling three-way.
  • The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare, based on the music videos of The Weeknd: A salute to flashing (bright) lights, sharp objects and mirrors.

Halloween Horror Nights, is an after-hours, extra-ticket event. It runs on select nights through Oct. 31. For tickets, go to UniversalOrlando.com.

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