A few weeks back, Nightmarish Conjurings attended Midsummer Scream’s Awaken the Spirits, the first convention we have returned to since the start of the COVID pandemic. Though it was on a much smaller scale than in previous years, it still retained the excitement and need for the return of Halloween. Among all the vendors and cosplayers, Midsummer Scream had panels that ranged from haunt announcements to horror.
During the weekend, we attended Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights panel in hopes to get some insight into what to expect of this year’s attraction. As always, the man, the myth, the legend, Creative Director John Murdy was on hand. Regaling the audience with stories of his youth and his passion for Universal Monsters, Murdy gave fans an in-depth look into one of their brand new haunted mazes, The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. Murdy explained how former Universal Studios Orlando Creative Director Patrick Braillard came up with the idea, where they pulled inspiration from for a character that only gets 3 minutes of screen time, as well as visuals of the characters and the design of the haunt.
Afterward, Murdy revealed that Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood would be incorporating a companion scare zone at the end of The Bride of Frankenstein Lives titled, Silver Scream Queenz. The focus is to bring classic female movies monsters back from the grave in order to strike fear into the hearts of men. Murdy also announced that the legendary Terror Tram would be returning and though it wasn’t announced during the panel, it was announced soon after that the Terror Tram would be based on the Universal Pictures film, The Ultimate Purge.
When the panel came to a close, the press had the opportunity to chat with John Murdy about this year’s return of Halloween Horror Nights. Since there was both a haunt and a scare zone dedicated to the women of horror, we started by asking the important question: why focus on the women of horror now?
“When the idea of Bride of Frankenstein was first mentioned, it just kind of steamrolled after that,” explained Murdy. “Like I said up on stage, horror has been male-dominated, especially in the past and it just felt like… there are so many great characters that are women characters. You’re seeing the same thing now where superhero movies are starting to change and it just felt like it was time to really celebrate that.”
Focusing on women characters within horror is great and all, but when it comes to the design of the haunt, it’s also important to get input from the designers who are women. When speaking to Murdy about the importance of having women’s voices heard [specifically] in the design of The Bride of Frankenstein and Silver Scream Queenz, Murdy stated:
“Earlier in the day, there was another panel done about the art department and it was specifically run by two women, Brandy and Jamie, who have been with us for… Brandy’s been with us since the very beginning and Jamie about six years. Horror Nights have always had a lot of women in creative roles. Our art department has a lot of women and you definitely need to have that perspective [for these haunts].”
Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood 2021 will feature 8 mazes, 3 scare zones, and the return of the Jabbawockeez. With COVID still looming over all of us, we can only hope that haunts will go on safely this Halloween season. If you’re able to attend and feel safe doing so, head over to https://hollywood.halloweenhorrornights.com/ for ticket options and dates.
Halloween Horror Nights will run on select nights from September 9 – October 31.
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