Halloween and theme parks fans are shrieking with delight as this month brings the long-awaited return of Halloween Horror Nights at the Universal Studios theme parks. For years, Halloween Horror Nights has been the ultimate haunt event when it comes to bringing horror icons and franchises to life. It feels like the perfect location for an event like this, considering that movie monsters were pretty much invented by Universal. Sure, the event has licensed many non-Universal horror properties with great success throughout the years, but I would really love to see a year where all of Halloween Horror Nights was simply based around the Universal Monsters.
That’s not to say that some Universal Monsters haven’t made an appearance during Halloween Horror Nights over the years. For the past couple of events, we’ve been getting a single maze based on different Universal Monsters. This continues in 2021 with “Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives” at both the Hollywood and Orlando events. But how cool would it be if every maze was based on a different Universal Monster? There certainly are plenty to choose from, including Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and numerous others.
It sort of seems like a no-brainer. Considering that Universal owns all of these properties, they would save a ton of money avoiding licensing fees that I’m sure aren’t cheap. On the other hand, my guess is they fear these very old properties might not have the marketing power that the new, hot horror title might. I would have two arguments in relation to that thought.
First, Halloween Horror Nights has become a Halloween tradition for so many, regardless of what properties are being featured that year. I’m sure there are some folks who are encouraged to attend based on the inclusion of a favorite show or movie, but I think there are also many fans who are attending simply because it’s Halloween Horror Nights.
Secondly, even though the properties aren’t new, they don’t get more iconic than the Universal Monsters. And let’s face it, characters like Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface and others that have been major points of marketing throughout the years aren’t exactly spring chickens, either. I believe the Universal Monsters would sell just as many tickets as the previously-mentioned slashers.
Another reason why this could make total sense is Universal synergy. The Universal classic monster movies are now available to watch on the company’s streaming service, Peacock. If Universal were to feature all of these films at Halloween Horror Nights, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more than a few people who gave Peacock a shot to prepare for their HHN experience.
So, let’s say that I get my dream and Universal Studios does decide to do an all Universal Monsters Halloween Horror Nights. Here are a couple of fun things I would like to see happen: First, I would really love it if at least one of the mazes was done in a fully “black-and-white” style. These classic movies were, of course, shot in black and white, so to see them recreated in grayscale would be a fun gimmick, for lack of a better term. I’d much prefer that to the overdone 3-D mazes.
Through the years we’ve also seen Halloween Horror Nights feature some scary properties that lean toward funny, like “Ghostbusters” and “This is the End.” If they wanted to continue that tradition, let’s not forget that the classic comedy duo Abbott and Costello had three Universal films where they met Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Mummy.
One final thing I would really love to see if this were a reality is a special event return of “Beetlejuice’s Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue.” I know that having the character of Beetlejuice would break the rule of featuring only Universal-owned properties, but if you grew up in the early days of the Universal Studios theme parks, Beetlejuice is synonymous with the classic monsters due to this popular show. And if Universal really didn’t want to pay for the rights to Beetlejuice, I wouldn’t be against seeing Jack the Clown’s Rock and Roll Graveyard Revue.
I love this concept of featuring the Universal Monsters at Halloween Horror Nights in a major way, and I don’t believe it’s too far out of the realm of possibility. What do you think? Would you like to see this become a reality and do you think it would be a successful event? Let me know in the comments.
If you have any theme park topics you would like to hear my opinion on, let me know in the comments. You might just see it pop up in a future DePaoli on DeParks.
Jeff DePaoli is a voiceover artist and producer living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice and producer of “That Halloween Podcast” featuring exclusive interviews with talents from within the horror and haunt industry at DePodcastNetwork.com.