Last year was a tune-up at Halloween Horror Nights. The pandemic made it so we had an all-around smaller event than in previous years. It was the 30th year running at Hollywood, which made the whole thing feel special, but there was still the looming figure of COVID-19 over the entire event. Now, the shackles are off all the ghouls, ghosts, demons, killers, monsters, and wolfmen. This year’s Halloween Horror Nights is still the best way to kickoff the Halloween season, even if it’s disgustingly hot out like it was last night for opening night.
If you’re planning on going to the Hollywood event of the Halloween season, here’s the rundown of all the houses and other frights on display.
- The Weeknd: Afer Hours Nightmare
- Terror Tram
- The Horrors Of Blumhouse: Freaky and The Black Phone
- Universal Monsters: Legends Collide
- Killer Klowns From Outer Space
- La Llorona: The Weeping Woman
- Scarecrow: The Reaping
- Universal Horror Hotel
- El Pueblo del Terror Scare Zone
- Sideshow Slaughterhouse Scare Zone
- Clownsawz Scare Zone
- Jurassic World – The Ride
- Transformers: The Ride 3D
- Revenge of the Mummy – The Ride
- The Simpsons Ride
- The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
- Death Eaters Encounter
Most areas of the park are open besides the Minions world and the Secret Life of Pets ride, which means you’re probably not getting the kiddies any sort of fun, but this event isn’t designed for kids in mind, anyway. The dates for Halloween Horror Nights 2022 are: September 8-11, 13-18, 22-25, 29-30, October 1-2, 6-9, 13-16, 20-23, 27-31. You can grab tickets at https://www.universalstudioshollywood.com/hhn/en/us.
As for COVID-19 procedures and policies, there are none currently in place for Halloween Horror Nights. You’re free to wear a mask or not, there are hand sanitizer stations throughout the park to keep things cleaner, and you’ll want to sanitize your hands after touching all the cloth barriers and such throughout the houses.
The Houses Ranked: Which Is The Best And Most Terrifying?
9. Scarecrow: The Reaping
At an abandoned Depression-era farm, vengeance takes root. The scarecrows are avenging the ravaged land. In this all-new haunted house, the only harvest that will be reaped is your scream squad.
Scarecrow: The Reaping is one of the three houses at the event that isn’t based on a previously existing IP. Usually, those houses get a little extra oomph from the design team at Horror Nights and this one is no exception. You’re immediately immersed in the smells of old wood, and banjo music. Whereas the other two houses have a real story to them, Scarecrow is just really about scary scarecrows. The house is very immersive but doesn’t quite reach that full immersion without a story to follow as you go through. The best kinds of houses give you that extra bit to follow along with.
The gimmick with this maze is all the various things you have to slog through to get out of the house. Universal doesn’t usually have any sort of physical effects in their houses, but here the cloth barriers turn into hanging meat and corn stalks as you go through. There’s a really cool effect with string hanging down in a pitch-black hallway. It mimics the feeling of spider webs PERFECTLY. Scarecrow: The Reaping could have been a top-tier house if the story was more existent, but as is, it’s still very good.
8. Universal Horror Hotel
Out of all the houses at this year’s event, I was the most hyped for the Universal Horror Hotel. The story of the house goes like this:
A 1920s Hollywood hotel, once the hunting ground of its infamous serial killer owner, has been turned into a modern-day haunted hotel. Now he’s back from the dead. Your ﬁrst stay will be your last.
Through the queue for the house, you get the story through video flashbacks and news reels. It’s a pretty inventive way to use the space for the old The Walking Dead attraction. Thankfully, they chose not to use The Walking Dead for the seemingly 100th year in a row. Zombies are cool, but the whole thing was running its course. This one sees the murderous owner of Universal Hotel come back to haunt the building. I was expecting a ’20s-themed house and didn’t really get that here. Instead, you go through the hotel and various guests that are now deformed and disfigured.
It’s a bit disappointing because a ’20s-themed house would have been super original and inventive from the scares. This one gives you contemporary-looking guests and a returning killer. Either way, it’s a fun house to go through and the story is pretty damn good.
7. Killer Klowns From Outer Space
There’s nothing funny about these Killer Klowns who’re back to make gooey, out of this world snacks out of you and your scream squad. If ever there’s a reason people are afraid of clowns, this is it.
Horror Nights made an EXCELLENT trailer for this house that felt very much like a sequel to Killer Klowns From Outer Space. However, this house is a remake of the one from 2019. I didn’t get the chance to go through it in 2019 but have seen videos of that house. If you love Killer Klowns, this one is a full remake of the movie and goes through all the best scenes in the movie. You have the old man outside the maze yelling for Boo, his dog, and then you head into the Klowns spaceship. From there it’s all Klowns all the time.
This one has some interesting environmental effects and the most aggressive and charming scare actors on display. The Klowns get right up into your face with one Klown even offering you up a drink from a “Cotton Candy” cocoon. Speaking of that, they pump in the smell of cotton candy while you’re walking through, so you might want to grab some after. The only knock I can give this one is after going through the second time, some of the scare actors that were there the first time, weren’t there the second time. They might’ve been on a break or whatever, but it was a little less immersive seeing the bunny hand puppet without a Klown doing it in front of you.
The best section is where they play ” Killer Klown March” and the section at the Crescent Cove Police Station. Even if it’s a remake, you’ll want to go through this house.
6. Terror Tram: Nope And Us Plus Clowns
Terror Tram is back and taking a disturbing new turn, ending with a walk-through visit into the world of Jordan Peele’s ﬁlms Us and NOPE.
The Terror Tram gives you THREE different stories or movies this time around. The first and the one you get on the actual tram ride to the backlot is that of Hollywood Harry, a clown who had an early Universal TV show that disappeared and went mad. After showing up on the backlot in 2016, he kidnapped two Universal tour guides and murdered them. Now, he’s back and ready to invite you to his Halloween party. The first section through the Bates Motel set heavily features murderous clowns and other unsavory characters. If you’ve been through the Terror Tram before, this section should be very familiar. It’s got some good scares and the scare actors all look like they’re having a blast.
The real highlight of the Terror Tram begins when you get to the normal “pickup” area for the tram. Instead, you walk through the set of the film Nope, Jupiter’s Claim. The way they blended the movies Nope and Us here is amazing with characters and voiceovers from Us filling the air, while employees of Jupiter’s Claim run around in fear.
That new area makes the Terror Tram from a fun novelty walkthrough into a must-see.
5. La Llorona: The Weeping Woman
You and your scream squad remember the tale of the woman who drowned her children and then herself. Once a childhood fable, she’s back to terrify once again. This is no nightmare. This is La Llorona.
Now for the last of the non-IP houses for the event. La Llorona: The Weeping Woman is the most frightening house throughout the whole event. It offers the most scares, double scares, and the most frightening imagery out there. La Llorona the character, is terrifying enough on her own. When you add in the imagery on display through the finale section of this house, you’ll be unsettled. The various scare actors done up to look like The Weeping Woman are also among the best for the entire event with beautiful white (stained with blood) gowns and ghoulish makeup. For the ambiance and scenery, this house also gets high marks with a section with faux water and dead bodies floating.
La Llorona: The Weeping Woman gets a lower grade than the other houses coming up because it has the fable it’s based on, but no other real story to latch onto. Also, the second time around, this had the same issue as Killer Klowns with several scare actors that were around in the first go, absent for my second time through later in the night.
4. Universal Monsters: Legends Collide
If you thought one Universal Monster was scary, how about three? Summon your scream squad, ‘cause you’re about to get caught between The Wolf Man, Dracula and The Mummy, together for the first time.
This was the most disappointing house of the entire event. When you take these three classic monsters and also compare it to the history of these Universal Monster houses that they’ve done, this would have been a no-brainer. The Bride of Frankenstein Lives! from last year’s event was the best house they’ve ever done. It combined the story, and the character of the Bride of Frankenstein, and made a new original concept for it. This time around, we get a story about an amulet that draws in all three of the movie monsters, but we don’t really get to see them interact as much.
That doesn’t mean this is a bad house though. This one, despite that disappointment, is still excellent. You do get a three-way scare at the end with all of the monsters, but it would have been nice to have an actual overarching story between the three of them. The set design and rooms for this house are top-notch and if not for some later houses on the review, would have been the best of the event.
The scene where you get to see Dracula for the first time is the real highlight of this house.
Silent. Merciless. Relentless. There’s nobody like Michael Myers. And if your scream squad is ready, this year, you can gather together and face the terror of Halloween from the very beginning.
We’ve had plenty of variations on the Halloween franchise at Horror Nights through the years. Last year was Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, this year we get the original. This house goes through the whole movie and gives us looks at Michael’s best kills throughout. The scare actors here all did their jobs admirably, including a Laurie Strode that looked exactly like Jamie Lee Curtis from the movie. It also had one of the most inventive scares I’ve seen at Horror Nights. Throughout the house, there are stationary Michael statues that light up with music cues, so you’re lulled into a false sense of security when one shows up down a hallway. Instead, Michael busts open a window and reaches out to grab you. It was easily the scariest moment of the entire night.
This one recycles a nice section from the previous Halloween 4 house from last year, and if you remember it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. This was the best Halloween has been at Horror Nights though.
2. The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare
Now for a big surprise, considering I’ve never really listened to his music outside of his Super Bowl performance, The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare was fantastic.
You love his music, but can you survive his mind? The Weeknd is about to stalk your squad through this haunted house, a surreal living nightmare from his After Hours videos. His nightmare is now yours.
This house combines it all, story, effects, music, ambiance, and set design, it even has some physical effects for good measure. Even if you’re not a fan of his music or haven’t heard it before, this is a feast for the eyes. This one tells an original story featuring plastic surgery, strange beings, and of course, murder. You’ll go through various dream/nightmare-like scenes that feature songs by The Weeknd.
Without spoiling anything from the house, this is one of the biggest reasons to go to Halloween Horror Nights this year. This house is inventive, scary, and it combines music and horror in a fresh way. It might not be the Iron Maiden house that I’ve dreamt about, but this is an excellent addition to Horror Nights.
1. The Horrors Of Blumhouse: Freaky and The Black Phone
Get ready for a bloodcurdling new double feature of Blumhouse horror as your scream squad faces a ruthless serial killer in Freaky and an evil kidnapper in the relentlessly terrifying The Black Phone.
It takes a mighty effort to overcome the majesty of After Hours Nightmare. Here, with The Horrors of Blumhouse, we get the best house of the year at Horror Nights. For the price of one, you get two houses worth of content from Freaky and The Black Phone. These two movies might be vastly different from a tone standpoint, but they both feature slasher/horror icons in The Grabber and The Butcher. Freaky is first up with the basics of that movie and the plot going on as you walk through. Each day before Friday the 13th passing until The Butcher and Millie swap bodies. There’s one of the best effects in a house with Millie taking the woodshop teacher through a belt saw here. In addition, the kill from Freaky involving a wine bottle in someone’s mouth is here in gruesome detail, including spritzing “water”.
The Black Phone kicks off with a bang, with the Grabber showing up to scream at you to “HANG UP THE PHONE!”. This section is really where the scares get good. It goes through the second half of The Black Phone, in less detail than a full maze, but it gives you a good section of the film nonetheless.
Halloween Horror Nights is back in full force for 2022 and the houses on display this year are all good to great in varying degrees. There’s something for anyone at the event, including Harry Potter fans with the new DeathEaters scare zone. Even if you’re not into the houses, the rides are open and have new touches like no lights or other flourishes. For the horror fans out there, you can do much much worse when it comes to haunted houses. Halloween Horror Nights 2022 continues the tradition of Universal putting on the best Halloween party out there. Check it out on select nights all the way up to October 31st.
For more horror content, check out the THS Fright-A-Thon Index for 61 days of Halloween articles.