Yesterday, Inside Universal was invited out by Universal Studios Hollywood to get a behind-the-scenes early peek at some of the haunted houses that will be featured at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights.
In the first of our two-part behind-the-scenes preview, we will take a look at Universal Monsters: Unmasked, featuring the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Phantom of the Opera and the nefarious Dr. Jekyll, including a cameo from Dr. Griffin A.K.A. The Invisible Man.
Join us beneath Paris, deep inside the catacombs as we unlock the secrets of Universal’s Monsters: Unmasked. WARNING: There are Spoilers!
You’ll enter through a facade modeled from an English-language French newspaper La Bella De Paris, informing us that the infamous Paris Catacombs are now open for visitors. However, the locals are skeptical; the workers who’ve gone into the catacombs to prepare it for opening have all mysteriously vanished.
“We conceived this idea [before the event] last year,” John Murdy, creative director of Universal Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights said. “This year, I realized, is the one-hundredth anniversary of the very first Universal classic monster film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, 1923. So we decided that we would maybe focus on the silent movies that started this franchise.”
Madame Squelette (the French word for skeleton) is introduced at the entrance to the attraction. She serves as the narrator for the attraction.
The house takes you immediately through the catacombs where the masked version of The Phantom of the Opera hides and tries to make us his next victim.
We see the fate of missing workers who have met their demise at the hands of the Phantom and his Punjab lasso.
Silent movie-inspired title cards transition the house into each character’s domain.
In the Phantom’s lair guests will find themselves inside a recreation of the iconic unmasking scene from the 1925 silent classic.
As guests exit the Phantom’s lair, another title card reveals that it’s time to enter the world of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Guests enter a medieval torture chamber where “Hunchback takes Claude Frollo and sticks him in this [torture] device,” said Murdy.
“There’s a dialogue exchange between these two… and [Hunchback] cranks the rack, and mechanically rips [Frollo’s] head off.”
The Hunchback stands on a platform above the guests. “He’ll tip the entire cauldron on us, and you’ll get blasted with smoke and fog and lights. We’re trying something new, we’ve never done this particular effect before,” John Murdy said.
Guests will then be confronted by a new addition to the HHN Universal Monsters lineup, Dr. Jekyll.
“As we were discussing what Jekyll should look like we kind of thought maybe we should bring in a little diversity here. At that time period, it was very common to have doctors from India or Pakistan, so that’s how we cast him and that’s how we designed him,” Murdy said.
“In this house, once we’re underground we never come out. Jekyll has reassembled his laboratory down here,” Murdy said.
Inside Jekyll’s lab guests will come face to face with his horrible transformation into Mr. Hyde
The mirror will utilize a two-way effect to show the completed transformation, with Hyde appearing in the glass.
Mr. Hyde is designed to be larger than life. “The actor will be looking through the mouth, he’s an oversized big beast.”
“If all these monsters are underground, what do they do for fun? So we created this Cabaret of Death for them to go to,” Murdy said.
Guests will enter into the “Cabaret De La Mort” through the stone mouth of a demon’s head. “It’s painted with UV so as you approach we can change the look from stone to something more firey and hellish, eyes flashing,” said Murdy.
The invisible man’s cameo will be located here, in the cloakroom before guests enter, quipping at them to hurry up, the show is about to begin.
Guests will then enter the main theater of the club, where the headliner for the night is Mr. Hyde who has “plucked a victim from the streets of Paris in order to rip her intestines out, somewhat done like a magic show,” Murdy said.
Leaving the theater, guests will encounter Madame Squelette one last time, in video form.
The Phantom, Mr. Hyde, the Hunchback, and a stilt-walking “Masque of the Red Death” Phantom will attack in quick succession before you exit the house.
Halloween Horror Nights begins on Thursday, September 7 at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Stay tuned to Inside Universal for all the latest news on Universal Parks & Resorts and follow along on our forums & discussion boards.