We were pretty pleased with HOH this year, but we have to admit that it was basically the same as last year. The one innovation - including characters from the cult horror hit THE STRANGERS - was a bit ill conceived.
HOH is a bit like a long tour through the history of horror, from silent classics like PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to FRANKENSTEIN on through PSYCHO and CHILD'S PLAY. The spectacular aspect of this haunt is that if features movie-quality sets; each character is housed in his or her own tailor-made environment. The Strangers, however, were obviously included at the last minute - a few people in mask lurking at random points inside. They were not ineffective; they simply did not fit in. It was a bit like a Monty Python joke - they literally seemed to have wandered onto the wrong set.
The great thing about HOH is that it's a year-round attraction, which means it doesn't have to be hauled out of the mothballs every October; the permanent location allows for bigger, better, more convincing sets, including a massive mad scientist's laboratory where the Bride of Frankenstein can be seen on the elevated slab awaiting the ultra-violet ray that will bring her to life, while her monster groom lurks someone on the floor down below.
The downside is that, unless Universal decides to completely rebuild the attraction, you are going to see basically the same thing from one Halloween to the next, plus or minus a few monsters (more are employed for Halloween Horror Nights). Fortunately, that's a small price to pay.
If Universal wants to mix things up a bit, instead of tossing in a few Strangers, they should play around with their available recources. Instead of Frankenstein and the Wolf Man in separate rooms, recreate FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN. Or give us variations on their famous monsters. How about Dracula in the mold of Frank Langella? Or throw some color on those monocrome sets so that they resemble the Technicolor Hammer horror films of the '50s rather than Universal's black-and-white classics of the '30s?
Of all the Halloween Horror Nights attractions, House of Horrors is the only one that exploits Universal's classic monster movie legacy. That old-fashioned approach to horror comes closest to capturing the true spirit of Halloween. For that we celebrate HOH and enjoy our return trip every year. In the future, any additions will hopefully maintain that wonderful Gothic tradition.
More in this series:
- Universal's Halloween Horror Nights review - Updated
- Halloween Horror Nights: House of Horrors video
- HHN Video: Nightmare on Elm Street
- HHN Terror Tram Tour Video
- Halloween Horror Nights Video: Chainsaw Terror
- HHN Video: A Trip to Crystal Lake