Today, Universal has made many fans’ dreams come true by announcing that it’s going to take the most seminal film property in its library out of the dusty vault that it typically keeps it stored in and set it loose at this year’s Halloween Horror Nights. Yes, that’s right – the Universal Monsters are coming out to play in their very own haunted house.
Called, ironically enough, Universal Monsters, the company is promising that guests will get to visit each of the individual monsters’ domains in the house:
Come face-to-face with Dracula in his Gothic castle, the Wolf Man in a dark Bavarian forest, and the man-made monster within Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. And if you survive them, you still may encounter the vicious Creature of the Black Lagoon, the ancient evil of the Mummy, and more.
This haunt actually derives from a Universal Studios Hollywood maze last year, apparently using it as the basis for an “all new” take. The West Coast version received lots of attention when it was first announced due to two major points: that it was going to provide modern interpretations of such hallowed characters as Frankenstein’s Monster, the Phantom of the Opera, and the Mummy, and that it had an original soundtrack composed by none other than Slash, the Grammy Award-winning guitarist from Guns ‘n Roses. Both, indeed, ended up being highlights of the maze, though they were perhaps subdued when combined with all the other elements of the haunt experience.
Both, however, also deserve their moment in the (undead) sun. Universal itself put the premise of the 2018 house this way:
After decades of rot and decay as they lay mouldering in their graves, the Universal Monsters’ disdain for the living has risen to a bloodthirsty, all-consuming level. Invade their eternal resting place and witness [their] bone-chilling resurrection…
These new, modern-day designs were less revolutionary and more evolutionary, meaning that most probably wouldn’t have even noticed if the company hadn’t made a lot of hay over it beforehand. In fact, in both design and in execution, these iterations placed a huge focus on the various characters’ originating mythologies – the Mummy, for example, was placed in a scene that was heavily Egyptian in design and atmosphere, while, in a more literal example, Frankenstein’s Monster literally ripped through a screen on which the horror films from the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s were projected. These contexts make the new costumes blend in, downplaying rather than highlighting them – something which may very well be the case for Orlando’s haunted house this year, as well.
And then there was the soundtrack, whose goal Slash described as “to ultimately make the guests feel as if they are playing an integral role in a classic [Universal] Monster movie.” His own website went into even greater detail, briefly sketching out each of the six individual tracks:
- “We Belong Dead” – inspired by Frankenstein’s Monster’s immortal line from the explosive finale of The Bride of Frankenstein.
- “The Danse of the Dead” – inspired by “Danse Macabre,” the late medieval art movement that celebrated “the universality of death” and influenced the famous masquerade ball scene from The Phantom of the Opera.
- “The Final Scare” – this guitar-driven, up-tempo track combines punk with modern electronica where multiple monsters attack in the maze.
- “Universal Monsters Rising” – Slash’s signature lead guitar joins with the mournful sound of a tolling church and the sharp, staccato stabs of violins to call guests to the graveyard, where Universal Monsters rise again.
- “The Collection Room/Dracula’s Lair” – composed to accompany the Mummy and Dracula sections of the maze, this track transitions between Middle Eastern and Eastern European instrumentation to bring to life these two classic monsters.
- “Monsters, Maniacs, and Madmen (Universal Monsters Maze Medley)” – this compilation takes a single haunting melody and transforms it.
- “Sweet Licks” – Slash composed this track with a creepy carnival vibe for 2014’s Clowns 3D maze.
At this point, we don’t yet know whether Universal will transplant the soundtrack over to the East Coast along with the premise (and aesthetics?) of the Universal Monsters maze, but you can at least get more into the anticipatory mood by listening to it in its entirety here. (And while you’re at it, why don’t you check out the history of the entire Universal Monsters shared cinematic universe in our initial write-up over at California Informer?)
Universal Monsters will join Stranger Things and Nightingales: Blood Pit at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, which runs for a record-breaking 41 select nights, from Friday, September 6 to Saturday, November 2.