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SYFY WIRE Halloween Horror Nights

First look: Halloween Horror Nights return to Universal parks with terrifying 'Haunting of Hill House' crossover

By Benjamin Bullard

Horror fans weren’t able to get their scare on at Universal theme parks last year with Halloween Horror Nights, the parks’ annual haunted-maze conjuration of all things creepy, pushed for 2020 due to COVID-19. But the fright fest is back in full swing this year, and it's ready to raise the scare factor even further — thanks to a first-ever crossover themed around The Haunting of Hill House.

Netflix’s instant horror hit is bringing its ominous presence to both Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood for the spooky season, with all-new mazes carefully calculated to curdle your blood when Halloween Horror Nights 2021 officially returns this September. Reincarnated from the small screen as a terrifyingly realistic horror scene, the imposing and mysterious Hill House will come to creepy life, luring guests inside to retrace the dark journey that haunted the Crain family in the critically-acclaimed series.

The apparitions that await in the teaser trailer ought to have intrepid maze-walkers double-checking their jump-scare resolve…but then again, who can resist a good firsthand stalk through the haunted corridors that made horror mastermind Mike Flanagan’s creepy series such a huge Netflix hit?

Check it out (and prepare to be scared):

Halloween Horror Nights Haunting of Hill House 2

It’s tough to get a more hair-raising endorsement than that of Flanagan himself — the creator, director, and executive producer (along with Trevor Macy via their Intrepid Pictures banner) of the original Hill House series. Flanagan describes the crossover as “one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to us at Intrepid,” putting him fully on board for Universal’s horror-maze adaptation of his supernatural scare showpiece.

“I have loved Halloween Horror Nights for so long,” he confessed in Universal’s announcement. “Some of my favorite memories of Halloween were made at Universal Studios, screaming and laughing with my friends. It is such an honor to be included among such fantastic Haunts, and I’m so glad that fans will be able to walk the halls of Hill House this Halloween. This is — without a doubt — one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to us at Intrepid. We are so excited to visit the Red Room again — we hope to see you all there!”

Yep, the Red Room is just one of the many harrowing Hill House hallmarks that guests will have to work up the courage to go tiptoeing past when the attractions open in Florida and California this September. “Iconic scenes from the Netflix series will be featured throughout the maze, including the omni-powerful Red Room – the heart of Hill House – and the infamous Hall of Statues, where deceptive powers overtake everyone who enters,” Universal teases.

“Apparitions will appear around every corner, from William Hill – The Tall Man, whose towering stature overwhelms everyone he encounters; to The Ghost in the Basement, who feverishly crawls throughout the bowels of the House in search of his next victim; to The Bent-Neck Lady, whose disturbing scream and ghastly appearance invoke a constant state of unnerving dread.”

Whew. Fully volunteering to be scared twice — once by the Netflix series, and again by the Halloween Horror Nights maze itself — we’d better dial up Netflix and do our Hill House homework now, before the main event beckons guests to cross the sinister threshold this fall. Check out a dreadfully dark preview of Halloween Horror Nights 2021 here, while we start the creepy countdown toward The Haunting of Hill House maze crossover — opening Sept. 3 at Universal Orlando Resort (where you can also watch out for Jack the Clown), and Sept. 9 at Universal Studios Hollywood.

(Universal Studios theme parks and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal.)