Catacombs And Carnage At Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights

Creative Director John Murdy takes us behind the scenes of Chucky Ultimate Kill Count and Universal Monsters Unmasked.

By Angel Melanson · @HorrorGirlProbs · September 6, 2023, 3:42 PM EDT

We recently took a field trip to Universal Studios Hollywood to take a behind-the-scenes Horror Nights tour with Creative Director John Murdy. Murdy took us on a walkthrough of two of this year's mazes, Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count and Universal Monsters: Unmasked. We gave you the rundown on these two houses when they were first announced at the end of July. This marks Chucky's first-ever house, and Monsters Unmasked will take us to the Parisian catacombs with some familiar faces. But first, to the Good Guys factory, where a (not great) guy awaits.

Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count


First up, let's start with the facade. A towering wall of Good Guy Dolls welcomes visitors to Chucky's slaughterhouse. As eager victims line up outside the factory, Murdy explains some of the boxes in front of us will feature video screens, allowing our favorite killer doll to taunt the line of adoring fans awaiting entry. This house will do something Murdy and team have not tackled before. “Chucky is going to end up being the most challenging just because of the sheer amount of animated effects that are going to be in there. We knew it was going to be a challenge.” With seventeen animated Chucky figures featured in this house, Murdy and team have created an ultimate challenge, perhaps one that will open the door for more animatronics in upcoming houses. "Normally, we don’t get into animatronics. It’s not what we do. Until now.”

In eighteen years, there has never been a Universal maze “based exclusively on Chucky. And that pisses him off.” Naturally, he raises an army of Good Guy Dolls in order to create the ultimate kill count… by killing all the guests. “It’s great because he doesn’t really have to do much. People just line up!” This house was still under construction during our walkthrough, so we witnessed some Chucky dolls in various stages of completion. As it turns out, Chucky dolls sans skin are pretty disturbing. The house will take visitors through iconic scenes from the cult classic films as well as the Syfy series.


Every performer in the house is a “guest” so you’ll notice lots of Horror Nights shirts and Chucky paraphernalia. This is Universal Horror Nights, after all, and that means bloggers and HHN aficionados have spent the better part of a year speculating on what this year's lineup would include. Meet Lord Spookula, internet personality, broadcasting live from HHN, (or at least he was).


Hospital hijinks! Chucky is keeping track of the kill count, hopefully it's up to his standards. Jumpstart my heart, Doctor Chuck!


Nothing beats the holidays with some loved ones gathered round the tree and the table. Deck the halls with Chucky and fam. Thanks for having me!





As Murdy led us through the woods, we encountered some pretty strange beasts. A little roast Tiffany, anyone?





And we're outta here! Bride of Chucky fans have a lot to look forward to here. There is one scene in particular that we won't spoil here, but pretty sure Tiffany fans are going to go wild for it. Murdy says this house has been particularly challenging due to the animatronic aspect of it. The reason Chucky hasn't had a dedicated house in the past is because it takes a lot to bring dozens of dolls to life. But Murdy and his team have really worked to do this justice, and we can't wait to see an army of flesh-covered Chucky dolls gleefully attempting to slaughter every single fan that walks through those halls!

Universal Monsters: Unmasked


Welcome to Paris! Well, the Paris catacombs, to be more precise. Murdy takes us underground to the Parisian catacombs, and the level of detail and research that went into bringing this to life is impressive. The facade that welcomes guests to Paris features a detailed back story in the form of a Parisian newspaper. Murdy went to great lengths to make many of the details historically accurate, so take the time to check it out while you wait to enter. A new monster host waits to welcome you to the city, a character inspired by Murdy's daughters, "We needed somebody to narrate this. Originally, I wrote this this as a male part, then I looked at my daughters and thought, 'why am I making it a male?'"

The premise here is that some familiar characters lurk beneath the bustling streets of Paris, The Phantom of the Opera, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and his deranged alternate personality Mr. Hyde, and Dr. Jack Griffin, aka The Invisible Man. These fan favorites are set to stalk you through the twisted tunnels of the catacombs as you try to escape with your life. Murdy shares with us that the day before opening night marks the 100th anniversary of Universal's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, so honoring the Hunchback here is a fitting celebration. “There’s a reason these characters have been around for 100 years. They are that iconic.”



Silent movie-style title cards welcome visitors to each new section, (and a new monster's domain).


This is a particularly gruesome and delightfully disgusting animatronic to look forward to. A torture chamber with all manner of contraptions and torture methods in motion, but none quite as eye-grabbing and stomach-churning as this glory!



Aside from creating a unique and distinct "lair" for each featured monster, perhaps the crowning glory of this maze was the impressive inclusion of Cabaret de l'Enfer (The Cabaret of Hell). Once again, Murdy's attention to detail and in-depth research rewards visitors with the chance to step through the doors of the famous cabaret in Montmartre. Yes, this place actually existed! Founded in November 1892 by Antonin Alexander and tragically demolished in 1950, Murdy allows us to step back in time for a version of the Cabaret inhabited by underground monsters.


Standing at the door of the damned, but the Leviathan does not like to be photographed.




The absinthe is flowing as My. Hyde wows the crowd. And that's a wrap! We can't wait to creep back onto the lot for opening night to see it all come together and experience all this year's haunt has to offer.Halloween Horror Nights runs select nights from Thursday, September 7 through Tuesday, October 31 at Universal Studios Hollywood. Tickets are expected to sell out, so make sure to purchase yours in advance! Catch you creeps in the catacombs.