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Celebrities Like Slash Love Halloween Horror Nights, But Why The Weeknd Got Way More Involved With The Universal Studios Event

The Weeknd After Hours Nightmare 2022 house Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights
(Image credit: NBCUniversal)

Halloween Horror Nights is the biggest event at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort. It has millions of fans that visit the parks during the spooky season. Some of those fans are actually famous, and have found ways to not only enjoy HHN, but become part of it. This year, The Weeknd became a key part of the event by hosting his own house and not because Universal wanted him, but because he wanted to do it..

One celebrity who has been part of Halloween Horror Nights before is Guns ‘N’ Roses guitarist Slash, who has written music for the event at Universal Studios Hollywood before, but The Weeknd wasn't just interested in that. During a recent preview for the event where CinemaBlend was in attendance, creative director John Murdy explained that The Weeknd actually contacted Universal directly because he wanted to be involved in the event, though Murdy admits he wasn’t that familiar with the pop star at that point. The creative director explained…

We're blessed to have a whole lot of celebrity fans to this event, and a lot of times I don't even know they're fans. Unless I'm asked to meet them and escort them around, that's how I met [Guns N Roses] Slash, back in the day. I didn't even know [The Weeknd] was a fan of our event, honestly. When they contacted us with this desire to do something, the first thing I had to do was educate myself on his music.

It did not take long, however, for Murdy to see that The Weeknd had some potential within the sphere of Halloween Horror Nights. The music and the music videos from The Weeknd certainly have some dark vibes, though The Weeknd has said he’s not as dark a person as he might appear.  Murdy was intrigued enough to take the conversation to the next level. He continued…

Then I started watching the music videos and that moment where I went 'O...K., this is really dark. There's some really messed up weird stuff going on here. I want to talk to this guy and find out where he's coming from.'

When the two were able to have a conversation, it sounds like it was a real meeting of the minds. While The Weeknd had a lot of specific ideas about how to bring his music to life in Halloween Horror Nights, John Murdy was able to explain what needed to be done to make the music work in an HHN context. The Weeknd had the concepts, but they needed to be adapted properly to work as a Horror Nights house...

He had a very specific idea, vision, of what he wanted to do and that was to focus specifically on After Hours because he viewed that as a universe he had created with this interconnected story that ran through all the videos. And then what I said to him was 'That's great, we can't just reproduce the music video, cause that's not Horror Nights. As freaky as they are, we need to take all this, filter it through a horror lens and treat it like a horror movie.' And he was excited by that.

The end result was certainly something special. CinemaBlend recently visited both Halloween Horror Nights events, and our staff ranked The Weeknd’s house near the top on both coasts. One has to wonder if this will be the beginning of a new collaboration that could see an updated house, or possibly an entirely new one, from The Weeknd in years to come. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.