Ready to live your own marathon of horror movies? Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights is officially back in business for the spooky season, where you’ll find a ton of objects of nightmares and hellish creatures ready to place you in the center of their terrors and get you with all the jump scares. Once again, CinemaBlend checked out every Horror Nights house so you can decide for yourself which frights are most worth your time at Universal’s viciously fun seasonal event.
After ranking Hollywood Horror Nights in 2021, I went back from another blast of an opening night on the West Coast Universal Studios. (If you’d like to plan your visit to Orlando’s 2022 Halloween Horror Nights, check out our other ranking.) It’s another strong year for the spooky event in Southern California, between horror franchises, originals and the first house based on a musician’s vision since 2013’s Black Sabbath attraction with The Weeknd After Hours Nightmare. Since I know there are a lot of attractions and only so much time to experience them, here’s my ranking of 2022’s houses from worst to best:
8. Universal Horror Hotel
The most forgettable house of the year was Universal Horror Hotel, a brand-new and original concept. It took the place of The Walking Dead attraction for the first time since 2016, which used to be a year-round Haunt Venue before having its final hurrah at last year’s Horror Nights. In the line queue, it’s set up that it's a 1920s hotel in Hollywood that was once the hunting ground for a serial killer and owner of the business. There’s some scary images of doomed vacationers and such to witness, but overall I found it to be the weakest of 2022’s offerings.
7. The Horrors Of Blumhouse
Although this house ranks low of the overall offerings this year, I will say if Freaky and/or The Black Phone are favorites for you, absolutely seek it out. There are some really solid moments from each of the recent Blumhouse films to be part of if you venture into The Horrors of Blumhouse, located by the Waterworld attraction near the front of the park. The new attraction based on Scott Derrickson’s critically-acclaimed 2022 summer horror film The Black Phone and 2020’s Vince Vaughn-led Freaky is fun and packed with scares. However, its sets felt lesser than the other houses and the concept itself of blending these very different movies doesn’t really work thematically.
6. Universal Monsters: Legends Collide
Every year, Horror Nights features a house with Universal Monsters, and in 2022, Universal Studios is bringing together Dracula, The Mummy and The Wolf Man in an “epic battle,” as it has been teased. I had especially high hopes for this one, especially since last year’s The Bride of Frankenstein Lives! was such a highlight. Universal Monsters: Legends Collide, which is aptly located on the Lower Lot next to Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride, has some stellar sets (primarily Egyptian-themed) and a cool concept to walk through, but it’s more moody than scary. Perhaps the camp of the three very different monsters coming together is what distracts it from being truly great.
5. Killer Klowns From Outer Space
The only returning house from a previous year for 2022’s Hollywood Horror Nights is Killer Klowns From Outer Space, which previously came around in 2019. The house is based on the 1988 cult classic of the same name and is located on the Lower Lot near Universal Monsters: Legends Collide. Killer Klowns is the most lighthearted of the houses this year (depending on how scared of clowns you are), and yet it simultaneously finds a sweet spot of being both unsettling and entertaining to experience. There’s an overwhelming feeling of rubber being everywhere, even through sound effects, as you enter a circus tent full of characters from the movie, and loads of jump scares that sets itself apart from any other house in Universal Studios. No wonder it’s back for more!
4. La Llorona: The Weeping Woman
The mythical ghost of La Llorona previously haunted the likes of Universal Studios Hollywood in two earlier houses, 2011’s La Llorona: Villa de Almas Perdidas and 2012’s La Llorona: La Cazadora de Ninos, but a decade later, she has a new house titled La Llorona: The Weeping Woman and it’s one of the most frightening of the batch at this year’s Horror Nights. The house, which is located at the Parisian Courtyard next to Universal Horror Hotel, has numerous clever and especially gruesome scares that make it more unique than the others mentioned above.
Ahead of Jamie Lee Curtis’ Laurie Strode having her final face off with Michael Myers in the upcoming horror movie Halloween Ends, HHN has finally created a house based on the 1978 horror classic Halloween. Michael Myers has been the star of five prior houses, including last year’s Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, which also ranked high for me, but this one is the first time it’s purely been based on the movie that started it all. And yes, it includes Laurie Strode. While I wouldn't say it's among the scariest houses this year, the attraction, which is located a bit of a ways past Hogwarts, beautifully captures the spirit of the classic film in really iconic and impressive ways horror fans will appreciate and enjoy being part of, making it a major 2022 highlight.
2. Scarecrow: The Reaping
The original Horror Nights house that really got my skin crawling this year was Scarecrow: The Reaping, located right next to the Halloween house. The new attraction takes place in a Depression-era farm where scarecrows have avenged their land. When walking through, it smells intensely of straw, features numerous gory images of killed farmers, one of which has an ear of corn shoved down their throat and includes having to pull away hanging intestines and skinned rabbits as you walk through. Scarecrow: The Reaping makes incredible use of its space and really aims to creep out and scare way better than the other houses this year. I especially felt like I had been through something after that one.
1. The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare
My favorite house of 2022’s Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights is indeed its most advertised: The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare. And I say this as someone who listens to The Weeknd’s music, but doesn’t consider myself a super fan. As the best houses often do, After Hours Nightmare completely transports you to a distinct vision, plus it features songs from the artist’s album After Hours too. Murders at a dance club and a variety of really stylish ghoulish figures are soundtracked by his pop music in the most inspired and memorable experience of this year’s event. Each of the house's rooms is a feast for the eyes, features numerous surprises, and it's just as scary as it is fun to live inside.
Overall, 2022’s Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood delivers an assortment of really entertaining houses. There were a few disappointments, but the really great ones make up for it. In addition to these eight mazes, the Terror Tram has returned and features elements from Jordan Peele movies Us and Nope. Scare Zones are back, featuring a new one where Death Eaters stalk Hogsmeade. Additionally, there’s a special bar themed after The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare on the Lower Lot. Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights tickets are on sale now for select dates in September and October, with its final night taking place on All Hallows’ Eve.
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Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.