Theatre / Halloween Horror Nights

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Prepare to run like the dickens in 3...2...late.

Halloween Horror Nights is one of the largest annual Halloween events in the world. Hosted from the end of September to the end of October (occasionally extending to the first day or two of November), Halloween Horror Nights is hosted by Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando and Hollywood (expanding to Singapore and Japan as of 2011) every year. While the Orlando event is the biggest, all events revolve are several key similarities: haunted houses (sometimes referred to as mazes, though they all have a predefined path), scarezones (sections of the park themed with props and effects and populated with actors), and shows (with Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure being a perennial favorite). The houses and scarezones are populated with "scareactors", dressed in costumes and makeup and positioned to scare the bejeezus out of passerby.

Halloween Horror Nights actually began in 1986 at Universal Hollywood; after a grisly accident where a scareactor was run over by a tram, Hollywood canceled the event. Universal would not revive their Halloween events until Orlando (to compete with the local "Terror On Church Street" haunt) introduced Fright Nights in 1991, an event that lasted for one weekend in October and included one house, The Dungeon of Terror, and a large number of shows, musical acts, and street performers. Fright Nights was massively popular, with the house achieving wait times of over 2 hours, and the name was changed to Halloween Horror Nights in 1992. '92 also saw the introduction of the Bill & Ted show, which has continued every year since. The event has only grown since then: in 2011 at its peak, for Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights 21, there were 8 houses, 6 scarezones, and 2 shows. The event has gone from a few nights to (at its 2013 peak) 4 or 5 nights a week every week from September 20 to November 2. The biggest competitor at the moment is Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens. Hollywood's event (under the direction of John Murdy, who originally worked on the Orlando event) would eventually catch back up with the Orlando event in terms of scope and has been well received by fans and by the creators of the franchises that Hollywood bases their mazes on. The biggest competitor for Hollywood at the moment note  is Knotts' Scary Farm.

As a Universal Studios event, houses and scarezones based on movies are quite common, to the point where 2009's Orlando event included 6 movie houses out of 8 total. Universal Hollywood often has almost exclusively film-based events beginning in 2006, and House of 1000 Corpses even got its start as a Hollywood house. It does have the occasional original property, however, such as La Llorona in 2011note . One of the key points of the Orlando event is its use of icons: beginning with the Cryptkeeper in 1995, there's been a number of icons (as well as a great many unused concepts) that have been used to provide a face for the year. Orlando also uses the event website to expand upon the backstory of the icons, houses, and scarezones for each year, often mixed in with games (such as "Horror Unearthed" which had an online and an in-park component and the Alternate Reality Game Legendary Truth). Hollywood's event is predominantly movie-centric, and as such, doesn't have Icons and focuses on characters from the house/scarezone properties in the event and marketing. note  One of the other distinctions that Hollywood has over Orlando is the Terror Tram, which goes through many of the same sights as the distinctive Studio Tour...only for one reason or another, guests are forced off the tram and onto the the Backlot sets, with rethemed paths and scareactors galore.

     HHN Orlando 2016 Houses, Scarezones, and Immersive Content 
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) (licensed house)
  • The Exorcist (licensed house)
  • The Walking Dead (licensed house)
  • Halloween: Hell Comes To Haddonfield (licensed house)
  • Krampus (licensed house)
  • American Horror Story (licensed house)
  • Lunatics Playground 3D - You Won't Stand A Chance (original house)
  • Ghost Town - The Curse of Lightning Gulch (original house)
  • Tomb of the Ancients (original house)
  • The Repository (original house) note 
  • Survive or Die: Apocalypse (original scarezone)
  • Lair of the Banshees (original scarezone)
  • Dead Man's Wharf (original scarezone)
  • Vamp 1955 (original scarezone)
  • A Chance In Hell (original scarezone)
  • Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure (licensed show)
  • Academy of Villains: House of Fear (licensed show)

     HHN Hollywood 2016 Houses, Scarezones, and Immersive Content 

Universal Studios Singapore and Universal Studios Japan both have their own versions, with members of the Orlando event's Art & Design Team providing guidance. Singapore's event weaves in both common Horror Nights staples (the use of Icon characters and common HHN maze/scarezone themes) mixed in with haunted attractions based in Singaporean culture. Japan's event started with a focus on licensed properties such as Friday the 13th and The Mummy, along with J-horror mainstays Ring and Ju-on. It gained mainstream gaming media attention in 2012 for its Resident Evil scarezone, complete with appearances from some of the franchise's most recognizable protagonists and monsters along with Raccoon City wall projections. It's also notable for having the first "extreme" house in the event's history worldwidenote , with 2015's Trauma.

Information about the Icons and other original characters created for the event can be found at the (still heavily under construction) Characters page. A partial list of some of the many multimedia properties that Horror Nights has adapted over the years can be found under the Trivia page. Feel free to help out with the Characters page and with crosswicking the tropes.

The event is so popular it has its own wiki.


The event contains examples of:

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     General Tropes 
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The Universal Studios parks essentially become this during the event.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: This is the case with almost every single house and scare zone in the event's history.
  • Bland-Name Product: In the past and to this day, Universal tends to sneak certain IPs into the event by referring to them as something more generic. For instance; in 2003, before the event actually featured them for real, Universal had Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, and Michael Myers together in a house called All Nite Die-In by having the casting sheets refer to Freddy as "Nightmare Man", Jason as "Hockey Mask Killer", and so on. This method has not always worked, however; as in 2006 Universal apparently got in trouble with the copyright holders of The Ring for sneaking a scene of the movie into the All Nite Die-In Take Two house from that year.
  • Bloody Handprint: Many houses and scarezones.
  • Body Horror: Was there any doubt?
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Many of the gory houses include hidden water sprayers to simulate blood splattering on the guests. HHN Orlando's The People Under the Stairs in 1992 actually splattered guests with thick, red fake blood.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Another very common sight throughout the event; a notable example being when "Amanda" from The Carnage Returns coughs up blood after being impaled through the stomach.
    Chance: Spitters are quitters, Amanda!
  • Bloody Hilarious: Every now and then the event will have situations involving extreme gore and blood being Played for Laughs.
  • Brain Food: Brains being eaten (usually by zombies) is yet another stable of the event.
  • Cat Scare: The houses tend to rely on jump scares, so the same effect is often given through various sound effects without even an actor to perform them.
  • Chainsaw Good: Oh so much. HHN Orlando has the long running Chainsaw Drill Team and (sort of) Icon Eddie while HHN Hollywood has the pigmasked lackeys from Saw swarming the park and running visitors out of the park at the end of the night in the "Chainsaw Chaseout".
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Shown frequently throughout the event. The Caretaker in particular enjoys doing this to his victims.
  • Creepy Child: Cindy is the most famous example, but children (all portrayed by small adults) have appeared in houses and scarezones as well.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Depicted ever-so often throughout the event.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Following Willing Suspension of Disbelief, the guests themselves follow this trope by entering dangerous environments on a whim.
  • Dangerous Windows: Windows in any of the event's houses are often where a scareactor will pop through.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Several houses have attempted (not always successfully) at making completely dark environments.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Certain scarezones throughout the years feature dead bodies being propped up and posed.
  • Death as Comedy: As said with Bloody Hilarious, sometimes the event will play a person's death off as being funny.
  • Death by Mocking: A common story among scareactors is the tough guy who makes fun of them getting scared shitless around the next corner.
  • Dies Wide Open: Many corpses in the event are depicted with their eyes open.
  • Easter Egg: For Orlando: Carey, Ohio is the hometown of a member of Art & Design, and has been used as a setting for MANY of the houses and scarezones.
    • Orlando also has a honeypot bear that is hidden in one house every year. Starting in 2010, several houses in the event have buttons that, if pressed, can spark an event that either takes place right in front of the visitor that pressed it or affects visitors elsewhere in the house.
    • Hollywood has the "Log Bunny", a a log with bunny ears on it that serves as an unofficial mascot among the crew and is always hidden somewhere on the Terror Tram. One time, Log Bunny was kidnapped. As one would would expect, this was seen as Serious Business.
  • Daylight Horror: The event starts at least an hour before nightfall, giving plenty of time for the sun to shine over the scarezones.
  • Eye Scream: A common trope for corpses and scareactors, one prominent recent example being a ghostly nurse from 2010's Psychoscarepy: Echos of Shadybrook, who had a pair of scissors stabbed through her eye.
  • Facial Horror: The prosthetic and makeup work done by Universal for both park's events is movie quality and thoroughly horrifying.
  • Fingore: One of the many forms of gore used in the event.
  • Flat Scare: Certain scareactors will sometimes pull this on guests as a form of Bait and Switch.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Pretty much speaks for itself, with the always interactive scareactors. Plus there have been shows throughout the event that have the chosen victims being cast members disguised as regular guests, giving you the feeling that you're never safe.
  • Horror Struck: A common reaction by guests to scareactors. If they're not running screaming, that is.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Seen in various houses and scarezones.
    • Notably in Orlando, the Caretaker and his minions often cooking up pieces of his victims and in the backstory for the Leave it to Cleaver house.
    • Both Orlando and Hollywood have The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, natch.
  • Jump Scare: EVERYWHERE.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Common throughout the many years and events, but an especially prominent example is 2009's Leave it to Cleaver, set in a meat processing plant where vagabonds and criminals are made into Meatz Meats; all of the employees wear masks of a smiling boy's face.
  • Monster Clown: Jack is the most prominent, but many houses and scarezones have had clown scareactors. Eddie Schmidt from 2001 was given some mild clown makeup as well before being scrapped and kept the makeup in later appearances.
    • Hollywood has the Klownz scarezone, chock fulla clowns, some of them armed.
  • Mundanger: Any event that includes serial killers alongside ghosts, zombies, and demons.
  • Never Sleep Again: Both Hollywood and Orlando have included A Nightmare on Elm Street in various years, with Orlando's 2007 house, A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamwalkers, had the premise of the guests being given a drug that puts them into a long Freddyless sleep...that doesn't work.
  • Nightmare Face: Many of the costumes.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Though maybe not scarier per se, almost every year has one or two "dead zones", where there are no scare actors, and instead thick fog and extremely unsettling music is used to still give off the feeling that you're never safe. Examples of this include Seuss Landing during every year the event was at IoA as well as half of USF during the 2005 year.
  • Off with His Head!: Victims being decapitated is shown very often throughout the event.
  • Ominous Fog: Many of the scarezones.
  • Pinned to the Wall: It is common for a house to show a victim having been impaled against a wall.
  • Rule of Scary: Guess what this event runs on? For example: just why did the cast of a chainsaw massacre film start slicing up the crew and everyone who wandered by? Because it gave them an excuse to fill an entire street with chainsaws!
  • Scare Chord: Used to augment many of the scares.
  • Screamer Trailer: Used for some commercials and promotional videos, such as Orlando's pre-reveal promotion for 2011.
  • Screaming Woman: Mostly among the guests.
  • Security Cling: Common among guests, sometimes performed on whoever happens to be in front of them at the time.
  • Sensory Abuse: Used to disorient guests and make scares more intense; commonly seen in the form of a room where the only light is from rapidly flashing strobes.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound: Sometimes performed by street scareactors with sharp implements, such as sickles.
  • Spring-Loaded Corpse: Many houses have a scareactor pretending to be a mannequin before coming to life at the right time.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Used sometimes with a "victim" scareactor to shock or distract the guests.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: A great many houses and scarezones over the years, including 2010's Zombiegeddon and 2012's The Walking Dead: Dead Inside.

     HHN Orlando Tropes 
  • Aborted Arc: Eddie and Cindy's original plots for their years were ditched after unfortunate incidents in real life. For Cindy, it was for a string of local kidnappings that happened sometime before the event started. For Eddie, it was the 9/11 attacks, where they toned down the nature of the event significantly more than they would normally consider and brought back Jack.
    • There's speculation that there was more to the "What Evil Has Taken Route" theme for HHN 23 than was initially intended, as the Evil Takes Root viral storyline had mentions of a "rooted evil" that was unleashed. The Evil Takes Root blog doesn't go further about it, the Legendary Truth ARG for that year finished up the storyline of that year with no further mention of any "rooted evil", and the event itself heavily focused on The Walking Dead in marketing and in the parks.
  • Abandoned Hospital: The 2010 event featured Psychoscarepy: Echoes of Shadybrook; the house was a 15-years-later finisher to the popular asylum house series, replacing the zany and loud antics of the inmates with somber, psychotic ghosts in an abandoned building.
  • Abandoned Playground: The 2010 house The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes had an abandoned playground outside the burned-out orphanage, with the see-saw moving on its own.
  • Alien Geometries: Some houses, like A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamwalkers in 2007, had the rooms tilted or flipped around. Nevermore: The Madness of Poe from 2011 has a room where every surface has the narrator from The Tell Tale Heart kneeling next to the hole in the floorboards. The one on the wall immediately next to the guests hides the resurrected victim.
  • All Hallows' Eve: Along with being a Halloween event, The Hallow in 2008 was based around traditional Halloween: jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, and witches with boiling cauldrons.
  • All in the Eyes: Done with Jack/Eddie at the end of 2001's commercial.
  • Alliterative Title: Several house/scarezone titles:
    • Hotel Hell
    • Hell's High
    • Immortal Island
    • Silver Screams
    • Acid Assault
  • American Title: The American Gothic scarezone.
  • Anal Probing: Performed on Mulder in the 2008 Bill & Ted show by the Predator.
  • Ancient Tomb: Played straight in 2010 with Catacombs: Black Death Rising (set in unearthed catacombs under a French town inhabited by undead plague doctors and plague victims), among other houses.
  • And Show It to You: Performed by The Caretaker during the opening show in 2002 to a "non-believer".
  • Another Man's Terror: The 2008 house Dead Exposure is set entirely in the photographs of a reporter in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Anyone Can Die: In 2002's Island Under Siege scare zone and Maximum Carnage house, all of the Marvel superheroes, including the likes of Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine, are depicted as having been killed by the villains and their bodies strung up as trophies.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Several examples:
    • The website for 2004 included various artifacts for each house to provide a preview of their content, and Disorientorium included a Blackberry with the emails of a man who had begun to become obsessed with the Disorientorium until he began to go mad and finally commit suicide.
    • The plot for 2008 was given with a series of case files by the icon, Dr. Mary Agana, as she slipped into insanity during her work as a phobia therapist and eventually became Bloody Mary.
  • Artifact of Doom: The lantern in 2010, which held Fear.
  • Asshole Victim: The Usher's victims were people that were breaking the Universal Palace Theater rules by behaving obnoxiously during a movie.
    • In 2015's "The Carnage Returns" show, one of the people Jack and Chance slaughter was said to be an internet troll.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: 2015's Psychoscareapy: Unleashed scarezone had the Shady Brook inmates crashing a family-friendly Halloween block party.
  • Barrier-Busting Blow: One of the rooms in 2007's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre house included a scene where Leatherface revved his chainsaw and smashed his way through a broken wall toward the guests.
  • Bat out of Hell: Dracula in 2009 was seen in the end of the house half-transformed into a giant bat.
  • Bedlam House: Shadybrook, the setting for most of the Psychoscareapy house series, which almost regularly has violent inmate breakouts.
  • Beat Still, My Heart: The 2011 house Nevermore: The Madness of Poe included a room based on The Tell Tale Heart, complete with the deep bass thud of the heartbeat echoing through the room.
  • Bloody Horror: The ending of 2004's commercial shows the walls bleeding an incredible amount of blood.
  • Buried Alive: Implied with some of the victims of The Caretaker.
  • Burn the Witch!: Inverted. In 2010's The Coven scarezone, it's the Puritans that are being burned at the stake by the witches.
  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: 2007 had Jason Voorhees as one of the poster boys, so of course one of the houses was set at Camp Crystal Lake, which had been renamed and reopened.
  • Cannibal Clan: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre has seen appearances in 2003 and 2007 so far.
  • Cannibal Tribe: The tribe featured in 2003's Jungle of Doom house and Night Prey scarezone.
  • Circus of Fear: Jack's "Carnival of Carnage" in 2007 and 2015 is a straightforward example.
    • The numerous Midway of the Bizarre scarezones from over the years.
  • Code Name: In The Carnage Returns, Jack and Chance have code names for some of the torture-and-kill circus acts that they consider using on Amanda before deciding on just simply killing her. The code names would vary between shows, almost all of them being a Shout-Out of some kind. Examples included: "The Pinewhip Derby", "The Time Warp", "The Robosaurus", "The Frank Kincaid", "Hate to Fly", "The Storyteller", "Amity 6 to Base", and so on.
  • Continuous Decompression: A scene in the Interstellar Terror house from 2008 showed one of the ship's crew being sucked out into space due to a tear in the wall of the spaceship.
  • Creepy Basement: The People Under The Stairs and its sequel house.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Most prominently 2011's Winter's Night: The Haunting of Hawthorne Cemetery, which entirely takes place in the titular cemetery.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: Used often in a house that's set in a haunted location.
  • Creepy Children Singing: The 2011 scarezone "7" featured the Scala and Kolancy Brothers cover of "Beautiful People", with the Manson original taking over roughly midway through the night as the ladies lost their masks and became more corrupted.
  • Creepy Circus Music: Any appearance of the Midway of the Bizarre scarezone, as well as anything involving Jack.
  • Creepy Crows: Several houses have employed the use of them, but most notably the Nevermore: The Madness of Poe house with its section for The Raven.
  • Creepy Doll: The Dead Silence house in 2007, among others. The Cabin in the Woods house in 2013 featured a number of the dolls from Dead Silence, including Billy himself, in the cellar.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The entire point behind the Body Collectors.
  • Crossover: 2015 has two houses centered around this: RUN: Blood, Sweat, and Fears (which mixes together RUN and Hellgate Prison), and Body Collectors: Recollections (which mixes together Body Collectors, Psycho Scareapy, and Winter's Night).
  • Cross-Cast Role: In 2015's Icons - HHN scare zone, the Crypt Keeper was played by a woman (though obviously not easy to tell due to the mask the scare actress is wearing).
  • Crusty Caretaker: Averted with The Caretaker, who is tall, wears a top hat, and is quite well-spoken and proper.
  • Darker and Edgier: The entire 2002 event did this with Islands of Adventure - renaming it to "Islands of Fear" and doing a total 180 on each of the islands.
    • Port of Entry became "Port of Evil", a seaside town filled with psychopaths.
    • Marvel Superhero Island became "Island Under Siege", where Carnage assembled a massive legion of super villains and successfully killed the heroes along with overthrowing the entire city.
    • Toon Lagoon became "Treaks and Foons", an island filled with demented-looking cartoon characters.
    • Jurassic Park became "JP Extinction", where a science experiment gone awry creates mutant dino/human hybrids, with the ensuing chaos also letting all of the park's dinosaurs loose.
    • Lost Continent became "Island of Evil Souls", a realm overrun with evil orcs and ruled by a creature known as "Nightmare".
    • Seuss Landing became "Boo-Ville", an empty Who-Ville where the Grinch roams (based on the TV special, Halloween Is Grinch Night). note 
  • Deadly Game: The theme of 2001's RUN, a low budget game show where contestants are expected to dodge both chainsaw wielding freaks and an extremely hazardous environment. The original treatment for the event can be read here.
  • Deadly Prank: Part of Bloody Mary's backstory involved her grandmother, a schoolteacher in Ohio, being killed in a Halloween prank orchestrated by the school handyman.
  • Death by Materialism: Greed's transformation in "7" was receiving more and heavier jewelry that began to suffocate her, turning her face blue.
  • Death Row: What Bobby "The Blade" Galletta, a serial killer, is placed on in the backstory for the house, Afterlife: Death's Vengeance; with the opening scene showing his execution by the electric chair.
    • The finale of the scrapped Severe Fear house would've had the guest being placed in a fake electric chair.
  • Demonic Dummy: Used in the 2007 Dead Silence house.
  • Devoured by the Horde: In the finale of 2008's Dead Exposure house, Charlie MacPherson is ripped to pieces by a zombie horde.
  • Drive-In Theater: The setting for two scarezones: 2009's Horrorwood Die-In and 2015's All Nite Die-In - Double Feature.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: As the event has gradually expanded over the course of the decades, this is to be expected. The very first Orlando HHN was named Fright Nights and only included a single haunted house, with most emphasis being on the various music and stage acts around the park; it's been described as "a giant Halloween party". In 1992 it's confirmed that they were still using thick fake blood for their blood spray effects rather than merely water, and the famous Chainsaw Drill Team and set scarezones (rather than actors semi-randomly placed around the streets) only appeared in 1994.
  • Electromagnetic Ghosts: The 2010 Legendary Truth house was based around a ghost hunt gone wrong, and the house was thus filled with various spirit-detecting equipment.
  • Enforced Plug: The commercial for almost every year of the event usually has an alternate version shown on certain stations that has a plug at the end for either Coca-Cola or Coke Zero.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: In the 2011 house based on The Thing (2011), not only is the Thing coming after the guests, but research team members driven mad with paranoia also attack from time to time.
    • One of the major points of Halloween Horror Nights XX was that, barring two victims, every scareactor was a monster out to get you.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Cold Blind Terror house from 2005 was set inside a freezing mountain cave with mysterious monsters.
  • Evil Is One Big Happy Family: All of the icons inexplicably seem to get along with each other well, and are always seen together whenever the event is celebrating an anniversary.
  • Evil Versus Evil:
    • Both the Alien vs. Predator and Freddy vs. Jason houses.
    • 2003's Immortal Island scarezone depicted a battle between a Fire King and an Ice Queen, both of whom are equally evil.
  • Excited Show Title!: Done with a couple of houses and scarezones:
    • Universal's Creature Features in 3-D!
    • Hide and Shrieeek!
    • Creatures!
  • Face–Heel Turn: In 2002's Maximum Carnage house, the Punisher was depicted as having joined the supervillains for reasons unknown.
  • Five-Bad Band: Jack's Carnival of Carnage crew
  • Fog of Doom: The 2009 scarezone Containment, which centered around a chemical weapon in the form of a mysterious green fog infecting the locals and driving them insane as they melted to death.
    • 2011's The Forsaken also utilized this to immense effect (as a Shout-Out to The Fog) as it enshrouded the eponymous Forsaken wreaking havoc in a sixteenth century Spanish fort.
  • The Freakshow: Done during many of the event's years, often in the carnival section of the respective year. Sometimes, real sideshow performers are brought in to increase authenticity.
  • Grimmification: The event has had numerous dark versions of fairy tales over the years. The Scary Tales houses are the best known instance of this, along with 2015's Asylum in Wonderland house.
  • Ghost Ship: The S.S. Frightanic in 1998 and Ship of Screams in 2003. A scene from Frightanic made a reappearance in 2010.
  • Ghost Town: The 2004 house Ghost Town, of course.
  • Giant Spider: Seen in some houses, such as 2002's Fear Factor.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The Carnage Returns show from 2015 has the final victim's death from "The Big-Ass Saw" being covered up, although the mangled corpse is shown immediately after.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Quite common with the various mannequins of corpses, including one in 2008's Body Collectors: Collections of the Past. One of the deaths in the 2007 Carnival of Carnage show included a security guard on a rack being pulled in half.
  • Haunted Headquarters: Universal Studios seems to regularly be beset by demons, zombies, ghosts, cannibals, and the God of Fear.
  • Haunted House: Played straight in 2010 with Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate, which in turn was based on The Legend of Hell House. While the houses are often referred to as "haunted houses" by the media, LT is the only house to truly be a haunted house.
  • Headless Horseman: Seen in 2008 in both The Hallow and the American Gothic scarezone.
  • Hell Hotel: 1997's Hotel Hell.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: The first Bill & Ted show at Halloween Horror Nights (1992) gave Jason Voorhees a chainsaw, which accidentally cut down a balcony on the western set while swinging at the duo.
  • Homicide Machines: 2006's show for the returning icons, The Arrival, included Jack killing a man with a giant blender. He again does this act for 2015's "The Carnage Returns" show.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday:
    • 2007's Psychoscarepy: Home for the Holidays had a van full of Shadybrook inmates crash into a house on Christmas Eve and begin terrorizing the neighborhood.
    • 2015's Psychoscareapy: Unleashed scarezone had the inmates invading a family Halloween block party.
  • Human Resources: The 2010 steampunk scarezone Saws n' Steam was set in New Yorkshire after fissures in the earth dried up the oceans, forcing the steam-reliant citizens to turn to extracting water from corpses. Saws n' Steam is set after anarchy has set in the streets and people are being rounded up and slaughtered in alleys.
  • Hungry Jungle: Jurassic Park was themed as such during 2003 and 2005's event, with mysterious beasts or cannibals running around the area.
  • Immoral Reality Show: RUN. Unlike other examples of the trope, it's unknown if people watched it (let alone if it was actually broadcast as opposed to being a ruse to capture victims), it was extremely low budget even for reality show standards (so low that portions of the course were made of junkyard debris), and in the website for the 2006 event (that the sequel Hostile Territory appeared in) it was confirmed that the whole operation went bankrupt; though without explanation it returned yet again in 2015's RUN house.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: 2009's Dracula: Legacy in Blood house had several victims impaled on large spikes outside of the house's facade, as a reference to Vlad the Impaler.
  • In the Back: The Carnage Returns show has "Amanda" being impaled twice from behind.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: On the event's first year in 1991, there was a show called "Beetlejuice's Graveyard Tours", set at the now-demolished Bates Motel set. The story of the show was that in an effort to raise funds, Norman Bates begins to offer tours of a graveyard located next to the motel. To help him, he summons in Betelgeuse to give the tour, and from there a variety of antics ensued. The show also had a subplot about the Blues Brothers staying in the motel for the night.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: The Carnage Returns show from 2015 featured this, with Chance throwing a knife at a wheel (with a victim attached to it) to decide what fates the individual victims will be met with.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you haven't seen The Cabin in the Woods before you go see the house it's based on, prepare to see a load of these. Although, considering the nature of the film, it's understandable they wouldn't even try and make it spoilerless. The big "purge button" scene will be part of the maze. The ending scene with the god won't...but some past Horror Nights characters will.
  • Lighter and Softer: Due to the climate after 9/11, the 2001 event would be overhauled, making it the first and likely only time a Horror Nights event would ever evoke this trope. The original icon, Eddie, was retooled before being scrapped and replaced with the last year's icon, Jack, names of various houses and scarezones were changed, scares were toned down and all instances of blood were switched out with green "ooze". Eddie would appear in scarezones and houses later on and houses such as RUN and Scary Tales would get sequels that were much closer to the typical Horror Nights tone.
  • Lost in the Maize: Attempted with the Field of Screams scarezone in 2004, but hurricanes wrecked the cornfield and forced a lot of artificial replacement. Played straight in the Wizard of Oz room in the 2008 house Scary Tales: Once Upon a Nightmare.
  • Medical Horror: Shadybrook, The Caretaker's dissections, Dr. "Bloody" Mary Agana, and the list goes ON.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Operatives: If it wasn't for participants of the 2010 Legendary Truth campaign helping LT with opening the Lantern, Fear wouldn't have been released.
  • Mirror Monster: Bloody Mary is the most prominent example (being the 2008 icon), with a number of houses over the years also including fake mirrors and portraits holding scareactors.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: The whole premise behind 2002's JP Extinction scare zone and Project: Evilution house revolved around a rogue Jurassic Park scientist mutating humans with not only dinosaurs, but all kinds of animals in general. Depicted in the zone and house were people merged with animals like a Dilophosaurus, a rhinoceros/Triceratops, a parrot, a ram, and so on.
  • Monster Progenitor: Fear.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • 2015's Freddy vs. Jason house featured two different outcomes - either Jason wins and appears at the end with Freddy's severed head, or Freddy wins and appears at the end with Jason's mask. The endings were completely randomized, solely based on when one would walk through the house.
    • 2004's commercial for the event had several different endings, which varied depending on the airing or channel.
  • Mummy: Not only has the original Imhotep appeared at the event, but the event has also done two houses based off of The Mummy Trilogy.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: There was a "Museum of Horrors" house done several times in 90's.
  • No Talking or Phones Warning: The video on the archway in 2009 had The Usher giving a twisted version of this, with him killing the violator by ripping out their tongue and impaling them through the mouth with his flashlight.
    • The Bill and Ted show has one of these at the beginning of the show every year, with the no videotaping rule being especially enforced. note 
  • Not His Sled: The haunted house adaptation of the 2010 Wolfman film at Universal Orlando's event in 2009 was the first hint anyone got of the ending of the film: the werewolf gets shot. In the house, however, the fatal shot is performed by a nameless hunter.
  • Occult Detective: Boris Shuster, who founded the paranormal investigation agency Legendary Truth.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Often pulled by icons in their promotional videos, with The Caretaker in his 2006 reunion video teleporting all around his mansion to chase a victim.
  • Once an Episode: There are several traditions that are done for almost every single year of the event, such as the "Rat Lady", or turning off the "R" and the "V" on the signage for the "Mel's Drive-In" restaurant.
  • One-Word Title: Several houses/scarezones:
    • Creatures!
    • Deadtropolis
    • Disorientorium
    • Doomsday
    • Gothic
    • Horrorwood
    • Insanity
    • Nightmaze
    • RUN
  • P.O.V. Sequel: The Cabin in the Woods, where the guests are passing through the installation shortly after the Purge button is hit.
  • Psycho Serum: The plot of Havoc: Dogs of War.
  • Psycho Strings: Music from Psycho is used frequently throughout the event, especially including the trope namer.
  • Pun-Based Title: PsychoScareapy is a pun of "psychotherapy".
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Used in the queue video for 2010's Zombiegeddon, showing the haphazard ZAP team demonstrating how to kill zombies with various fruit facsimiles.
  • The Rival: Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream is the event's main competitor.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Used in the Psychoscareapy houses, as they're based out of asylums.
  • Room Full of Zombies: One of the most well-remembered rooms of 2008's Dead Exposure was filled with hanging zombie mannequins and actors mixed in; with the only lighting being blacklight strobes every few seconds, it caused more than a few moments of panic upon entering.
  • Scary Jack-in-the-Box: Jack's rotting corpse was discovered in a giant jack-in-the-box, and he is sometimes seen appearing from one or appearing when a smaller version of his box is activated.
  • Scary Scarecrows: Various houses (2008's The Hallow) and scarezones (2004's Field of Screams).
  • Scary Scorpions: The 2003 show Infestation featured The Director putting various creatures on people, including scorpions.
  • The Secret of Long Pork Pies: 2009's Leave it to Cleaver was about Meatz Meats, a meat company and deli based out of Carey, Ohio that used vagrants, outlaws, and people in the wrong place at the wrong time to make their famous meat.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Fear was sealed in a lantern until Legendary Truth "accidentally" released him.
  • Send in the Search Team: The premise for several houses, such as 2002's Screamhouse and 2008's Interstellar Terror (based on Event Horizon) is that you're part of an investigative team.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: 2009's Frankenstein: Creation of the Damned opened up with a shadow on the wall of the Creature snapping a man's neck and throwing him with one hand.....immediately before he lunged out at you from an alcove.
  • Short Title: Long, Elaborate Subtitle: Used with several house titles.
    • Toy Hell: Nightmare at the Scream Factory
    • Psycho: Through the Mind of Norman Bates
    • Psycho Path: The Return of Norman Bates
    • Winter's Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetery
    • Halloween: Hell Comes to Haddonfield
    • Ghost Town - The Curse of Lightning Gulch
  • Shout-Out: 2004's Fright Yard scare zone had the forum usernames of several of the event's fans graffiti'd all over the scenery.
    • A Throw It In invoked moment in one of the performances of 2015's The Carnage Returns show has Chance and Jack name-dropping a very-well known user among the Universal Orlando fan community with inside information.
  • Skeleton Crew: 1998's S.S. Frightanic.
  • Slashed Throat: In The Carnage Returns, Chance slices one of her minions' throat in response to Jack saying that they'll need to make "a couple of cuts".
    • Additionally, many of the corpses that appear in the event have slashed throats; some of the undead characters have them as well.
  • Snow Means Death: 2011's Winter's Night and 2015's Body Collectors: Recollections made heavy use of this trope.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: A very common trope with at least one house or scare zone in almost every single year of the event. A particular example of this would be the "PsychoScareapy" houses and how they play "Theme from A Summer Place" throughout the whole thing.
  • Space Whale Aesop: For HHN 2009: don't break the rules or cause any other kind of trouble at the movie theater unless you want the undead spirit of an Usher killed by visitor negligence to show you why "broken rules" = "broken necks".
  • Spoofing in the Rain: In a way. Several faded posters of the famed film appeared as a sight gag in 2011's Acid Assault, contrasting with horrifying situation of the city and its residents being melted by the acid rain.
  • Spooky Painting: Holograms are often used to provide changing images.
  • Spooky Photographs: 2008's Dead Exposure used ultraviolet strobes and blacklight paint to give the impression of walking through photo negatives of a zombie apocalypse.
  • Steampunk: The 2010 scarezone Saws n' Steam, set in a world where New Yorkshire is left deprived of water by the oceans drying out and is forced to turn to the human body to power their machines. The scarezone was so well received as to be turned into a house in 2011, allowing guests to enter the processing plant.
    • 2015's "Scary Tales: Screampunk" scare zone uses a steampunk-inspired art direction, as suggested by its title.
  • Stewed Alive: The Scary Tales house from 2008 featured a Hansel and Gretel scene with the two characters screaming while being baked alive in an oven.
  • Tagline: Almost every year has its own one, with some years having multiple taglines.
    • General: "Immerse yourself in a world of horror!"
    • 1991: "Dying for a good Halloween party?"
    • 1997: "You'll never sleep again!"
    • 1998: "The last scream you'll ever hear!"
    • 1999: "Save your final breath...you'll need it for screaming!"
      • "Sayonara!"
    • 2000: "Not afraid of the dark? You don't know Jack."
    • 2001: "I.C.U."
      • "No more clowning around."
      • "Jack's Back"
    • 2002: "Your time has come."
    • 2003: "The Director will see you now."
      • "Do you want to be in pictures?"
    • 2004: "What's your breaking point?"
      • "2X The Fear"
      • "Twice the park. Twice the fear."
    • 2005: "No one will live happily ever after."
    • 2006: "Horror Comes Home"
    • 2007: "Choose thy fear."
    • 2008: "I dare you to say it one more time..."
    • 2009: "It's showtime!"
      • "You'll wish it were just a movie."
    • 2010: "A new era of darkness begins!"
      • "This year the thing you most have to fear is...Fear himself."
    • 2011: "Be careful what you wager when you play with Lady Luck!"
      • "Nobody beats the house!"
      • "How much will you wager?"
      • "Are you in?"
      • "Your fate is in her hands."
      • "Come try your luck!"
    • 2012: "Once you're inside...there is no way out!"
    • 2013: "What evil has taken root?"
      • "So this is what fear tastes like!"
    • 2014: "More dead than ever."
      • "You've been warned."
      • "Fear will eat you alive."
      • "It's coming..."
    • 2015: "I'm back. You're welcome."
      • "All Jack'd Up!"
      • "Did you miss me?"
      • "25 years of terror have led to this."
    • 2016: "You won't stand a chance!"
  • Take That: Bill and Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure often has these kinds of moments, but perhaps the biggest instance of it occurred in its 2014 show, where it dedicated a huge chunk of the show to mocking Walt Disney World's usage of the "MagicBands", its heavy use of Frozen, and its long-delayed Avatar area at Animal Kingdom.
    • Going into houses with Disney merchandise on is a sure-fire way for you to get more scareactors after you than the normal person.
    • 2015 shows that HHN can agree with Disney on one thing: the promotional gift given to press was a chopped off limb still firmly grasping a selfie stick with Jack's writing in the flesh demanding that they not bring one when they come to the event. Said selfie stick still has a phone attached. When the press connected it to their computers, they found a wide assortment of pictures from the unfortunate guy that got presumably got killed by Jack and Chance for sneaking into the backstage area...but not before they took a few selfies themselves.
    • Past HHN viral has also not been too kind to overzealous fans who try to sneak into event areas unauthorized to take pictures of construction, featuring characters who, much like the guy from the HHN 25 press gift, meet horrible fates. However, this also serves as a means for Universal to officially provide event sneak peeks before it starts.
    • The video that showed at the park entrance at HHN 2009 was The Usher's darkly comedic takedown of disrespectful moviegoers. In 2015, one of the kills would be revisited when reenacted live in the Icons - HHN scarezone.
  • Title of the Dead: The War of the Living Dead scarezone.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Carey, Ohio seems to attract every crazy in the universe, from murderous schoolteachers to cannibalistic meat processing plant owners and employees to psychopathic horror show hosts and serial killers with body counts in the dozens. How it remains standing is a question for the ages.
  • Ultimate Evil: Fear.
  • Universal Horror: The Universal Monsters are one of the biggest staples of the event and have been used in some form for almost every year. HHN Orlando celebrated Universal Pictures' 100th anniversary in 2012 with the Universal House of Horrors, fittingly enough; not to be confused with the yearlong attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood that gets used as part of Hollywood's event. 2009's movie themed event featured houses based on modern revivals of Frankenstein and Dracula along with a tie-in house for the then upcoming Wolfman remake.
  • Vampires Own Night Clubs: Part of the setting for 2007's Vampyr: Blood Bath.
  • Villain World: A theme done several times throughout the event, such as 2005's "Terra Cruentas" theme as well as 2002's Island Under Siege and Island of Evil Souls scare zones.
  • Viva Las Vegas: 2012's Penn & Teller New(kd) Vegas, in which an attempt by the titular magic duo to pull off the ultimate extreme magic trick — catching ICBMs with their teethgoes predictably wrong and results in the nuclear destruction of Las Vegas, the ruins of which are now locked under a radiation containment dome and overrun by radioactive mutants.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: 2004's Horror In Wax.

     HHN Hollywood Tropes 
  • The Backwards R: The logo for the event in 2006 had both of its Rs facing backwards.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Be sure to properly dispose of toxic chemicals instead of just pouring them down the drain willynilly unless you want to accidentally create a new race of mutant man-insects that will come out of the sewers to overthrow humanity.
  • Giant Eye of Doom: The 2007 A Nightmare on Elm Street house at HHN Hollywood recreated the Roach Motel scene from the fourth movie, complete with a screen in the window to simulate giant Freddy looking in through the window.
  • Hotter and Sexier: While both Orlando and Hollywood concentrates mainly on the scares, Hollywood supplements their scares with some eyecandy. This comes courtesy of Freddy's Fly Girls, cage dancers dressed up in Freddy's trademark fedora, sweater and claws (and not much else.)
  • The Rival: Knott's Scary Farm at Knott's Berry Farm is the event's main competitor.
  • Universal Horror: A near constant at the Hollywood event since the 2007 relaunch due to Universal Studios Hollywood already having a year round Universal Horror based maze, Universal's House of Horrors. Early on, it was just the same attraction but with more scareactors, later on adding some level of theming (either based on franchises like Child's Play, The Strangers, The Wolfman remake or original theming like Vampyre: Castle of the Undead). At 2012's event, Universal Monsters Remix went back to straight Universal Horror theming but with a modern twist.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: Common for scarezone names for some reason. Most blatant example: Klownz.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Theatre/HalloweenHorrorNights