Inside the “The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare” home at Halloween Horror Nights in Los Angeles is one of the “most horrifying” scenes Universal Studios Hollywood has ever done.
That’s according to John Murdy, the creative director of HHN in Hollywood, who teamed up with Abel Tesfaye (better known as The Weeknd) to create a real-life nightmare based on the singer’s 2020 album for event 2022.
“We take it to the next level,” says Murdy The Hollywood Reporter of the experience, which runs as part of a larger event through October 31. “It’s probably one of the most surreal experiences we’ve created.”
In a statement released ahead of HHN’s launch in early September, The Weeknd shared that the project was one of his career dreams. “I’ve always wanted my own Halloween Horror Nights haunted house because Halloween has always been so important to my music, so this is a completely real dream,” he said. “I feel like my music videos have served as a launching pad for collaborations like this, and I can’t wait for people to experience this madness.”
The award-winning artist gave Halloween Horror Nights creative director plenty of time to work after approaching Murdy with an idea for a home based on the hit 2020 album, as well as the latest release of the album. he Dawn FM. With the help of super producer Michael Dean, the songs on both albums were remixed for the house, itself divided into three parts inspired by some After many hours music videos.
That includes industrial rave-warehouse sets After many hours According to Murdy, this is the club “probably closest to the literal music video” and taken from the “In Your Eyes” video. That’s before it turns into a bathroom plastic surgery nightmare that gives life to the two creepy women in the “Too Late” video.
“It’s this crazy liposuction scene and it’s one of the weirdest scenes we’ve ever done,” he says of the moment, which is set in the club’s women’s bathroom and features a “terrible” procedures only “suck out” the body. “But then when you go into the men’s bathroom, they are making the ideal boyfriend. There are different arms sewn on his body and they are using The Weeknd’s head. It’s just corpses, missing arms, heads all over the place.”
The house ends with a Vegas-based part, called After many hours The hotel casino, which combines elements of “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” and has a moment of seeing the carpet, literally climbs the wall.
“I spent a lot of time researching the ugly Vegas rug. Vegas is the king of the ugliest carpet in the world,” laughs Murdy. “So we put you in that environment, where the curtains also come to life and try to attack you. At the end of the room, the architecture has gone crazy, the floors have a sense of mystery, and you see The Weeknd’s giant eye looking at you through the window. “
That sense of disorientation and anxiety was inspired not only by The Weeknd’s experience of licking toads three times in “Heartless,” but also by Murdy’s time in the city during the ’90s when they tried to trying to make it a “family-friendly destination.”
“I had to stay in Vegas for weeks at a time and would be working every night on a project. With the ‘ding, ding, ding, ding’ of the slot machine, after a while you feel like you’re going crazy. I want to replicate that,” he said.
It’s a musical and visual experience the team is excited to make for the annual event, but for it to work, it can’t be done quite literally. “LA is a wonderful place. It was a wonderful city. There is all this energy, but there is also darkness to it. That’s what After many hours tap into,” he said. “It gave us a clear road map of where to go, but not a literal copy. We wanted to create an experience that was inspired by all of that, but then put it through the lens of Nights of Terror.”
Going into this year, Murdy and the HHN team of Universal Studios Hollywood have had experience working with musicians on musically incorporated homes. Legendary Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist Slash regularly collaborates with the park on the soundtracks for its mazes, but Murdy has also done houses themed directly around the rockers. Two for childhood hero Alice Cooper – “Welcome to my nightmare” based on his popular 70s concept album and a 3D house based on Alice Cooper goes to hell – and one for Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne’s album and tour reunion.
“Those artists, have a direct and obvious connection to horror. He told CHEAP. “So we just translated their songs and albums into a haunted house.”
The Weeknd is different, he said, and the entire team in LA — including production designer Chris Williams and Universal Studio Orlando’s HHN creative team, led by Charles Gray and Michael Aiello — knew it when they sat down. to find out how they would play out to bring the musician’s brand into the home of Horror Nights.
While Murdy said he was used to Tesfaye’s sound from the radio and the 2021 Super Bowl tournament show, after the artist contacted him about the possibility of making a home, he inquired. Dig a little deeper and notice that musically, The Weeknd spans quite a few genres. He also discovered that After many hours the video is not only outrageous but also connected by topic.
“The Weeknd thinks very cinematic. He had a really good knowledge of cinema and gave me very specific references,” Murdy recounts. “He would say, ‘Well, about this, I’ve been thinking about Orange watch or Fear and disgust in Las Vegas. ‘ And you can go back and watch videos like ‘Heartless’ and see Fear and disgust. Or even ‘Save Your Tears’, he told me it’s like Stanley Kubrick’s Close eyes and it’s there in costumed audience members. “
“He has a very specific vision of what he wants to do, which is amazing,” added HHN LA creative director. “I love collaborating with people who have ideas for us.”