How Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights Turned The Weeknd’s ‘Afters Hours’ Album Into a “Surreal” Haunted House

“The Weekend: After Hours Nightmare” is one of the “most evocative” scenes at the Universal Studios Hollywood indoor event at Halloween Horror Nights in Los Angeles.

That’s according to John Murdy, creative director of HHN in Hollywood, who hired Abel Tesfaye (known professionally as The Weeknd) to create a real-life nightmare based on the singer’s 2020 album for this year’s event. Goes) worked together with

“We take it to the next level,” explains Murdy. The Hollywood Reporter of the experience, which runs until October 31 as part of the larger event. “It’s probably one of the most surreal experiences we’ve ever created.”

In a statement before HHN’s early September launch, The Weeknd stated that the project was one of his professional dreams. “I’ve always wanted my Halloween Horror Nights haunted house because Halloween has always been important to my music, so this is an absolute dream come to life,” 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 craziness.”

The award-winning artist gave Halloween Horror Nights’ creative director plenty to work with when he came to him with an idea for a house based on his 2020 hit album as well as his latest release. Dawn FM. With the help of super-producer Michael Dean, music from both albums was remixed for the house, which itself is split into three parts inspired by a handful of albums. Hours later Music videos.

It also includes an industrial warehouse rev set. Hours later Club, which is “probably the closest thing to a literal music video” according to Murdy, and draws from the “In Your Eyes” video. Before it devolves into a bathroom-based plastic surgery nightmare that resurrects the terrifying two women from the “Too Late” video.

“It’s this crazy liposuction style and it’s one of the most provocative scenes we’ve done,” he says of the moment, set in the club’s women’s bathroom. about, which is set in a club’s women’s bathroom and features a “terrifying” botched procedure that “just kicks” someone out. But then when you go to the men’s bathroom, they’re making an ideal boyfriend. He has different arms sewn onto his body and is using The Weeknd’s head. It’s just dead bodies, missing weapons, heads everywhere.

The house concludes with a Vegas-themed section, dubbed Hours later Hotel Casino, which combines elements of “Heartless” and “Blinding Lights” and sees the carpet, at one point, literally climb the walls.

“I spent a ton of time researching the ugly Vegas carpet. Vegas is the king of the ugly carpet world,” Murdy says with a laugh. So we take you into the environment where the curtains come alive. And try to attack you. At the very end of the room, the architecture has gone completely crazy, the floor feels kind of squishy and you see The Weeknd’s giant eye staring at you through the window. is watching

This sense of disorientation and anxiety was inspired not only by the artist’s trippy toad-licking experience in “Heartless,” but also by Murdy’s own time in the city in the ’90s when he was trying to make it “family friendly.” destination.”

“I’ve had to stay in Vegas for weeks at a time and I’ll work nights on a project. With the ‘ding, ding, ding, ding’ of the slot machines, after a while, you feel like you’re crazy. happening. I wanted to replicate that,” he says.

It’s a musical and visual experience that the team was excited to realize for the annual event, but for it to work, it literally can’t be done. “LA is a wonderful place. It’s an amazing city. It’s all energy, but it’s also dark. It is what it is Hours later I tap,” he says. “It gave us a clear road map of where to go, but not verbatim reproduction. We wanted to create an experience that was inspired by all of those things, but then through the lens of Horror Nights.

Murdy and the HHN team at Universal Studios Hollywood already had experience working with musicians on music-injected houses. Legendary Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist Slash often collaborates with Park on soundtracks for his mazes, but Murdy has also built houses directly themed around the rockers. Two for his childhood hero Alice Cooper – “Welcome to My Nightmare” based on his famous 70s concept album and a 3D house Alice Cooper Goes to Hell – and for a Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne reunion album and tour.

“These artists have a direct and obvious connection to fear. You only have to look at Black Sabbath or Alice Cooper who is famous for inventing shock rock with the stage show,” he explains. THR. “So we just translated their songs and albums into a haunted house.”

The Weekend was different, he says, and both the L.A. team — including production designer Chris Williams and Universal Studios Orlando’s HHN creative team, led by Charles Gray and Michael Aiello — knew when they knew it. sat down to see how they were going. To add the composer’s brand to the horror nighthouse.

While Murdy says he was familiar with Tesfai’s voice on the radio and the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show, when the artist approached him about possibly building a home, he dug a little deeper. Musically, The Weeknd has spanned quite a few genres. . Although he also discovered that Hours later The videos were not only provocative but thematically connected.

“Weekend thinks very cinematically. He has a great knowledge of film and was giving me very specific references,” Murdy recalls. “He’d say, ‘Well, for this, I was thinking Clockwork Orange or Fear and loathing in Las Vegas.’ And you can go back and watch videos like ‘Heartless’. And look Fear and loathing. Or even ‘save your tears’, he told me it was like Stanley Kubrick. Eyes wide shut And it is present in the disguised members of the audience.

“He had a very specific vision of what he wanted to do, which is great,” added the HHN LA creative director. “I love collaborating with people who come to us with ideas.”

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