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Michael Roddy's ready to take you behind-the-screams at Halloween Horror Nights 19

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Michael Roddy's ready to take you behind-the-screams at Halloween Horror Nights 19

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How's this for a twist on social media? Universal Orlando has just set up a Facebook fan page for Halloween Horror Nights. Which is this seasonal USF event that typically features tons of performers who look as though they've just had their faces ripped off.

If you can get past that grisly irony, then you should definitely check out the HHN Facebook fan page. Particularly today between 3 - 3:30 p.m. ET, when Michael Roddy (i.e. the Show Director for Universal Orlando Entertainment) will be answering your questions about Halloween Horror Nights 19: Ripped From the Screen.

I actually got the chance to chat with Roddy a few weeks back. And Michael is just a terrific storyteller. He manages to make virtually every part of the HHN development process sound like fun. Except -- of course -- what Michael & his staff do to the clerical staff who work backstage at Universal Orlando.

“Our administrative assistants just hate us,” Roddy said. “We’re always jumping out at them with masks on and then asking: Did that frighten you? Gross you out? And – if not – why not?”

Drag Me to Hell movie poster
Copyright 2009 NBC Universal. All Rights Reserved

Of course, it’s not every job where you get to spend your lunch hour watching Sam Raimi’s latest, “Drag Me To Hell.” But for an old pro like Michael (who actually started out as a performer at Universal Studios Florida), this is just business as usual. No matter what time of year it is, what time of the day it is, Roddy’s always casting about for ideas that he can possibly use at Halloween Horror Nights.

“Sometimes I’ll be surfing the Web and come across a news story that has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween or horror,” Roddy explained. “But then I’ll think – if we twist that story a bit – that could then become a great concept for a new haunted house. So I’ll write that idea down and file it away for possible future use.”

Mind you, Michael doesn’t have to work all that hard to come with new ideas for Halloween Horror Nights. Given that so many of the people who work in the entertainment industry are huge fans of this seasonal event at USF, they will often give Roddy a heads-up about a promising upcoming horror movie.

“Here at Universal Studios, we’re pretty well connected within the industry,” Roddy continued. “I know a lot of the directors & FX artists who work in the horror genre. So they’re constantly sending us scripts months ahead of when their films actually go into production. With the hopes that their characters might then make the cut for the next Halloween Horror Nights.”

The Wolfman movie poster
Copyright 2009 NBC Universal. All Rights Reserved

Such was the case with “The Wolfman.” Once Michael saw the preproduction art for Joe Johnston’s remake of that 1941 Universal Pictures classic, he knew that he had to make this movie’s settings & characters part of Halloween Horror Night 19: Ripped From the Silver Screen. So that USF visitors could then get a preview of what this February 2010 release will be like.

And speaking of previews … If you’d like to get some hint of what this year’s Halloween Horror Nights will be like, you really should drop by that Facebook fan page from 3 – 3:30 p.m. ET today. When Michael Roddy will be on hand to personally answer your questions about this year's event.

Trust me, folks. Roddy’s got some great stories to share about what it takes to pull off something the size of Halloween Horror Nights 19. The months of planning that go into designing & building those haunted houses. Not to mention hiring & then training that small army of entertainers who lurk inside each of those mazes, ready to scare the snot out of you.

Beyond that ... If you're a horror fan, you should definitely make a point of regularly checking out the HHN Facebook fan page. Which – in the coming weeks – will feature all sorts of exclusive details on what Roddy & his crew will have waiting for you once Halloween Horror Nights 19: Ripped From the Silver Screen officially opens for business on September 25th.

Universal's Halloween Horror Nights - Ripped from the Silver Screen
Copyright 2009 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved

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  • Is it just me, or do Universal's "Halloween nights" always seem, well, cheap?  And noisy?  And amateurish?

    I mean, here's the company that has made the Spider-Man ride and the Terminator show and the Jaws attraction, and the best they can do is hire teenagers to dress up.  It never seems scary or even terribly atmospheric, just a lot like the traveling carnival haunted houses.

  • I hope one day to visit HHN. I know friends who went several years ago, and they said it was amazing.

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