Breaking the Code – Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood officially starts teasing HHN 2014!


It may be just the first part of March, but the wheels have been in motion on Halloween Horror Nights 2014 in Hollywood for quite some time. The process has many steps, but Creative Director at Universal Studios Hollywood likes to keep his fans informed, guessing and frothing on the official HHN Hollywood Twitter account @Horrornights. Murdy has a bit of sick side that likes to see the millions of fans squirm while they’re tortured up until mid August. It seems to be a bit of his “carnie side” that comes out, but then again, we think he just takes pleasure in the pain of others. And we love it.


John Murdy likes to begin teasing fans when the deals for the mazes are sealed. This year he has been very active in the off months, telling fans about various meetings and talks. For anyone who loves the behind the scenes aspect of the events like Horror Nights, @HorrorNights is full of great info.

The teases come in the form of Code Names. It’s a mad little game that Murdy likes to play, leaving names that have nothing to do with actual maze. Instead, it’s a twisted game of Six Degrees of Separation…with the key word being Separation. Sometimes it’s someone who inspired the maze, or someone that Murdy looked up to. Maybe it’s just something from a key scene of another film that resembles something that guests will see in this maze. It’s impossible to look at and have an “Ah-HA!” moment right away. Those take clues and months of grueling torment.

Last year’s Code Names were:

  • John-Ended up being The Walking Dead
  • The Name Game-Ended up being Evil Dead
  • Rock Icon-Ended up being Insidious
  • Trickster-Black Sabbath

Those names mean something to the mazes and to Murdy…but to eager fans, they were lost.

This year the teasing starts coming a little early with this past weekend’s reveal of a new code name, and the setting of madness into motion.

Clue 1

The code name for the 1st maze is “Malcolm” Why? Well the hint is specific to a famous Malcolm…it will all make sense later. Stay Tuned

Malcolm? Immediately everyone started guesses from Rob Zombie’s Halloween to Breaking Bad. Think hard kids, there’s not just one link…it’s much deeper than that.

John Murdy updated his followers on twitter with an all new hint for the “Malcolm” maze on March 9, 2014.

  • “Okay here’s the first hint about the maze code-named “Malcolm” This maze is not based on a TV show or a video game…”

Malcolm Young is one of the brothers that make up AC/DC who’s song Highway to Hell and Hell’s Bells are staples in horror films. Hollywood loves to use the horrific images of rock music to scare their guests, so it’s possible another band has joined forces with HHN. The previous houses have been Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 corpses, two houses featuring Alice Cooper, and last year’s Black Sabbath house.

Clue 2

Murdy is back with yet another clue. And this one is a doozie.

The codename for maze #2 is “Teen Spirit” Of course the codename is a riddle like everything else, so get ready for some hints…

Murdy goes on to explain that Universal is also known for Teen Comedies, and that this house will share part of a name with one of the characters from this teen movie. The film takes place in a high school, and was out at the time when he was either old enough to see the film…or sneak into it. Our guess is that this film is from the 70’s or 80’s…but it also leaves open the possibility that the film could be all the way up to the present day.

To make it easier on you and ourselves, here’s the list of Universal teen comedies from the 70’s and 80’s

Without going too much into it, and knowing Murdy’s love for the 80’s (at least we perceive he has one…could be wrong), here’s a list of Universal teen comedies, revolving around a high school released in the 80’s

  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Sixteen Candles
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Private School
  • Gotcha! (technically an action film…but if you watch it, you’ll know…)
  • Weird Science

Then you have two notable comedies in the 90’s

  • Dazed and Confused
  • American Pie

Now that’s a ton of potential characters. Now we just have to find which one pertains to either a horror movie or a horror concept. I’m all for Ducky’s Revenge, if John Cryer is involved.


Keep checking back as we keep a look out on all the code names and clues for this year.

Code names and clues:

  • Code Name 1-Malcolm:
  1. Not based on a movie, TV show or video game.
  2. Here’s your first hint. “location, location, location.” Geography plays a role in this maze. The setting is well-known to horror fans.
  3. Here’s your next hint. You’re going to have to do some research to figure this one out. It comes in the form of the short, true story…I started at Universal as a tour guide in 1989, that year I gave the VIP tour to one of the most famous people in the world at that time…… I’ll narrow it down for you. That famous person was a musician. One of his albums is a hint to the theme of the maze… Who was he?
  4. This will be your last hint for the maze code-named “Malcolm” The title of the song sung by one of the “X-Men”
  • Code Name 2-Teen Spirit:
  1. Aside from horror movies, Universal is famous for another genre of film… The Teen Comedy… Which is the inspiration for this codename…
  2. To solve the codename “Teen Spirit” you first have to find an actor who appeared in a famous Universal Teen Comedy…Once you find the actor, you’ll find the theme for this maze. Part of the title of the maze, is also one of this actors credits…
  3. Here’s a few hints, so you don’t drive yourselves crazy searching every Universal comedy ever made… This one takes place in high school.
  4. Here’s another hint… it’s a movie I saw in a movie theater when it came out. I was either old enough to see it…or I snuck in…
  5. Here’s your last hint… sorry this one’s going to be really obscure…”a movie title that has something to do with poker” #evil #carny
  • Code Name 3-Beauty is Only Skin Deep
  1. The code comes from the title of a 1966 Temptations song
  2. Here’s a rhyme directly from Twitter: “Maze #3. What can it be? Something our fans will sure want to see! They think they know but I don’t agree, What in the world is Maze #3?” A clue? Maybe…but it could be Murdy screwing with fans.
  3. Code name refers to beauty products. Maybe a film that has something to do with our obsession of looking good?
  4. Code name also refers to things that are beautiful on the outside but not the inside.
  5. The name does refer to a horror film (or show) that stars a former model/beauty queen…that’s a big clue.
  6. “Ding Dong…” 
  • Code Name 4-Atari 2600
  1. The hint here is that it’s a name of a video game released for the Atari 2600. That console first hit in the late 70’s, but was huge in the early 80’s.
  2. A sound effect is the signature piece of the title, though it may not have been included in the Atari version
  • Code Name 5-Soap Commercial
  1. Part of the maze title is also a brand of soap
  2. This maze is based off of a horror movie, and one of the main actors of this film made TV commercials before making the jump to film
  3. An actress who is in a major release this year had a cameo in this film
  • Original Maze Concept-YOU WILL NEVER GET THIS

Murdy is goading fans now saying that we will never in a million years guess this maze. Challenge accepted. This is not based on any film property, and there could be no way that we would guess it…but we’ll go ahead and make our guesses none the less.

Here’s the clues, most of which come directly from Twitter:

  1. Based on a news story…Broad scope, let’s narrow it down
  2. “The original maze also has a strange connection to a song that was written in 1946…It’s about a place… It’s been covered many many times”
  3. “There are three main characters we’ve created for this maze, one was inspired by an old TV commercial that I find particularly disturbing”
  4. “One was inspired by a character in a John Steinbeck novel… Just so happens to be a role I played back in my acting days many moons ago”
  5. “One character was inspired by a psychological condition or rather something people with this condition do… It’s a recent phenomenon”
  6. “Other inspirations for this maze include… The packaging for a food item that has always creeped me out and a movie prop we’ve used at HHN”

We think we have this one kind of figured out, but let’s work it out a bit. We may have it…but since it’s so impossible, it’s not likely. We believe that the original house idea is going to be based on UFO’s and alien abductions, or at least have something to do with it. This maze is inspired by many things…but the thing that stands out is the 1946 song that has been covered many times, and is a name of a place. The biggest song, and only other song besides “Kentucky Waltz” that came out in 1946 was Route 66…it has been covered by the likes of Chuck Berry, The Rolling Stones and the Cheetah Girls…not to mention many many more.

If we had to guess, this is the version that Murdy would be most fond of:

Now how does this tie in to the house, and in to alien abduction? Route 66 was opened in 1926, and decommissioned in 1985 after the opening of the Interstate system. Route 66 ran from Illinois, all the way to California. It’s been decommissioned, but a large majority of it still operates under the “Historic Route 66” name…including the Extra-Terrestrial Highway.

The Extra-Terrestrial Highway is a 100 mile stretch that is famous for “visitors”  because it runs right by the top secret military base Area 51. According to legends, Area 51 is where our government keeps it’s secrets, such as top secret planes and men from outer space. The base is operational, and anyone caught roaming around will be met with “deadly force” as authorized. Many have reported seeing lights in the sky, discs, and even being abducted on that very highway. Could we see anal probing aliens, and some basket case, creepy survivors? Not sure about the prop, or the food wrapper…but there have been tons of news reports on it.

Do we have something? We’ll see.

The one thing we may know about this first maze is that it could be a property that is shared between Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando.

@HorrorNights and I just finished a concept pitch with a studio. One down, right Murdy? 😉

Then again…maybe not. The Orlando Horror Nights Twitter account @HorrorNightsOrl is run by Universal Orlando Creative, Mike Aiello. While Mike loves to see the fans squirm, he doesn’t appear to take as much enjoyment out of it as Murdy does.  The only thing we do know for sure is that the parks have shared concepts in the past, with each park presenting a different way to execute the idea. Both unique, both good, and both getting huge amounts of scares and screams.

New Concept:

Murdy has been talking about a “Super Secret Project” that they are pitching this week. If it happens, he promises it will be a first for HHN. Does that mean first for Hollywood AND Orlando, or just Hollywood? The Super Secret Project for HHN is intriguing, and there’s not a lot of information or teases about it, yet. Fingers crossed we’ll be adding it to the code name list.

We’ve only just begun….


Throw out your guesses in the comments below…but don’t think they’ll be so easy. Each clue is loosely based on the code name, and each code name has a red herring…meaning one of the clues is fake.

If you want to know how you’re supposed to think about this…here’s an example:


  • JB Well in that case …

    Anthony Michael Hall — “Hall” being the theme — “Dead Zone” being part of the title.

    I dunno, just the first one I came up with. In searches, I also found “Over the Edge” which apparently inspired the Nirvana video for “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Peggy Sue Got Married” which would give us Nicholas *CAGE*, but neither of those are Universal movies.

Not likely the right answer, but it’s the deductive way to think.

Stay tuned as we bring you the latest rumors, news and codes from both Horror Nights Hollywood and Orlando. Be sure to follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates.

For more information about Halloween Horror Nights Hollywood, visit the official website by clicking here!