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Universal Studios Hollywood’s John Murdy Announces New Halloween Horror Nights House and Further Details ‘Universal Monsters: Unmasked’ at Midsummer Scream

John Murdy on the main stage at Midsummer Scream 2023

On Sunday, Midsummer Scream closed out its three-day Halloween and horror convention with a presentation from Universal Studios Hollywood’s Halloween Horror Nights Creative Director John Murdy. Murdy presented to a packed house that was standing room only as he introduced an all-new haunted house coming to Universal Studios Hollywood and further detailed a house announced last Friday, “Universal Monsters: Unmasked.”

Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America

Murdy kicked off his presentation by announcing “Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America.” The all-new haunted house for 2023 is inspired by three famous “monsters” from Latin American myths and legends: Tlahuelpuchi, La Lechuza, and El Sibón. Each monster originates from a different region of Latina America and has its own unique backstory.

Tlahuelpuchi originates from the Tlaxcala region of Mexico and is unique in that the creature is part witch and part vampire and sucks the blood of its victims. While Tlahuelpuchi can transform and take on the appearance of various animals, the most common is a turkey vulture, which Universal Studios Hollywood used as inspiration for the character.

La Lechuza, also known as the Owl Witch, originates in Mexico but has also been reported in the southwestern United States. Like most witch stories, the most common iteration of La Lechuza revolves around an older woman in the village accused of being a witch and put to death. But in a Latin American twist, the old woman returns as La Lechuza.

El Sibón is the final core monster in the new haunted house, and he reigns from the Los Lanos region of Columbia and Venezuela. In short, El Sibón is a creature born of death. A monster born of a teenager brutally murdered by his grandfather and condemned to carry his father’s bones on his back for eternity after murdering him for killing his lover.

A towering creature, El Sibón preys primarily on womanizers and drunks. The creature is often reported as being 10-12 feet tall and seen carrying the bones of his murdered father in a bag. You’ll know El Sibón is nearby the sound of his distinct whistle. If he’s close, the whistle will sound far away. Stilt walkers will play the creature in key scenes of the Horror Nights haunted house.

The environments in the maze took inspiration from various locales in Latina America. The house’s facade, called “Cemetery of the Lost,” is part mausoleum and part crypt and is inspired by graveyard designs in Guadalajara and Guanajuato, Mexico. The idea is that you enter the house where all the monsters’ victims are buried.

Here you’ll meet another character named Muerte, a gravedigger and Reaper-like creature that ushers you into this nightmarish world. As you make your way through the crypt, you’ll eventually find yourself in the lairs of Tlahuelpuchi and La Lechuza before exiting into El Sibón’s village and the pulqueria massacre, where he has murdered many of the townsfolk. As you make your way through the carnage, you’ll eventually come face-to-face with El Sibón’s sack. To escape the house, you must enter the sack and face whatever horrors you find inside.

El Terror De Las Momias

The house will empty into an all-new scare zone that continues the Latin American themes of the Monstruos haunted house. Called “El Terror De Las Momias,” which translates to “The Terror of the Mummies,” the new scare zone takes inspiration from 1950s Mexican horror cinema. For the scare zone, Universal has created seven fake films that include “La Momia Que No Muere!” (The Mummy That Couldn’t Die), “La Momia Contra Los Esqueletos Muertos” (The Mummy vs The Undead Skeletons), “Venganza de la Momia” (Revenge of the Mummy), “Escape de la Cripta de la Momia!” (Escape from the Mummy’s Crypt!), “Sangre de la Reina Esqueleto” (Blood of the Skeleton Queen), “La Momia Contra la Reina Esqueleto” (The Mummy vs The Skeleton Queen), and “Terror queue Destroza los Nervios!” (Village of the Undead).

  • Poster and lobby card designs for "La Momia que no Muere! (The Mummy That Couldn't Die!)
  • Poster and lobby card designs for "La Momia Contra Los Esqueletos Muertos" (The Mummy vs The Undead Skeletons)
  • Poster and lobby card designs for "Venganza de la Momia" (Revenge of the Mummy)
  • Poster and lobby card designs for "Escape de la Cripta de la Momia!" (Escape from the Mummy's Crypt)
  • Poster and lobby card designs for "Sangre de la Reina Esqueleto" (Blood of the Skeleton Queen)
  • Poster and lobby card designs for "La Momia Contra La Reina Esqueleto" (The Mummy vs The Skeleton Queen)
  • Poster and lobby card designs for "Terror que Destroza los Nervios!" (Village of the Undead!)

Each film will come to life with terrifying characters inspired by the look and theme of these fake Mexican horror classics.

Universal Monsters: Unmasked

Last week Universal Studios announced “Universal Monsters: Unmasked” as one of three all-new mazes coming to Halloween Horror Nights in 2023. Set sixty feet beneath the streets of Paris in the catacombs; this all-new haunted house brings together some of the oldest characters in Universal Monsters history, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and his deranged alternate personality Mr. Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, and Dr. Jack Griffin, aka The Invisible Man. During the panel, Murdy dove into the histories of some of these characters, their ties to Universal, and the Paris catacombs’ history.

But Murdy wasn’t on hand only to give folks a history lesson. The Creative Director also gave a glimpse at some of the set inspiration for the new house and introduced us to one of the core characters from the house, Madame Squelette, AKA The Rat Lady. The character will act as the narrator of the story and will appear first as a skeleton from the catacombs during the pre-show. However, later in the house, she will manifest as a full character, pox and all.

When the house was announced, Universal also shared that GRAMMY® Award-winning musician, Slash, would again be collaborating with Universal Studios Hollywood on an original score for the west coast version of the “Universal Monsters: Unmasked” haunted house. During Murdy’s presentation, he gave us a taste of that score with a track called “Silent Screams,” which you can hear below:

Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Studios Hollywood on Thursday, September 7, and runs through Tuesday, October 31. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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