2012 Haunted House guide
Chicago-area haunted houses for the scary season
Fear City and Hades Haunted House Last year, Fear City attempted to play on our Chicago fears with its rude FCTA worker, haunted train ride and the walk-through-former-governor Rod-Blagojevich's-throat amusements. This season, visitors can double their pleasure, as the attraction teams up with Hades Haunted House for an extra heaping of ghoulish delight. 8240 N Austin Ave, Morton Grove (fearcitychicago.com). Oct 5, 6, 7:30pm–midnight; Oct 7, 7:30pm–11pm; Oct 12, 13, 7:30pm–midnight; Oct 14, 7:30pm-11pm, Oct 19, 20, 7:30pm–midnight Oct 21, 25, 7:30pm–11pm; Oct 26, 27 7:30–midnight; Oct 28, 29, 30, 31 7:30pm–11pm; $25 per haunt, both haunts $35.
2012 REVIEW! A zombie dominatrix named Sugar greets you at the entrance and threatens you with a spanking before entering this Chicago-themed haunt. Other memorable features: a zombie porn pusher, a Justin Bieber stalker who collects his own urine, a family of hoarders with a fridge full of empty mayonnaise jars, a morbidly obese father with a sawed-off shotgun and a room full of dismembered puppies. No cliched chainsaws or ghosts here!—Erica Gannett
Six Flags Great America’s Fright Fest Three new Fright Fests this year: Wicked Woods, Manslaughter Manor, and the Dead Line, a train line that takes you through a zombie-infested world. Check the website for specific haunted-house hours. Six Flags Great America, 542 N Rte 21, Gurnee (847-249-4636, sixflags.com/greatamerica) Park admission, $61.99, kids 48” and under $41.99; haunt wristband, $19.99; express haunt wristband, $59.99.
2012 REVIEW! Due to an unfortunate inflation problem, Tiny the Spider isn’t clinging to the side of the American Eagle this October, but, by all other accounts, Six Flags Fright Fest is spookier than ever. The pond in front of the welcoming carousel is blood red and the park is crawling with hundreds of monsters and zombies who, not surprisingly, get creepier as the park grows darker. Confusingly, the rides and park zones have all been renamed, so be sure to pick up a map at the front of the park. There are eight scary shows (but, really, who goes to Six Flags to see a show?), a deadly train ride, a frightening nightclub, truly horrific Scary-oke and four other major haunted attractions with varying degrees of spooky. Here’s what you’ll find:
Mausoleum of Terror Legend has it that Six Flags Great America was built on an old cemetery, and the denizens of the Mausoleum are former park guests turned into zombies by a dead man named Eric Yeager, who rose from the dead and began feasting on brains. None of that back story really comes into play here, but the Mausoleum is the park's scariest haunted house nonetheless. On a recent visit, the ghoul barking out instructions before entry had the group cracking up with his undead shtick. Though the sets aren't memorable, the actors inside seem to pride themselves on providing guests with multiple scares. The climax of the journey—which combines a disorienting array of eerie lights, moving walls and a truly terrifying undead girl—will leave you disoriented and perhaps a bit unprepared for a fun final shock as you leave.—Frank Sennett
Massacre Medical Center The best set design at Fright Fest can be found inside this haunted hospital, where the staff have gone mad after escaping mental inmates tortured them. Now they want you to join them in the medical hell they've created. Though it's not quite as frightful as the Mausoleum of Terror, Mass Med delivers its fair share of shocks, including one cast member who skitters around the hallways in a disturbing crab walk and another who invites passersby to join him in a bathtub full of what appear to be limbs he's sloshing around. Talk about a high-risk pool.—Frank Sennett
Wicked Woods This haunted feature scores points for originality simply by being an open-air haunted house. Visitors to the Woods are led on a seemingly harmless walking tour through the dried up Roaring Rapids when…suddenly…something goes horribly wrong! The monsters (Sasquatch, Mothman, the Jerzy Devil) have escaped and the tour guide is, well, a bloody mess. Those who hate the claustrophobic feeling of being in a haunted house will find relief in the outdoors, but, even in the woods, there’s nowhere to run from hairy monsters and creepy characters in all black catsuits. —Amy Carr
Manslaughter Manor They say this house is “abandoned,” but you’d never know it from all the freaked-out zombies crawling around inside. Props to any haunted house that starts by doling out randomized electric jolts to those passing through, but with the exception of a lonely girl singing hauntingly in her bedroom and the unnerving threat lurking beneath fabric in the walkthrough closets, this haunt fails to live up to the others in the park. —Amy Carr
Asylum Xperiment This 45,000-square-foot Hollywood-set–style haunted house has forty rooms, many inspired by horror flicks. New this year: A multi-level graveyard and the Forty Foot Tunnel of Terror. Odeum, 1033 N Villa Ave, Villa Park (asylumxperiment.com). Oct 4, 7pm–10:30pm; Oct 5, 6, 7–midnight; Oct 7, 11, 7pm–10:30pm; Oct 12, 13, 7pm-midnight; Oct 14, 18, 7pm–10:30pm; Oct 19, 20, 7–midnight; Oct 21, 25, 7pm–midnight; Oct 26, 27, 7–midnight; Oct 28, 31, 7pm-10:30pm. $25, $40 VIP.
2012 REVIEW! Forty rooms with various themes fill up the ole Odeum Expo Center this year. An actual haunted house is mandatory of course, the most chilling aspect easily the girl being force-fed forkfuls of spaghetti, speckles of vomit around her mouth, the pasta smelling impressively rank. There's also a pitch black maze and a hospital ward with desiccated corpses. In some sort of dystopian Harley Davidson-land, bikers bang on cars with clubs and wield chain saws and in another maze where the strobe-light action could rival a Hype Williams music video, the man in front of me whispered, “Jump out and scream at people” into his walkie-talkie and sure enough, the girl dangling off a bar in the corner of the room promptly obeyed. —Tomi Obaro
The Massacre Haunted House and Fear Factory 3D Nestled in Naperville, this haunted house uses 3D effects to rachet up the goosebump level significantly.
2012 REVIEW! Don't let the Odyssey Fun World venue fool you, this haunt is plenty scary. Starting with a trippy maze where even the walls are literally jumping out at you, The Massacre uses 3D animatronics to gory, horrifying effect. Highlights include the young mother and her dead baby she wants you to play with, a tunnel with steadily encroaching walls and a funeral where the body isn’t quite dead. 3440 Odyssey Court (FearTheMassacre.com). Oct 5, 6 7-midnight, Oct 7, 7-11pm, Oct 12, 13, 7-midnight, Oct 14, 18 7-11pm, Oct 19, 20, 7-midnight. Oct 21, 25 7-11pm. Oct 26, 27, 7-midnight, Oct 28-30, 7-11pm, Oct 31, 7-midnight. $20 for The Massacre, $23 for The Massacre & Fear Factory 3D (includes 3D glasses), VIP $35 (includes 3D glasses).
Eleventh Hour The four scary attractions on an Elk Grove Village farm are the theatrical, bloody Eleventh Hour; Intensity, an underground maze with live rock band Chain Reaction; and the corn-maze Creatures of the Corn. In the daytime, the site runs a kid-friendly pumpkin patch and a lights-on haunted house matinee.434 E Devon Ave, Elk Grove Village (eleventhhour.info). Oct 5, 6, 7–11pm; Oct 7, 10, 11 7–10pm; Oct 12, 13, 7–11pm; Oct 14, 17, 18 7–10pm; Oct 19, 20, 7–11pm; Oct 21, 24, 25 7–10pm; Oct 26, 27, 7–11pm; Oct 28, 7–10pm; Oct 29, 30, 7-10pm, Oct 31, 7-11pm. $19.95 for four haunts online only, $18 for two haunts at the door.
2011 REVIEW! Don’t be discouraged by the all-too-brief corn maze that starts off the four stages of this experience—it sets the tone for confusion to come. The first of three houses focuses on theatrics and high-quality set design, more impressively creepy than frightening. From there things get downright scary; a simulated elevator drop reproduces every city-worker’s nightmare and a semi slams through the wall to a disturbingly disorienting spinning room and strobe-lit mazes featuring a live metal band that offers an apt soundtrack.—Heather Shouse
Screams in the Park The haunted house attempts to emulate H.H. Holmes's gothic mansion. Scares include fog-filled passageways, a toilet that sprays “urine” on you, "torture chambers" and vats of bubbling "acid." River Rd between Balmoral and Bryn Mawr Aves, Rosemont (847-868-9279, screamsinthepark.com). Oct 5, 6, 12, 13, 7–11pm; Oct 14, 5–9pm; Oct 18–20, 7–11pm; Oct 21, 5–9pm; Oct 24–27, 7-11pm, Oct 28, 5–9pm; Oct 29-31 7-11pm. $20, advance $15.
2011 REVIEW! A skull with glowing red eyes indicates the entrance to this new haunt, which sits in a tentlike structure near a suburban movie theater. The first area: a series of H.H. Holmes “torture rooms,” half-hearted teenage girl actors playing the serial killer’s victims. Herded into a pitch-black narrow hallway, we feel intense claustrophobia that seems to last forever. Additional well-played elements include a toilet that sprays “urine” on you and a plush red chair—ostensibly decorating a hallway to add a creepy Victorian element—that jumps out at you. Otherwise, the short haunt lacks vertigo tunnels, unique visual elements and a strong tie to the stated H.H. Holmes theme.—Martha Williams
Statesville Haunted Prison The Joliet area’s historic prisons make creepy fodder for this haunted house, where murderous prisoners have forced out the security guards. Walk through 23 maximum security cells. 17250 S Weber Rd, Crest Hill (877-722-7332, statesville.org). Oct 5, 6, 7-11pm, Oct 7, 11, 7-10pm, Oct 12, 13, 7-11pm, Oct 14, 18, 7-10pm, Oct 19, 20, 7-11pm, Oct 21, 25, 7-10pm, Oct 26, 27, 7-11pm, Oct 28, 30, 31, 1, 7-10pm, Nov 1, 2, 7-11pm.
2011 REVIEW! While standing in extremely long lines, frightening folks jump out at us yelling “Welcome to Hell!” and the un-PC “Nancy!” We finally get to the house and encounter the sickest thing we’ve ever seen: In a poop-covered bathroom, a guy pees against a wall, and a dude fondles a microphone in his underwear and breaks out into a song. One scary, mental-breakdown–inducing room features red and white checkered walls and checkered-camouflaged clowns popping out or swinging overhead on bungee systems. As we left the second haunt—a less scary animatronics house—the floor sloped down into the darkness of the walls, and the only way to leave was to disorientingly push your way out.—Erin Delahanty
Dungeon of Doom The largest haunt in this area—about 40,000 square feet and 80 actors—provides scares for up to 52 minutes. See several sections, one of which is described simply as “you will be suspended in the air surrounded by clowns.” Not afraid yet? In Buried Dead or Alive, lie in a coffin while dirt-like debris pins you down. New this year, Slaughterhouse Mania, a romp through an animal blood bath and the ominous-sounding Gas Chamber. 2701 Deborah Ave, Zion (262-331-0092, dungeonofdoom.com). $17-40. Oct 5, 8:30pm-11:30pm, Oct 6, 7pm-late, Oct 7, 8pm-10:30pm. Oct 12-13, 7-late. Oct 14, 18, 8pm-10:30pm. Oct 19-20, 7-late, Oct 21, 25, 8:00-10:30pm. Oct 26, 27, 7pm-late. Oct 28, 30, 31, 8pm-10:30pm.
2010 REVIEW! An initial turbulent elevator ride gives you a glimpse of what the rest of the haunt is like: frighteningly small spaces, pitch-black darkness and the occasional strobe light causing lurking monsters' movements to resemble seizures. After walking through mazes filled with roaches (likely crunchy popcorn pieces), chain-saws and insane-asylum patients, prepare for the highlight: getting buried alive. McDonald’s Playplace-esque balls fall from the ceiling and come up from the floors stifling your vision, breathing and movement. Thankfully it lasts only one panic-inducing minute.—Lauren Capobianco