|My brother Sam, in his natural state.|
Sam is taking over the blog in the weeks coming up to Halloween!
My brother Sam is one of the people that is probably a bigger Halloween fan than I am. And he's way braver. I don't do haunted houses. Can't handle them. If I went, I'd just close my eyes and bury my head in the back of the person in front of me and go as quickly as possible through. It's a waste of money to take me. I don't like "jump" scares.
Sam, however, is a HUGE fan of haunted houses. He goes to lots of them. I asked him to write some reviews for the blog on some of the haunted houses that he went to this year. So, if you're in the Chicago area, you may want to check out some of these places... assuming that you're a haunted house fan like Sam, and not a huge wuss, like me.
This was my first time going to Illinois’s so called “Most Interactive Haunted House,” and I can say at this point it very much is the most interactive house I’ve been to. I picked this one out due to its offer on Groupon and the fact that it was one of the few haunted houses open the first weekend of October. My girlfriend and I arrived around 9:30 PM on a Friday night, and almost missed the house completely. All we saw was one man sitting on a folding chair in front of the door. I was concerned that maybe the house wasn’t even opened yet, but he ushered us in. We gave our Groupon to the two ladies at the counter and walked around the corner to a darkly light corridor and silence. That was the most concerning thing to me, silence. Usually at a house you hear spooky sounds, or screams or aggressive music, something to help set the mood. This had none of that, instead we were greeted by one normally dressed man and an actor dressed head-to-toe in Hot Topic circa 2001 (you know, straps that went nowhere, buckles, giant legs etc.).
Almost immediately, we were brought to the threshold of the house. It was us two and another couple. We were informed we would be meeting the mayor of this town we would explore and that we should listen and pay close attention to what he has to say. We were then ushered into what looked like an abandoned movie theater and the mayor came to greet us as give us the rules of the house. It was funny and engaging, and at that point my hopes were lifted. I don’t want to spoil the house, so I will only mention briefly some of the things in the house.
What made it truly unique was that we were told we would be asked to touch, smell, and even taste things, and as adults, we could refuse, but if we accepted, it is at our own risk. The house was a bit bare on the decorations and atmosphere, but it felt very intimate, and it could have been based on the small size of our group, but it made for a wonderful experience. You were given options and made to make decisions, it felt personalized. I personally at one point was sent out ahead of my group with a gun to help “thin the zombie ranks” which made for a delightful experience. I walked into a hospital room where a nurse shouted at me to give her the gun and open my mouth which I mistakenly did and was treated to a rather strange tasting solution.
The actors at Psychosis were fantastic. It didn’t feel like the typical haunted house, where you are pushed through a line as quickly as possible while people jump out and try to scare you. The actors conversed with you and made sure that any other actors knew who you were and gave them any information you may have foolishly let slip about yourself. The best way I can describe this house is that it was one of the best amateur haunted houses I’ve ever been to. I don’t mean that as a bad thing either, it is just very apparent that this house doesn’t have the budget most do. While they may have lacked on props, they definitely made up for with entertainment and spirit.
SCORE: 4 pairs of Tripp Pants out of 5
The Great Room Escape
Morton Grove, IL
The Great Room Escape doesn’t really fit in the category of haunted house; it’s more of an interactive event. I bought tickets for this one with absolutely no prior information, it just sounded interesting. The website states; “Trapped with no way out, chain link by chain link, a brain-crazed and bloodthirsty zombie invades the room. You and 11 others must solve the room before the time runs out and the zombie is unleashed. With only sixty minutes and your brains, you must uncover clues, decipher riddles, and discover the keys to unlock your freedom.” I love games, I love puzzles, and I love horror, so this just sounded right up my alley. So with that being said, I made reservations to go with my girlfriend. Unfortunately, due to some conflicting circumstances, Annie [Sam's girlfriend] was unable to accompany me. I wanted to take another one of my close friends who loves horror, but she too had to cancel. I was having some people over that night for a get together and because I didn’t want the ticket to go to waste, I asked my good buddy Bob if he would want to come with. Bob isn’t a horror person, but he’s big into puzzles and games so I figured he may enjoy it. He was already coming over that night, so he agreed.
The reservation was at 3:30pm on a Saturday, I had no idea what to expect, so I put the address in my phone and away we went. I was beyond excited when I realized the Great Room Escape was being held at Fear City. Fear City is by far the best haunted house I’ve been to and the only house I wanted to go back through IMMEDIATELY after finishing last year. Apparently, it is called “House of Torment” this year, but after talking to the people there, it is still operated by the same group. I will definitely be going to it again this year, and will have another write up for you to enjoy later on, but back to this. The two of us arrived and were brought into a holding room where we met eight other people. We were told it would be a bit later than expected as the past group had destroyed a bunch of items. That statement took me by surprise. Again, I had no idea what to expect, but shit was being broken? What in the hell does this entail? We started talking with the others in our group and found out they all knew each other. Everyone in the group was over 20 and about half of them seemed to be upper 40s or 50s. While we waited we were told that a national television station would be filming the haunted house so who knows, maybe you’ll catch us on the show (which they wouldn’t tell us what show it was, but I’m guessing it was something on TLC). The small talk continued until the woman working the room escape was ready to go through the instructions with us.
There would be no videos, no photos, and we had to leave our cellphones in a locked case. We had a goal, and that was to survive the room by escaping. The room would be locked, and hidden throughout the room would be several keys. Four of those keys would be needed to unlock the door. We wouldn’t know what keys worked until we tried them in the door. In the room with us would be several items, the butler who would act as our moderator so to speak and the zombie. The zombie was chained to the wall and as time progressed the chain would get longer and the zombie would be able to cover more of the room. If the zombie touched you, you died. You would be able to rejoin the game after the butler allowed you. The butler would allow you back in after doing something for his own amusement (which for me meant, he asked me trivia questions, I was made to propose to the zombie, do jumping jacks, etc), and with that the door was opened and we were ushered in. The door was locked behind us and the butler welcomed us in.
The butler set the scenario and the theme for us. The previous owner of this house was working on some experiment and one way or another he developed this serum that turned his mistress into a zombie who was now locked in the room with us (in the bathroom to be precise) and now she was hungry. We had an hour to get out of the room or we would all be eaten. And just like that, the clock started and the game begun. We didn’t have any idea how to approach the game and it was challenging. I felt like for the first 30 minutes we struggled to figure anything out, we scoured the room finding potential hints and clues while the butler gave us information that may or may not have been helpful. He also mocked us. A lot. Once we got the first clue and opened our first item the entire group was pumped. Like that we found our groove. We were shouting out information and trying desperately to find the keys, meanwhile the zombie got closer and closer. We were coming together as a team and working against the clock to make sure we found those keys. We wanted nothing more than to win.
We didn’t win. We made it to two keys before the clock sounded and we all died. We were told only three groups in the last three months had made it out. I was sad, I wanted so desperately to beat the room, but I had a fucking blast trying. I don’t want to say too much about what actually happens in the room because I recommend this to anyone and everyone. This was the most entertaining Halloween event I’ve ever done. If you come into this with an open mind and want to enjoy it, you will have the best time ever. I was 100% immersed in the situation and gave it my all. At one point I even "Dukes of Hazard"-slid over a table to avoid being killed by the zombie. The group worked together so well and everyone had an amazing time. It was very cool to see the group dynamic of working together while all feeling the stress of the time running down and that zombie getting closer and closer. I died a bunch during the game, but I also found a lot of the keys. You would be shocked at how physical this game is when you have a zombie trying to kill everyone in the room. My only gripe with this event was that some of the clues were nothing more than red herrings, or essentially clues to throw you off. I guess it’s possible though that none of our group could figure out what they actually meant...
I can’t praise this enough. You owe it to yourself to go out and do this. This was one of the most fun Halloween activities I’ve ever done!
SCORE: 5 chained zombies out of 5
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Wow - after reading through this, I almost want to go to the Great Room Escape! I hope that you enjoyed Sam's guest post reviews! He'll be back later this week with his "31 Days of Halloween" horror movie reviews, and be on the lookout for even more haunted house reviews to come!
Jen @ Hell Razor