2016 Haunted House Tour

Last night, I drove down to Chicago to tour two haunted houses. Statesville Haunted Prison and HellsGate – both produced and operated by Zombie Army Productions.

Statesville Haunted Prison

I wanted to visit Statesville for quite some time. I had seen promotional videos for the attraction and thought they were pretty impressive. Statesville also has a pretty strong reputation within the haunt entertainment industry.

Fluffy / Statesville Haunted Prison

This is Fluffy. He is so cute. I wanted to take him home with me.

When I got there, I could see why. The hype was not manufactured. Statesville runs a mind-blowing haunt. If I had to guess, the attraction is easily worth 7 or 8 figures in property, equipment, props, and so forth. It was a subtle reminder of what is possible if you make sizable investments in your business and exist in a big enough market to support that investment.

I don’t see much point in narrating much about a haunted house tour. Haunted houses are things you have to experience. Instead, I’ll simply comment on the things that stood out to me the most.

Statesville is massive in scope. I can’t hazard a guess as to how many actors they employ or how many fake corpses they own, but the numbers were overwhelming. I’m pretty good at discerning actors from props, but the shear numbers of both at Statesville meant that I was constantly on the lookout, my brain working overtime to assess who was who and what was what.

There was one particularly impressive room – I’m not sure what it was called, but it seemed to be full of sparking cables, wires, and electrical boxes. The room was stunning, and I would have loved to meet its designer.

HellsGate

When I asked if anyone wanted to join me at Statesville, my friend and former Terror on the Fox owner Beaker informed me that HellsGate was nearby, and that was the haunt he was working at. He invited me to go to both haunts, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that both were operated by Zombie Army.

By comparison, HellsGate was much smaller in scope, but still quite impressive. The tour begins with a walk in the woods, past an entertaining and wiseass grave digger. The trail is dimly lit, and creates perfect ambiance. Upon entry to the mansion, the tour begins in a gorgeous foyer with back-lit stained glass windows and a terrific performance by the actors staged here.

Zombie Army

This was my first real taste of what Zombie Army has to offer. I had heard about them both while working at Terror on the Fox and at TransWorld. But I didn’t know enough about them at the time to have reason to commit them to memory. They also produce an insightful video web series called Days of the Living Dead.

As I would with James Wan, I would strongly consider giving my left nut for the opportunity to work with Zombie Army. There’s just one problem. They’re based in Chicago and I couldn’t fathom the idea of living anywhere near such a large metropolitan area again.

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