With Halloween and Family Weekend coinciding, you might be torn between showing your parents Chicago or ditching them to go out with your friends. If staying on campus with either friends or family is not what you had in mind, terrifying Halloween entertainment is not too far away.
In its twelfth season at Navy Pier in Chicago, “The Fear Haunted House” gives patrons an interactive and frightening experience. Produced by Zombie Army Productions, the haunted house seeks to provide “the highest in production quality for the darkest of events,” according to its website.
The house’s story line contends that “The Captain” collected creatures such as vampires, zombies and werewolves from around the world and brought them to Navy Pier for an undisclosed reason, which patrons will discover upon venturing inside. John LaFlamboy, founder and director of Zombie Army Productions, said that The Fear differed from other haunted houses in that “ours is an actor-based concept.” Whatever your opinion of haunted houses, he said, “This is a great form of dark entertainment — and you will be entertained.”
Before even purchasing a ticket, patrons are greeted by a Gothic harlequin twirling flaming batons against the night sky. Frightened screams can be heard over the heavy metal playing in the background as costumed actors scare unsuspecting people.
Jeanine Ditchman, Zombie Army Productions marketing agent, admits, “It is difficult to create that scare or shock element nowadays. People expect a lot,” she said, “and I definitely think we deliver.”
Exactly how scary is it? LaFlamboy recalls one year a woman passed out after one of the actors demanded she hand him her head.
Responses like this do not surprise Shannon Page, a Columbia College student in vampire makeup with deep creases on her brow. “[The actors] are always in your face,” she said. “We have blood dripping from us. And we will give you nightmares.”
Victoria Rogers attended The Fear Haunted House last year and confirmed the extreme level of scariness. “I almost cried,” she said.
The actors achieve this level of fright through a “coordinated scare” and knowing just where to draw the line. It is that detail and training that sets The Fear apart.
“We are trained not to touch you,” said Page, “but never leave you alone.”
In addition to trained actors, The Fear has professional makeup and costume designers on staff. From the fake blood to the spiked body armor, everything looks realistic and terrifying. “Last year someone called the Humane Society, because they thought we had real wolves,” said Head of Security Peter Koconis.
If you are more interested in doing the scaring than being scared, the Fear has something to offer. Many of the actors are college students and they are open to new employees.
The Fear Haunted House will be open from this Thursday to Sunday. For show times or more information, visit to their website.