Spooky Chicagoland haunts

Jenny Lenahan

Those who haven’t been to a haunted house since the days when Halloween meant Power Rangers costumes and Starburst binges will be surprised to find that Chicago boasts several haunted houses that appeal to an older crowd.

Medill sophomore Erin Arbaugh bypassed the usual Saturday night festivities to check out Haunted Sanitarium, a haunted house put on by the Chicago Park District. Eerily located in a facility that used to house a children’s sanitarium, Haunted Sanitarium has 12 rooms, each with a different theme. Arbaugh says it was a truly terrifying experience. “They had these huge caped ghouls that came at you at all angles and trapped you,” she says. “It was like the worst nightmare you’d ever had.”

Those seeking a scare that’s a closer to campus can check out Scream Scene, a haunted house run and performed entirely by volunteers through the Skokie Park District.

“We try to go for the psychological scare,” says Kris Berggren, who is in charge of more than 20 rooms and 40 actors. “A lot of haunted houses are really dark, but we keep ours a little brighter so it’s not just about someone popping out and yelling ‘boo!'”

Berggren, who claims his favorite part of Scream Scene is the clown room, says the haunted house is scary enough to appeal to college students. Scenes include a detailed alien autopsy and a man gorily decapitated and dismembered by his ax-wielding girlfriend. “We increase the intensity with each room, so by the time the house is finished you’re running out of there,” Berggren says.

A haunted house might be the remedy for mentally drained students recovering from a stressful week of midterms. “So much of the fun of haunted houses is opening up your imagination to something completely new and scary,” says Sam Kirby, a Weinberg sophomore.

Haunted Sanitarium is located at Theater on the Lake, 2400 N. Lake Shore Dr. The house is open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m Monday through Friday and Saturday and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, through Oct. 31 Admission is $10, $8 with a student ID.

Scream Scene, 4701 Oakton St. is open 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, Saturday, Oct. 29 and Monday, Oct. 31. Admission is $7.

– Jenny Lenahan