Attractions: Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare

Resident horror hound, Shayne McGuire, had a chance to check the Great American Nightmare. Here's his review of Zombie's latest scary adventure.

For all of us horror freaks, there is no better way to spend the glorious month of October than visiting as many haunted attractions as you possibly can.  With that being my yearly tradition, I had gotten word that the great horror visionary Mr. Rob Zombie had plans to bring his Great American Nightmare event to the Chicago area.  As a longtime and rather loyal Zombie fan, I immediately moved this to the top of my Halloween priority list.  This event promised three haunted attractions based on the Rob Zombie universe with other treats such as themed food and drink, freak shows and live music.

As we pull up to the Odeum Expo Center I’m overwhelmed with excitement as the first thing I hear is a chainsaw being fully revved while females are shrieking at the tops of their lungs.  Absolutely nothing screams Halloween goodness more than being chased by a chainsaw wielding maniac.  While waiting for entry in the outdoor line, the show begins with actors swallowing fire, using metal grinders on select body parts and all around just tormenting patrons.  While that’s awesome in itself, the real show begins upon entry into the building.  I hear a DJ playing some classic Zombie tunes and I lay my eyes on the three main attractions.  Zombie went all out here, as he basically built three entire buildings inside of one larger structure.

The first attraction my group and I approach is “The Lords of Salem in Total Blackout.”  This walkthrough attacks the fear of the dark and that wonderful feeling of claustrophobia.  As the title states, the attraction is in complete darkness and you must use your other senses to make it to the end of its maze like setup.  Thankfully for me, I don’t get claustrophobic and I’m not afraid of the dark.  That being said, this was still one creepy experience.  Every few seconds, there are quick flashes of light so you can get a glimpse of what’s going on then it’s back to darkness.  I let out quite a few yelps here, as the dark makes it very easy for the actors to creep up behind you and whisper terrifying things into your ear.  

As I reach the exit I notice the black light glow coming from the next room.  Here lies “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto in 3D.”  This one is funny, it’s psychedelic and it will disorient you at least once sometime throughout.  I grab my 3D glasses and I’m ready to laugh.  The entire attraction is black lit and it’s covered from top to bottom, wall to wall with 3D glow paint.  There’s nudity, sexual humor and twisted cartoon imagery galore.  The stars here are the actors and their makeup and costume designs.  Both are extremely well done and it feels as if you’re on stage with Rob during one of his concerts.  

I return my 3D glasses and I’m taken back by the beautiful sight that is the “Haunt of 1,000 Corpses” house. It's brilliantly recreated to look straight off the set of House of 1,000 Corpses, I get through the doors and the entire room is greeted by Captain Spaulding as we stand in his Museum of Monsters & Madmen.  This was the most well done of the three attractions by far, as it was also the scariest.  I could have spent hours just standing in each of the rooms looking at all of the set designs - these things are detailed to the max.  Each room has its own personality due to the fact that each one is based on a different serial killer.  If you’ve ever wanted to be face to face with John Wayne Gacy or Lizzie Borden, this is the place to be.  I must say that I had an almost traumatizing experience with Charles Manson as I made my way through.

All in all, this is excellent Halloween experience ripped from the mind of Rob Zombie himself.  It’s dark, violent, twisted, funny and sexy all in one package.  If you’re a general horror fan, you should definitely try to get to either the Villa Park, Illinois or Scottsdale, Arizona locations for some exceptional October fun.  If you’re a Rob Zombie fan, you should be on the road right now.

-Shayne McGuire