Statesville Haunted Prison, located at 17250 S. Weber Road in Crest Hill, has been ranked the best haunted house in Chicago for last 8 years. On any given night it is inhabited by 150-200 of the most sinister souls ever to be incarcerated. In order to escape its wall, one must survive encounters with the Warden and the inmates (aka maniacs, demonic clowns and Fluffy who is pictured above).
The idea of having a prison as the setting of a haunted house is pretty masterful. No one in their right mind ever wants to go to prison especially one that is dimly lit and where the Warden is Satan himself.
After getting crammed in a holding cell, our group was allowed access into the walls of Statesville Prison. The doors literally opened and we filed in like cattle awaiting a message from the Warden. The Warden doesn't disappoint and let's just say has an electrifying exit. From the initial message, a decomposing inmate with his prison numbers branded in to the back of his head breaks the group into lines and informs patrons of the rules of the house. Above him are monitors displaying some of the horrors the house has in store for the "fresh meat."
The interior of the house made amazing use of its props. The first couple of rooms looked, how I would imagine, like a crammed prison. Cells appeared to be stacked on top of each other and even housed live inmates. Patrons have the task of bobbing and weaving through the carnage. The tour includes a trip through the latrine and other must sees during any prison visit.
Statesville is also home to demonic clowns (a la Pennywise), the Wembley Sisters (12 deranged girls that look like they just stepped out of The Ring) and other characters that were dragged up from hell. As a Simpsons fan (Seasons 1-10 to be specific), I give major kudos to the clown who used the line, "Can't sleep, clown will eat me."
The Zombie Army crew spent a total of 6 months creating Statesville Haunted Prison and their effort was well worth it. To up the ante, this year the house boasts an additional 10 rooms of terror. In order to escape Statesville Prison, one must survive going through a total of 30 shocking maximum security cells. According to Fluffy, the crew keeps a running tally of their success stories (i.e. people releasing bodily fluids out of fright, knocking themselves out after running into a wall, etc). I'm guessing they're going to have quite a few tally marks before the end of the season.
After escaping Statesville, visitors are escorted to The City of the Dead. The City of the Dead is an added bonus featuring an animatronic nightmare, bizarre chanting and plenty of ghouls to startle the unaware.
Thanks to its reputation, Statesville has a lot of visitors. Given the foot traffic, anticipate waiting in lines. Tickets sell for $30. VIP tickets are available for $40 each and guarantee a shorter wait time. Most of the initial waiting is outdoors so dress appropriately to withstand the weather.
For more information, check out their website at http://www.statesville.org.