Rob Zombie has a big name for himself in the genre world. Originally known for his music and lavish concerts, he begin a directing career with the cult favorite HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and has achieved larger successes since then. Zombie clearly not only has a love for horror, but a knowledge that shines through in his film projects. With this passion, he has decided to pursue haunted house attractions based on his work. Started in 2013, Zombie has been opening ROB ZOMBIE’S GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE during the Halloween season and the last couple years Villa Park, Illinois has had the pleasure of being one of the host sites.
As soon as we entered the first haunt, a dark figure instructed me to grab what I thought was a black sack. The next person, however, instructed me to put it over my head. I thought she was kidding, but she didn’t stop me when I complied and I ended up being the leader of our blinded group of eight to maneuver our way through a black out maze full of people screaming in your ear and warning you if you walk into a wall. I ended up tapping along the walls and it wasn’t too difficult to figure out. It did cause me to get really hot and realized wearing a hoodie and jeans maybe wasn’t a good idea.
This led us to “Captain Spaulding’s Clown School in 3D” where we were provided 3D glasses by two female clowns who were a little too excited. 3D mazes are a hit or miss in my opinion and this was not a strong one. For most of it, we walked through hallways with nifty graphics but there weren’t many scares. This one seemed to serve more as a flashy gimmick and maybe it is more effective to people with a fear of clowns, but these clowns weren’t trying to be scary. They were more just really happy, in that demented serial killer kind of way. One room in this area stole my attention and I walked extremely slow in it as I wanted to soak it all in. It was a large rectangular shaped dry cleaner with clown suits splattered in vibrant glow in the dark paint. I was staring at the rotating outfits for so long that a clown managed to get his scare in and succeeded in making me jump.
At the end, we gave up our glasses and were guided by a rifle clad deputy through the front yard of the Firefly house and I realized we were entering “The Devil’s Rejects” area. This had some great detail in it and fans of the film will recognize areas and even some of the most famous victims (yes, the flesh masked victim from the motel will run after you!) This area served more as a museum filled with recreations and characters from the film rather than trying to scare you. You are greeted by Mother Firefly in the foyer, watch different incarnations of Otis torture multiple girls. My favorite one had Otis threatening us “if you fucking help her” in regards to a girl looking beaten on a bed. Her screaming “I don’t even work here!” was a nice touch. I hope she was acting. Tiny makes a nice “gotcha!” appearance and, unfortunately, Captain Spaulding’s brief cameos consisted of him just standing there. I think one of them was even a mannequin.
Recently, Zombie went the ever so controversial crowd funding way for his next film project, 31. Not much is known about the film except that involves carnival workers who are kidnapped and are forced to participate in a place known as “Murder World.” Since the film is not out yet and a trailer has yet to be released, I did not know what to expect. While this one wasn’t particularly scary, I had a smile on my face the entire time as every incarnation of murderous clowns taunted us relentlessly. One room gave off a claustrophobic atmosphere as we had to make our way through hanging pieces of what I assumed to be human flesh in a meat locker surrounded by mirrors while a dark figure teased us, pushing the meat towards us. This one had so much blood and gore, including a room of naked torn up bodies all piled up and it reeked of urine and rot (in a good way). One clown scared the shit out of the girl behind me has he hurled himself from a hidden area via a bungee cord like device. There giant monster like puppets being controlled by giggling clowns, spitting profanities at us. My favorite room greeted us with graffiti promising free candy inside, but ended up with a long hall full of chainsaw wielding clowns that loved getting up close and personal. If 31, the movie, is anything like this, then it’s going to be a hell of a good time.
The website for GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE promises a “Bloody Boulevard” with roaming characters, freak shows, carnival rides and themed food. We saw the typical carnival food and rides, but no characters or freak shows. The venue isn’t that big, so we didn’t miss it. We got there early (7pm) so maybe that doesn’t start until later, but I was looking forward to that. I did end up purchasing a sweet $50 hoodie though.
Overall, I don’t regret my purchase. For $36, I got a VIP 1 ticket which got me faster access to the haunts and a vintage looking t-shirt. The general admission ticket is $25 and there was a more expensive VIP ticket with no wait. With my VIP 1, I barely waited 5 minutes to get in. I highly recommend it for Rob Zombie fans as it feels like a fan’s exhibit walking through his films, but don’t expect a nightmare inducing experience.