Web Extra! Audio slideshow
As Paul McCloskey used a chain to beat his victim, the incessant roar of death metal anthems threatened to drown out his verbal commands.
“Scream!” McCloskey ordered.
McCloskey was stripped to the waist, inked all over with tattoos and covered in blood. But none of it was real. With frightening conviction, McCloskey was just playing his part as the kill-room torturer in a Halloween haunted house.
“I love Halloween,” McCloskey, a resident of River Forest said. “It’s my favorite holiday and I love getting people to scream.”
McCloskey was one of almost 200 volunteers Friday night working with the Village Players Performing Arts Center and the Park District of Forest Park to create Murder Mansion, a haunted house. The spirited fright fest opened its doors Oct. 10.
Murderous cannibals have moved into the park district mansion and they are intent on making each person that comes through their next meal. Complete with more than the usual haunted house get-up, Murder Mansion is full of torture scenes, medical experiments, bloody children wailing behind locked cages, and a little shocker at the end.
The haunted house is the creation of Michael-Colin Reed, the founder and artistic director of Village Players Theater for Youth, which is producing the event under the name of Darkhouse Entertainment.
This is the first time since 1980 that the Forest Park mansion has been used for a haunted house. Reed said he decided to nix the usual Village Players fall production, because October seemed a little too early in the school year and this would hopefully bring in a little more money.
The preparation for the haunted house began in August, the day after the outdoor pool closed. The cast of monsters and crew members are all volunteers; half from the local middle school and high school.
“I wish we could take credit for it,” Larry Piekarz, director of the Park District of Forest Park said, “but this is all Reed and his crew.”
Just as Piekarz was crediting the theater group for its elaborate production, a group of five girls came rushing out the front entrance of the mansion in a terrified panic, insisting that an adult go with them.
“I’m going to have nightmares,” said Chelsea, a seventh-grader from Forest Park Middle School who was catching her breath. She made it out alive after barely getting past the toxic barrels in the beginning.
“It was better than we expected,” said Brian and Claire, two juniors from Riverside-Brookfield High School. “What scared us the most was the guy with the chainsaw and sparks flying everywhere.”
Kim Miller, a resident of Forest Park and neighbor to Reed, took on the position of volunteer coordinator for the project.
“I wasn’t planning to get this involved, but it just sounded like too much fun,” Miller said. “My treat to myself will be going in on Halloween, it will be even better then.”
Murder Mansion is located at the park district, 7501 Harrison St., and is open Thursdays through Sundays, Oct. 10 through Nov. 1, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The haunted house is recommended for children age 12 and older, and a family-friendly event, Boo in the Park, will feature face painting and other activities for younger children.