Halloween is a season of spooks and tricks and treats, ranging from mild and festive to downright disturbing and nightmare-inducing. If you like a good scare and a good scream more than jack-o-lanterns and friendly ghosts, you’ll find some terrifying places in the Region.
Tour of Terror is located at an abandoned missile base from the Cold War era — the historic Nike Missile Base C-47 in Hobart. By day, the site is a paintball facility, but by night for four weekends in October it is a frightening indoor/outdoor scarefest.
“We started planning for this about 10 years ago, but this is the 4th year in operation,” owner Virgil Frey said. “We’re located on a historical landmark that is on the Department of Interior’s Registry of Historic Places.”
The site was one of several bases in the defense system meant to protect the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana steel mills from a Russian attack.
“It was one of three that had nuclear warheads on top of standard ones. It housed Ajax and Hercules missiles at the base that was active from 1952 to 1973,” Frey said. “We love the history and the haunted house plays off that history.”
A bit creepy on a regular day, the haunt incorporates stories from those who were stationed there long ago with some urban legends about the base to create a terrifying storyline.
”The general gist is that patrons are coming out to take a tour of this historic place and as they tour, they find themselves inside a war scene and a morgue,” Frey said.
The full experience lasts about a half-hour and is partially guided and partially on-your-own through the interior of some buildings and on the exterior grounds, covering over 2 acres.
“You’re inside a storyline and it’s very unique in that sense,” Frey said. “And the fact that there’s some truth to it adds a depth of level that you don’t get at different haunts.”
After several years of research and attending trade shows, Frey said he thought they had a really good haunt right out of the gate. As word spreads and interest grows, attendance increases and has doubled each year since opening season. Frey is proud to have been rated as the No. 3 must-see haunt in Indiana on TheScareFactor.com.
With about 35 to 40 actors on any given night, the tour-gone-awry is designed for those age 13 and older only. Admission is $15 per person, but for a pre-paid advance group of 10 or more, admission is reduced to $10. For more info, go to tourofterrorhaunt.com
Lake Station’s former Boys and Girls Club will be the site this year of Haunted Hills Hospital. This is the haunted house’s ninth year, but it’s first year in Lake Station after relocating from Portage.
Creative Director Justin Hill is the mastermind behind this mental hospital of horrors that encompasses 40 rooms and uses about 120 actors per night. As a kid who was always interested in scary movies and always loved Halloween, Hill had always hoped to have his own haunted attraction. He’s now created a place and a reputation that draws scare-seekers from throughout the Midwest.
“We totally immerse you a scene. It’s like walking into a movie. You get that kind of detail in the scene. We hit you with things that you feel, smell and see. Some smells are so strong you taste them,” Hill said. “Our floors move in areas. Our walls squeeze on you. The ceilings drop down and you have actors hiding in things you would never imagine. There’s one room where it rains and you feel a storm coming and you swear that you’re outside even though you’re inside.”
The season stretches for six weeks, from late September and into the first weekend in November for a special “blackout” scare. On Oct. 30 and 31, the site becomes less frightful during the day with a candy trail for younger kids provide a safe, enclosed area without the horror where kids can search for treats. The hospital haunt, however, is not recommended for those younger than 12. “It’s a scary haunted house and highly detailed and highly interactive,” Hill said.
At the new location in Lake Station, Hill intends to make it more than a haunted attraction that you walk through and leave. Outdoors there are plans to have games, vendors and food trucks. Admission is $15 per person. For more details, got to hauntedhillshospital.com.