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Team Zombillies reviewed this attraction on October 10, 2015.
Final Score: 8.44
2015 was our first year reviewing Lake Hills Haunted House and their 10th season in operation. Actually located in the Lake Hills Clubhouse, the home and office of Dr. Goodenevil is no longer the pleasant haven that it once was. Originally, the Goodenevils provided shelter and the promise of wellness to those struggling through the Great Depression back in the 1800’s. When one of the welcomed travelers murdered the good Doctor’s daughter, he became depressed and desperately searched for a way to resurrect his beloved child. Through trials and even more tribulations, the effects of his experiments unleashed a dark horror unto the house and the spirits of his specimens began to terrorize the now-malevolent mansion… and all those daring enough to enter. Lake Hills was a great surprise for our review team, as we weren’t really sure what to expect before we arrived! If you’d like to witness the same terrors that we did and you’re in Northwestern Indiana or the outskirts of East Chicagoland, be sure to check out this lakeside haunted attraction… “The doctor is in!”
On an average, “haunt season” night, between 50 and 75 actors and actresses recreate the story of Dr. Goodenevil and his preposterous past. This number seemed to fill most of the voids through the halls of this harrowing haunted house, although not quite all of them. The blood suckers/spewers near the end were among the most believable during our walk-through, with the one that followed us down the stairs being one of the most interactive as well! Other memorable characters include the clowns who were arguing with one another, the zombies, dolls, crazy lunatics, the spider and “the big guy” in the kitchen scene. Use of dialogue by the actors seemed a bit short compared to what we’re used to, but each of them seemed to make sense with their characters and scenes for the most part. It’s also worthy of mention that several of the creatures that we encountered (e.g. the zombies and crazies) had excellent vocals for their groans, growls and screeches!
Lake Hills normally has 5 makeup artists that come in early to start getting the crew ready for the show each night. However, management informed us that, lately, most of the actors are starting to enjoy taking on the task of doing their own makeup. Several unique designs and concepts were implemented during our review tour, some of which included colored contacts and sharp teeth for added “scariness!” We even noticed an interesting spider costume, complete with multiple eyes, located amidst a slurry of cobwebs. Other costumes included theme-related articles like scrubs and face masks in the medical area and aged dresses and overalls in the residential scenes. Most of them fit in so well with their scenes that we had a hard time telling if they were real or not… that is, until JUST the right moment! A variety of makeup jobs were noticed with some including wound prosthetics, blood or partial masks for finishing touches. A few full-face masks were seen as well, although some of them appeared somewhat out-of-place in their scenes.
Customer Service: 9.37
The entrance to the Lake Hills community is well-marked and the drive across the surrounding lake authenticates its identity. After a short distance, a “Lake Hills Haunted House” sign confirms where to pull in and that you have, indeed, arrived at the right place. Free parking is available in a paved lot close to the building, which is showcased with multiple accent lights, a crimson-colored fountain, grim reapers and even a graveyard! As a side note, portable restrooms and hand-washing stations with running water are available for customer convenience. The three clowns that make up the “All American Terrors,” dubbed “Chuckles,” “Stitches” and “Sparkles,” work on entertaining the crowd along with “Nurse Ivy” and “Chokels” to the tune of modern music in the queue area. Traversing the attraction is easily done with the intended exceptions of sliding floors in one area and a couple of flights of stairs to access the two levels of the building. Friendly staff members can be found near the parking lot, at the ticket booth and a couple were even at the exit of the attraction during our visit in case any questions or concerns arise.
Upon our arrival, the two-story, masonry construction and multiple pillars lining the façade of the building immediately set the “haunted house” tone for us! The front was lit with red, green and blue accent lights to give it an extra-creepy “feel.” A well-decorated graveyard occupied the front lawn while grim reapers and roaming characters guarded the entrance with demonic dedication! “Nurse Ivy” and “Chokles” helped prepare customers for what was in store for them inside the attraction while the fountain of blood in front of the building left little promise of escaping the horrific haunt alive. We did notice some music playing inside the queue area, although it was of the modern variety. Though it may be entertaining, spooky it was not. Rest assured that the tone quickly changes to something more sinister once you pass through the entrance!
Special Effects: 8.4
Lake Hills primarily builds their own props, however they also purchase a few items that are just perfect for what they need! We saw a great mixture of original items and things we had seen before, but were used much differently here. An assortment of spooky sound effects was heard throughout portions of the lower level while deafening, hard rock/metal music was heard throughout the upper level. Talk about quite a difference! Effective lighting was utilized in areas and the multiple sets of authentic lights hanging high from the mansion’s ceilings reminded us of how old this building really was. This attraction also strategically placed their multiple sets of poppers and successfully caught us off-guard on multiple occasions! Some of the other effects that we came across included a unique vortex tunnel, squirming rats, shackles hanging on the walls, plenty of dead bodies, a claustrophobic passageway and an animatronic that was perfectly placed to provide proper effectiveness! We’ll tell ya, it worked because we almost ran right into it! Two scenes stood out to us over the rest because of their original features; those were the electrifying scene and the funeral scene. The funeral scene was complete with a sliding chair, other ghostly items and windows slamming up and down… seemingly on their own… while the electrical unit was shocking someone to death so effectively they were smoking!
This building was constructed in 1932 and became the residence and medical office of Dr. Goodenevil and his family. His medical practices took place on the lower level of the building while his living quarters were located upstairs. During the Great Depression, the Goodenevils started letting those less-fortunate than them come in for shelter and medical treatment. They took care of these people while treating them… that is, until one fateful day when a traveler who was staying with them killed Dr. Goodenevil’s daughter! The doctor got very depressed and tried to find ways to resurrect his deceased descendent. His combination of experiments and dead bodies eventually raised a very dark evil from underneath the dwelling, causing the souls of the dead to become trapped inside! These souls now manifest their past lives throughout this entire house, and that is what you will witness as you walk through. We suggest that you stay away from the operating tables during your visit; you wouldn’t want to add to the pile of lost souls, would you? During our visit, some of the scenes we came across reiterated this theme very well while others seemed to be a bit more random. But then again, we suppose anyone… or anything… could have been trapped by the evil within these wicked walls!
Fright Effect: 8.18
We combated various fright techniques during our trip through this medically mischievous mansion! We must say, they hit the nail on the head pretty hard when it came to utilizing distractions! They succeeded in nailing our group (pun intended) multiple times with them to the point of us wanting to high-five them right in the middle of the scene! Not only did they succeed in providing distractions, but the actual scare often came from unexpected hiding spots that intensified the scare even more! Additional fright techniques that we experienced included dire stares, dark dialogue, unsettling laughs, unexpected pops and what seemed to be endless stalking at times! These evil beings also thought it was necessary to focus their attention on everyone in our group (which is a good thing), although there were only a few of us. We don’t want to give too much away, but the end of the attraction consisted of running into several uneasy beings, one of which followed us to the exit and continued to interact with us as we signed the attraction’s guest book.
An appointment at Dr. Goodenevil’s office will cost you $15.00 per person at the door. They allow 6 people maximum per group, so be sure to plan accordingly. It took our group approximately 12 minutes to free ourselves from the horror within this 1800’s mansion. That brings this value just below average at 0.8 minutes of entertainment per dollar spent (“average” is 1.0 minutes/dollar). Although this venture didn’t actually last very long, it sure seemed like it did when we were in there! When we came out we would have guessed we were in there for more like 20 minutes! The crew managed to entertain and scare us from the time we entered until we barely escaped an operation and made it out the exit! If you have a group of 30 or more, group rate information can be found on their site. They also host a special children’s haunted house, where youngsters can go through with the lights on and no spooks. Information for that can be found on their website as well. The proceeds from this haunted attraction go to the town of St. John for other activities such as their “Christmas in the Park.” So, when you spend money on visiting this attraction, rest assured that it is going back into the town to support other fun activities!
Photos from Review Trip:
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