You know, there are times when you just
expect more. And, as I walked out of Evil Intentions in Elgin, I just expected
That’s not to say there was anything
REALLY wrong with the haunted house in Elgin. But it is to say that it was just
a strange let down on the night I visited.
First, we pulled into an old warehouse
area in the 900 block of Grace Street and found the parking area pretty easily.
There was one sign pointing us in the right direction off the main street, which
helped us find our way.
Then, we crossed the street to the front
entrance area, where two guys were standing under a pop-up canopy that also had
the rules. They were cordial enough and pointed us in the right direction and we
made our way toward the entrance.
The warehouse was definitely creepy, and
the people at Evil Intentions did a good job of using the natural aesthetics of
the building to give you that feeling of walking into a haunted house. That’s
the thing about old warehouses – old warehouses are just creepy in their own
right. With the numerous dark windows, the brick façade, the stains and
warped/old paint, on old building like this is just plain creepy. Any haunt
owner lucky enough to get their hands on an old warehouse to build a haunt has a
true treat, and should definitely use those aesthetics to their advantage. I’m
glad Evil Intentions did.
I was also pleased with the price of
admission. I’m a firm believer that haunted houses should not cross the $20
threshold, and its nice to see that this haunt only cost $15.
There was absolutely no one in line, so
I can’t really say anything about the wait entertainment. The queue line
thought seemed to take advantage of the industrial warehouse by putting up chain
link fencing, which was cool. We walked right up to the front, where a person in
a polo shirt told us the rules and let us in. I found it strange that the person
letting people in wasn’t wearing a costume. But, about five minutes later, I
figured out why…
I don’t know what happened prior to my
arriving for the night, but there was barely any actors working when I went to
Basically, Evil Intentions Haunted House
is two warehouses and about 20 rooms back to back. Throughout the haunted house,
there are eclectic rooms of different sizes and shapes. The designers did a
great job of building mostly industrial themed rooms throughout the haunt, using
the natural characteristics of the old warehouses to generate ideas.
For example, one of the coolest ideas
was a stairwell in the old warehouse that looked like it was straight out of a
horror movie. I walked in, and the lights were extremely bright from the top of
the stairs to show you the way to go, and to show you the stairs that are there.
But, it was pitch black in the basement so, you looked down the stairs into
ominous blackness, and you had no choice to ignore the goose bumps crawling up
your arms and walk down.
Another thing I enjoyed was the
designers created strange “coffin hallways” that people had to walk through.
They weren’t very long – maybe 20-feet or so – but it’s kind of cool to
walk through a hallway that is shaped like a coffin.
I also enjoyed a pallet maze they
created. It wasn’t so difficult that we couldn’t find our way out, but the
way lights were bouncing through it allowing me to see the other side was a bit
overwhelming on the cool side.
But, like I said, it seemed like no one
was there. Maybe it was an off night for Evil Intentions, or maybe haunted house
actors were on strike in Elgin that night, but there was such a minimal amount
of actors inside the haunt that I would walk for a minute or two and not see a
single person. Worse, in some exceptionally larger rooms, there would be one
actor clearly unaccustomed to the room, and doing a poor job of trying to keep
How bad was it? At one point, I walked
from the top of the stairwell in the first warehouse until I made it outside and
entering the second warehouse and only bumped into two actors: one was wielding
a gas chain saw as I made my way outside, while the second stood just past him,
and without saying a word, just pointed to the second warehouse.
Then, we went inside the second
warehouse and through two more rooms before we saw another spook. I mean, it was
really noticeable how little acting there was inside.
Worse, it seemed like management decided
to hide the lack of bodies inside by shutting the lights off in certain rooms.
For example, there was a room inside that, honestly, I couldn’t tell what it
was because the lights were off. I mean, I could see silhouettes of dummies
sitting inside the room in the darkness, but there were no lights on them at all
to tell me exactly what the room was. The only light was a path inside the room
that led me out. I even went over near one of the dummies and tried to see what
it was, but I couldn’t tell…
Now, here’s the thing, I know this
wasn’t designed to be like this, so obviously SOMETHING happened that forced
such a staffing crisis. I’m not sure if spooks went on strike for the weekend,
or if the high school had homecoming that weekend and all the spooks were going
to the dance… I don’t know. What I do know is that the place was empty.
Honestly, I’d estimate there was maybe 15 to 18 people working in the building
the night I attended… and honestly, it was just way understaffed.
Now, also, I had some serious concerns
about the people that were working inside on the night we went. More than once,
the spooks simply stared and growled at us as we walked through, which is an
easy out for any spook. However, there was one incident that was completely on
the opposite extreme, and actually made me seek out the owner after I exited to
tell him what happened.
We were walking through the second
warehouse when we stumbled into a makeshift hospital. Inside, there was a guy
who was sitting in a wheelchair and he sort of rolled up, semi blocking the
path, and growled. So, I sort of shrugged and said “Come on…” In
character, he said, “Get out of here…” and I said, “Finally, someone
interacts with me…” He growled louder and said, “I’ll interact with
you…” and semi-chased me out of the room.
This was fine, no problem. But, in the
next room, it was the insane asylum area – I guess – and there were a couple
or three girls in there. One blond was screaming, “Get out” at my group and
– WAIT, I must say first that I hate the statement ‘Get out” in haunted
houses. As a realist, I figure if you really didn’t want me here, if you
really wanted me to “get out,” you wouldn’t build pneumatic driven props,
charge me $25 bucks to walk through, then stand around and wait for an idiot
like me to walk in. You would find a place that wasn’t so busy in October to
hang out at, a place where you wouldn’t have to tell 1,000 people on a
Saturday night to “get out” of. Seriously, if you are reading this, and if
you work as an actor in any haunted house, I want you to do yourself a favor:
take the next two minutes to come up with something else to say other than
“Get out…” By doing that, you will honestly do yourself – and any haunt
– a huge favor.
Anyway… so she’s yelling get out,
I’m trying to wander out, when a second girl lets two of the three members of
the group out of the room, but then moves and stands in front of the door,
preventing me from leaving.
This isn’t my first rodeo, and I knew
they had me trapped dead to rights and I’m about to be cut off from my group
– and props to them for doing so. That’s what they are supposed to do.
Anyway, like I said, this isn’t my first time, so rather than pushing my way
past the teen girl – thus breaking the rules of touching a spook - I decided
to lean up against the wall and not move. This prompts the girl to scream,
“Get Out” even louder, while the girl blocking the door screamed back at me,
“you cant leave!!!”
I giggled because this was pretty funny
and entertaining. I had the first girl again scream “Get out.” I pointed at
teen girl number two and told teen one “I can’t get out, she’s blocking
the door…” This, then, prompted teen one to scream, “Get the F---
My eyes jerked open and I said, “Did
you just drop an F-Bomb on me?” and, in response, she again said “I SAID GET
THE F--- OUT!!!”
I was like wow… stunned… when out of
nowhere, the guy from the wheelchair came running into the room, stood two feet
from my face, and screamed “Get the F--- Out!!” and pointed to the door. I
looked at him and said “You two? You’re dropping an f-bomb on me too?” And
he said, slowly, “GET. THE. F---. OUT!!!”
At this point, the guy looked like he
wanted to fight. Now, a small, tiny part of me hopes that the guy was still in
character and playing around. But a much larger part of me thinks he was pissed
and really wanted to fight.
What bothers me about it is that I was
extremely respectful in the haunted house. I didn’t do anything with the girls
– or anyone else as a matter of fact - and it was the girls that put me in a
situation where I was blocked from getting out. I followed the rules they laid
out – no touching the actors – which is why I was leaning against the wall
and waiting for teen number 2 to get out of the way. So, there was absolutely no
reason for him to be mad at me. At the same time, if he was in character, then
that acting was crap. What he did wasn’t scary in the least, it was just
combative. And, for those of you wondering – being combative isn’t scary,
Now, because of it, I decided that the
owner needed to know what happened because, if you have an actor that is just as
combative as that, he is going to have a problem at some point. Unfortunately, I
went to the front door to seek out the owner and tell him what had happened, but
the security guard told me the owner wasn’t available to talk because he was
inside the haunt acting…
Now, here’s the deal – I firmly
believe that the problems I had with Evil Intentions the night I went was a
complete fluke… and here’s my reasons why:
I spoke with others about the issues I
experienced at Evil Intentions and, in the end, they said they have never had a
problem like I described. They said the haunt has always been full of actors and
were genuinely shocked at the idea that I went two or three minutes – through
the entire basement – without seeing an actor. In addition, the people I spoke
with said they have never had an actor as combative as the one I described –
and never have they seen a time when an actor didn’t react to them – where
they would just lean against a wall and point or growl. And, on top of that…
the owner being in costume shows me he either loves working in the haunt, or
he’s short handed and has to be inside.
All these reasons tell me the issues I
had going through Evil Intentions in Elgin was a fluke. I mean, they were almost
DRAMATICALLY under staffed – to a point where it was clearly an epidemic.
There were spots where you KNOW a ghoul should be, and no one was there. In
total, I estimate that there were between 15 and 18 people working in the haunt
that night, way lower than there should have.
bottom line, I think I need to give Evil Intentions an incomplete. I mean, I
could see how the haunt would be one of the better haunts, and it has all the
makings of being outstanding, but on the night I went through… it just
completely missed the mark with my group BECAUSE there just weren’t any
actors. And, from what I understand, that so isn’t like them.
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