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The Dark Art of Chad Savage
Dark Chicago

Statesville Haunted Prison & City of the Dead

Statesville Haunted Prison & City of the Dead

Crest Hill, IL
Reviewed on: Saturday, October 8, 2016

Every October, as you drive around the Chicago-land area, billboards for numerous haunted attractions are posted along the highway, as well as many ads flood the radio stations.  For some, just hearing the name sends chills down their spine. While its formal name is, Statesville Haunted Prison and City of the Dead, this attraction has escalated to the status of being known by one name. And that name would be, “Statesville.”

As we’ve seen in past years, Statesville is in a class of its own when it comes to reinvention. Every off-season, the creators, builders, managers and owners are constantly tearing down, redesigning, rebuilding and just creating an overall masterpiece to what has already been deemed a top haunted attraction.  2016 was no different.

We arrived to the attraction and were escorted to the front of the prison facade entrance.  As a wide variety of metal music played in the background and the recoil from their .50 caliber gun loomed in the distance.  With many actors roaming about, it wet your appetite of what you would soon encounter within the Beast.

One of our favorite things to do while waiting to enter a haunted attraction is to watch the rest of the patrons standing in line.  Whether they are hiding behind a big group, crawling into the arms of a loved one, or avoiding eye contact with the monsters and creatures attacking in the waiting line.  Others simply take in every minute of it, taking selfies with the actors, or laughing at their terrified friends and loved ones.  Each Halloween season, this is always some of the best wait entertainment we experience.

Statesville takes a lot of things into consideration when planning their show each season.  One of the biggest things they talk about, fear.  Whether you are in Statesville or City of the Dead, they are both VERY good at playing on people’s fears.  Are you afraid of prison? Afraid of snakes? Rats? Clowns? The dark? Get out your checklist now, because this place has you covered across the board!  Not only does Statesville incorporate LIVE animals into their show, but City of the Dead brings up the rear and adds even more to terrify you Make sure to take a look inside the walls and the light fixtures, you won’t believe your eyes.

Once inside, Statesville began the show with their traditional Warden opening. Highlighted by a host of electric sparks and a state-of-the-art sound system that rattled the walls, the Warden set the table for the adventure ahead, and even gave us a little surprise at the end.

As we weaved our way through the rows of cell blocks, inmates attacked from all angles.  This year, Statesville definitely through us for a loop when we saw that they redesigned the Sisters room, taking you out of your comfort level and making things a lot tighter to get by them.  Even some updates in the Electrical Room made you hesitant about walking through and if it was safe or not.

We continued to make our way through the showers, clown room, visited with the Blood Bitches and even had an encounter with Shakedown Sam.  Be prepared to give up something in order to get passed him, he’s ruthless, but also can serenade you with any song!

Making our way down the coorider as the chainsaws buzzed at our legs, we were able to escape Statesville Haunted Prison.  For only a few moments, we briefly caught our breath before we headed to the second part of the journey, City of the Dead.

This year, a ton of time and effort was spent on renovating and updating the opening and beginning rooms to City of the Dead. (And seriously, what an amazing job!)  City of the Dead has guests descend into the burial pit of caves through mine shafts.  If you thought Statesville had a lot to look at, just wait till you see City of the Dead!  Be warned, the use of LIVE animals in COD is much, much more then what you encountered in Statesville and may not be for the faint of heart. (Just remember to look up in some of the rooms!)

With all the updates and changes made, City of the Dead is an outstanding companion to its older sibling and really helps to make this haunt combo a perfect 1-2 punch!  The use of animatronic props was very well done and coincided with the amount of actors they had lurking in the dark. We look forward to seeing what else they come up with here for next year!

The Bottom Line: Overall, Statesville Haunted Prison and City of the Dead had another wonderful performance for this season.  The amount of changes and detail that they put into both attractions was mesmerizing.  If you haven’t gotten the chance to make it out there, we definitely recommend making your way there this season!

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