6143 W. Irving Park Road, Chicago, IL
For those who remember and miss the Asylum Xperiment that used to be at the Odeum in Villa Park, the Slaughter might bring back some fond memories, as it is basically all of the props and sets from Asylum Xperiment in a new location and in a new order.
Of course there are some changes, most notably in the first section of the haunt. Whereas Asylum Xperiment was held in an old mansion, and visitors entered the haunt through the main reception area, The Slaughter's beginning has been changed somewhat. It still takes place in a mansion, but the backstory now is concerning a group of ghost hunters looking for the spirit of a mad doctor. Of course they find him, and the haunt proceeds from there.
While we don't necessarily like long backstories, we have to say that this one has been done well. Visitors are read the rules by a ghost hunter, and then they are led into a room with another ghost hunter, who says everything will be fine unless the power goes out. Well, of course the power goes out, and all hell breaks loose. The initial mansion setting is excellent, featuring two levels, a large staircase, and surrounding windows with thunder and lighting outside of them. A large monitor inside shows what's happening in the rooms upstairs. The intro is clever, and gets visitors into the story in an interesting way.
Following this, though, the haunt essentially becomes the old Asylum Xperiment, and is divided into three separate sections: The Asylum Xperiment,The Lost Woods, and Carnival of Carnage. Visitors move from one haunt to another with no separate waiting areas or introductions. Essentially, it is one giant haunt with different themes.
Most of the scenes are very detailed, having many props and things to look at, including full size cars and elaborate facades. Again, those familiar with the former Asylum Xperiment will recognize most of the sets and props, some of which are recreated exactly as they were, and others that have been rearranged into new scenes. Nevertheless, there is a lot to look at, particularly in the first two sections of the haunt.
Unfortunately, the final areas are more spartan in their setups, with the final clown area essentially being nothing but a series of mazes of different types. Although there are plenty of actors inside, they tend to be more of the jump out and scare variety than anything else. For instance, there is a cage maze populated by clowns that visitors have to navigate through, a maze made up of striped cloth that visitors have to pass through, a long series of corridors with white walls, and a white maze with strobes. Overall, perhaps 8-10 minutes of haunt time consists of these mazes.
The scares, as mentioned, were mostly of the startle type. Actors came out of holes in the sets, from under props, and even from above. Costuming was minimal, with no elaborate costumes or prosthetics. Most of the actors simply used makeup to create their characters, and sometimes had masks on. There were some scenes where actors blended in well with the backgrounds, though.
The set design in many areas is quite good, including a large outdoor garden scene with living statues, a cannibal shack, and the previously mentioned mansion areas. Also, the waiting areas looks excellent, with a long walkup through a cemetery, a large mansion facade on the outside of the entrance, and even a real full size Ghost Hunter van. It's a nice visual setup, and gives some hints about what visitors will see inside. At about 20-25 minutes, the length of the haunt is also on the longer end of most haunts, so the value for the money is there are well.
We have to say that, with some time and some more changes, the Slaughter might turn into a really good large haunt. It's got some excellent things but tends to peter out towards the end of it. We'd like to see some more elaborate costumes and makeup, and perhaps some more varied performances from the actors, although we did like the guy eating pizza and watching videos - he invited us to watch a VHS copy of Halloween, which we wanted to take him up on. Also, the beginning scenes are well executed, with a good back story and some nice effects that set up the scene. Most of the sets after the initial mansion rooms do not match the theme, though. Although there are some mansion rooms in the lower levels, there are many scenes that have nothing to do with a haunted mansion, and seem like they are random (which of course they are). However, Slaughter does provide a good experience for the price, has some elaborate setups, and is an enjoyable continuation of the Asylum Xperiment. We look forward to seeing what they offer in the future!