7729 Cronin Avenue, Justice, IL
Nightmare on Cronin holds the distinct honor of being the haunt that was the inspiration for expanding the Horror Tourers operation into larger realms. To make a long story short, we have been visiting and documenting Illinois area haunts since the early 2000’s, yet we hadn’t really shared a lot of what we did with the world until we did a video of Nightmare on Cronin, and then when we visited the haunt in a subsequent year, we were told that our video was the inspiration for them continuing to do the haunt. As haunters know, running a haunt is a tough job that involves a lot of work and dedication, so getting recognition for what you’re doing can be a big boost. We were very happy that something we enjoyed doing helped someone else keep doing the very thing that we enjoyed seeing in the first place! As such, Nightmare on Cronin has always held a special place in our pantheon of haunts. Thus, we were very much looking forward to seeing what was in store for 2013. One thing that we really were looking forward to was the inclusion of Mike Myers. As regular Horror Tourer fans will know, Mike Myers is Horror Tourer Laura’s favorite haunt character, and he somehow manages to terrify her, even when he’s played by 10-year olds. He featured prominently at Nightmare on Cronin, but was absent in 2012. However, we heard he’d be back for 2013, so we figured it’d be worth the visit just for that. Thankfully, we were not disappointed.
One of the cool things about Nightmare on Cronin is that it incorporates the outdoors inside of the haunt itself. The haunt is located in a makeshift building on the front lawn of the operator’s home, and inside the haunt there are several rooms made up with real tree branches that utilize the grass on the lawn as part of the scene. Having real trees and grass and the smells of the outdoors in wooded haunt scenes adds a real air of realism to the entire setup.
This year, the first room of the haunt was completely different, and visitors found themselves in a padded cell which was empty at first, but occupied later by an unexpected “guest” = following this, visitors wound their way through numerous scenes, from forests to creepy clown rooms, to rooms with moving props, as well as right into the clutches of Mike Myers who rushed at people down a long corridor as they were assaulted by sound and light. It’s a nice, simple technique that produces some good scares (and produced some choice words from Laura, too)! Another new room for this year was a large, open space packed with actors of various types. Our favorites included the zombie prom queen, complete with chainsaw, and a hanged woman who came alive and lunged at visitors as they passed by.
Overall, the entire experience at Nightmare on Cronin is one of quality, and one can easily see the hard work and dedication that goes into putting it together. All of the actors, despite most being younger, are top notch and really get into what they are doing, and the scenes are clever and inventive. While it may not be the most elaborate of haunts, it certainly is enjoyable and fun, which is what it’s all about to us. Special mention must also be given to the art design. The outside of the haunt and several rooms inside, including the padded cell, the room with the zombie prom queen, and a corridor were painted with elaborate airbrushed designs that looked three dimensional. The corridor in particular featured a wall design that appeared to make the corridor stretch into infinity. Well done!
2013 proved to be another great year for Nightmare on Cronin. It continues to be one of our favorites, and it made it into our 2013 hall of fame as well. Here’s hoping there’s more to come in 2014!