LIVE REVIEW - Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare - Chicago, IL

I’m a massive fan of Rob Zombie’s films. “The Devil’s Rejects” is one of my all time favorite movies. When I had heard Rob Zombie moved his “Great American Nightmare” from California to Chicago, IL I jumped all over the chance to cover it. Thursday was media day where we got to take a lights on tour of the three haunted houses. Each house was based on one of Zombie’s films.

We started out with “The Lords of Salem.” With the lights on this didn’t seem like that big a deal. It was just a door maze you walk through some doors make some twist and turns and you’re done. Fast forward to Friday night when we got to take a lights out tour and holy shit was this the scariest part of the entire haunt. It is beyond dark in there. We were all holding on to each others shirts so we could stick together, but when you let go you were on your own. Feeling around, bumping into walls and worse yet bumping into actors ready to growl in your face. It was scary but so much fun.

The next haunt was based on “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.” This haunt was more fun and cool than scary. It’s in 3D, so you have to wear 3D glasses. The first scare in the 3D world is a spinning room that you have to walk through. I don’t do drugs, but after walking through that room I think I know what it feels like. The rest of the haunt was a lot of fun. The 3D is very affective. A couple actors pop out of doors here and there, but its more entertaining than scary. This was a real cool and original haunt, It may be my favorite because it was so fun.

Then there was the “Murder Ride” from “The House of 1000 Corpses.” This haunt was an ode to serial killers. The rooms in here were so disturbing that they didn’t have to do a whole lot more to scare you but they do. Some of the serial killers honored during this haunt include Jeffrey Dahmer, Ed Gein, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, Lizzie Borden, and of course the fictitious Dr. Satan. There are several creative scares in this haunt. It’s the disturbing nature of the haunt that makes this one stand out. Many of the rooms were accurate portrayals of crime scene photos. Needless to say it was fucked up.

Then the haunt was over and we’re outside relaxed because it is over when all of the sudden I see an actor behind a friend of mine squat down and turn on a chainsaw and come running full speed at my friend. It seemed so real. It happened so fast yet felt like it was in slow motion. I was unable to warn my friend to turn around and that led to the greatest scare of the entire haunt. All in all it was an incredible time. I highly recommend anybody within driving difference of Chicago to check this out. Hell I’d recommend taking a vacation to Chicago to check out this experience.

One of the benefits of going on opening night was that Rob Zombie himself was there to perform. His drummer Ginger Fish got the show started by DJing. The crowd wasn’t all that into though. It seemed like he was having technical difficulties but all I know is that he was booed between every song and dodged a handful of water bottles. I think if everybody knew it was Ginger Fish they’d have been much more receptive.

When Rob Zombie hit the stage though all was forgiven. I’ve seen Zombie a handful of times and in my opinion this is the best he’s sounded. They only played for an hour and fifteen minutes, but the haunt was shut down during the performance, so it made sense. The security was a little over bearing. Early on they were constantly shining lights on the front couple of rows for extended periods of time, but eventually Rob put an end to that. It took a while for the crowd to get going, but Rob Zombie doesn’t put up with a lazy crowd and he pulled everything out of them.

There are few artists that can compete with Rob Zombie live. You got four guys who are top notch performers. Ginger Fish has had a long career as a journey man drummer, Piggy D has the look, chops and performance skills to own his share of the stage. John 5 is a virtuoso guitarist, but more than that he’s a virtuoso performer. Then there is Rob Zombie. I think non fans would be surprised by how much fun they’d have at a Rob Zombie show. They’re not a metal act, they’re not a pop act, their simply their own thing and it’s a whole lot of fun. It was a great night. I was scared, I was entertained and had a whole lot of fun.

 BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at
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