Going to Hell—Well, Hell Fest—in Six Flags Great America’s Epic House of Horrors

4 mins read

Ever wonder what it would be like to act in an extreme horror film? Or if the actors are really terrified on set? This year, Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Illinois, has done the new slasher pic Hell Fest sweet justice at their annual Fright Fest, which features no less than 5 haunted houses and one based on—you guessed it, Hell Fest—that appropriates both the movie’s set-pieces and scares.

Hell Fest, this season’s suspenseful movie throwback about a group of teens who meet their fates within the maze-like passages of an amusement park funhouse—or horror house, to be more precise—delivers its scares the old-fashioned way: a group of kids trapped, defenseless, with terror at every turn. And in its replica of Hell Fest’s murder house, Six Flags has reproduced the movie’s formula to lavishly gory effect.


Hell Fest house currently hosts a few thousand people per day and judging from the shrieks inside (I went through twice to get a clear look at the fabulous design) it’s doing its job of scaring them witless. The real kick of Six Flags’ HELL FEST house is that it’s part movie soundstage, part performance art and all serious scares. If you’ve seen the movie, to visit is to feel as if you’ve been transported to the film’s labyrinthine set. And if you haven’t seen it, you’ll just experience, well, your basic extreme terror of being lost in the dark with a killer. Or a few.

Of course, one needn’t see the movie to just be frightened the old-fashioned way, by things that go bump in the park, but knowing that the movie’s vicious marauder is somewhere around you—especially at one tense juncture where you make your way through mist in the pitch dark and you can feel that he’s circling—made the experience all the more terrifying.

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Gonzo actors going for broke whether playing killers or corpses, eerie sets designed just this side of Manhattan’s famed experiential nightmare Sleep No More and shadowy lurkings even in the more peaceful rooms—like a decrepit dining room adored with creepy dolls or a room of black cloaked, white faced mannequins (where you just know they are not all mannequins)—there’s no shortage of arty thrills.

According to Six Flags staff, the HELL FEST house has been delivering as intended, with armies of terrified visitors whose reactions range from merely frightened to outright frozen by fear. One particular passage featuring a large room of monstrosities (dead and alive) where visitors must make their ways toward and through a long, lit hallway blocked by… Well, suffice to say this visitor reaction was in the latter group!

HELL FEST house is open all season, so get out to Six Flags Great America and proceed at your own risk (of heart failure). Or perhaps catch the film before and figure out how to outsmart one of recent horror films’ most vicious villains.

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