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Eerie evening events

It's as if light doesn't exist. Sound, touch and smell are your only guides. Thumps and screams rise and fall all around, and you're left to wonder what the next few steps have in store.

It's as if light doesn't exist. Sound, touch and smell are your only guides. Thumps and screams rise and fall all around, and you're left to wonder what the next few steps have in store.
Turning back seems like a good idea, but for some reason you keep going. You feel like screaming, crying, laughing and running all at once. Then it's over. Light returns, and you realize you made it through. It's off to the next haunted house tour.
Every year, people flood to the Haunted Shack, Ship of Ghouls and Castle of Terror, hoping to be terrorized.
Countless hours are put into each of these
popular Halloween attractions to create a spectacle that will live up to the public's expectations.
Each place has one common goal: to make you scream, and it's all about manipulating the senses.
The Castle of Terror
"We stay away from gore, so it's all in the mind. We play with the senses," said Rob Reese, general manager of Grand Slam in Canal Park. "I also try to play with people's fears. It's like a roller coaster ride. You nail them on the way down."
This will be the fifth year that Grand Slam has turned its 18 hole mini golf course into 25 scary scenes. Reese said Grand Slam has experienced a 300 percent increase of terror-goers each year since it has been in operation.
Reese said he and Shawn Gallint, assistant manager and right hand man, have been working 16- to 20-hour days setting up the Castle of Terror.
"It's like construction," Gallint said. "You watch those guys on the streets, and it seems like nothing's getting done. Then bam, it's done."
The theme is always based on medieval times, but 25 percent of the scenes are different each year. From snakes, spiders and tight spots to optical illusions, Reese said there are always people who can't make it all the way through.
Creating haunted scenes is something Reese has done since he was a little kid. Every year he decorated his parents' garage for his friends and neighbors to walk through. Now, he attends Halloween expos for new ideas.
Gallint recently toured the Skull Kingdom in Orlando, Fla., but didn't have time to be scared. He was only interested in how everything worked, he said.
Ninety percent of the props at the Castle of Terror are homemade. The cost of ordering from magazines is ridiculous, Reese said. Reese built one prop for $150. In a magazine, that same prop cost $1,800. He also saved thousands of dollars by building his own fog chiller.
Reese said he uses a minimum of 18 volunteer actors, and the scenes are anywhere from humor to extreme fear. Reese said it's fun to watch the big, tall macho man come in with his petite girlfriend, because it's always the macho man that ends up stumbling all over himself in fear.
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The Ship of Ghouls
Perhaps the most technical of the three haunted tours is the Ship of Ghouls on the William A. Irvin. For the second year, special effects, special lighting and creative scenes born from the depths of the imagination of Dagmar-Plaid Production employees will turn the ship into a path of fright and mystery.
The Irvin ore boat has been possessed by ghosts and ghouls every Halloween for nine years. This year is the most original for the Irvin. The theme is New Orleans mysticism.
"I think we're doing a really good job this year," said Brian Lukasavitz, technical director of Dagmar-Plaid Productions. "With the New Orleans theme, we've gotten away from anything anyone's ever done around here."
He said this year includes more creative use of blood and gore, more use of pneumatic effects, air-controlled special effects and more actors.
Toying with people's senses is what creates fear in a haunted tour. Especially when vision is taken away, Lukasavitz said.
Those who are brave enough for the tour will hear voodoo drums as they creep their way underneath -- rather than through -- a New Orleans' cemetery to find themselves in the heart of a murky, ghoul infested Delta swamp.
"I think it's creepier and more realistic. The William Irvin is a scary place without us being here," Lukasavitz said.
To work in the ship, especially in the ship's dark hold, work lights and flashlights had to be brought inside. But Lakasavitz said most of the employees and volunteers are used to working in a theater, specifically black box theater, where they work in a dark environment but have very little restrictions. In the hold of the Irvin, they have wide open space to work with to create the scenes.
The work is time consuming and demands creativity and detailed organization. Dagmar employees began building sets the first week of August, Lakasavitz said, followed by work on audio and lighting effects.
"It takes lots and lots of people and lots and lots of creativity," Lakasavitz said.
The Haunted Shack
Perhaps the most community-based haunted tour is the Haunted Shack in Morgan Park.
Now in its second year at the Morgan Park Good Fellowship Center (the Haunted Shack previously took place in Gary-New Duluth), the community rallies to pull together its most popular event. Pat Stojevich, the man in charge of the Haunted Shack, said he almost gets too much help. Youths are especially anxious to get a feel for their acting skills.
"We can't use everybody every night," Stojevich said. "We rotate them, and try to give everyone a chance."
Stojevich said many of the same actors come back every year. Those that began when they were ages 11 and 12 are still participating at ages 18 and 19.
Tickets sales continue to increase each year. Stojevich said the line extended all the way across the parking lot last year. To entertain those waiting in line, Nascar will have a display, and a hot dog and miniature doughnut vendor will be in the parking lot, along with the B105 van.
Stojevich said he gets groups from as far as Texas and Chicago going through, and that people tell him it's the best haunted house production they've experienced.
Planning for the Haunted Shack never ends, Stojevich said. Every year his five brothers pitch in to help with planning and setup. The subject even comes up when the family is together at Christmas.
"Every year we try to do more and more," Stojevich said. We've actually got ideas for next year already."
News to Use
Grand Slam Castle of Terror -- Oct. 20-22 and 27-31 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6.50 for adults and $4.50 for children 12 and under.
William A. Irvin's Ship of Ghouls -- Oct. 21-23 and 26-31 beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $6.50 for adults and $4.50 for children 12 and under.
The Haunted Shack -- Oct. 26-28 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $4.50 for ages 13 and over and $4 for children ages 6 to 12. Kids Day and Faint of Heart is on Oct. 22 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $1.25 for ages 7 and under and $1.75 for parents and others.

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