Want to know how it feels to be in the home of a real-life serial killer?
Then Rosemont's new haunted house is the place to be this fall.
Contact information ( * required )
A ghoulish castle with a giant skull atop the entrance and two skeletons on each side of the doorway will greet visitors to the 12,000-square-foot tented haunted house that brings to life the story of Dr. Henry Howard Holmes.
Holmes -- actual name Herman Webster Mudgett -- was one of America's first documented serial killers who notoriously lured women from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and murdered them at his Englewood hotel.
Holmes was made famous by the nonfiction book "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. The Internet Movie Database says a film version with Leonardo DiCaprio is in development for a 2013 release.
"He basically would lure women from the Colombian Exposition and offer them a place to stay … all the rooms were designed for murder," said Mark Kaschube, head designer of Rosemont's new haunted house that opens Oct. 1.
Modeled after Holmes' "murder castle," the haunted house features chutes, secret passageways and torture chambers, and creates an atmosphere that is meant to heighten peoples' basic fears. It includes a live cast, and "Holmes" himself might make an appearance.
"This guy was dropping people alive into baths of acid and selling (the bodies) to medical schools," Kaschube said. "He would skin people alive. He was selling organs. We are hoping to bring a lot of that to life, and for people to experience what it might have been like to be in H.H. Holmes' house."
Dubbed Screams In The Park at Rosemont, it's the latest attraction in the village's new $30 million restaurant and entertainment district under construction on village-owned property south of Muvico Theater, north of Balmoral Avenue, and east of the Tri-State Tollway.
The Park at Rosemont, which includes 200,000 square feet of entertainment, dining, and festival space, is expected to open next spring. A grand opening is planned for April.
The freakish venue will remain open through Halloween, Oct. 31. There is no age restriction though parental discretion should be used for children under 12 years old, Kaschube said.
"I've been in the Halloween business for over 25 years," he said. "When we design haunted houses, I think one of the most important things is that there's a theme. You just can't have a body in a bathtub for no reason. Without giving anything away, we use a very simple formula. We take peoples' basic fears and maximize their potential."
Tickets are $20 and will be sold at the door and online at screamsinthepark.com. The haunt opens at 7 p.m. each night. Last tickets are sold at 11 p.m.
To get to the haunted house, drivers may follow signs from the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center to Muvico and enter through Bryn Mawr or Balmoral avenues.
It's the first time Rosemont has put on a haunted house.
"The mayor, he's a kid at heart and he has always wanted to bring a haunted house to his city," said Kaschube, a Lemont dentist who has known Rosemont Mayor Bradley Stephens for years. "Both of us have the same vision of bringing something over the top. This is the trial run. We haven't even opened, but there's great enthusiasm out there."
Kaschube said the haunted house will be integrated into the village's restaurant and entertainment district next year as well.
One of the district's key draws will be an outdoor plaza where the village will offer year-round events, including an ice-skating rink opening this winter, a farmers' market, concerts, fairs, festivals and exhibition sports.
"This haunted house is definitely going to be on the map rather quickly," Kaschube said.