A Scare Worth Your Money

Chittyville Haunted School vs. Sinister Haunted House
Hundreds of people stand in line each night, waiting in the eerie environment before going through an adrenaline rushing experience late at night.
Hundreds of people stand in line each night, waiting in the eerie environment before going through an adrenaline rushing experience late at night.
Photography, B

Each year, during the month of October, people all across the country schedule time out of their nights to find themselves at a haunted attraction near them. Many even travel a couple hours out of state to visit the best haunted houses around. In fact, according to a haunted house research article, around 80% of the professional haunted attractions in America average more than 7,500 paid guests, while the more famous attractions bring up to more than 60,000 guests each October. 


One of the most famous haunted houses around Herrin, Illinois is the Chittyville Haunted House. The haunted house, near the edge of Herrin, is located in an old abandoned school. The school started construction in 1912, and opened for public schooling in August of 1913. According to the Chittyville history website, the students and teachers there complained about seeing and hearing things that weren’t there. The school closed in 1989, and was abandoned. A couple bought the school in December of 2004, and decided to work on it to make it a haunted house. Recently, the haunted house also added escape rooms that are open year-round. Overall, the Chittyville Haunted House experience is a great local place to go if you don’t want to drive far, or spend an arm and a leg for tickets. 


You can buy tickets whenever you want on their website, and you can arrive at the haunted house on any days or hours that they’re open. After you’ve bought them online, you can go up to the ticket booth to check in and get your physical tickets. Then, they’ll ask for your number to put you on the waitlist to go into the haunted house. After about 30-45 minutes of waiting, you should get a message to be queued  in the line where you usually wait just a few minutes before going though. Chittyville also has a food stand and tables you can sit at to occupy yourself or grab a snack or drink during your wait. 


On Friday, October 13th, I went to Chittyville along with my partner. We checked in at the ticket booth, and waited less than thirty minutes to get queued to go in line. As we were waiting, there was a man up front who would prompt us to go, and he talked with us about the backstory behind what “took over” Chittyville. This year, he explained that the haunted house was taken over by killer clowns. The man went over the general rules of no food or drinks, and then we were sent in. The very beginning of the Chittyville experience is very dark. There are long narrow hallways with brick or black painted walls to really put you into the spooky environment. Throughout the experience, there are random rooms with themes that you have to walk through. These are rooms such as a room with guts and pigs hanging from the ceiling, pool noodles and lasers to disrupt your vision, rooms with jail cell walls, and giant human-eating plants. Although many of the props are animatronics and plastic items, each room or hallway contains at least one person that volunteered to work there. There were many jump scares throughout the school, and many twists and turns as you went upstairs and downstairs to escape the clowns. In the end, even though we were scared and rushed through it, it was still around a 30 minute walk through.


Overall, Chittyville is always a 10/10 experience. It was worth spending $25 per ticket, and the half hour wait to get in. The general experience was scary enough, and had me feeling as if I got my money’s worth of a haunted house experience. 


Another haunted attraction that is famous around Herrin, Illinois is the Sinister Haunted House. Sinister is a haunted attraction located in De Soto, Illinois, about a 20 minute drive from Herrin. Although the haunted house isn’t that far of a drive, the house is located seemingly in the middle of nowhere, which adds to the eerie atmosphere. According to the Sinister Haunted House website, the history behind the house is that it used to be the home of a deranged serial killer from the 1920s to the 1950s by the name of Otis Hodge. Otis Hodge was a man who seemed to basically be inspired by Leatherface. Hodge bribed local authorities during the Great Depression and Prohibition era to keep them at bay while he offered sanctuary to his disturbed guests. He would then murder them and wear pieces of their skulls or faces as a mask. Eventually, the local authorities found out about him while they were tracing down the acts of a different killer. But this still led to a bloody shootout, where Hodge was put to rest. 


It is mentioned that before Otis Hodge had lived there, it was home to a greater evil. According to the same website of Sinister’s legend, early pioneers and native tribes in the region would talk about a race of human-like creatures that would live in the forest and kill any pioneers that explored the area without a trace.


You can buy tickets for Sinister at their location, or on their website. However, if you buy the tickets online, they charge about $2 per ticket for a “processing and service” fee, whereas if you buy them at their location, you can pay in cash without the extra fee. The time you buy the tickets doesn’t affect how quickly you get through line, or any sort of efficiency. All in all, if you feel it’s more convenient to pay online, keep in mind there’s an extra fee, but if you pay in cash, it’ll be the exact amount of money you’re expecting to pay.


I visited Sinister Haunted house on Saturday, October 21st with my sister. For the both of us, the tickets were about $65. We arrived at 8:20, and waited in line until almost 9. There was still a very long line of people before us. In the end, we decided to just get the speedpass tickets for an extra $10. Originally, the paper posted on the window said a speedpass ticket was going to be $5 per ticket, but you could see that they put a paper over it to make it 10. This led us to spending about $85 total that weekend. In order to be put in the front of the line, we had to be grouped with another family, leaving six of us to be sent through the haunted house together. The beginning of the experience was slightly dark. We were sent through twists and turns of barred walls in the barn. There was only a few people there, jumping out from hidden corners and holes in the walls. The paths take us outside around a garden with mysterious creatures, and through a treehouse where there’s a bit of a weird scene with a man dressed as a Native American with voodoo dolls around him. After this, we were chased out of the backyard area by a man with a chainsaw. Even though we weren’t rushed through the experience, it was still just barely a 10 minute walkthrough.


Overall, the Sinister Haunted House experience was a 3/10 experience. I went last year, and the experience was much better. Not only was the walk longer, and cheaper, it was also much more interesting. They had advertised that this year they had built more onto the area, but it was definitely an experience that was overhyped as they had only built a new barn for the entrance, but kept the rest of it uninteresting. The only good thing about it was that while you were waiting in the really long line, there was a small garage where you could walk in and get food items such as chili, chicken legs, icing covered marshmallows, and other candies. Although the Sinister Haunted House has been a famous attraction in Southern Illinois, it did not live up to its name this year. Next year, I would just save myself some money and visit somewhere else for a better experience.


As someone who has grown up in Herrin and has been to both of these haunted houses multiple times in my lifetime, I would choose to go to Chittyville over Sinister, because not only was it a better experience, it saved me money.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Comments are welcome; but hateful, degrading, or unnecessary comments will not be approved.
All Tiger Tattler Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *