The final night of the haunt season brought with it wind and rain, but we plowed through the elements en route to St. Charles’ Village of the Living Dead; our furthest visit of the season. I loved the ad for this place inside the Fear Finder, something about it harkened back to a bygone era of terror — perhaps it was the water tower looming ominously in the background, whatever the case Village of the Living Dead had the aura of a small town with a monster to hide.
When John and I first entered the haunt we came across a ghoulish freak who smoothly held out his hand and uttered the word, “token.” His voice was strangled but calm and offered just a hint of curiosity. Was he considering us for his next meal? Did he simply desire a new skin suit? My reverie was interrupted when his cold voice stated the utterance once more. Guests here are provided a token upon purchase of a ticket, the token resembled a poker chip — perhaps these tokens are a form of currency amongst those who dwell in the village.
We soon found ourselves traversing an uneven bridge, our vision obscured by a thick blanket of fog. Orbs of blurred light floated through the haze and served more as a tool of disorientation than a source of direction. We entered a cemetery and groped our way along the winding path, the orchestral tones of the Undertaker’s theme music blared throughout the area.
In one narrow passage the fog had grown so dense that a dead-eyed clown was able to materialize directly in front of my face and offered both John and I quite a fright. The fog swirled around our faces and curled about our bodies — it was as if it had taken on a life of its own. The fog was so prevalent that it created a bizarre and unsettling form of sensory deprivation. It was as if we’d been swallowed up into some abyss and lost all sense of direction.
As we transitioned into the middle section of the haunted attraction the oppressive fog began to thin. In one room our only option was to crawl through a small opening near the floor which led to a meat locker. Swinging corpses were hung from the ceiling and in our current position I felt vulnerable and exposed. It was the perfect chance for an enraged butcher armed with a meat cleaver to harvest additional flesh, but to my surprise no such being would manifest.
I do hate to see such opportunities go to waste but as it were this incident was the exception and not the rule inside the Village of the Living Dead.
Later, we were briefly led outside where an angry redneck assailed us with a weapon. He swung convincingly and with great force, a metallic clang exploded behind us. Swiftly, we entered back into the building through another door.
This final stage of the haunted attraction was rife with darkened hallways and false passages. Eventually we found ourselves in a cellar — we certainly had the distinct sensation of being underground anyway. Again, we were made to crawl and I began to have flashbacks to Demonic Demons in Detroit. Our hallway came to a dead end but above us hung a rope and with it we were able to hoist ourselves onto a platform. We crawled on and shortly came to a slide. And who doesn’t love a slide in a haunted attraction?
The horror was nearly at an end now, and we would soon escape the danger of the Village of the Living Dead but not before we were attacked by a pair of feisty pig girls who would’ve liked nothing more than to find us in the bottom of their slop bucket.
The Village of the Living Dead resonated with us on several levels. It was a haunted attraction in the traditional sense — it was frightening. The cast was vocal, animated, and not without a physical edge. The heavy use of fog throughout the first half of the attraction was a masterstroke that established the tone for what was to follow. With just a few additional well-placed and talented actors, St. Charles’ Village of the Living Dead could be that much more terrifying and memorable.
Rating: 4.25 stars