Producer Mo Wagdy is ready to rev his party bus to take a fearless group of production people and their families to fright-packed haunted house “Fear City,” on Friday, Oct. 17 “for one hell of a Halloween thrill ride,” he tells me.
Wagdy, of miniGorillaproductions and MoFest, is a friend of master set designer/builder Chuck Grendy, who with his partner, art director Jim Lichon, a veteran of Harpo Studios working on the Oprah show, created Fear City in 2010, in the unlikely quiet suburb of Morton Grove.
It’s a four-star Hollywood version of a post apocalyptic Chicago, with professional sound, lighting, special effects and a cast of 80 to 100 actors.
And trust me, after 30 years on Elm Street, I am an authority on haunted houses and I know top quality when I see it.
Their original game plan called for a site in a municipality near the city that was eager for business. When a Morton Grove city official promptly responded, “We found the place that worked perfectly for us: a 40,000-sq. ft. abandoned warehouse that butts up to the Metro tracks between Oakton and Austin streets,” Grendy says.
Within a year Grendy and Lichon had designed and built Fear City, “as a really trippy post apocalyptic Chicago, a journey through chaos and the unknown,” Grendy relates. “You get off an ‘L’ train and are forced to walk through a street with 20 different environments in underground Chicago.”
From there, the intrepid visitor encounters the Fear City asylum, with dozens of rooms filled with mad, crazed patients who are ready to scare the bejeezus out of those who dare pass. (My kind of place.)
As you try to find the exit to sanity, you also go through abandoned Catholic girls’ school, Our Lady of the Curse, haunted by the lost girls and the nuns.
“It’s pure entertainment,” says Grendy.
One hell of a ride … if you dare!
Haunted Fear City is mainly open for business in the Halloween month of October. “So far we have 17 dates booked this month and one on Nov. 1,” Grendy recounts. “Out of the 12 months, we rent Fear City off-and-on for about 70 or 80 days.”
Those are the times the environment is utilized by Homeland Security tactical training area and by a company which sets up areas where kids can play soldiers.
“It’s one hell of a ride, if you dare!” Wagdy challenges me with an evil laugh.
Mo’s party bus will pick up guests in front of Essanay Studios, 1346 N. North Branch, at 6 p.m. Friday. Street parking for cars.
First stop at 7:30 p.m. is Pequod’s for pizza in Morton Grove, arriving at Fear City at 9:30 p.m. The bus returns at 11:30 p.m. to Essanay. A non-scary 50 bucks includes a ticket, transportation, pizza and Fear City.
Sign up by contacting Wagdy email@example.com or text him at 312/402-3783. Tell him Freddy Krueger sent you. And even if Morton Grove isn’t Elm Street, this sounds like my kind of night.