Hi! I'm Anna, and I'm a hardcore fan of all things morbid. Whether it's Halloween season or the middle of April, I'm always down for a spooky time.
One of my spooky passions is haunted houses. Over the years I've visited quite a few (and have a long list of others to visit), but this year I wanted to try something different: I wanted to be *in* one.
Luckily, last year I met the owner of a haunted house near Chicago called Realm of Terror. When I reached out to him about my dream of being in a haunted house, he was 100% supportive.
Steve Kristof, who owns Realm of Terror, worked with me to determine a date. I expressed that I'd always dreamed of getting spooky makeup done professionally because my past endeavors on myself have been...less than impressive:
Since Realm of Terror's show starts at 7 p.m., I arrived at 6 to go over logistics before getting my makeup done. We walked through the space before any actors were inside so I could get my bearings.
To start, I was introduced to Odie Schaefer, who'd be one of my go-to leaders for the night. Then the magic finally started when I met casting director Sandy Howard in the costume room.
After changing, I met my makeup artist, Nick Fischer. I told him no amount of makeup or gore was off-limits.
Then we began. Nick started my bloody makeover with the best brow gel I've ever had on my face: a glue stick!!!
Next, he flawlessly airbrushed my entire face, neck, and arms, until it looked as if I'd crawled right out of Evil Dead:
And though Nick's airbrush artistry was truly a magical sight, he didn't stop there because he's a pro. I believe his next words were, "Your teeth are too pretty," and then he did this:
Of course, blood is an absolute must when one is working a haunted house, so I closed my eyes and basically allowed myself to take a shower in it:
And finally, topping it all off was a conditioning hair protein to make my hair goopy, wet, and dry — ALL AT THE SAME TIME:
After what was really surprisingly only about 30 minutes of getting makeup put on and getting dressed, it was time to start scaring. I began around 7:45 and told myself I'd only scare till about 10:30 p.m. before heading home. Little did I know how addictive the experience would be.
Since there is no script at Realm of Terror, I was encouraged to say or do whatever felt therapeutic or creepy. My family loves to make fun of my cackle-filled laugh on a daily basis, so after I growled at people, my laugh was my go-to noise for most of the night.
I experienced scaring in about five or six locations in the house — including one room where I literally stood among fake hanging body bags while I danced — but one spot stood out to me in particular, and that room was actually a hallway.
This was the most fun part of the house for several reasons:
👻 I could literally follow people the length of the hallway, cackling and making them listen to the laugh my brother loves to make fun of me for.
👻 It was seriously the best workout I've had in a while because I had to hold my body up on each plank and run, and sometimes squat.
👻 One woman actually lay on the ground when I screamed above her head. I felt like a pro.
Soon I realized I'd lost track of time because I was so engaged in everything going on. I ended up staying until closing time at midnight (so almost a full five hours!), even though I'd initially said 10:30 was my cutoff time.
I was actually very thrilled that I'd made it to the end of the night, because that meant I could meet other people and get some makeup removal tips.
After all was said and done, I finally got home around 2 in the morning. Here is the face of a tired woman who's had her dreams come true:
I think I'll always be nostalgic for this experience, but luckily, I've been invited back, so I may take them up on their offer. If ever you cannot find me, please just assume I have run away and joined the haunted house industry.
✨Special thanks to: ✨
Realm of Terror in Round Lake Beach, Illinois, for scaring me and welcoming me; Steve Kristof, owner of Realm of Terror and overall rad person; Nicole Gronek, my photographer and absolute best friend; Nick Fischer, my makeup artist, who impresses the heck out of me; Jeff Standeven, for being my leader throughout the night and being patient with me; and Odie Schaefer, for being one of my go-to humans for the night. You all rock!