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Hotel Hellseher Offers Homemade Haunts

The free haunted house hosted by a group of Frankfort Square neighbors is a local institution.

Every October, Frankfort Square resident Marty Herkel sacrifices his backyard for the sake of the scare, as he and his neighbors transform the plot of land into “Hotel Hellseher,” a free haunted house open to the entire community.

There was a time when Herkel and his neighbors, Phil Brandis, Jason Werner, Tim Eckert and Chris Petro would compete to see who could create the most elaborate Halloween yard display.

“Halloween is our Christmas,” said Brandis.

However, in 2005, they pooled their collective talent and experience to build the haunted hotel, which has since become an annual institution.

The five friends typically begin constructing the 2,500-square-foot hotel in August, adding new features every year. The hotel usually costs $2,000-5,000 to build, and although visits are free, Herkel and company do accept donations.

All props are either made or found and repurposed, a task which is easily accomplished by the quintet, who, collectively, have professional experience in electrics, carpentry, maintenance, glasswork and heating and air.

As thrill seekers wait to enter the hotel, classic horror movies play, projected against the side of Herkel’s house, while cast members work the line. Inside, ghosts and ghouls lurk inside the walls and behind closed doors.

The cast consists largely of the five builders’ family members, who are recruited annually for scare patrol.

All the hotel rooms are themed. This year’s new additions include an overhead scare, an outdoor crypt and a zombie apocalypse cage.

“We try to appease everybody,” said Brandis.

Hotel Hellseher hosts the final night of the season this evening. The hotel runs family-friendly walkthroughs from 6-6:30 p.m., before amping up the scare factor from 6:30-9 p.m. Hotel Hellseher is located near the intersection of Jessica Lane and Pine Hill Road in Frankfort Square.

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Marcy B. October 31, 2012 at 03:59 PM
This is an incredible neighborhood haunted house that we are honored to offer for free to the community. We come together as families to help make Hotel Hellseher come to life all because we share the love of the scare. Offering the no-scare for families is the least we can do for those that want their kids to experience the spirit of Halloween, yet sleep a little easier at night. To see adults and children of all ages come out after a full scare visit and say "that is absolutely amazing", "so much more than what you would expect a backyard haunted house to be", and "better than the one's that you pay an arm and a leg for" it makes the hard work the guys put into the build from August to October worth it. People wait to meet the actors when the haunt closes and make them feel like Santa Claus or Hollywood Grammy Award Winners. To see and hear the excitement that everyone has when they come out is what doing the haunted house is all about. People come back year after year with more of their friends and families to be "repeat offenders" of the scare and new guests come for their first visit, already eager for our next haunt. Donations help future builds stay alive and we are very thankful for the generosity and support of our guests. Thank you for sharing the thrill of Halloween!
Rob November 01, 2012 at 08:04 AM
I posted a long comment on my recommendation above... In any case, I've been to several of the popular haunted houses this year to include Statesville Haunted Prison and Screams up in Rosemont, IL. In the area, I've been to a haunted woods, some corn mazes and other Halloween activities. All things being cosidered, Hotel Hellseher was the best. There were most definitely some good scares, a great set up, wonderful people and who can beat the free admission and scary movies being shown outside while waiting in line... Great job and speacial thanks to all from the neighborhood who participated and made this such a wonderful event!!! Thanks again and see you next year =)
L.Parham November 02, 2012 at 12:30 PM
This haunted house is fantastic! We travel from Lemont, IL every year and we are never dissapointed! Not giving too much away, the "CAGE" was the best part! Freaked me out! Never experienced that before! Thank You all the Families on Jessica Lane that came together to bring this to us! On a scale from 1 to 10, this place is a PERFECT 10 on the Scare Meter!!! It's a Must See!
Patti November 02, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Amazing experience!! I took my kids, ages 6 and 10 for their very 1st Haunted House experience. We had the option to go through a "no-scare" experience of the house which is perfect for kids who get too scared. It is the best haunted house I have seen and I am truly grateful that you have offered this to the community.

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