Allow me to disclose something. I startle easily. If a mouse so much as breaks wind in the same room as me, I will jump like I'm attempting to qualify for the high jump in the Olympics.

Shock + Andy = No good.

In spite of this, I am a glutton for all things horror. With Halloween approaching, it becomes a little more socially acceptable to delight in the macabre. Give me the works of Poe and Lovecraft. Let's turn on Frankenstein (because seriously, nothing beats the old Universal monster movies). And while we're at it, let's visit a haunted house.

Going back to my previous disclosure, you may ask, why would YOU do something like that? The whole basis of haunted houses is to be scared, primarily through shock. So, again, why would I do this? The answer is simple - it's Halloween. Like the traditions of singing Christmas carols or giving a loved one an overpriced heart-shaped box of chocolate for Valentine's Day, we do these things to get into the spirit and embrace the holiday. I decided for this blog I would visit two haunted house attractions that you can find along the South Shore. So, let's begin my experience of terror.

My first stop was to Haunted Hills Hospital in Portage. Two things stood out to me right away. First, the price was $5. Second, all profits go to charity. Both of these factors agree with me. Featuring clowns dressed as old time jailbirds, rooms with pneumatic pop outs and surprises, a fog room complete with lasers and a maze in which you're given a glow stick to find your way, Haunted Hills Hospital does not disappoint. The set design was amazing and intricate. The "line walkers" (performers that simply roam around the line while you wait) are truly creepy and remain in character the entire time. Joel Hill, the owner, was telling me that the performers that have been with his attraction for three years are eventually given their own space. This is a unique touch and shows the appreciation that Joel has for their talents. Haunted Hills Hospital was worth the trip. The scares are plentiful and right on cue. The price was great and the attraction was terrific.

The second stop was at Lake Hills Haunted House in St. John. Much like Haunted Hills Hospital, they also had "line walkers" and featured an attraction that was detailed to the nine's. Lake Hills Haunted House offers two floors of terror for its guests. And both floors offer different areas that make you feel like each section is its own movie. The first floor is creepy and scary and keeps you tense and just when you think the scares are finished, you're ushered up a flight of stairs to start all over again. One of the creepiest things I encountered was a little boy in between rooms. Wearing a simple white mask to hide his eyes, he cradles a doll and directs you to another room. The sound effects are brilliantly placed and the zombie influence is heavy. This attraction also offers something a bit more physical with its "claustrophobia" tunnel, shifting floors and darkened room full of foam pillars that you must navigate all the while not knowing what could be lurking. And to top all of that off, what appear to be statues all throughout the attraction, turn out more often than not to be actors that give you a fright at just the right time. Two floors of terror? The statue "effect"? Yeah, this place will give anyone the chills.

There are more haunted house attractions all throughout the South Shore. There's Reaper's Realm in Hammond and Nightmare on Court Street in Crown Point. All of these locations feature people who are passionate about what they do. Mix that passion with the creepiness of Halloween and you have a guaranteed great night out.

Contributing Editor: Andy Collins
Former Video Production Manager with the South Shore CVA.