Real Fright at “R” Acres of Terror

Gail Harper


If you’re looking for heart-pounding, hair-raising thrills to get you in the Halloween spirit, look no farther than Dow, Illinois, home of “R” Acres of Terror. The haunt attracts approximately 3,000 people yearly, and with good reason — the scares are arguably the most terrifying in the St. Louis area.

Upon entry to the line, guests get the opportunity to experience their “Last Ride,” a restraining encounter in which the guest lays down in a coffin-styled box by a creepy undertaker who carries a shovel. Once in the dark box, the guest experiences their trip to the cemetery—speakers in the box play an audio of men getting ready to bury the guest, the box shakes and rocks as they “carry” the coffin there, and there are even air blowers emulating breathing that trick the guest into thinking there’s something else in the box.

After the last ride, different monsters and disconcerting characters come out to greet you as you wait to enter the woods through a meat shack. Michael Myers, clad with the mask, blood, and all, will stare menacingly and pose with the guests for pictures (which are available on R Acres of Terror on Facebook). Following pictures, guests are ushered into the meat shack—the haunt is truly about to begin.

A leader is appointed in this meat shack, which features a zombie deer head mounted on the wall and (fake?) guts spilled out on a table next to an oven. After a quick briefing, the leader of the group guides the group into the woods, where guests reside for the remainder of the haunt experience (besides going through a few more shacks and lean-tos).

Many “friends” greet the guests on their way, from little girls screaming and groveling for a playmate, an old man threatening guests with a rifle to get off his property, and of course, clowns. The clown house emulates a scene from the movie “It,” and the clowns are very, very friendly.

Toward the end is a butcher house where true bloodcurdling screams ensue. People in the slaughterhouse beg through teeth-clenching screams to help them out, as they’re locked behind metal grates, covered in blood. A frightening sight, and some darn good actors.

A lot of thought and effort obviously goes into R Acres throughout the year, with 50-60 volunteer actors a night. The attraction is $15 per person and there’s also a concession stand for any pre-scare snack needs you might have.

If you are affected by flashing lights, loud, sudden noises, or screaming, it would be smart to stay away from this attraction. But if that’s the kind of thrill you’re searching for this Halloween season, R Acres of Terror is definitely for you.

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