This year's Rob Zombie haunted house appears to be taking the idea of horror in a direction that might be fitting for the upcoming holiday, but has been deemed "in terrible taste."
Born Robert Bartleh Cummings, the heavy metal musician has always leaned toward the macabre, using Satanic symbols, vulgar language, and shock value to sell the image of his successful early group White Zombie. His distinct vocal style of almost mumbling horrific lyrics combined with old horror film sound clips and heavy guitar work to add a "scary" aspect to his music.
Later in his career, Cummings took a more solo direction, focusing more on the horror aspects of his image and giving his music a more "techno" sound. He also started selling Halloween props and masks through his CD inserts, and redefined the zombie for a new generation.
As his music career grew, so did Rob Zombie's ambitions, turning to film with such notable movies as House of 1000 Corpses, a Halloween remake, and the critically divided Lords of Salem. He also supplied original music for films such as Ben Affleck's Daredevil and Beavis and Butthead Do America.
In recent years, Cummings took an even more hardcore turn with his fascination for horror, creating his own haunted house for Halloween in various locations. While this seems like just the natural way to go for the horror headliner, the rooms he chose to create for the Great American Nightmare Haunted House have drawn something worse than screams.
Basing some rooms on notorious serial killers, Cummings has apparently crossed the proverbial line. Among the rooms are those inspired by Charles Manson (whose name has been used by fellow musician Brian Warner to much success), Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy.
Critics call the "Gacy room" in Rob Zombie's suburban Chicago haunted house insensitive. Thoughts? http://t.co/srAOnESHML
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) October 10, 2014
The last of these influences has drawn much critical disapproval, considering how the Rob Zombie haunted house is situated near the same area as Gacy's victims. Villa Park is just too close to where some residents feel uncomfortable with the reminder. With the murders happening in the 70s, some of the loved ones who survived it are still alive.
John Wayne Gacy was known for dressing up as a clown and luring boys to their death, and then stuffing their remains in the crawl space of his Chicago home.
Robert Egan, one of the prosecutors in Gacy's case, spoke to the press about Cummings' newest haunted house.
"The kids killed were from the Northwest suburbs and Northwest side of Chicago, not too far at all from (the haunted house). It's a little too close to home and might open some old wounds. Not enough time has passed. I don't argue with Rob Zombie's right to do what he's doing. But it's a shame that what he's doing is causing the victims' families pain."
Cummings responded to critics, telling them he thought the room was "funny." The room in question contains an actor dressed as Gacy, sitting down next to two dolls dressed like Boy Scouts, and blowing up balloons.
Another prosecutor in the case, Terry Sullivan, agrees that the attraction is "in terrible taste."
Rob Zombie certainly hasn't lost his taste for shock value, though in this case it may be causing more pain than necessary.
[Image via TDC Photography / Shutterstock.com]