The Best Haunted Houses in Evansville

The Best Haunted Houses in Evansville

Jake Tapley

Newburgh Civitan Zombie Farm

Rating: 4/5

If the location of the Zombie Farm wasn’t enough to already make it the best publicly-owned and operated haunted house within a 15-mile radius of Evansville, then the amount of effort put into the overall concept, design, makeup and performance certainly puts it in a category of its own.

Located on Vann Road in Newburgh, approximately two miles east of Castle High School into the Warrick County countryside, is the Newburgh Civitan Club. Every year in October, this area gets taken over by a family of redneck zombies.

The charm of the Zombie Farm is, perhaps, in this cohesive aspect of setting. Instead of simply generating some isolated scares and offering overused horror movie tropes, you are presented with an environment to immerse yourself in, and you are led to believe by the actors, props and set design that this environment is authentic.

Existing in the duality of being both an indoor and outdoor haunted house – a hybrid, so to speak – contributes to this perceived authenticity.

Walking outside, you can see the genuine Warrick County farmland, along with believable old farm house and barnlike structures. Inside, you are given the idea that there is human entrapment and experimentation going on.

As a side note, I did feel that there were a few exceptions to the rule of consistent theme, with several monster-like machines jumping out at you. These were the least effective to me and were my least favorite part, though I could see some children – particularly younger boys – obsessing over them.

Overall, I enjoyed the Zombie Farm and thought it was well done. It was a wise choice to conceptualize the haunted house as a farm and place it in the middle of farmland.


The Olde Courthouse Catacombs/The House of Lector

Rating: 3.5/5

In my mind, The Olde Courthouse Catacombs/The House of Lector is the best haunted house in the city limits of Evansville. Although, with those specifications, I guess that is a pretty narrow statement that makes for a fairly limited competition.

I understand that these are separate houses, but seeing as how they are owned and operated as a combined unit, I felt that I should review them as such. Also, they share the same theme and many similar elements, which begs them to be lumped together.

If you only go to one of the two, you won’t get the full experience, and you will miss out on a coupon that allows you to save money (of course, only after spending more because that’s the way it usually works).

Anyway, my favorite thing about this dynamic duo is that it has a brand new and fairly consistent theme year after year, or at least they try to.

In the past, it has involved demon possession and various movie villain tropes, but it has always been very specific and somewhat accurate. One year, they decided to do a creepy Joker/clown theme to tackle the creepy clowns and the Batman villain simultaneously.

This year, the theme was Bates Motel, which I thought was an excellent choice, given the success of the recently televised and popularized TV show.

You get to see both Norman Bates and his mother on your trip through the haunted house, along with various other scenes and images from Alfred Hitchcock’s horror landmark, “Psycho.” A personal favorite was the shower scene, which was manifested into a room to make for a theatrical rendition.

I can’t say that I necessarily felt like I was in Hitchcock’s movie, though, which is my biggest complaint. However, I think there were moments that certainly paid tribute to the legend in a very stylized and effective way, even if it wasn’t fully authentic.

Eville Studios Zombiefest

Rating: 3/5

When I went to Eville Studios last year, I was a bit let down, and although I think there were certainly improvements made to the design, some of that disappointment has resurfaced during my trip this October.

In my mind, the soft spot for Eville Studios is the weak conceptualization and design of the haunted house. Seeing as how experience is comparative, I tend to associate the strengths of some haunted houses to accentuate the weaknesses of others, and vise versa.

This was certainly a strength for both Zombie Farm and the Catacombs/House of Lector.

As far as improvements are concerned, I would say that Eville Studios has made fairly significant improvements in its scare factor; however, I would also suggest that most haunted houses at least make some improvements to the scare factor every year, not to take away from their achievement.

With Zombiefest being the name this year, I feel that there was more of a concentration placed on gore and the absurd, as I saw numerous people wearing strange and grotesque costumes.

I would have liked to have seen this concentration dialed into the design more and conceptualized further.

Some of the rooms I went into felt devoid of the zombie stereotype altogether, the biggest example being the 3D maze, which sported brightly colored walls. In what realistically portrayed zombie movie was that ever a thing?

For future reference, I say they should either work on incorporating the maze to match the theme more or scrap it altogether.