When my friends and I heard that the company behind The Darkness, one of the nation’s top haunted houses in the United States, was set to unleash a haunted house in the old caverns of the long out of business Lemp Brewery, we were immediately sold. For those of you not from the St. Louis area, the Lemp family is one of the most legendary families from this area. Their family history is riddled with tragedy and the old Lemp Mansion is one of the nation’s most infamous real life haunted houses. It has been the subject of many documentaries, and as Andy eluded to in an earlier article, was recently featured in the show Ghost Hunters. The pairing of one of the nation’s top producer’s of haunted houses and one of the cities most famous historical structures seems like a match made in heaven. Does the combo live up to expectations?
To give you a brief history of the Lemp Brewery: Around the turn of the century, Lemp beer was one of the most successful beer companies in the country. The beer was a favorite amongst local gangsters and supposedly the lower regions of the brewery, located on the corner of Broadway and South Broadway, played host to orgies and murders. Despite surviving Prohibition by adding two non alcoholic beverages “Tally” and “Cerva” to their product line, the Lemp company ceased to exist in 1922, and the brewery portion was occupied by Falstaff beer until 1949. Besides some buildings being pieced off for use by other companies, the brewery itself has sat mostly dormant since Falstaff left.
Even though the Lemp haunted house opened in late September, my friends and I didn’t get a chance to go until last weekend. This meant that given it being mid October, we expected the haunted house to be packed to the gills and sure as shit, it was. Parking was not an issue as you could either park on the street for free or you could pay $3 and park within the confines of the brewery gates itself. There were plenty of parking attendants to guide traffic and despite there being many cars, finding a space was never an issue.
Next up came payment and the line to get into the haunted house(one thing I always dread). Attendees were given the option of either paying $20 for general entry or $30 for a fast pass which gets you to the front of the line. Judging by the long line of people waiting to get in, I wondered if we had made the wrong choice by going with $20 option. Luckily the lines moved quickly and we didn’t wait for more than 20 minutes(Take that as advice as it could save you 10 bucks). While waiting in line, you can’t help but take in the surroundings, as the brewery itself has been marvelously preserved. The brickwork on the sidewalks and grain silos have been well maintained and even a brick sign that says “fermentation building” still remains as a reminder of what this facility once housed. Once you reach the front of the line, you descend down a set of winding stairs and begin your trip through the haunted house itself.
The haunted house features many of the haunts that you come to expect: a good dose of jump scares, plenty of grade A props, and scenes of general torture and mayhem that is also featured in The Darkness. The location of the haunted house was fantastic, as the architecture of the basement was phenomenal and the Lemp boxes littering the area were a nice touch. However, despite there being many positive aspects of this haunted house, there were several things that could stand to be fine tuned for next year. One big thing that bothered me was the fog machines. Being a basement, the fog had nowhere to go and sometimes the clouds being dispersed became almost unbearable. Also, the groups tended to be too close together and this ruined the element of surprise as you could see what was coming up ahead. At several instances during your trip through Lemp, the area you would walk through would become pitch black and you could literally see nothing. While I think this was meant to be scary, it actually became annoying as you couldn’t figure out where the hell you were going.
Faults aside, I think that this haunted house definitely has potential to be even better next year. I think that the things I mentioned earlier were minimal grievances at best, and this house further proves that the company behind the Darkness definently hasn’t lost their touch at offering St. Louis some of the best haunted attractions in the Midwest. The Brewery itself is the perfect location for a haunted house and history buffs and horror fans alike will be able to appreciate the chilling atmosphere provided by this setting. I can say that this pairing will work nicely for the future and I will be back next year to see what they have in store. If you want to catch this attraction this year, you still have a couple more weekend as it is open through the first weekend in November.
P.S. After going through the Brewery, head on over to the Silver Ballroom and grab yourself a “Great Pumpkin” martini. It not only tastes delicious(as it tastes like a pumpkin pie and is even topped with whipped cream to boot) but also packs quite a punch.