Nikki Guerrero needed the serial killer t-shirt. Guerrero selected the most gruesome shirt from a selection of macabre shirts while browsing The Horror House, a creepy gift shop at 2911 West Belmont Avenue. It featured images of the three misguided Midwestern boys who committed the crimes, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, and Jeffrey Dahmer, who enjoyed performing rope stunts, used powerful drugs, and lived among human remains.
Guerrero said, “I’m interested in serial killers. “I find it fascinating that humans can do such heinous crimes. How are these horrible deeds even possible? And I enjoy being observed. According to co-owner Moses Gibson, whose brother Vinchenzo Malave created the shirt, “that’s the main three of serial killers.”
Except for Ted Bundy,” a different consumer said. We miss Bundy,” Gibson acknowledged. Can’t get everyone. Do you desire a bag? Gibson enquired of Guerrero. She remarked, “I think I truly want to change into this.”
Guerrero hurried to the toilet, which was filled with movie posters like Suspira and House of 1000 Corpses, paintings of Vincent Price, and a blood-covered clown giving the finger. She was so eager to wear her attention-grabbing shirt.
Travis Smith finished his pre-Halloween shopping after Guerrero left, carrying Gacy, Gein, and Dahmer on her chest, and bought decorations inspired by the films Halloween and Season of the Witch.
He congratulated Gibson and then paid him the greatest praise a proprietor of a horror store could receive. “This place is just fuckin’ sick.”
This Halloween season and all year long, that is a fitting description of Avondale. The Northwest Side area, which has historically been overshadowed by Logan Square next door, is establishing a reputation as Chicago’s hub for horror-themed, heavy metal-themed, and otherwise morbid-themed businesses.
Three months after The Brewed, a coffee shop dedicated to horror films, opened at 2843 N. Milwaukee Ave., The Horror House debuted in June. The Brewed is a place where the adult proprietors honor the monster movies they adored as kids whereas The Horror House is dark and disturbing.
Over a cup of Firestarter, the shop’s specialty brew, which is tangerine-flavored because Tangerine Dream composed the soundtrack to that Stephen King adaption, co-owner Jason Deuchler said that he and the other owners were all “kind of horror and monster movie enthusiasts.” “I worked at the Creepy Company, a retailer of horror goods, with Jen LeMasters. Jen suggested that we create a coffee shop with a horror theme because we always stopped for coffee on the way to work. If you do it, I’m in, I said. My dad is to blame for this, I suppose. He took me to see monster and B movies like Godzilla and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Svengoolie showed Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3-D when I was seven years old. I recall using my savings to purchase 3D glasses from 7-11.
The proprietors’ childhood toy collections are on display, including a priceless Gizmo from Gremlins stuffie that Deuchler bought when he was five. The monster cereals your mother forbade you from eating are being served this month at the cereal bar: Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo-Berry. Tony Todd from Candyman’s scream face is painted on a wall next to the bathroom. Every Millennial horror lover has imagined sleeping in the Brewed.
Deuchler admitted, “I definitely enjoy the experience of being afraid. It’s a non-addictive high. After a good scare, you’re always looking for the next one.
The name of the store is a riff on David Cronenberg’s film The Brood. The password for the wifi is CRON3NB3RG. Cronenberg’s birthday, March 15, coincided with the opening of the business. The filmmaker reacted positively when a New York Times reporter informed him of the store’s opening, saying, “That’s terrific.”
Deuchler, who published Cronenberg’s endorsement on the store’s website, stated that Cronenberg had an open invitation. The coffee is on us.
The Brewed and The Horror House are just expanding on past companies’ interest in the dark arts. The burger establishment Gibson refers to as “the O.G.”, Kuma’s Corner, is direct across the street from The Horror House at 2900 West Belmont Avenue. We’ve played Hellraiser so many times that if it were a VHS, it would be broken, said Madi Quinn, a bartender with long black fingernails who plans to dress as The Bride of Frankenstein on Halloween night. Kuma’s Corner serves the flesh of slaughtered cattle, has walls painted black, and always plays heavy metal.
The Dungeons and Dragons-themed bar DMen Tap, 2849 W. Belmont Ave., is directly across from Kuma’s and hosts a weekly “dark comedy night” called The Graveyard Shift. Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records, 3182 N. Elston Ave., which relocated to Avondale from Logan Square seven years ago, is right around the street from DMen. According to proprietor Grant McKee, Bucket O’ Blood boasts “the greatest horror section of any store in the city,” which is broken down into the sub-genres of Stephen King, Lovecraftiana, Magick, Witchy, and LGBTQ+.
According to Deuchler of The Brewed, “I call it Odd in Avondale.” It is merely a Latinx and Eastern European neighborhood that is currently a “horror neighborhood.”
In Avondale, according to Kuma’s Quinn, “you think about how broke a lot of artists are, the rent is low.” Younger people tend to be a little more morbid. You may find anything you need here, from creepy coffee shops to Polish delis.