The scariest, most metal neighborhood in Chicago – Chicago Magazine

Nikki Guerrero should have had a serial killer t-shirt. Guerrero browsed through a collection of creepy shirts at House of horrorscreepy gift shop at 2911 W. Belmont Ave., and chose the creepiest: photos of John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein and Jeffrey Dahmer, three lost Midwestern boys who love rope tricks, knock-out drugs and live among human remains.

“I’m interested in serial killers,” Guerrero said. “I like knowing that people are capable of such terrible things. How can people do such horrible things? And I like to be looked at.”

“It’s the Big Three of serial killers,” said co-owner Moses Gibson, whose brother Vincenzo Malave designed the shirt.

“Except for Ted Bundy,” another customer commented.

“We miss Bundy,” Gibson admitted. “Can’t get everyone.”

“Do you want a bag?” Gibson asked Guerrero.

“I think I really want to change into that,” she said.

Guerrero was so eager to put on her attention-grabbing shirt that she rushed to the bathroom — a bathroom decorated with movie posters Suspira and House of 1000 corpsesas well as paintings by Vincent Price and a blood-soaked finger-pointing clown.

Nicky Guerrero in his new serial killer shirt. Edward McClelland

After Guerrero left — with Gacy, Gein and Dahmer on his chest — Travis Smith finished his pre-Halloween shopping spree with movie-themed decorations Halloween and Season of the Witches.

“Congratulations,” he said to Gibson, giving him the highest compliment a horror store owner could hope to hear. “It’s a damn sick place.”

That’s a good description of Avondale this Halloween season — and year-round. The Northwest Side neighborhood, long overshadowed by nearby Logan Square, creates Chicago’s image as a center for horror, heavy metal and other painful enterprises.

The House of Horrors opened in June, just three months later Boiledhorror cafe at 2843 N. Milwaukee Ave. House of Horrors is dark and disturbing, but The Brewed is bright and kitschy, a space where the grown-up owners celebrate the monster movies they loved as kids.

“We’re all fans of horror and monster movies,” co-owner Jason Deutschler said over a glass of Firestarter’s signature kvass, flavored with tangerine because Tangerine Dream scored the Stephen King adaptation. “Jen LeMasters and I worked at the Creepy Company, a horror retailer. We would always stop for coffee on the way to work and Jen would say, “Wouldn’t it be cool to open a horror themed coffee shop?” I said, “If you do it, I’ll take it.” I will blame it on my father. He showed me monster and B movies: Creature from the black lagoon, Godzilla. When I was seven, Svenguli showed Creature from the black lagoon in 3D. I remember saving up and going to 7-11 to buy 3-D glasses.”

Showcases are filled with the owners’ children’s toy collections, including a valuable item from Gremlins items that Deuchler acquired when he was five years old. This month’s cereal bar features Count Chocolat, Frankenberry and Boo-Berry, the monster cereal that mom would never let you eat. On the wall by the bathroom is painted the screaming face of Tony Todd from Candyman. Brewed is the bedroom every millennial horror fan has dreamed of sleeping in.

Deuchler with his gizmo from Gremlins stuffy Edward McClelland

“I like to feel scared,” Deuchler said. “It’s a non-addictive high. Once you get a big scare, you’re chasing the next scare.”

The store’s name is a play on the movie Brood, David Cronenberg. The Wi-Fi password is CRON3NB3RG. The store opened on March 15, Cronenberg’s birthday. If a New York Times reporter told Cronenberg about the store’s opening, the director replied, “That’s great.”

“He has an open invitation,” said Deuchler, who posted Cronenberg’s endorsement on the store’s website. “Coffee at our expense.”

Kuma’s Corner, where the walls are painted black and heavy metal is always playing from the speakers. Chris Schweda/Chicago Tribune

The Horror House and The Brewed only build on the earlier companies’ interest in black art. The House of Horrors is across the street Kumov’s cornerAt 2900 W. Belmont Ave., a burger joint that Gibson calls the “OG,” Kuma’s serves butchered beef, has black walls, heavy metal always blaring from the speakers, and “we’ve played Hellraiser so many times that when it was VHS, it would be broken,” said Maddie Quinn, a bartender with long black fingernails who plans to work as the Bride of Frankenstein on Halloween night.

There is opposite Kuma DMen Tap, 2849 W. Belmont Ave., a Dungeons and Dragons-themed bar with a monthly “dark comedy show” called The Graveyard Shift. Around the corner from DMen Bucket O’ Blood Books and Records, 3182 N. Elston Ave., which moved to Avondale from Logan Square seven years ago. Bucket O’ Blood has “the largest horror section of any store in town,” said owner Grant McKee, divided into Extreme Horror, Lovecraftiana, The Satanic Temple, Magick, Witchy, LGBTQ+ and Stephen King, a horror genre unto itself.

Bucket O’ Blood’s horror subgenres include Extreme Horror, Lovecraftiana, The Satanic Temple, Magick, Witchy, LGBTQ+, and Stephen King Edward McClelland

“In Avondale, I call it awesome,” said The Brewed’s Deuchler. “It’s kind of an Eastern European, Latin American neighborhood, and now it’s a horror neighborhood.”

Cooma’s Quinn theorizes that Avondale did the way it did because “you think about how broke a lot of artists are and the rent is cheap. Younger generations are a little more sickly. It has everything you need, from Polish delis to creepy coffee shops.”

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