Tourists to face their fears in Revenge

Terrifying haunted house turns historic Chase Stone Barn into den for nightmares
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The Town of Chase will have its Revenge this year, just as it has the last five years, and folks who decide to take a trip after dark to see its historic Stone Barn might not make it back home alive.

The Revenge haunted house has brought anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people out to the community north of Pulaski, according to Tom Van Lannen, who brings a scary experience to visitors every year with his wife, Lisa, and an assortment of other characters both gross and frightening.

Van Lannen could be considered an ironic haunted house master, considering he and his wife spend most of the year making homes beautiful, he as a contractor and she as an interior designer. Come this time of year, however, they cut away from building places to live in and turn toward the Revenge, a place many have died in.

At least, that’s what Van Lannen wants you to believe.

“We do a lot of our props from scratch. Those that we do purchase, we modify and kind of make it our own to give it a bit of uniqueness compared to what’s out there,” Van Lannen said. “I think what sets us apart from others is that we are family-owned. We have a group of friends and relatives and ‘haunt family’ that helps us out every season.”

To be part of a “haunt family,” for Van Lannen, means sharing a love for the adrenaline rush when someone is spooked by a part of Revenge.

“We’re a unique bunch of people who can be ourselves when we’re around each other and express our artistic traits in a unique way,” he said.

While Revenge provides visitors with images of desolation of destruction, Van Lannen and his crew actually take great care to make sure the Stone Barn isn’t damaged, which means no screws in the wall, no painting the actual facility or other things that might impact its preservation. The Stone Barn, first built in 1867, was put on both the state and national Register for Historical Places in 2000 and has served as a source of pride in the community ever since.

“They just kind of gave us a chance in the beginning to try out our vision and see if it would work for the community, and it’s been a great thing for everybody,” Van Lannen said. “They use it for weddings most of the year, so to have this big, blank canvas for us was amazing at the time.”

Most of the items set up in Revenge are in storage for the bulk of the year, which means Van Lannen and his team have to start from scratch every year. The upside, he said, is it gives them the opportunity to create something different each time, which allows those who have gone through the experience in previous years the desire to find out what they’ve come up with this year.

“We change the layout of the rooms, and we try to change our logo every year with a variation that fits with our theming that year,” Van Lannen said. “We’re just trying to keep it fresh. We have a lot of people who come through year after year.”

Revenge’s website,, describes the attraction with having a multi-screen video wall and custom lighting and audio. Van Lannen, when asked to describe what was in the house this year, simply said “Nightmares.”

Van Lannen said the name “Revenge” was decided upon because the term coincides with evil.

“Revenge on all the people in society who thought we would never make anything out of ourselves, things like that,” he said.

The main attraction is not for children, but there is a kids’ day in the mix on Oct. 22, when parents can bring their young ones out for a lights-on, less horrific version of Revenge. That will take place from 1-4 p.m.

“We actually don’t have our actors out in full costume,” Van Lannen said. “We do less-scary costumes and leave the lights on. We take families through at a slower pace. They can have a guided tour if they want, depending on how busy we are. We show the kids that, behind the masks, they’re somewhat normal human beings.”

Van Lannen hopes that it will hopefully give the kids the desire to come see haunted houses like his in adulthood, but he also hopes that they might become actors in haunted houses in the future.

“I know that, when I was young, this was something that really excited me, and that’s why I do what I do,” Van Lannen said.

He added that one young man has already reached out, eager to be a part of Revenge. However, Van Lannen had to say no because he’s still too young for the adult operation, but the head of the haunted house hopes to bring the teen into the fold in a couple of years.

Revenge has established itself as a cornerstone for many people, including folks who work hard to bring visitors to Oconto County.

“Revenge has become an Oconto County Halloween tradition — if you love to be scared silly, this is for you,” said Samantha Boucher, tourism director for the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation. “The organizers outdo themselves every year, and we can’t wait to see what they’ve dreamed up for their sixth season.”