Scariest thing we saw: The creep factor here's lower than your pumpkin's IQ. We found a super-nice bartender and giggle-worthy decor, including KISS memorabilia, plastic fish and tiki lamps. Waiting outside for the spot to open, along a desolate stretch of Fullerton Avenue, was the scariest part of the night (though we don't recommend sitting on the bar floor, which looked frightfully filthy). --RP
The lore: Housed in a former funeral parlor, this neighborhood watering hole is supposedly haunted by the spirits of its former clients. Spontaneous jukebox selections, slamming doors, dimming lights, you name it: Everyone in the bar--mostly regulars from neighboring Bridgeport--has a story to share. Note to the owners: The Halloween decorations are unnecessary. Your bar, which has done little to update its interior since, well, you know, is scary enough.
Scariest thing we saw: "Check if he's an Angels fan," barked a grizzled soul to the bartender when a non-regular took a seat. "I don't want no Angels fan drinking all my Bud." --MM
The Red Lion Pub
The lore: Depending on who you ask, one--or perhaps several-- ghosts run amok in this ersatz Lincoln Park English pub. Co-owner Joseph Heinen says patrons have heard mysterious footsteps and a woman screaming. Some have even experienced the feeling of being grabbed on the shoulder, only to turn around and find no one there.
Scariest thing we saw: We were indeed greeted by an eerie silence as we walked through the door. The entire row of bar patrons sat transfixed by an apparition from the past, someone we thought was dead and buried: Steve Gutenberg (insert blood-curdling scream)! "Amazon Women on the Moon," the 1987 Joe Dante spoof, managed to cast the entire bar under its hypnotic spell from an old TV perched above the bar. Chilling. We, too, must have been immobilized by Gutenberg's spectral image, because we sat down and watched while eating the pub's shepherd's pie ($7.50). --CLM
Gold Star Bar
The lore: Despite rumors of Prohibition-era spirits hanging about this drafty haunt, we encountered nary a specter on a recent weeknight visit.
Scariest thing we saw: Now that the dive's (finally) attended to its long-afflicted women's restroom and ditched the smelly old couch (home to decades of soaked-up bike messenger sweat), the place seems downright respectable. There's nothing frightening about coughing up less than $3 for a beer, although the ice skating special on a TV behind the bar left us shivering with thoughts of the coming Chicago winter. --JW
The lore: No tall tales here, and no friendly Caspers floating around, either. The only phantom you'll find is the garnish--a small plastic ghost that hangs off your cocktail glass. Since the Chicago location (open Friday and Saturday nights only) is much more enclosed than its airy, 55th floor Sin City counterpart, you can't even say the heights scare you. (Unless you count looking out over the Nine dining room below a cause for vertigo.)
Scariest thing we saw: Heavy-handed makeup application on a few female patrons and a pair of pleated pants. Guys: Get yourself to the nearest Gap, stat. Flat-front trousers have been around for years. --KB
Ole St. Andrew's Inn
The lore: More than 20 years ago, former owner Frank drank himself to death at one of this spot's tables--vodka was his poison of choice--and now haunts the pub, making eerie shadows appear and drinks disappear.
Scariest thing we saw: With a polished interior and squeaky-clean bathrooms, there's not much to fear at this distinguished watering hole. Except for sitting a few feet from where someone died. Or the bar's decision to air "U.S. Marshals" on the big-screen TV instead of football. Or the awkwardness of being a 20-something in a bar clearly meant for an older crowd. --MP
Karen Budell, Chris LaMorte, Matt McGuire, Matt Pais, Rebecca Palmore and Jennifer Wehunt contributed to this story.
Originally published Oct. 10, 2005. Updated Oct. 17.