The Earwood family transforms its Huntington Beach home into a haunted house every Halloween with creepy clowns, chainsaws, dolls, blacked-out rooms and tributes to iconic horror film villains, such as Michael Myers (“Halloween”) and Freddy Krueger (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”).
As spook-seekers wait in line to enter the attraction, a fog machine sets the mood. Horror films project onto a rooftop screen.
“We try to play to all of your senses for classic scares,” Ken Earwood said.
Small, tight rooms and hallways, he explained, elicit the best screams.
The event began as a Halloween-themed birthday party for their son, Brady, that snowballed into an annual neighborhood production. The haunted house, which is set up in their backyard, is in its 16th year. About 1,500 people visit annually.
Given neighborhood expectations, advance planning is a must. The family, as well as friends who volunteer at the haunted house, begin brainstorming scary ideas over Labor Day and start building sets and decorating rooms by mid-September.
“We go to all the haunted houses every year to get ideas,” Earwood said.
Unlike popular attractions, such as Knott’s Scary Farm, Earwood said they only guide three to four guests through the home at a time so they get the “full experience.”
The Earwoods spend about $2,000 annually to build elaborate sets and purchase new costumes and props.
“We’ve had people come out screaming, laughing, crying,” he said. “It’s what it’s about for us. It’s one way to take everyone’s mind off everything. Everyone loves to be scared.”
IF YOU GO
What: Earrywood Haunted House
When: Opens at dusk to 11 p.m. Oct. 31
Where: 5631 Serene Drive, Huntington Beach