Most children love Halloween. It’s a time to hang out with friends in fun costumes, get free candy and stay up late.
Scott Sivley, of Saugus, was no exception. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley in North Hills (then known as Sepulveda), Sivley is a graduate of Monroe High School and California State University, Northridge.
“I used to decorate the house and go trick-or-treating with my friends,” he said.
Sivley said the Universal Classic Monsters — Frankenstein, Wolfman or Dracula — would be his costumes of choice as a child.
“However, by the age of 10, I was 6-foot-tall,” he said.
Sivley said his trick-or-treating days were cut short when he was told, “Hey kid, you’re too old,” when he towered over the adults at Halloween.
“I was a foot taller than the guys I was trick-or-treating with,” he said.
Sivley didn’t want to miss out on Halloween fun
“One of our neighbors worked at 20th Century Fox and the show ‘Lost in Space’ was on at the time,” he said. “He used to run around the street on Halloween in the costumes from the show.”
When Sivley realized he couldn’t treat-or-treat anymore he decided he could “scare.”
“I saw this guy down the street in costume running around the neighborhood scaring kids and having a blast,” he said.
Sivley started building his own “haunts” in 1971.
Moving to the SCV
Sivley and his new bride, Cynthia, moved to the Saugus in October 1988.
“This is our 30th year in the SCV,” he said.
The couple have two sons who have inherited their father’s love of Halloween.
“We moved to Saugus on Columbus Day weekend,” Sivley said. “It was only a couple of weeks before Halloween.”
As a new build, the home had no landscaping, no fences and no window coverings.
His first Halloween in the SCV Sivley quickly improvised his first “haunt.”
“My wife was covering the windows with sheets,” he said. “I would sneak in and pull the sheets down and make ghosts out of them, using pumpkin heads. They had light up red hearts that looked like they were pumping blood.”
Sivley said his wife was understanding.
“She said, ‘Oh that’s right, it’s almost Halloween, go ahead and do your thing,’” he said. “I just took the white sheets. I left the colored ones up.”
Sivley said he noticed that the trick-or-treaters were younger in the SCV than in the SFV.
“When we moved to the SCV, there were a lot of first-time buyers like ourselves — people who had just gotten married and were starting families,” he said.
That first Halloween, Sivley said only really young children showed up.
“A 5-year-old was probably the oldest child we had,” he said. “For years, I couldn’t do anything that was super scary.”
Sivley decorated with characters from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” for the little ones.
“I did that for years,” he said.
As the neighborhood aged, Sivley was able to unleash darker and scarier Halloween monsters.
Growing the Haunt
The home haunt began to evolve as Sivley experimented with different ideas: the Universal Classic Monsters, Scarecrow Alley, an Alien Encounter, Psycho Circus of Horror and finally, “Beware the Dark Realm.”
Along the way, Sivley worked on a number of amateur and professional haunts, including the Heritage Haunt, which ran successfully for many years at the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Valley Heritage Junction location.
After Heritage Haunt closed, Sivley followed it up by working on a fundraising haunt for Golden Valley High School — “Horror Valley High School.”
‘Beware the Dark Realm’
“Beware the Dark Realm” is a free home haunt, which will collect donations to benefit the SCV Child & Family Center Domestic Violence Program.
“You can wait in the line to see the haunt for free or you can donate $5 for a front of the line pass,” Sivley said. “All the donations will be given to the SCV Child & Family Center.”
The haunt changes from year-to-year, so people who have attended before will find new special effects, live monsters and terrifying sets.
Sivley said he spends the entire year planning for the haunt, which is a family affair.
“Our entire neighborhood helps out, as well,” he said. “Everyone chips in scaring people. We’ll have close to 30 people every night working.”
Sivley holds a degree in psychology, which may explain why his haunt earns top marks from those seeking high intensity thrills.
“We get people from all over the world who attend out haunt,” he said. “We’ve had people visit from across the United States and foreign countries, France, Philippines, China, Japan, India, England, Germany … everywhere.”
Sivley estimates that more people visit “Beware the Dark Realm” from outside of the Santa Clarita Valley then from within its borders.
“We had some people from France last year that were in town to visit Fright Fest at Magic Mountain, but they decided they wanted to see a home haunt, as well,” he said. “They texted me later and told me they enjoyed our haunt the most.”
“Beware the Dark Realm” will also be featured in a new documentary, “Epic Home Haunts” that will be released this month. (https://sagastudios.net/movies/epic-home-haunts/)
Sivley said the haunt includes flashing lights and fog, but not much in the way of “blood and guts.”
“It’s not gory,” he said. “Things jump out at you that you don’t expect. You think you see something in one place, then something comes at you from another direction to scare you.”
Sivley said he is very proud of the volunteers that have worked scaring people for years,
“Our haunt is just plan scary,” he said. “It creeps people out. You can hear people screaming throughout the entire haunt.”
Sivley said his haunt is one of the few that is handicapped accessible.
Enjoying the scare
Sivley said his favorite part of the haunt is to see how much fun people have being scared.
Thousands of people have been through Sivley’s haunt, but he has never counted heads.
“I enjoy hearing the stories of the people working the haunt and how they scared people,” he said.
Among Sivley’s favorite guests was a 96-year-old woman who visited his haunt in 2015.
“She tells me she is 96 and loves this kind of thing,” he said. “I was a little worried, but she came out of the haunt and hugs me and tells me she had ‘such a good time.’ I thought it was amazing.”
Sivley was a little concerned when she didn’t attend the haunt in 2016. However, she was back at age 98 to visit the 2017 haunt, and he’s hoping she returns for this year, too.
The haunt will be closed on Halloween night. On Halloween night, Sivley will be at home, handing out candy.
BREAK OUT BOX
Beware the Dark Realm will operate 7-10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, Saturday, Oct. 20, Friday, Oct. 26 and Saturday, Oct. 27.
28621 Sugar Pine Way, Santa Clarita, CA 91390
Donations to benefit the SCV Child & Family Center.