Perhaps it’s the proximity to Hollywood, or perhaps Santa Clarita Valley residents just like to scare the bejeebies out of each other more than your average community.
Whatever the reason, the SCV goes all out for Halloween.
With years of experience and a network of people who care about the community, nowhere is that more obvious than in our selection of “home haunts” — or people who have turned their homes into scare factories, some even garnering statewide recognition and being featured in a documentary.
The Sunday Signal spoke to a few of the host of Halloween enthusiasts out here who discussed the recipe for such an endeavor: a large amount of passion, a strong helping of craftsmanship and at least a little eccentricity.
Beware the Dark Realm
Perhaps the most well-known and acclaimed location, “Beware the Dark Realm,” is a source of Sivley family pride. Like most of the locations on our list, it’s a communal effort organized by Scott Sivley each year, along with his family and friends in the neighborhood.
Sivley has been turning his family’s Saugus home into a haunted house at Halloween for 31 years, offering free entertainment, and a fundraising opportunity: His attraction has become so popular for its production value that a line snakes around the block each year, allowing him to offer a “fast pass” to the front of the line for $5 — and every penny goes to supporting the Santa Clarita Valley Child & Family Center.
Sivley’s home earned fourth place in a recent statewide list of haunts at ScareFactor.com, despite the fact that “Dark Realm” was competing against professional locations with production values in the six-figure range. His home also was featured on “Epic Home Haunts,” a documentary available for purchase on Amazon.
Address: 28621 Sugar Pine Way, Saugus
Hours of operation: 7-10 p.m. on Oct. 18-19; 25-26
Note: It’s not a good idea to take small children, as there’s no child-friendly version of the haunt.
‘Club Fear: Twisted Manor’
Jason Shields’ haunted house, “Club Fear,” not only has a protagonist with a detailed back story, Rellik the Clown’s adventures are part of an episodic story of scares that changes each year.
This is Shields’ fourth year, and each year has been a little bit different. The engineer virtually designs his haunt in CAD, and then builds out for months leading up to Halloween.
This year, the haunt is “Twisted Manor,” and the storyline is that attendees have wandered into Rellik’s lair, which is a Victorian mansion adorned with all the horror and scares one might imagine in the home of a demented clown.
Shields’ haunt is also free and accepts donations on behalf of Valencia High’s baseball team, which his son plays for, he said.
“The bottom line is: The reason why we do it is, we love to do it for people,” he said, adding the participants who dress up to scare are local high school kids, and it’s an especially fun event for the crowd who’s “too old to trick or treat but too young to go out to parties.”
Address: 23501 Clearidge Drive, Valencia
Hours of operation: 7-10 p.m. on Oct. 25-26, Oct. 31
Note: For groups with small children, Shields can arrange a walk-through without the scare actors, which includes a look “behind-the-scenes.”
Gore, scare actors and animatronics, oh my! Daniel Rosenthal and Gwen Zimlin have run the 1,100-square-foot Shiver Haunt SCV for the past three years, turning their backyard into a scary walkthrough full of scares and special effects.
“In our haunt, the circus left town and left the clown behind on purpose, then they travel through a forest and a cemetery and stumble upon our house in the middle of a Halloween party,” Rosenthal said. “The nightmares begin from there. We’ve changed a lot of things this year, and while other haunts in Santa Clarita are more pristine, we’ve got more of a Rob Zombie, down-and-dirty feel going on here.”
Address: 26154 Montolla Lane, Valencia
Hours of operation: 7-10 p.m., Oct. 18, 19, 25, 26, 31
Note: Due to the gory nature of the haunt, Rosenthal does not recommend it for children under 13. The haunt is free, but accepting donations for Mutt Match L.A., a no-kill shelter.
No “strangers” to the scene, this home on Natalie Lane has been bringing the scares for more than a decade.
“We’ve been doing it since 2008,” said Bond Landeen, whose experience as an HVAC contractor with his company, Landeen Heating and Air Conditioning, also helps when it comes to constructing sets.
Landeen jokingly referred to his scare lair, as “where Disneyland ends and nightmares begin,” a fun, family effort that’s progressed from plastic sheets that divided their lawn to a buildout that includes original furniture to create the feel of a Hollywood production — one full of scares, anyway.
Like all of the other places in the list, the fun involves family and kids from the neighborhood as part of the “scare crew” in the haunted house.
The name comes from how his daughter used to pronounce the name of the main character from Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” Landeen said. The haunt is free, but donations will be accepted that he puts toward expanding the attraction each year, he said.
Address: 28603 Natalie Lane, Saugus
Hours of Operation: 7-11 p.m., Oct. 25-26; 8 p.m. to midnight
Note: From 6-8 p.m. on Halloween night, Pumkin Jack is hosting a kid-friendly version.
Clown Town at The Corner House
Fittingly named, Javier Cano’s house on the corner, as well as a fun partnership with his neighbor, allows Cano to offer a spooky display
Between 7-10 we leave the lights on, on Halloween we stay open a little bit more
“It’s a yard haunt,” according to Cano, so the lights stay on and people can explore “the corner house” at their own leisure, or rather peril, and enjoy the scares. On Halloween night, the Cano family, as well as friends and neighbors, get together to spook trick-or-treaters. There’s no charge to enjoy the show at any time, but for trick-or-treaters who brave the scare, there’s a larger candy reward in store, he added.
Address: 25302 Via Palacio, Valencia
Hours of operation: 7-10 p.m., every night until Nov. 2
Vasquez Rocks Haunted Hike
Nature lovers will get a kick out of Vasquez Rocks’ Haunted Hike. The hike will feature a half-mile hike with static displays scattered throughout and 30 live scare actors to interact with guests. After the hike, guests will go through a maze then take a tram back to their vehicles.
“Since we’re out here in the natural park, there’s no artificial lighting — so it will get very dark and it can be very frightening and intimidating if you’re not used to the area,” said . “You might also hear coyote’s howling and owls hooting and screeching, so just the unknown can make this event very scary.
The event is not recommended for children under 13, and guests are advised appropriate clothing and footwear since there will be a hike with narrow paths.
Address: 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road, Agua Dulce
Hours of operation: Oct. 18-19, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Note: Admission is $12, with proceeds going to county Animal Care and Control. Pre-register at vasquezrockshauntedhike.weebly.com. For info, call 661-268-0840.
SCV Sheriff’s Station’s Haunted Jailhouse
For the last 30 years, the deputies at the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station have put together this low-cost, family-friendly jailhouse. For $2, children can enjoy a costume contest, candy, games, prizes, exploring some of the Sheriff’s Department’s vehicles on display and, of course, the haunted jailhouse, which deputies create with SCV Boys & Girls Club volunteers. For the event, local inmates are transported to a nearby station and visitors are able to tour the jail with its spooky guests. The proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Club.
Address: 23740 Magic Mountain Parkway, Valencia
Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 27. Note: There are costume contests for different age groups, with more information available by calling (661) 255-1121.