“It will be your typical abandoned mansion,” said Brendan Cavanaugh of the Brio home he’s helping transform into a haunted house for the second Halloween in a row.
But typical is probably not the right word to describe the fright-filled Hawthorne Manor, where, according to Cavanaugh, a family of well-to-do, but not well-intentioned ghosts has run amok for decades, hell-bent on scaring the bejeezus out of any living soul who dares enter.
“The Hawthornes have this superiority complex and envy the living,” he said. “It’s a case of murderous envy, I guess you could call it.”
Running from Saturday (Oct. 26) to Tuesday (Oct. 29), the Hawthorne Manor is the brainchild of stone sculptor Cavanaugh and resort artist Andrea Mueller.
Building on the success of the last year’s haunted house, located at 3145 Hawthorne Place, the pair decided to ratchet up the fear factor this year with a more elaborate setup, a larger team of volunteers, and some help from the architect behind Vancouver’s most delightfully frightful abode.
“We’re trying to turn it into an old manor with a variety of rooms,” said Mueller. “We’ve got some massive chandeliers, we’ve got a beautiful old piano, a nice dining room table, candelabras and that sort of thing.”
Cavanuagh, a self-confessed Halloween junkie, has been collecting props for the manor throughout the year, and even paid a visit with Mueller this summer to the Dunbar Haunted House, which has been terrifying Vancouverites for a decade now and expects to attract over 14,000 visitors this Halloween season.
The pair also purchased some props from Dunbar’s creator, Brad Leith, a Vancouver Film School instructor, and got some tips from the master of macabre on making Hawthorne Manor as spooktacular as can be.
“Brad’s operation is incredible,” said Mueller. “He gave us a lot of ideas on how to work with what we have, on how to set things up and gave some tips on spooking for the actors, as well as how to make good use of the wall space we have.”
Just like it was last year, the Brio haunted house is completely volunteer-run, and Cavanaugh said he was “overwhelmed with the popularity” of the attraction in 2012, and expects an even bigger turnout this Halloween.
But if you’re worried the manor may be too scary for the kids this year, don’t be — the organizers have split up each of the four nights to cater to ghouls and goblins of all ages.
From 5 to 7 p.m. is the Family Fun portion of the evening, when the scare tactics will be turned down a notch, the lights will be up and the extra scary props will be covered. Kids as young as one-year-old attended last year’s haunted house, according to organizers.
“I’m not interested in traumatizing any children,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s going to be fun for the kids in a way they can relate to.”
The same cannot be said for the Full Scare part of the night, from 7:30 to 10 p.m., which is geared towards a more mature crowd.
In fact, Cavanaugh had some words to share with any adults thinking about wandering onto the possessed premises of the vengeful Hawthorne clan: “None of you are ready for this.”
The Hawthorne Manor opens its doors on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Admission is by cash donation, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Whistler Community Services Society.
Volunteers are still needed to assemble the house before opening day. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Hawthorne Manor Facebook page if interested.