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2020 Yard Haunts: Ventura County

As we are wont to do from time to time, last night Hollywood Gothique extended its reach beyond Los Angeles, venturing out to the dark and dreadful territories of Ventura County, where many a cursed house is haunted this Halloween, cemeteries and graveyards mysteriously manifesting like a demented version of Brigadoon.

For L.A. haunt-seekers eager to dark realms beyond their own backyards, we present our itinerary not in alphabetical order but laid out from east to west, as you will encounter them if you follow in our footsteps. All are located within a 35-minute drive of each other; their combined PKE readings make the trip a rewarding adventure for aspiring ghostbusters.

2020 Ventura County Yard Haunts: Simi Valley

Mourning Rose Manor
5250 Aurelia Street, Simi Valley
October 17-31 – 6:30-10pm

Mourning Rose Manor is always worth a visit. The quiet and moody tone of this yard display is enhanced by a mournful monologue by the unfortunate female spirit in the background, and there is a nifty ghost haunting an upstairs window (the only motion in an otherwise static presentation). The number of props seems slightly scaled down from previous years (when we visited on or about Halloween Night), but perhaps more will be added in the following days.

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There are a few other yard haunts in the neighborhood, including some jolly pirates lurking on the porch a few doors over. These are worth at least a drive-by if not a stop.

Curse of Chelsea Court
812 Chelsea Court, Simi Valley
October 1-31 – 7:30-11pm

This static display makes clever us of a long, narrow yard, arranging its props and figures in foreground, midground, and background to provide a sense of depth that makes the haunt seem larger than it truly is. A trio of silent, shrouded skeletons seem to be involved in a convo of some (no doubt nefarious) sort, while a vicious looking werewolf looks on from the sidelines. A scarecrow and an inflatable Jack O’Lantern figure linger in the distance, waiting for trick-or-treaters brave enough to follow the walkway past the monsters out front.

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Pumpkin Hallow Cemetery
2726 Currier Avenue, Simi Valley
October 1-31, Dusk-10pm

Pumpkin Hollow Cemetery is pretty amazing – perhaps the best of the Ventura County home haunts we visited. The front yard and the porch are packed with tombstones and figures, some of which spring to life unexpectedly, startling not only trick-or-treaters who dare to approach the front door but also lookie-loos cowering on the sidewalk. The drifting fog effects are nicely done, diffusing eerie light into strange patterns suggesting drifting ectoplasm, and additional activity is providing by floating candles and a flapping bat. The whole place seems alive with the dead.

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Not everything was working during out visit. Expect to see an additional ghost or two if you check this one out closer to Halloween Night.


2020 Ventura County Yard Haunts: Moorpark and Camarillo

Tardif Cemetery
4723 Justin Court, Moorpark
October 9-31 – 7-10pm

Tardiff Cemetery features an interesting arrangement, using the areas alongside the driveway, plus the garage. On the right, a skeletal figure stands still and silent before victims wrapped in web. On the garage door is the perpetrator of these atrocities – a giant spider. To the left is a small cemetery with gravestones and Jack O’Lanterns. One skeleton seems to be escaping from his eternal resting place, and a restless spirit (the only visible motion in the display besides some shimmering lighting effects) floats against the wall.

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Tardiff Cemetery is located on a cul-de-sac with four or five other decorated houses, most using projections of ghosts, skulls, witches, and Jack O’Lanterns. No doubt this area will be a true Mecca for trick-or-treaters on Halloween Night.

Nightmare Before Christmas
784 Duvall Avenue, Camarillo
October 17-31, 7-10pm

Can you guess the inspiration for this home haunt? You can! Great, then you totally understand the appeal. Nightmare Before Christmas is low-tech – static props and cut-out figures – but the theme elevates it above the generic cemetery approach. The colored Christmas lights and Halloween spiderwebs capture the contrast of Tim Burton’s wonderful film, bringing a little slice of Halloween Town to life. All it needs is for Danny Elfman’s soundtrack to be playing in the background.

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Walking Through Denny’s Restaurant

Our final yard haunt of the evening was a disappointment, something called the Walk-Through Graveyard & Maze at 2644 Rocklyn Street, Camarillo. The display featured enough decorations to satisfy neighborhood trick-or-treaters, but it worth the long trek to Camarillo only if you are stopping at other yard haunts in the area. Also, it was not a walk-through, though it did have a crawl-through tunnel sized for toddlers and/or pets. Our best guess would have been that the haunt simply was not ready to open yet, but according to SoCal Haunts list, Walk-Through Graveyard & Maze has been open all October from 9am to 10pm.

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We actually preferred the decorations outside the Denny’s restaurant in Newbury Park, where we stopped for a little iced java to keep us alert on the long drive home. A grassy area near the parking lot (where outdoor dining was available beneath an awning) features a few Dollar Store tombstones, plus an amusing Halloween Christmas Tree, decorated with skulls, eyeballs, and Jack O’Lanterns, and topped with a skeletal bird.

Other Ventura County Home Haunts

We were unable to visit a few other Ventura County yard haunts, two of which will be open only on Halloween Night.

Nevermore Haunt
1194 Skeel Drive, Camarillo
September 22 October 31, 6-10pm
Note: We suspect that the September 22 start date is a typo.

Fox Hole Haunt
2420 Pinewood Place, Simi Valley
October 31, 5:30-10pm

Sleepy Hollow Graveyard
3021 Sleepy Hollow Street, Simi Valley
October 31, 6-11pm

We have a page filled with more Halloween Home Haunts.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.