Halloween Yard Haunt Odyssey 2011: Mourning Rose Manor and Helizondo Haunt

mourning rose manor IMG_1063
Mourning Rose Manor

After Burbank, Tarzana, and Woodland Hills, the next leg of Hollywood Gothique’s 2011 Halloween Yard Haunt Odyssey takes us from Los Angeles all the way to Simi Valley. The little bedroom community seems quiet and safe, but you never know what sort of hidden terror lies just beneath the placid surface – until now…

Mourning Rose Manor (5250 Aurelia Street, Simi Valley, CA) is the quintessential example of the sort of Halloween Yard Haunts we recommend for families with children.  The  fog-filled front yard is truly mournful, in a frighteningly fun, Halloween sort of way, with tombstones and mannequins safely sequestered behind a gate, where they will not be too terrifying for young trick-or-treaters. There are a few moving props (a skeleton in a rocking chair, a head that periodically pops up from behind a grave stone, a floating ghost in a tomb), but mostly this is an atmospheric display that invites you to gaze in admiration, drinking in the October flavor without being assaulted by maniacs and chainsaws. The approach to the porch, for those seeking candy, is a bit more intimidating, with a giant spider hanging overhead, little spiders drifting up and down, and a cocooned victim dangling nearby. There is also a clever touch we do not often see at Amateur Halloween Events: an upper story window with scary images projected from inside.

Mourning Rose Manor is not as elaborate as the House at Haunted Hill, nor as extensive as the Haunt with No Name, but it packs in an eyeful of colorful candy, plus one or two nifty treats, making it a worthwhile destination. Its Simi Valley location is perhaps a bit prohibitively distant for Los Angeles Halloween fans; fortunately, the yard haunt is conveniently close to another amateur attraction…

Helizondo Haunt Carnival F copy
Helizondo Haunt's Carnival of Nightmares

The Helizondo Haunt (2134 Elizondo Avenue, Simi Valley, CA) is not one we would list among Halloween Haunts for Children – at least, not for timid trick-or-treaters given to nightmares. Helizondo consists of not only a decorated yard but also a short walk-through. The exterior provides a colorful carnival atmosphere, but inside there are several shocks and scares that will send you screaming for the exit. Frankly, we’re tired of the killer klown motif, but Helizondo Haunt pulls it off with aplomb; it’s more of a circus sideshow, with some clowns in the mix of monsters.

The sets and props (a human cannonball act gone wrong on the roof; a small scale but still life-sized merry-go-round with gryphons/dragons instead of horses in the front yard) are different from those seen at other home haunts, and a tour of the yard itself is enough to match most other amateur attractions. The addition of a scary walk-through adds extra appeal. It’s not very long, and there are only a handful of actors, but they use the space well, delivering multiple scares from well concealed hiding places (such as a sliding panel in the wall).

With the multitude of Halloween Events in Los Angeles, the drive out to Simi Valley may seem a bit too long; however, Mourning Rose Manor and the Helizondo Haunt offer an excellent two-for-one trick-or-treat experience. Both are worth seeing, and each is quite different, providing a pleasing balance between the friendly frights of Mourning Rose’s decorated yard and the more serious scares of Helizondo’s walk-through. If you’re in the neighborhood on Halloween night, don’t be too afraid to visit these haunts.