Just in time for its 10th anniversary, we made our first trip out to The Horror on Frankel Street (located at 2719 Frankel Street in Lakewood, California). This Halloween yard haunt began inauspiciously enough in 1998, with resident Steve Cometa hiding behind a bush and scaring kids after they got candy at the front door. Since then, Cometa has built his amateur effort up into into a 2-3 minute walk-through maze. This year's theme is "Scarecrow Village," which attempts to take visitors back to the time of the dust-bowl, to a town sinking into degradation and cannibalism.
Horror on Frankel Street might be better termed a “garage haunt” - its maze wanders through not only the back yard but also the garage. More importantly, it conveys that "garage haunt" vibe - the Halloween equivalent of a garage band, with the local participants getting together and playing for the sheer joy of it, their enthusiasm and excitement compensating for the lack of professional resources.
The "walls" of the maze consist mostly of black plastic suspended from wooden beams, but there is a nice jail and a decent "meat market" (you can bet the butcher does not restrict himself to animals for his product). One area cleverly renders a walking scarecrow virtually invisible, simply by hiding him in shadow while strobe lights flash into the visitors' eyes, blinding them to the monster only inches away.
By the standards of amateur haunts, it is fairly densely populated with monsters: there were eight monsters lurking on the night we attended (that’s more than you get on slow nights at some professional haunts. The cast all seemed pumped up for their roles, and they managed to elicit effective scares with some simple, old-fashioned tricks (such as a head or a hand popping unexpectedly through a slight in the plastic "walls").
The only weak point was a prop that was no doubt supposed to resemble a a buzz saw - but which sounded more like a power drill. The sudden sound still caused a moment of surprise, but more volume - and a more gnarly, intimidating sound effect - would have increased the thrill.
Like all good yard haunts, Horror on Frankel Street does not charge for admission. However, they do accept charitable donations; 2008’s proceeds go to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
The haunt will be open on October 24, 25 & 31, from dusk until 10:00pm.
TIP: Although this haunt may be out of the way for many Halloween fans, the location is not too far from the 710 freeway, so this haunt might be a nice place to stop off on your way to Queen Mary Shipwreck.