2020 Yard Haunts: San Fernando Valley (updated)

Halloween is alive and well in the San Fernando Valley, thanks to spectacular yard haunts like Gothic Hills Cemetery and Holiday Fantasies Come to Life.

One fortunate side effect of the unfortunate impact of Covid-19 safety precautions is that, with Halloween Home Haunts switching from walk-throughs to yard displays, many are open earlier in the season and, instead of operating only on weekends (when actors would be available to scare curious victims), the displays have their lights on during weeknights as well. This means that it is possible to enjoy season scares seven days a week, if you know where to look, and this is especially true in the San Fernando Valley, which offers a plethora of yard haunts worth visiting.

In fact, there are so many San Fernando Valley yard haunts that we break them up into areas - north, south, east, and weeks - in order to make it easier to keep track of all of them. Through some cosmic coincidence, the West Valley haunts (which we define as anything west of the 405 Freeway) do not open until the weekend of October 23, so they are not represented here. We will add them to this post as soon as we get a chance to visit them. Meanwhile, let's take a look at what is open now...

To determine  in which neighborhood an address is located, we rely on the LA Time's Mapping LA Project. This does not always conform to addresses as found in Google Maps, but it helps group haunts together in tight geographical areas. For instance, both Pierdel Fantasmagoria and Rotting Hill Cemetery are officially in North Hollywood; however, the former is closer to haunts in Valley Glen, and the latter is closer to haunts in Toluca Lake.

2020 Yard Haunts: San Fernando Valley North - San Fernando, Sylmar & Granada Hills

We loosely define the North San Fernando Valley as anything above the 118 Freeway, which includes such neighborhoods and cities as Sylmar, San Fernando, and most of Granada Hills. 


Haunted World
611 Newton Street, San Fernando
October 10-31 - 7-10pm

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This yard display is filled with flickering lights, creepy voices, artificial Jack O'Lanterns, inflatable figures, and ghostly skulls projected on the front wall. The store-bought decorations are nicely arranged - the yard is packed without feeling overcrowded.

Spooky but not too scary, Haunted World will, we suspect, be a popular destination for neighborhood trick-or-treaters on Halloween Night.


Gothic Hills Cemetery
13796 Marchant Avenue, Sylmar
October 1-31, 6-10pm
Update: Gothic Hills schedule has been "quietly" extended to the weekend of November 6-8.

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Over the past few years, Gothic Hills Cemetery had been expanding and improving its walk-through home haunt until it rivaled the best in Los Angeles. In the year of Coronavirus, however, only the display in the front yard remains. In the past, this served as an appetizer for for the walk-through; this year, new props and effects have been added to the familiar decor, in order to make the colorful display worth seeing on its own.

Obviously, the stand-alone yard display is no match for the missing walk-through, but the restless dead Gothic Hills Cemetery are still worth visiting. There is a moving skull peering over a tombstone; a skeleton torso pops out of a small coffin. A shovel twitches in the earth, moved by an unseen hand. Fog wafts through the cemetery gates, obscuring the flickering faces of Jack O'Lanterns nestled below a towering demon. And watch out for the angry pumpkin by the side gate!


Haunted Groundz
13243 Mission Tierra Way, Granada Hills
October 31, 6-10pm
facebook.com/thehauntedgroundz

Haunted Groundz. Photo by Yuki Tanaka
Haunted Groundz

Haunted Groundz offers great sights and sounds for the entire family. Running a slightly slimmed down display compared to last year, the yard haunt still provides the same ghoulish and jovial Halloween show. In place of the famous Skeleton Uber driver is a hand-built candy chute for safe trick ‘r treating. Though it is a great show to see from inside the car, we highly recommend getting out if possible; otherwise, you might miss the many small details that pop up. - Capsule Comment by Warren So


Ravenswood Manor
10929 Ruffner Avenue, Granada Hills
October 30 & 31, 7:30-9:45pm

Ravenswood Manor features a display with an impressive graveyard set with a skeleton standing guard in front of a mausoleum. Through the mausoleum window (actually a white video screen), you can see a worker digging a grave. The graves were nicely done with details such as: candle lights left nearby, a loose wooden coffin waiting to be buried, and gothic  fencing around the plot of the one and only Ichabod Crane all indicating that this graveyard is being visited on an on-going basis. We look forward to next year’s display. - Capsule Comment by Warren So

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2020 Yard Haunts: San Fernando Valley South

This area is perhaps more central than south: nestled between the 405 and 170 Freeways, it includes such southern areas as Studio City, Valley Village, and Sherman Oaks, but also neighborhoods higher north such Panorama City and much of Van Nuys. On the second weekend of October, we visited Castlestymo, a modest but clever new home haunt that made good use of limited space. Since then, we have been back to visit other haunted homes in the area.


2020 Yard Haunts: San Fernando Valley South - Sherman Oaks

Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice
14611 Valley Vista Blvd, Sherman Oaks
Oct 1-31, Nov. 1-5, Sundown-midnight
facebook.com/valleyvistaholidayhouse

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Here is a home haunt that truly lives up to its name: it's got Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, and more Beetlejuice! There are lighted signs and video; the Maitlands stare helplessly from an upper floor window; and the eponymous character towers over the scene atop a balcony, accompanied by Lydia and the creepy marriage officiator. It certainly helps that the haunt is set in a mansion that acts as a sort of awesome display case for the decor, suggesting something more on the scale of an amusement park attraction.

There is also a small cemetery on the narrow grass out front, which brings us to another point: This is the scariest home haunt we have ever visited.

Not because there is anything terrifying about the haunt itself. Rather, it's located on a narrow street winding up a hill through a ritzy neighborhood - the kind of place where locals drive as fast as they want because they figure if you get run over that's your fault for being in their territory - and there is no sidewalk! It is not often we risk our life to bring you news and review of horror, fantasy, and science fiction entertainment in Los Angeles, but we certainly felt the rush of passing traffic as we stood in the middle of the road to get a good camera angle on Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice.


Terror Farm Tunnel
4625 Woodman Avenue, Sherman Oaks
October 29-31, 6-9pm

Warning: This is not a yard haunt; it is the Fashion Square Car Was decked out with inflatable figures of Pennywise and Jack Skellington. If your car needs a bath, then a (paid) trip through the Terror Farm Tunnel might be in order; otherwise, avoid it.

Valley Heart & Mammoth Home Haunts
Sherman Oaks

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Fortunately, our trip to Terror Farm Tunnel was not completely wasted. The neighborhood just south of the Fashion Square Car Wash, across the Los Angeles River, is ripe with home haunts. Two caught our attention: one decorated lawn and one pirate tree house.

The Valley Heart Pirates (as we will call them) are on the corner of Valley Heart Drive and Mammoth Avenue. Some lights and decorations are scattered out front, including inflatable dragons on the roof, but the main feature is a treehouse festooned with skeletal pirates, one or two enhanced with a green glow.

A few doors down at 4535 Mammoth Avenue is a yard display with inflatable figures, witches, lighted skulls, and other decorations.

These two haunts are worth a drive-by if you are in the neighborhood to see Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, which is about five minutes southwest on Valley Vista Boulevard.


Tobias Tombs
5127 Tobias Avenue, Sherman Oaks
Through November 1, 6-11pm

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We missed this one on the Sherman Oaks stretch of our San Fernando Valley Halloween Home Haunt Odyssey; fortunately, it stayed open Sunday, giving us a chance to check out its skeleton jazz band, who lit up the night with their energetic musicality (actually, they were a video projection on a transparent screen). A giant Jack O'Lantern-headed scarecrow presided over the performance - a Master of Ceremonies, perhaps? Those two elements added a little zing to the display, which was otherwise mostly store-bought gravestones, ghosts and ghouls - though nicely arranged and bathed in eerie hues of purple and green than entranced the eye even from across the street.


2020 Yard Haunts: San Fernando Valley South - Van Nuys & Valley Glen

Fillmore Graves
14318 Emelita Street, Van Nuys
Through November 1, 7-10pm (?)

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This eerie Jack O'Lantern Farm has kept a low profile this season, setting up for neighborhood trick-or-treaters while avoiding publicity that might draw a larger crowd (unwanted during a pandemic). Nevertheless, there presentation is worth seeing, since it has been significantly rearranged from previous years. Sadly, the seance scene, which was visible through window on the porch, is gone, but the yard truly is a beautifully evocative depiction of a haunted backwoods area.


Francis Manor
14319 Califa Street, Van Nuys*
October 24-31, November 1, 6:45-11pm

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The 14300 block of Califa Street in Van Nuys features several haunted homes, most prominent of which is Francis Manor, thanks to the towering figure of Oggie-Boogie situated on the roof. The yard is filled with ghosts and gravestones, and a trio of Jack O'Lanterns sings tunes in he driveway.

We stopped at a couple other haunted homes, the first directly across the street, the second a few doors down the block. Individually, these haunts are relatively modest, but collectively they create an attractive neighborhood for local trick-or-treaters.

*Note: Francis Manor claims to be in Sherman Oaks, but Google Maps places it in Van Nuys. Geographically, it is much closer Fillmore Graves, which is one block south in Van Nuys, than to Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice, which is south of the 101 Freeway in Sherman Oaks.


Harry's Haunts
5637 Colbath Avenue
Valley Glen (Van Nuys)

October 31, 5-10pm

Harry's Haunts 2018 coffin
Harry's Haunts

Harry's Haunts, open Halloween Night only, offers a street full of decorated homes, loaded with decorations, mannequins, and one or two grizzly tableau.


Pierdell Fantasmagoria
6245 Whitsett Avenue
Valley Glen (North Hollywood)
October 23 - November 2 - 7-9:30pm

Pierdel Cemetery yard haunt 2019
Entrance to Pierdell Cemetery

This simple cemetery with an awesome entrance gate made its debut last year with plans to expand for Halloween 2020.


2020 Yard Haunts: San Fernando Valley South - Studio City & Valley Village

Castlestymo

11850 Riverside Drive #121
(viewed from Radford Avenue)
Valley Village
October 1 - November 1, Dusk-10:30pm

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How does one create a yard haunt without a yard? That's what windows and balconies are for! There is not a lot of room to fill at the awkwardly named Castlestymo, but you have to give the proprietor credit for pulling off something so eye-catching within the confines of an apartment/townhouse.

The balcony features two figures, a werewolf and a shrouded figure. The werewolf growls and speaks; the figure occasionally tosses back his cowl to reveal a Jack O'Lantern face. The window is haunted by a ghostly bride and a skeletal groom. The lighting and backdrop disguise the fact that what they are standing in is just a simply room; it's hard to make out details from the sidewalk but the place looks creepy.

Castlestymo is too small to seek out for its own sake, but if you're on your own yard haunt odyssey in the Valley, it is definitely worth a drive-by.


Rosehill Haunt
11560 Acama Street, Studio City
October 23-25, 30-31, November 1
7-10pm

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Rosehill Haunt has always been outdoors, but in years past there was a walk-through element to the extent that visitors came up the driveway and wandered through a gate to see decorations tucked out of sight. For Halloween 2020, there is still a path to the front door, but most of the set pieces have been tucked behind a lighted fence, where they are arranged to be easily viewable from the street, like a giant tableau. The result is not as immersive as in past years, but it feels like enormous art installation, impressing viewers with a sense of scale that was not so obvious in previous versions.

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2020 Yard Haunts: San Fernando Valley East - Burbank & NoHo

We define this region as extending east of the 170 Freeway. This has the unfortunate effect of placing the NoHo Arts District in the East San Fernando Valley. Nomenclature aside, this makes the most geographic sense for haunt-seekers planning to reach as many stops as possible in a given area.


Circus of Nightmares
113 S Brighton Street, Burbank
October 21-31, Dusk-10pm

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Ice Cream Truck. Carnival Games. Circus. You’ll Float Too. Pennywise. That’s right! The Circus Of Nightmares has all the aforementioned. Pennywise and friends were on the loose to taunt, attack, and jeer us. For persons suffering from coulrophobia, this is not the place for thee. The display grabs the attention of the entire block because of its bright circus lights and the Ice Cream Truck parked across the street with green light and fog emitting from the bottom.

Though not a walkthrough, this magnificent, interactive display deliver the sort of thrills you would normally find in a maze. You can’t play any Carnival Games, but the killer clowns in Pennywise’s clique may dare you to approach or, if you hesitate, run up to you. These are the things circus nightmares are made of - definitely worth a drive to seek this one out. - Capsule Comment by Warren So


Clybourn Manor and More
4336 N. Clybourn Avenue, Burbank
October 11-31 - 7-10pm

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When we visited Clybourn Manor last Halloween, it was a quite place, decorated with pirate skeletons. Well, we must have shown up late, after the lights and sounds were turned off, because this year we were regaled with a hearty chorus of "Yo ho, yo ho - a pirate's life for me!" Flickering lights, Tiki torches, and the sound of running water (the house has a fountain out front) add to the piratical ambiance.

Clybourn Manor is located in a neighborhood filled with other decorated houses, many of which keep a low profile with little or no web presence. Two spectacular examples are located on Moorpark, a few blocks west of Clybourn.

Lilley Hall
(A.K.A. "Jack O'Lantern Mansion")

10104 Moorpark Street, Burbank
instagram.com/lilley_hall_toluca_lake

Open Nightly (as far as we know)

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As far we we know this massive yard display has no title except for the name of the building where it resides, Lilley Hall, but "Jack O'Lantern Mansion" is an accurate enough description: the enormous yard is festooned with an army of artificial Jack O'Lanterns, accented with beautiful purple lights, which effectively expand the seasonal color scheme beyond orange and black. One would think that stacking hundreds of the same decoration side by side would yield monotonous results, but the sheer scale is overwhelming; even when viewed from across the street, the display seems to take up nearly one's entire field of vision. We recommend crossing the street for an even closer view.

Land of the Giants
10240 Moorpark Street, Burbank
(two blocks west of Jack O'Lantern Mansion)

Open Nightly (as far as we know)

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Again we have applied a descriptive label to an (as far we know) unnamed yard display. The decorations at Land of the Giants are completely different from those at Jack O'Lantern Mansion, but the basic template is the same: take something that anyone could do, but do it a massive scale that overwhelms the beholder. In this case, instead of hundreds of Jack O'Lanterns, there are dozens of oversized inflatables on the lawn, gazing menacingly down upon trick-or-treaters traversing the sidewalk.


Discount Pest Contrul
2020 N. Manning Street, Burbank
October 20-31 - 7-10pm

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Hollywood Gothique was unable to visit Discount Pest Contrul until Halloween Night, but we're glad we made it because this is hands-down the funniest yard haunt we encountered all season. It's like a series of gruesome sight gags based on a joke that is obvious but hysterical: you get what you pay for, and as the signs on the "electric" fence state, "We're not the best, but were [sic] the cheapest," so it's no surprise the pests are completely out of control.

The results are depicted mostly in static tableau of twisted human remains, which suggest demented works of art, flesh and bone sculpted by the fangs of fiendish arachnids who enjoy feasting on faces. There are a few motion effects: a snake wriggle from a ribcages; a spider whirls like a spinning top; and, best of all, giant buzzing insects fly in circles above the building.

Sadly but understandably, no candy was handed out at this location. Fortunately, the haunt itself was a visual treat.


Holiday Fantasies Come to Life
1505 N. Valley Street, Burbank
October 10-31,  6pm to midnight

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No Halloween Home Haunt Odyssey is complete without a stop at Holiday Fantasies Come to Life, which features just about the most elaborately decorated yard displays  we have ever seen. The themes tend to focus on Disney characters - Captain Jack Sparrow has been prominently featured more than once - and this year is no exception, with Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Malificent from Sleeping Beauty, and Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmatians prominently displays. Nevertheless, Halloween 2020's presentation is not simply more of the same.

In the past, Holiday Fantasies Come to Life was packed with static mannequins that were more fanciful than frightening. We would not call this year terrifying, but it definitely leans in a spookier direction, with animatronic figures that move and speak, including a gravel-voice grave-digger and a winged demon (perhaps meant to suggest Chernobog from "The Night on Bald Mountain" segment of Fantasia). Not to worry - timid trick-or-treaters can rest reassured that Mickey Mouse is still prominently displayed, and the ghosts projected on the castle wall look far too friendly to actually scare anybody.

Holiday Fantasies Come to Life is always worth seeing simply because there is so much to see. This year, the additions create a largely new viewing experience that demands a return visit.


Rotten Apple 907: The Haunted Manor
907 N California St, Burbank, CA 91505
October 30, 31 & November 1, 7-10 PM

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Well, what can we say? Do we even need to convince you to make the trek to see what Rotten Apple has harvested this year? Even after 2020 drastically altered their plans for a big 30th anniversary masterpiece, the Haunt-mother and Haunt-father still wanted to give the people a Halloween. While they do not have their traditional out-of-the-box and out-of-this-world walkthrough, they have a yard haunt bred from the same DNA. These haunters just couldn’t do a display, and we don’t think the word “simple” is in their dictionary. The simplest thing about their presentation is the store-bought physical distancing stickers.

Rotten Apple pays homage to Disney's Haunted Mansion this season with “The Haunted Manor”. Yes...they built a house in front of their house. When the locked gates are open and then the doors, you see a dazzling array of Disney-inspired eye candy, paired with the music evoking fond memories of famous theme park attraction. The show starts with the room at the top, then moves in a triangular counterclockwise direction before returning back to the north point. Each room features a selected scene from the ride itself; each feels almost like a relict from The Haunted Mansion. With a running time of about 4 minutes, the team at Rotten Apple 907 packed an exorbitant amount of detail into each room. So make sure you pay attention and try not to be distracted from the sensory overload.

Despite numerous attempts to foil their plans (neighbor complaints to the city, police department, and even health department), Rotten Apple has prevailed. We are glad they did! It just shows, like M.J. or Kobe, legends are forever and they always come through. - Capsule Comment by Warren So


Rotting Hill Cemetery
4848 Sancola Avenue
Toluca Lake (North Hollywood)
October 9 - November 8 - 6:30-10pm

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Notting Hill Cemetery - excuse us, Rotting Hill Cemetery (the name changes thanks to the appearance of a spectral red letter 'R' on the sign) - reminds us a bit of Van Oaks Cemetery: it's a clever arrangement of tombstones and statuary, bathed in colored lights and wafting with fog. There are no store-bought, plastic peak-a-boo skulls; the decorations feel authentic, creating an eerie semblance of reality.

On the first night we attended, not all the ghosts were active (the result of a blown fuse), and we called the haunt "low key," which turns out to be an inaccurate description. When Rotting Hill Cemetery is fully operational, it is more of a mini-show than a mere yard display, featuring a bust of Marie Antoinette, a skeletal figure banging his coffin lid up and down, and a white-shrouded spook who pops up from behind a gravestone. The ghostly comedy team cycles through a series of bon mots that will have you moaning and groaning with laughter.

*Rotting Hills Cemetery is east of the 170 Freeway, placing it San Fernando Valley East (unlike Pierdell Cemetery, which is west of the 170).


Other San Fernando Valley East Home Haunts

Here are some other yard haunts in the East Valley that you can add to the itinerary  of your own Halloween Odyssey, including some unnamed ones.

Halloween Music House
3600 W Clark Avenue, Burbank, CA 91505

Mid October - October 31, Dusk - 10pm

Halloween Music House 3600 Clark Avenue

This was always worth a visit each year on the way to Rotten Apple.  A Disney-themed display that is synced to your FM frequency.  What’s new this year?  They allowed us to go beyond the gates to get a closer look at the displays or mini-movie showing in the windows. - Capsule Comment by Warren So

737 N Avon Street, Burbank, CA 91505

This is one we visit year after year because it’s located between the Disney-themed music display house on 3600 W. Clark Ave. and Rotten Apple.  So far, it’s featured the same Jack O’Lantern man standing with a shovel over a freshly dug grave with what seemed like a man buried in it.  Perhaps it’s a sign that pumpkins will come alive and take over someday if you keep on sippin that Pumpkin Spice Latte. - Capsule Comment by Warren So

721 N Ontario Street, Burbank, CA 91505

Unofficially known as the “Funhouse”; the display put on was similar to their inaugural year last season.  However, there was no real clown lurking in the shadows this year; only animatronics and props.  However, this spot was still worth the stop and provides plenty of photo-ops.  Plus, it’s the next street over from Rotten Apple Haunt! - Capsule Comment by Warren So

Find 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.

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