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Halloween Haunt Odyssey 2022: The Verdugos

The Verdugos is a mysterious region of Los Angeles, consisting of seven neighborhoods in search of a unifying identity. Glendale is often mistaken for part of the San Fernando Valley. Pasadena is often mistaken for part of the San Gabriel Valley. No one is quite sure what to make of Altadena, which rubs shoulders so closely with Pasadena that it is sometimes hard to keep track of which haunts are in which neighborhood.

In keeping with our strategy this Halloween, our Yard Haunt Odyssey to this region will emphasize new entries. “New” can mean a totally new home haunt, one with a new theme, or simply one newly listed for the first time. For the most part we will avoid revisiting yard displays we have covered before. You can find those in our page devoted to Halloween Home Haunts.

Note: Since initially posting, this article has added entries for Nightmare in Whiting Woods, Forgotten Hallows, and others, marked below as “updates.”

2022 San Fernando Valley Yard Haunts: Pasadena & South Pasadena

We began our quest in Pasadena, revisiting a yard haunt that had graduated from a display to a walkthrough this Halloween. Along the way we encountered several other displays for the first time.

Ghostwood Manor: Pharoah’s Hall
2001 N Raymond Avenue, Pasadena
Open through Halloween Night, 7-10pm

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Ghostwood Manor has always been a local favorite of ours with a boutique but somehow elaborate display the last two years.  However, the proprietor has talked about doing a walk-through since last Halloween and so now it seems his plans have come into fruition!  It’s a quick walk-through but detailed and fun  Just like his yard displays in prior years; it’s not a big area but there was much to see.

Ghostwood Manor Present’s Pharoah’s Hall is actually run utilizing triggers and animatronics.  There are no scare actors, just well-timed effects and detailed hieroglyphics all around.  It’s also the only yard display/walk-through this season that has an Egyptian theme and a sarcophagus.  This is a walk-through in which the scaredy-cats in your group can attend and enjoy.

 – Capsule comments & photos by Warren So

Blood Hill: The Circus
1727 N Hill Avenue, Pasadena
Open through Halloween Night, 7pm-midnight

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If you love clowns then here’s a quick little stop for you: a cute little spooky clown display that has clown videos projected on their screen.  The display is of a run down circus, with things falling apart to signal that something sinister has happened here.  Blood Hill’s displays had us thinking that this haunt looks like one giant photo-op.  Though there were no actors; the shrunken clown heads did provide some creepiness vibes.

This one is not elaborate enough to warrant a trip for its own sake, but good enough to add to your route if you’re passing by or hitting up the Verdugos.  Definitely pair this up with Ghostwood Manor to make it worth your while.

– Capsule comments & photos by Warren So

Unidentified Inflatables
1135 & 1165 Hill Avenue, Pasadena

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About two minutes south of the Blood Hill Circus are a pair of unidentified yard haunts featuring multiple inflatables. The at 1135 Hill is presided over by a giant wailing woman with long black hair, who could pass for a J-Horror dead girl. 1165 Hill features a larger display, with ghosts, spiders, zombies, and Jack Skelington. Both are very eye-catching as you drive by and worth stopping for.

Diamond Avenue Haunts
1100 Diamond Avenue, South Pasadena
Update 11/2/22

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Unbeknownst to us, the 1100 block of Diamond Avenue in South Pasadena has been a Halloween hotspot for over a decade, luring trick-or-treaters to visit several decorated houses. Little information is available online; we found only two articles from 2011. The first is a brief blurb about “thousands” flocking to the neighborhood on Halloween night. The second is an interview with one homeowner talking about decorating for Christmas while noting that Halloween is his “first passion.”

Inspired by these accounts, we made a belated visit on November 1, which revealed Halloween decorations at several addresses, although lights were on at only two: one at 1141 Diamond, the other directly across the street. The latter consisted of skeletons poised over gravestones and a coffin on the lawn, with artificial Jack O’ Lanterns and lovely lighting on the porch.

The house at 1141 was a bit more innovative. Caution tape and wooden slats by the sidewalk suggested a vandalized cemetery gate. On the lawn, graves were indicated by homemade wooden crosses with jokey names (“Yul B. Next”). There were a couple of motion-activated jumping spiders and an animatronic tree twisting as if dancing in the wind. Best of all was storm cloud that flashed with glowing lightening (a football-sized ball of cotton with a light inside). Weirdly, the cloud was poised above a crucified skeleton bathed in ghastly red light – a tableau that seemed rather deliberately provocative for a friendly little yard haunt catering to local kiddies.

Update 10/31/22: We previously forgot to mention – because it was so forgettable!Neon Nightmare in Pasadena. This appears to have been a case of a business using the SoCal Haunt list for a little free advertising, listing the Neon Retro Arcade as a Halloween display. In fact, nothing seasonal was visible from outside, and inside were only a handful of decorations – no more than one would see in any business around this time of year.

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2022 San Fernando Valley Yard Haunts: Altadena

Altadena features numerous yard displays. Individually, some may not be worth a trip to the neighborhood, but there are enough of them within close range of each other to be worth a drive-by after visiting home haunts in nearby Pasadena.

Forgotten Hallows
1602 N. Roosevelt Avenue, Altadena
Updated: November 7, 2022

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Once consisting mostly of cardboard tombstones and plastic skeletons, Forgotten Hallows might years ago have been mistaken for a quiet, little yard display; there is more to it, however, and it grows a little every Halloween. This year was no exception: the walk up the driveway to obtain candy had expanded into more of a walkthrough. Leading past a newly installed wall of skulls, the path now extended to the end of the driveway, where a few short corridors had been constructed. Adorned with morphing “paintings,” these walls concealed a small room where a silent figure sat beside a cauldron of candy, impersonating a mannequin – until you dared to reach for a treat! On the way out, a couple of characters who had remained silent or hidden in shadows delivered bonus scares. Nice!

White Witch Cemetery
1246 E Palm Street, Altadena
Through Halloween Night, 6-10pm

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White Witch Cemetery lives up to its name in the sense that it consists almost entirely of tombstone decorations, augmented with a few artificial Jack O’ Lanterns and a shrouded stationary figure on a red-tinted balcony of the large house, set far behind an imposing gate. It’s pretty simple, but it works because it is set on a dark street in a hilly rural-feeling area, where the gate, the trees, and the size of the house and yard combine to make the whole thing resemble an old-fashioned family graveyard from back in the days when the wealthy buried their dead on their own property.

Unlisted Pepper Drive Displays
1724 & 1734 Pepper Drive, Altadena

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Pepper Drive is home to the Garden Paths of Doom, a fairly large display at the nexus of several yard haunts that attract multitudes of trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. Most of the yards were not decorated – or at least the decorative lights were not on – when we drove by during the last week of October. However, we did encounter a pair of “new haunts” – at least they did not exist when we first visited Pepper Drive in 2016.

1724 Drive features ghosts, skeletons, the giant snake from Beetlejuice and characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas. 1732 Pepper Drive is a bigger display, with an enormous inflatable Jack O’ Lantern, an arched entrance in the form of a black cat, a phantom organist, and what looks like a haunted vacation trailer. Located a few blocks northwest of the lovely Forgotten Hallows yard haunt at 1602 N. Roosevelt Avenue, they are worth a quick trip if you are in the neighborhood.

Update 10/31/22: Garden Path of Doom and other yard displays were up and running on Halloween Night, and Pepper Drive was thick with trick-or-treaters.

Unlisted Sinaloa Display
2011 Sinaloa Avenue, Altadena

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After making the one-minute drive from Forgotten Hallows to Pepper Drive, you might as well continue heading northwest for a couple minutes until you reach this unidentified haunt. It contains a little more than half-a-dozen stationary figures, but the cactus and other desert succulents provide amusing cover for a couple of skeletons, and the yard is wide enough to comfortably accommodate a couple of giant cobras and a pair of oversized skeletons.


2022 San Fernando Valley Yard Haunts: Glendale

Nightmare in Whiting Woods
413 Whiting Woods, Glendale, 91028
Updated: November 8, 2022

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We did not visit any Glendale yard haunts until October 31, when we made our way to Nightmare in Whiting Woods, which was presenting a walkthrough for the first time since Halloween 2022 (it switched to a yard display in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown). Though less famous than other long-running home haunts, Whiting Woods draws a huge crowd of locals from its hilly neighborhood every All Hallows Eve. Parking is at a premium; the streets are narrow; and crowd stretches onto the asphalt because there is no sidewalk. After well over an hour in line, you reach a concrete path leading up a hill past decorations; after another half-hour, you finally reach the summit, enter, and find out why the wait was worthwhile.

Like Rotten Apple 907, Nightmare in Whiting Woods changes themes from year to year, and it has a similar tongue-in-cheek tone, suitable for scaring a wide age-range of trick-or-treaters. Halloween 2022’s presentation was BUG! which came across like a wildly over-the-top spoof of mad scientist movies. During the wait in line, several screens showed a desperate doctor (Geoff Debosky) live-streaming his plea for financial aid to continue his experiments on spiders. After one of his test subjects bit him, he underwent a weird personality shift; by the time trick-or-treaters entered his lair to meet him in the flesh, he was so manic he could no longer couch his sinister plans in feigned pleasantries, making it all too obvious he planned to feed his guests to his arachnid friends.

After this extended encounter, guests proceeded deeper within the mad doctor’s lair, into a black-lit room filled with webs securing the cocooned remains of victims, which provided distractions enabling a live actor to deliver a jump-scare. Beyond this was a narrow exterior path between brick walls with multiple doorways. Not everyone was occupied, but you never knew just when a human-sized preying mantis might attack. Those who survived passed a bowl of candy on the way down the driveway back toward the street.

Nightmare in Whiting Woods provided a great finale to Halloween Night 2022, even though the lengthy wait in line precluded visiting any other haunts afterward. Haunt-seekers interested in checking this out next year are advised to arrive near opening time (typically 6pm) in order to get a jump on the crowd.

There were many other yard haunts in Glendale this Halloween, most notably Catastrophe Cabin and a few others on Andenes Drive, making the city a worthwhile location for your own Halloween Haunt Odyssey next year.

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.