British Columbia

Family-run haunted houses in B.C. prepare for a spooky Halloween

After a one-year hiatus, family-run haunted houses in British Columbia are getting ready to bring back Halloween thrills and chills to people of all ages — with safety measures in mind. 

Proof of vaccine will not be needed for haunted house visitors this year

Jodie Blank is pictured at her home, which she and her husband Trevor Watson have turned into a Halloween haunted house in North Vancouver, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

After a one-year hiatus, family-run haunted houses in British Columbia are getting ready to bring back Halloween thrills and chills to people of all ages — with safety measures in mind. 

For more than a decade, Trevor Watson and his wife, Jodie Blank have been transforming their North Vancouver home into a haunted house, replete with creepy crawlies and matching ambient sounds — a longtime tradition halted last year by pandemic restrictions. 

But now, the couple are finding creative ways to bring The Haunt of Edgemont back to life. 

"We are a little twisted, we love horror and anything scary," says Blank.

"Our theme is based on children's nursery rhymes and bedtime stories," Watson said, "and I think it's our most terrifying year yet."

Lullabies will play in the background while guests, limited to groups of five at a time, make their way through The Haunt of Edgemont. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Lullabies will play in the background while guests, limited to groups of five at a time, make their way through The Haunt of Edgemont — and get startled by live actors positioned behind plastic barricades.

"It starts off with Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet, so that one has giant spiders ... then we go into the shed ... with the Sandman and Boogeyman in the closet. Then we go downstairs to the Three Little Pigs slaughterhouse," Blank described.

It takes them months to build everything from scratch, Watson says, but it's a rewarding experience.

"Everybody that goes through our haunt screams at some point, but they all get a good laugh and pour out of our garage with smiles on their faces, enjoying Halloween," he said. 

It takes Watson and Blank months to build The Haunt of Edgemont, but they say it's a rewarding experience. (Ben Nelms/ CBC)

Blank says the neighbourhood is excited to see the longtime haunted house back up and running.

"I had a gentleman here who was just so happy we were going to be doing it. He, like everyone else, just wanted to feel like it's normal again, and when I'm sitting in my bedroom, I can hear the kids go by and I can hear them yelling with excitement," she said.

The Haunt of Edgemont is located at 3414 Emerald Drive, and runs from Oct. 15 to 31. Entrance to the attraction is by donation, with proceeds going to the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. 

A special time of year

Every year for the past 15 years, die-hard horror fans Trina Rundgren and her husband Shawn have set up a haunted house.

"The first scream of the year always sends a little tingle of excitement down my spine," Rundgren said.

She says that excitement was dulled last year after having to make the difficult decision to cancel House of Horrors.

"This last year and a half has been hard on a lot of people. I think this will give people something to look forward to, to help forget about all the troubles we had this past year and just have fun."

Rundgren says building House of Horrors from scratch with her husband is always a special experience — especially since the two got married on Halloween.

Die-hard horror fans Trina Rundgren and her husband Shawn got married on Halloween. (Trina Rundgren)

"We love working together on this project, bouncing ideas off each other. I'm usually the one who says, 'you know what would be cool... ' and then Shawn brings it to life."

The House of Horrors, which visitors can walk through, is set up in their garage. This year's haunted house features "a little something for everyone," says Rundgren, including clowns and a room of corpses.

House of Horrors is located at 2270 Lower Skipper Place, and guests are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or monetary donation for the Vancouver Food Bank.

Trina Rundgren and her husband Shawn build Halloween House of Horrors together from scratch, she says. She often pitches ideas, and her husband brings them to life. (Halloween House of Horrors)

"We don't charge a fee, instead we ask you to give back. I think this year more than others, it's even more important because a lot of people have suffered," Rundgren said.

In a written statement to CBC, the B.C. Ministry of Health says haunted houses are not included in the province's vaccine card program, but visitors are being reminded to follow public health restrictions.

"People attending these type of events will be required to wear masks when gathering indoors and must follow all provincial and regional public health restrictions that are in place."


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