[Halloween 2014]

DIY haunted house: One man’s quest to bring the spooky to the people

Jarrod McClung transforms his Downtown home into a makeshift haunted house for Halloween.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

From bloody, decapitated bodies to mutilated plastic dolls, psychotic circus clowns, giant furry spiders, life-size coffins and a massive devil head that “welcomes” you into his home, Jarrod McClung has definitely earned a reputation in his neighborhood.

“They know me as the crazy Halloween guy,” he says. “Halloween has evolved where a lot of people don’t participate, and the people that do really like to go over and above. I’m one of those people.”

McClung’s favorite holiday has always been Halloween. Take one jaunt past his Downtown home, and you’d probably call him obsessed. He’s used to it. As the owner of three Mr. Pawn shops, hunting for secondhand items has always been a passion; but when October rolls around, McClung’s attention turns to finding and creating the scariest, most gruesome props to hang from every inch of his home.

On Halloween night, the spectacle grows even wilder: McClung says he works with the city to block off the street for a few hours and opens the 16th Street House of Hell, a 10- by 80-foot haunted house in front of his home. It’s free for anyone willing to enter, and the haunt boasts more than 30 amateur actors and a maze of themed rooms, including a bloody kitchen and scenes devoted to clowns and dead baby dolls.

“I started accumulating props from thrift stores [and] Craigslist,” says McClung, who built his first haunt more than 10 years ago. His most expensive prop is Jolt, an animatronic man sitting hunched over in an electric chair, neck painted to appear burnt and raw. When McClung hits the switch, Jolt shakes violently with unsettling realness.

Oh, baby! As if dolls aren’t creepy enough by themselves.

“I grew up with a very large family,” he says. “[We] couldn’t afford to go to a lot of the traditional haunted houses. If you have three or four kids, to be able to go to these haunts is extremely expensive. [The event] really supports the neighborhood.”

But McClung isn’t the only one in the home-haunt community—there’s actually a growing network of people dedicated to DIY scares. Visit homehauntersassociation.com to find one near you, or to learn how to make your own spooky wonderland to get the neighbors talking.

16th Street House of Hell 1230 S. 16th St., sunset to 10 p.m., free.

Photo of Leslie Ventura

Leslie Ventura

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