As the date creeps closer, preparation for the annual Hazlet House of Horrors is underway.
The doors swing open Oct. 25-27. Every year, about 2,200 people step over the threshold to witness the most disturbing sights. Many are return visitors who ignore the lesson learned watching horror films to never go back into the house.
The pop-up is at the Cullen Center at Veteran’s Park, where the ordinary public spaces are transformed into six rooms of scariness.
It’s a much-anticipated joint production by Hazlet resident, chiropractor and fright fan Steven Sanfilippo and Raritan High School theater teacher Melanie Taylor. She brings along two to three dozen young method actors, some enhanced with the most gory makeup, who embody characters with sorry back stories, unresolved spiritual issues and simmering grudges.
From Sanfilippo, here is the fictional background for the event:
Centuries ago, Hazlet was a small farmland town. Upon the hill overlooking the fields lived the eccentric and wealthy Bodimeade family, headed by the prominent psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Bodimeade. One evening in late October, a loud mysterious explosion rocked the Bodimeade Estate. The mansion was leveled and Dr. Bodimeade was the sole survivor. Succumbing to his grief, the doctor slipped into madness. His only goal was to revive his family, whether it be through science or dark magic. Although Benjamin Bodimeade is long gone, both his spirit and the spirits of his failed experiments remain. Every Halloween, around the same time as the explosion, terrible events take place at the site of the Bodimeade Estate. It is rumored that the Cullen Center has been built on the exact footprint of the Bodimeade Mansion.
Every year the scare team changes up a room or two at the event, just to keep returning fans off-balance. This year the psychic’s room will be replaced with the Bodimeades’ parlor, Grandma’s attic will be the Bodimeade bedroom and the asylum is Dr. Bodimeade’s lab.
Date and age advisory: Hours are Friday, Oct. 25 from 7-10 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 26 from 7-10 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Cullen Center.
The first hour of every night is “Horror Lite,” suggested for ages 9 and up. Anyone coming after that should prepare to be scared!
Access: The entrance to Veterans Park from Union Avenue will be closed. All automobile traffic must enter from Middle Road and park in the pool club parking lot.
Admission: This is a free event. But the kids collect non-perishable items for the township’s annual Thanksgiving dinner. In lieu of money, please bring an offering of canned vegetables, gravies, broths, boxed stuffing mixes or potatoes. Please check your expiration dates. See a staff member if you would like to donate a frozen turkey or fresh ham.