Rev up your chain saws, it's haunted-house time again. This Halloween promises to be especially gruesome - with more houses than ever before. At least a dozen are splattered along the Wasatch Front.
To some, holding a haunted house might seem an easy way to make money, says Steve Carey, the executive director of the March of Dimes. He says his charity started the valley's first commercial haunted house 17 years ago. The house has been a good moneymaker for the March of Dimes, Carey adds, but it's not an easy fund-raiser to pull off.Nightly, dozens of volunteers will scream, bleed and die for those dollars. "It's the most difficult money we raise all year," Carey says.
Promoters are hoping Salt Lakers will house-hop, trying several houses this season, donating to some good causes in the process.
One caution: These houses are scary, say their creators. Be careful about taking little children.
Janina Chilton, of the Utah State Hospital (Haunted Castle) in Provo, says, "We believe under 5 is too young. If a person can't separate what's real from what's not real, they shouldn't go to any haunted house."
Haunted houses can actually be too scary for 8- and 9-year-olds, adds Wayne Davis, American Heart Association (Haunted Old Mill). "Our house is especially for teenagers. And it's just a great fund-raiser for us. But we do recommend no one under 10." Being over 40, Davis adds it's a little too exciting for him, too.
Fortunately, those who are short in stature or short onguts can find something else to do at several of the haunted houses this year.
ALIEN ENCOUNTERS. Creatures from outer space have invaded an abandoned farm at 6000 South and Redwood Road. This haunt runs daily, except Sunday, through Oct. 31, from 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Cost is $6 per person, $2 off with a coupon from Smith's or with a donation of one can of non-perishable food. The food will be given to Help the Homeless.
A special free walk-through for children 9 and under (accompanied by a parent) will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
THE MARCH OF DIMES HAUNTED HOUSE is larger than ever before. This year it's at 5600 So. Van Winkle Expressway. The house runs through Oct. 31, nightly except Sunday. Hours are 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on weekends. Price is $4. Groups are $2.50 per person if tickets are bought in advance by calling 363-5500. As always, 75 percent of gross goes to the March of Dimes.
FRIGHT AND FOOD FEST BY US WEST. This is the first year for this carnival, which includes a haunted house and also a Loch Ness fishing pond, pony rides, face painting and food booths - for those who are young or a bit chicken. Fright and Food runs Oct. 25 from 7 to 10 p.m.; Oct. 26 from 7 p.m. until midnight; and Oct. 27, 2 p.m. until midnight.
Admission to the carnival is free. Food, games and haunted house all require tickets. You can prepurchase $4 worth of tickets for $3 through US WEST at 237-7205 or Hogle Zoo at 582-1631.
All proceeds from the carnival go to Hogle Zoo.
THE HAUNTED CASTLE. By popular demand, the Creature from the Black Lagoon will be back when the staff and patients open the doors to the Utah State Hospital in Provo. This haunted house runs Oct. 24-31, except Sunday, 7:30 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 on weekends and Halloween. Tickets are $4, $3.50 for groups (call 373-4400).
Proceeds go to the hospital's recreation fund to buy camping equipment and to sponsor nights out for the patients.
THE HAUNTED OLD MILL once again will benefit the American Heart Association, with 75 percent of proceeds going to the Utah chapter for research, education and community programs.
Admission is $5; $1-off coupons are available at 7-Elevens for weeknights. The Haunted Old Mill is open from 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, through Oct. 31, at 6900 S. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (3500 East).
There is a dance every Saturday night, free with admission.
HAUNTED WOODS AT WHEELER FARM will scare you with a "Dragons" theme this Halloween. It opens Oct. 10 and runs through the 31st, except Sundays, from 7 to 9:30 pm. on weeknights and until 10:30 p.m. on weekends, at 6351 S. 900 East.
Admission is $5 for 12 and older; children 3-11 pay $3. One dollar off on weekdays with proof of purchase from Sunny Delight, Jif or Pringles.
Because its directors fear the Haunted Woods are too scary for children under 8, they hold a Tot Walk for 3- to 8-year-olds during the week from 2 until 5 p.m. and on Saturdays and Oct. 11 and 12 from noon until 5 p.m. Children can conquer their fears by meeting monsters in the daylight.
Cost for the tot walk is $1.50 for children 3 to 8 years old and for up to two adults accompanying a child. Children 9 to 11 are $3. Children 12 and over, $5.
Net proceeds will go to Wheeler Farm Friends Inc., a non-profit corporation, and will be used to furnish the farm's activity barn.
HORRORS AT THE HAUNTED MUSEUM. For the first time, the Children's Museum of Utah is getting scary. The haunting theme is "Deathly Dimensions" and includes a play written by and for older children. But little ones are invited, too, to dress up and make Halloween jewelry while their older siblings tour the museum. Horrors run Oct. 25 and 28-31, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. weekdays and until 10 on weekends. The Children's Museum is now open on Sundays, too, at 840 N. 300 West.
INSTITUTE OF TERROR has taken over the old Salt Lake Trade Tech buildings at 400 S. 600 East and will hold forth through Nov. 3, nightly except Sundays. Times are 7 to 10 p.m., until 11 on weekends. The cost is $5.50; children under 12 are $3.50. Everyone gets $1 off with a can of food.
The canned goods will be donated to the Salt Lake Food Bank.
NIGHTMARE THEATER is four haunts produced in separate buildings at the State Fairpark by the Salt Lake Community College community theater group, under the direction of Pat Davis. Proceeds go the the arts center at the college.
Nightmare Theater runs Oct. 11-31, from 7:30 until 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Adults are $4.50; children 10 and under, $2.50; group rate for 20 or more adults, $3.75.
ROCKY POINT HAUNTED HOUSE. This is the ninth year for this horror, which you can find at a haunted house just north of Ogden on Highway 89 on the way to Brigham City. It includes a Pumpkin Patch for children under 7. It runs through Oct. 31, Monday through Saturday from 7 p.m. until midnight. Tickets are $3 for ages 6-12; $4 for adults; $4.50 for adults on the weekends. Discount tickets at Burger King. Group rates available, call 944-1661.
Thirty-three percent of the net proceeds will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
TWIN TERRORS is new this year, two haunted houses at one location, 14301 S. State Street (in front of Magic Waters). Twin Terrors also offers concessions, novelties and video games. It runs through Oct. 30, 7 to 10 p.m. on weeknights and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Tickets are $4.50; $1 discount tickets are available at all Rainbo stations. Going through the other half of the haunt on the same night costs $2.50 more.
Twenty-five cents per ticket, up to $10,000, goes to the Make-A-Wish foundation.