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Aug. 12, 2022

How CalHauntS Created Midsummer Estates

How CalHauntS Created Midsummer Estates

We’ll learn about how CalHaunts created “Midsummer Estates,” the immersive entryway experience for this year’s Hall of Shadows at Midsummer Scream. Midsummer Scream stands out from other conventions because of its Hall of Shadows. The ‘Hall of...

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We’ll learn about how CalHaunts created “Midsummer Estates,” the immersive entryway experience for this year’s Hall of Shadows at Midsummer Scream. Midsummer Scream stands out from other conventions because of its Hall of Shadows. The ‘Hall of Shadows’ is where local haunts set up walkthrough experiences to preview the upcoming Halloween Season. This year, CalHauntS created the entry portal into the Hall of Shadows from the show floor. This year’s entry was called “Midsummer Estates” and featured a small neighborhood with 8 homes decorated for the community’s annual Halloween Festival. Today we’ll hear about the process and learn more about each home from member Kate Thien. Subscribe to all our offerings:


Kate: In my mind, Midsummer Scream stands out from other conventions because of their Hall of Shadows. This is a massive place where local haunts set up walkthrough experiences to preview the upcoming Halloween season. This year, CalHaunts. Once again created the entry portal from the show floor into the Hall of Shadows. This year's entry was called Midsummer Estates and featured a small neighborhood with eight homes decorated for the community's annual Halloween festival. Today, we'll hear about the process and learn more about each of the eight homes. Here's Kate to tell us more.

Kate: I am Kate, and I am part of CalHaunts. CalHaunts is a group of Halloween enthusiasts that are teaching each other, how to do different kinds of builds and effects for home haunting, amateur stuff, but not to say that there isn't some kind of pro that goes on as well. So, we have been asked to do the entrance, kind of create the mood for the Hall of Shadows. This year we have a trick-or-treat neighborhood, people can go through, and see the different houses.

Kate: Each of the houses was created by a different team, so we each got to pick what we wanted to do theme-wise, as long as it was a house, and it was part of a neighborhood that was celebrating Halloween. So, you'll see in here that there are different houses. The teams were from all over Southern California. So, that way we could incorporate as many people as possible with their visions, opposed to, in the years past, where we've all joined for one vision, now you're seeing a lot of people be able to display their individual talent. So, some of the houses it's just been one or two people, and they've done it on their own. A lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of love, but in the end, it's been a great cohesion. When it came together, we all looked around and said, "yep, this was great."

Kate: It started before COVID. This was a concept before COVID, we started building the houses and then everything got shut down, and then it was like, "well, maybe, maybe this year, well, maybe this year." So, now it's been two years. But timing-wise, from concept to finish, we worked on it for about five months. I would say somewhere in March is where we get together. We knew what the house was supposed to be, build-wise. Then it was like, "well, what are we going to do theme-wise? And what will that take?" Then that we start doing that part of it.

Philip: So, now Kate is going to take us through each of the eight houses by theme. So you get an idea of what was there.

Kate: Starting on this side, we have Nightmare on Elm Street, that was Jim, and he pretty much did that on his own. His wife, Amanda, chipped in when she had time and availability. But yeah, he was pretty much on his own on that one. Next one over is a Pumpkin House. That was Team South Bay. We had, probably, the bigger team of people that were in the area that could come and work on that. Next one over is a Clown House, Javier has a clown town that he's done every year and he got cancer two years ago, but he really, really wanted to do this. So, he moved forward, he worked on it, and unfortunately passed away just in the last month. So, his wife, Marissa, as a tribute and an honor to Javier said, "yes, I want to go forward." So CalHaunts rallied and said, "we will make this happen for Javier." So, a little bit of his inspiration has spilled over into the playground area. Diane pretty much took, you know, the reigns with Preston on making sure the playground got done. So, that's why you see a little bit of the clown theme going into that.

Kate: Next one over is the haunted type shack, and that was Tim and Greg. They also are doing Bone Squelch. Diane and Preston did the house that's next to it. It was part of their Halloween haunt last year, and so Jamie converted it to the trick or treat. Christie from Ojai, she did the build and reached out actually to Trick or Treat Studios, as a shot in the dark, and she was so pleased that they were willing to allow her to borrow the gremlins to flesh out. Yeah, amazing. Her son helped her with the video projections. So, they did the whole entertainment. It's really great, it's really... The detail. We decided we needed a house on the street that was the one that got egged, toilet papered, and the pumpkin smashed. That that needed to happen. Next one over is Hell House, and that was Mike, and he's out in Norco. So he took responsibility for making that one a little bit scary, creepy. Then the last one over here is Scooby-Doo. Scooby-Doo, actually, and the purge. So Jim and Kayla are the ones that are the concept, and they followed through with all the details. Kayla's an amazing artist.

Philip: And finally, I asked Kate how she became a home haunter

Kate: For me, I didn't realize that I was a haunter until I came to the first Midsummer Scream and I saw what CalHaunts was doing. I looked at it and I went, "I want to do this, but how?" So, one of the members said, "you come to a meeting, we'll teach you how." I was like, "sign me up. I'm coming." They have been 100% so supportive, because we were losing trick or treaters in our neighborhood. They were going to the shopping mall, and kind of up the hill there was a little bit more swanky stuff going on. Which we just weren't getting the kids. I thought, "you know, if I make something in my front yard that the adults want to come see, they'll bring the kids with them." I'm happy to say that last year we've had several hundred come, which was really nice.

Kate: The neighbors enjoy it. I have very good support from my neighbors. They enjoy seeing not only the display, but especially during COVID it brought the neighborhood together to be able to celebrate being a neighborhood, as opposed to just, "Hey, you just go to the amusement park if you want the entertainment." It does bind our neighborhood together as a community. I actually have one neighbor, he's a gentleman, he rides his bike, and he comes by, and if he sees me out in the front yard, he's like, "you're doing Halloween again this year." So, yeah, it makes me feel like it's appreciated.

Philip: Okay, that's it for today. There is a video corresponding to this interview if you want to see each of these houses in action, you can find that on our YouTube or on our Facebook page.

Kate Thien

Home Haunter

Kate Thien is a home haunter and a member of the CalHaunt Society who participated in the build for the entryway to Midsummer Screams Hall of Shadows in 2022.