When it comes to Halloween curb appeal, Mike and Kelsey Kendrick aim to have the spookiest house on the block.
Every October, the couple spend hours transforming their house in the south Edmonton neighbourhood of Malmo Plains into something truly spooktacular.
“It’s a mix of chaos and really far-in-advance planning,” Mike Kendrick said in an interview from his cobwebbed front stoop.
“At this point, we usually plan our themes anywhere from one to three years in advance.”
This year, the Kendricks converted their home into a ghostly hotel, complete with a Halloween whodunnit and a haunted hedge maze.
Their bungalow is now called the Malmo Hotel, an inn haunted by ghosts and paranormal activity.
“We’ve been living in Malmo for seven years now and we just keep trying to up the ante,” Mike said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.
“It’s been a whole lot of just figuring out as we go, playing it by ear. We’re self-taught haunters.”
Spooky scavenger hunt
This is the couple’s 13th year of extreme Halloween decorating, carefully selecting and building their own displays. The annual haunting season helps them connect with their community and plays off their strengths as a couple.
When they’re not building haunted houses, Mike is a graphic designer and Kelsey is an educational programmer.
“I helped introduce Kelsey to horror films which has informed a lot of our haunting,” Mike said.
“And Kelsey brings in the more Martha Stewart side of the haunting, which keeps it from being too scary — which is good because ultimately we’re doing this for the kids.”
When children in the neighbourhood admit they’re are too afraid to approach the property, it melts their “black, black hearts” and motivates them to keep going, Mike said.
This year, the haunted house includes a spooky scavenger hunt for young ghost hunters in the neighbourhood.
Some of their hotel keys have gone missing and spectral foul play is suspected, he said.
“As we’ve been working on the maze and exorcizing some of the spirits within, they haven’t been too happy about getting kicked out of their homes.
“They have mischievously made off with some of our hotel keys and hid them around our neighbourhood.
“Of course, we’ve hired a medium to help us track down the keys but he can’t do it all himself.”
Trick-or-treaters who turn up with one of the missing keys on Halloween night will get a special prize, but be warned. The spirits in the haunted hotel will be especially active on All Hallows’ Eve.
“Our big rule of thumb when we do our haunts is that we scare consensually,” Mike said.
“We don’t scare kids if we know they don’t want to be scared but we will sneak up on the parents and give them a little bit of a shock.”