Haverhill is becoming a spooky center for the Merrimack Valley's Halloween aficionados.
This year, two families in Bradford are hosting haunted attractions at their homes, featuring hand-made decorations, amateur actors and special effects.
The Quagliettas of Lyons Farm Road, Haverhill's original family of frights, plan to host their annual "Spooky House" forest walk for the Bradford Feline Rescue group.
Each year, Jeff Quaglietta, wife Lisa London and their son Kane, 12, convert their typical two-story suburban home and surrounding two acres of woods into a palace of chills and things that go bump in the night.
"This is the job I'd have if I could do anything in the world," Jeff Quaglietta said. "I've always just loved special effects and design."
On their front lawn is a graveyard scene, with mechanized dead slowly rising from the grave, backed by a color light show, to greet trick-or-treating children and passing cars.
On Halloween night, the Quagliettas also open up a backyard walk called "The Dead Woods." Following a path lit by jack-o'-lanterns, visitors are menaced by a mad butcher, gigantic spiders and the Quagliettas' latest creation, a "Bridge of Lost Souls."
"If you look at our house any other time it looks like an ordinary house," Kane said. "Only when I take out all the decorations do I remember."
Last year, their holiday spectacle drew over 450 visitors but Quaglietta hopes to add to the guest list this year.
"We really want 1,000 this year," he said.
According to London, many folks can't pass through the experience just once.
"A lot of people get back in line to see something they missed because they were running away," she said.
The cost of taking the trip isn't your soul but a small donation to Bradford Feline Rescue.
A veteran of other Halloween carnivals, such as Spooky World in Litchfield, N.H., Quaglietta said his experience at Disney World's Haunted Mansion forever marked him as a fan of haunted houses.
"I wanted to jump off the cart and walk through the house," he said.
Quaglietta restarted the "Spooky House" attraction in 2008 after moving to Bradford but had run it at a previous home in Haverhill for over 12 years.
A production of this magnitude can't be done by one family alone, however, and Quaglietta said he's enlisted the help and volunteer efforts from 38 volunteers both friends and family.
This year, there's another fright master on the local scene — 8-year-old Shane Finn of Bradford.
With the help of his godfather, Jack Noury, Shane has transformed his Byron Street backyard into a haunting ground for famous movie monsters and nasty spirits.
It's only open to friends and family members but Shane said he hopes to scare their pants off.
"I've wanted to do this for a long time," he said. "I like that you can scare friends and get candy."
The Finns' have hosted an annual Halloween party for Shane's classmates at Greenleaf Elementary School since kindergarten. Kimberly Finn, his mother, said she expects over 200 kids to attend this year.
The parties typically feature dance competitions, games and, of course, plenty of candy. Parents at the event are encouraged to take pictures of their little monsters.
"They talk about Shane's Halloween parties for the rest of the year," she said.
Noury, a big fan of classic horror movie and Halloween, assists Shane by hand-crafting party decorations ranging from coffins to witches.
"I want to keep making them till I'm dead," he said. "Halloween was always my favorite holiday."
Noury is also looking forward to seeing Shane grow up, as he can't wait to share some of his favorite horror movies with him.
If you go
What: Spooky House and The Dead Woods
Where: 17 Lyons Farm Road, Bradford
When: 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Cost: Free but with a suggested donation to the Bradford Feline Rescue