Decorating their home for Halloween has become a game of finding the most unique items — whether it’s an embalming table or lights decorated as eyeballs — for Melissa and Scott Newton.
The weirder the item is, the more they want to own it.
“We like the stuff that nobody else has, that you don’t see a lot,” Melissa said.
Two months ago, the couple and their 10 children were discussing what to do for Halloween.
In the beginning, the family thought to decorate the front yard of their New Haven home like they’ve done for the past seven years. Throwing a Halloween party was also thrown into the mix.
Someone suggested utilizing the family’s unique Halloween decorations to create a haunted house, and the rest is history. The Newtons will open their haunted house to the public Halloween night from 6-9 p.m. Admission is free.
According to Scott, aside from having fun with decorations, a bonus of the haunted house is attracting trick-or-treaters.
Work on their haunted house began two months ago. The family decided the theme would be zombies, something Melissa and Scott agree coincides with their children’s love of dressing up for Halloween.
“They’re really into it,” Melissa said, adding that her 3-year-old son wants to dress up as a zombie every day.
A barn, which used to house antiques, was cleared out to make room for Halloween decorations, including a spooky butler that will greet visitors as they enter. Some famous “friends,” such as the puppet and pig from the “Saw” movies, will be hidden in the maze, as well as Michael Myers from the famed “Halloween” movies.
“The scary things that everybody is afraid of, we try to throw those things in,” Melissa said.
Participants will walk through several portions, making it seem as if they’re walking through a maze.
The first room sets the tone for the haunted house with a TV broadcasting a faux newscast about zombies taking over the world.
Another room features a screen on a door that looks like the viewer is looking into another room. On the screen, a man walks down the hallway. Once he gets close to the camera, he tries to bust the glass out of the door.
“It looks like he’s coming at you,” Scott noted.
Most of the decorations, though, were taken from what the family already owns.
Melissa and Scott said it became a family project to finish the rest of the haunted house.
“We made a lot of the decorations,” Scott said.
For example, the kids put their hands in red paint to add their “bloody handprint” to the walls, and are even dressing up as zombies for the event. Melissa said she’s in charge of makeup.
But once they had all the rooms planned out and the zombie theme in place, they knew they needed to find the perfect pieces.
“We actually have some real stuff in there,” Scott said.
He added that the family has traveled to several places in search of the perfect props, including driving to Richmond to purchase an embalming table, two embalming machines, two body carts and a baby coffin from a funeral home that burned down.
Melissa said the items fit in perfectly, even though they have some smoke damage.
“It goes along with the theme,” she said.
So far, the only visitors to the haunted house who haven’t worked on it are Scott’s mom and John Gritton from PLG-TV.
Although, Scott said his mom didn’t make it very far.
Two rooms in, she turned around and ran out, he said.
A love of Halloween and horror films is something that runs deep in the Newton family. Melissa said they re-watched all of the “Saw” movies to get ideas on how to incorporate the characters, such as the puppet and pig, from the movie.
Initially, they planned to include a scene from “Saw: Rebirth” where a character, Dr. Lawrence Gordon, saws off his leg and crawls away.
That was the plan, but “we ran out of time,” Scott said. “Maybe next year.”
As for next year, the Newtons said they’re waiting to see how their haunted house is received by the public before deciding if they’ll hold another one.