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Bring on the scares

Saugus resident aims to terrify at haunted house

Posted: October 29, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: October 29, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Cal Liedtke hangs out with Jack, his Halloween dummy, at his haunted house on Majestic Court in Saugus. Photo by Dan Watson.

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Editor’s note: This is part three of The Signal’s five-part look at some of the spookiest, scariest, most creative or most elaborate Halloween displays to be found in the Santa Clarita Valley. The series will run once a day and end on Halloween.


It all begins with a poster warning that those with heart or nervous conditions might not want to go any farther.

From there lies a diabolical play room filled with a collection of creepy children’s effects.

After that, a maze and a hallway dubbed the “Corridor of Lost Souls” await.

The path through the series of scares is winding and intricate, and the work that goes into it is done for one reason: to send those who walk through screaming and running for the exit.

To many people, the sounds of screaming may elicit concern.

But to Saugus resident Cal Liedtke, they’re the sound of a job well done.

“Halloween is my favorite holiday,” Liedtke said with a grin during an interview at his creation. “I like scaring people.”

History

For about the past 12 years, Liedtke has worked to construct a series of Halloween haunts at his home at 22408 Majestic Court in Saugus.

What is now an elaborate event began when Liedtke’s son decided he wanted to put together something scary for Halloween.

That idea fell upon willing ears.

Since its inception, the house has steadily grown in popularity. Now hundreds of visitors line up around the block waiting for a chance to walk through.

And that can mean quite a bit of waiting. Liedtke said the house can take upwards of five minutes to completely walk through. But, he said, that contributes to the house’s appeal.

“There’s nothing like going to a haunted house and when you turn the corner, you see the line out front and you think, ‘This must be good,’” Liedtke said.

Display

Liedtke said his approach to scares is similar to a magician’s approach to a magic trick, with misdirection being the key.

“We employ distraction, so just when the person is distracted the scare comes from around the corner,” he said.
The misdirecting scares are made possible in part by the roughly 15 live actors, many of them high school students whom Liedtke has recruited to provide real scares to people.

“Live scares are so much more than looking at a vibrating, mechanical thing,” Liedtke explained.

The live scares, along with customized music, combine to create an environment that is meant to play on people psychologically.

“Every year we probably get 20 to 30 people who go in and then turn around and go right back out,” Liedtke said, a proud smile lighting his face.

But just because he’s been doing it for a while now doesn’t mean he plans to slow down anytime soon. After all, every year brings a chance to try out something new and bring some new scares to seasoned veterans of the haunted house.

“So people who have been here last year and the year before, they’re not going to see the same show,” Liedtke said.

Family affair

While the haunted house was partly a brainchild of Liedtke’s son, Max, the others have also answered the bell when called upon.

Liedtke’s daughter, Caitlin, also stepped in to help out for a time.

Caitlin is now attending college, which means it’s now up to Liedtke’s daughter Claire to help put on the display.
This year, she will play a role helping out in the haunted house, though attendees will have to go through the house to see where she might pop out.

“Halloween has always been a big deal for us,” Liedtke said, noting that Caitlin was born on Halloween.

Cause

Liedtke’s display is free for anyone to come and visit, but as the haunt became more and more popular over the years and lines stretched longer and longer, he saw an opportunity to perform a community service.

For the past few years Liedtke has offered a special $3 “fast pass” that will push someone to the front of the line.But the money doesn’t go to Liedtke; rather, it is donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that provides assistance to wounded servicemen and women.

In recognition of his work, Liedtke received an honor from Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita.
“It’s just a way to help out our troops,” Liedtke said.

MORE INFO:
The Haunted House on Majestic Court is open on Halloween night from 7 to 10 p.m. at 22408 Majestic Court in Saugus. Admission to the haunt is free, but a front-of-the-line “fast pass” is available for $3. All proceeds and donations are forwarded to The Wounded Warrior Project. Ages 8 and up recommended.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter
@LukeMMoney

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