When his plans to open a permanent haunted attraction didn't work out, Justin Smith went back to doing what he does best: Scaring his neighbors and friends.
This week, he is putting the finishing touches on an elaborate haunted house he built in the garage of his parents' Plymouth home. It's something he's been doing since he was a teenager.
"We started in 2000 when I was in 8th, 9th grade," said Smith. "Me and a bunch of my friends, we went to Benilde St. Margaret's High School and, uh, we were just like six friends who just enjoyed Halloween, enjoyed horror movies, just enjoyed having fun."
They enjoyed it so much that, this past summer, they made plans to open a permanent, yearlong haunted attraction in an empty warehouse in Golden Valley. They wanted to call it "Disturbia in Suburbia." Golden Valley's City Planning Commission seemed receptive to the idea. Still, in the end, it didn't happen.
"Someone else outbid us on the location," said Smith. "So we lost the location. Then it got to the point where if it were going to open this year it'd be really rushed and we didn't want to push it."
Instead, they refocused their efforts on the neighborhood haunted house at Smith's folks' place.
Smith says he usually doesn't spend too much on his homemade haunted houses. If he needs something, he'll buy it off craigslist or recycle props from previous years. But, this year, some money that would have gone into Disturbia in Suburbia in Golden Valley is now being poured into this year's haunted house.
Smith said he's built tunnels, trap doors and drop panels throughout to maximize the space in the garage.
This year's haunted house is based on a fictional story about an orphanage that has been taken over by the children. He says his elaborate set-up will thrill fans, who come in the hundreds each year, and who come from as far away as Elk River and Rockford.
"They wanted to see it and it's become what I think is a tradition for most people in the neighborhood, at least, if not the city," said Smith.
The Haunted House will be open Saturday and Sunday, October 27th and 28th, as well as on Halloween. It's located at 12215 60th Pl N in Plymouth. Admission is free, but Smith is collecting food donations for his church. Smith is also selling two different T-shirts to fans of his haunts.
October 24, 2012