Since boyhood, Kenny Caperton has idolized slasher movies, a mania that caused him to collect enough horror kitsch to fill a bookshelf, tattoo the logo from “The Blair Witch Project” on his left wrist and – eight years ago – build an exact copy of the house from “Halloween.”
He and his wife, Emily, took a predictably obsessive approach to the project: visiting the original two-story Victorian in South Pasadena, Calif., and arranging for exact measurements; re-creating the gable ornament and the citrus-shaped brackets on the porch posts; sparing no detail save the escaped mental patient with a kitchen knife and a rubber mask.
“We went from never owning a home to building a life-sized replica of a serial killer’s house,” said Caperton, 34. “It looks fine and dandy until you know what it is.”
And as the Capertons prepare for their eighth annual Halloween bash, they brace themselves for 400 gore-splattered guests, a lucky few of whom will camp out all night on their rural Orange County lawn, watching murder flicks in the glow of jack-o’-lantern candles. This event has gained so much respectability in the fright community that fans of Michael Myers’ cinematic rampage will travel from Texas and Florida for a glimpse of their reconstructed eeriness.
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“Last year,” Caperton said, “you could crowd-surf from the screen to the front door. This year, we’ll have walkie-talkies.”
For me, an admitted duffer in the horror camp, “Halloween” ranks as king of the low-budget screamer films if only for the now-familiar cliches it introduced in 1978: the idyllic suburban setting; the soundtrack with the high-pitched piano tinkle and the ominous low-end synthesizer; the killer who won’t die.
To its eternal credit, “Halloween” gave us Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode with her genre-defining scream, not to mention her crafty use of a clothes hanger as an eye-stabbing weapon. Barring “Psycho,” which stars her mother, Janet Leigh, no scary movie offers a better closing line:
Laurie: “It was the Boogeyman.”
Dr. Loomis: “As a matter of fact, it was.”
While we talked outside his “Halloween” shrine, Caperton told me this trivia tidbit: the blank, expressionless mask worn by Michael Myers is actually a stretched-out Capt. Kirk mask from “Star Trek.”
On most days, his shrine functions as a normal, cozy home for two. Unlike the original, which was built in Pasadena sometime around 1888, it has bathrooms and a kitchen indoors – comforts even a psychotic on the loose would appreciate.
The interior may not show the same decay as its movie-set inspiration, but still, Caperton said, “When the sun is setting and it’s lit right, it kind of sends a chill up your spine.”
And though nobody would mistake Orange County for fictional Haddonfield, Ill., its woods do offer one creepy enhancement:
Nowhere to run from a killer.
If you go
The Myers House NC will hold its 8th annual Halloween Bash on Oct. 29. The event runs from 6:30 p.m. until midnight and features three movie screenings: “The Strangers,” “Halloween H20” and “The Blair Witch Project.” Special guest appearance by actor Kip Weeks, who played the Man in the Mask in “Strangers.” Tickets cost $7 at the entrance and an additional $5 for an interior tour. For more information, go to www.myershousenc.com.