It’s not every day you see a Demogorgon from "Stranger Things" coming out of a brick wall in Farmingdale or a haunting 12-foot skeleton with a pumpkin head on a lawn in Commack. These houses and more are delivering scares in the suburbs this month. Here are four local homes that celebrate Halloween to the extreme.
STRANGER THINGS HOUSE
57 Graham St., Farmingdale
Since their daughter Emma was born in the month of October, Robert and Andrea Gravino have celebrated her birthday with a Halloween theme. But for her sweet sixteen, they took it up a notch.
“We decorated the whole house like a haunted mansion and we just kept doing it every year after that,” says Robert, 52. “In our family, it’s go big or go home!”
For the past two years, the Gravinos have run with a “Stranger Things” theme, drawing thousands of visitors to their Farmingdale home.
“We love the show and wanted to do something different,” says Robert. “It was crazy how many people came to see our house. We never expected it. Because it’s such a popular show, attendance literally exploded.”
Robert builds everything from scratch, including the show’s characters, like a Demogorgon passing through a portal, Vecna facing off with Chrissy the cheerleader as well as a massive Mind Flayer on his lawn. He begins building in August and does bits and pieces in his spare time.
“I’m always adding stuff,” says Robert. “In the Upside Down there always seems to be ash falling down so I bought a snow machine and I make the ashes too.”
Additionally, the Gravinos dress up like characters from the Netflix show. This year Robert will be police chief Jim Hopper while Andrea portrays Joyce Byers.
“We are huge horror and Halloween people,” says Robert. “This is our time to shine.”
NIGHTMARE ON 37th STREET
344 Albany Ave. (on the corner of 37th Street), Lindenhurst
For more than 13 years, Mark Hurrell of Copiague has been putting together a tremendous Halloween display for his daughter Aurora, 18, with the assistance of her mother, Christina Lewis, at her home in Lindenhurst.
“It started as a small display on the front lawn, which grew into a little walk-through,” says Hurrell, 38. “Now it’s a giant walk-through that draws thousands of people and takes 20-minutes to navigate.”
The front yard display showcases 12-foot skeletons, 9-foot zombies, 12-foot scarecrows, a 10-foot spider, a vampire section, a “Nightmare Before Christmas” area, plus 11-foot werewolves.
The backyard features a maze with 40 tents attached together divided into themed sections like a pack of witches, a swamp, zombies, a medieval area, a circus and a haunted playground.
“Every year we change the layout of the maze and the themes of the walk-through,” says Hurrell. “It’s a bit absurd the levels we take it to.”
The maze is free to enter and open to the public Oct. 28, 29 and 31. Hurrell also puts up a full treat table with candies and prizes for all to devour.
“I get the joy of watching everyone walk out with smiles on their faces,” says Hurrell. “It’s important to give people memories.”
93 Hawthorne Ave., West Babylon
Halloween brings the family together at the DiTommaso home in West Babylon, where everyone takes part in the annual holiday presentation.
“As our kids started having children, we decided this is what we are doing,” says Pam DiTommaso, 57. “It’s the only time I can get my whole family together to collectively work.”
Starting at the end of August, Pam and her husband, Jason, work to build a front yard display with some assistance from their horror fan 5-year-old granddaughter, Francesca, who is dressing up as scary doll Annabelle for Halloween.
“She likes trips to Spirit Halloween and to go see scary houses,” says Pam. “We had no choice but to give her our own spooky house.”
The DiTommasos rent two tents on their lawn — one that has a scary clown scene while the other has a haunted hospital set as well as a full graveyard.
“When you walk into the graveyard there are things that jump at you coming out of the smoke,” says Pam. “A real hearse is in the driveway with skeletons and a coffin. There’s also a rat-rod buggy with skeletons too.”
There are even live actors who pose in the display on Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. in October. Pam’s son Bobby dresses up as Freddy Krueger from “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” her husband plays Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th” and her son-in-law Frank portrays Michael Myers from “Halloween.”
“They stand still and people think they are animatronic, then they leap toward them. Everyone runs screaming but then they laugh,” says Pam. “We sit outside and give away candy each night. It’s just a lot of enjoyment that’s free for everyone.”
35 Stonywood Dr., Commack
When Chris Gray and Jen Ricciardi bought their Commack home in 2018, the Halloween decorating took on a life of its own.
“It’s become both a passion and an obsession,” says Ricciardi, 53. “This is not just what you can see from the sidewalk. We invite people up to the front door because there are decorations along the way.”
Gray handles the outside while Ricciardi decorates the inside. The decorations cover the entire front lawn up the driveway and including the house itself.
“There are a couple of jump scares but they’ll make you laugh,” says Gray, 54. “We are not into gore; it’s more family-oriented.”
There are more than 60 moving pieces. Among the lot is a graveyard with a floating ghost and a casket featuring a skeletal corpse, skeletons that do zombie walks, a pumpkinhead scarecrow, projectors in the windows, special lighting on the house, spooky music and a fog machine. New this year is the addition of Mr. Dark, a ghoul to the left of the driveway wrapped in a black robe with glowing red eyes that springs into air, stands 8 feet tall and screams. There’s only one thing missing …
“You won’t find any scary clowns,” says Ricciardi. “I literally can’t handle them.”
Alan Stewart of Merrick likes to take his spook house on the road. “The Haunted Hearse” is a 1960 Cadillac hearse that travels to car shows, weddings, Halloween parties and store openings.
“It’s something different,” says Stewart. “It all started by putting a few animatronics in the car and it just grew from there. People began calling me for private events.”
Inside the hearse Regan from “The Exorcist” sits up in a coffin as her head turns around while a monster reaches out to whoever enters and an evil cat creates a scare from the side door. Outside the hearse is an extensive display featuring a dance skeleton, werewolves as well as the batlike creature, Desmodus.
“People always swarm all around the hearse,” says Stewart. “The only thing we don’t do is funerals.”