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Haunted holiday house spooks on LI

Stephanie Sabo, 39, of Mastic Beach, is Mrs.

Stephanie Sabo, 39, of Mastic Beach, is Mrs. Claws; Joe Cuminale, of Lindenhurst, is Coffin Joe the frozen grave digger; Frank Ingargiola, 50, of Merrick, is Serial Santa; and Nikki Brooks, 30, of Patchogue, is a scary elf. They're part of "A Very Scary Xmas," Long Island's new Christmas-themed haunted house, which opens at Matt Guiliano's Play Like a Pro in Hauppauge on Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. Credit: Heather Walsh

Two gargoyles sit atop the entrance to Santa's Workshop, where there appears to be blood on the walls. Mr. Claus awaits you in his throne for a photo, but he looks different. His eyes are darkened and his hat is turned down, setting an eerie tone. "I'm making a list, checking it twice and finding out who's next to slice," says Serial Santa.



Welcome to "A Very Scary Xmas," Long Island's new Christmas-themed haunted house, which opens at Matt Guiliano's Play Like a Pro in Hauppauge Dec. 12.

"Once Halloween stops, the haunted house season is dead. People have to wait a year to go to the next one," says Marty Arominski, owner of Chamber of Horrors NY, which is running the holiday haunt. "This is something different to do during the holidays."


Revenge is the theme of the 6,000-square-foot attraction, which features 23 rooms and 25 live actors. Iconic commercial Christmas characters (hint: elves, reindeer, snowmen) are getting even with the public. By design, you won't find anything religious.

"We are here to entertain people by making them jump," says Arominski. "Instead of going to the movies, people go to a haunt."

And there are spooks aplenty here.

"You never know what's going to happen around the next turn," says actor Joe "Cowboy" Cuminale, 57, of Lindenhurst, who portrays Old Man Winter at the start. "I give people a few guidelines, push them inside and then they are on their own."


A kitchen scene with Mrs. "Claws" seems innocent enough -- until you see what she's cooking.

"I'm serving up something special," says Santa's wife Stephanie Sabo, 39, of Mastic Beach, whose face appears half torn off. "Let's just say . . . it's explosive."

If you make it through Jack Frost's wind tunnel and dodge the dangling dead raccoons and catfish heads hanging from the ceiling, you just might find yourself in an attic where the presents are hidden. But beware of what you may encounter.

Life-size toy soldiers aren't playful and if you dare to enter the boiler room, watch out for Teddy Krueger -- a stuffed bear that makes Chucky look like an American Girl doll.

The silhouette of a familiar plump figure wearing a top hat and scarf seems like a comforting oasis amid the horror -- but Frosty the Dead Snowman is not your friend here. You stand there frozen, hoping he will somehow melt.

"This is my chance to get back at you," says Dan Cuoco, 25, of Selden, who plays the overly sinister Frosty. "No one is safe."


Elves are abound throughout the haunt in various formations -- zombie elves, burned elves and the most intense: satanic clown elves. Each may play a role in your future nightmares.

"The second I put on the makeup, I become 10 times more demented," says clown-faced elf Nikki Brooks, 30, of Patchogue. "The creepier, the better."

Suddenly, you find yourself stuck in a scene from "A Christmas Carol," grappling with Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley. Rudolph even takes on a "Jaws"-like role.

Just as you were warned from the start, Ol' Saint Nick is going to show his dark side.

"Santa is not a happy guy because people are losing their belief in him," says Frank Ingargiola, 50, of Merrick, who portrays the Man in Red. "I want to leave you with a unique memory of the holiday season. If you are close enough for me to whisper in your ear, you won't sleep very well."



WHEN | WHERE 7-10 p.m., Dec. 12, 13, 19 and 20, Matt Guiliano's Play Like a Pro, 1745 Express Drive North in Hauppauge

INFO 855-227-6384,

ADMISSION $20 (includes photo with Santa)

GOOD TO KNOW The haunt is recommended for teens and adults; be aware that its scenes are intense and graphic.

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