The History of the DC Cemetery
What is the DC Cemetery?
The DC Cemetery is a “home haunt” that originally resided in the heart
of the Old Mountain View neighborhood and was designed with the residents
of Mountain View and its surrounding communities in mind. Over the years
we’ve concocted a haunt that is fun and bone chilling for all age groups.
We also like to think that our efforts aid in the progression of Halloween,
and hopefully our actions will spread onto others, so they too can provide
a safe element for all kids (and adults) to enjoy.
The DC Cemetery has recently become one of the most elaborate and complex
haunted house displays in America, gaining consistent media attention
and in 2007 nationwide exposure. The haunt is so elaborate that they were
the winners of FEARnet.com’s 2007 Scariest Home Haunted House contest,
flown to New York City, and presented with a $50,000.00 check live on
NBC’s Today Show.
So is it worth seeing? We’ll let you decide. Please leave a review
on Yelp DC
Cemetery on YELP.
How did the Cemetery come about?
The haunt began in the early 1980’s like most family’s holiday decoration
fascinations. The Ross’ (Mike and Mary-Ann, Brent, Scott & Clayton
decorated the porch with jack-o-lanterns, hand drawn/colored paper cutouts,
stretchable spider webs, and a colored light replacing the “standard”
porch light. As the years progressed we all got more into Halloween and
each year my parents spent approximately $50-100 on a new prop or decoration.
Around 1985 Brent helped build a haunted house with his local Boy Scout
troop and his enthusiasm and love for the holiday inspired his parents
to go “all out”, purchasing a skull, black light, and dry ice.
With those two starting points Brent’s love for Halloween turned
into an obsession that grows to this very day (with no end in site).
As the porch display grew year after year it was soon evident that the
space required for Brent’s grand visions would not be fulfilled
with the area available, so they decided to move the display to the driveway
and erect a “horror chamber” type walk thru haunt. A plywood
façade was built and painted to mimic a stone building, and the
inside was sectioned off to create a couple “main scenes”
that changed year after year; however the one scene that always grew and
outshined the others was the graveyard. “With the glowing fog, tombstones,
and exhumed grave site, that scene always had the most Halloween feel
so the next year we based the entire haunt off it and the cemetery theme
was born.” The next year they changed up the overall design and
moved the façade walls to the back of the display and the added
a faux fence and two mausoleums to display the main show pieces which
at the time were extremely simple static props.
What do you see at the DC Cemetery? (A scare-by-scare
The DC Cemetery is a large display that is separated into two sections.
The first and largest portion is the cemetery scene that encompasses the
Ross families entire side yard and half of their neighbor’s yard.
It houses three main mausoleums each containing a complex animated prop,
and each is surrounded with other props that blend the scenes to create
a realistic graveyard scene.
Inside the cemetery the main character located behind the main gates
is “The Grim Reaper”. The reaper features 22 individual movements,
synced fog and lighting and as he awakens goes from a 7’ seated
pose to an impressive 13’ towering height. He tells the animated
tale of the cemetery and subtly gives a couple rules for the viewers to
abide by. As his story winds on, the creatures of the DC Cemetery become
active and are synced with the reapers directional gestures. The reaper
bids farewell with a final “beware” and retracts back into
a seated position and hands the show off to the other characters.
The next main prop located in the far left mausoleum is the “Skeletal
Organist”. This 8 movement animated organ player that not only mimics
lifelike organ playing jestures, but does so as a naked skeletal figure
with all mechanisms hidden out of sight from all viewers. The mechanical
mayhem is hidden within its chest, head, and under the organ bench. The
organist and is topped off with white hair, an old top hat and lit with
a UV reactive clear paint that gives a ghostly glow under a HID UV black
light. To add additional pizzazz, the organist sits in-front of an antique
faux pipe organ with animated keys to simulate the keys being depressed
during his performance.
Moving outwards towards the viewer’s area, you meet up with the
“Mourner”. The Mourner is a crowd favorite that sits crouched
crying over her lost husband’s coffin. Once activated this 8 movement
prop moves towards the cemetery gate 30”, spins 180 degrees, stands
up (from a seated 3.5’ to standing 7’), lifts her head revealing
a skeletal face, red glowing eyes and animated jaw movement while screaming
at the viewers. She then begins to rotate back to resting position before
going back for one additional scare; spinning back around, opening up
her arms outwards then up, yells “boo”, then sprays a mist
of water out of her mouth. She then cackles a wicked laugh while retracting
back to her husband’s side.
The Mourner’s husband is known as the “Screaming Corpse”.
The screaming corpse is directly in front of the Mourner (when in resting
position) and housed in a full sized toe pincher coffin that opens slowly
revealing a ghostly green fog that the corpse rises upwards through. He
pivots approximately 90 degrees at his waist then turns 45 degrees to
face the viewers, while in the mean time making an evil moaning noise.
When the Mourner screams the first time, the screaming corpse mimics with
a similar scream, and when she yells “boo” the screaming corpse
begins to laugh before retracting back to his final resting place.
Directly to the right of the mourner is our animated obelisk. The obelisk
contains a full size 6’ hidden animated character that when triggered
fills with fog, before splitting apart with the front half lifting into
the air providing room for the web covered vile thing character crouched
inside to stand up, open his once crossed arms and with his animated mouth
and head movement scream for the viewers to leave the cemetery before
its too late. Once done warning the viewers, he sits back don, lowers
his head and the obelisk lid closes once again hiding the character.
Moving back to the right side of the cemetery, between the animated obelisk
and the reaper is the “Thrashing Coffin” which is another
full sized toe pincher coffin wrapped in chains to prevent the beast inside
from escaping. When activated the upper lid portion thrashes violently
against the chains and the coffin fills with fog. 3 seconds after the
thrashing stops, the base of the coffin lifts and a full sized skeletal
corpse emerges from a crouched position to a 6’ head height, lit
with a colored strobe and armed with a evil scream.
Directly behind the thrashing coffin is the “rocking chair corpse”
which throughout the evening rocks quietly in the background un-phased
by all the surrounding action.
Moving further right, directly behind the reaper is DC’s main mausoleum
that houses another of their original and most violent and realistic designs,
“The Skeleton Victim”. The skeleton victim is a multi elemental
prop that uses audio, violent movements, fog and lighting, as well as
overall visual appeal to provide an illusion of a grave robber opening
caskets within a sealed mausoleum before accidentally awakening the entombed
angry sprits. As he flees in attempt to escape he is captured at the doors
of the mausoleum. He frantically bangs at the doors trying to escape,
synced perfectly to the audio, the doors slightly open after each hit.
The doors then fully open exposing the victim being attacked by two skeletal
corpses that restrain him from leaving. He attempts to break free from
their grasps, but the skeletons prevail and pull him back into the depths
of the morgue. The props 14 individual movements simulate realistic human
movements and a soundtrack created by Mike Fox (www.foxproductions.tv)
brings the props realism to life.
Moving further across the cemetery you come across the third and final
mausoleum which houses a fully animated “Spider Victim”. The
doors slowly creak open exposing a full sized human figure that is entombed
within spider webs. Sounds of bugs eating away at his flesh are drowned
out by the pleas for help as he dangles from the ceiling. struggling to
free himself from his tomb. The movements become more violent as multiple
oversized animated spiders move closer. He gives off one last scream for
help and outstretches his arm before the doors close sealing his fate.
Directly in front of the spider victim is a house favorite, the “Thrashing
Corpse”. Grasping the gate with both hands, the thrashing corpse
looks around and randomly bites at his viewers. As he gets more anxious
to escape, he violently lunges forward and back shaking the exterior cemetery
To the left of the thrashing corpse is the “Embalming Spitter”
which is an antiqued “embalming fluid” barrel that houses
a submerged spitting corpse. The barrel is internally lit with an underwater
green light and dry ice is added throughout the night to hide what lurks
within. When triggered the corpse lifts 24” up from the murky water
and spits a fine mist of water 8’ directly at the viewers.
Moving further right is where the cemetery ends and the morgue begins.
The morgue entrance is guarded by an animated skeletal host that welcomes
visitors before laying down the house rules. Once his speech is complete,
he bid the gusts farewell and invites the next group of visitors to enter.
When you enter the morgue you are immediately confronted with an onslaught
of animated creatures and a multitude of visual effects.
The first animation you’re greeted with is the “Crypt Dweller”
which is full sized corpsed skeleton that is posed a lying position grasping
its bouquet of dead roses. When activated via a concealed infrared sensor
the corpse begins moaning a deathly growl then abruptly leans over screams
and outstretches his arm towards the passerby’s.
Below the Crypt Dweller is another outstretched corpse that houses a
hidden pop up corpse that emerges from below the corpse’s shin bones.
A hidden trap door flies up followed by the “Sneaky Pete”
character that screams and sprays a mist of water at its viewers (at an
adult knee level or a child’s head height) before retracting back
to a completely hidden passageway.
Directly adjacent the Sneaky Pete viewers are greeted by the “Head
Banger” which when triggered quietly moans “get out”
before slamming his head repeatedly into a bared window while psychotically
laughing, before finally retracting into his upright resting position.
Moving further inwards you confront yourself within the reflection of
an antique mirror. At first glance it’s just a mirror, but with
further inspection viewers trip another sensor and behind the two-way
mirror lights expose a lunging corpse posed directly against the glass.
The startling site is accompanied by a deathly scream and a small air
cannon blast at ankle level.
Passing the haunted mirror you’re greeted by a ghastly nanny who’s
holding a crying baby corpse. The “Nanny and Peek-A-Boo” prop
begins its animation with the baby cry echoing throughout the morgue.
Suddenly the nanny’s head lifts, turns towards visitors, then she
opens her mouth releasing a deathly scream. At the same time the nanny
screams, the baby leaps upward and sprays a mist of water from its nose.
Passing the Nanny and Peek a Boo, you turn a corner and begin walking
down a dim lit, dampened hallway filled with a light haze and faint sounds
of thousands of bugs. About half way down the hallway a second sensor
is tripped and bug spitting air blasters fire on the visitors from all
sides, simulating being spit on by the creatures.
Distracted by the bugs you come face to face with the “Slammer”.
The slammer is a violent prop that that greets his guests by slamming
violently into a barred plexiglass window. The slammers room is completely
blacked out and filled with dense fog to hide what lurks within, ensures
a startle to even the most fearless visitor. A second before the slammer
hits the window, the room and creature are lit with a bright strobe and
the sheer sound of the prop hitting the glass sends most people running.
Turning the last corner you’re summoned by the “Candy Man”,
which features an animated skull that beckons children to come towards
his lair. Upon triggering the corpse lifts his head and begins talking,
bribing the children to reach through the opening in the barred door and
enjoy a treat. The corpse warns them to only take one piece, and as their
hands enter the bowl, a second trigger is tripped fog blasts from behind,
strobe lights the room and an oversized arm lunges out from behind the
dish towards the children’s outstretched hands. The corpse laughs
as the kids generally drop their candy and run, then waits for his next
After passing the Candy Man, you exit the morgue and pass by either the
burial grounds to the left, or the witches den to the right.
The burial grounds is housed between the entrance and exit doors of the
morgue and houses multiple tombstones, a 24” black widow that lunges
6’ towards the gate spraying a mist of water at its victims, and
overhead, a winged skeletal figure lit by UV reactive white paint that
flaps its huge wings while waiting to attack its next victim. There are
also two small pop up spitters that are placed throughout the grave scene
that give simple startles to the people waiting in line.
Last but not least is the newest addition to the DC Cemetery, the “witches
den”. The witches den is set in an overgrown swamp like setting
and features two animated witches, one facing the viewers, and one with
her back turned. The sounds of a crackling fire, bubbling cauldron, and
witch incantations fill the air while one witch stirs her cauldron. The
cauldron is internally lit with an off set motor driving the witches stir
stick. Fog bellows upwards from a hidden fog chiller nested within the
cauldrons base, and faux flames flicker between the burnt wood. When viewers
get too close, the audio changes, and the rear facing witch spins 180
degrees, stands and lunges towards the gate, screaming at the viewers
before cackling as she returns to resting position.
Who is involved in creating the DC Cemetery?
(meet the crew below)
Although Brent is the driving force behind DC, he admits that the haunt
would have never had risen to its current standings without the assistance
of his entire family, and in more recent years his wife Kasey and a couple
good friends (James DeBenedetti, Cliff Chambliss, and Dave Frerichs).
If you are interested in haunting your home with our products, please
check out www.dcprops.com
for simple thru fully animated creations.
Creator & Designer of the DC Cemetery
Meet the DC Crew
Morgue bouncer, and starbucks runner
Original designer of the DC Midi system
programmer for ’03-’05 cemetery animation. Off site assistant.