Haunted Times Return to Salem

The Reporter's Notebook

SALEM, Mass.--A tradition of great Halloween spectacles is returning to this city, a small community still remembered for the infamous witch trials held centuries ago.

"When I first moved here, the Haunted Happenings thing was hardly anything," said Beth-Anne Williams, a Salem resident since 1981. "Now it's getting bigger and bigger."

Haunted Happenings is the city's name for its month-long Halloween celebration, which includes parades and street shows.

Williams said she got so caught up in the Halloween fever here that she began working for one of the dozen or so haunted houses in town.

"I started out ghouling at Horror-wood with a black robe and a black faceless mask," she said.


Now she cashiers at Dracula's Castle, a haunted house that is modeled after many aspects of vampirism.

"The front hallway is dedicated to the scene [in Brahm Stoker's Dracula] where Dracul, Lord Dracula, stuffs his sword into the cross," said Marshall A. Tripoli, part-owner of the castle.

"Dracul finds Mina dead there because she committed suicide," he said. "It teaches you that not only will a vampire drink your blood--it can drain you of your love, hope, luck."

Tripoli, who helped design and build much of Dracula's Castle, said that the construction, which is repeated year after year, is long and arduous.

"Planning starts November 3rd for the following year," he said. "Building haunted houses is a full-time business. We don't just start in October."

He said that Dracula's Castle is remodeled every year because otherwise "people say 'We've been there last year--we don't want to go there again.'"

Tripoli worked with co-owner John Denley, who is known as "Professor Nightmare," and Jim Derotti, of Boneyard Productions, to plan the details of Dracula's Castle.

"We've been watching The Lost Boys, Brahm Stoker's Dracula, old Bella Lugosi movies to see how they created horror," Tripoli said.

Much like the movies, Tripoli said that there is one rule which guests in the castle must never break.

"You never want to wake the master," he said. "If you wake the master, then there's a spike wall, an entire wall of spikes that falls on you."

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