Haunted Times Return to Salem

The Reporter's Notebook

Besides the wall of spikes, employees at Dracula's Castle sometimes improvise new ways to frighten the customers.

"We had people stuck in a maze," Tripoli said. "Every time they turned around the same person would be in front of them, saying 'You're going the wrong way, go back.'"

Of course it was a trick.

"One of the walls was actually a black curtain," Tripoli said. "They could disappear in and out of the curtain and reappear in front of the people again."

It is tricks like this one that make Michael P. Bollettiero return every year to scare the customers of Dracula's Castle.


"You're getting paid to do something that's totally insane," said Bollettiero, who has worked Halloween at the castle for the past eight years.

One of his favorite performances takes place before the customers have entered the house.

"You peek out of the curtain at the people and say something like 'Anybody seen Joe?'" he said. "Then you take a hand with a monster glove and pull your head back into the curtain."

Bollettiero said that after that scare, "the people are already petrified as soon as they come in."

Although everyone at the castle searches for new ways to frighten the customers, workers said that the city's current population of "witches"--those who practice wicca, a pantheistic religion that has a following in town--prohibits them from mimicking witchcraft.

"At each one of our haunted houses you won't find witches," Tripoli said. "We respect the witches of Salem."

"They don't like to see themselves mocked," Williams added. "It's very serious to them."

The workers of Dracula's Castle had an unusual explanation for their attraction to the occult.

For the two owners and at least one employee, Halloween has always been a special time of year.

"Jim Duratti's birthday is October 21," Tripoli said, "and mine is October 18."

Williams' birthday is October 19, in the same vicinity.

"We grew up with warlock birthday cake," Tripoli said. "It's like Christmas to us--we get presents. and we get to scare people."

Recommended Articles