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Mantecas haunted houses
209 file photo Rick Feuerstein, the Mad Scientist, chats with a guest in his spooky laboratory on Pajaro Avenue last year.


209 Living

So you can’t get out of town for Halloween to some of the larger parties that are going on elsewhere.

But if you’re looking for something that’s both fun and scary, there are homeowners in Manteca that turn their properties into fright fests as a labor of love to share their passion with their friends and neighbors.

Here are a few places worth checking out, and a note on those that won’t be available this year:

*The Mad Scientist – For years Rick Feuerstein has converted his garage into the laboratory of a mad scientist – something that takes a good amount of his time to piece together.

Putting all of it together isn’t an easy task. 
While he has plenty experience with it – Feuerstein ran the unique attraction in his Lodi garage for 17 years before moving to Manteca eight years ago – it still takes the better part of the month of October to put together.
He has some of the heavier and bulkier parts, like the nine wooden panels that he puts up as a backdrop, contained at a storage facility near his home. He has one closet in his house dedicated solely to the gadgets and gizmos that all have an individual place within the sprawling display. And he has a master plan, with numbers and labels and a layout chart that he sticks to when he pulls everything out on the first weekend of October when he begins the undertaking. 
Then the fun begins. 
While he’ll spend most of his free time from then until Halloween making sure that everything plugs in to the right outlets and everything is positioned perfectly, that’ the part that he truly enjoys – the chance to create his own “Young Frankenstein” laboratory after he watches the Mel Brooks cult-classic every year. 
“I grew up watching Fright Nights and Elvira: Mistress of the Dark and so I always loved this kind of stuff. But what really helped me get into this was when I realized that the company I was working for had a bunch of stuff that they were going to get rid of and I thought that it would be perfect for a lab,” Feuerstein said. “And setting up that lab for me is what I enjoy about it. It’s taking the time to put things in the right places and testing everything to make sure that it works and fixing the things that don’t quite work right. 
“People really enjoy it so it makes it enjoyable for me to spend the time doing it.”
And while the size and scope of the incredibly detailed undertaking has grown over the years, he doesn’t expect to see too much added from here on out save for a few things that he’s able to pick up at the Spirit Halloween store when they’re clearing out their stock at the end of the year. 
“I’d have to get another garage,” he said with a laugh.

Feuerstein’s laboratory is located at 1373 Pajaro Avenue, and typically opens a few days before Halloween.

*Lenny Phillips’ Haunted House – Located at the corner of Elm and Argonaut Streets, this unique and haunting take on the scariest Holiday of them all is already up and running – complete with ornate decorations as well as lights that make it particularly freaky when the sun goes down. With a flaming cauldron and lit flames from the rooftop and the top of the garage, this looks more like a scene from hell – with a graveyard and demonic creatures overlooking those who pass by – than a traditional haunted house. It’s worth checking out if you have the time and aren’t easily creeped out.

*Scary Perry’s Haunted House – After a long run on Sage Sparrow Drive, Phil Perry has decided to hang it up this year after he maxed out the space at his home and now is unable to house the ornate multi-room haunted house that drew hundreds of people a night to this neighborhood enclave. While Perry said that he won’t be welcoming people this year, he didn’t rule out the possibility of returning in the future if he’s able to find an open lot or a large piece of property where he can set everything up.


To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.