For some people, Halloween is no joke. They dream up costume ideas months in advance and turn their usually warm and cozy home into a veritable house of horrors. This is my favorite kind of people. As a kid, it was always most exciting to have to earn my candy by going through a creepy, cobweb-covered maze someone built in his garage. That might sound like something out of a Dateline special on Austrian child abductors. Still, how fun were those haunted houses, right? For all y'all looking to get in the Halloween spirit and scare the bejeezus out of kids, here are some places to find everything you need to build your own haunted house.

There's the obvious choice, Party City, where you can find aisle after aisle of plastic skeletons, cobwebs, fog machines, fake spiders and a veil for a bride-to-be's bachelorette party—if you happen to need one. The superstore has several locations, including National City, Mission Valley and Point Loma.

For horrifying costumes, you can't go wrong with Buffalo Breath Costumes (2050 Hancock St. in Middletown). The retailer sells and rents costumes and props that will send a child—or a full-grown lumberjack of a man—screaming for the hills. Among the scariest is Jason from the Friday the 13th movies, multiple Grim Reaper and zombie options and, as one employee informed me, clowns. "Everybody is scared of clowns," she said. This is very true. Clowns are awful and will turn your haunted house into someone's lifelong nightmare.

For props that will take your haunted house to the next level of scary, San Diego Kids' Party Rentals (5070 Santa Fe St. in Clairemont) has an entire showroom of ghoulish goods you can buy or rent. That includes fake skulls, machines that produce fake thunder and lightning, a talking skeleton on a rocking chair, hanging corpse dummies and an ankle air blaster that shoots bursts of air for a chilling shock as you enter the horror show. If you have the space for it, they even have a 13-by-13 -foot inflatable haunted house. It'll keep the fake blood off your carpet.

Speaking of fake blood, you're going to need a bunch of that. The Costume Shop (2960 North Park Way in North Park) sells 1-ounce bottles of the gory ooze, which will come in handy if you're going with a slasher-movie or zombie-apocalypse theme. (You can also make your own fake blood with water, corn syrup, food coloring—red, blue and green—and chocolate syrup. It tastes yummy but will leave a stain. The Costume Shop also sells masks, accessories, fake cobwebs and zombie make-up kits that come with stepby-step instructions to create the perfect Walking Dead look.

For blocks of dry ice to add a fog effect to your home-made creepshow, Co2cool (8205 Ronson Road, Suite I, in Kearny Mesa, ) sells it in various quantities and will deliver to your home. Praxair (2205 Newton Ave. in Barrio Logan) is also available for your dry-ice needs.

Spirit Halloween is another option for tons of costumes, props, make-up and accessories. The chain has nine stores in San Diego County, including in Horton Plaza, Mission Valley, Escondido and Encinitas. Looking through its selection, I was appalled to find zombie-baby dolls. That's right—zombie babies.

They are gruesome, blank-eyed infants positioned so they're eating brains or stabbing a teddy bear or just malevolently staring at you with bared teeth. These things are just plain horrifying. What's worse, Spirit even has animated versions of these hell dolls and animatronic dolls of Regan (the possessed little girl from The Exorcist, not the former president misspelled). The store also sells sound-effects CDs, plastic skeletons and reapers, headstones, coffins and body parts.

Trick or treat, indeed.

Write to You can also bug her on Twitter.


  • Visit one of the 70 participating restaurants, bars, coffeehouses and nightclubs in town on this night and 25 to 50 percent of sales will go to local HIV/AIDS services and prevention programs. 
  • Anthony Bernal and Chris Ward, who are vying to replace Todd Gloria on the San Diego City Council, will discuss urban issues, such as parking, homelessness and new developments
  • The new exhibition designed by Dave Ghilarducci is made from hundreds of rolls of packing tape and bound together by layers of plastic shrink-wrap. Visitors can navigate their way through cocoon-like passageways...
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • The San Diego County Bike Coalition hosts this monthly bike-in happy hour event to get biking residents involved in their communities and discuss bike projects planned for that specific community
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • So Say We All's monthly storytelling night features stories about those jobs we took because we had to take a job. Featured readers include Allison Gauss, Annmarie Houghtailing, Cecile Estelle, and more
  • Artists from the all-abstracts group show will talk about their work and techniques. Artists include Edwin Nutting, Danielle Nelisse, Leah Pantea, Lenore Simon, and more
See all events on Thursday, Apr 28