Belfast Telegraph

Watch: Magherafelt’s rival Halloween houses are so spookily good, it’s frightening

Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

Two homes in a Co Londonderry town have been casting a spell over the neighbourhood, and have gone all out to create a fright night to remember.

The Magherafelt houses, only 100 yards apart in the town's Sandy Braes estate, have undergone a Frankenstein transformation with creatively gruesome decorations not for the faint hearted.

It's all in good fun and over the past few evenings families have been flocking there for a night of frights.

Giant spiders perch on roofs, ghostly apparitions appear in windows, witches shriek at passers-by and the graveyards in the front garden come alive at night.

A steady stream of cars have been driving past after word spread around the town about the houses of horror, their creaking gates, cobwebs and the odd 'dead body' or two.

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The graveyard at the Gordon home in Magherafelt

Neighbours Samantha Spratt and Phyllis Gordon are the women behind the horror and both have been amazed at the reaction received over their efforts to thrill children in the town.

"I suppose I've been doing this since I was a kid," said Samantha.

The graveyard at the Gordon home in Magherafelt
The graveyard at the Gordon home in Magherafelt
Halloween decorations at the Spratt home
Halloween decorations at Phyllis Gordon’s house

"My mum always made a big fuss over Halloween and now that I have my own kids I've been making it a bit special for them too. I've picked up so many things over the years, but a lot of the pieces you can see are hand-made.

"The kids all seem to love it and it's just got bigger and bigger every year.

"What I've ended up with now is a house completely transformed."

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Halloween decorations at the Spratt home

Samantha, with husband Andrew and kids Lily-Anna (7) and Courtney (6) get a thrill over the attention, but Samantha admitted she gets so many trick-or-treaters every year now that she has to re-stock every couple of hours.

"It does go a bit mental," she admitted.

"I know people might think I'm a bit mad, but it's become a yearly event for us now so we're used to it.

"The kids in the area always have to drop by at Halloween to see what we've done.

"I rope in my sister Gemma and brother Eoin to give me a hand.

"There are quite a lot of mischievous creatures around the house to keep an eye on and I don't want any of the dead walking off into the night!"

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Halloween decorations at Phyllis Gordon’s house

A few doors away, Phyllis admitted she had upped her game this year.

She said: "I did something similar last year but the children kept telling me it wasn't scary enough for them.

"I've pulled out all the stops this time."

Keeping her grandchildren entertained during the Halloween break has been her main aim and now they've helped create a graveyard in the garden and spectres behind boarded-up windows.

She added: "I have five grandchildren to try to scare so I had to put a lot of work into it all.

"I've always had a Halloween party for them but last year decided to try to make it a little more special. This year I've tried to make it even better... or worse depending on your view!"

So far grandkids Heidi, Rhys, Leon, Sienna and Freya have been so impressed that they become part of the attraction.

"They get dressed up in character and form part of the scene," Phyllis added.

She also says she had help from another neighbour, Nigel Leacock, and his granddaughter Kate in crafting her masterpiece of Gothic theatre.

"To make it all a bit spookier this year they'll hide in the graveyard or sit quietly on one of the seats and pretend to be part of the scene before moving to scare people.

"A lot of people around here have pitched in to help and I'm delighted so many are getting a bit of a thrill from the effort we've all put in and stopping by to take pictures," Phyllis said.

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