"Their house is a museum, when people come to see them, they really are a scream, The Addams family," as the lyrics from famed 1960s show goes.
Hillsboro has its very own Addams family, and their names are Dale Koch, John Mercer, Kyrissa Gieszler, Amber Van Winkle, Brian Huffman Walddon, Jessica Jensen, Hannah Edgington, Tyson Gieszler and Edan Koch.
Together, they have created their own scream-worthy haunted house on display for trick or treaters this Halloween called The Dread Keep.
The group, all family and friends, began to host different themed walkthroughs of Koch's home beginning in 2013.
They all design their costumes to fit the theme, then spread out inside to bring the haunted house to life with their ominous acting.
On Halloween night, the two-story home at 2321 N.E. Estate Drive, in Hillsboro, is illuminated by green light, with tombstones littering the front yard and fog rolling out into the street.
Koch and his daughter, Kyrissa Gieszler, created a haunted porch for trick or treaters in the past, but it grew into an even larger destination.
"I just invited a bunch of people and asked 'Would you all like to come over and help me scare a bunch of kids and dress up like zombies?" Kyrissa Gieszler said. "Every year since then, everyone comes out again.".
The project is entirely funded by the group as a hobby, she said.
The background story on why The Dread Keep sports its name comes from being inspired Halloween's mystery, Kyrissa Grieszler said.
"The 'dread' is like an entity, with the green fumes coming from the ground," Gieszler said. "Every year on Halloween, the 'dread' seeps out and the only way to contain it before it hits the neighborhood is to build the 'keep.'"
This year's theme is "Haunted Castle," with the group each dressed in renaissance costumes with a macabre twist.
Prepping for Halloween night, Koch held a menacing mace and wore a long, black cape during a rehearsal. Van Winkle sported a princess costume, with fake blood pouring from her neck. The group takes time out of their work weeks starting in early September to prep props and their costumes.
"We do this for the community," Van Winkle said. "Anyone who makes it through gets candy."
Around 300 people brave the house each year, Van Winkle said.
"As soon as you get inside, it is like a whole different world," Gieszler said.
The Dread Keep is also a part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, dedicated to provide safe treats for people with allergies.
The Dread Keep will hand out Halloween bubbles, stickers and pencils for people who cannot have candy, Gieszler said.
Their Jackson School neighborhood haunted house takes about five minutes or longer to walk through depending on how scared the trick or treater may be
The haunted house's prime clientelle on Hallowen night are children with their parents, but also teenagers and adults looking for a fright on the spookiest night of the year.
The group do not grab people when they walk through, but they do jump out of the dark and keep to a creepy script.
"With young kids, we tone down the scares. With the teenagers, we love the high pitch screams," Koch said.
Everyone put in their artistic expertise to construct the haunted house. Koch created the frames of the structure that extend the haunted house from the garage.
He created a structure to be able to keep people going in a one-way flow of traffic
"He keeps us safe so things don't fall on us," Van Winkle "Some of us are hiding in the walls and he made that possible."
Edan Koch, Dale Koch's son, is The Dread Keep's gatekeeper every year. He stands at the front of the haunted house allowing people inside. His mask is sculpted to a top hat, created by his sister, Gieszler.
A fire breathing dragon was also constructed for this year's theme as a main scare attraction, Tyson Gieszler, Kyrissa's husband, said.
The Dread Keep has seen attendance rise year by year by word of mouth and expanding on social media, Kyrissa Gieszler said.
The group is also affiliated with the Northwest Haunters Association, which compiles a nation-wide map showing different house haunts online.
If people are interested in attending more than one house on Halloween, they can download and view the map.
Hillsboro has two family-run haunted houses. A second, Haunted in Hillsboro, is located on N.W. Hertal Street and Ninth Avenue.
The association also hosts workshops and a convention for "haunters" to learn how to expand the ambience of their homes, like how to compose chilling sound effects.
The Dread Keep group plan their own evenings to make props, often playing a B-horror film in the background.
"It always comes together and looks awesome," Van Winkle said. Next year, they plan to return but aren't set on a theme quite yet.
The Dread Keep will be open as trick or treaters begin to arrive on Wednesday, Oct. 31, which usually happens around 5 p.m., Kyrissa Gieszler said.
By Janae Easlon
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune971-762-1166
Follow Janae at @Janae_Easlon
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