A house full of horrors

By Mark Squibb | Vol 7 No. 20 (Oct. 24, 2019)

For the last several months, Jane Green and Todd Skiffington’s basement has been filled with body parts.

Eighteen in total, and they’ve been growing them in jars.

They’ve since taken those bottles of fully-grown body parts and strewn them across their yard.

Todd Skiffington, Autumn Skiffington, and Jane Green with a portion of their spectacular Halloween display. Mark Squibb photo

Todd Skiffington, Autumn Skiffington, and Jane Green with a portion of their spectacular Halloween display. Mark Squibb photo

But if you pull up to their home on Sunrise Avenue, or happen to drive by, you might not notice them right away.

You’re more likely to notice the towering, plywood resemblance of Frankenstein’s monster standing guard over a creepy graveyard, mad scientist, and bloody murder weapons.

Once you stop and look a little closer, you’ll begin to notice the jars of hands and feet, hearts and brains, the giant spiders, and the skeletons sprawled at crazy angles.

Green and Skiffington, and daughter Autumn, are quite proud of their spooky Halloween display, and for good reason, as the home has a city-wide reputation as being one of the houses that every trick-or-treater has to go to on Halloween night.

“They come here in van-loads, and they come up to the house, then get aboard the van and go on again,” said Todd.

The family expects at least 300 trick-or-treaters every year, but the final numbers are closer to 500 or 600.

“We’ll see kids go up and down the street in June or July month and they’ll whisper, ‘that’s the house,’ and we enjoy that,” said Todd.

The house is a hit with students attending nearby Morris Academy, where Autumn attends.

Autumn, who turns nine on Oct. 27 (her mother jokes that she hoped she would be born on Halloween), is credited with this year’s ‘mad scientist’ theme— largely due to the prospect of growing foam body parts in jars of water in the basement.

“The whole basement was full of body parts growing. Everyday we were down checking on them,” laughs Jane.

Meanwhile, Jane is the Halloween aficionado in the home; the holiday is one of her favorite times of year.

“She likes Halloween more than all of us,” joked Todd.

“The kids just enjoy themselves, the little bit of thrill that they do get. And it’s not like you have to spend

a fortune to give them a good time,” explained Jane. “They’re excited to go to someone’s door and have an experience.”

Many of the decorations are original with the couple; large sheets of plywood painted with macabre backgrounds and monstrous creatures, including the indomitable Frankenstein monster. For years, the couple even had two collapsible plywood boats captained by a team of rowdy skeletons

“I didn’t realize Frankenstein was going to be so big,” she said of the towering figure, which Autumn helped her paint.

“I used (Todd’s) old driver licence for the face on Frankenstein. I just wrinkled up the nose a bit,” she laughed.

And, like most versions of the monster from Mary Shelly’s Gothic classic, the monster on Sunrise Aveneue is brought to life by a bolt of lightening, which zig-zags above his head, and of course lights up at night.

For some young children, the display may be a bit frightening; in such cases, the family meets the kids half-way to make sure everybody gets their treat fix.

The family, who have been going all out for with their displays for years now, say they have no plans of slowing down.

“We have fun with it and the kids enjoy it. While we can do it, we’ll do whatever we can,” said Todd.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s rewarding for us.”

Posted on November 6, 2019 .