Haunted houses are a hotbed for goose bumps, scares and a weird sense of claustrophobia, despite not seeing who or what is rubbing up against the victim. For thrill seekers, this is a ‘must do’ activity, and for slightly reserved students, like me, this comes as a welcome break to a tedious work week.
My visit to the haunted house at Schmitt’s Family Farm in Melville, N.Y., was an evening I will not soon forget. The farm—a family business run by the Schmitts— grows pumpkins, corn, apples and vegetables. Every year for the past two generations, the farm gets a makeover of sorts to ring in the spirit of Halloween. The seasonal haunted house tour is a star attraction, bringing in a beeline of excited youngsters, families, grandparents and kids. There is no age limit on fear.
The haunted house trips begin at 7 p.m. and go until midnight. My friends and I arrived at the farm with mixed feelings. It seemed cheesy to one friend, exciting to another and plain absurd to me. The nip in the air sent a cold shiver down our backs as we huddled together to keep warm. We joined the long line of people under the barnyard roof. The setting was typical of what you would expect at a horror set: masked figures making stealthy approaches on unaware guests, shrill sound effects that startle the crowd and a weird looking house. To divert the attention from the cold night was a projector screening “Ghouligans,” amateur videos of ghouls, zombies and jokers in what seemed to be a recreation of the classic horror movies.
Ferdi Schmitt, the third generation Schmitt, enjoyed growing up on the farm and attending the annual haunted house tours. He says it is the thrill of walking into the unknown that makes it fun. After a 25 minute wait that included discussing various horror movies and scenes that scared us most, we four ladies were ready to get spooked. The actual trip inside the house has no story line. A slow walk through the many rooms makes you nervously clench your partner’s hand. The selling point of the tour is the darkness. With no sight, the sense of touch, smell and hearing is heightened, often times making you imagine the worst horror scenes. After several deafening shrieks, shrill laughs, curse words and taking the Lord’s name in vain, we managed to make it out alive.
Schmitt’s added attraction is the outdoor haunted corn maze. Schmitt says, “There are not many outdoor attractions on Long Island.” A section of the corn plantation has been designed to give thrill seekers an experience of being scared in the dark in the field. The four of us, now more bold and daring, decided to do the haunted corn maze. Honestly, the moonlight partly spoiled the walk, as it faintly illuminated the tall heads of corn and fencing, taking away the feeling of the “unknown.” The walk to us recreated the scene from the movie “Signs.”
After our exit from the maze, we walked out feeling relieved that our $23 was worth the wait. With more than 800 ticket purchases on any given day, the haunted house is an attraction that has many lining up to get their share of spooks.
The tours are currently on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 p.m. to midnight, and will extend all week during Halloween. Schmitt’s farm also does children’s scary house trips during the day. If you’re taking the train, the easiest route is Stony Brook to Huntington and then a bus/cab to Melville.