BRITISH COLUMBIA

Dunbar Haunted House To Scare Its Last Soul (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

10/19/2013 12:01 EDT

The Dunbar Haunted House is set to put its zombies and ghouls back in the grave after scaring the neighbourhood for a decade.

"We'd rather stop while we're still having fun, as opposed to trying to push it past our comfort zone," co-founder Brad Leith told The Huffington Post B.C.

The haunted house, which expects to host over 14,000 visitors eager to scream at its gruesome sets and terrifying creatures, began at 6478 Dunbar Street, in a home that Leith, a Vancouver Film School (VFS) instructor, owns with girlfriend Annamaria Spanier and two others.

Only five kids came trick-or-treating in 2003, their first Halloween in the house. So the following year, they set up a graveyard scene in the driveway, burning styrofoam to make it look like gravestones. That drew closer to 100 visitors.

Check out some photos of the Dunbar Haunted House over the years. The story continues below the slideshow:

Dunbar Haunted House

The owners stepped up their game in 2005, decorating the front of the house and their newly-paved driveway using props, masks and costumes. Hundreds of people visited in the weeks leading up to Halloween, with over 500 in attendance on the night itself.

"We started with displays that were basically for kids," Leith said. "Then we got this wild public response that we didn't predict and we were actually befuddled and confused by, because most of the people that came were adults."

They also turned the haunted house into a charity event, raising just under $5,000 for the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund.

The attraction evolved into a "ghost walk" in its third year, taking visitors all around the house, and raised around $20,000 split between the Burn Fund, the Vancouver Police Union Charitable Foundation and the British Columbia Childhood Cancer Parents Association.

In 2007, Visitors lined up from opening until closing to experience "The Terror of History," depicting scenes from horrors such as the Black Death and 19th-century insane asylums.

By 2010, the event's seventh year, traffic issues and complaints from neighbours forced organizers to find a new location and they eventually signed a three-year lease for a warehouse at 8934 Shaughnessy Street, for $60,000 per year.

Any money earned has gone to charity or paid the rent. Last year they raised over $67,000.

But the event has become an arduous commitment for the organizers, who spend many hours building the elaborate sets.

"A lot of it's gratuitous," Leith said of the work involved. "Most people spend about eight to 10 seconds in a section. It's not unlike a film."

This year's theme returns to the "Terror of History", with visitors globetrotting through Egypt, the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.

Leith has no plan to pass the Dunbar Haunted House onto a new generation of spookers.

"I know other people are doing haunted houses," he said. "In North America, there's over 8,000 haunted houses, and at least three-quarters, about 75 to 80 per cent of them are all charity haunted houses, so other people will put on something."

The Dunbar Haunted House runs until Oct. 31, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and from 1 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

General admission is $10, under 12s can enter for $5.

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