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Hooked on Halloween

West Linn man's passion for haunted houses again provides plenty of thrills for Halloween night
by: Vern Uyetake, David Webster said his family has more Halloween decorations than Christmas décor. Those visiting his haunted house display will find him making a surprise appearance after a flash of light.

'I am a huge horror movie buff. It all started with 'Friday the 13th' and escalated from there,' said David Webster of West Linn.

When Webster was 7 years old when a man dressed as a werewolf leaped towards him on Halloween and 'scared me to death,' he said. Now married with three kids of his own, Webster hopes to pass on this torch of terror each year on Halloween.

And judging from the graveyard in his front yard and pretend torture chambers in the garage, this year will be frightfully delicious, that is, if you like eyeballs, chainsaws and talking brains.

'The haunted house idea started with my father-in-law,' Webster said. 'Knowing how much I liked Halloween he convinced me to start a haunted house and I acquired (a lot of his) decorations when he moved (from Lake Oswego).'

Webster and his wife Ann Marie and kids Andy, 12, Julie, 10, and James, 4, have more decorations for Halloween than for Christmas.

'And we have so much Christmas stuff,' Ann Marie said.

This year, body parts, an electric chair, a rat-infested hallway, fog machine and trap door will provoke shrieks within the Webster's garage on 2329 Athena Road, off Apollo Road in West Linn.

Webster - along with two friends - will pull out the stops to give trick-or-treaters and their parents a thrill.

'The older kids always want to come inside,' Webster said, 'and the younger kids just skip our house altogether. Last year we gained candy because (scared) kids would drop their's.'

To conclude the haunted house tour this year, 'a surprise visitor will show his face, the room will go black and everyone will scream,' Webster said.

The whole production is a process. Webster maps out his haunted houses weeks in advance, he said, and then does last-minute shopping.

'I think I enjoy the whole thing more than the kids,' Webster said, who works at Innovative Cereal Systems in Wilsonville - a baking science and technology company specializing in enzyme application for foods like bread. 'But I would have loved to be a special effects guy for movies.'

The Websters have so much Halloween décor that they have to warn maintenance workers that visit the home.

'The cable guy looked really scared once. We had to tell him that the boxes labeled body parts are not really body parts,' Webster said.

'There was a hand sticking out of the box,' Ann Marie said. 'So funny.'

A few years ago, Webster converted his back deck into a haunted ghost ship.

'We did a makeshift mast,' Webster said, 'and had skeletons.'

'The lights made it look so realistic,' Ann Marie said.

Last year the garage was themed after the movie 'Friday the 13th' and featured walkways, a synched VCR clip from the film and its famous character, Jason, in a mask.

'It played on a loop,' Webster said.

At the end of the clip, Webster held up the hockey mask and described what Jason was wearing while loose in West Linn.

'I said the only escape is through a tunnel,' Webster said. 'As the kids came through the tunnel it was blacked out with a strobe light and I hid in the corner with the hockey mask.'

He said scared parents abandoned their kids in the garage and ran.

'Hilarious,' he said.

Each year the family e-mails friends and neighbors and hands out flyers at the kids' schools to get visitors on Halloween night.

And Webster's affinity for horror is starting to trickle down to Andy.

'He set up a scene in our downstairs bathroom with ketchup,' Webster said. 'He staged the whole thing and screamed that he cut his finger with a pocket knife.'

Webster said he believed the whole thing. But on Halloween night, friends and neighbors will be the ones getting duped.

'But I have cute (decorations) by the front door,' Ann Marie said, noting that kids don't have to go through the garage.

She continued, 'David joked that our house is like the devil took over Martha Stewart. (On Halloween) I sometimes have to tell people, '(David is) a normal guy. He's not crazy. He was a Cub Scout den leader. He just loves Halloween.'