Kyle Cursi has always loved Halloween. His friends know it; his kids know it, and his neighbors definitely know it.
For the past 16 years, the Concord man has been transforming his home into a haunted house, complete with a bloody bathroom and an evil doctor’s laboratory. Nicknamed the “Cursi House of Scream,” more than 1,000 people pour in from across the Bay Area each year to walk through the creepy haunt.
This year, it’ll be open on Oct. 28, Oct. 29 and Oct. 31 starting at 7 p.m. and ending shortly before 10 p.m. In the past, it’s gotten so busy that the Cursi family has reluctantly turned people away out of consideration for their neighbors. It’s not unusual for lines to snake around the block of the quiet suburb, Cursi said.
Cursi never charges a dime to attendees, despite spending weeks each year building the house with his two teenage sons. He says he’s committed to keeping it that way, no matter how elaborate the scream house becomes.
“I’m not doing it to make a profit,” he said. “What do I get out of it? I mean, it’s fun for me. I was always into drama in high school, and this is kind of like a little avenue for me to become a character.”
Cursi’s commitment to the annual event runs so deep that when it came time to buy a new house, finding one that would accommodate his Halloween tradition was a priority.
“One of the reasons I bought this house was because of the two garages and the backyard,” he said. “At the time, I thought: Okay. This is the house I want, because I’m going to continue doing my haunted house. It’s really just grown from there.”
To be sure, it’s not a haunted house for the faint of heart. It’s become scarier with each passing year, he said, and some attendees can’t even make it all the way through the exit doors.
“We’ve actually had someone, um, go to the bathroom they were so scared,” he said. “So I think it’s definitely scary for people.”
The attraction is recommended for ages 8 and up, although the Cursis will typically alter some of the more spooky aspects of the house if a young guest requests a lighter version.
However, It’s not just the young kids that get a little carried away, as Cursi’s son, Harrison, knows all too well.
“I got beat up by a couple of elderly women,” Harrison, 18, said with a grin. “A couple years ago, Lionsgate film sent us some posters for a couple films they had. So we were passing those out, and a group of elderly women started using them as weapons...”
Harrison said both he and his friend were smacked with the rolled-up posters for “about five minutes” until the women decided to leave. He remembers the altercation fondly.
For Max, the youngest member of the Cursi family, the haunted house has been around longer than he’s been alive. At only 15, some of his earliest Halloween memories revolve around having a decadent haunt. It’s “always” something he looks forward to.
“It’s good to give people a scare," Max said. "When a lot of people come through, they say 'oh, all the other ones we’ve been to are nothing. But this one, this one is good.' So, you know, it’s nice to know we’re doing something right.”
Cursi said he’s never quite sure how many people to expect, but he’s “always pleasantly surprised” by both the turnout and the reaction of people who pass through.
“The enjoyment people have when they come back around and say, ‘oh my god! It’s so scary! Thank you so much! Seeing people’s reactions…that’s the best part.”
The Cursi House of Scream is located at 5625 Lewis Way in Concord. For more information, call 925-323-7280
Gillian Edevane covers Contra Costa County for NBC Bay Area. Contact her at Gillian.Edevane@NBCuni.com