This Halloween don't just get scared.
Get scared with a purpose.
For several years Ben Raffe and his wife, Taylor, have hosted a fundraising haunted house on their property, starting when they lived in Plainfield and continuing when they moved to Shorewood.
Trekking through the half-acre Domum Diaboli (Home of the Devil) Haunted House is free, donations are optional. The Raffes previously collected for the American Cancer Society, raising $350 last year. About 600 people went through the haunted house over four days, Ben said.
This year, Ben is expecting close to 1,000 visitors, since Domum Diaboli Haunted House will be open for six days. The Raffes are collecting school supplies for Joliet Public Schools District 86.
"This year, we wanted to do something for the local community," Ben said.
Domum Diaboli Haunted House has no age limit, but the event "is meant to be scary," he said.
"It's focused on older children, teenagers and adults," Ben said. "But little kids can come through. They can request a guided tour, which is more toned down."
Ben himself has plenty of haunted house experience. He said he worked the Stateville Haunted Prison in Crest Hill, Dream Reaper in Melrose Park. He also helped the Joliet Jaycees with its haunted house and he also helped open a haunted house in Summit with a team of other people.
About 15 to 20 volunteers help the Raffes with Domum Diaboli, Ben said.
"And a lot of them have worked with professional haunted houses," Ben said.
The Raffes also hope to add another helper in the future.
"We have a daughter [Ayla] who is a little over a year now," Ben said. "We're hoping when she's a little older she 'll want to get involved."
But it's not simply the fundraising component or the fact it's on private property that makes this haunted house unique. Ben said every prop either has been constructed or scavenged by him.
"There's not much that's store bought," Ben said. "Every year I add a little bit more and every year it gets a little bigger."
Building and setup usually begins in the summer since Ben needs four months to fully assemble it. Taking it all down takes less time, about a month, he said. Planning for the following year begins right after the holidays, he added.
It takes about 10 minutes to walk through all of it, Ben said. And everyone seems to have a good time, he added.
"For most people, it's an escape from reality," Ben said. "It's like seeing a horror movie. Most people like to get scared when watching a horror movie. It's the same way with a haunted house, except it's more interactive."
Any vandalism? Not yet. Nor is Ben expecting any.
"We do have hidden cameras," Ben said. "So if anyone ever tries, we'll have everything on camera."
Elements of a good haunted house: "The best haunted houses are the ones that can plan on people's fears. You know before they even come what's going to work on them and what isn't."
Inspiration: "I'm an artist and my wife [Taylor] is a tattoo artist; we both have creative minds. I'm fascinated with horror and stuff like that, so haunted houses have always been the thing for me, 20 years now."
Words of Wisdom: "You can't scare everybody, but you can entertain everybody, even if you get a laugh out of them.'
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Domum Diaboli haunted house
WHEN: 7 to 10 p.m. Oct. 19, Oct. 20, Oct. 26, Oct. 27, Oct. 28 and Oct. 31
WHERE: 411 Brook Forest Ave., Shorewood
TICKETS: Free. Donations to Joliet Public Schools District 86 for school supplies accepted.
INFORMATION: Visit Domum Diaboli Haunted House on Faceboo.