The words “haunted house” yield many different reactions: some people get excited and eager, while others pale and shrink away. If you’re more apt to be terrorized rather than enjoy the terror, the “Realm of Fears” Haunted House at 17 Ridge Ln. in Wilton, created by 26-year-old Mike Pulitano, and open to the public, is not the place to go on Halloween night. It’s open on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6-11 p.m., but … beware!
Because I’ve lived just up the street from the frightening spot for so long (almost 10 years), I can testify that this is the scariest haunted house in all of Wilton, and one of the best in Fairfield County. Screaming from all the jump scares and disgusting imagery only under a quarter mile away from our home is a tradition in my family, even though I’m the type to startle easily on any other normal day just from my friends poking me when I don’t expect it. Now imagine that kind of surprise at a hardcore haunted house.
It does help that I walk by the house every afternoon once I get off the school bus, and I can see Mike in the process of building the structures that make up the haunted house and doing all the extensive other setup. As a younger child, I would sprint past the Pulitano house in the afternoons, willing myself to not look up the driveway in fear of possibly seeing one of their too-realistic decorations. Even now, as a sophomore in high school, I keep my head down and walk a little faster when I get to their driveway.
Talking with Mike, the mastermind behind it all, also helped bring down the “fear factor” (but I must admit, I asked him to please not scare me in the interview, which he thankfully didn’t).
Mike has been creating haunted houses since he was ten. He told me he’s always loved scary stuff, whether it’s watching horror movies or frightening others. Going to other haunted houses doesn’t scare him at all after doing his own for so long because he knows all the behind-the-scenes magic, but it does help him come up with some of the scaring tactics to use in his own haunted house. However, Mike says that the vast majority of his ideas are “homegrown,” and come with combined brainpower of his brother and mother as well.
That’s not the only place the family helps out⎯they’re the people inside the haunted house when visitors enter, with help from friends and both of the Pulitano brothers’ girlfriends. Like last year, this weekend they’ll have a total of 15 “scarers” on hand.
Mike says that Halloween 2014 was by far their most successful year, which he largely attributes to publicity. He also said it was the longest preparation time that he’s ever spent on it, putting in a staggering three months of preparation and building. Thankfully, he saved most of the structures he built last year, so he has only needed a far shorter three weeks for the 2015 edition.
The haunted house stands in the family’s backyard, however, there was a time when Mike ran it inside the Pulitano house. Mike says that he stopped converting the home’s interiors because his parents didn’t want strangers going through their household, adding, “I can’t just drill holes through my walls like I can with the structures.”
This haunted house is not for someone who prefers gentle trick-or-treating over being scared to the point of going into cardiac arrest (like me, although Mike and I do agree on one thing⎯that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the best Halloween candy, and we won’t be told otherwise). But come October 31, I’m going to be at 17 Ridge Ln. (and I’m dragging my boyfriend with me, so he can keep me safe). I give my utmost praise to the Pulitanos and I urge everyone to go to this fright fest for a fun Halloween.
The “Realm of Fears” Haunted House is located at 17 Ridge Ln. in Wilton. It is open to the public on Halloween, Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6-11 p.m.. There is no fee to enter although donations are appreciated. Parents should be cautioned that this is scary and may not be suitable for very young children.