Extreme Design is what Halloween is all about. You can trace it back to the Druids who had their own decorating frenzy with what was available: pumpkins, cornstalks and fall leaves. They decked their abodes in honor of the summer’s end festival Samhain, the ancient predecessor to Halloween. Fast forward a few centuries and along comes Martha Stewart. Her wicked sense of decorating whimsy has led us all into a new level of creep chic,
No one is content with the simple grinning jack-o-lantern. Not when there are downloadable templates of ravens, skulls, witches and even Celtic knots you can carve onto your favorite gourd.
Dallas is especially not content with the same old thing. Texans are notorious for doing it bigger and better and of course creepier.
Hansel and Gretel would be right at home in Judy Whalen’s stone cottage in Forest Hills. “I trick out the house and yard with all kinds of frightful and fun surprises,” Whalen said. She and husband Jack Unruh have an edgy sense of style. Doll heads fill a birdcage in the corner of a room and rubber rats crawl around her vintage glassware. Skeleton portraits abound and ravens take roost in a moss -covered tree. “ We turn the arch at the front door into a dragon mouth and the kids have to reach in to get their candy,” Whalen said.
In another corner of the neighborhood Gary Gibson has created a spooky and humorous cemetery in his front yard. “Something about the neighborhood; the old houses and huge trees, makes it the perfect setting for trick-or-treating,” Gibson said.
“Our house provided all the inspiration we needed. It's a stately English Tudor built in 1938. It sits back on a corner lot and just cried out for a cemetery. So we built one.” Gibson’s sense of humor is evident when you read his quirky tombstone inscriptions, “Scooby Doo, but now he don’t”, “Jack be nimble…not so much” and “Told you I was sick”.
Liz Simmons brings a whole new level to decorating her Hollywood Heights home. Where else but Dallas would you find someone willing to tear up the front yard to dig a couple of graves? Simmons revels in making her own decorations.
“Skulls, monsters, the creepy cemetery fence, almost everything I have is home made,” she said. “ Halloween is about scaring kids.” Every year they line up around the block eager for the frightening sight of Simmons shrouded in the fog, waist deep in a grave, pet boa constrictor draped around her neck. Yep, Dallas knows how to do Halloween.