The Journal News

October 24, 2013

If you happen to drive by Peter DeLuca’s Briarcliff home this week, you might be fooled into thinking the large contemporary, in a neighborhood of lovely homes, is off-limits to trick-or-treaters. And that’s just the reaction DeLuca is hoping for.“One year, my neighbor asked this woman driving up and down my block if she was lost,” he says. “The woman replied by saying she had a meeting at one of the houses down the street but was just looking at the neighborhood. She then asked my neighbor, ‘What’s up with that abandoned house down the street?’ That question made me so excited because it proved that my house was realistic enough to fool a complete stranger.”With boarded-up windows, cracked garden ornaments, crime-scene tape and graffiti as key elements — oh, and throw in some tombstones and spooky colored lights — DeLuca’s oeuvre is as creepy as any Wes Craven tableau.That un-lived-in look isn’t easy to achieve, however. DeLuca, who is 24 and works as a set builder for local community schools and theaters, spends the better part of the year working on the design. He started building his own props about five years ago as an antidote to store-bought decorations. “I always try to do something different and push the limits of the typical Halloween scene,” he says. “The past few years, I’ve been sticking with an abandoned theme because I see it as being much more realistically scary.”The tradition: “I’ve been decorating my house since I was a child. My father used to get really into it. I started getting tired of prefabricated Halloween decorations which never lasted, were corny, and always turned up in my neighbor’s yard when there was heavy wind. The first prop I ever made was the coffin sitting in my cemetery.”One thing I would never include: “A blow-up yard decoration. I think they’re just really corny.”Time you put in: “I spend the whole year thinking of ideas and keeping things my mom throws out that might come in use. Honestly, it takes me almost the whole season to get everything just right. I’m constantly adding things until the season ends. Once Halloween is over, I immediately take note of things I plan to do differently next year.” Up and down: “I start decorating at the end of September. This year, it took me about three weeks to get my outside done; however, I’m doing the inside, too, because we’re having a Halloween party. As far as taking them down, the past two Halloweens have been ruined by inclement weather so my decorations were taken down before October even ended. Assuming weather isn’t a problem, the decorations will probably come down the first week in November, when I start getting ready for my Christmas display — which is also quite the set up.”What the neighbors think: “I’m afraid to hear what my neighbors think. As I’m working outside, they slowly drive by until they notice I’m outside, then they speed off. So I assume they find what I do very interesting.”Why you do it: “I love working with tools and painting. Any chance where I can be creative is a chance for me to try something new. The best part about doing what I do is knowing it’s beyond ordinary. Sure, there are plenty of people who go to the extreme when decorating and literally throw everything they have outside, but it’s very rare you see a house that’s tastefully done to the point where a viewer is fooled into thinking the house is really abandoned.”