Salem man bringing the haunt to Halloween

SALEM – Just past a gate leading into the Salem Frights graveyard at 470 Wellington Road 7, a small doll holding a teddy bear comes to life, her monotone voice eerily greeting brave souls.

Through the darkness, ghouls growl, crows caw, a bush rustles, and the deep resonance of bells is carried along the fog seeping around gravestones bathed in haunting red and yellow light.

If it’s jarring and makes you think twice about making another step—that’s the point.

Darryl Magierowski is a screen printer by day and bringer of fright by night. Pictured is a portion of his 3,000 square-foot creation, Salem Frights, constructed in the front yard of his Salem home. (Photo by Jordan Snobelen)


“I do want to scare you,” Darryl Magierowski says.

It’s from the dark depths of the Salem resident’s mind that the idea arose for a Halloween haunt Centre Wellington could call its own.

“There’s not enough Halloween stuff going on out there anymore,” Magierowski remarks on an evening tour of what could pass for a movie set.

The perilous path to Magierowski’s wicked creation—part spectacle and part haunted house attraction—began at the beginning of the year.

Salem Frights is blanketed in an eerie fog on Oct. 27, 2021. (Photo by Jordan Snobelen)


Although Magierowski admits he had some practise doing something similar in his former hometown of London, everything—save for some animatronic characters, with names like “Miserable Marie”—has been created from scratch.

“I wanted to bring something back … I just wanted to give it that extra little touch,” Magierowski says.

Figuring out the layout of the 3,000 square-foot attraction was the most challenging part of the whole endeavour. Lumber was laid out across the front lawn of Magierowski’s property, forming an outline where everything would eventually end up.

Together with his father, Magierowski started constructing everything indoors, gradually moving outside with the bigger items and warmer weather.

Every little detail, from the orange moss on a gravestone to blood-smeared clothing, has been done by hand.

All of the spooky characters and props (save for some animatronics) used to create Salem Frights are handmade by Darryl Magierowski and his father. The crypt, seen at the far right of the frame, is home to a sub-woofer creating bass felt in the ground. (Photo by Jordan Snobelen)


Magierowski searches for an explanation for where the lure and creativity stem from. But the inspiration, he says, comes from cemeteries, dark amusement park rides and horror films.

“I’ve always been into zombies—stuff that’s creepy,” he says.

The tale of Magierowski’s fascination with the underworld begins when he was only six years-old.

His sister locks him alone in a basement room. The lights are off, and the 1978 movie Halloween lights up a TV screen. A camera pans past a candle-lit jack-o-lantern in the movie’s opening scene, and the rest, well, “that just changed my life,” Magierowski says. “I like that scare.”

The dead are brought to life at Salem Frights, a haunted house and graveyard handmade by Salem resident Darryl Magierowski. (Photo by Jordan Snobelen)


The Salem Frights haunt operates for two more nights, on Oct. 29 and 30 from 8 to 10pm, when the cemetery gates are opened for children to make their way through a haunted house with live actors—if they dare.

“As crazy as this sounds: it makes me smile when I hear a kid crying,” Magierowski says, laughing. “We’re doing things right then, so it’s fun that way.”

On Friday night, Elora’s 18th and Line Bake Shop will be selling treats at Salem Frights and on Saturday, the Phantom Faction Podcast will be live-casting, Golden Horseshoe Media will retail DVDs and Blu-rays, and Mapleton’s Hometown Hot Dogs will be serving up food.

Salem Frights is located at the home of Salem resident Darryl Magierowski at 470 Wellington Road 7, Centre Wellington. The haunt runs from 8 to 10pm on Oct. 29 and 30. (Photo by Jordan Snobelen)


On both nights, Salem Frights T-shirts will be available for purchase from Twisted T’s, Magierowski’s custom screen printing company.

Admission is free and parking is available down the hill at the Esso gas station or at Soulwork Studio.

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