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Schmitt’s On Top Of Their Scare Game 

Friend or foe?

With Halloween just a week away, scaring people is big business, especially in Melville.

By keeping the frights fresh year after year, the Haunted Mansion of Melville, located at F&W Schmitt’s Farm on Pinelawn Road, is one of the longest-running attractions on Long Island’s haunted house circuit, said Phil Mazal, the man who has managed it from the very beginning 19 years ago.

“Everybody at this time of the year wants to go get scared. So they go to all the haunted houses. A lot of people go haunted-house hopping, from one haunt to another,” he said.

And on Friday night, that was certainly the case, as dozens lined up by 7 p.m. on the nose to shell out $19 to tour the Haunted Mansion, $11 to see the Haunted Corn Maze or $5 for “The Experiment, a new interactive presentation featuring live actors and video, which tells a campy tale of a scientific experiment gone horribly – and at times, comically – wrong.

“It’s not really a scare – it’s more of a Rocky Horror meets the Haunted Mansion,” Mazal said.

For those looking for a bit more, stimulation, shall we say, there are the core attractions – a haunted nighttime corn maze on 2 acres of the property, complete with monsters, infrared-triggered booby traps and, of course, the famous chainsaw-toting ghouls.

The famous Haunted Mansion includes a dozen different rooms, and offers sights, sounds and scenes to make the hair on the back of anybody’s neck stand up. Blood and guts, dry-ice, strobe lights, shape-shifting rooms, tight spaces and subtle visual tricks all set up visitors for a spook and fully evoke their fears. Oh, and did we mention clowns? Lots and lots of creepy clowns.

If a guest is particularly frightened, they might blow through the whole house in two minutes flat. But for hardier souls who have a good time being scared, the average tour lasts about 15 minutes, Mazal said. Organizers don’t recommend bringing kids under 8 to the haunted attractions; mature tweens and teens would probably fare best.

Mazal works with his sons, Michael, Stephen and Nicholas, to build and manage the autumn spook-tacular. More than 40 actors come from all walks of life – Phil works for the City of New York, for example – to complete the production. Many return year after year, and a number have been working on Schmitt’s Farm’s Halloween events for more than a decade.

Before showtime at 7 p.m., the actors head to a trailer next to the haunted mansion for makeup – and likely, their ensemble includes a touch of blood. Much of it is an edible formula that smells like chocolate – because, in fact, it is. For anyone who needs to bloody up their mouths for the night, the gang mixes up a blend of chocolate syrup with the right pigments for the desired effect. Spray-guns, paint brushes and more implements are employed to create the ghoulish visages that populate the corn maze and mansion.

Schmitt’s Farm’s attraction open at 7 p.m. this Thursday-Sunday and will reopen next week from Oct. 30-Nov. 2 for the final scares of the season. For more information, visit them online at http://schmittshaunt.com.

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