ALBANY -- In a region of the country where Halloween is almost as big a holiday as Christmas, Sam DuBois fits right in. The eighth-grader at Albany Middle School has loved All Hallow's Eve pretty much all of his life.
When he was 10, he constructed a haunted house in the basement of his house.
"(It) had a ceiling height of about five-and-a-half feet," DuBois said. "So that was fun for the 10-year olds, not the adults."
When he was 12, he set up a graveyard in the yard, complete with a witch's cauldron.
So now, at the ripe old age of 13, he's an old hand at the holiday. But he's also upping the ante. This year, DuBois has set up a full haunted house in the driveway of his house at 1048 Peralta Ave. The attraction will be open a final time from sundown to 9 p.m. Nov. 1.
For a suggested donation of $2, patrons will get a cauldron full of scares. Fog and lightning greet you outside.
After passing through an entry, you come to the living room, full of bugs crawling on the wall and corpses. Scares come from all sides and even from above. Visitors then enter the kitchen to see what the chef is cooking up tonight.
Down a long and narrow hallway and you're in the child's room. Creepy.
After passing through the strobe room, you come to the kitchen and you can see where the rest of the meal came from. If you survive and make it outside, you'll find yourself in the middle of a swamp, surrounded by the dead and, maybe, the undead.
"We have over eight animations, six skeletons," said DuBois, sounding like a Disney "imagineer."
"Over 500-square-feet of fear. People popping out around every corner and you can't see because of fog. When you're outside, there's thunder and lightning going on. And for the little kids, we'll have somebody guide them through it."
Half of the proceeds will pay for materials and the rest will go to the Alameda County Community Food Bank, according to DuBois. Visitors are encouraged to bring canned goods as well -- a barrel is set up.
"About a month into the planning, I realized we could help a charity and I thought the food bank was a charity we could help out," he said. "Other charities, it takes thousands and thousands of dollars to help one person but with the food bank, it's easier. And it's easier to donate canned goods."
The house opened on Oct. 26 and the final viewing is Nov. 1. Nobody will be turned away for lack of funds. Information can be found on the Albany Haunt Facebook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Albany-Haunt/127487577452389).
The theme is a hillbilly haunted house, something DuBois cooked up last year when he began planning. DuBois began buying up marked-down Halloween supplies right after last year's holiday. He created a floor plan and spent much of the summer building parts of the house. He recruited volunteers to perform in the house.
And how long does it take to go through the house?
"It depends on how fast you run," DuBois said.
Albany Haunt will be open a final time Nov. 1 from sundown to 9 p.m. at 1048 Peralta Ave. in Albany. Admission is a donation to the Alameda County Community Food Bank.