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Best of the Week

The Great Halloween Fright Fight on ABC

Christopher Gildemeister

Release Date: 11/6/2014

For serving up family-friendly, Halloween-themed programming, ABC’s Tuesday, October 28th holiday special The Great Halloween Fright Fight (8:00 p.m. ET) deserves recognition for being the Best TV Show of the Week.

On this Halloween-themed reality show competition, ABC “searched the nation for the biggest Halloween fanatics” who design and build the most creative and scary Halloween haunted houses. Former Extreme Makeover: Home Edition celebrity designers Sabrina Soto and Michael Moloney served as judges, with the winning haunt’s builders receiving $50,000.

First up were Chris & Jeana of “Hollywood Haunter,” in Glendale California. As professional prop designers and builders for the movie industry, this duo had a lot of job-related experience. They used this to build a three-story façade of a haunted house on the front of their own house, which they festooned with peeling paint, lit with purple neon lights, and lined the front steps with jack o’lanterns. As a final touch, when Sabrina and Michael arrived, they were placed in coffins and rolled up to the door!

Next, Eric and Janice of the “Haunted Overload,” in Lee, New Hampshire built a giant mummified skeleton with a fanged skull, which stood like a tree in a clearing. A, giant skull, with its eyes and mouth glowing green, covered the haunted house, with the mouth as the entrance. As Michael and Sabrina arrive, a headless horseman rides up and chases them into the haunt, where a chainsaw-wielding maniac jumps out at them,. With the surrounding trees carved into weird, spooky, monster-like shapes, Michael meets his worst nightmare -- a spooky clown who dances with him

Dave and Andy, of “Terror at Tee Lake” in Lewiston, Michigan, split the labor on their haunted domain. Andy designs the artwork, while Dave constructs it. Their haunt was less a house than a brightly-colored, family-friendly theme park, with one section made of multi-colored skulls hanging from trees, another a painted backdrop of New Orleans with a voodoo theme, a third representing the Mexican festival Day of the Dead, and so forth. A haunted hayride and more clowns completed the effect. Michael praised this one for its “clean, classy, sophisticated” design.

Pirates were the theme of Julie and Neil’s “The Pirate Ship” in Celebration, Florida. A proud veteran of 20+ years in the U.S. Navy, Neil works every year to cover their house with a pirate ship façade. “It went from a small porch display to covering the whole house,” notes Julie. Neil’s ship, which draws over 4000 kids every Halloween, is built for less than $500 using recycled material found in construction dumpsters. When they arrive, Chain up Sabrina is chained up by Julie, Neil, and their followers, all of whom are costumed as pirates, while Michael must sword fight for her. After being impressed with the ship, which is covered with the pirates’ “skeleton crew,” Sabrina and Michael are allowed to leave -- after walking the plank. The last word goes to Julie and Neil: “The fifty thousand dollar booty is aaarrrrgghs!”

In Pensacola, Florida, the designers encounter Shaun and Lynn’s “Mitchell’s Spider Invasion,” where, “When the sun goes down, the spiders come in.” Giant wriggling spiders, moving their legs, and mannequins trapped in webs are the order of the day here. Also present is a creepy-looking Granny, who notes, “There’s a place for all children in this world – and it’s right next to the peas and mashed potatoes.”

The final haunt is created by teenaged Ava and her parents Toby and Anthony. “Haunt for the Hungry,” in Wharton, New Jersey, combines scares and altruism. While the rickety mine shaft, cackling witches, torture chamber, cleaver-wielding butcher, and victim in the electric chair provide the scares, any money raised goes to feed the homeless.

After carefully reviewing all the choices, Sabrina and Michael award the $50,000 prize to Haunted Overload, for its careful attention to detail…and, one suspects, its success in scaring Michael with the clowns.

Attending a “haunted house” is a time-honored activity at Halloween, but not everybody can participate in it. For those who can’t, The Great Halloween Fright Fight provided a safe and less-than-scary way for viewers to participate, and helped them appreciate the creativity and work that goes into building a haunted house.

For giving viewers a taste of Halloween in a family-friendly manner, ABC’s The Great Halloween Fright Fight is the Best TV Show of the Week.

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Mars Candy sponsored this program. To thank them for supporting family TV, click here.