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Hackensack Dad's Halloween Display Will Blow Your Mind, Haunt Your Dreams

Guerino Cilli with his Vlad The Impaler display in Hackensack. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Cilli and his son, Giorgio, 16, spent all of Sunday working on their haunted Hackensack Halloween display. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Cilli recreated Vlad The Impaler... he's all the way at the top. The first year Cilli got the mountain as tall as it is, he was the one in the chair. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
This is Halloween. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
This legitimately spooked us. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine
Nope, not creepy. Not one bit. Photo Credit: Cecilia Levine

HACKENSACK, N.J. — If you've been there, you know the Hackensack house we're talking about.

You know, the one on Poplar Avenue with a mountain of skulls more than 10 feet high, inspired by Vlad the Impaler. Can't miss it.

It's got heads on sticks like lollipops sprouting across the lawn. Animatronic bats. Bodies hanging from trees. Knights that greet you at the door.

Altogether, it's a work of art by Guerino Cilli, and it will give you nightmares.

"I don't hunt and I don't follow sports," Cilli said. "This is my hobby."

Cilli's haunted Halloween display started in 2007 as a way to upstage a house on Clinton Place.

It began with a couple of skulls, some inflatables and a sign above his door that says "This Is Halloween" — for the family on Clinton.

But as his neighbors' displays diminished, Cilli's grew.

"I have a knack for building things," said Cilli, who makes everything by hand. "I have access to stuff at work that would otherwise be thrown away."

The fence, for example, isn't usually on his lawn. He got that from work and will disassemble it after the holiday. Same with much of the material he uses to craft the wooden torture devices and "Dead Zone" arch above the walkway.

Cilli and his son, Giorgio, started putting things in place in early October. There was one year they skipped it, and visitors were upset.

"It's a lot of work and I just wasn't in the right head space that year," Cilli said.

Building the display is only half the battle. Most nights toward the end of the month, Cilli stands outside on his lawn with a cup of coffee, entertaining guests and fielding questions.

"Everyone wants to know where I store all of the stuff," he said, pointing to the barn in the back of his house.

Cilli wonders how much longer he'll do it for, as he too is starting to lose heart.

He told Daily Voice he wants lots of people to come this year and motivate him to carry on the tradition.

Be sure to drop a donation into the box at the front of the walkway that Cilli will give to the ASPCA.


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