Since Brookfield resident Rick Mastroianni was a kid, he dreamed of creating the neighborhood’s informally designated “Halloween House” — the one neighbors intentionally walk past to soak in eerie decorations and brace for a jumpscare.
Now, Mastroianni and his husband, Raphael Mastroianni, spend most nights in October standing among the zombies, ghouls and flashing lights that have taken over their front yard.
Since moving to Maple Avenue in 2020, Rick and Raphael have combined their passion for art and love of horror movies and Halloween to create a front-yard spooky- season spectacle. They’ve named it Halloween on Maple.
“The world is very divisive right now and it’s really nice to be able to bring the community together over their love of Halloween,” Rick said. “We just try to do something to get people in the spirit and make people laugh.”
Raphael added, “This is such a fun thing for us to do each year. We’re just so grateful.”
In past years, the duo has presented one theme at a time. They started out small — by their own standards — in 2020 with a five-piece Poltergeist exhibit. But in an effort to expand their display and make the most of a small yard, this year they’re premiering a triple feature, which includes scenes of a Martian invasion inspired by Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!, as well as an undead cemetery and a crazed butcher.
Machines hidden in the grass puff out hazy smoke and carefully placed light fixtures illuminate the dozen or so creatures of the night that rise out of their front yard. The corpse collection includes a smoldering zombie smoking through his clothes, another dressed in a white and green hazmat suit, and See-Through Sindy, who has a hole in her torso wide enough to poke a whole hand through. Passersby never know which delightfully terrifying ghoul might jump out next.
The couple has even created an auditory component to complete their display. Visitors hear a uniquely curated tape of emergency alerts — “This is a broadcast of the emergency alert system. This is not a test. I repeat, this is not a test.” — and news reports warning of an alien invasion.
The final nail in the coffin? The whole display is controlled manually, meaning every puff of fog, zombie scream, and flashing light is intentionally triggered. They’ve even got a built-in alarm system: Their three dogs bark when visitors approach, notifying the couple that there’s an audience waiting to be spooked. Handheld devices can set off lights, fog and individual animatronic figures from their dinner table.
The Mastroianni’s front yard has become a beloved neighborhood Halloween staple, drawing hundreds of people each week from Brookfield and beyond. Laura Pena, who lives across the street, has watched the display grow over the years.
“It’s fabulous. I like how complex it is,” Pena said. “I really, really appreciate and love how much intention is put into each detail.”
Putting on a community-recognized Halloween display is no small task. The couple spent over three weeks setting up this year’s display before their official opening in early October. They also buy all their own materials and props. Raphael even drove three hours to Wisconsin to pick up one of their newest beloved zombies.
So how much does it all cost?
“A lot. But that’s okay. That’s our investment for this because to see your smile and your laughter and your joy, that is one thousand percent worth it,” Raphael said.
As for the future, the Mastroianni’s plan to keep stepping up their Halloween game. With an abundance of scary movies and gruesome props for inspiration, the couple already has their sights on next season.
“I don’t know what next year will hold, but I know it’s going to be bigger,” Rick said. “For sure. I have a lot of aspirations.”
Halloween on Maple at 4208 Maple Ave. will welcome visitors every evening through October. Even the bravest of sidewalk spectators might just find themselves spooked.