Trick-or-Treat: The Filipek Barbie Scream House

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With the Halloween season at a close, it’s safe to say that no family takes the holiday as seriously as M-A’s Filipek family. The Filipek house—located a mere three blocks away from M-A—has seen years worth of Halloween designs and elaborately themed constructions around Halloween time.

In the eighth season of transforming their house into an elaborate spooky-themed haunt, the Filipek family attracted nearly 3,000 people to their 2023 Barbie Scream House. With a laboring force of M-A sophomore Evie Filipek, Bellarmine senior Calem Filipek, Sara Filipek, and Eric Filipek, Menlo Park lived its own Barbie dream—or rather, Barbie scream.

Inspired by the billion-dollar box office hit, the Barbie Scream House showcased neon pink waterslides, flamingos, and a hot-pink colored Mattel Barbie-Doll box for visitors to take pictures in. However, the pink-fest is laced with dark undertones, clowns, skeletons, and fake blood flanking many of the decorations.

M-A sophomore Evie Filipek explained the history of how the flamboyant decorations came to dominate Menlo Park’s Halloween. “What prompted all of this was how the neighboring community, Vintage Oaks, had a bunch of Halloween decorations and a lot of people would just come through their neighborhood next door to us. Our block wasn’t as crowded, so we wanted to contribute to the Halloween atmosphere and draw people into our area and include more of our community in the Halloween spirit,” she said.

With eight years of different themes so far, including “No Candy Land,” “Malice in Wonderland,” “Carn-evil,” “Scary Potter,” and “Strangler Things,” the Filipeks get creative when it comes to their decorations. Each of the family of four have their own role and they make sure to start setting up early, typically beginning to build the year’s theme in September.

Evie Filipek spearheads the creative side of the designs. She said, “I do all the signs and artistic work. For the Strangler Things year, I made a Demogorgon fully out of cardboard.”

Eric Filipek is in charge of the handiwork and carpentry. “My dad does all the wood cutting and mechanical work. He does it all by himself, but some years we fly out family members from the East Coast to help. We also brought workers for scaffolding this year, which is the first time we’ve ever done that,” said Evie Filipek.

Sara Filipek usually orders all of the costumes and hands out candy to trick-or-treaters. With over 3,000 Menlo Park residents visiting the house, high volumes of candy are a necessity. “We usually run out of candy by 9:00 pm and probably give out around 7,000 pieces. I would say we spend quite a bit on candy; probably like $600,” said Sara Filipek. 

This year, perhaps the largest attraction was Calem Filipek’s roof DJ-ing. The Bellarmine senior in a Ken costume, situated atop the constructed Scream House, blasted upbeat music throughout the night.

In terms of cost, the Filipeks try to keep a low budget by making mostly everything themselves and reusing a lot of materials from previous years. “We use a lot of scrap wood and we do paper-mache crafts too. We do buy wood and electronics, so it can be a couple thousand dollars, but we try to keep a very low budget and reuse a lot of the things. We also have three storage containers on the side of our house and a lot of stuff stays in the garage,” said Evie Filipek.

Attracting trick-or-treaters and adults alike, the Filipek household never disappoints with their Halloween decorations. With designs becoming more flamboyant each year, Menlo Park will be on its toes next Halloween season, eager to see what the Filipeks have in store.

Kate is a senior at M-A. She enjoys talking to people and hopes to write stories in which she can represent multiple groups and perspectives around campus. In her free time, she likes to read, play volleyball, run track, and spend time with friends.

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