Tony Giles' neighbors have just one complaint: The trick-or-treat traffic he draws to their street requires stockpiling hoards of candy.
But, that's a good problem to have; otherwise, Giles says his little section of northeast Plano has overwhelmingly appreciated the elaborate Halloween yard displays he has created since 2011. He calls it the Pine Lakes Halloween Haunt Home and sets a spooky scene using "all professional static props, life size and real as they come."
It's hard to estimate just how many visitors drop by 705 Pine Lakes Drive each year, but on the final nights leading up to Halloween, lines snake around the corner and as far as a block. Viewers begin driving and walking by the fenced-in display after the initial setup on Oct. 1. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Giles will add a tunnel so trick-or-treaters can enter the yard and receive goody bags. Last year, his family handed out over 1,000 of them.
Unlike many haunted houses, there's no cost or catch. To keep it fresh, each year Giles ups the ante by creating a new thematic experience from scratch; for instance, 2012's creepy carnival, which featured a chainsaw fright at the end, was featured on HGTV's Home Strange Home. He purchases new materials and tricks them out with his own touches, which he says functions as a way to express his artsy, creative side.
For the display's fifth year, Giles has fulfilled a long-term wish: To introduce classic Hollywood baddies to younger generations of horror film fans.
"I wanted it so realistic that people think they're on a movie set," he says of this year's Hollywood villain theme. "I didn't think I'd ever get to do it; it's been done so many times, but I wanted to do it correctly and accurately."
To reach that standard, he sources latex mannequins from a friend who works at a special effects studio in California. Then, he distresses costumes by hand with an eye to authenticity.
"The jacket Jason is wearing started out brand new tan jacket," he says, gesturing to a representation of the main character from the Friday the 13th slasher franchise. "I burned it, did all the grinding to give it that weathered look."
He also built the columns and sign that stand over his front walk and installs the surrounding fence and tunnel. In all, initial setup takes a weekend, but Giles -- who works full time as a personal fitness trainer and also competes in bodybuilding events -- spends countless hours perfecting the look each year. He estimates that his physical work spans about three months each year, though planning and brainstorming usually starts six months in advance. During final days, he often finds himself up at 3 a.m. finishing up small tweaks.
Giles considers himself on the "extreme" end of Halloween yard display enthusiasts, and he's a member of social media communities like Haunter's Hangout, where he connects with other fans for ideas, inspiration and -- at the end of each season -- to sell the year's props. Following his haunted carnival, an eager buyer drove a U-Haul from the East Coast and loaded up the entire lot.
That's a reliable way to offset costs, but when it comes to his immense time investment, he says he has considered putting out a donation box or starting a GoFundMe campaign. He might do that one day, but for now he likes being able to offer it just for the community's enjoyment.
"When I was growing up, there was a house in my neighborhood that did something similar, and it really left an impression in my head," he says. "I like creating memories for kids who'll always remember my house as adults."
Those very memories ignited Giles' passion. He says he didn't grow up in a family that was especially enthusiastic about the holiday, but his hobby is now a family affair. His brothers help with set up and construction, and his mother hands out trick-or-treat bags.
"She stands at the end of the tunnel by the front door wearing something that's not scary so the kids know where to go and so they feel safe taking their goody bag," he says.
Younger children tend to come earlier during late daylight hours with their parents, with older children stopping by after dark, when Giles adds special lighting, fog and music for the full spooky production. He says he's watched neighborhood children "graduate" from viewing from afar with mom or dad to taking on the trick-or-treat tunnel by themselves, courage increasing with each passing year.
This year, he's taken extra delight in visitors' questions about the movies in which his villains star. He picked movies he personally likes with iconic bad guys; many are immediately recognizable, but others like "Man in the Mask" from The Strangers or the witches from Clash of the Titans might are a bit more obscure, which avid fans of the genre have appreciated.
"One little boy about 7 years old wanted to see all the movies, so his mom told me she let him watch the trailers to figure out where to start," Giles says. "I suggested Jeepers Creepers; they're all going to be bloody, but you want to steer clear of the nudity and swearing at that age. You definitely save The Exorcist for last."
Plan your life: Viewers are welcome to drive or walk by 705 Pine Lakes Drive anytime between now and Nov. 1. The walk-through tunnel goes up Oct. 29, with trick-or-treating from sundown to about 10 p.m. nightly, rain or shine. Stay updated on Facebook, and check out photos of recent visitors.