Frankenstein lurks in Bedford church for Halloween

Boris Karloff in the 1931 film version of “Frankenstein.” A Bedford church is honoring the novel’s 200th anniversary.
Boris Karloff in the 1931 film version of “Frankenstein.” A Bedford church is honoring the novel’s 200th anniversary.(AP Photo/Universal Studios Home Entertainment)

The First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Bedford is gearing up for a Frankensteinian weekend.

On Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, members of the public in search of a frightful trick or sweet treat can find it at the sixth annual First Parish Haunted House.

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” all three floors of the 201-year-old church will transform into something out of a novel.

Last year, the church saw 1,000 visitors from Framingham, the South Shore, and even New Hampshire drive over for scares.


“There’s a steam-punky flare to it, and that attracts a lot of people,” said “Haunt Master” and head organizer Karl Winkler.

More than 80 volunteers, ages 7 to 84, will help set up the haunted house, which will include a food court, games, and activities. This year, children in the “Not Quite Dead Dancers” will showcase a choreographed performance to the song “Thriller” by Michael Jackson.

“It’s quite an undertaking,” said Gene Kalb, an organizer of the event. “It’s a bit beyond what any other church would attempt to do. It’s kind of crazy.”

But those who are easily spooked should not be scared off. “This is more of a performance,” said Kalb. “There’s no gore or blood.”

Winkler said vampires are also off limits.

“It sounds silly, but our partner church is in Transylvania,” he said. “I feel like they get a bad rap, and we don’t have to do it. There are plenty of things that we can focus on.”

The themed rooms in the church include the Bedford Society of Alchemists and the Bedford School of Alchemy, the Spectral Lounge, Mary Shelley’s Drawing room, Doctor Frankenstein’s Laboratory, the Menagerie of Monsters — where participants can see how fictional character Sweeney Todd prepares his notorious meat pies — and many more rooms.


“I can’t reveal what’s in the pies,” said Kalb. “But there is a bit of humor involved.”

Those seeking more thrills are invited to take the Hellavator down to the Dungeon of Doom in the church basement, which was designed for people “who want to be a little more frightened,” Kalb said. “People come out and frighten you. There’s a lot of dark and creepy things in there.”

The Frankenstein theme will take over the second floor of the church, but Kalb is mum about the happenings.

“Actors will be coming off the table and stuff like that, but I can’t really tell you too many details. I don’t want to give anything away,” he said.

The First Parish Haunted House will take place at 75 Great Road on the Common on Friday, Oct. 19, and Saturday, Oct. 20, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and children over the age of 3; seniors pay $8.

“We scale it,” Kalb said. “The earlier on, the more actors tone it down. As it gets late, it gets more and more frightening.”

Those with young children can attend the friendly “Trick or Treat!” event, where actors will hand out candy in full lighting, on Saturday, Oct. 20., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and children over the age of 3; $4 for seniors. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.


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Cynthia Fernandez can be reached at