A house on a hill glows by night as a pumpkin by the door mouths its tale of fright.
Of a Hollywood star being wed to a cad who flees from his post at the sight of a ghost.
"Fade out, fade in. And welcome to Hollywood!" sneers pumpkin Jack. "Where there's a shattered sunset on every boulevard, a broken heart beneath every bungalow."
Ghouls scream. Skulls gleam. And at The House at Haunted Hill, visitors shiver in the darkened street.
For the last nine Halloweens, Matt and Lori Ford have spooked thousands of guests at their haunted spectacular in the narrow heights of Woodland Hills.
This year, however, their Halloween house has gone one step beyond, with the street closed to through traffic.
And the entertainment industry duo has perfected its high-tech magic, produced with the help of Hollywood pals and yearly work from their neighbors.
Free to the public, the front-gate show runs every 15 minutes.
"It's fabulous, it's professional quality," said Joseph Walsh, 42, who drove 45 minutes from El Monte with his wife, Naomi, to visit the haunted manse earlier this week. "This is something you'd see at the Haunted Mansion (ride) at Disneyland.
"Only in Los Angeles - by people with way too much talent."
Crickets cry. Lanterns flicker. Shadows creep among the tombs. And pumpkin Jack unwinds his tale about a house and cemetery tormented by its dead.
And a marriage gone eerily awry.
Julieta LaRoo, Hollywood's "it" girl of 1947, is dressed to marry sleazy screenwriter Billy Valentine, despite warnings from well-wishers. But before rings are exchanged, they are visited by a wraith named Lily and a ghostly girl Moira - Valentine's ex-wife and daughter.
Who have mysteriously vanished without a trace.
Valentine flees over a balcony. And atop a tombstone appears a 3-D face.
"Foolish starlet. This house is mine. That man is mine.
Ghosts party. Skeletons play. And the bombshell spirit of Julietta is last seen hovering inside a clammy crypt. "I like the ghosts," said Sage Grant, 7, of Woodland Hills. "They're cool. They're wicked. They're awesome. And I like the talking pumpkin."
"I'm going to sleep with my mom tonight," added Roman Achucarro, 7, of Reseda.
For years, hundreds were regaled each Halloween by the Jones' yard haunt, loosely based on Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride. Then, worried about Walt's ghost - and Disney's lawyers - they produced their own unique show.
Matt Ford, an Emmy Award-winning lighting designer, performs the spooky tricks. Lori Merkle Ford, a lyric soprano and voice-over actress, wrote the story and performs as Lily.
Then they recruited other friends: Christopher Hoag, an Emmy-winning composer; Jorge Avila, a world-renowned violinist; playwright Ed Valentine, who wrote the script; Corey Burton, a voice for Disney, who plays Jack in a voice like Boris Karloff's; and many more.
Neighbors help set the stage, a monthlong effort, and hand out candy. There are no "Boo!" scares. No searing strobes. Only the friendly face of the macabre.
"It's really about the mystery of Halloween," said Lori Ford, 39.
"Growing up in the '70s, Halloween was such a special thing," added Matt Ford, 41, a Dallas native whose family staged an ever-larger haunted house. "People tricked-and-treated. People felt safe. Kids had fun. Parents didn't have to worry ... It was a real magic time.
"We want to re-create that magic, that happy time, that innocence. We want to see those kids' eyes light up - and to take them back to that place."
That place includes their quiet street, where each evening before Halloween, pumpkin Jack issues a dire warning to visitors.
"Make sure no ghosts, so hard to kill, follow you home from Haunted Hill," Jack says, his voice broken by a gust of wind. "For spirits still walk all about, in Hollywood.
"Fade in, fade out."