Halloween isn't just for Oct. 31 anymore -- the ghoulish celebration stretches throughout the whole month of October, with plenty of spooky movies, wild costume parties and, best of all, haunted houses.
The Halloween Haunt at California's Great America in Santa Clara is just one of several ghastly productions. Here are four more:
Fright Fest: Each year, the 135-acre Six Flags Discovery Kingdom theme park undergoes is transformed into a Haunted wonderland. The festivities include costume contests, kid-themed shows, a pumpkin patch and, of course, the famed haunted houses/mazes -- such as Massacre Mine and Bloodbath Bayou. 4-10 p.m. on Fridays, noon-10 p.m. on Saturdays, noon-9 p.m. on Sundays through Oct. 27; Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, Vallejo; $41.99-$61.99; www.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom.
Sarah Winchester's Mystery Maze: Northern California's creepiest tourist destination celebrates the season by offering up a giant maze, filled with more than 5,000 bales of hay and extending over a half acre. Local ghost busters might also want to learn more about the special Flashlight Tours being offered of the Mystery House (separate admission). 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, through Nov. 10; Winchester Mystery House, San Jose; $8-$12; www.winchestermysteryhouse.com.
Pirates of Emerson Haunted Theme Park: This Halloween extravaganza offers up six haunted houses, including such scary destinations as Clown Evil, Hotel Hell and Mental Maze. Other attractions include the Frightmare Sideshow, Misfortune Teller and Emerson's Oddities. Through Nov. 2 (hours and days vary); Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton; $25-$75; www.piratesofemerson.com
World's Largest Haunted House: As the name suggests, this is a really big production, and provides plenty of like-sized scares during the Halloween season. Beyond the House itself, the event also features carnival rides and games. The popular Family Fright Night is held on Oct. 26. 7 p.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturday; 7 p.m.-11 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 1; Santa Clara County Fairground, San Jose; $20-$22; www.worldslargesthauntedhouse.com/
-- Jim Harrington