Haunted Hawaii: artist creates spooky sculptures in his back yard

 

DSC_0411KAPAHI, HI— Sinister sweets and more tricks than treats are at the Cantu house this Halloween, and if you dare to enter the haunted carnival, you might catch a glimpse into your future.

The Kapahi house is playing host to “Carnevil” — a haunted fair strewn with homicidal clowns and bloodied booths vending poisoned treats.

Live actors are strewn intermittent throughout the yard, which is picturesquely situated  between palm trees at the end of a cul-de-sac, on the westernmost of Hawaii’s main
islands.

DSC_0453
Ismael Cantu with one of the pirates he created for the 2017 Cantu Haunted Yard in Kapaa, Hawaii.

It’s the 33rd year the family has hosted a haunted yard at their own home, and they do it every year for the love of Halloween.

“We’re just getting the last-minute, final touches on everything,” said Stacie Cantu, who heads up the annual family project with her husband, Ismael.

The entire family was pitching in on the haunted yard on the day before the big event, and through all the painting, sweeping, hammering and rearranging; the scenes of the yard were coming together.

“We like to have themes,” Stacie Cantu said. “This year it’s Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Wars and then the haunted carnival.”

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Cantu fixes some last-minute details on his rendition of Captain Jack Sparrow.

Captain Jack Sparrow greets guests entering the Cantu’s haunted yard on top of the hill in Kapaa, along with a fleet of skeletons and a recreation of the popular jail scene.

After mingling with the pirates, the family has a tribute to Carrie Fisher as Princess Leah, with other scenes from Star Wars.

Characters like Leah and Jack are scavenged mannequins with new faces, handmade by Ismael Cantu.

It can take months for Cantu to finish one mannequin and the faces are made with a multi-step process that uses clay, plaster of Paris, and latex.

“We start planning the theme a year ahead,” Ismael Cantu said, “but how long it takes for each mannequin, that depends on what I’m making.”

After a mini-tour of the Star Wars galaxy, guests at the Cantu backyard will meet the family — all costumed in a land that’s home to the Minions, some of the cast from the movie Frozen, as well as characters from Snow White and Beauty and the Beast.

Before entering the haunted carnival, guests can have a conversation with the Evil Queen’s magic mirror — if they can get past her, first.

“The whole family really is involved,” said Annette Hashimoto, who is playing the Evil Queen tonight. “Bryn (Hashimoto), she’s Belle and she has the gown and everything.”

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A palm reader waits to tell futures at the “Carnevil” in Kapaa, Hawaii.

On Monday, dozens of mannequin parts littered the Cantu’s backyard, which is now home to a palm reader, a blood sales booth, and a killing booth.

Vendors along the edge of the yard are selling poisoned apples and “eyes” cream.

It’s a one-night event that the family has hosted in their yard for the last three decades years, starting with Stacie Cantu’s mother.

“My mom was really big into Halloween and Christmas, and so am I,” Cantu said. “So, we ‘ve been doing this with her for years. When she couldn’t do it anymore, we took over.”

The haunted yard has been in Kapahi for the last three years, and before that it was across the valley, in the Wailua Homesteads.

“We had it at my mom’s house for years, but when we moved into this house (the Ioana Street house), we moved it here,” Cantu said. “We’ve never charged for this. We do it because we love it. It’s for the community.”

“I have to say a big thank you to our neighbors for putting up with the noise and everything,” Cantu said. “They’re always so great.”

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Cantu’s rendition of the jail scene from “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

Written for The Garden Island Newspaper. Published Oct. 31, 2017. Photos by Jessica Else.

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