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E.P. Foster’s 2023 Horror In The Stacks

Kathleen Cheng
The Horror In The Stacks event took place at the E.P. Foster Library. The second floor was covered with black paper restricting all light sources and converted into a haunted maze. With a total of six zones to go through, the maze also had craft stations at the end to bring some peace after going through it all.
The soft pink lighting blends in with the walls, costumes, hanging doll heads above and the stares received from human dolls as you walk by. These dolls are able to control you. Never look back because you wouldn’t want be their next target. (Kathleen Cheng)

A sunny reading refuge by day, and a haunted house by night– “Horror In The Stacks” is E.P. Foster’s annual Halloween tradition, featuring DIY haunted areas created by middle and high schoolers across Ventura. While its absence has been felt in previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event on Oct. 20, 2023, marked its spooky return to E.P. Foster since 2019.

This year’s rendition featured six different themed sections: “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” creepy clowns, mad science lab, vampire dinner, haunted asylum and a dollhouse. Each section was organized and decorated by student volunteers of E.P. Foster’s Teen Advisory Group (TAG). Volunteers organized their own groups to design, plan and decorate their sections as well as their costumes— from styling thrifted clothing, do-it-yourself fake wounds and elaborate makeup, each student had the opportunity to represent the individual flair and student freedom the event has been known to showcase.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s”

In lieu of the horror video game classic, the maze began with the gory pizza party of the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” franchise. While guests walked past stray balloons, blood-splattered pizza boxes and eerie animatronic heads, they frightfully awaited jumpscares from a costumed Freddy Fazbear and Foxy.

Following their visit to the animated eighties pizza party, visitors then entered the Creepy Clowns’ crazed circus. Among the wallpapered bright psychedelic swirls, colorful streamers and a spinning circus top canopy, jesters hid in unsuspecting spaces between the library’s stacks of shelves and jumped out at visitors.

Kathleen Cheng

Mad Science Lab

After an impromptu trip to the circus, visitors witnessed a raucous lab operation, performed by a volunteer cast of frenzied scientists in bloodied lab regalia. Jars of bloody organs and various surgery tools were arranged across E.P. Foster’s maker space-turned-lab, which provided convenient tables to serve as lab benchtops and an operating table and added to the section’s sciencey atmosphere.

Vampire Dinner

Invitations were accepted to a sanguine dinner party, the Vampire Dinner section. Volunteer vampires staged a table shrouded in red cloth with a gauzy, candle-lit dinner complete with fancy plating and place settings. The metal dome tray at the table’s center was lifted to reveal a volunteer’s head to serve— a clever feature created by the space in between the four round perimeter tables used to create the full round table.

With screams echoing from the Haunted Asylum all night, the bloody handprint and writing is only the start. Turn the corner and be carful not to anger any suspicious surgeon, you don’t want to be their next patient. (Kathleen Cheng)

Haunted Asylum

The latter half of the haunted maze included the haunted asylum, a flashy and intense walkthrough experience. The narrow hall towards the back of the young adult section provided a great space to emulate a haunted asylum hallway and hiding spaces for volunteers, with strobe lighting, bloodied warning signs, a cloaked rocking chair and decorations strewn across the ceiling light.


After the scares of the haunted asylum, dolls waved silently at visitors as they exited the maze. In the image of a young child’s bedroom, striped vintage wallpaper, a large teddy bear, a puppet stage and various dolls strung from the ceiling furnished the space to create a creepily sweet feel.

The event was an overall success, with anticipating families eager to return after its years of dormancy. Pinholes and tape marks from previous “Horror In The Stacks” events may still be seen upon E.P. Foster’s walls— a reminder of the beloved longstanding tradition of Halloween festivities and fright they aim to deliver every year.

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About the Contributors
Lily Toreja
Lily Toreja, Writer
I sew, I love mochas and I would most likely die for you if we have a five-hour phone call.
Kathleen CHeng
Kathleen CHeng, Videographer
Videographer that loves Sanrio and re-watching the same show 10 times.

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