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haunted movie house black brick fireplace with cake display
Do You Dare Enter? It's a Haunted House of Horror Movies

Do You Dare Enter? It's a Haunted House of Horror Movies

  • By Alexandra Churchill
  • Photos by Billye Donya

The premise for this party is simply spine-chilling: Transform each room of the house into a scary cinematic scene—like "Poltergeist," "The Birds" and "The Shining"—that strikes fear into your heart, then beckon unsuspecting guests to explore what lies within.

For Royale Ziegler of But First, Party!, the idea for this modern Halloween party comes from a series of iconic images on the big screen. 


"The artistic concept was inspired by several scary movies that have haunted me my whole life," says the event stylist. "Starting with 'The Shining,' I never truly quite got over that scene with the blood gushing out of the elevators as a child and have always loved how visually impactful it is. Another film that terrified me as a young girl is 'Poltergeist'—any time the TV went to static, I was convinced a ghost had made its way into the television set. Lastly, I wanted to reference 'The Birds' because that attack scene really ruffled my feathers!"


She called up two of her friends: Rachel Huntington, owner of party boutique Bonjour Fête, and Alexis Andra, founder of event design and styling business The Shift Creative. Together, the three women combined creativity and creepy touches to bring this macabre vision to life.

Inviting the Victims

"Do you like scary movies?" R.S.V.P. "yes," and that's all guests needed to do to join this fright-filled night. The dark, dramatic stationery—courtesy of Bliss and Bone—was designed in the color palette of the decorations and reminiscent of dark splatters (whether ink or blood, it's part of the mystery).

Enter a Transformed Abode

What sort of space could be hospitable for such a haunt? The Andra Dwelling, home to hostess Alexis Andra and her husband Allen. This 1979 Tudor style home set on three acres of land in Southern California was an extensive fixer-upper project for the couple—installing giant beams to the ceiling, crisp black-and-white tile along the stairs, and warm-hued wooden floors. "Alexis opened her home to us, and we could not have been more in awe of the space," Ziegler gushes. 


Our tour begins in the first room of the house, inspired by "Poltergeist." Little girl Carol Anne Freeling in the horror film is known for saying two words: "They're here!" So befitting the phrase, guests were whisked away and transported into this room—a stark white space strewn with metallic fringe garlands—designed by Andra to look like the inside of a static-television screen.

She's in the TV

The conceptual room for "Poltergeist" was inspired by the film's poster, which features static on a television and a little girl sitting in front of it with her hands on the screen. "Funnily enough," Ziegler remarks, "when she sent me images of the space, she had her television hanging on the wall in a perfect space to recreate the infamous poster imagery!"

How to Make Static Fringe Garlands

Recreating the look is easy—all that's needed is a mix of black and white fabrics, silver foil streamers, scissors, chicken wire, and monofilament.

  • 1
    Step 1

    Create a color palette of fabrics, focusing on black and silver hues, and incorporating metallic and sequin details for added shine and texture. Cut 10 strips of fabric per foot of garland length, in various lengths to add depth when the garland is strung across. The strips here each measure 2-by-8 inches in size.

    Step 1
  • 2
    Step 2

    The chicken wire can be measured to whatever length you'd like for the overall display. It's made of flexible, galvanized steel wire with hexagonal gaps—ideal for the base of a garland. For the fringe trimmings, start by tying dark-colored fabrics as the base.

    Step 2
  • 3
    Step 3

    Tie each strip to the chicken wire, looping through the hexagonal gap, knotting in the center and allowing the ends to drape.

    Step 3
  • 4
    Step 4

    Hang the fringed garland from various points on the ceiling using command hooks or fishing line. "We loved criss-crossing the fringe and adding in metallic streamers hung lower for a really dramatic effect!" (Don't worry if it's a little wonky—it's all part of the sporadic static look.)

    Step 4

The Aviary

An aviary is a place for keeping birds confined. But anyone who's watched Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" will know that some birds break free... and what's more, they're out for blood. Enter the second room of this haunted house, inspired by the 1963 Hitchcockian classic. The table was set with a gauzy linen runner by Silk and Willow, blood-red goblets, glittered cast-iron ravens, and modern black and white place settings. A spread of delectable eats was served, and a cake did double-duty as the centerpiece. Installation artist Ashley Renuart crafted the nests looming overhead and a few stunning floral arrangements.

Sinister Seating

Hand-lettered place cards on murky stationery, courtesy of Bliss and Bone, told each guest which seat is theirs, respectively.

Feathered Finesse

Perched on a chair, this dramatic arrangement in a matte-black vase mixed odd varieties: black poppies, smoke bush, white garden roses, Majolica spray roses, dried Italian ferns, Scabiosa pods, and branches with decrepit-looking lichen. A single ostrich feather reminds that the birds are absent but ever-near.

Uncaged and Unhinged

These ethereal nests were inspired by the order and organic quality of real-life bird nests. For the ones pictured aloft: Renuart gathered "nests" of blue thistle, and dusted them white with a touch of spray paint. Curly willow branches added more texture and softness. Bundled together with floral wire, the nests were then suspended from the ceiling on fishing line seemingly in mid-air. The birdcages—eerily empty of inhabitants—were lovingly chosen from Archive Rentals' vintage collection.

Feeling Peckish

Birds aren't the only voracious ones in this room. For guests, two decadent hors d'oeuvres were served: a cheese platter and quail eggs with caviar. The platter was piled with sliced meats, bloody-red pomegranates, and figs halved with the flesh exposed. Then, baguette toasts were prepared from soft-boiled quail eggs and night-black caviar. Both were catered by Haute Chefs LA, and both would appease a murderous avian's appetite.

Attack of The Birds

Talk about a showstopping sweet: A swarm of feathered assailants alight on a triple-tiered cake, courtesy of Grace And Honey Cakes. The feathers on this dessert were crafted from wafer paper, which is an edible starchy paper, dyed with food color, and punched out with feather paper punchers. They were then applied to the cake delicately, feather by feather, with a touch of piping gel to help it stick to the fondant coating.

You'd Best Beware

After dinner, guests were led along a black and white tiled staircase that winds its way through The Andra Dwelling. With each step aligned with glittered ravens, this walkway transitioned into the third room for after-dinner drinks. It's theme? Stephen King's film adaptation of "The Shining" about a haunted hotel and one man's descent into madness.

Murderous Mixology

"REDRUM": Spell it backwards, and that six-lettered word summons a gruesome scene to mind. As the writer-turned-hotel-caretaker in "The Shining," Jack Torrance was a frequent patron of the Gold Room's bar, and friend to the (plot-twist!) ghostly bartender Lloyd. This cocktail would have undoubtedly been his go-to order, and also served as the signature sip for the party. Agave, pomegranate juice, and beets are brought to a boil. Sweet homemade grenadine serves as the "blood."


Get the Vampire Vodka Cocktail Recipe

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A Scarlet Staircase

The bloody elevator scene from "The Shining" is a disturbing, unforgettable moment—something that balloon extraordinaire Huntington recreated sans the gore. "In order to achieve the effect of blood gushing down, we introduced metallic red fringe to an organic red balloon installation cascading down the banister," Ziegler explains. "The movement of these balloons and pop of crimson against their stark white surroundings, gives me the same sort of visually stunning impact that the scene in the film does." In total, the installation was crafted from 200 balloons furnished by Qualatex varying in size—from 9 to 36 inches—as well as packs of red metallic fringe curtain for that oh-so dreadful drip effect.


Event Styling & Planning: Royale Ziegler of But First, Party! | @butfirstparty 
Photography: Billye Donya | @billyedonya
Cake: Grace And Honey Cakes
Invitations: Bliss & Bone
Balloon Installation & Party Goods: Rachel Huntington of Bonjour Fête | @bonjourfete
Balloons: Qualatex | @qualatex
Fringe Installation: Alexis Andra of The Shift Creative
Venue: The Andra Dwelling
Florals: Ashley Renuart
Rentals and Birdcages: Archive Rentals | @archiverentals
Linens: Silk and Willow | @silkandwillow
Catering: Haute Chefs | @hautechefsla