A circle of ghosts with glowing eyes. A 7-foot animated clown with a creepy laugh holding a screaming doll by its ankles. A neon “Bates Motel” sign.
And the word “Help” written in red on the front door, under the not-so-subtle message: “You’re next.”
These and other Halloween decorations at Samantha Muscato’s City of Tonawanda home range from Pinterest-inspired homemade creations to scary finds purchased in stores and online.
But Muscato also has some elaborately designed decor like none other – all crafted by her uncle, Michael Bucur, an artist and retired art teacher who lives in Rochester.
His creations include a witch on the staircase with a papier-mâché face and hands and painted PVC pipes for limbs.
A dozen or so masks he made from clay or papier-mâché are prominently displayed on the first floor.
Another figure stands in an uncovered wood-plank coffin positioned upright – its hair unruly, its gaze unsettling as it stares at visitors with an open mouth.
His other creations are included in what Muscato calls the “ugly baby doll collection.”
Bucur – “Uncle Mikey” to relatives – got Muscato into all this Halloween madness.
“I can remember growing up, and every year he would have the most amazing Halloween party ever. So it really got me involved in Halloween,” said Muscato, a real estate salesperson who leads the Muscato Team at Keller Williams Realty.
“He’s older now, so he’s pretty much done with it. He handed over the torch to me and gave me most of his decorations,” she said.
Muscato’s 19th-century home is an ideal setting for all this. She limits the decor to the living room, dining room and bar room – as well as the front lawn.
The house, which she bought in 2017, was featured in September at Buffalonews.com as a Home of the Week.
When Muscato mentioned at the time that she goes all out decorating for Halloween, The News told her to expect a visit.
Kira Meadows, her 12-year-old daughter, admits to not being fond of some of the decor, especially the clown in the dining room.
“I don’t like the clown,” Kira said.
“She closes the door,” her mom said.
This year the two collaborated on new decorating projects.
“I got her more involved. I’m starting to make stuff with her to take some of the pressure off,” Muscato said.
(Plus there’s the haunted-house-themed Halloween party for her friends that Muscato promised her – in addition to a second party Muscato has planned for her own friends.)
Mother and daughter worked together to create the front-yard decor.
The main feature is a circle of six handmade ghosts displayed around a cauldron. The idea came from Pinterest.
Each masked ghost was created by draping white garbage bags over a trick-or-treat bucket, which is repurposed as a ghostly head, and a tomato cage.
They added a glow stick to each face “so their eyes are red at night,” Muscato said.
The glow sticks, buckets and some of the other materials – including skeleton heads and chains used to create an outdoor gate – came from a dollar store.
“The inside has always been decorated since I’ve lived here. We just started doing the outside this year because we have nowhere else to put it inside,” Muscato said.
The decorating project takes days and days to complete, beginning with hauling everything up from the basement. Muscato’s boyfriend, Justin Bacon, is a big help.
The work is worth it, Muscato said.
“This is so much fun. You can be so creative,” she said.
She has bigger plans for next year. “I would like to do themed rooms – a chemist room with potions, a complete clown room, maybe a baby room ... ”
Naturally, after hearing this and seeing the entire Halloween display, one has to ask: So how do you decorate for the holidays?
“I decorate for Christmas, but not like this,” Muscato said.
Kira elaborated: “We don’t have giant Santas hanging from the ceiling.”
Do you love your home? Tell us about it.
One of the most popular features in The Buffalo News Home & Style section is the Home of the Month, which features a local home and the people who live there.
Our Home of the Month appears online – along with a gallery of photos by a News staff photographer – as well as in a print edition of Sunday Home & Style. (Today's story will appear in print Oct. 27.)
In fall 2017, we launched another feature that appears online only – the Home of the Week. This lets readers inside even more homes.
The Buffalo News continues to look for other local homes and the stories behind them and their décor. Those chosen will be displayed in the weekly feature at BuffaloNews.com.
The residence also could be chosen as a Home of the Month.
Here’s what to do if you’re interested: Tell us about your home in 150 words or less, and email 10 hi-res images (in JPEG form) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s OK to send the images split among several emails. Please include your name, the city or town where you live and a phone number.
We will contact those chosen to be featured on BuffaloNews.com. We also will publish online some or all of the photos you submitted. If you have problems submitting photos, please email email@example.com.
If your place is chosen for Home of the Month, we will visit your home for an interview and our own photo shoot.
*Take a look at our September Home of the Month: