VanOaks Cemetery: 2018 Review

VanOaks Cemetery, Sherman Oaks, CA

We're sneaking in a double header today, but I’ll be honest, this nightcap is mostly eye candy. It’s a home haunt yard display that we also visited last year: VanOaks Cemetery! The creation of SoCal Valley Haunts co-founder, Derek Young, and his wife, Erin, this incredible front yard graveyard is quite a sight to behold. Located in a sleepy little residential neighborhood in Sherman Oaks, it imbibes a spooky atmosphere to the street from dusk until 11:00pm each night, now through Halloween.

 An overview of the spellbinding VanOaks Cemetery.

An overview of the spellbinding VanOaks Cemetery.

The details of this yard display are absolutely exquisite. Each tomb stone is hand carved and painted and aged, and the quality rivals and exceeds most any prop one might be able to purchase commercially.

On top of this, magnificent theatrical lighting baths the yard in an eerie prism of ghostly colors. From the blue wash across the house to the greens and purples and oranges cast on the graves, the entire scene is wonderfully photogenic. Strobes for lightning effect and a few warm lanterns complete the ensemble.

 It’s a most stunning graveyard.

It’s a most stunning graveyard.

 There are lots of fine details in both the tombstones and the theming. Lovely touches of Halloween.

There are lots of fine details in both the tombstones and the theming. Lovely touches of Halloween.

Beyond that, VanOaks Cemetery also has a nice little soundtrack to provide ambient music and really craft a spooky Halloween scene. Though it’s just one house, and the neighboring houses are not decorated at all, this concentration of theme is quite immersive. Also contributing to the atmosphere is the ghostly projection sequence illuminated onto one of the front windows. Amazingly, this is not a purchased product, but rather recorded and edited by Derek himself. The imaginative creativity really is quite fantastic.

VanOaks Cemetery has been a built-up haunt over the years, so a look across the graveyard shows an evolution of the sophistication of the Youngs’ craft. This does mean that a lot of this year’s display is similar to last year, but there are new elements, such as a ghostly radio that comes to life every once in a while—a cool little Easter egg of sorts.

 new this year, this ghostly radio that plays music once in a while.

new this year, this ghostly radio that plays music once in a while.

Since it is a yard display, VanOaks Cemetery will take up no more than 10-15 minutes of one’s time. It’s not a destination upon itself, but it’s a great accompaniment to one’s haunted adventures in the area for an evening. VanOaks is one of countless numbers of home haunts scattered about the high concentration of such attractions throughout the San Fernando Valley and Burbank/Glendale area. Make an evening of this (our SoCal Haunt Guide will help!), and go check out Van Oaks Cemetery this weekend!

 The projections at VanOaks Cemetery are really cool as well… and entirely custom handmade!

The projections at VanOaks Cemetery are really cool as well… and entirely custom handmade!

VanOaks Cemetery is located at 5822 Norwich Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91411, just northeast of the I-405 and 101 freeways. It’s actually pretty close to Spooky Hollows, a great home haunt which will be open this weekend. That’s a convenient combo for any haunt enthusiasts out this weekend, and an economical one too! As a yard display, VanOaks is completely free, and any home haunt (or haunts) one partners it with will be free as well—though we encourage donations to support these passionate Halloween fans who are bringing the spirit of the holiday to their neighborhoods!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.