A half-dozen yards in Cleveland Heights have giant spider webs draped from the trees, skeletons of humans and black flamingos staked in the yards and tombstones with zombies busting from the Earth.
Cars drove slowly past the homes on Stratford Road this morning, causing parade-like traffic on this normally sleepy, tree-canopied street in Cleveland Heights. People squinted and smiled at the elaborate decorations, understandably curious.
The neighborhood has been transformed into a Halloween set for the Paramount Pictures flick Fun Size, starring Nickelodeon’s leading lady Victoria Justice.
According to the Greater Cleveland Film Commission, Justice is a sarcastic teenager forced to take her little brother trick-or-treating. While they're out Justice loses her sibling, and it's a race to find him before mom gets home. Jackass frontman Johnny Knoxville and comedian Chelsea Handler are also featured in the movie, according to IMDb.com.
Crews are also .
Filming is scheduled mostly at night, so when we stopped by the homes this morning, the sets were deserted and no longer guarded.
Karin Murray stood in front of one of the decked-out homes, smiling and taking photos with her cell phone.
“This is crazy,” she said. “We came here yesterday, but the police wouldn’t let us down the street.”
The 52-year-old who grew up in Cleveland Heights stopped by when crews were filming Friday night, and considered sneaking through the trees, just like she did when she trick-or-treated as a kid.
“We walked around the block four times to see whose yard we could cut through,” she said with the same excitement a teenager would.
But she wasn’t there to catch a glimpse of Justice or other stars in the movie. She wasn’t there to be one of the first to see a scene from the movie.
“I’m just choked up by this,” said Murray, who now lives in Pepper Pike. “It reminds me of when the whole neighborhood would get together and (decorate)."
Murray, who was born just about a week after the fall holiday on Nov. 9, has always had more than an affinity for the end of October.
“My mom always said that Halloween is my High Holy Day,” Murray said.
Without pause, her friend chimed in.
“We don’t buy her Christmas presents,” said Marti Spoth, who also grew up in Cleveland Heights. “We buy her Halloween presents.”
Murray estimates that she has nearly 100 Halloween costumes, which she loans out to kids, and as many decorations that covered about seven yards on the set. She once went to a funeral parlor liquidation sale and bought all the signs.
She refers to herself as the "Halloween queen."
Murray walked freely around the once-forbidden set, ignoring the saturated, muddy ground beneath her. Though the trees were green and the official first day summer was just a few days before, the 60-degree temperatures and decorations made it feel like fall.
Dark, cloudy skies that threatened rain didn’t keep curious neighbors and excited teenagers away today. Some said they’d come back later to see if they were still filming.
Anna Kallmeyer and Anna Zarbremba, both 13, approached the sets cautiously, as if they were going to get in trouble. Both had their cellphones in hand. They were hopeful they’d get to see Justice.
“It would be cool if we could meet her,” Zarbremba, of University Heights, said.
Many people who walked or biked by weren’t sure what was going on. But Cleveland Heights resident Kallmeyer had the inside information.
“It’s a movie with Victoria Justice, and it’s about a girl who loses her brother on Halloween,” she explained.
Frank Cohen, who was riding his bike and lives nearby, said he’s happy about the excitement and life in the area.
“I’m just jealous they didn’t use our street,” he said.
Holly Selvaggi, who lives just around the corner, wasn’t even upset when a large set light illuminated her bedroom late last night.
“It was so bright. It was like a bomb went off with no sound,” Selvaggi said, smiling. “I’m happy the neighbors don’t seem to mind."
Murray shared the same sentiment.
“Good for Cleveland Heights for doing this. This is so neat for our city.”
Associate Local Editor Megan Rozsa contributed to this article.