Florida resident Mark DeWolfe’s home is a museum of horror-movie memorabilia, which he’s been collecting for 20 years.
By Katie Kustura
DELAND — Mark DeWolfe gets one of two reactions from people who step into his home for the first time — “This is awesome” or “Oh my God, what’s wrong with you?”
“It’s a lot of fun,” DeWolfe said of collecting and decorating his house with horror-movie memorabilia. “But it’s not for everybody.”
For anyone who doesn’t personally know the former Utah corrections sergeant, it would be easy, maybe even natural, to assume DeWolfe is someone who goes overboard and fully redecorates the inside of his home for Halloween.
While it is his favorite holiday, the props, costumes, posters and other memorabilia from horror films such as “Hannibal,” “Poltergeist II: The Other Side” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” are permanent fixtures in DeWolfe’s home.
“I like the magic of Hollywood and the illusion,” DeWolfe said during an interview at his home. “This is like an escape for me.”
His killer collection started about 20 years ago after he came across an eBay auction for a costume from “Jason X.”
After that first purchase, he couldn’t help but fall in love with the unique, but often pricey, hobby.
“I think I would have been less stressed and less financially strained if I just got into collecting stamps,” DeWolfe said with a laugh.
It’s hard to know where to look first upon walking through DeWolfe’s front door.
Dead ahead is the living room, and, like most living rooms, it includes a couch, a coffee table and a flat-screen TV.
Directly under the flat-screen is what looks like an old TV set, but inside is the bust of Carol Anne Freeling, the young girl who is sucked into a portal after paranormal activity starts occurring in her family’s home in “Poltergeist.” The bust that DeWolfe owns was used in “Poltergeist II.”
DeWolfe built a box, which he made to look like a vintage TV set, around the prop from the 1986 film. He even added strobe lights to recreate the spooky scenes.
In an area to the right of the entryway, there’s a Christmas tree decorated with lights that never comes down. While the tree wasn’t used in a movie, DeWolfe says it fits with the costumes displayed in the 2006 remake of “Black Christmas.”
Hanging on the wall in that same area is one of DeWolfe’s favorite pieces of memorabilia: a case displaying the mechanical head of Paul Krendler, Ray Liotta’s character in “Hannibal.”
“So many people know that scene,” DeWolfe said, referring to the gruesome part of the 2001 film in which Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, lifts the top of Krendler’s skull, removes some of his brain and then sautés the piece of prefrontal cortex and feeds it to a drugged and confused Krendler.
Another of DeWolfe’s favorite pieces is located just steps from his bed. It’s the miner’s costume from the 2009 remake of “My Bloody Valentine,” a movie about a serial killer who terrorizes a small mining town on Valentine’s Day.
One of the main reasons DeWolfe bought the home in DeLand was because of a room off the kitchen, which he felt was perfect for a Freddy Krueger-themed bar.
The walls are painted with big dark green and burgundy stripes just like the sweater Krueger wears in “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” There are flickering lights throughout and the actual bar looks like a furnace from the slasher film’s boiler room scene.
ORIGIN OF OBSESSION
DeWolfe, 48, has loved movies, especially the scary kind, for as long as he can remember. As the youngest of five children, he often had to be sneaky about watching them since his parents didn’t approve.
When he was a teen, he would turn his parents’ basement into a haunted house every Halloween, his mother, Ceil DeWolfe, said.
Kelly Lindsey, one his siblings, said she remembers taking her little brother to see “Jaws” — DeWolfe says it’s his favorite scary movie to this day — when they were children.
“He was petrified,” said Lindsey, who lives in Atlanta.
“I don’t think he wanted to get back into the water until this past year,” Lindsey said with a laugh.
DeWolfe retired to the area nearly three years ago after working at a Utah prison for 20 years, several of which were in the mental health unit.
In that type of job, DeWolfe said it’s important to have an outlet and the ability to separate oneself from work at the end of the day.
“That environment can take its toll,” he said.
It took DeWolfe about a year to get his DeLand home fully decorated, but the single-story house isn’t his final destination.
On an acre of land in Lake Helen, close to Cassadaga, DeWolfe dreams of recreating, and living in, Norman Bates’ mansion in “Psycho.”
The haunting home is property of Universal Studios, which declined DeWolfe’s request to take measurements of the house.
DeWolfe eventually developed his plans and a miniature model of the movie home based off of the measurements of the front door which was once listed for sale in a catalog of props.
The custom-home build is on the back burner because of costs, but he’s got other goals he can work on in the meantime.
DeWolfe said he wants to make a documentary about horror movies that would include interviews with people like him, who collect such memorabilia, and actors, crew members and fans of such films. He also hopes to have his dream home built by the time he starts working on the documentary.
“I’ve been obsessed with that house since I saw ‘Psycho’ when I was 12 years old,” DeWolfe said. “I think it’d be so fun, just a dream come true.”
This story originally published to news-journalonline.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the GateHouse Media network via the Florida Wire. The Florida Wire, which runs across digital, print and video platforms, curates and distributes Florida-focused stories. For more Florida stories, visit here, and to support local media throughout the state of Florida, consider subscribing to your local paper.