"Open House of Horrors" is the fifth episode from Season 4 of Modern Family, it aired on October 24, 2012.

Plot Summary

Claire has overdone it in Halloweens past and the neighbors definitely don't share her enthusiasm, so this year she's being forced to tone it down and keep it "family-friendly" and Phil has an idea to hold an open house on Halloween night. Meanwhile, Mitch and Cam host a costume party while contending with Lily wondering who her real mom is, and Gloria's pregnancy hormones are on overdrive, making her even more hotheaded than usual.

Episode Description

Much to Claire's disappointment, the Dunphys halloween decorations did not have a horror theme this year as they had to keep the decorations more "family-friendly". Actually, a neighborhood petition banned it. She couldn't even carve a pumpkin (the petition was very specific). Given she scared a lot of kids last year...and gave one parent a heart attack by conveying to pull her heart out using professional-grade makeup.

PHIL: That's the point, Claire! It was overkill. You're the type of person who can be twice as scary without makeup.

Cameron and Mitchell are trying to get their Halloween costumes right because Cam lost some weight. Of course, the costume store still figured Cam would be the bull and Mitch be the matador, but there's actually a bigger problem. Lily wanted to go as a princess again because a tired Mitchell once told Lily her real mom was a princess and was very busy, so she let Mitchell and Cameron take care of her. Mitchell didn't know she would hang onto a bedtime story like that, but she did. And since Mitch didn't own up to it, Cam couldn't figure out why Lily was so obsessed with princesses.

While Jay was unable to charm his way out of a ticket, or to get Gloria to not be pregnancy-induced ticked off, Manny actually picked up some street cred with the other students. To clear his mind for a test, he was practicing his Gene Kelly dance moves in the one does...and he accidentally hit the fire alarm. Because of that, all of the students didn't have to take a test and were grateful to him because of it. Although one of his friends told him not to join them at the park later because he had to apologize to the whole school on Monday, Luke said it was a chance to get in with the cool kids. Although he was certainly in better shape than Claire, because now all of the kids were avoiding the house for trick-or-treat. She even tried to go out in her Little Bo Peep costume to pass out "brand name candy" and only ended up snagging a little girl by accident with her staff and made her parents think it was a kidnapping.

At Mitch and Cam's, they were throwing a party, Cam was beside himself because nobody could see he lost weight under the bull costume, resorting to 'flashing' everybody (not in a perverted way) so they could see his body, and Lily suddenly spotted her mommy. Actually, she spotted someone in a princess costume and Mitch had to explain that wasn't her mommy. But later on, Lily told the princess her mommy was one, too, and now Cam wants to know what's going on. Mitchell finally admitted the truth, and Cam brushed it off quickly. Mostly because he's told a few tall tales himself. They decide to tell Lily the truth, that they don't know where her real mommy is. But they convinced her her mommy wanted to put Lily with the most loving family she could, and she did.

Jay and Gloria joined Mitch and Cam, who had changed into a Mr. Roarke costume from Fantasy Island so people could see he lost weight, only to be upstaged by someone who had lost over 100 pounds. Meanwhile, Evel Knievel, or Jay, had to restrain Gloria, who was told she must be dressed as an illegal alien, since she wore an alien costume. Jay tries to tell her to calm down, telling her she cannot be too defensive because she was deported twice from the country but mainly because the baby is affecting her mood, and she thinks the baby is angry inside of her. And now she is freaking out about it. But Jay said being defensive about her baby makes him think she'll again be a great mom, which made her feel better. But then the two punks who left dog crap on their lawn earlier arrived and Jay decided a couple of rotten eggs won't hurt the baby much. And as a reward, Gloria let the princess hit on Jay for a few minutes to make him feel better about still being charming. (Jay thought she was a guy in drag.) But at least Jay complimented Cam on losing weight, and Lily decided to be Tattoo to Cam's Mr. Roarke.

Phil wasn't having much more fun trying to run an open house on Halloween. His logic was to pass out candy to the kids and get the bored-out-of-their-mind parents to look at a nice place. That didn't really work, and Claire was just as lonely being shunned by the neighborhood. Suddenly, Claire had an idea. Empty house, Phil by himself, and Claire needing to convince him she can be scary? Well, it turns out it's a lot harder than it looks. Somehow, Claire couldn't scare Phil, but she did leave her Little Bo Beep staff at the door, so now Phil thinks Claire snuck into the house. Phil starts looking around the house for Claire. But then an actual customer comes by, and now Phil is afraid Claire will pop out and scare them. Naturally, Phil goes crazy trying to keep the couple away from Claire. The good news is she still gave him quite a scare after they left.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring

  • Colin Hanlon as Steven
  • Rodrigo Rojas as Stefan
  • Rodney To as Sam
  • Kevin Cahoon as John-John
  • Jackson Odell as Ted Durkas
  • Spenser McNeil as Reuben
  • Katherine Disque as Police Officer
  • Billy Evans as Skeleton
  • Shak Ghacha as Lemon
  • Davis Desmond as Chimney Sweep
  • Marieve Herington as Chimney Sweep's Mom
  • Lucia Sullivan as Home Buyer #1
  • Joel Spence as Home Buyer #2
  • David Bloom as Einstein
  • Trent Carlton as Einstein's Friend #1
  • Riley Rydin as Einstein's Friend #2
  • Len Cordova as Vampire's Dad
  • Emmalee Rainbow Abrams as Genie
  • Janie Haddad Tompkins as Genie's Mom
  • Shirra Alcine as Trick or Treater #1
  • Lilia Buckingham as Trick or Treater #2
  • Cole Sand as Trick or Treater #3


  • This is the second Halloween episode, after "Halloween". Ruben appears for the first time.


Cultural References

  • Cam dressed as Mr Roark from the TV series Fantasy Island. Lily later dresses as Tattoo, and does his famous catchphrase, "Ze plane! Ze plane!"
  • Jay talks to the police officer about the Police Academy films.
  • Manny practiced Gene Kelly dance moves and wishes to have Mary Poppins powers.
  • Phil makes Harry Potter references.
  • The TV turning on to a white noise channel, while Phil is alone at the house is a reference to the 2002 horror film The Ring, or the original japanese version from 1998 Ringu.
  • The old phone ringing in the empty room could be seen as yet another reference to the 2002 horror movie The Ring, but could also be a nod to Alfred Hitchcocks Dial M for murder from 1954.
  • The line uttered by Phil upon realizing that Claire, who called the house he was presenting, is home;"This call isn't coming from inside the house" is a reversion of the classic urban legend of someone calling from inside the house. It is a line uttered in several movies most notably in When a stranger calls from 1979.