When trick-or-treaters knock on Gil Trester’s door on Halloween night, they’re in for more than a piece of candy.

Trester emerges to tell them a spooky story about a folklore spirit as accompanying music flows from his darkened living room into the front yard.

Then the spirit he’s just described glides down a monofilament line that runs from the second-floor landing to the top of Trester’s doorway, where a strobe light pulses for dramatic effect.

“It’s not Disney or Hollywood or vampires,” he said.

There’s La Llorona, also known as “The Weeping Woman,” a popular character of legend in Mexico as well as in many Central American and South American countries. There’s Baba Yaga, a well-known figure in Slavic lore who is thought to be either motherly, witch-like or both. And there’s a banshee of Irish mythology, a fairy woman said to wail if someone is about to die.

At 1053 Yale St., between Wilshire Boulevard and Washington Avenue, Trester’s handmade, full-size decorations put an educational and historical twist on a night of deception, mystery and merriment.

“I’ve always liked Halloween, and it got to a point where I was really interested in folklore,” he said. “I figure it’ll entertain the kids and maybe teach them something.”

Raised in East Los Angeles, Trester said he had to be careful as a trick-or-treater as a child but that he always loved Halloween. The UCLA alumnus, who has lived with his family in Santa Monica for about two decades, is a retired city employee who served in the public works department.

Trester’s interests in history and folklore led him to develop cultural tours of Woodlawn Cemetery. And those same interests are brought to life on Halloween, when his front lawn is turned into an expanse of eerie surprises.

When his family lived on 11th Street, Trester rigged up a stuffed gorilla that would fall out of the tree across from the walkway to the house. And at his current property on Yale Street, his annual decorations might be even scarier.

Over the years Trester has crafted nearly two dozen spirits, often using old clothing and other household items. In addition to La Llorona, Baba Yaga and the banshee, he also has a 9-foot-tall “terror bird” made of palm fronds, bamboo, recycled paint and cardboard.

He even has “Amy,” a skeleton inspired by late “Rehab” singer Amy Winehouse that clutches beer, cigarettes and a hypodermic needle.

And that’s not all. Trester also fashions his own scarecrows for the front yard by adorning stakes with hangers, masks and odd clothing he’s picked up at yard sales. Then he enlists his son and his son’s friends to help with the haunting.

“They’ll come around secretly from the side of the house, jump into that space between two of the scarecrows and stand there, and it really freaks out some of the kids,” Trester said. “The kids know there’s something different about that scarecrow.”

Meanwhile, the parents who accompany their children to Trester’s home aren’t entirely out of the woods. Taking advantage of the tree that stands near the sidewalk, Trester and his crew use a fishing line to raise and lower a large spider that can hover around the adults’ heads.

“We drop the spider when the parents are waiting,” he said. “It’ll give them a good surprise.”

jeff@www.smdp.com