Living Ind

Fear Factory

by Dege Legg

Museum explores the science of fright

Photo by Robin May

Fear is the body’s natural response to a threat. Fear exploitation is the business of haunted houses and dishonest governments. One is done in good fun. The other is not. In the case of the Lafayette Science Museum’s fast approaching horror exposition, Museum of Fear, it is definitely in good fun.

A year in the making, the Museum of Fear exhibit — attraction, thrill ride, whatever you want to call it — employs an overwhelming amount of film industry special effects, costumes, make up and sets. In addition, the adults-only thrill ride will cast 26 local actors and cover a whopping 10,000 square feet of space in the upper floor of the downtown Lafayette facility.

Exhibits Curator Kevin Krantz is the mad scientist/mastermind behind Lafayette’s first semi-official horror attraction house. But don’t call it a haunted house. “It’s real. It’s scary. It’s a horror attraction,” says Krantz. “When it comes to this project, I’m lactose intolerant. NO CHEESE!” A lifelong fan of horror movies and corpse-plowing heavy metal music, Krantz designed, scripted, and constructed the exhibit with the aid of a small crew, while working long days and nights, turning the upper quadrants of the museum into a bizarre theater of twisted strangeness. Helped along with donations of things like trippy outdated medical equipment from local hospitals, Krantz cooked up ideas in the blast furnace of his mind, painstakingly sculpting the exhibit from a predictable haunted house into in a walk-through maze of high strangeness and scripted theatrics that keep participants guessing what is real and what is not. And what is beyond comprehension.

“In short, it’s an interactive exhibit based on the psychology of fear,” says Krantz. “Each person or group is given a brief introduction to the different types of fears. As they progress through the attraction, those fears manifest themselves in the world we’ve created in the museum.”

From a display of bound and hanging body bags to a row of X-marked New Orleans mausoleums to a haunted forest, it’s real. It’s scary. And it’s creepy enough that the demographic for the exhibit is 18 to 35. “I call it a PG attraction, but we’ll let some kids under 13 in if they come with a guardian,” says Krantz. “But it’s not suitable for young children. That’s for sure.” However, he clarifies that there will be no pushing, shoving, or goosing of any kind by the participants involved. It’s a strictly visual, psychological, and theatrical production meant to freak the fear button in your mind.

Museum of Fear is a fundraiser that supports the organization’s exhibition and education programs and is also a long-term project that will only grow in size and intensity from year-to-year. Judging from the pre-launch buzz and the relative ease with which sponsors like Atmos Energy, McDonald’s, and Regents Broadcasting got on board, this is sure to be a huge event throughout the month of October, with the V.I.P. night taking place Sept. 30 and the exhibition opening to the public on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to midnight throughout the month of October.

This is the first of its kind in Acadiana, projected to bring an increase in business and entertainment to downtown. The museum is expecting huge turnouts for this month-long event, so put away your preconceived notions about the theatrics and strap in, freak out, and catch the fear.

Lafayette Science Museum
433 Jefferson St., Lafayette

Tickets for the Museum of Fear are available at all Acadiana McDonald’s restaurants and at the Lafayette Science Museum box office. Tickets are $6 advance and $8 at the door.