Approaching its fourth go-round, the Lafayette Science Museum’s
Museum of Fear is bigger and more horrifying than ever.
By Walter Pierce
Photos by Robin May
Kevin Krantz has always been a fan of the macabre, of stage props, a good scare. When he was 6 he bought a rubber chicken at the Fun Shop on Jefferson Street. He couldn’t get enough of the Saturday-morning shlock that dominated television when TV was three channels and some rabbit ears.
“I was hard core at a young age,” he recalls. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Frankenstein. Boris Karloff. Lon Chaney. All those guys — I grew up on them on Saturday mornings just glued to the television set after the cartoons would go off. I was compelled. I was into it all.”
When he was 7 he staged his first haunted house at an uncle’s place on Roselawn Boulevard.
Museum of Fear, the annual haunted house that dominates the third floor of the Lafayette Science Museum every October, is an extension of Krantz, who developed the idea several years ago. A major fundraiser for the Science Museum Foundation, Museum of Fear occupies almost the entire top floor of the LSM — a few thousand square feet of narrow passages punctuated by gory vignettes, animatronic ghouls, decapitated and disemboweled corpses, zombies and mad men — plus a few of the obligatory things that go bump in the night.
But Museum of Fear definitely isn’t about the cheap scare. It’s more horror than terror.
“There’s no jump-out-and-go-boo scares — everything is a build-up, a suspenseful build-up to a really ugly, climactic finish,” says Krantz, the museum’s director who came up with the Museum of Fear concept when he was the facility’s exhibits curator. “I had a makeup and a 3-D design background,” he says, “and since I was already the curator of the exhibits in the museum I had access to all the lights, construction equipment and we started with that.”
The first Museum drew about 9,000 visitors in 2009 and has held steady at that level since. But Krantz hopes this year’s Museum, bigger and better and more horrifying than ever, will see attendance increase by about 3,000.
“The first year was the hardest because we hadn’t matched our expectations with our abilities,” he recalls. “We wanted to do this but we weren’t sure how we were going to do it. Now we’ve evenly matched our desire and expectation with our ability to pull them off, and that’s what the difference is and that’s what the viewer is going to see this year.”
The market was ripe for such an attraction in 2009: there was no haunted house with high production values in the Acadiana area. The lighting, animatronics and audio are first-rate; visitors will even encounter artificial aromas fanned into certain areas that mimic the smell of decaying flesh. Krantz and staff looked east, across the Atchafalaya Basin, for inspiration. “Baton Rouge has 13th Gate,” he says. “We visited them to get an idea of what their process was, and it was amazing to me how fantastic their sets were and everything was just pulled off so professionally. We gained a lot of inspiration from them but we came back and realized there’s nothing high-quality like that in town.”
Kevin Krantz, above, with one of his many
There is now. It will take groups of five or six visitors about 15 minutes to navigate the Museum of Fear maze, moving through narrow passageways that lead into chambers where horror is celebrated with a verve usually reserved for motion pictures. This year’s theme might properly be described as a tribute to the torture chamber. Think entrails. Lots of entrails.
Volunteers help in the construction and reconfiguration of the horror house. A local contractor devotes labor. Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center donated some of the now-obsolete medical devices that are put to decidedly non-Hippocratic purposes. It’s a different experience from year to year.
And Museum of Fear is never just thrown together. It’s practically a year-round job. “I’ve literally been working on this in some aspect since November of last year,” Krantz says, confessing that he put in about 14 solid hours on a recent Saturday. “It never stops. There’s the floor plans, there’s the concept, there’s the props. It takes months for these things to be made and come in, so you literally have to plan it and know what the concept is going to be, know what you’re going to be doing, flesh it out in your mind, know what it’s going to take. Thousands of dollars of lumber. Hundreds of man hours. I would say we probably at least have 250 to 300 man hours just literally getting to the point where we are now.”
Last year a woman fainted during her transit. A group of girls were smitten with spontaneous incontinence. This year Krantz is banking on the ultimate tribute to Museum of Fear: “I’m pretty sure we’ll get some vomiting,” he says, deadly serious.
MUSEUM OF FEAR
7-11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays Oct. 5-27
Lafayette Science Museum,
433 Jefferson St.
Home Depot breach bigger than Target; Alibaba IPO could be big; Rivers' last project and more national and international news for Friday, September 19, 2014.
Friday's Blogs from the Bog!
In what world does it make sense to balance the budget for a public school system by cutting schools from the poorest neighborhoods?
A supporter of a lawsuit against the oil industry has been re-nominated to a seat on a south Louisiana flood control board despite opposition from Gov. Bobby Jindal.
City-Parish President Joey Durel is asking the council to sign off on a resolution approving a pair of deals that would lead to razing the seedy Lesspay Motel at Four Corners to build a new police substation as well as transforming nearly a block Downtown where the old federal courthouse building now molders into a mixed-use development.
Two bedroom cottage or four bedroom traditional
D.A. Mike Harson gets a gift from a federal judge as he tries to hang onto his job.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The eclectic beauty of modern, prints, boho
In 2013, the IRS — already the least popular governmental agency in the country — became the target of intense investigations after it was revealed that they had specifically and improperly scrutinized applications for tax-exempt status from organizations associated with the nascent Tea Party movement.
The nominating committee for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East was set Thursday to nominate applicants for two people on the board whose terms have expired.
Improving the running game was "a point of emphasis" during the offseason and the results have manifested themselves in the form of substantially greater production.
Louisiana's health department said Wednesday that its evaluation of the state's Medicaid privatization was on target, despite criticism from the legislative auditor that it lacked key data and contained inconsistencies.
Restaurant could see ‘a little facelift,’ Bobby Butcher tells Daily Report.
Seriously, dude, we do. And since you’re ailing we thought we’d throw you a get-better-soon party.
Boho alive and well in every shape
Three bedroom River Oaks traditional or three bedroom Country Estates traditional home
The feds converge on your office, seizing records on several employees as part of a pay-for-plea investigation. WWYD? If you’re Mike Harson, you give yourself a $12k raise.
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says he won't approve a Cameron Parish Police Jury resolution to hire outside attorneys for such a lawsuit until the resolution is amended. Caldwell's Sept. 15 letter says the resolution must make clear that those attorneys will represent the parish alone — not the state.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
It’s football season and after back-to-back winless weekends for the Saints and the Cajuns many citizens are finding it difficult to be civil much less happy. Well, chew on this.
Considering his repeated stays in the local penal system, David Narcisse Jr. should have known that having a semiautomatic shotgun, even one given to him by a friend, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
A state district judge on Tuesday threw out a last-minute retirement hike lawmakers gave to the state police superintendent, ending a political firestorm over a pension boost passed without public scrutiny on the last day of the legislative session.
The House has passed a bill to increase oversight of veterans' hospitals under construction, following a report that some medical centers take three years longer to complete than estimated and cost an extra $366 million per project.
Michelle D. Lavergne, who worked for the Lafayette law office of L. Clayton Burgess for 13 years, faces up to 10 years in prison.
Sonnier, former media buyer and account exec at Sides, joins Acadian companies as marketing specialist; Maggard, who most recently worked for Potenza, joins Russo as director of media and PR.
New recreation/fitness trend taking over old Crazy Charlie’s on Ambassador Caffery Parkway.
An obvious follow-up question for any Republican politician who accuses Democrats of being science deniers is one about science, to which Jindal bobbed and weaved like a welterweight champ.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council is expected to decide tonight (Tuesday) whether to go along with a proposal City-Parish President Joey Durel made in February’s State of the Parish Address and consolidate taxes for mosquito control and the parish health units into a broader tax program that would also cover animal control.
Jeff Gremillion delivers a touching eulogy, capturing the essence of his longtime friend.