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.
The Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority have announced a new artist stipend program, ArtSpark, designed to offer financial aid to local artists.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
I was interested to hear what Lessig would say to an almost exclusively conservative audience of successful businessmen and businesswomen in the heart of what is now a deeply red area of the country.
Three bedroom traditional or two bedroom Victorian cottage
Snuggle worthy wear
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Louisiana's Republican governor has filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally using federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Fifa under fire for fake turf plans; freed journalist back home; corporate conversions rising and more national and international news for Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
Newly established honor recognizes outstanding local attorneys; Neuner and McGoffin win President's Award; and Blanchard named Outstanding Young Lawyer.
Daily paper constructing new digs near production plant on Rieger Road at Siegen Lane, near I-10.
Investigation finds Arnaud’s Furniture, Carroll Building Specialties and Crazy Charlie’s Shoes running misleading going-out-of-business sales.
Critics say workers and retirees are being held responsible for the Jindal administration's mismanagement of their program.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
"This is yet another example of the failed leadership and lack of focus that Hunter Beasley has exhibited. He’s shown zero regard for kids, teachers or even passing a budget for the school year that’s already started."
Five bedroom Acadian style home or four bedroom traditional home
Cutting edge if you dare
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.
"Just as the devil does not deserve equal time with God, and a lie does not deserve equal time with the truth, the remarks of William Donahue have no place in any respectable journal seriously dealing with a serious story and pursuing truth."
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her lead GOP challenger Congressman Bill Cassidy are running close when it comes to money. Landrieu has $5.5 million to Cassidy’s $5.6 million in the bank.
With expectations mounting that Gov. Bobby Jindal will soon announce his campaign for president, attention is turning to not only who he will bring along with him but also what will transpire politically back home during the transition.