Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TOP STORY >> How to get ready for Halloween

Leader staff writer

Fear Factory 501 Haunted House is offering equipment, advice and labor to competing for-profits and nonprofits that are using Halloween to scare up profits or donations.

John Veasman and Corey Carter run the business, which was established three years ago in Conway. It moved to 25120 Hwy. 107 after the first year.

Fear Factory is open from 7 p.m. to midnight through Oct. 31.

“We’ll go to your haunt and help set it up,” Carter said.

Fear Factory allows anyone organizing a haunted house to walk through it for free.

“Criticism, you have to have it,” Carter explained.

And they loan animatronics — life-like motorized puppets — to other houses, he said.

Carter said when customers finally make their way out of the labyrinth-like Fear Factory they always ask where they should go next. He said the greeters promote the other houses nearby when that opportunity arises.

Fear Factory employs about 20 actors.

“We’re a big family, not blood-related, but we love each other,” Carter said.

The house takes between six and eight months to set up.

Carter said, “Everything was so expensive, we started building our own things.”

Fear Factory’s animatronics are crafted rather than bought, which sparked the two men to start a side business selling animatronics and Halloween props, which can be viewed at hauntedproducts.com.

The house just added 2,000 square feet of three-dimensional displays. The new area is called “Skully’s 3D Playhouse.”

Skully is Fear Factory’s skeleton mascot.

“It’s unique. It’s original. It’s instant gratification. The scenes are always evolving. This is going to be the happening place,” Carter said about Fear Factory.

He said the house changes every night. The fastest any customer has ever taken to get out of the maze was 17 minutes. The longest time has been one hour.

“It’s all about disorienting people. That’s the one thing we don’t skimp on,” Carter said.

But there are eight emergency exits and cameras inside Fear Factory to alert the staff of any problems.

The craziest thing Fear Factory has ever done was kidnapping a group of customers.

The group was herded into a trailer and driven down the road, Carter said. They were trapped inside with several actors, including “The Butcher.”

He said the customers were told it was part of the Fear Factory experience and all of them loved the gag.