A cast of 40 such men — and women — are instilling frights in anyone foolish enough to venture into the halls of Frightmare, a Halloween attraction open Thursday through Sunday and on Halloween in the Scheels parking lot at the Sparks Marina.
“I love to scare the piss out of people,” said Dex Hale, a 23-year-old Sparks resident who roams the Frightmare entry area as the ghoulish Mr. Clown. Hale’s cohort, 20-year-old Tyler Allen of Reno, claims to literally have scared someone so badly they lost bladder control. Hale also claims to have frightened a TV reporter to tears.
“She stood around for 10 minutes bawling her eyes out,” Hale said.
And all that takes place even before visitors enter one of the haunted houses. A ticket is good for access to all three of Frightmare’s three attractions: Evil Clown Town, Riker’s Island Prison and the Black Hole. The first two are self-explanatory: Demented prisoners and jesters chase visitors through a maze of their gory deeds. The Black Hole is a disorienting, mind-bending walk through a swirl of color and lights.
An extra creepy element about the Evil Clown Town is that it has joined the 3-D craze. Visitors wear glasses that add another dimension to the horror.
Scott Seidenstricker, owner of radio station 93.7 Bob FM, started Frightmare 12 years ago but retired it five years ago. Not wanting to lose his touch, Seidenstricker woke the attraction from its slumber this year and thinks it is better than it has ever been before.
Frightmare opened Sept. 29 after holding several rounds of auditions, narrowing down about 150 would-be fearmongers to a cast of 40 plus 30 standbys. Seidenstricker said the crew doesn’t rest on its laurels: Each night, several dozen groups of visitors are followed through the attractions to evaluate how well the cast members are doing their jobs. Also, the cast does its own evaluation by naming a best actor at the end of each night’s performances.
“I think we’re one of the only ones to pay our performers,” Seidenstricker said. “Most of the others are volunteers.”
A portion of the proceeds from Frightmare admissions benefit the Boys & Girls of the Truckee Meadows and he plans to offer 2-for-1 admission on Halloween for anyone who brings cans of food for Evelyn Mount.
“Every year we find something to give partial proceeds to,” said Seidenstricker, citing previous high school sports or scholarship beneficiaries.
The true beneficiaries of the Frightmare experience are the people who walk away with soiled seats. On Thursday, five young women — the primary demographic for haunted houses, according to Seidenstricker — who work at RenewMD medical spa in south Reno visited Frightmare. Gripping each other’s arms for safety, the women maneuvered their way through killer clowns and insane inmates. After catching their breath, several of them compared this visit to their prior experiences at Frightmare.
“I would say way scarier, maybe because I’m older,” said 31-year-old aesthetician Ariane Means of Fernley, who visited Frightmare five years ago when it was at the Grand Sierra Resort.
“I think I will have to call in sick tomorrow I’m so traumatized,” joked 21-year-old Olivia Lowell of Sparks, who works customer service at RenewMD.
“As much as you don’t want to be scared, it’s awesome,” said RenewMD general manager Regina Fritz, 29, of Reno.
Tickets to Frightmare cost $14.75 for general admission or $20.75 for the express line and can be purchased on site or online at www.frightmare2011.com. This attraction is not recommended for pregnant women, children under 8 years old or anyone with a heart condition. Part of the proceeds from the ticket sales benefit the Boys & Girls Club of the Truckee Meadows.