During its third fall of terror, Fear Factory will creep into area residents’ nightmares earlier than in the past, opening in four days. “We could not pass up the opportunity to celebrate Friday the 13th,” explains Mary Ellen Rippe, who voluntarily co-directs the attraction with Bill Flannery.
The tour has almost tripled in size at RomWeber Marketplace, expanding from 10,000 to 25,000 square feet. Those who love to be horrified are in for a few surprises. She notes, “If they’ve come before, this truly is a whole new experience.”
With the help of three grants (city of Batesville, $6,900; Ripley County Local Coordinating Council, $2,500; and Ripley County Community Foundation, $500), “we’ve spent $10,000 between marketing and enhancing.”
“It’s really, truly professionally done,” Flannery reports. “With the creativity of Hill-Rom engineers and the money we have, we were able to provide better special effects.” According to Rippe, “Animatronics have been upgraded. Every scene has been enhanced.” With strobe and black lights and costumed adults and students, “the scare factor is much greater.”
When imagining the tour, “we looked at what was originally in the building,” which used to house Batesville Coffin Co. It had a saw room, so Fear Factory does, too. Rippe promises, “It’s going to be really gory.” She adds, “I gravitate toward the spider room. We have a new 5-foot spider!” Flannery says the twisty maze is much longer.
Just beyond an eerie drunk driving accident scene, a larger cemetery area looms. Flannery points out, “Last year we really didn’t have a big ending. This year we do.” According to Rippe, “Visually, it’s something where people can sit and enjoy.” Gravestone words “spread our antidrug message more strongly.”
To add to the evening, Oldenburg Academy Students In Sports are providing concessions.
Two special types of events (please see box) will be offered again. Spooktastic midnight tours encompass two building levels instead of just one. Lights-on tours for kids 10 and younger “will be less intense and scary” than the evening hijinks. Tykes also can participate in crafts and face painting and even pet Batesville police K-9 Jinx then.