Fear factors: The Everyday Wonder of being scared

Why do people love to be scared? We look into it with a trek to New Orleans Nightmare. (Photo: neworleansnightmare.com)

Why does fear feel good?

That was the question we asked – of ourselves and others – during a recent field trip to New Orleans Nightmare, a fright fest that sits under the Huey P. Long Bridge in Jefferson Parish, where House of Shock terrified New Orleanians for years. We went behind the scenes to interview actors and managers and set designers, and then took a heart-stopping trek through the haunted house ourselves.

There are people who love to be scared — and those who love to do the scaring. (Photo: Renee Peck)

We learned that there are not only people like us who are thrilled to be scared, but others who love being the ones to scare. We learned about A, B, and C scares, startle scares, stalker scares, animatronic scares and actor-tronic scares.

It’s a big trend. Scaring people has become a $1 billion annual industry in this country: hauntedworld.com has a directory of more than 5,000 haunted attractions going on this Halloween season. New Orleans is certainly the right place for things that go bump in the night. And not just the spectral kind, either. New Orleans Nightmare joins a contemporary yen for higher-amp haunted houses that feature Hollywood-caliber sets and actors, 3D effects, escape rooms and tactile mazes.

Who knew there were so many ways to enjoy the adrenaline rush of a good old-fashioned flight or fight response? Join our conversation to find out whether or not you are up for a good scream or two.


Brett Will Taylor, who proved intrepid indeed in leading our scream tour

Renee Peck, who clawed her way through three scary scenarios by clutching the producer’s backpack strap (he still has the mark)


Ashley Hill, operations manager, and a horde of actors and managers and set designers at New Orleans Nightmare, who scared the heck out of us

New Orleans, where hauntings have been happening for (yawn) 300 years


Thomas Walsh, who earned eternal gratitude for running interference on those pop-up zombies

Everyday Wonder is a weekly podcast that focuses on conversations about the things that really matter. Read more about it here. Send feedback and comments to Brett Will Taylor at brettwilltaylorew@gmail.com or Renee Peck at renee@nolavie.com.


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