Laughing at others scared out of their wits is translating into big business and worldwide recognition for a Niagara Falls haunted house.
Millions have clicked on the photos posted by Nightmares Fear Factory and their infamous scare camera — soldiers gripping each other in panic, a husband pushing his terrified wife in front of him for protection, mouths agape and eyes popping out.
Owner Frank LaPenna couldn’t be happier at others’ terror.
“I really wanted them to be shared,” he said of the photos. “I really wanted people to take them home and show their friends and that’s how it took off from there.”
It began in 2002, with LaPenna crouching in the dark with a simple point-and-shoot camera and evolved into a sophisticated system that’s triggered to go off at a precise moment in the maze.
“It was crazy the first year — the pictures really went viral,” LaPenna said. “It just totally crashed our website. We had 75,000 visits in one day and we were not prepared for it.”
Since then, his photos have been picked up by websites in the United States, the United Kingdom and even Russia.
“Everyone puts a different spin on the story,” he said. “They just did a piece on us on National Geographic and they were comparing it to filming animals in the wild.”
LaPenna is now gearing up for the busiest weekend of the year.
He estimates the weekend before Halloween, hundreds will pass through the haunted house and will wait for more than an hour to get in.