20Q: Catching up with Halloween frightmaster Dick Kraus
Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
By day, Dick Kraus grows corn and soybeans on the farm he grew up on just outside Whitewater.
Also by day (and night), he handles the affairs of “Fuzzyville,” a 4-acre section of the 160-acre farm he and his wife, Pam (also a Whitewater native), have turned into a popular rural attraction. Using materials recycled and reclaimed from dilapidated barns and other buildings, Kraus has designed and built most of the commercial structures being used on the property.
At the heart of the complex is The Fuzzy Pig, a hand-renovated barn Kraus converted into a distinct country mall. Next door is the Kraus family farmhouse, which has been gutted and transformed to provide three distinct dining areas: “The Heritage Room,” a casual and enchanting dining room; “Did-Bo’s,” a 1950s malt and snack shop; and a gourmet coffee room.
The third business is Shockwave Haunts, an all-you-can-scream haunted house Kraus lovingly nurtures throughout the entire year. It is in fall, however, that he—and those who visit in search of a good scare—truly are really jumping.
This year, the four-theme haunt features these sections: Prat Asylum, Bloody Manor, Dick’s Funeral Home and Mystery Haunt.
The Fuzzy Pig, the Heritage Room and Shockwave Haunts are located at N8660 Clover Valley Road, Whitewater. For more information, call 262-473-4574 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For details, cost and hours for Shockwave Haunts, visit ShockwaveHaunts.com or search for “Shockwave Haunts” on Facebook.
1. Can a haunted house be too scary? No, because everyone has a different scare threshold. Some people you just can’t scare.
2. Is the increase in gore at some haunted houses a reaction to the perceived desensitization of our society? No. It’s happening because the movies are getting gorier, and people expect it.
3. When I’m hungry for a good hamburger, I go to: Copp’s in Milwaukee for the “glutton burger. It’s like 25 pounds of heaven.
4. What measures are in place for people who get so scared they can’t continue through your haunted house? We have an emergency door so they can get out after they wet their pants.
5. What is the best Halloween candy to hand out, and what will get your house egged? Three Musketeers bars because they’re “fluffy, not stuffy.” Handing out apples will cause kids to egg your house.
6. Are today’s haunted house enthusiasts more drawn to gore or psychological terror? It’s pretty much a toss up, but i’ll lean a little more to psychological terror because we get just as many scares where there isn’t gore.
7. How have haunted houses evolved in the past 10 years? I think most have evolved to become Halloween entertainment instead of being really scary.
8. When you were a kid, what was the most popular Halloween costume? At our age, there weren’t any movies to influence costumes. We mostly dressed up as witches, hobos, ghosts or scarecrows.
9. What scares you? Farming—the price of corn and soybeans
10. How far in advance of Halloween do you start thinking about what you’ll feature in your haunted house? I never stop thinking about it but, because of the farm, I’m always late in transforming the haunts.
11. Do you believe in ghosts? Yes, because I’m involved with the Spirit Tour with the Whitewater Chamber of Commerce, and I’ve heard a lot of stories from many different people.
12. Aside from a haunted house, what do you consider to be the scariest place on earth? Going to a funeral home and knowing you’ll never see the deceased again.
13. Aside from your own haunted house, share the scariest situation you have ever found yourself in? Building my fifth haunted house, because I heard footsteps and materials being dragged, and no one else was in the barn.
14. Can a person truly “enjoy” being scared senseless? Yes, definitely, because I have met people that say that is their “high.”
15. Who is scarier: Michael Meyers or Frankenstein’s monster? Michael Meyers, because he kills entire camps full of people. Frankenstein just walks around aimlessly.
16. If you could have the absolute truth to any one questions, what would you ask? How much time is left in my life, so I know how many projects I can start.
17. What is your favorite horror movie of all time? The “Saw” movies, because they’re so bizarre.
18. Do you have any phobias? Snakes and rats. I don’t know why, but I just can’t stand them.
19. Vampires can’t be near garlic, holy water or crosses. Werewolves can be vanquished with a silver bullet. Frankenstein’s monster hates fire. IF you were a classic movie monster, what would be your Achilles heel? I can’t handle raw onion, green peppers, garlic, radishes, zucchini and stupid people.
20. Describe your last nightmare: Having to put our last dog, Gunner, down.