Horror fans are invited to participate in a variety of hands-on activities to learn more about the technology of haunted houses, the psychology of fear and other scientific factors that cause chills and thrills.
Other activities include a costume contest where people can dress as their favorite character from a horror novel, STEM Outreach’s haunted physics lab, and a screening of STEM Read’s “Two Minutes of Terror” short film contest winners. The evening will culminate with a screening of John Carpenter’s cult classic, “In the Mouth of Madness.”
The evening is not for the faint of heart. Organizers say the event is geared toward teens and adults. High school groups are also encouraged to attend.
“The Science of the Scare” is part of STEM Read’s mission to encourage people to learn more about the science behind popular fiction and films. In addition to its live events, STEM Read also creates online games, expert videos, lesson plans, and collaborative stories to help readers learn more about their favorite books.
The event will be hosted by STEM Read and Lex Thomas, the pen name of horror writers Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies. Hrabe and Voorhies are screenwriters and novelists. “Quarantine: The Loners,” the first book in their award-winning young adult trilogy, was named as one of Booklist’s top 10 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Books for Youth.
“We’re very excited to have Lex Thomas at this event,” says Gillian King-Cargile, director of NIU’s STEM Read. “Their writing is so fun and twisted and their knowledge of the horror genre is extensive. Their influences include everyone from Dario Argento to Dean Koontz.”
King-Cargile calls their “Quarantine” series a cross between “The Lord of the Flies” and “The Breakfast Club.”
In the book, high school students are locked in their school after a biological weapon makes students toxic to adults. With scarce resources and no supervision, the student body breaks into gangs based on their social groups and a thrilling battle for survival begins.
Copies of the “Quarantine” series will be available for purchase during the event.
STEM Read worked with Lex Thomas to choose a feature film for “The Science of the Scare.”
“ ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ was a great fit for our program because it blurs the line between reality and fiction and asks what would happen if a horror writer’s darkest nightmares were unleashed in the real world. I’m sure that theme appealed to Lex and Tom.”
Hrabe says he wanted to share the movie with a new generation of viewers. “John Carpenter turns his favorite genre inside out with this mind-bendy cult classic that traps you inside a horror novelist’s brain. You definitely want to see this one in the theater!”