Dark News

New content and videos are being added often.  Please check back soon!

Principles of Theme creation are presented in Dark Design
Practices for Scare construction are presented in Dark Engineering
Model haunts are described in Dark Dimensions
New Concepts, Supplemental Content, & Comments are posted in Dark Ideas
(the blogging page)
Please search for grouped entries in the Categories or by choosing a Tag

Useful documents (as downloadable PDFs) and referenced books are linked in Dark Needs
Our consultation information is presented in Dark Desires
Our trusted colleagues are listed in Dark Arts (under Dark Desires)


2014 - April

4|16|14 - With Tax filing behind us, and a 10 x 20 storage unit downsized to a 10 x 10 (with most of the contents now underfoot in what resembles a “hoarder’s paradise” here), it’s time to begin actively blogging again.


2014 – February

2|19|14 - We’re baaack!  Picking up the pieces after two lost weeks ill with influenza.  :(

New content is being added daily to catch up!

2|9|14 - Caught flu on last day of my return drive from HAuNTcon.  Even with the preemptive shot at the beginning of January, it’s lasted over a week!  And it cycles from feeling nearly normal, but very weak, to lymph node aches, sinus and muscle aches, intense coughing, etc.  Today, I’ve lost 5 pounds, staying horizontal 95% of the time!  :(  All of the information from the HAuNTcon talk — and much more — will be added ASAP!

2|2|14 - Many people commented favorably about our HAuNTcon presentation. YouTube videos are being created from the Keynote sequences and will be posted in the coming days. Also, additional pages have been added, including several that will contain detailed descriptions of various types of Haunts.


2014 – January

1|15|14 – We now have an Advanced Fear Mechanics Group on LinkedIn. Please feel free to join our discussions there!

Beyond “Boo!” Use Psychology To Dramatize Your Theme & “Traumatize” Your Patrons!

A clever theme gives you distinct marketing advantages, streamlines your design requirements, and limits extraneous expenses. However, the overarching benefit of a great theme lies in it’s ability to capture the mind. It becomes the touchstone that manages every aspect of a patron’s experience and determines the success of your Haunt. We’ll explain a theme creation process in detail, plot a hypothetical sequence of interactions, and apply the psychological principles that give you precise control over every scare; the priming, timing, and emotional entrainment that elevate an adrenaline rush into an unforgettable thrill. In conjunction, we’ll provide specific guidelines and examples of how to fully manipulate the level of fear, moving far beyond “Boo!”

HAuNTcon 2014  -  Creative Sessions
Saturday, January 25th  @  George Brown Convention Center, Houston Texas
presented by Craig Caldwell


10/31/13 – Always

Dark (“Haunted”) Attractions have a unique place in the Entertainment industry.  Unlike movies, video games, or amusement rides, they offer a complete, 4 Dimensional User Experience, with full control over sensory and psychological impact.  Our site presents a distillation of our ideas and concepts, born from numerous projects and collaborations spanning over three decades, that explore ways to implement that control.

Advanced Fear Mechanics is a league of uniquely talented professionals who design “dark” user experiences and engineer thrilling scares as part of our work, both in and outside of the Entertainment industry.  We focus on applying the powerful effects of psychology, physics, and bleeding edge technologies, to augment existing methods of interaction and devise novel ways for stimulating new encounters.  In doing so, we strive to probe unexplored areas of the market, to provide you with amazing, unforgettable interactions that give you singular positioning, expand your marketing options, and improve your revenue generation.

As an owner, operator, “haunt” enthusiast, or UX designer, we hope you benefit from our material.  Please engage with us, comment, and critique our work.

user experience


Please mail inquiries to Advanced Fear Mechanics (click link to open mail)
or call 727 – 242 – 6374 for help or advice.


Craig Caldwell is the site administrator and coordinator for consulting projects.  He is a cognitive psychologist who has studied user experience design, and is cited in Wikipedia for past research in interactive evolutionary computing using genetic algorithms to evolve a user interface.  He has worked as a director of R & D, and as owner of a development company doing high-end remodeling, where he constructed complicated, real-world environments with fancy electrical and plumbing systems.  In a past life, Caldwell earned advanced degrees in physics and space science, programmed the space shuttle launch control computers at Kennedy Space Flight Center, and tested rocket fuels at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility.  Currently, he is a consultant to a government contractor doing research on a project for the Army Research Institute for the Behavioral Sciences.



(Argon laser bought at HAuNTcon 2003 in Chicago, projected into waterfall from shower head.)