Nightmares come to life at school just south of Keizer

Kivo LeFerve’s Mr. Booger is waiting for you this month at the Nightmare Factory, an annual production and fundraiser for the Oregon School for the Deaf in Salem.

A list of memorable reactions by visitors to Salem’s Nightmare Factory as recalled by the actors involved:

• Frightening one man so badly he started swinging a handbag at the actor who cornered him. (Trevor Robertson)

• Scaring a woman so badly she fell on her backside before running past the actor and into multiple walls before escaping to another room. (Izzy Zachary)

• Literally just staring at a woman in line and causing her to black out. (Kivo LeFerve) 

• Making people pee their pants. (Multiple actors and, yes, it happens.)

“What’s even crazier is that they will announce it to everyone when they do it,” said Ed Roberts, founder and co-director of the annual fundraiser for the Oregon School for the Deaf (OSD) in Salem. 

Trevor Robertson is prepared to scare inside his Nightmare Factory room.

The Nightmare Factory opens Friday Oct. 4. The factory’s other dates this year are Oct. 5, 11-12, 25-26 and 29-30. Tickets are only $10 the first weekend and go up to $15 after that. Group rates are available. Hours are 7 to 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 7 to 10 p.m. on weekdays.

Planning for this year’s scares began almost immediately after Halloween passed last year, but Roberts and LeFerve, Nightmare Factory co-director, have created a well-oiled machine. Roberts noticed a opportunity to bring a haunted house experience to Salem when he moved to the area 32 years ago. 

“We started in nine bedrooms and now we have a space with more than 60 individual rooms all created by the students and volunteers in the community,” Roberts said. 

Jenna Odeay, an OSD student, first experienced the haunt as a visitor nine years ago. She’s been an actor in it ever since. 

“I started out as a clown character, but it evolved into Meaoud,” Odeay said. If you find yourself being menaced by a croquet mallet-wielding clown wearing the skin of someone else, that’s Meaoud. 

Jenna Odeay as Meaoud.

Student Jamila Walker’s Sally the Screamer character is a result of her vocal ability. 

LeFerve’s Mr. Booger started out as a character confined to a wheelchair eating all the weird things he could find and emitting a memorable laugh. LeFerve later rebirthed the character as a clown, but the laugh remains the same and it’s become a hallmark of the whole experience. 

“I went down to the courthouse after work last week and went through security. After I was on the other side I started laughing about something and the security guard said, ‘You’re Mr. Booger?’ They recognized me from the laugh,” LeFerve said. 

For $40, guests can take Mr. Booger’s Wild Ride, in which the victim is handcuffed to a wheelchair and pushed through the house while the actors are allowed to lightly touch them. Those wanting to up the fright factor in a different way can visit on Nov. 1 or 2. 

“Those are Pitch Black nights,” Roberts said. “We turn out all the lights and it’s you, a crappy glowstick and good luck.”

About 1-in-7 visitors during Pitch Black nights bail before finishing the experience. 

The Nightmare Factory is the largest annual fundraiser for OSD and proceeds have paid for new laptops, new books, a new gym floor, new playgrounds and trips for students ranging from athletics to haunted house conventions. 

Beyond that, Roberts and Leferve use the behind-the-scenes aspects of the experience as career training for students. 

“There’s marketing, make-up, design, construction, technical theater and acting that goes into this,” Roberts said. 

Izzy Zachary said finding ways to scare helped her overcome her natural shyness. 

“I kind of feel bad about the little kids whose parents drag them through, but the best is scaring the dad or boyfriend who thinks they are tough,” Zachary said. “I’m usually a shy person and it’s helped me get out of that.”

Jolinda Mathis as her Pennywise-inspired take on a clown.

Student Jolinda Mathis said her art skills have soared in the few years she’s been part of the effort.

Roberts strives to create new rooms, new animatronics or other elements every year and people return to Nightmare Factory year after year to see what he and the students have cooked up. 

“I think what surprises people most when they come is that a school is putting this on, and they know they can come back because there will be something, somewhere that is different,” Roberts said.

The Nightmare Factory is located on the OSD campus at 999 Locust Street N.E., in Salem. Use the bathroom before you go.