The USS Orleck saw many horrors when it was used during battle in World War II, but after being docked in Lake Charles and turned into a naval museum, it now serves as the host vessel for a different kind of terror during the month of October.
The Bludd Vessel, a haunted ship exhibit, will take people through the bowels of the USS Orleck 7-11 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, and on Oct. 30 and 31.
“We’ve just tried to make this experience as scary as possible,” USS Orleck Museum employee Paige Gravitt said. “We’ve received feedback from people who have been on our haunted tour, and have gone to other haunted houses like the one in Beaumont, Texas, and they say they can’t compare to ours.”
Groups of five or fewer are taken aboard by a tour guide, who warns the guests that they’re about to venture into the depths of hell.
Though the ship’s narrow steel-walled corridors lend themselves to the kind of fear usually associated with claustrophobia, more than 50 volunteer actors and actresses help induce fright.
“Some of our actors, which call themselves the Bludd family, have been doing this for over 30 years. The rest of our actors are all volunteers who find time between their work schedules and social lives to come out and do this,” Gravitt said.
“They really get into it, and pay attention as our guests walk through the halls and change things all the time to make it even scarier on every visit. For repeat customers who came last year, everything is just as terrifying, if not more, this year.”
In the exhibit’s storyline, a family engages in genetic and biological testing on the ship. In addition to costumed actors banging on the steel walls of the ship and jumping out from behind closed doors as guests walk past, there are gruesome hospital scenes.
One part of the tour shows a woman giving birth to what appears to be an undead child as she screams for help, while another woman is seen strapped to a gurney as a host of costumed actors prepare for her surgery.
Once the tour ends, guests make their way back onto the deck of the ship and, after one final scare, disembark.
Throughout October special entertainment will be provided to guests of the exhibit in the form of flame-tossers, zombie belly dancers and a recreation of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance.
The USS Orleck is at 604 N. Enterprise Blvd. Tickets for the tour are $10 for general admission and $25 for a fast-pass, and can be purchased at the site or at www.orleck.org.