Behold the Fear Factor coffin, a stunt so frightening that it generated one of the most intense reactions we've ever seen on the show. Of course, you'd probably have a pretty intense reaction, too, if your body were completely covered in thousands of snakes, worms and giant hissing cockroaches.
How exactly did we come up with such a weird stunt? Well, as you'd probably guess, it was a combination of ideas. At first, we thought it would be cool to cover someone's head entirely in Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. Then we started thinking of covering someone in snakes and challenging them to reach in and sort them out by color. Then again, we thought, how cool would it be to actually combine BOTH into one stunt?
We designed a clear coffin that would enable us to dump thousands of cockroaches on the person's face and hundreds of snakes all over the person's body. The person's head would be separated with a guillotine-like device that would fit tightly around the neck and safely keep the cockroaches away from the snakes.
Lemme tell you, snakes and cockroaches do not mix well. The Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have sharp little barbs on their legs and a strong grip. It doesn't feel good on a human's skin and it doesn't feel good on a snake's skin. Separation is key when working with snakes and Madagascars.
As we set out to build the coffin, we realized that a person laying in the box would not be able to reach down past their knees to grab and sort any snakes. That meant we needed to create yet another section that would separate the legs. So now we had cockroaches on the head and snakes on the torso but we still needed something to cover the contestant's legs. No problem-when in doubt, order up lots and lots of slimy worms.
When it came time to do the stunt, we had in our possession 100 snakes, 3,000 Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, and 14,000 nightcrawlers. The smell was absolutely horrible and the sight of all that combined squirming was enough to make anybody's skin crawl.
It's hard to convey just how creepy these cockroaches are. We recently had a Fear Factor party where all the attendees had to reach into a tank filled with Madagascars and reach around for a raffle number. Most of our staff was terrified at the thought of even touching one. These creatures actually hiss when you touch them! It gave everybody working on the show a new appreciation for the Fear Factor contestants that have been covered in cockroaches or have actually had to eat them live.
Helping to set the mood for this stunt was the creepy location in an old basement meat locker in downtown Los Angeles. Dirty hooks that had once been used to hold carcasses were still hanging from the ceiling.
The celebrity contestants faced with this stunt were good sports. But at least one of them had a very hard time getting through it and had one of the most intense reactions we've ever seen on the show. Check it out. You gotta see it to believe it.
by Rich Brown