Giant spiders, bloody crucifixions and dead babies in the bathtub are just some of the images that haunted house designers hope will keep anxiety meters in the red when the Zootown Arts Community Center hosts "Count ZACCula's Haunted BSMT Bash" Friday night.  

Although children are welcome for the beginning of the Halloween festivities, volunteers will eventually pry open the doors of the haunted house, and the event will morph into an 18 and older event.

Don't expect light-hearted Monster Mash sing-alongs and bowls full of "worms and eye balls" (aka wet spaghetti and peeled grapes). Organizers hope to avoid hokey Halloween traditions some people might be too used to.

"There are 20 actors involved in this project, not to mention the 15 or 20 people working behind the scenes," said Kia Liszak, the executive director for the ZACC since 2011. "It's basically a piece of performance art."

Creating horrifying lab experiments and unholy creatures requires special talent.  To add terror and realism to the construction, the ZACC enlisted the help of Maxson McCarter and the Zombie Tools crew.

"His involvement has been really special," Liszak said.  "He has a lot of experience with this kind of aesthetic, and his instructions have been invaluable for all the volunteers."

Building a haunted house in a venue like the BSMT has its advantages.

"It's the perfect place," said Linds Sanders, the manager at the ZACC.  "It's so scary and bare-bones down there anyway, we said, 'Why not turn it into a haunted house?'"

The nonprofit arts center recently began renting the BSMT space, which doubles as an art studio and a popular, underground music venue.

"We're excited about the possibilities that this space offers and we hope to expand our BSMT programming in the future," Liszak said.

When asked if this was the beginning of a new ZACC tradition, Liszak replied, "I'd be happy to do it again."

"Something like this doesn't happen without all the help from ZACC volunteers, Zombie Tools and everyone in Missoula who loves and care about the arts in our community," she said.

If haunted houses aren't your bag, the fundraiser will also feature performances by local bands Bird's Mile Home, I Hate Your Girlfriend and the Magpies.  Afterward, DJ Mermaid will spin a spooky set until the wee hours of the morning.

Although the haunted house portion of the event is geared toward a mature audience, the BSMT Bash begins with coach Shane Rooney's haunted jazzercise dance-off - which is certain to be only half as creepy as it sounds - and a multi-instrumental set by Tangled Tones.

At 9:30 p.m., the haunted house will creak open its doors, and little Charlie Brown and his Great Pumpkin will go back to the patch so you can open the hatch for beer and fear.

christopher.allen@umontana.edu