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Its free fright night time at Manteca home
HALLOWEEN1 10-25-13
Rick Feuerstein gets the mad scientist lab in his garage at 1373 Parajo Ave. in Manteca ready for visitors starting tonight. There is no charge. See additional photo on Page A2. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The Mad Scientist is at it again.

He’s got instruments and electricity, leather gloves and big thick goggles.

And for the last 20 years, Rick Feuerstein has the chance to showcase his love of Halloween and his longtime passion for the old-school “Fright Night” style scares of his childhood.

Tonight from 6 to 9 p.m. Feuerstein will welcome all takers to his home at 1373 Pajaro Avenue – just around the corner from Neil Hafley Elementary School – as he showcases two decades worth of collecting in an elaborately staged laboratory scene that would have made Victor Frankenstein jealous.

Of course he has own version of the Frankenstein monster as the centerpiece – bolted down to a table and connected to the electrical currents that turned him into one of the most iconic characters in horror history.

“I just remember all of the old classic home movies and watching them with my brother – Frankenstein and the Wolf man and making the models and paining them,” Feuerstein said. “We used to watch those shows on television, and I’ve just liked Halloween ever since.”

At the start of the month Feuerstein – who repairs medical instruments for a living – starts pulling down all of the boxes and all of the props that he’ll usually set up slowly over the course of the next month.

What used to be laid out by diagram is almost completely memorized now, and what he can’t recall he can check by digital pictures and videos that he takes before he takes everything down following the holiday.

It’s a labor of love.

Some local homes focus more on the scares aspect, and Feuerstein has a few things that will make people jump like a special hidden treat for those who get too close to his Frankenstein and those who back up to “Agatha” – his six-foot-tall female ghost that sits framed up near the entrance.

But Feuerstein’s is more of a visual attraction. Outdated pieces of medical equipment sit against one side of the wall and a series of Jacob’s ladders zap and zing and send arcs of electricity from the bottom to the top. Dozens of beakers and flasks sit against the back wall of his garage full of colored water, backlit and bubbling thanks to carefully arranged aquarium pumps and tubing that adds to the overall graphic display.

Some of the kids that come up his driveway pay almost no attention to what’s around them, he said, and are only concerned with the candy that is in bowl. But it’s the others – the ones that look around at the carefully placed mice and bugs and spiders and other little ghoulish goodies that drive him to keep up his display year-after-year.

He’s also maxed out his space.

While real estate in his garage is pretty much gone, he doesn’t have any room left to plug anything in without possibly blowing a circuit – joking that he was like “The Oswalds” from the National Lampoon Christmas Vacation.

“People really enjoy the design and the things that go into it and they’re impressed with some of the things,” Feuerstein said. “And you can’t help but be a little bit proud of that. You put work into it and somebody else appreciates it and that feels good.”

To get to The Mad Scientist’s Lab take the Highway 99 exit from Lathrop Road and head west. Turn left on Crestwood and follow it up to Northgate, where you’ll turn right. Follow Northgate Drive until you cross over the Tidewater Bikeway, and make a left on Pajaro Avenue. The address is 1373 Pajaro, and the house will be on the right.

The attraction will be open tonight from 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 6 to 9 p.m., and Thursday, Oct. 31 from 6 to 10 p.m.