Fred loved the cinema and it showed in all of his projects using the horror and disaster theme to thrill the audience. One of Fred's first Boardwalk attractions was "King Kong". Kong was fabricated in New York and assembled on the Wildwood Boardwalk in 1972. Fred contracted Karl Fleme of "Arts & Crafters" in New York City to construct the giant monster which took 9 months to complete. Kong was fashioned with a wire armature and covered with 4,000 yards of celastic and 75 gallons of paint. The body was hollow inside with a ladder leading up through the center. The attraction would stand over 25 feet high, weighed 3 tons and could be disassembled into 9 sections for winter storage. In the end 17 artists contributed to the project at a cost of $74,000. Some may remember when Kong first appeared on the Wildwood Boardwalk he was accompanied by audio. Fred used an interesting technique to create this shuddering sound by recording a lion's roar and playing it in reverse. This produced quite a sound and it was not long before local residence complained of excessive noise and filed a petition to muzzle the beast. For the first several years Kong featured miniature biplanes that would circle the towering structure. The rider could raise and lower the plane by pushing on the control bar. The highest point would put you on quite a mean pitch. Hunt's Pier had a similar ride called the Red Baron. The summer of 1975 would be the last season for the biplanes and by 1976 Kong was moved to the top of the Bonanza Shooting Gallery.
An interesting fact about the Fay Raye figure trapped in the clutches of Kong was that she stood over 7ft tall.
Kong on top of the Bonanza Shooting Gallery.

Construction for the Haunted house on Morey's Surfside Pier began in the winter of 1972. Fred was involved with several people on this project including his younger brother John and cousins George and Gary who went on to form the Haunted House Company.
Contractors Norman and Mickey Roach also took part in the venture and constructed the house. There were many artists that contributed to the famed walk-thru including Jim DeMuze who would go on to assist in the creation of Brigantine Castle and Long Branch Haunted Mansion. When I was young there was nothing more frightening on the Boardwalk than the Haunted House. When first constructed the foreboding structure stood at the back north corner of the pier. At that time the tide still rolled in under the boardwalk which just added to the aura. For a little kid it took guts to go in there. It had a truly dreadful air surrounding it. I'll never forget the hall of razorblades…the checkerboard room…and the rats - my God live rats! There was also the bed of nails and an upside-down room. The house was painted to look old and weathered. Blowtorches were used to assist in the aging process. There were 13 rooms within the house with live actors amid the mix of haunting fiberglass figures. There was a staircase with a landing that led you to a second level of horror. If you were claustrophobic this was not the place to be. There were some tight squeezes in this house most notably at the end at which point you would have to push your way through tight foam filled catacombs before exiting.
In the mid 70's Fred came upon a business that was available for purchase. The facility was located at 5th street and New Jersey Avenue in North Wildwood and had previously been the site of an old concrete plant. Along with the business he acquired a large library of molds that consisted of various replicas of antiques and artifacts that could be used in a variety of applications. Many of the molds had previously been used to produce items that were used at Zaberer's Restaurant - such as the bullheads that adorned the outside of the North Wildwood landmark. Fred created his Design Studio at the 5th street location using the name Alchemist, which is derived from the ancient art of turning lead to gold and was soon joined by his brother-in-law Jack Langston who was an artist by trade to assist in the monster making business. Fred's brother John was also involved, as were artists Jim DeMuze and Bill Browning who along with Jack did much of the artwork. It was at Alchemist Design Studio that most of the haunting figures for Brigantine Castle were born. Characters like Blackbeard, Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi, and Milton the Mutant would take shape as the artists carved polyurethane foam to create the figures which would later be covered in fiberglass to preserve them. Fred was involved in the early stages of Brigantine Castle and along with artists Jim DeMuse and Bill Browning was instrumental in the design of the structure though you will rarely see his name mentioned.
Pictured below are a few of the some 50 props that were created for Brigantine at Alchemist.
Jim DeMuze with Milton the Mutant.
Coffin Comforts

The concept of the "In Concert" dates back to the early days of Coney Island and the Human Roulette Wheel. What made Fred's ride unique was that he designed it to resemble a giant turntable. With a DJ (or sometimes even Freddy) there to spin the tunes, everyone would pile onto this giant disc. Once in motion the object was to ride it out without getting thrown off. As the disc accelerated bodies went flying every which way. Of course the only one left was always the person at the very center. I believe the winner would receive a prize (usually a popular record album of the time).

Copyright 2004 Ralph Grassi