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Terrence Howard Gets Off on Scaring the S#!& Out of People

The enigmatic actor added to his legend with Fright Club

Tim Surette

Terrence Howard is our generation's weirdest actor. And I say that as a high compliment. The star of Empire is an intense person on and off camera, and he has no time for supposed common beliefs like basic math. 1x1=1? Not in Howard's universe, in which we are all just visitors of his creation. (Note: Not all of Howard's antics are simply charming in an off-kilter way. He has been involved in multiple counts of domestic violence.)

Howard added to his bizarre list of personal and professional credits with Fox's equally bizarre stunt Terrence Howard's Fright Club, a haunted-house-style prank show in which he forcefully emptied the bowels of some of his biggest fans through elaborate horror-themed stunts. And of course Fox aired Fright Club in the very spoooooky month of May (?). Everything about Fright Club was weird, and as something extracted from Howard's brain, that's exactly what it should have been.

The show -- hopefully just a one-off special -- was divided into two parts; in the first, a very animated Terrence Howard super fan named Alesia (and three other actors playing super fans -- easy gig, who isn't a Terrence Howard super fan?) believed she had won a trip to New Orleans to meet Howard. Along the way, a voodoo ritual was set up in which a crazy man possessed by voodoo magic and chained to a wall stuck a knife in his mouth, and the witch doctor ordered the fans to drink his blood. Also, a man was set on fire, another guy jumped off a balcony and Howard observed it all from a control booth where he whooped and howled like a child burning ants with a magnifying glass. He also occasionally dropped in to sell the ruse. "What kind of place you take them to where they got chained up white people?" asked Howard, which was enough to sell Alesia that this was, indeed, all very real.

Terrence Howard, Terrence Howard's Fright Club

Terrence Howard, Terrence Howard's Fright Club

Alfonso Bresciani/FOX

In the second, two fans named Shane and Dawn were also flown out to New Orleans to meet Howard and be tormented by the local legend of the porcupine creature the Rougarou. The aquaphobic Shane just wanted to be friends with Howard, but Dawn and her billion-times-bleached hair wanted something more. The ideas were already burnt out by the time they reached Howard's "house," as that same crazy guy in the first prank hid in a boat to scare Shane as he went to get ice for a round of sazeracs, and it was rolled out like one of the big scares. It wasn't. In fact, he was later explained to be the nice groundskeeper? Hey, whatever! People are scared of different things, I guess. Half of this prank seemed ad-libbed and made up on the spot. Anyway, the Rougarou stalked them, and Howard came out and said, "You been pranked!"

And that was pretty much it. Though Alesia and the editing team put in a solid effort to make this her show, it was impossible to take your eyes off Howard. Whether he was cackling in the control booth watching the live footage of his master plan come together or with his fans as part of the bamboozle, everything about Howard -- his commitment to this project, his love of something so puerile, his ability to get Fox to make this -- was the only thing that will remain in your memory 15 minutes after watching Fright Club.

Where did the idea for Fright Club come from? Howard and his wife, Mira, according to Fox. Can't you just imagine that conversation? The two are are slurping down oysters and bubbly when Terrence says, "I should make a show where I scare the shit out of my fans." The next day he tells Fox the idea, and they're obviously not going to say no to the star of their biggest show. It's made who knows when and held for that dead zone of television after finales but before the terrible summer programming really starts. And like that, it's forgotten.

Howard has done the one-off special before with Fox. In 2015, he hosted Taraji and Terrence's White Hot Holidays, a holiday variety show also hosted by his Empire co-star. But as the "New Fox" and its emphasis on live events, sports and news comes into play soon, it's unclear whether more bonkers shows from Howard will be part of the plan. But they should be, lest we miss the opportunity to see what else springs from this weirdo's mind.