Friday, October 31, 2008
However, Betsy is most often remembered for her role as Pamela Voorhees in Friday the 13th. Before her son donned his cloth sack or hockey mask, Pamela was the terror of Camp Crystal Lake; avenging her son's "death" in her own psychotic way. She just lost her head (alright, I'm going to stop now before I turn into the Crypt Keeper).
In honor of Betsy's birthday, today's Dark Destination is the Blairstown Diner. This diner was used in the filming of the first Friday the 13th movie and is still recognizable from the film. In the movie, the character of Steve Christy has his last meal at the diner shortly before his fatal run-in with Mrs. Voorhees.
Pull up a table at Blairstown Diner, just don't go visiting Camp Crystal Lake after.
Before you see what the team finds in their investigation, we bring you the very dark history of the site. Fort Delaware served as a prisoner of war camp in the American Civil War between the years of 1861 through 1865. During that time, it is estimated that over 32,000 Confederate soldiers and southern sympathizers were incarcerated in the camp and 2,500 never left. While the prison was fairly notorious for its conditions and the treatment of its prisoners, surprisingly it was not the worst. However, it did not stop the inmates from giving the Union commander that oversaw the camp the name of "General Terror" nor from dubbing the place "The Fort Delaware Death Pen."
During its time as a prison camp, Fort Delaware saw many tragic and some heroic stories. It was home to the unusual Union battery comprised mostly of former-Confederate prisoners called Ahl's Heavy Artillery Company, as well as 600 Confederate officers and soldiers that would forever be remembered as The Immortal Six Hundred. It saw countless escape attempts (some of which were successful while others were not), prisoner abuse, a seemingly unprovoked murder, and all around deplorable conditions.
Not surprisingly, Fort Delaware today has a growing reputation for the amount of ghosts and other paranormal activity that is witnessed by unsuspecting visitors. It would seem that those souls that never made it out of the prison are still stuck there to this day - some still trying to escape. During some months of the year, the site even plays host to candlelight tours where the hosts relay on the ghostly legends to the curious tourists that pass through the doors.
From us at Dark Destinations - Have a very happy and safe Halloween!
To get in the mood, check out the dark history and legends of the Fort Delaware State Park.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Forest of Fright is the brainchild of owner Vicki Bader who fulfilled a lifetime dream of being part of the haunt community with her own little incarnation. The end result is the largest haunted trail and maze in the county that starts with a ride on a school bus that is... what else, but haunted? Visitors then enter the creepy woods that are crawling with insane inmates, killer clowns, and several scenes that will unnerve most guests
Dare a Halloween nighttime stroll through the Forest of Fright.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Halloween Productions, Inc. is a full-time business for the partners. Aside from The Darkness, the duo consult, design, and construct spooky sets for countless other haunted attractions around the world. They even run an outdoor Halloween haunt in nearby Fenton called Creepyworld, but the duo still consider The Darkness their signature haunt. The attraction features a wide array of sophisticated animated monsters, computer effects, special effects, and live actors to keep their guests on their toes. With the notoriety they have received, the haunt attracts around 30,000 of those guests each season.
So come on and head on in to The Darkness.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Though it is only open for two nights, the Hauntings at the Hermitage has drawn around 3,000 visitors in recent years. The event includes a haunted hayride around the property with ghosts around every corner, a candlelight walk through the Jackson family cemetery and Jackson's tomb, pumpkin carving, a movie, and more. The true highlight of the event is said to be the ghost stories of the property, as well as even a mention of the infamous Tennessee Bell Witch.
Many people believe that the Hermitage is indeed haunted by the spirits of President Jackson and his wife, Rachel. The prevailing theory is that the spirit of Jackson became enraged after the Hermitage fell into disrepair after his death in 1845 and made his presence known. After it was saved by a local organization in 1889, he allegedly stuck around to keep an eye on the property.
Visit the ghosts of the presidential past at the Hermitage.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Scream at the Beach is separated into five different haunts throughout the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter mall. Vampire, mutants, zombies, evil clowns and more are divvied up throughout the attractions and await the unsuspecting masses. And if they are not enough excitement, the haunt also features a Mini Glow Golf Course, tarot readings, live bands, and outdoor carnival rides. Oh, and did I mention that visitors can also ride an actual haunted carousel?
The 1921 C.W. Parker Carousel is the last reminder that the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter used to be the home to the sprawling 123-acre Jantzen Beach Amusement Park until 1970. Besides being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the carousel also is reportedly home to the ghosts of a small boy and girl. Visitors to the carousel over the years have reported seeing two children, dressed in clothing from the 1920s, playing inside the machinery room in the center when its doors are open. They are mostly reported by other children (some of which report the children talking to them), but also by the occasional adult.
Not missing a beat, Scream at the Beach incorporates that haunted history of the C.W. Parker Carousel into the haunt and it is included in their "Screamer Special" package. Guests to the Halloween attraction can take a ride on the carousel and look into the stories themselves.
Time to Scream at the Beach.
Or go play with the children on the C.W. Parker Carousel at Jantzen Beach SuperCenter.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Terror Behind the Walls is set at the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. While it doesn't attempt to interpret the former-prison's history as part of the attraction, it couldn't hurt that the haunt is staged in one of the most well known reputedly haunted sites in the world. What this means of course is that there is always a slight possibility that the visitors that dare the five major attractions inside the haunt might see a bit more than your average actors and animatronics.
The ever-so-polite staff of Terror Behind the Walls truly believes in giving the crowd their money's worth. For the last attraction, Night Watch, the visitors are dumped into total darkness and armed only with a flashlight to make their way. It is no surprise then that this particular haunt draws in crowds of around 100,000 annually and is the biggest source of revenue for the preservation efforts of Eastern State Penitentiary.
Dare a walk through the truly haunted halls of Terror Behind the Walls.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Before I get into showing you the pictures of the event, I'll show you some of the pictures taken while my daughter Kyra and I got ready for our first zombie walk.
Step One: Become a Rock & Roll Zombie.
I used a mannequin head as a base structure to work with in creating my zombie prosthetic. I then used mask-grade liquid latex to build the prosthetic in layers. A prank eyeball meant for floating in a victim's drinking glass was put to alternate use here.
I then painted parts of the prosthetic that would serve as the inside of the wound. I cut a plastic bag to cover the wound area and painted a couple more layers of latex onto the edges. My young assistant helped with drying the latex. Then I removed the plastic bag covering the wound to create an outer flap of skin. A few bits of shredded latex I hung onto after doing makeup work on a sci-fi film over the Summer were added the socket and eyeball to provide ganglia. Then there was a bit more painting of the prosthetic appliance.
My wonderful wife than assisted with attaching the appliance and provided the majority of makeup work once it was attached. Here is the finished result.
Step Two: A Girl and Her Trowel
My wife bought a masonry trowel (no...not a garden trowel!) for our homage to Night of the Living Dead. I used a metal file to blunt the point and remove sharp edges and burrs. I used Cinema Secrets blood gel with a combination of brush and stipple sponge to get it nicely bloody. The blood gel dries hard and has only a slight tackiness once done; yet it washes off quickly with just water. It is easily one of my top ten favorite substances on the planet now.
The next step was to provide the trowel to an adorable little 3 year old ghoul. What follows is the sort of magic that you only witness when a girl gets her very first bloody trowel.
Step Three: Go to the Zombie Walk
I don't have any photos of the walk itself. Only the before and after. Pictures taken during the walk can be seen at Badhammer's MySpace page. Speaking of which, here is Badhammer (far right) and gaggle of other new zombie friends I made at the event.
The zombie walk's primary planner was Beth "Bloody Freak" Clark. She's a regular contributor of articles for Dark Destinations. She is the zombie bride below.
There was live music for the event provided by the members of Technicolor Trailer Park. They sang joyous songs about butts and suicidal bunny rabbits. Pictured below is one half of the music act, Jerry, who participated in the walk as a zombie pizza guy.
During the walk itself, Kyra told me she was having fun. I told her that even though she's 3 and I'm 38 it was also my first zombie walk. Her response was to ask when our second zombie walk would be. I told her maybe next year.
Kyra tied for first place in her age category during the zombie judging. Badhammer walked away with top honors as Best Over-All Zombie for his blood-spewing performance (Dude even had his own zombie soundtrack when he was walking). I took the prize for Grossest Zombie, which I think was a category made up on the spot.
Among our fabulous prizes, Kyra received a zombie Barbie and I got a zombie Ken. Yay!
Of course we'll do another zombie walk.
How could I say "no" to a face like this?
Besides...I've made the mistake of arming her with a trowel.
More pictures of the event can be seen at http://www.myspace.com/lcpzombiewalk
ScreamWorld officially got its start in 2001 when the three haunts were brought together on a 4.5-acre lot and 12,000-square-foot building. Today, the haunt has expanded into five separate attractions and several "fright-filled areas" and utilizes Hollywood-style animatronics and special effects to unnerve the 30,000 or so guests they host each season. Fetterly and Darling's efforts have paid off as ScreamWorld is now considered one of the premiere Halloween haunted attractions around the United States.
It's a Scream, Baby!
You can explore this and many more Dark Destinations at:
Friday, October 24, 2008
The attraction itself is an impressive 66-acre haunted trail of horrific scenes and creepy monsters inside. Guests even have the option of hitting the trail on foot or riding along on the haunted hayride. While the attraction might be a bit too much for the younger ones, the haunt has taken care of this by adding in another trail just for the little ones. And if all of that wasn't enough - The Dreaded Grove also features zip lines, the "death jump", swamp rides, live bands, free horror movies, bonfires, fortune teller and more...
Enter the Dreaded Grove on Dark Destinations.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The Hangman's House of Horrors is in Fort Worth, Texas and has become so well known that it has recently appeared on the Travel Channel's America's Scariest Halloween Attractions. D'Ann Dagen of La-De-Da Productions started the haunt on October 13, 1989 and it has been growing ever since. It comprises of a 40,000-square-foot structure on over a 3-acre lot and is run by several hundred volunteers. The net proceeds are distributed to local charities who have benefited from the over $1 1/2 million the haunt has raised. Much more than just a Halloween attraction, Hangman's House of Horrors is a Halloween event - featuring a variety of side-attractions, a midway, concessions, rides, live bands, karaoke, and more.
The story concerns a local serial killer who hung over a hundred people near the Trinity River who paid for his crimes at the end of his own rope after an angry lynch mob performed their own justice. The only problem? His body disappeared and people believe that he continues to maintain life by using one of his victim's soul each year. The deal is that he is running out of souls...
Pay a visit to Hangman's House of Horrors.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Today marks 150 years since the state of New York executed murderer Marion Ira Stout (who went by his middle name). It didn't go according to plan and Ira suffered a prolonged death that shocked and horrified witnesses. It would prove to be one final bit of bad luck for a criminal for whom karma just seemed to have it out for.
Ira murdered his sister Sarah's husband Charles on December 19, 1857. The murder was planned by the siblings and Sarah assisted with aspects of the crime. The murder was perpetrated on the edge of the Genesee River gorge, just north of the High Falls, with the intention of throwing the body into the water and making it look like an accident. Ira killed Charles with a single blow to the head from a steel hammer. It would be the last aspect of the crime to go smoothly for Ira and Sarah.
The two ran into so many problems disposing of the body that it became a macabre comedy of errors. By the time they were finished, both murderers had broken bones, were covered in dirt and still had not succeeded in actually disposing of the body. They managed to leave so much evidence at the scene of the crime that even with the poor quality of forensic science during the era, the entire Stout family was brought in for questioning within hours of the body's discovery the following morning.
Months later, while awaiting execution, Ira twice attempted suicide with the assistance of others. Both attempts were failures, including one where someone else ingested the poison that had been meant for him! His case was major news in the area and he drew support from notable Rochester citizens Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. They, along with a number of others sought to have Ira's sentence commuted to life in prison rather than the death penalty.
While the efforts delayed his execution for a few more months, Ira was still executed on October 22, 1858. Ira was executed by hanging from an indoor scaffold. In one final insult from fate, the rope slipped during the 8 foot plunge that should have snapped his neck. Instead, Ira slowly strangled to death. For a full 10 minutes, Ira danced a ghastly violent jig at the end of the hangman's rope. Witnesses to the execution are said to have been shocked horribly by the incident; covering their eyes and looking away. It took yet another 20 minutes for Ira to finally slowly strangle to death. Ira Stout, unlucky to the end.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The Whitney Restaurant was originally built in 1894 for the family of lumber baron David Whitney Jr. and none other than Thomas Edison himself installed the original electrical work. Whitney passed away in 1900, but his family continued to live in the house until the 1920s when it was turned into the headquarters of a medical society. It would later pass into the hands of the Visiting Nurses Association before being purchased in 1980 and converted into first-class restaurant that opened in 1986.
Stories of ghostly activity began around the time of its refurbishment and have continued ever since - becoming "...one of the most active in paranormal activity," according to Rydel. Join the group as they discuss the haunted history of the mansion and partake in actual ghost hunt to see if you might be turn up evidence of the afterlife. Reservations are required, so contact the Whitney Restaurant: Nicole DeSalvio, Event Manager at 313-832-5700. For more information on this event or future events, visit the Haunted Travels Web site. You can also contact the group through their MySpace account.
Seek the spirits that haunt the Whitney Restaurant.
Monday, October 20, 2008
The story goes that the Native American tribes considered the area as "the Forbidden Ground" and would never step foot on it. Even animals are said to avoid the area to this day. However, in the 1920s a geologist by the name of John Lister and was so taken by the strange goings-on that he stayed there the rest of his life to study the effects. In 1930, he opened the grounds to the general public so they could see the odd sights for themselves and continued his studies. He died in 1959 and interestingly enough, some claim his ghost still lingers there to this day.
I stopped by the Oregon Vortex in the summer of 2007 to have a look for myself. While I can't say that I had the feeling of vertigo while inside the "sphere of force," I was a little surprised to be caught off guard by the visual abnormalities inside. Interestingly enough, I found that the visual effects could be greatly impacted by where one stood. At some areas, it appeared that nothing was different while after only moving a couple feet, things seem to shrink and/or grow. While this does support that the mysteries of the Oregon Vortex were just a series of optical illusions, I have to say that to get the true benefit of the effects was to partake in the demonstrations. It was interesting to see the person on the other side of the platform seemingly shrink when we swapped ends - even though we were both standing on a level slab of wood.
Below are two photographs of one such demonstration that my ever-fearless niece Haylee agreed to do with me (because her father wouldn't) in front of the attractions's House of Mystery. From the first photo to the second photo, Haylee appears to shrink. While the dramatic angles of the House of Mystery surely play into the photograph effect, I can attest that the effects were equally felt from my position in the photo though I was staring in Haylee's direction.
There have been countless so-called imitations of the Oregon Vortex popping up around the world since the days the attraction first opened its doors, but some still argue that there are real powers at work at the original. The ghost stories of John Lister seemingly only add to the mysterious aura of the site. So I throw it out to all of you - What are the mysteries of the Oregon Vortex? Is it a true "spherical force" or simply a series of clever optical illusions? For those that have been there, I'd love to hear about your visit as well. If you are planning on going, you have to hurry. The Oregon Vortex shuts its doors after Halloween and does not return until next March.
Angle your head 7 1/2 degress and visit our page on The Oregon Vortex.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
If, however, you happen to be an Upstate New York resident like myself, you could take part in the very first LCP Zombie Walk in Watkins Glen. The ghoulish event is being held to benefit the Lake Country Players, a community theatre group that has been active in the area for more than 3 decades. I will be shambling along with the other zombies.
There is also a possibility that my 3 year old daughter will be joining in the zombie horde (she waited til the last week to finally show an interest. I've promised her I'd buy her a masonry trowel so she could look like her namesake Kyra Schon in Night of the Living Dead.
If you are interested in taking part in the LCP Zombie Walk (or just spectating) information is available at their MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/lcpzombiewalk
Come rot with me!
Emma Crawford was a young victim of tuberculosis who moved to Manitou Springs in the hopes that the freash air and mineral springs would cure her medical condition. A spiritualist, she had a vision of her spirit guide showing her where she should be buried when she died; the top of Red Mountain. She died in 1891 at the ago of only 19.
Her fiance and a group of pallbearers made sure her wish came true and buried her at the top of Red Mountain. The effort took them two days of hiking to get her there. Unfortunately for Miss Crawford, this would not be her final resting place. Only a little over a decade later, a railroad company dug her up and transplanted her out of the way of a railway line they we building. Once again her remains did not stay put. Erosion caused her coffin to become exposed and then roll down the side of the mountain, where her bones were discovered by local youths. She was buried again in a local cemetery. Some say her ghost haunts the mountain due to her unhappiness of having her grave moved from her place of choice.
Since 1994, the city of Manitou Springs has held festivities based around the story of Emma Crawford the weekend prior to Halloween. There are ghost walks and a yearly wake in her honor at a Victorian castle among other activities. The whole thing culminates in a race involving costumed "mourners" pushing or pulling a wheeled coffin containing an "Emma." Prizes are awarded for costumes and coffin design as well as first, second and third place in the race.
Oddly, this isn't the only coffin race held in Colorado.
Pay a visit to Manitou Springs and learn more about the strange tale of Emma Crawford and learn about Colorado's other annual coffin race that is in honor of a different dead person.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Today marks 16 years since the National Museum of Funeral History opened its doors to the public. Even if you're not familiar with the museum, you may be familiar with the museum's motto, "Any day above ground is a good one." The motto was used (in a slightly altered form) in the advertising for the fourth season of HBO's "Six Feet Under." A framed Six Feet Under poster (as pictured above) with the motto decorates my office wall.
The museum displays instruments and practices of the mortuary and funerary trade throughout history. The exhibits span from Egyptian embalming through modern mortuary science. The hearses on display vary from horse-drawn carriages to the Mercedes used to transport the body of Grace Kelly following her fatal automobile collision.
The museum houses a number of unusual and unique caskets and coffins in its collection. It also features a number of historically significant items besides Grace Kelly's hearse.
Pay a visit to the National Museum of Funeral History and have a good day above ground.
Friday, October 17, 2008
"All he wanted was a lady
When at night he came up from the deep
He was feeling like any other lonely fella
Decided to take one while the city was asleep"
-Dave Edmunds (Creature from the Black Lagoon)
Special birthday wishes goes out to actress Julie Adams who was born on this date in 1926. Adams is perhaps best remembered for her role as Kay Lawrence, the heroine who is on the unfortunate side of a cross-species crush in the 1954 horror classic, Creature from the Black Lagoon. It would be hardly her last role in the genre, as she continued to pop up in episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Night Gallery, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, among others.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon is but one of the many of the life-sized figures classic horror monsters found at the Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum in Bristol, Connecticut. Adams is seen at the museum in the photo above (courtesy of the museum) with Ben Chapman who played the title role in film in the scenes of the creature on land and unfortunately passed away in 2008.
The museum started as a childhood hobby of fan Cortlandt Hull who started building his favorite monsters from model kits. As his skills grew, so did his models until he was designing life-sized figures from wax, fine wire mesh, polymers, and papier-mache. His parents were fully supported of his efforts and in 1966, his father helped build a Swiss chalet-style building to house and display his work.
The Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum has continued to grow and expand in its over forty years of existence and has attracted countless horror celebrities, including more than a few that are depicted inside. Names such as June Foray, Vincent Price, Mark Hamill, and John Agar even pitched in and recorded the narration for the tour.
Today, Hull opens his museum on weekends in the month of October for people to appreciate his work. It has become a major Halloween event in Bristol and it is not uncommon for people to wait up to three hours in line to have the opportunity to pass through. The museum has become so big that it even has its own documentary dedicated to it - The Witch's Dungeon 40 Years Of Chills.