Real life horror

Local Haunts: Anchorage Alaska

By Margeaux DeMott

Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage_on_an_April_evening

Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city. It was first settled in 1914 and was incorporated on November 23rd, 1920. While doing research for this article I noticed that there was four different haunted schools. Two of which are middle schools. What’s going on in your schools Anchorage? (Clark Middle School, Hanshew Middle School, West High School, UAA.)

 

Historic Anchorage Hotel

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Standing in the heart of downtown Anchorage is the only hotel in the city that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Historic Anchorage Hotel. Located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and E Street, the hotel was built in 1936 while Anchorage was still very young. For many years the hotel was the city’s primary meeting place and was the only place you could have a meal served on fine china with linen and silver.  The ghost sightings in the hotel are so frequent that the hotel keeps a ghost log. Guests are encouraged to write their ghostly encounters inside the log book.

Haunts

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The most notorious ghost that haunts the Historic Anchorage Hotel is that of the city’s first police chief. Police Chief John J. Sturgus was murdered on February 20th 1921 at 9:15 p.m. by a gunshot wound to his back. To make the murder more of an awful scoundrel, the bullet had come from Sturgus’ own gun. His body was found merely steps away from the hotel. To this day the murderer is still unknown. He is seen walking around the hotel, possibly searching for his killer.

Another notable ghost is a woman in waiting type. She is seen in her wedding dress while wandering the hall ways. It is said that she is seen in her wedding dress because that is the clothing she was wearing when she hung herself. Her fiancé had hit it rich through the gold rush and left her on their wedding day.

On the second floor hall the ghost of a young girl is often seen wandering the hall. In rooms 214 and 217 the televisions turn on and off seemingly by themselves. The tubs and sinks also have a tendency to run without living intervention. Staff often hears footsteps coming down the stairs and through hall ways when no one else is around. There has also been reports of a male apparition walking past the stairs on occasion. Guests have complained of hearing children playing loudly in the halls, even when no children were in the hotel at the time. Some guests have witnessed pictures flying off the walls and figures or faces appearing in the hallways.

 

Dimond Center

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The Dimond Center is a 728,000 square foot shopping mall. Located on the southwest corner of East Dimond Boulevard and the Old Seward Highway; it boasts over 200 stores and includes a six-story office tower at its southeast corner. There’s also an arcade, bowling alley, health club, ice skating rink, food court, and a nine screen Regal Cinemas theater. The Dimond Center was opened in 1977. It is rumored that when the mall was being built the construction workers dug up bones. These bones are believed to be those of Native Americans from a long time ago. Since bones were very old and there wasn’t a lot of them so construction continued as usual; allegedly. However, there is one confirmed death on the site. On May 20th 1991 a refrigerant leak resulted in the death of the skating rink’s assistant manager, 33 others were injured and six had to be hospitalized.

Haunts

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Many of the ghosts that are seen in the Dimond Center are wearing Native American garb. They often visit people when they are alone in the bathrooms and small hall ways. The three human ghosts that are seen include a tall man, an old woman, and a child. Some people have also seen wolves roaming the halls. There is a store (I couldn’t find which one it is) that is inhabited by a dark shadow. The people who have seen the dark shadow have also noted an intense feeling of fear set on when they saw the shadow. The people who did not immediately flee from the store were met with either a pinch or loud hissing in their ears.

 

UAA Wendy Williamson Theater

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The Wendy Williamson Theater seats 910 guests and is located in the center of the west campus at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The theater gets its name from John Wendell Wendy Williamson, a professional musician and professor of music. The theater hosts a variety of events, as well as a variety of ghosts.

Haunts

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Many ghosts call this stage home. There is a woman wearing white that appears hovering on the stage and people believe that she was once a performer. A shadowy man shows up back stage leaning and seems to be listening to the shows that are hosted there. Some have seen props fly off tables, shadows moving on the stage, and even shattering stage lights. In the woman’s dressing room the bathroom faucets turn on and off, and on three different occasions women trying to come out of the handicap bathroom had the door slammed back in their face. In the lobby there is a ghostly man that plays the piano, some people believe this to be the ghost of Wendy Williamson.

There is a violent ghost that takes up residence here. It is a ghost of a man with a serious grudge against brunette women. He has pushed brunette women down the lobby stairs and has even pulled hair in the lobby itself.

 

Ship Creek

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Ship Creek is an Alaskan river that flows from the Chugach Mountains into the Cook Inlet. It is a favorite local fishing and shorebird viewing area.

Haunts

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There is only one ghost that haunts Ship Creek and that is the ghost of a Native Alaskan woman named Marie. In 1987 Marie was brutally raped and murdered along the creek. She now appears walking along the creek and has been seen anywhere from the old ANS hospital and the old Alaska railroad terminal. Most of the reports come from the local homeless community. They say that she warns them of the dangers of being in the area and urges them to leave immediately.

 

Courtyard by Marriot

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This Courtyard by Marriot is located a little over a mile away from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and is roughly three miles away from downtown Anchorage. You might be saying to yourself What? A Marriot can’t be haunted. It’s a new hotel. Well, you’re wrong.

Haunts

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The room 201 is haunted by a man. The man had died in his room and had not been discovered for several days. There is a second male ghost on the property, I am unsure if it is the same man. The second ghost’s name is Ken. It is unclear if this was his name while he was alive or if it is a nickname that staff gave to him. He can be spotted walking around the parking lot as well as the courtyard and gazebo. This hotel even has a ghost cat. This cat can be seen walking around the hotel and usually hangs out in rooms 103 and 107. Here is a TripAdvisor review about their experience.

If you have experienced any hauntings in Anchorage, please feel free to share in the comments. If there is a town you would like to see featured, let us know.

 

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, PARANORMAL, 0 comments
CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY: URBAN LEGEND

CROPSEY

By Margeaux DeMott

 

The legend of Cropsey comes from New York and is now closely associated with Staten Island. Cropsey's affiliation with Staten Island is because of a documentary made in 2009 by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, titled Cropsey. Their documentary briefly covers that urban legend and purposes a man named Andre Rand could be the aforementioned boogeyman. However, the legend of Cropsey is older than the disappearances of the children that are attributed to Rand. Started as a spooky tale that campers in boy scouts, summer camps, and groups of teenagers would tell around a campfire, Cropsey shares a similar tale common to most boogeymen. Cropsey lives in the woods and preys on the young; from children to young adult campers. The story varies slightly from campfire to campfire. Sometimes he has a hook for a hand, some times his face is burnt, but most often he does his killing with an ax. I have read of people being told the legend going all the way back to the 1950s, and the tale of Cropsey is still being told around campfires to this day. 

The Urban Legend, reprised

Cropsey was a man that lived in a cabin in the woods with his family. He had a wife and two children. He was an upstanding pillar of his community and had an all around good life. Until one fateful day.  A group of campers in the woods started a campfire that they could not handle. The flames spread through the woods and caught Cropsey's home ablaze. His children and wife found themselves trapped inside the house. He tried to get them out but failed. He fell into a deep rage aimed at careless camp goers. Insanity soon took over, and Cropsey moved into the woods to hunt people with his ax. He swore his deadly vengeance on any and all campers he could get his hands on.

The man that became the Urban Legend

The man who would become Cropsey

In their documentary, Zeman and Brancaccio match a man to the myth and put a face to the boogeyman in the form of a person we know as Andre Rand. Throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's strange occurrences  transpired. Several children, and one young adult, on Staten Island went missing. Rand was the prime suspect in these disappearances due to his criminal record involving crimes against children. In 1972 Alice Pereira, nine years old, went missing. She was last seen playing in an apartment lobby with her brother. Her brother said he left Alice alone for a moment and when he returned she was gone. Coincidentally Rand was employed as a painter at this apartment building. In 1981 Holly Ann Hughes, seven years old, never returned home from going to the store with a friend. Her friend reported that Rand drove up in a Volkswagen and pulled Holly into the car. In 1983 Tiahease Jackson, eleven years old, was reported missing after she failed to return from going out to purchase food on her mothers request.  In 1984 Hank Gafforio, twenty-two years old, was reported missing. Hank Gafforio was born with an IQ in the seventies. His last sighting was with Rand in a local diner. In 1987 Jennifer Schweiger, twelve years old, was reported missing and was last seen walking with Rand. Schweiger's body was found on the grounds of the former Willowbrook State School.

Andre Rand was convicted of the kidnapping of Jennifer Schweiger (1988) and later the kidnapping of Holly Ann Hughes (2004) -concurrent sentences of 25 years-to-life. As of the time of this writing he is still living, and will be eligible for parole in 2037 at the age of ninety-three years old. Considering the areas in which he hunted his prey, and the vivid imagination of a pre-internet society, one can easily see where people made the connection from Rand to the legend of Cropsey.

Posted by Alan Smithee in ABNORMAL MUSINGS AND FREAKISH FACTS, 1 comment
LOCAL HAUNTS: ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

LOCAL HAUNTS: ALLENTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

 

Local Haunts: Allentown, Pennsylvania

By Margeaux DeMott

 In this edition of Local Haunts we cover some haunted places in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I was born in Allentown, however, my family left when I was young. I haven't been able to actually visit any of these haunted areas, but my mom worked at the King George Inn and had some experiences there. If you have any experiences at any of these locations or even ones that didn't make the list then please feel free to share in the comments.

Constitution Drive

Constitution

Constitution Drive (pictured above) is a long stretch of desolate, wooded road that sports a with a view of the Lehigh River as well as a pretty steep fall. Quite honestly it's a perfect area to creep yourself out. Heavy woods, steep drop, desolate. All things that add tension. My father told me it's where the cool kids went to party when he was younger. However, he doesn't have any stories. [Sorry dad]

**If ghost hunting here be careful. I read that it can be a dangerous area with robberies, rape, and other awful deeds. I also read that they have added more police attendance so you also might get snagged by them if they catch you hanging around for no obvious reason.**

The most reported haunting on Constitution Drive is that of a one-legged man walking two dogs with glowing red eyes. There are a couple of variations of the rumor as to why this man is haunting this area. It's said that the man was walking (with or without his dogs) along the train tracks when the train hit him (and his dogs or the dogs stay with him) he lost his leg (or is killed instantly) and slowly bled to death over a couple of days (the dogs starve to death with him). During the winter months people have reported and even photographed a trail of two sets of dog tracks walking along side a track of one foot print in the snow. People have also heard sounds of screaming when passing the train tracks. Hopefully those are ghosts and not actually people in danger. There is also a whistling or wooden flute sound in the woods that comes from every direction. Although not ghostly there was a rumor that there is a family of albinos who live in the woods that would do a number of nasty things. They're said to steal cars that have been left alone and drive them into the river or just push them in, but worst of all they're also said to have eaten people.

 

Hamilton Street & The Magic Tree

Hamilton

Hamilton Street is located in the Hamilton district that is also downtown Allentown. The street runs from East to West and hosts events, entertainment, dining, and culture.
On Hamilton Street people have said they saw a ghost of a young woman walking late at night. They say that she has a vacant look on her face. It is believed that she is the ghost of a young woman who was hit by a car in the 1960s while trying to cross the street. Hamilton Street has a tree known as the magic tree. Around this tree people have seen strange lights and report an eerie feeling when near the tree. I read that a student once took a picture of the tree and in the picture was a face in the tree. I can't find this picture, if you can let me know in the comments.

Muhlenberg College

Muhlenberg

Muhlenberg College was first established in 1848. From the years 1848 to 1867 the college operated as the Allentown Seminary, Allentown Collegiate Institute, and the Allentown Collegiate and Military Institute.The college moved to Trout Hall in 1867 and renamed after Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. In 1905 the college relocated to a fifty-one acre area located in Allentown's west end. The campus has many buildings that were built in the traditional European Protestant style.

Haunts:
The ghost that haunts this college is believed to be Oscar Bernheim. Oscar Bernheim was either the former registrar or treasurer of the college. When he died he left his estate to the college which is the south side campus. While his house was still standing he haunted his attic, basement, beloved garden, and the third floor bed room that he died in. It is said that in his will he had specific instructions as to how the garden should be taken care of. The garden was not taken care of and has had dorms built atop it. Students in the dorm report hearing strange noises belongings being moved, and televisions turning on. These playful hauntings are said to be less frequent, if not non-existent, in rooms with healthy plants.

Dorney Park

Dorney Park

Solomon Dorney built a trout hatchery and summer resort on his estate in 1860. In 1870 Solomon Dorney decided to convert the estate into a public attraction. In the beginning Solomon Dorney added games, playground type rides, refreshment stands, picnic areas, and a hotel. A small zoo, some gardens and the mechanical rides were added in the 1880s. The park changed hands a couple of times and is currently owned by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company.

Haunts:
Near a ride called The Dominator there is an old building that holds an arcade, some small shops, and some concessions. There is a corridor connecting the two concessions that leads to an old mine shaft. People have seen a ghost standing by this door before he quickly dissipates. There are also strange noises and odd occurrences around this area. At one of the oldest areas of the park is the antique carousel. Story states that Mrs. Mueller's husband carved carousel horses for a living. In 1917 he carved a horse that she absolutely fell in love with. When this horse ended up at Dorney Park it is said that she came with it. While the park was closed the carousel would turn on and run by itself. The horse has been moved to Cedar Point Frontier Town Museum, but it is still said that the carousel sometimes runs by itself at night. The Old Gold Mine Ride was built in the 1970s and burnt down in the 1980s. Part of the ride went through an area that was formerly Solomon Dorney's mansion. There had been reports of seeing him in that area.

King George Inn

King George

The King George Inn was built in four different sections over the years. The oldest section dates back to 1775 and was built during the French-Indian war. Additions were made in 1799, 1796, and the final one in 1930. The King George Inn boasts some pretty brutal deaths within its long history. It's said there was an Indian raid that left some dead and possibly a baby thrown into a well. There was also a suicide and the man is believed to still be in the building. The large stone building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Recently it was saved from the current owners demolition plans by public outrage. The building is undergoing changes and improvements so it is currently closed to the public.

Haunts:
There are several ghosts inside this building. When my mom was younger she worked at the King George Inn. The haunting that she found to be the involved an old well in the basement that had a locked iron gate in front of it. In the evening she could hear a baby crying from the depths of it. Other people have said they saw a woman carrying a crying baby around the basement as well as hearing the cries from the well. My mom often saw a woman walk through the hallway and sometimes look down from the main stair case. She saw another female ghost walk around the upstairs pub. A child ghost that my mom believes to be a little boy would run through the rooms even when the restaurant was full. She also heard foot steps behind her when in rooms alone. In the kitchen the man who hung himself is said to play pranks on the staff. It's said that he would move things and slam doors and generally making work a tad bit more difficult. A woman and her little girl dressed in colonial attire have been seen walking from the entrance into the dining room and also in the basement. Reports of a revolutionary solider and a bearded colonial man have also been seen throughout the building.

Do you have a city that you would like to see featured? Let us know in the comments.

Posted by Alan Smithee in ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATIONS, PARANORMAL, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: My Name Is ‘A’ by Anonymous (2012)

By Travis Love

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Directed by Shane Ryan and released through Wild Eye Releasing, My Name is A by Anonymous is a film adaptation of the real-life events of thrill killer Alyssa Bustamante. For those not familiar with the case, Alyssa Bustamante was convicted for murdering her 9-year-old neighbor in 2009 – strangling, stabbing, and slitting her throat before burying her body in a shallow grave in the nearby woods. The background story is every bit as engrossing and disturbing as the film portraying it.

The film takes a less than straight ahead approach at telling the events that unfold, instead of focusing on one single facet of the story, the story is broken up and told through four individuals who represent Alyssa or parts of her personality (The Performer, The Angst, and The Sidekick). The scenes tend to skip between characters which makes it feel hard to get a grasp of the story at times, but knowing the metal instability of Bustamante it actually helps to place the viewer into her distraught and chaotic state of mind. Certain parts delve into the dark and depressing aspect of who Alyssa is while other parts (mainly The Performer) shows a need to be accepted and admired by others.

Imagery such as the Alyssa character sitting in a bathtub and slowly dragging a knife against her skin, leaving mark after bloody mark, opens a window for the viewer to peer into the twisted mindscape Bustamante was in. Moments where the father is seen in a molesting light as Alyssa screams in the background “Don’t touch me!! Leave me alone!” only help to solidify the downward spiral leading towards the upcoming events. The inevitable end is simply executed, no frills just the cold hard reality of what took place when Alyssa took Elizabeth Olten’s life as the manifestations each takes their turn at inflicting pain on their victim.

This film is a bleak, unconventional look into events that are unbelievably eerie and gut-wrenching. Watching someone’s mental stability and balance decay, knowing the severity of the real-life events that it lead to, makes this morally uncomfortable to watch. But with the style in which it is executed, it’s well worth watching to see things from the perspective of Alyssa Bustamante.

Rating: 6/10

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Sacrament (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Sacrament (2013)

By Amy Lynes

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Director: Ti West

Starring: Kentucker Audley, Gene Jones, Joe Swanberg, A.J. Bowen and Amy Siemetz

Having enjoyed a few of Ti West’s other films and also being a huge A.J. Bowen fan, I was very eager to see The Sacrament. I have always been a bit fascinated by Jonestown Massacre of 1978 and I had heard that this film was very similar to what happened there, so I was more than ready to take this in.

The Sacrament starts off with freelance photographer Patrick discovering that his sister Caroline has joined some sort of religious cult in a remote country. With the help of fellow journalist Sam and camera man Jake (who just happens to work for a news show), he goes to Eden Parish under the guise of shooting a documentary about the self sustained community. In actuality, though, the three plan to locate Patrick's sister and persuade her to return home.

Soon after their arrival and a tour of this so-called utopia, they begin interviewing some of its inhabitants before meeting the leader, a man everyone refers to as Father. Father is a cross between a warm, polite southerner and a charismatic, smooth talking politician. Soon after meeting him and hearing his speech, they begin to sense that things aren't as bright and cheery as Father would have them all believe and they soon come to realize there is something much darker and maybe a little more sinister at work here. Father is up to something and it soon becomes evident that what started as just another documentary shoot has become a fight to escape with their lives.

Having become accustomed to the slow burn Ti West is known for with some of his other films, I was surprised at the (somewhat) faster pace of this film and the overall different feel that it had, particularly with the found footage approach.

Not long into it, however, I became profoundly disturbed, knowing what fate awaited the denizens of this society, and I found it increasingly harder to watch as it went on. I could almost FEEL the dread, panic and fear coming. It made me really uncomfortable, and by the time they start making the rounds with the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid in syringes and emptying them into the mouths of children, infants and the infirm, I damn near cried. I then wanted to cry again when Caroline injects her own brother with a cyanide filled syringe without so much as batting an eye. I was truly horrified, but I was unable to stop watching.

The scenes all hit their mark and the images are hard to shake. The film really stuck with me but then again, the story of what happened in Guyana always has. Maybe it is so disturbing to me because it so closely mirrored the events of 1978, or maybe it's the way all these people just so freely and willingly gave themselves (along with all their worldly belongings and assets) so completely to this man, without hesitation or question. Most of the residents of Eden Parish follow his words without even the slightest reservation, never thinking twice about his decisions, even when he tells them that the only way to hang on to their dignity is to die. That seems downright insane to me, and the fact that someone could have that kind of power over so many people honestly scares the shit out of me.

That being said, I am wondering why exactly The Sacrament has been labeled as horror, or if Ti West really thinks that is what he has given us with this film. I felt like I could have been watching a movie of the week or maybe a dramatization of real life events. The only thing that makes this a horror film, in my opinion, is the association to the events that happened in Jonestown in '78. Although, with his portrayal of Father, Gene Jones truly is this films saving grace. He was absolutely brilliant in this role, and the speech he gives right before he blows his own brains out really set me on edge. He might be full of charisma, but this is one seriously creepy dude.

This film definitely does what it sets out to do. It made me extremely uncomfortable and very emotional. It was grim and dark and hard to watch. It is not something I would care to add to my personal collection or ever choose to watch again. I just couldn't get past the fact that most of what is happening on screen really DID happen to people. Fictionalizing it just seems wrong to me somehow.

Rating: 6/10

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
DOC REVIEW: I Am No One (2013)

DOC REVIEW: I Am No One (2013)

By Travis Love

I AM NO ONE
Tonight's film is none other than JABB Pictures' I Am No One. This 2013 release was written and directed by Jason Hoover. The film is shot entirely documentary style in Chicago Illinois and follows the everyday life of Charles Lake, a man obsessed with gambling scratch offs and a gnawing need to engage in murderous endeavors by night.

The beginning narration sets the tone for the film, the short tale of how the Documentarian came to meet Charles Lake. With that tiny snippet of discussion that took place before filming, "If you think that's scary, you should follow me around for a while", you get that twinge of foreboding wash over you and the dark downward spiral of a journey begins.

During the film, you are witness to multiple series of interviews between the filmmaker and Charles Lake. The interviews are casual, relaxed, and normal. The subject matter of these interviews, however, finds Charles reminiscing over his past endeavors as far back as childhood. Morbid tales ranging from almost beating his childhood baseball team catcher to death with a baseball bat to murdering a middle school child 3 to 4 years prior to the interview. Morbid moments like this engross you in the story that much more.

During the journey, things quickly spiral out of control as you go from watching Charles disassemble random Barbie dolls to the first recorded confrontation of him engaging his victim. I don't want to spoil this scene. so let's just say the brutal moment that occurs is vicious and merciless - to say the least. When the filmmaker tries to capture the aftermath on film, things become immediately hostile and without warning the flood gates are opened as the filmmaker realizes that he's plunged into a darkness that is both terrifying and gruesome.

While I won't ruin the ending scene because it's best left to first time viewers to see with virgin eyes, I will say that the tension in the end scene is so thick that it makes you feel almost claustrophobic. This isn't a gore soaked film, but what it is, though, is a film that proves that you don't need buckets of blood if your story writing is this enthralling and immerses you in it completely.

7/10 for this amazing JABB Pictures feature.

Posted by Alan Smithee in DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments