Archive for the 'Ghosts' Category

Ghost hunter avoids prison

From the Martinsburg Journal, a story about my ‘ghost hunting instructor’:

MARTINSBURG — Area ghost hunter Susan R. Crites, the author of a number of books, won’t be adding an account of her recent experiences in court to her list of titles.

Crites was sentenced Tuesday for practicing medicine without a license and practicing counseling without a license.

Berkeley County Circuit Judge Gray Silver III sentenced Crites to three years supervised probation. He suspended the 18-month jail sentence he imposed.

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The judge also placed limits on Crites’ ghost hunting tours.

Games-Neely told Silver that she didn’t want Crites to be able to give ghost tours in an enterprise capacity or do psychic development classes. The prosecutor said the latter is where things “went awry” and Crites was accused of the misdemeanors.

The prosecutor said she didn’t have a problem with Crites giving hour-long ghost tours. However, spending the night in a cemetery was out of the question, Games-Neely said.

Honestly I took the ghost hunting course she taught. I even successfully shot pictures of ghostly orbs or dust motes, depending upon your view point. The one-night class was a birthday gift from Ms. Carnacki if I recall correctly. While I may or may not have witnessed the ghosts, I was not a witness to any of the criminal conduct.

Ghost of Victorian girl causes crashes

From The Telegraph of London:

Paranormal researchers are investigating the sightings of a girl in Victorian dress on a road in the West Midlands, which locals say is an accident blackspot.

The late-night visions are occurring along Oldnall Road in the Halesowen area and are believed to have been responsible for a number of crashes and near-misses in the area in recent years.

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“The image had been described as a small girl between the ages of three and five years old and wearing Victorian clothes.

“We are trying to find out any stories locals might have of the area which might explain what or who this could be.”

Local resident Jimmy Lahn, 54, said: “We’ve had quite a few accidents on that road, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ghostly figure has something to do with it.”

Parasearch’s website is here.

Ghost hunt for charity

From The Bolton (U.K.) News:

BRAVE fundraisers are being urged to spend the night ghost-hunting in Smithills Hall.

On Saturday, March 1, the doors to the historic building will be open to 35 people who will be sponsored to ghost hunt for the night.

Money raised will be given to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

advertisementNatalie Cossins, regional fundraising manager for the trust, said: “This is the first time the CF Trust has organised such a night in Smithills Hall, so everyone should be prepared to expect the unexpected. One thing we can guarantee is that the Fright Night will certainly be a night to remember.”

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A goosing ghost in a historic house

Charlton House outside of London is marking its 400th anniversary, but watch out for the ghost with roaming hands:

A succession of different owners had held the house privately, beginning with Newton and ending with the 1925 sale to the Metropolitan Borough of Greenwich.

During its long period of private ownership, the general public very rarely got near the house, especially after the Horn Fayre, an annual event dating back to 1268, was banned from stopping at the boundary of the house because of rowdy behaviour.

Although Charlton House is out of private hands now, it is said the ghost of one previous owner, William Langhorn, still haunts the building.

Langhorn, a man in his 80s, had married a woman in her 20s but died shortly afterwards.

His ghost is said to walk the corridors, pinching young ladies’ backsides.

Secrets of ‘Wormwood’

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I only recently began listening to podcasts, but I’ve listened to radio dramas for nearly 30 years. An album oriented rock station in Columbus, Ohio, Q-FM 96, would switch their format on Sunday nights to play Dr. Demento followed by a science fiction series Alien Worlds. That relatively modern show – it can still be heard occasionally on XM-Radio’s Sonic Theater – led me to collecting cassette tapes of the old time radio shows like The Green Hornet, The Shadow, Light’s Out, Sherlock Holmes. I later moved to an area near Washington, D.C., where WAMU plays old time radio shows on Sunday evenings.

When I bought the MP3 player, I expected I’d be downloading music. Instead, it’s been a steady stream of fantastic new versions of radio shows. One of the first I discovered, and my favorite at this time, is Wormwood from Habit Forming Films LLC. It’s a complex, up-to-date, horror story set in a town filled with secrets and populated by colorful characters. There’s a ghost, mysterious figures, a monster, cattle mutilations, and, of course, an occult investigator, Dr. Xander Crowe.

Tragedy forced Doctor Xander Crowe down the pathways of the occult and he was forever transformed.

Now, chasing the vision of a drowned woman, Crowe finds himself in the haunted town of Wormwood, where evil lurks in the shadows and stains the souls of its inhabitants.

The production values and story telling are excellent. The cast is first-rate in a medium where they must create so many visuals with just the intonations of their voices and sound effects. Listening to one episode in October while mowing the yard on a sunny day, I literally jumped with fright at a terrifying moment. When a radio show can create such vivid scenes, it’s worth listening to.

I asked the creators of Wormwood, David Accampo (Co-creator/Executive Producer) and Jeremy Rogers (Co-creator/Executive Producer) about the show and they agreed to the interview.

Haunted Vampire: What’s the story behind Habit Forming Films?

David Accampo: Jeremy and I worked a graveyard shift for a dotcom company back in 1999, and we had similar interests, so we started writing scripts together. We got a little interest here and there, but the whole process became pretty tedious, and in 2005 we decided to make a short film, adapted from our first script.

Jeremy Rogers: Habit Forming Films came from a riff on the title of our first project, Bad Habits. Since this film was to be a very gritty urban drama, we decided to embrace the uncomfortable nature of the subject matter and incorporate it into the company name. With that, our very cool logo was born, complete with a syringe cutting down the middle and spattering across the letters. What’s it spattering? I don’t know.

David Accampo: I know, but I’m not telling. Anyway, together with producers Mary Alexandra Stiefvater and Katherine Stiefvater, and our cinematographer Nick Harris, we formed the company to shoot our first film. We’ve kept it going ever since.

Jeremy Rogers: And we’ve collected a few awards here and there. Bad Habits won a Bronze Remi in the Original Short Film category at Worldfest Houston 2006 and also a Best Actor Win for our lead Jack Sway in the Sacramento Intl Film Festival 2007. Our second short film, The Long Road, screened two weeks ago at Downtown Disney as part of the FAIF Intl Film Festival and won the award for Best Editing. We have another film currently in post that we’re excited about.

David Accampo: Wormwood is our first attempt to do something that’s in a different medium. We’re storytellers first and foremost.

Haunted Vampire: Tell us about Wormwood. How would you describe the story?

Jeremy Rogers: The thrust of the story is simple: A disturbing vision of a drowned woman by the hands of a young child lures a Los Angeles detective to an offbeat Northern California quarry town where nobody has drowned for over seventy years. But it’s clear that something sinister is happening in Wormwood, as the quaint façade is full of dark secrets whispered in the shadows, and a little gore (from slaughtered cows to dismembered human victims) is not unusual to stumble upon in the early hours of the morning. So, we build up a little bit of the old Hammers Horror, a little bit of the strange and disturbing, and cobble it all together with some atmosphere, some comedy, and hours of (meticulously constructed!) mystery to unravel. But even with all of the occult trappings, the violent murders, and the ritualistic sacrifices, Wormwood is really one big dramatic ensemble headed by a gloriously eccentric and self-obsessed Doctor Xander Crowe.

David Accampo: I think some of the early wording I used to describe the story was “House comes to Twin Peaks.” Doctor Xander Crowe is an occult detective with a haunted past, and we’re injecting him into a town (Wormwood) with a bizarre mystery that spans generations. Our idea was really to blend our love for mystery and horror into an ensemble drama that created a “world” that we could explore for quite some time.

Haunted Vampire: What’s some of the inspirations for the story?

David Accampo: Wormwood is a distillation of everything I like. In films, I love the creepy mysteries like Rosemary’s Baby, The Ninth Gate, and Angel Heart. With TV, the homage to Twin Peaks is obvious. I was a teenager when that show came on the air, and it just changed my whole perception of what TV could be like. I’m also a huge fan of comic books, and so the serialized storytelling format really appealed to me. Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is a big inspiration, as is the DC/Vertigo series Hellblazer. Doctor Xander Crowe is also our attempt to create a cool anti-hero reminiscent of the pulp heroes… and I’d even take it back further to some of the early “psychic detectives” like Dr. John Silence or (ahem) Thomas Carnacki.

Jeremy Rogers: Not that long ago, Doctor Xander Crowe could have been played by Peter Cushing or Oliver Reed. I think Arthur Russell in the role nails this sort of hell-bent character in the classic way of the old movies. You might notice as the series progresses that some of our character voices become eerily reminiscent of the great old mystery and macabre icons. Not that I wanted to pay homage the black and white flicks so much; this isn’t Grindhouse of the audio podcast market. But I did most want modernize it in that elaborately cool way that certain writers, notably TV writers, have been able to accomplish in recent shows.

Haunted Vampire: How many other episodes will there be?

David Accampo: The first season ends on episode 24. However, we have a blueprint for two more seasons, each with 24 episodes. This first season will conclude the mystery of why Xander Crowe came to Wormwood, but it opens up the larger mysteries hidden in the town.

Haunted Vampire: Tell us how the episodes produced? How many people are involved in writing and editing the scripts, acting in the productions and behind the scenes?

David Accampo: When we first started creating the series “bible”, it was just me and Jeremy. We quickly added writer Jeremiah Allan, who helped us flesh out some of the characters. Jeremy and I wrote the first two episodes, and then we held our first writer’s meeting. This is interesting to note because Jeremiah actually lives in the Midwest, while we’re in California. We use VOIP technology to hold conference calls – creating what I call a “virtual writer’s room.” In the writer’s meeting, we broke the stories for the first 8 episodes and assigned several episodes to each of us.

Shortly after that, we brought on Rob Allspaw, who wrote episode 6 based on our outline. Since then we’ve added Tiffiny Whitney and Rick Bata, and we continue our virtual writer’s room, each time breaking down 8 episodes and assigning them to the writers. They turn in their drafts, and then Jeremy and I, as the show runners, edit everything together, making sure all the voices sound like we want them to sound, etc.

Jeremy Rogers: Once the scripts are in and edited, we send them out to the cast. We have 11-13 cast members (many take on multiple roles so dividing real flesh and blood actors with character voices is really tricky and I don’t know for sure that I’ve met the entire cast, or it could be that I’ve met more of the cast then there actually is).

The recording sessions are fun days. We all meet for about 8 hours in a house out in the valley, where we munch on doughnuts and sandwiches, as we rotate the cast at the table, four at a time. Each recording session covers 8 episodes (1/3rd of the season) and so we have to work fast and efficiently to cover roughly 185 pages of script. As Dave monitors the recording level, I focus on making sure we cover all of the scenes, all of the lines. Fortunately, our talented cast has quickly embodied their characters so there really is much direction needed at the table. Besides, we can’t write a single word without hearing their voices now, so the time for directing Wormwood comes during the story and scripting phases.

From there, Dave and I alternate editing each episode, adding in sound effects and music. Our edits usually take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, and in some early cases, more than 20 hours per episode. But as our production value continues to rise, we’re becoming much more efficient.

Haunted Vampire: I’m curious about the behind the scenes work. Obviously a lot of effort has gone into the show yet they’re free downloads. Is it done for resume building or as a hobby or is there some hidden revenue stream?

David Accampo: Honestly, it’s a little bit of everything. First of all, we’re storytellers, and we like creating things. We also like collaborating, and we like working with actors. So the podcast seemed like a cheap way to get all the fun parts of storytelling without the expensive and time consuming elements we’ve dealt with in when making films. I think my first pitch to Jeremy about doing a podcast was starting something like this: “I’m so sick of waiting three hours to light a shot that last 10 seconds on the screen…I have this idea; what if we just didn’t do the visual part of it…?”

Jeremy Rogers: Dave and I have been writing together for so long now that the idea of evolving a long-form story immediately appealed to me. Our sensibilities are complimentary. While I lean towards filmmaking, I’m a writer first, and so it didn’t take much convincing to get me interested in these podcast-things that Dave kept talking about. I realize that Wormwood might sound like a project fueled by frustrations with filmmaking, but that’s really not the case. We’re genre guys. We’ve haven’t been able to scrape together the means to produce a great horror film, so our shorts have been mainly talking head dramas to date. But with Wormwood… if we want to write in a Muddy Man ripping the arm off a bartender, then dammit, there’s nothing stopping us. Our love of the strange and imaginative has been unleashed with this project. And now that we have an assemblage of writers and actors, there’s no stopping any of this.

David Accampo: Exactly. There’s no hidden revenue stream. We wanted to make something that was complete in and of itself. And we wanted to entertain. However, we would like it to show as a portfolio of what we’re capable of as writers. And further, we think we’ve created a really interesting world with Wormwood, and we think it could be translated into other media, like comics or film or television. So there is definitely a desire to use this as a stepping-stone to bring it to an even larger audience.

Jeremy Rogers: We’ve just recorded the final eight episodes of the first season, so now it’s just a matter of waiting each week for the new episodes to go online. With that completion on the horizon, we’re going to start looking into those cross-media avenues fairly soon.

Haunted Vampire: What can we look forward to in future episodes of Wormwood?

David Accampo: Are you looking for secrets? Heh-heh…we’ll never tell! But I can tell you that episodes 17 through 24 really do start the roller coaster ride to the finish. We’ll learn more about Sparrow’s past with Crowe, and we’ll uncover some secrets about Hank Mason. We’ll also find out more about Rachel and Jacob, and their storyline. Episode 24, which is currently titled “Tea and Sympathy (for the Devil),” will deliver you the reason that Crowe came to Wormwood.

And yet…it’s only the beginning of the story…

Haunted Vampire: What will Habit Forming be working on next?

Jeremy Rogers: 2008 will be a banner year for Habit Forming Films. Our third film, The Hollywood Informant, an ambitious black and white film noir made in conjunction with Geeworld Studios, will be submitted into the festival scene. We’re excited about this project, and think that with the mix of period detail, clever writing and acting, and our first chance to really show a sense of visual style, this project might go on to some really great things for everyone involved.

With that, we’ll be doing our best in 2008 to produce our first feature film. We have a few scripts ready to go, but there’s that lure of the horror film that keeps us itching to write something new and intense. The ideas are flying back and forth, the notes are being jotted, and soon, we’ll be looking for funding… like every other indie out there… sad, but true.

And of course, next up for Habit Forming Films is Wormwood Season Two. I don’t want to give anything away, but I will say this: We know all about sophomore slumps and bloated sequels, and to that we strive.

David Accampo: Er, you mean we “strive to avoid”…right? Right, Jeremy…?

Check out the Habit Forming website here.

And, of course, for all things Wormwood, go to Wormwoodshow.com.

Ghost tourism on the rise

From Live Science:

Odds are your city or town is haunted.

Just about every city has some supposedly haunted mansion, cemetery or lunatic asylum (“if you listen carefully to the wind on moonless nights, you can hear the screams of the insane…”). Most cities, in fact, have at least one company offering tours of their spookiest places.

Ghost tourism has boomed over the past decade, propelled by the public’s interest in the mysterious and supernatural. There are hundreds of ghost tours offered across the country, from Hollywood (“Come see Haunted Hollywood and ghosts of the stars!”) to New England (“Visit Boston’s infamous haunted locales!”).

It’s not just home prices that are scary

Sometimes it’s the home itself.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Every neighborhood has one. A house the kids are certain is haunted. Where I grew up, it was the monastery on top of the hill, only we didn’t realize at the time that it was a religious place. We just thought it was spooky.

People have always loved a good ghost story, especially when it comes to haunted houses. And there are untold numbers of places supposedly occupied by spooks and specters or that were the site of acts so heinous that houses themselves have become part of the folklore.

..But in the spirit of Halloween, here’s a look at some of the country’s spookiest haunts:

Winchester Mystery House ..One account has it that Sarah was told by a medium to build a house for herself and to never stop construction or she would die. Another account has it that she believed the only way she could repent for the thousands of people killed by her family’s rifles was to keep building. Either way, she built and then built some more, from 1884, when she purchased the house under construction, until her death 38 years later.The place started out as a six-bedroom house. But Sarah turned it into a eerie mansion with 40 bedrooms, 40 staircases, 47 fireplaces and 1,257 windows.

Grant-Humphreys MansionBuilt by Colorado’s third governor, James Grant, this Denver house at 770 Pennsylvania St. lays claim to five ghosts, including that of Albert Humphreys, a subsequent owner who died of a suspicious shooting accident on the third floor, according to HauntedHouse.com.

The others are said to be disrupted souls from the old cemetery that lies beneath what is now Cheesman Park. They’ve been flying about since 1873, when the cemetery was closed and the city hired an incompetent undertaker to move some graves. Showing little respect for the unearthed dead, he broke up bodies to fit them into small boxes, mixing up parts as he worked.

Whaley House...Few houses in San Diego are as historically important as this one, or as haunted. It made the list of the Travel Channel’s most haunted destinations. Every day, visitors from throughout the world tour the place in the city’s Old Town section, and numerous manifestations have been reported since the house reopened as a museum in 1960.

Reed House...This Asheville, N.C., house was built in 1892 by Samuel Reed. Although Reed was a lawyer for tycoon George Vanderbilt, his life was “full of loss,” according to the local paranormal society. Five of his children died young. Then his wife passed away, and he followed her into the great beyond six months later.

The house was abandoned for a time, and then was purchased in 1973 and turned into a bed and breakfast. Now, it is known as the Biltmore Village Inn, a place where the sound of heavy boots can sometimes be heard, or a spectral game of pool takes place. Bedroom doors open and close by themselves, and the lights sometimes go on and off for no reason.

Franklin Castle.There are ghosts aplenty at Cleveland’s Franklin Castle, which is known as Ohio’s most haunted house. And no wonder: Among other things, a pile of baby skeletons was discovered in a small room at the rear of the house, the victim of some inept doctor, according to Forgotten Ohio.com, and a group of Nazis was gunned down in a political dispute. Today, babies can still be heard crying, the German Socialists’ conversation continues.

AMNewYork highlights some grizzly real estate in Gotham, including one Starbucks that was once the scene of a famous mob hit.

13 Ghosts

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My oldest daughter, 9, watched 13 Ghosts with me. She loved it. There are times as a father that I have to resist crying tears of happiness. This was one of those moments. So I just hugged her instead.

An email from a ghost

I just received an email from the ghost of West Virginia musician Hasil Adkins, who died in 2005.

The poorly spelled contents of the email aren’t particularly insightful or relevant, but it did lead me to look up what I could find on the man known as Haze:

To anyone familiar with the haze of lore surrounding ‘the Haze’ (as he was known to fans), the most remarkable of these benign facts is probably that Adkins managed to make it to the other side of fifty. If half the stories are true, Adkins used up all nine lives decades ago. Night Life is hardly Adkins’ best music, but it is more than the last gasp of a would-have-been.

Creeps Records bills it as a long-awaited “lost” album, for unexplained reasons, but again, with someone like Hasil Adkins, it’s sort of a pointless question, and it’s more impressive that the thing was done at all. In one sense it is the continuation of a frustrating struggle to be noticed and taken seriously. In another, it is a final conceptual twist for a lifelong contortionist, namely, an attempt to straighten long-kinked and knotted limbs.

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His unique sound owed everything to his unique approach. Adkins always played all his own instruments—guitar, drums, harmonica, vocals—all at the same time. As a kid, he heard Hank Williams announced on the radio, and by “That was Hank Willliams,” he misunderstood the DJ to mean that all of the sounds were coming from Hank, so he taught himself to do what he thought he was hearing.

The result was something like Jerry Lee Lewis backed up by the Shaggs, falling down a staircase or willfully careening down it on a motorized wheelchair. Between lyrics in many of his songs, Adkins shrieks, wheezes, laughs in rhythm—all to chilling effect, making him sound as though he’s sitting on a hot stove while he sings. As horrifying as it was exciting, Adkins’ act built a small but rabid following, with fans like Jon Spencer, Thurston Moore, and the Cramps, who cited him as a major influence on their punk-psychobilly sound and covered his best known song, “She Said.”

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The taut, crazy tenor of his younger voice has sagged into a not-unappealing smoky bass, doubtless aided by his exhausting lifestyle and his diet. He was a strict adherent to what you might call the original “Adkins Diet,” which, like its homophonic counterpart, was low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Hasil’s variation was much stricter, and motivated by taste, not health: it consisted mainly of two gallons of black coffee a day, liquor, and meat, lots of it. Billy Miller said Adkins usually had a pocketful of Vienna sausages, and would order simply ‘meat’ in restaurants, repeating himself when pressed to specify.

So naturally, meat is a prominent lyrical trope. In an early song, “No More Hot Dogs,” meat mostly provides the, uh, texture, for one of his many numbers about decapitation:

I’m gonna put your head on my wall
Just like I told you, baby
You can’t talk no more
Can’t eat no more hot dogs
Eat no more ho’ot dogs,
I’m gonna put your head, a-put it on my wall

By contrast, Night Life’s two songs about meat, “Raw Meat” and “KFC,” are goofy college radio fare, trading in the Ed Gein persona for something a bit more clownish—minus the black van and bloodstains.

Dead mayor’s likeness appears on tree

Paging Mr. Ripley. Mr. Ripley to the courtesy phone please. From Associated Press:

Donald Stephens spent more than half a century at the helm of this Chicago suburb. Now, less than two months after his death, some say an eerie likeness of the late mayor’s face has appeared in the peeling bark of a 50-foot sycamore.

The image is fueling speculation and wonder in the village of 4,200 residents — the town Stephens is credited with transforming from a tiny enclave of just a few dozen people to a bustling community with one of the nation’s largest convention centers.

“He told me, you screw things up, I’m gonna haunt you,” said Bradley Stephens, the mayor’s 44-year-old son who was appointed to complete his father’s term. “When it starts talking, we’re all in trouble.”

First the Virgin Mary. Then Jesus. Now Mayor Stephens. Whose next? Richard Nixon? Eventually every will have their 15 minutes of their likeness appearing on water stains or tree bark or burnt toast.

Tip of the top hat to vampire jill.

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