Sunday, March 10, 2013

Eaten by Mountain Rats

In 1876, Pike’s Peak Signal Station attendant Private John O’Keefe told tall tales of life in the station to lawyer, newspaper man and drinking friend, Eliphat Price. O’Keefe recounted a story of large, man-eating rats that lived in caves on Pikes Peak.
The story grew to include how these rats attacked him and his wife and daughter in the station itself – devouring a side of beef in less than five minutes. While Private O’Keefe tried to protect his family using a club to fend off the rats, it was actually Mrs. O’Keefe who saved the day by electrocuting the rats with a coil of wire connected to the signal station’s battery.
According to the story, her efforts were too late. Before she could connect the wire to the battery terminals, hundreds of these killer rats had already devoured Erin, the O’Keefe’s only daughter.
O’Keefe quickly erected a grave on the summit to support his story and to woo tourists. However, O’Keefe wasn’t married and he didn’t have a daughter. Despite this, the story hit the wires and ended up being published in many newspapers around the globe.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


A very effective and creepy short horror film.

A pair of high tech, back alley psychics begrudgingly show a wealthy client a raw audiovisual feed that may or may not be straight from her late husband's experience of the afterlife.
Written and Directed by Karl Mueller

Widow from Karl Mueller on Vimeo.

The Bunny Man

The first incident was reported the evening of October 19, 1969 by U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Bob Bennett and his fiancée who were visiting relatives on Guinea Road in Burke. Around midnight, while returning from a football game, they parked their car in a field on Guinea Road to talk. As they sat in the front seat with the car running, they noticed something moving outside the rear window. Moments later the front passenger window was smashed and there was a white-clad figure standing near the broken window. Bennett turned the car around while the man screamed at them about trespassing, including "You're on private property and I have your tag number." As they drove down the road they discovered a hatchet on the car floor.
When the police asked for a description of the man, Bob insisted he was wearing a white suit with long bunny ears, but Dusty remembered something white and pointed like a Ku Klux Klan hood. They both remembered seeing his face clearly, but in the darkness they could not determine his race. The police returned the hatchet to Bennett after examination. Bennett was required to report the incident upon his return to the Air Force Academy. It was later confirmed in Fairfax Police records that the man was wearing a bunny suit with ears, not Ku Klux Klan robes.
The second reported sighting occurred on the evening of October 29, 1970, when construction security guard Paul Phillips approached a man standing on the porch of an unfinished home in Kings Park West on Guinea Road. Phillips said the man was wearing a gray, black, and white bunny suit and was about 20 years old, 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall, and weighed about 175 pounds (79 kg). The man began chopping at a porch post with a long-handled axe, saying "All you people trespass around here. If you don't get out of here, I'm going to bust you on the head."
The Fairfax County Police opened investigations into both incidents, but both were eventually closed for lack of evidence. In the weeks following the incidents, more than 50 people contacted the police claiming to have seen the "bunny man." Several newspapers reported the incident of the "Bunny Man" eating a man's run-away cat. including the following articles in The Washington Post:
  • "Man in Bunny Suit Sought in Fairfax" (October 22, 1970)
  • "The 'Rabbit' Reappears" (October 31, 1970)
  • "Bunny Man Seen" (November 4, 1970)
  • "Bunny Reports Are Multiplying" (November 6, 1970)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Paint of the Mummy's Tomb

Mummy brown was a rich brown bituminous pigment, intermediate in tint between burnt umber and raw umber, which was one of the favorite colors of the Pre-Raphaelites.
Mummy brown was originally made in the 16th and 17th centuries from white pitch, myrrh, and the ground-up remains of Egyptian mummies, both human and feline, one London colourman claiming that he could satisfy the demands of his customers for twenty years from one Egyptian mummy.
It fell from popularity in the early 19th century when its composition became generally known to artists. According to Jasmine Day, in her book The Mummy’s curse: Mummymania in the English-speaking World, “In 1881, the artist Laurence Alma Tadema, famous for his romantic ancient Egyptian scenes (such as that above which is very … brown), saw his paint preparer grinding up a piece of a mummy.  Realizing where “mummy brown” came from, he alerted his fellow painter, Edward Burne-Jones [and] together with some family members, the remorseful artists held an impromptu funeral burying a tube of mummy brown paint.” [Source]

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Castle Dracula

Growing up, my family and I would always go to Cape May for the summer. And while in Cape May, we'd always take the short ride over to Wildwood for the boardwalk.

And every year, there stood Dracula's Castle.

It was a huge haunted amusement attraction. I was obsessed with horror movies as a kid (as I am now), and the old Universal films were always my favorite. So a chance to venture into Dracula's castle was like a dream come true to a kid like me.

Except I was terrified.

I remember as we drove towards the boardwalk I could see the shape of the castle jutting into the sky as the sun was setting slowly into the ocean. We always got there around sunset. And the castle was the first place we'd go to. I'd go and stand in front of the building, gazing up at it, my eyes drawn to a rubber skeleton dangling inside a cage hung from one of the towers.

Every now and then a robotic Dracula would appear on a balcony and beckon people inside. Boardwalk goers would line up for either the walk-through portion, or for the boat ride, which went through a tunnel beneath the castle. The water was dyed red like blood, and the boats had accompanying statues of the grim reaper.

Every year it would be the same thing. My parents would take me to the boardwalk. We'd go right to Dracula's Castle. We'd stand there, looking at the imposing building. My parents would ask "Are you going to go in?" And I would always say no. There was something about that towering castle that filled me with a nameless dread. This wasn't some rinky-dink haunted house; this was a huge fucking CASTLE. It looked endless; it looked like you could get lost within the stone walls.

One year, my cousins came with us to the shore. We all went to Wildwood. My uncle and one of my cousins went on the boat portion of the castle. They chided me to go along. I refused, steadfast in my belief that if I entered any portion of that place I would be killed.

I waited anxiously for their return. When they finally emerged from the other end, they both pretended to be sleeping--to mock me. They said it wasn't scary at all. They said they'd go through it again if I wanted to finally go.

No fucking way.

Year after year this continued. And eventually we stopped going down the shore. I grew older, and more jaded. Horror movies and life desensitized me to the point where nothing really scared me anymore. By the time I was in my late teens I was determined to go to Dracula's Castle once and for all.

But it was too late.

The castle had burned down in 2002, the victim of arson. There was talk of rebuilding, but it never came to pass. I'll never know what it was like inside. There's a video on youtube that appears to be a walk-through of the castle, from 1991. I'm not going to watch it. It just wouldn't be the same.

When I look at photos from the place, I am amused at how corny and un-terrifying they all look. I'm always going to regret never having gone into Dracula's Castle, but maybe it's better this way. Maybe it's best to remember it as a house of unending terror, rather than to have gone through only to come out the other side saying, disheartened, "THAT'S IT??"

For more about Dracula's Castle, as well as the location of the images I used, go here: Dark in the Park

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Faces of Death

The Bélmez Faces or the Faces of Bélmez is an alleged paranormal phenomenon in a private house in Spain which started in 1971 when residents claimed images of faces appeared in the concrete floor of the house. These images have continuously formed and disappeared on the floor of the home.
Located at the Pereira family home at Street Real 5, Bélmez de la MoraledaJaénAndalusia, Spain, the Bélmez faces have been responsible for bringing large numbers of sightseers to Bélmez. The phenomenon is considered by some parapsychologists the best-documented and "without doubt the most important paranormal phenomenon in the 20th century".
Various faces have appeared and disappeared at irregular intervals since 1971 and have been frequently photographed by the local newspapers and curious visitors. Many Bélmez residents believe that the faces were not made by human hand. Some investigators believe that it is athoughtographic phenomenon subconsciously produced by the former owner of the house, María Gómez Cámara - now deceased ("Thoughtography" is considered a form of psychokinesis among parapsychologists).
Skeptical researchers point out that unlike other psychic claims this case is falsifiable. Since the faces of Bélmez are fixed on whitewash of cement, scientists are able to analyze the molecular changes that took place in such mass of concrete. Skeptics have performed extensive tests on the faces and claim that fakery has been involved.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cemetery Gun

In the 18th and 19th centuries, grave-robbing was a serious problem in Great Britain and the United States. Because surgeons and medical students could only legally dissect executed criminals or people who had donated their bodies to science (not a popular option at the time), a trade in illegally procured corpses sprang up. This cemetery gun, held in the Museum of Mourning Art at the Arlington Cemetery of Drexel Hill, Pa., was one dramatic strategy used to thwart so-called "resurrection men."
The gun, which the museum dates to 1710, is mounted on a mechanism that allows it to spin freely. Cemetery keepers set up the flintlock weapon at the foot of a grave, with three tripwires strung in an arc around its position. A prospective grave-robber, stumbling over the tripwire in the dark, would trigger the weapon—much to his own misfortune.
Grave-robbers evolved to meet this challenge. Some would send women posing as widows, carrying children and dressed in black, to case the gravesites during the day and report the locations of cemetery guns and other defenses. Cemetery keepers, in turn, learned to wait to set the guns up after dark, thereby preserving the element of surprise.
Because the guns were rented by the week and were prohibitively expensive to buy, the poorer people most likely to end up beneath the anatomist's knife—historian Michael Sappol writes that these included “black people, criminals, prostitutes, the Irish, ‘freaks,’ manual laborers, indigents, and Indians”—probably wouldn’t have benefited from this form of protection.

The Conjuring