Posts Tagged ‘haunted houses’

Boston, Mass.

So in the past when I’ve had opportunities to travel to exciting locales, you guys have tended to enjoy my posts about those experiences. To this day, my posts detailing my trip to the Paris catacombs, to Munich, and to Wewelsburg Castle still get lots of reads, even though that last one was nearly two years ago. In that spirit, and because I’m just super excited (wouldn’t you be?), I’m happy to announce that next month, I’m heading out to Boston!

To be more precise, my dad and I are heading out to Boston for a couple days and nights, with one final night in Fall River about two hours south of Boston. We don’t get to see each other that much these days–we’re both busy adults and have a lot on our plates–so it’s an opportunity to spend some time together, see some cool sights, and remind each other why we don’t live together anymore (it’s always good to have a reminder of that).

Now, you’re probably asking, “When are you going to Boston, Rami?” Well, I can’t really tell you that, if only to keep people from trying to rob me while I’m gone. Last thing I want to do is give people an idea of when it’s a good time to make off with my couch and TV. I can tell you some of the things my dad and I plan to do, though: we’ll be visiting Salem, where the famous witch trials took place; we’ll probably take a duckboat tour, which is a tour on a WWII-era vehicle that goes on both land and sea; we’ll be visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, which will be having a very interesting exhibition involving the Holocaust while we’re in town; and we’ll be spending all three nights in reportedly haunted hotels (I bought a digital recorder just to see if I can pick up some ghost voices while I’m on my trip). Our last night, we’ll be spending the night at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast in Fall River, which is on one of my lists of haunted places I really want to visit.

Yeah, I’m going to be very busy and having a lot of fun while my dad and I are in Boston. And I plan on telling as many stories and posting as many photos as I can.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. If you have recommendations for places to eat in Boston (especially places with kosher/vegetarian/fish dishes), please let me know so my dad and I won’t have to search so hard for a place to eat. Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

A couple of years ago, I published a couple of lists about haunted locations I wanted to visit before I die and become a ghost myself (click here and here to read those lists). And yes, I am planning on becoming a ghost after I die. I’ll hang around a century or so as a wandering spirit, see some sights, and then ascend to heaven. And if you don’t read at least one of my books and leave a review before I die, I WILL HAUNT YOU!!!

So anyway, it’s been about two years since that last list, and I figured now would be a good time to come out with a new list. Especially since I’ll be visiting a few haunted locations this summer (more on that in a later post). So without further a-BOO! here’s even more haunted places that I plan to visit before I also become a ghost.

BEWARE!!! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

1. Old Licking County Jail

Location: Licking County, Ohio

I swear to God, as soon as I get a car, I’m going to visit the ones that are located in my home state. It is so hard to get to these places when you know basically no one who’s willing to go with you and drive you!

Old Licking County Jail is a prison in Licking County, Ohio. Like the Ohio State Reformatory, more than a few inmates died here, some under violent circumstances. There were also corrupt guards, beatings, and everything else you can think of when it comes to jails in an era more prone to punishment than correction. It’s been shut down for a number of years, but since then, there have been claims of full-body apparitions, voices from nowhere, and even spirits following paranormal investigators home.

I’m not going to say throw me in and throw away the key, but do throw me in for a night.

2. Double Eagle Restaurant

Location: Mesilla, New Mexico

I’m hungry. How about you? At the Double Eagle Restaurant, you not only get dinner, you get dinner and a ghost or two! The building the restaurant is housed in used to be the family home of a wealthy Latino family. The family’s eldest son reportedly fell in love with a servant girl, which ticked off his social-climbing mother. One day she returned home early from visiting friends, and caught the two lovers in bed. In a rage, she murdered the girl, and accidentally wounded her son, leading to his death three days later. The mother later was committed and died in an insane asylum. Years later, the house has become a restaurant, but apparently it’s also become a home for various kinds of spirits. Poltergeist activity has been recorded, and there have been voices and even full-body apparitions too.

Not only that, but the room those two lovers were killed in has since become a private dining room with two chairs kept in there for the lovers. It’s said that anyone who sits in those chairs will have horrific nightmares.

Um…waiter? Ghosts please!

3. Goatman’s Bridge

Location: Denton, Texas

According to local legend, back in the 1930’s a black goat farmer named Oscar Washburn moved across the Old Alton Bridge, where he ran a successful goat farm, and became known to the locals as the Goatman. He apparently took that in stride, putting up a sign on the bridge that said, “This way to the Goatman’s.” And because white racists get upset very easily, in 1938 they hung him from the bridge, only to find that the noose was empty when they looked over the side. These men, dressed up as Klansmen, later went and murdered Washburn’s wife and kids.

Since then, there have been reports of a demonic, satyr-like figure stalking the bridge and the surrounding woods. Glowing eyes have been seen, people have been attacked, and women have reportedly suffered attachments that have tormented them all the way home. There have also been reports of Satanic activity in the area, leading to a negative charge about the bridge.

This sounds like one billy goatman I’d love to meet trip-trapping on a bridge!

4. Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

You guys know I’m a big Ghost Adventures fan and the team’s lead investigator, Zak Bagans. Well, apparently he’s bought a 30-room mansion in his home city of Las Vegas, and he’s been converting it, room by room, into a museum for paranormal objects he’s collected over the years. There’s a room devoted to haunted dolls and puppets, a room devoted to the Kevorkian van and the hospital room where Dr. Kevorkian did assisted suicides, to skulls, and to all sorts of weird and interesting things. I even hear the famed Dybbuk Box, whose previous owner I know and which inspired a short story of mine and The Possession, is in the museum.

All this is sure to create a rather interesting mix of paranormal energy, which would make for a very interesting visit. Don’t you agree?

5. Dorothea Puente Murder House

Location: Sacramento, California

Dorothea Puente was a serial killer who used her job as a caretaker for the elderly to kill off her charges, dispose of the bodies, and collect on their rent checks. Several of her victims were later dug up in the yard of her building. She was sentenced to life in jail, still insisting on her innocence, and died in 2011. Since then, her home/boarding home has become something of a tourist spot, part private home, part attraction with weird stuff in the front yard. There are also reports of paranormal activity in the house, and thus a few paranormal investigators have been allowed inside the house.

How about a novelist with weird interests?

6. Winchester Mystery House

Location: San Jose, California

Weirdly enough, this show hasn’t been featured in any episode of Supernatural. Too bad. I think Sam and Dean would have a blast in a house that shares their last name.

The Winchester House was built starting in 1884 and going on around the clock for thirty-eight years. Its owner, Sarah Winchester, was the widow of William Hart Winchester, owner of the Winchester Rifle Company, maker of the famous guns. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Winchester became convinced that the ghosts of those her husband’s guns had killed were haunting the Winchester family, and had even been the cause of her husband and infant daughter’s deaths. A medium later confirmed this, and told her move out West and continually add onto a house so that the spirits would get lost and never find her. This she did, buying property in California and having a mansion built there until her death in 1922, after which work ceased immediately.

The house is well-known for its massive size and oddities, including staircases that lead to nowhere, and doors that open to the outside…on the second floor. Windows at odd locations, glass doors on the bathrooms, and even rooms that have yet to be discovered (they actually found a new room in 2016). It’s also become a paranormal hot spot, with plenty of documented activity taking place there (some think the activity might even be slightly demonic).

Sam and Dean, I’ll meet you there! Bring the Impala and your hunting gear. I’m bringing the humor and the beers (oh, if you’re a Supernatural fan, that line’s hilarious).

7. The Clown Motel

Location: Tonopah, Nevada

The name says it all. It’s a clown-themed motel, with tons of pictures, dolls, and even a life-sized clown mannequin! Worst place to read or watch Stephen King’s It ever! And if that’s not all, it’s right next to a graveyard! Yeah, talk about creepy! And a great source for the supernatural activity that has been reported at the motel.

Yeah, I’ll take whatever you have available.

8. Moonville Tunnel

Location: Moonville, Ohio

Moonville was a small mining town in Southeastern Ohio during the late 19th century. It was small as heck, it was never prosperous, and it was dead by the 1950’s. The only thing keeping it from falling into obscurity is the train tunnel built into the side of the mountain. Supposedly, a train engineer was hit by a train (or possibly two, the record’s not exact) one night, and since then, glowing lights and white mists have been spotted in the tunnel. There have even been rumors of further deaths.

ROAD TRIP!

9. Haunted London

Location: London, England

I know. I’ve already been to London. I’ve even visited the Tower of London, which has a few ghosts in it. But I WANT TO SEE MORE! I never saw as much of London as I wanted to, and that includes haunted locations. There are haunted hotels, Highgate Cemetery, and so many more! There are even supposedly haunted Underground stations.

Cool guv’nor! Let’s go!

10. Akasaka Mansion

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Now known as Akasaka Weekly Mansion, it’s a hotel with more than one building, and it’s Building #1 that has been known for the paranormal activity. There have been reports of figures standing at the end of the beds, noises being heard at night, guests being touched (sometimes sexually), and a woman being dragged from her bed. Even creepier, there’s supposedly a woman who crawls from room to room on her hands and knees. That’s something right out of a J-Horror film!

I’ll go, but I’m not watching any Ring or Grudge movies right before I do.

What haunted locations have you been to recently?

Have you been to any of these? What were your experiencces?

I have never lived in a haunted house, as much fun as that would be. I have experienced paranormal activity (the hand!) and I stayed in a bed and breakfast at one point that I’m pretty sure had a few spirits in it (that door didn’t close on its own, I’m pretty sure of that!). But I would really love to live in a haunted house, provided the spirits sharing space with me were friendly.

However, I know that most people would prefer that their homes were spirit-free and if they move into a genuinely haunted house, they may not know what to do when such things occur. And since there’s only so many articles on the Internet about what to do if you move into a haunted house, I thought I’d add my two cents. So here’s what I say:

First, are you sure it’s haunted? Creaky sounds, cold drafts of air, a feeling of being watched. These could be signs of a haunting…or it could be an old house settling down and your own paranoia. Lots of times people think their house is haunted, but it’s actually just reasonable explanations. For example, a lot of times when people wake up, unable to move and see a figure standing over them, it’s more likely a condition called sleep paralysis, in which the body is interrupted by REM sleep and wakes up still dreaming, which is why you can’t move (lest you try to fly in real life while dreaming you can fly) and why you think someone is in your room.

So if you think your house is haunted, make sure that it’s not just problems with your old house or something normal causing problems before you call the Ghostbusters. Other common signs of hauntings include shadow figures or apparitions, voices that seem to come from nowhere, balls of light with no discernible source, mysterious footsteps or bangs, objects moving on their own, etc. This leads to our next topic:

Confirming you have a haunting. The wonderful thing about the modern age we live is that with the right tools, you can do just about anything. If you’re sure your house is haunted or you can’t find anything normal to pin the strange happenings on, there are numerous ways to get a better lay of the land, so to speak. One would be to consult paranormal research groups in your area. Reputable ones won’t charge you to investigate the house (I wouldn’t use psychics or mediums though, because there are a lot of frauds out there and they’ll tell you what you want to hear for a fee). Another thing to do would be to research the house’s history, see if any deaths (including violent ones) or any other odd happenings in its time. Ghosts have to come from somewhere, right?

All the better to catch crazy stuff like this.

And if you have the means to do so, you can go full Paranormal Activity, putting cameras around the residence so you can catch anything odd whenever it happens. Of course that means someone has to review all the footage, but them’s the breaks.

And if you do confirm you have a spirit in the house, there are several things you can do.

But first, don’t be afraid! God forbid it’s a malevolent spirit, it will latch onto that fear and use it to make your life hell. So remain strong and don’t let what’s going on get you down. If that’s happen, you can choose from several options on what to do next.

For example, you can live with it. Most spirits don’t realize they’re dead, or they do and they’re just looking for a connection with the living. Normally they’re also harmless, so all you have to do is say you acknowledge that there’s a spirit living in the house and that should be the basis for a good relationship. If you have any idea of its identity, I’m sure the spirit would appreciate it if you played music from its era or had objects around that it would find familiar. Like I said, all it wants is a connection.

Or you can ask it to go away. Strange as it seems, one article I read before writing this one claimed that if you ask a spirit with a firm voice to leave, it will. Or at the very least the ghostly hauntings will calm down a bit. No guarantee it’ll work, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Of course if it does continue to happen no matter what you do and you can’t exactly move, you might as well live with it. Unless of course…

One of these in your house? Get an exorcist or get the f@&k out!

It’s malevolent or demonic. In which case I think you should call an exorcist or look into some purification rituals. Yes, there are exorcists and purification rituals do exist. Call your local religious organization and see what they can do. And if that doesn’t work out, you might want to get the heck out of Dodge, because no one wants to be near a dangerous spirit.

What’s your take on living with spirits? Do you have any tips?

Do you believe in spirits? Do you think I’m crazy?

If yes, I’m not sure I want to hear your opinions.

Not literally, of course. I mean how to make one for a horror novel, movie, or TV show.

Haunted houses are such a staple of horror, tales of them dating farther back than The Fall of the House of Usher, and have continued to terrify readers and viewers alike over the years, whether they be watching The Shining or American Horror Story or even that episode of Doctor Who with the haunted house. The question is, with so many famouse haunted houses out there, both real and fictional*, how do you construct one that stands out from the crowd (and once again, I mean metaphorically)? Here are some tips that might help.

*For those of you who don’t believe in ghosts or hauntings, you can interpret this as houses in the real world that have history of or are purported to be haunted. For those of you who believe in ghosts…well, I don’t need to finish that sentence, do I?

1. A haunted house doesn’t have to be old and dilapidated. I know the standard image in our minds of a haunted house is one that’s an old manor, with shingles falling out and holes in the porch and plenty of leaks in the pipes, or sometimes a castle with no glass windows and plenty of dungeons and hidden chambers.  That’s great if you want to market it to the Addams Family, but haunted houses don’t necessarily have to look like that. They can be only a few years old, very modern-looking, and in the middle of a nice neighborhood. Heck, you can even make the house a haunted apartment building if you so desired (there was a movie that did that a few years back. Would’ve been good if it hadn’t been a direct-to-DVD sequel).

Not your average haunted house, is it?

In this one novel I plan to write, I plan on the haunted house being only about three decades old, and without any sort of dilapidation or other trademarks to make it a haunted house. What makes it terrifying is its current occupant, as well as the atmosphere that hangs over the place.

For some good examples of haunted houses that don’t fit the standard mold, try the remake of When A Stranger Calls, the first season of American Horror Story, the Buffy episode Where the Wild Things Are, and (if you really want to) The Grudge 3 for that haunted apartment building. Oh, and Ghostbusters as well, that has a haunted apartment building. Or is that a doorway? You decide for yourself.

2. You don’t always need ghosts for a haunted house. For example, you can zombies, witches, a serial killer, vampires, werewolves, just something out of the ordinary. A haunted house doesn’t become haunted because it has ghosts in it, but when something (usually malevolent) is inside. That’s why the movie Cabin in the Woods is so genius: besides breaking down and exploring/philosophizing on the tropes of the horror genre, it also shows how much variety there is to the haunted house and what can haunt it. Anything from zombies to wraiths to werewolves to evil dolls to giant bats to merman to scarecrow people and everything in between, you can use.

3. Use plenty of description when describing the house. In a horror movie, you don’t need to describe the house, because you can see it just fine. But in a novel, the author has to supply the information. What does the outside look like? Is there a distinctive style of architecture involved? Is it painted in really ugly colors that don’t compliment one another? What’s inside? Accessories, knick-knacks, the odd little mirror that’s always in the northwest corner of a house? Is there a yard? What’s in the yard? Does a colony of rabbits live in the yard? Keep all this in mind the moment you introduce your characters (and by contrast, the readers) to your haunted house.

4. Don’t go all out as soon as the door’s closed. By this I mean one should use a subtle build-up in order to properly scare the reader. You can’t just come out with a ghost or an axe murderer showing up and attacking people the moment the door is closed and the character or characters are settled in. There should be a steady build-up. First small things go awry or weird things that can easily be explained but are still creepy nonetheless. Then weirder stuff happens: you might see a form out of the corner of your eye, or you walk into a room and the furniture is all moved or ruined. There might be voices you can’t explain, or perhaps something catches on fire inexplicably. You touch a certain section of the wall, and you feel intense pleasure or pain. And then finally, there’s no denying that weird stuff is going on: the ghost has appeared, the threat is revealed, you’re going to have to deal with it or die. Using the house to do all that and more can really ramp up the suspense and terror of the story and make your haunted house terrifying and distinctive.

Don’t reveal THIS too quickly.

A great example of this ramping up of the terror is the original Amityville Horror, as well as the movie Sinister.

5. Your house should have a history. Whether the house is ten, a hundred, or several hundred years old, it should have a history, and the author should know what it is, even if they won’t reveal all of it to the reader. What is the history of the house, or the land it sits on? Does it involve an Indian burial ground? Was there a really nasty murder there? Or was there something even darker than that lurking beneath the floorboards and behind the walls? This will help you flesh out the story, the haunting, and whatever is happening in your story. Also, often times one can figure out how to defeat the antagonist of the story through its history (like Jason Voorhees and water, or Goblin from Blackwood Manor by Anne Rice). And if this history involves certain people or objects, make sure to have that worked out as well.

There are many great examples of haunted houses with history, just watch any episode of a show for investigating haunted locations. If that isn’t your thing, try movies like The Conjuring, or the TV mini-series version of The Shining (not the movie though, that was a terrible adaptation).

6. Research common signs or symptoms of hauntings. I know some of you will be like, “What’s he talking about?” Well, besides sightings of ghosts or voices being heard, people often report certain things when experiencing a haunting: inexplicable areas where it is cold, electrical devices being drained, objects being moved, and even attacks, and each can happen for very different reasons. I like to include these things in my story because they seem to give my stories an air of authenticity (if you want to call it that). You don’t have to go this route with your haunted house, but if you do and you want to do some research, ghost-hunting shows or manuals on ghost-hunting can be great resources. Also do some research on why these signs and symptoms might not be caused by a haunting, because…

7. A little bit of uncertainty goes a long way. One of the scariest things with a haunted house is not knowing. Not knowing if you’re going crazy, not knowing if there’s actually a ghost in the house, not knowing what it wants or how you’re going to stop it. It’s scary not knowing, which is why a writer should exploit it for as long as they can in a story. It’ll make your story that much better. So knowing explainable ways for a “haunting” to occur can help to add to that uncertainty. Could it be electrical fields? Could it be a spirit? Or is it just the pipes and my new medication? It’s scary just not being sure.

Ultimately, it’s how the writer writes the story that makes the story scary. But if these tips have helped make your story scarier, then I’m glad to have helped and I hope that you have fun constructing your haunted house. I bet it’ll be very terrifying.

That’s all for now, I–that’s odd. My water bottle just fell off the counter. I could have sworn I put it farther back on the counter. Wait, what was that I just saw out of the corner of my mind. I must be working too hard or watching too many movies. I–oh my God! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!

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He’ll be coming for you next.