Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I had an occasion recently to think of movies I found really scary. There is “Ghost Story,” “The Changeling,” “The Shining,” “Ghost Ship,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

Long before any of these was a 1960 William Castle movie called “13 Ghosts.” Not to be confused with the 1998 flick from Dark Castle, which took barely a kernel of the original’s plot and smothered it in gory computer graphics.

I was a wee five years old when I saw “13 Ghosts” on television. The film ends in a peculiar murder where ghosts crush the victim in a four-post bed. I had a nightmare about that in my own bed that night.

Some time back I rented the movie to see what it was I found so frightening. It wasn’t the setting. The ghost collector’s house was plain and typical of 1950s architecture, filled with modernistic furniture of the era. It certainly wasn’t the effects, which were primitive and went on too long. The actors weren’t that creepy, either. Maybe ‘twas the black-and-white. But more likely my imagination added stuff that wasn’t really there. Five-year-olds do that a lot.

One thing interesting about this movie was the theater version featured something called “Illusion-O,” meaning that you had to wear special glasses (similar to the primitive 3-D type) to see the ghosts. In fact, the people in the film had to wear special glasses to see the ghosts! I still think that’s a clever, if quaint, idea. Some of the DVDs even retain that feature, but don’t come with the glasses.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


As a Scoutmaster, it's nice to know I'll have friendly company when I get around to my afterlife hauntings. Scoutmaster Steve of Troop 68 in Melrose, MN found this 1975 comic of Casper the Friendly Scout on Ebay. Read the rest on A Scoutmaster's Blog.

By the way, we don't cotton to evil spirits in the Boy Scouts, but I have heard of a poltergeist or two hanging around camp!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


There’s something about the left side of this gate at Goliad State Historical Park in south Texas.

Weirdness: inside the museum stands a model of the Mission Espiritu Santo. At the location where this gate is now, the model builder inserted a man doubled over in agony.

Weirdness: In some old maps there was a well at this location. The area does sink, and has been filled in with concrete.

Weirdness: One Halloween weekend I stayed at this park and I was completely alone in it. On another Halloween weekend the park was crowded. Soon after sunset, multitudes of costumed people lit torches and marched into the mission chapel. It was most bizarre and quite against the posted rules in Texas state parks, and it did not seem to be appropriate for a chapel. Park rangers were nowhere to be found! The next Halloween, it was empty again.

Extreme Weirdness: In 1986 we stayed at the park on a full moon. A presence at this gate called several to go there around midnight. Those that dared to walk across the place returned to our screened shelter crying for no reason. They did not understand what happened to them. The experience changed the course of their lives, and not for the better!

More Weirdness: I have seen this place in my dreams since I was a young child, long before I had been to Texas.

I believe this may be a portal through which evil spirits pass. After seeing the effect it can have on people, I won’t walk over that spot, day or night!

The area has plenty of reasons to be haunted. Goliad has a violent history. For instance, in 1836 Santa Anna executed 300 prisoners here who thought they were about to be released. Legend has it that the San Antonio River that runs through the park turned red with blood! Across the highway, an actual apparition haunts the old Presidio.