While fascinated with the paranormal since watching Leonard Nimoy hosting In Search of… (Yeah, I’m old) I have always considered myself a skeptic. Even though I have had many strange, possibly paranormal experiences in nursing, and specifically in hospice doing private duty night shift, I kept telling myself there was some kind of logical, rational explanation… I just hadn’t figured it out yet.
I was definitely a Scully but really wanted to be a Mulder. And then I joined a paranormal investigation of Thomas House during a Ghost Hunt Weekends event. Nothing will turn a paranormal skeptic into a believer quicker than hearing that first disembodied voice live for the very first time. Or hearing a possible Class A EVP when you do your playback.
But we’ll come back to that in a bit.
Thomas House’s History Lends itself to Hauntings and Paranormal Activity
Thomas House has a crazy history from being a hotel to housing a strange cult, plus a murder (or at least one that is known) with the body buried on the property. It was featured in a classic episode of the paranormal series Ghost Hunters, where the whistling ghost very audibly made himself known to the TAPS team so clearly, even Grant Wilson and Jason Hawes couldn’t believe it.
After watching this Ghost Hunters episode while we enjoyed a dinner of southern cooking by our hosts, we split up into groups to do some ghost hunting not only the house, but also in the church across the street where a preacher allegedly hung himself. Because many town records have been lost, there is no way to verify this, but the church was hoppin’ the night I was there and yielded much of the evidence obtained by me in the form of EVPs. Plus EMF meters were going wild, which is pretty compelling since there is no electric in the church.
Chad Morin, the owner of Ghost Hunt Weekends, had also captured video earlier of orbs that hovered then split into three different orbs in the video — as a diehard “orbs are bullshit because they are dust or insects” skeptic, that one was just a bit hard to explain.
Unlike other areas in the house, I heard live disembodied voices in the church while listening live for EVPs, as did other attendees and members of the Ghost Hunt Weekends crew. The first EVP audio sample has a low growl at the end, which is a bit hard to hear in the clip.
The next EVP sample has a response to the question, but it is whispered so softly it’s unintelligible.
Then there are several growls while we were in the church, some hard to hear and some quite clear (the first and fourth are clearest):
A Class A EVP in Thomas House?
In Thomas House itself, I did some investigating before the official start of the event, and while I was in a sitting room dubbed the “funeral room” as it had been used for that in the past and even has some curtains from a funeral home, I experimented with my spirit box and didn’t think I had gotten any responses, but in the EVP below, it sounds like “Kevin” was trying to communicate with me.
But the most compelling EVP I captured during the Thomas House paranormal investigation is either contamination or a full sentence, class A EVP. Full disclosure: this was done before the event started and there were people in the hotel who could have been talking. But the EVP is a direct response to my question, and I heard no chatter before or after the response in the audio, and don’t recall hearing any of this exchange while I was recording and listening live. So judge for yourself:
The skeptic in me wants to think it was contamination, but that was pretty compelling.
I also stayed up after everyone else went to bed, sitting in the TV room alone in the dark, which gave me a healthy new respect for paranormal investigators. You know how you laugh at them when they are scared and you’re like, “Pfft. There are people nearby and nothing will hurt you.” Yeah…. remember that when you are the last one still up at 4:30 am sitting in the dark alone (ALL lights out as we had the whole hotel) in the sitting room where the deceased lady of the house frequents, as manifested in audio and full apparition by previous investigators, and after you have been hearing shit all night with your own ears.
That’s when shit gets real, y’all.
PS. I took my nifty new full spectrum video camera, but neglected to explore the settings to turn the sudio on. DUH. Next time…
You know how you go to Walmart around Halloween time and start browsing the DVD section for some discount horror movies? Well, this year you better come with the full wallet because there’s a new set of great classics and cult horror films with brand spanking new custom art on the covers, and, if you buy them at Walmart, you get youra bonus horror movie coloring book… for the win.
Bring on the Halloween season!
Treat yourself to hours of frightful fun with this exclusive Halloween Collection of 19 thrilling, chilling films with limited-edition art packaging by renowned artist/illustrator Orlando Arocena. Utilizing vibrant colors and a fervent imagination, Arocena’s striking cover art creations add the perfect touch of terror to these haunting horror titles. Choose your favorite Halloween hits, featuring Hollywood’s biggest stars, and start planning a killer movie night that’s sure to be a scream. It’s an eye-popping, spine-tingling collection to die for!
Fans who purchase any of the films at Walmart will also receive an exclusive coloring book featuring all 19 of Arocena’s designs.
Films available in the exclusive Halloween collection include:
28 Days Later
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Fly (1986)
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space
The Other Side of the Door
The Return of the Living Dead
The films are set to hit Walmart’s on September 12 so be ready to rush out and grab your copies because these are limited editions and once they’re gone, you’ll be shit outta luck, capeche?
How can you go wrong when you mix Stephen King, Gary Busey, and one of the Coreys? Trick question… You can’t go wrong. Plus if you add in a few werewolves, and some campy gore, you’ve got a big bundle of 80s horror known as “Silver Bullet.”
Corey Haim plays Marty, a boy stuck in a wheelchair that’s been dubbed the Silver Bullet. The story is narrated by his older sister, Jane (Megan Follows), reminiscing about the past. But in the present the story’s set in, she pretty much feels that he’s a pain in the butt. That starts to change and they find themselves coming together when people in their small town are turning up not only dead, but ripped to pieces. And the murders are metaphorically ripping the town apart as well.
When Marty’s best friend becomes the latest victim, the townsfolk seek some vigilante justice and want to hunt down whoever — or whatever — is killing people, despite pleas from the local sheriff. Of course, they go out hunting it at night. During a full moon.
Do I really need to tell you how that’s going to end? Yeah.
When Uncle Red (Busey) comes to visit Marty and Jane, that’s when things get really interesting. After Uncle Red builds Marty a supercharged motorized wheelchair and gives him some fireworks, Marty sneaks out in the middle the night to go set them off. Little does he know, this will bring him face to face with the beast that is terrorizing his town. During this late-night confrontation, Marty injures the werewolf, putting out an eye. It escapes, so Marty and Jane go on a hunt around town to find out who has a telltale injured eye. And suffice it to say, it is not the person they expected.
Unfortunately, the werewolf knows that they know, so they have to rely on Uncle Red to protect them when the beast comes to attack the only ones who know his identity.
The movie is based on Stephen King’s short story, “Cycle of the Werewolf.” Many King adaptations tend to turn into more campy fun than horror when they hit the screen, and this film follows that trend. That doesn’t mean it isn’t good… I mean, this is a classic 80s horror film that’s a lot of fun. And I’ve always been really partial to werewolves, but don’t expect any fancy transformation scenes in this one. In fact, I think the werewolf sort of looks like a teddy bear — I’m guessing that wasn’t exactly the effect they were going for.
Of course, there’s a bittersweet element to it now in light of Haim’s early demise, and the living train wreck that Busey has become. This is a pre-“Lost Boys” Haim, before Hollywood tore him apart. And Busey is in his prime here. The film is family-friendly if you’re looking for a film for kids that still appeals to adults.
Although you might have to explain Busey’s line that he’s more nervous “then a virgin on prom night.”
Retro Cinema is a new column that reviews a different retro horror film every Monday. Subscribe at the top of the page for updates on new film reviews, interviews and horror news.
It’s no coincidence that this week’s Retro Cinema choice is “Hellraiser.” Because in case you haven’t heard, the remake has been given a green light. Now, I know you hard-core horror fans like me are out there saying “Oh, God no, not another remake!” But fasten your seatbelts kids, because for once this is good news: Clive Barker is gonna direct and Doug Bradley is coming back as Pinhead.
When Barker first directed “Hellraiser,” he had a very limited budget and in fact, he confesses in the DVD commentary that he basically got the resurrection scene special effects done for much less than what it should’ve cost (only $25,000) because the studio liked what they saw of the film and threw a few more dollars their way. That scene wasn’t even in the original script due to not having a budget for it.
I think it’s fair to say that this time around, Barker won’t face those kinds of problems. Nor have to resort to the cheesy painted in special effects he did himself — those being my main criticism of the original as well as the pretty dreadful acting of Ashley Laurence (sorry, but it’s true.) Sure, there are a few things that went wrong, but a whole lotta things went right.
While I’m sure most people reading this have seen the film, I don’t want to give away too much just in case, but let’s just say after “Hellraiser,” people really didn’t look at hooks and chains quite the same way again. Nor their prim and proper British wives.
When people think of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, they think of legendary film studio Hammer. But there was another British film studio that liked to pair the two in horror movies, Amicus films, who put out some great horror anthologies. Not only did we have the House of Hammer, but the House of Amicus, and like it’s better known rival, Amicus was a house that dripped plenty of blood.
One of the best anthologies produced by Amicus was “The House That Dripped Blood.” This four-part anthology featured Cushing and Lee, although they performed in separate segments. It also featured legendary Hammer vixen Ingrid Pitt, vamping it up in her typical fashion. Basically, that woman just played herself in each of her roles, with “herself” being utterly fabulous with her long cigarette holders and plenty of cleavage.
The first of the four segments features a writer and his wife who move into the old house that serves as a backdrop connecting the four stories. He wants to finish his novel about a vicious murderer. Problem is, it seems his murderer is coming to life and stalking him and his wife. Sounds very Stephen King, doesn’t it? Well, this was before Stephen King made it big, as the film was produced in 1970. Although one has to wonder if this didn’t inspire “The Dark Half” just a little bit. For the record it was Robert Bloch who wrote these stories.
Anyway, writers in particular will get a kick out of the whole writing process and the way writers tend to try to make their characters so real — Sometimes a little too real. The Dominic character is very sinister on the page and as a flesh and blood stalker. And oh, that creepy laugh.
Is he real or is he just a figment of the writer’s imagination? Watch it and find out the twist at the end.
Then we move into the second segment, with Cushing looking mighty sharp in a red smoking jacket… so elegant and refined. As he listens to his classical music and goes through his theater programs, he comes upon a photo of a beautiful woman and walks into town looking quite lovelorn. He happens upon a “Museum of Horror” and decides to check it out.
As he wanders around the museum, which is basically a waxworks, he comes upon a rather interesting display of Salome with the head of John the Baptist on a platter. And this Salome seems to have a mesmerizing effect on Cushing… Her eyes remind him of the woman in the photo he was looking at earlier.
“She is beautiful isn’t she? My Salome…” says the proprietor out of the blue. Where did that guy come from? “Perhaps she reminds you of someone? You see, she has a strange effect on people. They seem to see in her all sorts of things.”
As it turns out, not only does she remind Cushing of his long-lost love, but she’s modeled after the proprietor’s deceased wife, who he says was a murderess who was executed for her crime. So he created the tribute to her to preserve her beauty for all time.
Suffice it to say that dead or not, he doesn’t take too kindly to other men ogling his deceased wife. First, he takes out his jealous rage on a friend of Cushing’s who stops in after a visit, then on Cushing himself when he finds he can’t stay away.
That’s quite a woman, wax or not.
The third segment features Lee, as a rather uptight widower and father of a young girl. Seems his little girl has an unnatural fear of fire, and Lee has a rather unnatural fear of just what powers this little girl might possess. Seems Mama dabbled in some of the dark arts, so Lee doesn’t like to have any dolls around the house. Unfortunately, the young woman he hires to tutor the little girl doesn’t really quite understand the complexities of the situation, and when he destroys the doll given to his daughter as a gift, she doesn’t just get mad, she gets even with Daddy.
This old house has a whole lot of old books, and some of those books have some witchy spells in them. Mix that with some candles melted down to make a brand-new doll, and I think you see where this is going. It doesn’t end well.
The final story of the anthology is where Pitt finally gets to shine. An actor moves into the house and his current role is playing a vampire in a horror film. He hates the cheesy sets and the bad, fake looking costumes, so he takes upon himself to find his own vampire cloak. He goes to a vintage clothing an antique store and finds a something much more real. Little does he know how real it is.
But when he puts on the cloak on set, funny things happen. Funny, as in him sprouting fangs and trying to bite his costars. But no one seems to believe him when he tries to tell them the cloak has magical powers to turn him into a vampire, least of all Pitt. When he sets out to prove to her that the cloak is real, let’s just say he’s in for quite a surprise.
All four stories of this anthology featured great actors, great stories and some really creepy moments. You can’t go wrong with Lee and Cushing, even outside the Hammer franchise. If you haven’t heard of Amicus before, I strongly suggest you not only check out this movie, but some of their other titles as well: Another big favorite of mine is their feature film “The Skull,” featuring Cushing. You may have a great Hammer collection, but your horror collection is far from complete without some Amicus, as well.