THE DATE: April 18, 2013 (Saturday)
THE PLACE: The Bob Baker Marionette Theater
1345 W 1st St Los Angeles, CA 90026 (Downtown) (map)
THE TIME: 7:30pm – 9:30
$13.00 SEATS (Chairs)
$6.66 CARPET (Floor)
+PLUS a handling fee
(for ticket info…)
a LIVE CAPTURED AURAL PHANTASY THEATER horror-themed show about ghostly marionettes, a screening of local artist/filmmaker Kevin McTurk’s new puppet horror film THE MILL AT CALDER’S END (pictured above), a performance from puppeteer Eli Presser, an appearance by the famous Bob Baker Marionettes, some personal ghost stories about this historic theater, and… a few surprises.
Two years ago, Bob Baker welcomed GHOULA into his historic theater (the oldest puppet theater in the country), for our first “STRINGS” night of “movies, marionettes, and mayhem.” We screened BLUEBEARD (1944), and Bob spoke, even bringing out the original marionettes used in the film. We did a second “STRINGS” night months later, but Bob was too sick to attend. Sadly, Bob Baker past away last year, but luckily his theater is still here, and still carrying on his legacy of putting on great puppets shows every weekend.
Please come out to this enchanted oasis (while it lasts) that has been entertaining and inspiring the children (and adults) of our city for over fifty years, for this rare spooky night-time event that tempts the spirits… if you dare.
About the film: THE MILL AT CALDER’S END (2014)
In the remote village of Calder’s End stands an old windmill, a repository of dark secrets. Nicholas Grimshaw has returned to this haunted place, his childhood home, intent on breaking a generations old family curse. Grimshaw’s journey takes him deep below the decaying mill, into mysterious, forgotten catacombs, where upon he confronts the very source of the evil that has corrupted his family. “The Mill at Calder’s End” is a Gothic tale inspired by the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and M.R. James and is told with the use of 36 inch tall bunraku rod puppets operated by puppeteers dressed in black.
THE BOB BAKER MARIONETTE THEATER’S GHOST(S):
Although people generally associate ghosts with violent/sudden deaths, there are many other theories as to why a ghost will haunt a certain location. Some believe that spirits will return to places that (in life) gave them great pleasure, or perhaps sites where (in life) much time was spent. There is also a theory that confused ghosts sometimes seek out humanoid objects to possess like wax figures, mannequins, or dolls, and thus gravitate to spots where these objects can be found (old wax museums, children’s bedroom’s, etc.)
So, naturally (or super-naturally) the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, the oldest continuously-operating puppet theater in the United States, is said to have a phantom of a former puppeteer lingering around (seen by staff), watching the staff from his favorite seat on the east side of the theater (last row against the wall, three seats from the aisle). Perhaps he just doesn’t want to leave this happy place, or maybe he just likes being around puppets. Additionally, he is seen in the backstage area. On the wings (on the West side of the building), there are mirrors so that performers can check their puppets, or practice moves. While doing this, they will see the ghostly puppeteer (in the mirror’s reflection) watching them. When they turn around, no one is there. Plus, whenever something goes wrong during a performance such as a string breaking or a set falling, it’s always blamed on the resident spook, presumably unhappy about something in the show.
In ancient times, the “illusion of life” created by marionettes was thought to be work of other-worldly forces. Who knows, maybe this resident “ex-puppeteer” still lends a hand during performances, animating the inanimate objects, and making them move in realistic ways. Is it possible that old habits die hard,… even if the ghost didn’t?
Some of the best ghost stories are the kind of stories you hear around campfires and before bed at night. They aren’t linked to a haunted place with a history that is confirmed or well researched. They are just stories told by people that have had encounters on lonely country roads or in bed at night. One of the best ghost stories I have been told recently was told by a woman whose husband comes home late at night. Every night he drives the same old country road home alone. A few weeks ago, he was driving home with three of his children in the back of the car. He was tired and so were they, but when they saw something that looked like a woman crouched over on the side of the road they slowed down to try to help her. When they pulled up next the woman they could see her more clearly. The woman was crouched down in the fetal position and was all skin and bones and completely nude. This made the family very concerned that she might have been hurt or injured. The teenage son opened the door and the woman turned. At this point, he slammed the door shut. The woman’s face was not human. It was humanish but was twisted and distorted and she opened her mouth into a terrifying wail. The family sped away as quickly as they could. Upon arrival at home, the woman’s daughter ran to her crying. The family relayed the story to her tearfully. They were clearly very scared, but the woman couldn’t entirely believe it. She thought that maybe shadows and fatigue had played tricks on them. She was worried that an injured woman might have been left on the road so she got in her truck and went looking for her. She drove up and down the road for a while until she saw the figure. She didn’t slow down, the very sight of the hunched over, skeletal form sent a chill down her spine that she could feel in her very soul. The thing was clearly not human. She sped away and held her family close. They haven’t seen the creature they now call the banshee again, but they always look and they never forget that lonely night.
I haven’t written in a while. I was promoted at my day job in November and supervising a team of therapists has proven to be much harder than just being a therapist. Working ten hours a day is more haunting than any ghost and living people’s emotional problems are far more consuming than any phantom tragedy I know. I have missed writing here and when I heard this story I knew it was time to pull myself away from life and write a story. It is also my goal to have at least one story a week on this blog from now on.
This story was brought to me by a gentleman who read my commentary on Ouijia Boards. He read my story and told me about a night that he decided to be a little wild and try to summon the dead. He and a group of friends thought that it was a brilliant idea to take the Ouijia Board to a cemetery at midnight because they believed they would be able to contact more spirits this way. Of course, what they didn’t know was that trouble can come from summoning spirits in such an open place. According to Voodoo and Hoodoo folklore, going to a cemetery at midnight without salt for protection can lead to trouble.
The young men were a little drunk and set about attempting to contact the spirits. When they first put their hands on the planchette, a white cat leapt onto the board. The young men shoed the cat away. They were a bit perturbed about the incident but they kept going and the cat jumped on them again. They threw the cat away a second time. After the third time the cat jumped on them, they gave up and went home. It was only later that it occurred to this man that the cat might have had some meaning. Reasearch into Chinese and Egyptian folklore shows that cats are said to drive away evil spirits. The man researched the event and after learning the significance of the cat now believes the cat was protecting him from the dark spirits that were summoned by his nocturnal wanderings.
HAPPY BOOOOOOOOO YEAR!
GHOULA has many great things planned for the upcoming year.
But first, let’s take a last look back at 2014.
The question that we were asked most often last year was “When is SPIRITS with SPIRIT coming back?” So, let’s address this first… We took a break from our monthly meet-ups in historic (haunted) bars to concentrate on other events we wanted to do, namely off-beat ghost tours of our city. The temporary hiatus will continue thru 2015, so that we can focus on other events in mind for 2015. This is not the end however, “SPIRITS with SPIRITS” will return (most likely in 2016), since there are still so many haunted restaurants/bars we haven’t been to yet.
That said, it should be mentioned that if a special opportunity arises this year, we might break from form and do an impromptu SPIRITS with SPIRITS. For example, last year, the Magic Castle opened their doors to GHOULA for a special SPIRITS with SPIRITS, which included a discussion of the “Castle’s” many ghost, a walking tour of the haunted areas led by magician/author Tom Ogden, some eye-witness accounts from the staff, and of course drinks and socializing. Obviously, if another amazing opportunity presents itself, we will do our best to make it happen.
The big news of last year was our unique “one-time-only” ghost tours of Los Angeles, where we picked a topic, and talked about everything one would want to know about that subject. Despite the very niche nature of these tours, surprisingly just about every tour sold out. Thus, we want to thank everyone who came out and supported the obscure ghost-lore of our city. These tours includes topics such as Houdini, Valentino, Ghostbusters, Laurel Canyon, haunted buried treasure, and haunted mirrors. The second most asked question this year was when are we going to bring back these tours. Unfortunately, there are no plans at this time to repeat those tours (there are too many new events coming).
GHOULA also finally did our ghost tour of Griffith Park throughout the summer months. If you have been following our group for the last couple of years, you know we have wanted to do this tour for the last couple of years, but for some reason we always had to cancel it. Since forces seem to always be against this tour, we called it “The CURSED Tour of Haunted Griffith Park.” This year we did it (despite a few new challenges and obstacles).
Last October, GHOULA collaborated with our friends at Captured Aural Phantasy Theater to create a tribute to Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion (which had its 45th anniversary last year) called “Tales of the Lonesome Ghost.” For the first time ever, performers acted out the original (but never used) script for this beloved attraction when it was intended to be a guided tour of a haunted house. Concept art for that incarnation was also presented throughout the show, and the event was held in a haunted venue that may have a connection to the famous dark ride. Look for more GHOULA/CAPT collaborations next year.
Also in October, GHOULA also brought back the ghost-themed “walking” tour, we initiated two years ago, the “Haunted Red Line Tour,” where we take groups along the Metro’s Red Line. stopping at various stations to talk about the ghosts and haunted sites at that spot.
Because of our group’s LA-centric interest in the phantom folklore of this city, GHOULA participated in Los Angeles’ Halloween Convention, ScareLA, where other groups and companies that create spooky content and events in October, got together under one roof to share (and promote) what would be happening in October with each other and the public. It was so much fun, GHOULA plans on returning next year.
GHOULA was also invited to participate in the annual “Archives Bazaar : LA as Subject” event at USC to discuss the connection between our city’s history and its ghost folklore.
Last, but not least, last year GHOULA published “Hollywood Ghost Comix,” a collection of ghost-themed comic strips created by local artist Victor Avila.
2014 was a great year for GHOULA, and judging from the surprises that are in the works, 2015 will be even better.
The Ouija Board was first created during the spiritualist movement of the late nineteenth century. It was designed as a tool to help communication with spirits. Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard were the first to patent the device. In 1966, the device’s patent was sold to Parker Brother’s who still own it. Ever since its creation the Ouija Board has been controversial. The most famous case of demonic activity with Ouija Board was the case that was later the inspiration for a book The Exorcist. I’ve blogged about this case before. A little boy named Robbie and his aunt attempted to contact a deceased relative and the resulting demon possession was legendary.
I remember my first experience with the Ouija Board was fairly typical. I was at a slumber party and one of the girl’s brought out the board. We all took turns asking questions. I can’t remember them all. They were mundane girly questions like “will Billy Bob ask me to the dance,” or “Will I be a doctor when I grow up.” At the end, the girl who brought the board out told the spirit thank you and said that she would give it all her Halloween candy as a way of saying thank you for all its help. She put her bucket of Halloween candy by the board and we went upstairs to play light as a feather stiff as a board. When we returned, all the candy was gone. The wrappers were still there. They were still sealed, but the candy was gone. I’ll admit, this could be some kind of slumber party prank, but I don’t know how this girl, who was pretty clueless pulled it off.
Almost everyone you talk to has a Ouija board story and almost all of them are bad. Mine was quiet and stupid, but almost everyone I talk to about the board agrees that it opens doors that shouldn’t be opened. My grandmother passed away recently, which had lead to much contemplation on her life. She was a woman who always dabbled in the supernatural and believed firmly in ghosts. In fact, she had a relationship with a ghost named Alonk that lasted years via the Ouija Board. She forced my mother and her sister to help her continue this relationship. Alonk told her he loved and sent her love stories. It really creeped my mother out, although my aunt grew fond of Alonk.
There are a million Ouija Board stories. One local story, involves a teen that used the board regularly. One night the sofa he stored the board under burst into flames, burning down the entire apartment complex he lived in. Another story I found in a book, describes a young man’s interaction with a spirit via the board. During this interaction, the spirit said the board was specifically designed to communicate with those in hell. Only spirits that had been damned could be contacted using the board.
I have heard a few good stories about the board. One woman at a paranormal meeting I went to said she talked with a playful girl spirit that had lived in her house before her. She said the interaction was positive and helped bring peace to herself and her daughter who had been afraid of the ghost before the conversation via the board. I know that some people must be having positive experiences with the board, because it still sells very well. There is even an online version of the game now that allows you to play alone using your mouse. However, the overwhelming bulk of the stories are terrifying. Which brings me to the question. Is the Ouija Board a gateway only to evil or can it be used for good? Are people being swayed by the abundance of negative stories or are there any possible good uses for this tool?
When: October 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th,
(Every Sunday in October)
Time: Tours start at 7pm
Meeting Place: The palm tree-lined island in front of Union Station
800 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (map)
Price: FREE TOUR (donation-based) + Metro “Day Pass” ($5 + $1 for a “Tap Card”)
Please purchase the Metro Pass (not a “Metrolink” ticket) before the meet-up to save time.
Parking: See below.
Los Angeles’ lore is filled with tales of secret tunnels. Whether its supposed opium dens, rum-running passages, discontinued “Red Car” tunnels, munchkin transports, celebrity/mistress escape routes, or simply chambers belonging to a race of subterranean lizard people, many buildings and homes claimed to be connected to other buildings and homes below street level (if only we could find their openings).
So, is there a better way to explore the haunted history of Los Angeles than by traveling underground from location to location via our very own (dead) Red Line Metro Subway with the other living dead of this city?
We will meet-up at Union Station (the starting point for the Red Line) and then travel through 13 stops to the North Hollywood Station (at the end of the line), getting off and on along the way. In addition to Union Station and the North Hollywood Station, we will stop at few other stations, step off the train, rise to street-level, and discuss the ghosts and haunted sites visible from that spot before going back aboard to the next stop on our tour.
Come out and hear spooky tales about a spirit solider, a vanishing padre, and a ghostly car. As well as many other phantom figures from our past that haunt our present.
Parking: Since everyone participating in the tour will need a Metro Day Pass to ride the subway, it is advisable to park at one of the FREE lots provided by the Metro at either the North Hollywood Station (our end point) or the Universal City Station (or any other free lots on connecting Metro lines), and then just take the Subway to Union Station to meet-up with the group (The lots around Union Station are expensive and they may close early).
The CURSED Tour of
NOTE: This tour will be coming to an end in September. These are the last tours of the year. It is uncertain whether this tour will return next summer, because GHOULA has another project planned for next summer. This may be your last chance to see it.
Not only is Griffith Park one of the largest urban parks in North America, it is also the most haunted public space in the United States, and the site of some of the oldest ghost stories our city has to offer, including the infamous 150 year old curse! Even today, it is said that there are so many sightings still, that the ranger’s office has a “special occurrence” form just for citizens that want to report their ghostly encounters.
Those of you that regularly attend GHOULA events may already know that we have been talking about doing (and attempting to do) this tour for the past few years, but due to circumstances beyond our control… it never happened. Its almost as if the “Los Feliz curse” itself was preventing us. Well this summer, GHOULA is defying the curse, and finally making good on our promise.
So, come join us if you dare… for this unique bus tour as we explore 4,310 acres of haunted history.
DATES: September 28, 2014
TIME: 12:30pm, 3:30pm, (7:00pm SOLD OUT)
(tour runs 1 1/2 to 2 hours each)
MEET-UP LOCATION: The Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round
4730 Crystal Springs Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027
(follow signs up the fire road to Lot #1 next to the Merry-Go-Round) (map)
It is probably not surprising that I have been on many ghost walks. Every ghost walk I have been on has a different tone. They have all been brilliant in different ways. However, there are some unifying principles in ghost walks that I feel makes them all wonderful. Every ghost walk I’ve been on tells the story of the haunted places on the walk from a perspective that makes that story whole. That means that there is a history to the haunting and then there are tales of the haunting itself and those who have witnessed it. This is always the case. This was true until I went on the downtown Huntsville Ghost Walk. This ghost walk was the strangest ghost walk I have ever been on and completely lacked the elements I associate with a brilliant ghost walk.
Instead of having the unifying principles that I mention above, the guide instead told pieces of each ghost story and none of them ever seemed to equal an entire tale. He told tales of many residual hauntings. He would tell stories of places where ghosts had been seen but the history was missing or he would tell tales of moments in history a medium had witnessed without any real ghost tales to go with the history. On some occasions, he would mention hauntings without any history to accompany them. None of the pieces were a whole story and when I questioned him, my guide he seemed lost.
For example, he told the tale of a place on the street where the ghost of a young girl with a basket of kittens wanders. The girl’s name is Allison and she haunts Washington Street. The girl was deaf and her father worked for the railroads. The Governor gave her a basket of kittens which she still clings to in the after life because she died of cat scratch fever. It was a medium who determined who the ghost was, but the guide had no idea why she haunted Washington Street or why she would even chose to remain in Alabama since she didn’t live here in life.
Another ghost story that lacked definition was a story that a medium picked up in the street. The medium felt someone died there and someone had, but there were no other haunting stories. No one else had seen the ghost. No one had been haunted. A medium could sense a murder. That was all.
Another example is the haunting of the Yargrow Hotel. The hotel is haunted by a ghost that is angry about a water heater. The guide couldn’t say who the ghost was or why he was angry. There was no history or story to augment the tale. A medium merely noticed that an angry water heater ghost lives there. Similarly, The Heritage Club Kitchen is haunted by a ghost that bothered staff there, but the guide couldn’t say anything else except that it was haunted. There was no history to accompany the tale.
There were a few good stories on the tour. The tragic story of the murder of Molly on the street was a perfectly haunting tale with every component of a beautiful and utterly compelling ghost story. The story of William Street was also a perfect tale of woe.
There are four ghost tours run by the same company in Huntsville, Alabama. Maybe I just took the wrong tour with the wrong guide. Although some of the tour was interesting, overall I was disappointed by the lack of depth most of the stories had and the guide’s inability to answer 90% of my questions. I was most frustrated when I asked him about the history of the Hotel Russell Erskin and he couldn’t answer any of my questions. He didn’t know when it was built or anything else he didn’t say in the tour. My sister goggled the information we wanted about the hotel’s history on her phone and showed it to him. After, another person on the tour asked him about the history and he answered with my sister’s information with the authority of a history professor without mentioning my sister’s contribution. That made me sad.
The best part of this tour was the history and the tour of downtown Huntsville. The little city was bustling with activity and the history of the city was interesting to listen to.
I am planning on going on all the Huntsville Ghost Walk’s this fall and I am hoping this one was just a fluke and that the rest will be wonderful!
HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1959)
Date: September 12 (Friday)
Theater: The Bing Theater (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90036
This is your chance to see this movie about ghosts in an actual haunted theater! (Note: this event is not hosted by GHOULA, and is just an event we feel our members should know about. Thus, the event staff may not answer any questions regarding their ghosts.) The whole square block containing LACMA (and the Bing Theater) are said to be haunted by a few ghosts, as well as an ancient murder victim (LA’s oldest unsolved murder), known locally as “The La Brea Woman.”
NOTE: This screening is the first part of a William Castle double-feature. The second film will be the classic “13 GHOSTS,” which will be screened using a new print that allows patrons to “see” the ghosts without the “ghost viewers” that were issued during its original release. This evening is part of the “Let There Be Fright: William Castle Scare Classics” festival in September.
“House on Haunted Hill” (1959) is the first of William Castle’s Horror “gimmick films.” When it was originally screened, a plastic skeleton (sometimes an inflatable skeleton) was hoisted over the audience in effort to scare the patrons. Most of the time, people just threw popcorn at it (but had great fun all the same). This trick would later be employed at Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion (it’s debatable whether its any scarier there).
This classic horror film has a special place in GHOULA’s black heart. The very first GHOULA event was a screening of this movie (with Emergo) as a fundraiser for the preservation of the Ennis House (the movie’s “House”). Also, this film was in the line-up of GHOULA’s first year of its “Haunted Films @ Haunted Places” free outdoor film series.
Now, GHOULA is pleased to announce its involvement with this special screening of the film at LACMA. GHOULA has been asked by the Motion Picture Academy to provide the EMERGO for this screening.