Original NETHERWORLD Network Content
Located in the Venetian Lagoon just a short boat ride from St Mark’s Square in Venice, Italy sits Poveglia Island. The island’s recorded history dates back to 421, but is most famously the former home to medieval plague victims and 20th century asylum patients. Poveglia has been abandoned for more than 45 years.
Several buildings still stand on the 17-acre island including a 17th-century fort, a prison, a church and a bell tower. Legend has it that a doctor who routinely performed lobotomies at the asylum threw himself from the tower after having been driven mad by ghosts of the plague victims. It is alleged that tens of thousands of people died and were burned or buried on the island. So many so, that people claim that more than half of the land that makes up the island today is actually human remains.
Television shows “Ghost Adventures” and “Scariest Places on Earth” have filmed episodes there. Fans of “Ghost Adventures” will remember the very compelling episode filmed on Poveglia (aired 11/13/09) where host Zak Bagans claimed to have been briefly possessed by a ghost there. Unfortunately for amateur ghost hunters without the backing of their own television show, access to the island is strictly forbidden as Povelgia has been closed to the public…until today.
Well, Poveglia is still not open to the public. However, on the Italian government put Poveglia Island up for auction in an effort to raise money to cover the country’s national debt. (The online auction closed on Tuesday, May 6, 2014.) Italy reportedly hopes that Poveglia’s buyer will transform the former mental hospital into a luxury hotel. Ghost hunters around the globe will have to wait to see if and when (and how) they will be granted access to the famed Poveglia. Until then, make sure your passport is current!
Be sure to come to HALLOWEEN EXTREME : A Halloween, horror and haunted house extravaganza!
MAY 24-26, 2013 Rosen Center, Orlando Florida
Summer typically means vacation for many of us, as we hit the road for a week or two of escape from our day-to-day routine. Be it the beach, an amusement park, a cruise, or a family visit, we welcome the opportunity to break away and catch our breath. But perhaps you’re not the tourist trap type, and are looking for a unique change of pace. Something, maybe, that takes your breath away as you try to catch it. Something…supernatural.
The lure of potentially haunted destinations is nothing new. Practically every town in America has its own spooky locale, putting it on the map as local legend spreads. So as you pack up the family car and embark on an adventure, consider the following stops along the way for a chance to beat the heat with a chill running down your spine…
The Moss Beach Distillery – featured on television’s ‘Unsolved Mysteries’, this Moss Beach, California restaurant is the alleged home of the Blue Lady ghost. Reportedly killed while walking the beach below the restaurant (at the time a notorious speakeasy) with her lover, this beautiful young spirit is said to wander the building in search of the dashing ladies’ man she left behind. Mysterious silent phone calls, levitating items, unexplained tampering with computers, rooms inexplicably locked from within, and relocated earrings of women patrons are just a few of the eerie occurrences documented at the Moss Beach Distillery.
San Angelo, Texas – supernatural sightings abound in this West Texas town, most notably the spectral appearance of a child in Officers Quarter 1 and buffalo soldiers in barracks 5 and 6 of Fort Concho, as well as the ghosts of two murdered cheerleaders in the halls of Reagan Elementary School. The Sunset Mall is said to host two young spirits, and numerous accounts tell of the haunting of Hardeman Hall at ASU by a murdered student.
The Gurdon Lights – the small Arkansas town of Gurdon is said to be the haunting ground of a railroad conductor who died on the tracks after being pushed in front of an oncoming train. Residents and visitors report mysterious flashing lights that change color in the darkness of night where the unfortunate rail man lost his life, on a stretch of track between Texarkana and Little Rock.
Haunted Charleston – this South Carolina city is practically overrun with unexplained phenomena. Old City Jail is believed to be haunted by numerous ghosts. At one time housing pirates, Civil War soldiers, and a serial-killing couple who operated a boarding house, the jail experiences sightings of lost spirits, sounds of equipment running which have long been out of operation, mysterious phone calls, unseen attacks of force, and disappearing personal effects. Many sources have reported that the cemetery at St. Philips Church is visited by the ghosts of a grieving mother seen kneeling at her child’s grave, and a mysterious Grey Man, believed to be the spirit of a gent who saved the church from burning in a fire he extinguished. The 1843 Battery Carriage House Inn is plagued by a headless, floating human torso in Room 8, as well as a Victorian gentleman in Room 10 and a Confederate soldier walking the grounds. There is no shortage of supernatural activity in Charleston.
Pittsburgh – Pennsylvania’s most haunted city boasts a wide variety of places of eerie interest. Carnegie Library is built on top of an old cemetery, and nightly visitations from displaced spirits are reported. Room 947 of Carlow College is allegedly haunted by misty apparitions who scratch on the walls. The second floor of Byers Hall on the CCAC North campus is closed off, but witnesses claim to still see visions of a nanny who hung herself as the ghost of her young charge looks on. The Civic Arena is said to come alive with the citizens of the neighborhood that was demolished to make way for its construction. Mario Lemieux, star player for the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, has claimed to witness shadowy figures in ’20s-era garb wandering about the building. The Dixmont Mental Hospital is the home of multiple ghost sightings, and at the Fort Pitt Museum (the location of the Battle of Grants’s Hill during the French and Indian War), guards have spoken of people appearing on security monitors who weren’t actually there. The 10th floor of Kaufman’s Department Store is rumored to be haunted by one of the Highlanders killed in the war. And the Livermore Cemetery is said to be haunted by the victims of a flood, with reports of apparition sightings and items missing from parked cars in the cemetery.
St. Augustine, Florida – the oldest city in the United States is also considered to be one of the most haunted places in the country. Castillo de San Marcos (or The Old Fort as it is more commonly known by locals) is often spoken of as the city’s most haunted location, having been built in the 17th century and seeing more than its fair share of battle. Sightings, strange sensations, unexplained sounds and more abound in this notoriously supernatural setting. The St. Augustine Lighthouse is also a hotbed of paranormal activity, with sightings of three young drowning victims swinging on the swing set and appearing in windows. Ghost hunters have captured shadows on film believed to be the spirit of an old light keeper and have recorded an unknown woman’s voice, in addition to many other unexplained sounds. The St. Francis Inn, the Chapel of Our Lady of La Leche, the Huguenot Cemetery, Flagler College, and the Ponce de Leon Hotel are just a few of the many places in St. Augustine purported to play host to the supernatural.
New Orleans. Galveston. Gettysburg. Key West. San Francisco. Chicago. Salem. Savannah – the list goes on. Obviously, there is no region of the US that is immune to visits from beyond. Wherever your travels take you this year, it’s a fairly safe bet that you’ll be close to someplace spooky. So go see the world’s largest ball of string next year, and take a tour of haunted Americana this summer. You never know who may hitch a ride back with you…
Forty years of “The Exorcist”
In 1971, William Peter Blatty released a novel which would go on to reshape the face of contemporary American horror. Based on the 1949 exorcism of Robbie Mannheim, performed by Jesuit priest William S. Bowdern, a former teacher at St. Louis University and St. Louis University High School. “The Exorcist” was released by Harper & Row, and would, of course, inspire the Academy Award-winning film of the same name which many consider to be the scariest movie of all time.
Blatty first heard of the exorcism while he was a student in the Class of ’50 at Georgetown University. He based the character of Father Merrin on British archeologist Gerald Lankester Harding, whom he had met in Beirut (Lankester had excavated the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found).
From Wikipedia (spoilers ahead, in case you were raised in a cave and have never read or seen the story):
“An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Assyrian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which, unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become “possessed” by a demonic spirit.
After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan’s mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. Father Damien Karras, who is currently going through a crisis of faith coupled with the loss of his mother, agrees to see Regan as a psychiatrist, but initially resists the notion that it is an actual demonic possession. After a few meetings with the child, now completely inhabited by a diabolical personality, he turns to the local bishop for permission to perform an exorcism on the child.
After consultation with the Jesuit president of Georgetown, the bishop appoints the experienced Merrin, recently returned to the States, to perform the exorcism and allows the doubt-ridden Karras to assist him. The lengthy exorcism tests the priests, both physically and spiritually. After the death of Merrin, the task ultimately restores Karras’ faith, leading him to give his own life to save Regan’s.”
“The Exorcist” has inspired many demonic-possession books and films over the years, but none has ever come close to capturing the horrific atmosphere and spine-tingling terror that the original evokes. The 1973 feature film version of Blatty’s novel is till considered one of Hollywood’s most nerve-shattering horror films of all time, holding up every bit as much today as it did upon it’s release almost four decades ago. On October 31, 2010 (Halloween day), Cemetary Dance released a special omnibus edition of “The Exorcist” and its sequel “Legion”, signed by Blatty (ISBN 978-1587672118) – a limited edition of 750 copies (with an additional 52 leatherbound copies), it is now out of print.
Happy birthday, Regan!
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel – haunted luxury in the heart of Tinsel Town!
Located on Hollywood Boulevard just one block west of the Chinese Theatre, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel is one of the few remaining treasures of the glamour of Hollywood’s heyday. Founded in 1927 by a syndicate of Hollywood luminaries that included Douglas Fairbanks and Louis B. Mayer, the Roosevelt was conceived as a spot for east coast movie makers to stay while working on the west coast. Iti s notable as the location of the first Academy Awards ceremony, taking place in 1929 and lasting all of five minutes as Fairbanks and Al Jolson handed out thirteen(!) Oscar statuettes. The Roosevelt has hosted its share of celebrities throughout the early days of Tinsel Town, with visits from the likes of Shirley Temple, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Greta Garbo, and Will Rogers. The Roosevelt currently offers 320 rooms, 38 suites, 65 poolside cabana rooms, valet parking, and celebrity spirits – it is rumored that the ghosts of Marylin Monroe and Montgomery Clift now roam the Roosevelt.
Clift stayed in room 928 while filming “From Here to Eternity”, and is said to have been witnessed pacing the halls, reciting his lines and playing the trumpet. Many reports state that loud noises can be heard emanating from the room, and numerous incidents have occurred in which the room’s telephone is mysteriously taken of the hook.
Monroe often stayed in poolside suite 229, and witnesses claim that her image can be seen in the full-length mirror that once hung in that room (it is now located next to the elevator on the lower level), while a number of visitors claim to have seen her dancing in the ballroom.
Of further note is that there is said to be a cold spot, some 30 inches in diameter, in the Blossom Ballroom – the very hall where that first Academy Awards ceremony was held.
Did Oscar curse the hotel, offering up an unlucky thirteen statuettes in 1929? One could speculate. Whatever the catalyst behind these legendary hauntings, when planning that next trek to explore haunted America, you may want to plan on a short stay at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Who knows WHO you might bump into in the dark…
I was born a Coal Miner’s Haunter…
I came across this post from a few years back on the Zillow real estate blog, detailing the alleged haunting of country music legend Loretta Lynn’s home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee (special thanks to the article for giving Ms. Lynn’s home address!).
And you thought country music was scary before…
Ghost trains and headless soldiers and suicidal brides…oh my!
Although I now consider myself an Atlantan at heart, after close to thirty years of residency here, I still feel strong attachments to my childhood in western New York (most of which are food-related). Born in Niagara Falls, I spent my first twelve years exploring the local neighborhoods and getting into the kind of mischief that kids get into on a regular basis. My friends and I spent most days locked out of our houses (and our mothers’ hair), finding any number of ways to entertain ourselves. It was the late 60s and early 70s, so we were very much on our own in terms of entertainment resources – no cable, no video games, no cell phone texting, no home theaters – so imagination was THE media for us.
Nothing stoked our imagination more than the local legends we heard from neighbors, friends and relatives (I was at least twenty years old before I realized that the dreaded tale of the murderous Little Lee Baker – who kidnapped children in the middle of the night and went wild on them with long, razor-like claws – was fabricated by my older brother in an effort to hold sway over our terrified minds…). To this day I am intrigued by ghost stories and the like (I have a few of my own that I simply cannot explain away logically), an interest no doubt sparked by the eerie legends surrounding some of western New York’s most notable landmarks. From suicidal brides flinging themselves over the powerful waterfalls of the mighty Niagara River to abandon train stations ripe with ghostly activity to spectral children swinging at night in the playground not far from our home, western New York offers up a bevy of tales to rattle even the biggest of sceptics.
My earliest recollection of paranormal curiosity comes from Old Fort Niagara. The fort stands on a bluff above Lake Ontario, not far from Niagara Falls, and acts as a centuries-old guard to the entrance of the Niagara River (dating back to 1726). It played a vital role in the struggles of France, Great Britain and the United States to assume control of the Great Lakes region. It also holds an important place in shaping the destinies of the Iriquois people. Now a national historic landmark, notable for its rich collection of 18th and 19th century military architecture, it became a popular destination for our summer weekends. We loved the opportunity to explore every darkened nook and cranny, imagining the many bloody battles that claimed the lives of soldiers for years and years. Visitors have spoken of many varied ghostly occurences, everything from shadow people to floating candles to spectral German Shepherds howling at the moon (perhaps explaining why police dogs will not enter the fort chapel, rumored to play host to unseen benches being dragged about). Often we led ourselves to believe we had discovered some chilling blood stain on the rough stone surfaces, concocting our own thrilling versions of what transpired upon that fatal spot…
Yet the thing that spurred us on the most was the local legend of the unfortunate French soldier who fell prey to jealous rage, losing his life – and head – in a tragic love triangle. It is said that two French officers stationed at Fort Niagara during peacable times both fell victim to the beauty and charms of a young Iriquois maiden. Each desired to win over the woman, and a rivalry was born. One August evening the two – drunk with anger and liquor – confronted each other outside the fort and dueled, challenging one another to a deadly swordfight. Ending quickly, the duel did little to quench the anger and frustration of the victor, and in a last attempt at vengeance he proceeded to decapitate the body and threw it into the Niagara River, where it was lost forever. His anger now subsiding, the surviving duelist soon realized that he must dispose of the body, lest his actions be discovered and he would have to face the consequences. He removed the heavy cover of the well at the entrance of the fort and dumped the body into the deep darkness, knowing this well was seldom used and it was unlikely the body would be discovered any time soon.
Soon he slipped away to unite with the Iriquois maiden and left his military station – and murderous deeds – behind, never to be seen or heard from again. Had he been arrested upon discovery of the headless body, there may have been some official record of the incidents, but circumstances and the time period prevented any such record from existing and we are left with nothing but legend. More than likely the events would have eventually been written off as nothing more than two restless young soldiers abandoning their posts and forgotten altogether, were it not for the numerous sightings of a headless apparition wandering around the grounds on dark nights. People still claim to spot this hapless soul searching in vain for the head that was taken from him, in an eternal effort to finally find some peace in the afterlife.
I admit I’ve never actually seen a ghost or experienced any unexplained activity at Old Fort Niagara, but I can say we always felt a chill when touring the grounds. Whether it was our own overactive young minds or actual paranormal presence causing that looming feeling of dread may never be known, but one thing is for sure – something about that fort and its tragic history sparked a flame inside me that to this day prevents me from completely writing off the existence of the unexplained.
Next up, we’ll take a spin through Central Terminal – Buffalo, New York’s infamous haunted train station…