Is That ME in Your Pocket? Or Are You Just…

NOW ON ITUNES, PEOPLES!!

I am terribly excited to discover that our BRAND NEW podcast, Varla Ventura’s Tales of the Strange is live and now available on iTunes. Oooooh! That means you can just log in and subscribe and every time a new episode drops, bam! I’ll be right there, waiting for you. In your pocket.

Oh, okay or in your purse. Just plug in, tune in. Now you can listen easily while scrubbing away those mystery stains (is that blood? honestly!) or walking your wolves around the lake.

And I’m not above begging, so please, please, if you like it, subscribe and give us a happy little rating. The first episode, Strange America: Alabama is up. Coming soon, Alaska’s most famous ghost hunter and UFO-ologist and Small Town Monsters filmmaker and mastermind, Seth Breedlove.

Download me, darling. You know you want to.

 

Freaky Friday: The Ghost in the Fruit Cellar plus Black Cats and Skulls

Bloodcurdling Bizarre

It’s the last Friday in October and it’s time to really bust it out with freaky, Halloween-worthy, facts so have at it. Share them at a cocktail party, wow your blind date, or amuse your children. And if you want more, check out my books The Book of the Bizarre and Beyond Bizarre for loads more terrifying trivia and hilariously horrific facts. Happy Halloween!!!!!!!

black cat

  • When Stephen King had writer’s block while working on his novel It, he had a nightmare about leeches inside of discarded refrigerators. He says he woke up and knew immediately where the novel was supposed to go.
  •  In 1925, a few miles south of Portage Wisconsin, August and Patricia Heinz and their children suffered trauma of the supernatural variety. The family, which also included 7-year-old Freddy, 9-year-old Charles, and 11-year-old Elizabeth, had moved into the simple two-story farmhouse 10 years before and lived there happily without incident. But then, in February 1925, an unexplained fire destroyed one of the barns. In June, another barn burned, also without explanation. And then late one June evening, as the family sat down to supper., they heard the sound of footsteps descending from the second floor. Young Charles and his father investigated, but found no one else in the home. After they had sat back down with the rest of the family, the footsteps began again. This phantom sound continued on and off for the next three months. Further incidents began to occur. Patricia discovered that each morning her broom was missing from the kitchen, only to turn up in some strange place, such as a remote corner of the property or a different room in the house. Suspecting the children up to mischief, August and Patricia questioned each one, but all insisted they had nothing to do with it. Exasperated, Patricia decided to chain down the broom and lock the kitchen door. The next morning, she was horrified to discover the door still locked, but the chain broken and the broom outside in the yard.The events culminated one evening when August and his neighbor returned from a hunting trip. Once everyone, including their guest, were seated at the table, the sound of footsteps began. August recounted the story of this mysterious ghost to their guest. The neighbor decided to take action. Thinking that he might scare the ghost, the took his unloaded shotgun and crept towards the stairs where the sound of the footsteps had been heard. He leapt out, let forth a wild scream, and pointed his gun. Though he believed the gun to be unloaded, a shot flew out, shattering the plaster and wallpaper. Freddy and Charles recalled hearing a man moan after the shot, and all the family members heard the sounds of moans and cries coming from the fruit cellar. Once the sounds had ceased, the family was never again haunted by the spirit of the house.
  • In January 2008, an eight-one-year-old Chilean man woke up at his own funeral. His family dressed him in his finest suit and laid him out for a proper wake, only to witness him opening his eyes mid-mourning. Upon waking he simply asked for a glass of water. The family was overjoyed.
  • The black cat is the most common enchanted animal of the mystical world. Often the companions of witches, black cats are believed to have the power to reason, perform sorcery, and understand human language. Just about everyone knows the superstition that says when a black cat crosses your path bad luck will follow. But there are ways to counteract this omen. As soon as you spot the black cat, spit on the ground, turn yourself around three times, or walk backwards retracing your steps. As you pass the cat, reach down and stroke its back as a gesture of kindness
  •  During the seventeenth century, Azariah Pinney, a resident of Bettiscombe, a town in the heart of the English countryside, returned home after living in the West Indies for quite some time. Pinney brought a slave home with him to help care for his house, known as Bettiscombe Manor. The slave, unfortunately, soon fell ill, and lying upon his deathbed, requested one thing from his master. He asked that his corpse be sent home and buried in the land of his birth. Pinney agreed, but when the slave passed away, he broke the promise and buried the slave in a nearby church cemetery. Immediately after the burial, a strange moaning drifted up through the earth  under which the slave had been buried . Before long, the moaning turned into an endless and agonizing scream, which tore through the countryside. Upon finding out about Pinney’s broken promise, the local villagers demanded that he immediately dig up the body and remove it from the cemetery. Pinney did as told, and returned with the body to Betiscombe Manor, where he stored the body in the attic. The tortured screams ceased. The corpse remained in Pinney’s house, where it decayed over time, until all that remained was the skull.  As the years passed, Bettiscombe Manor saw many owners come and go. Some did not take well to sleeping so near the infamous skull and made the mistake of removing it from the attic. One owner threw the skull into a nearby pond, thinking it would sing, but the skull rose to the surface shrieking in anguish. Another family buried it in the backyard garden, but it dug itself out of the ground. In the end, the skull was returned to the house, where it is said to reside peacefully to this day.

Freaky Friday: Lock Up Your Daughters

Bad Boy Bizarre

It’s that day again, FREAKY Friday, where every Friday in October I’ll be giving you some freaktacular tidbits to start your weekend off right. Share them at a cocktail party, wow your blind date, or amuse your children. And if you want more, check out my books The Book of the Bizarre and Beyond Bizarre for loads more terrifying trivia and hilariously horrific facts. This week is full of freaky sausages and butts. sausages1

  • Think kids these days are bad? In 1598, a young peasant girl named Pernetter Gandillon roved like a wild animal around the Jura Mountains, between France and Switzerland. One day, she came upon a little boy and girl picking strawberries, and she pounced on the girl, intent to kill. When the little boy tried to defend his sister with a pocket knife, Gandillon wrestled the knife from his hand and slashed his throat. He was four years old. The people of the village were so horrified by the event that they tore Gandillon to pieces. Oh yeah, she was also a werewolf.
  •  Sisters Delfina and Maria were the owners of Rancho El Angel, a brothel in Guanajuato, Mexico, in the 1950’s and 60’s. The sisters had a successful business, but they also had a problem on their hands: the prostitutes who got too old to work expected continued financial support. Every good businessperson knows that carrying dead weight is unsustainable, and the sisters came up with a workable solution: killing their low-achieving sex workers. They also killed any customer who appeared to have a big wad of cash with him. When investigators finally questioned the sisters and examined their property, they found the bodies of 11 men and 80 woman!
  •  According to the Associated Press, there was a bizarre burglary in April 2008 in Spain. A Prowler broke into a funeral home in Burjassot (no one is sure exactly what the burglar intended to steal), and when neighbors alerted police, the creepy  criminal tried to hide. Police, along with the funeral parlor’s owner, searched the place and found him lying on a table in a glassed-in viewing chamber that is used during wakes. The police said not only was he breathing, but he was also dressed shabbily–a dead giveaway in a parlor where the custom is to dress the deceased in their finest suits.
  • A 22-year old man was arrested in Fresno, California for breaking and entering the home of two farm workers, rubbing one’s face with spices and whacking the other in the head with an eight inch sausage, the ransacking the workers’ house and running away. The money stolen by the police was recovered, and the alleged assailant presumably was given a good grilling by police.
  •  A 35-year-old man, dubbed the Butt Bandit, was arrested in Valentine, Nebraska, for making imprints of his, ahem, posterior on store windows with petroleum jelly. He was convicted of eight counts of public indecency and one count of disturbing the peace after terrorizing the town for more than two years. He was sentenced to a whopping thirteen and a half months in jail. A word to the wise: make butt-prints on your own windows  instead of going to town.

Calling all Banshees!

Banshee CounterpartsBanshees are among the most feared creatures of the fairy and supernatural realm,  and this may be in part to the sympathies they invoke when you hear their wailing. You could easily be lured into the dark of night, hoping to help the pathetic creature who sounds as if she is in mourning. Some tales recount that banshees are the ghosts of women who have died in childbirth; others say they are the restless sprits of unrequited lovers.

It is common for families to inherit the banshee, who arrives time and time again to warn of an impending death.

To quote Raymond Buckland from his book The Weiser Field Guide to Ghosts:

“It has been said that a banshee is really the disembodied soul of someone who once lived and was attached to the family in some way.  It depends upon the relationship that the banshee had with the dying family member as to how the banshee announces his or her coming death.  If the person about to die was of a gentle, kind disposition, then the banshee will appear and sing soft songs of warning, summoning the person to death.  But if the person destined to die was of a hateful disposition, then the banshee will make her announcement with horrible cries and screams.”

Have you ever seen or heard a banshee? I want your first-hand accounts for my upcoming book, Banshees, Werewovles, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night (Weiser Books, October 2013).

Contact me at varlaventura AT gmail.com (you know how to actually type that, right?) and let me know what creepy creatures you’ve encountered.

Houses of Horror on Huffington Post

american horror story house

 

All you fans of American Horror Story, haunted houses, and weird news should enjoy my latest article on Huffington Post.

Click HERE to read it.

Hearses from Hell

Residents of Hell, Michigan will proudly host Hellfest 2012, which includes the Nightmare Cruise: an “all hearse car show and parade” that takes place every year.

Hell, which as it turns out is just 45 miles west of Detroit, hopes this year they will take back the world record for number of hearses gathered at once . They set the record in 2011 but earlier in August of 2012 a group of funeral directors in the Netherlands set the new world record.

The parade will take place Saturday (tomorrow) September 15th. The hearse show begins at 10am and the parade at 4:30. It is always held the third Saturday of September.

Just Hearse N’Around,a Hell-based car club that boasts the motto “out to put the others to rest” has hosted this parade for 11 years. If you are thinking about going, they will have the Casket Grill fired up but recommend you bring a cooler of your favorite drinks (it can get hot in Hell!) And if you are thinking about participating, the rules request that:  “the vehicle was purposely built and in service at one time (or currently) as an actual hearse, combo, or flower car. (Pickup trucks with coffins in the back are really cool, but they aren’t hearses.)”

Trophies for various categories will be given, including “Scariest Hearse” and the ever popular “How the Hell did it make it here?” award! You are encouraged to dress in costume. Lots of Goth, steampunk, and horror fare for sale!

Last year, the parade was filmed and several members interviewed for the forthcoming movie (October 2012) Hellbound.  For more information, go to www.hellboundthemovie.com

Did you ever think?

 

 

Who’s That Knocking on my Coffin Lid? Vampires, Magical Creatures Part Three

Lovers of True Blood, Dracula devotees, and Twilight tweens: I offer you the ancient vamps of my Magical Creatures series!

These are the stories that Stephenie Meyer and Anne Rice read when they were but wee babes, suckling on their mothers (or the  neck of their mother). These are the groundwork stories about vampirism, both horrific, romantic, and psychic.

Currently available exclusively as e-books, these are found volumes of forgotten lore (many a quaint and curious tale!) and cover the realm of such creepy and cool beings as goblins, werewolves, vampires, banshees, mermaids, and phookas, to name but a few.

(If the response is positive on these little e-beasts, I’ll be expanding them into book form!!)

Horror devotees will recall the story of the infamous gathering at a lake house outside of Geneva, Switzerland in the summer of 1816 where a small party celebrated the settling darkness by reading ghost stories aloud to one another. Present were the host, Lord Byron, and his guests: Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft (Shelley) and her sister, and Lord Byron’s physician—John William Polidori. At the prompting of Byron, pens were set to paper to write ghost stories of their own. Here the groundwork was laid for what would become Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a Modern Prometheus. Shelley himself wrote Fragments of a Ghost Story, and Byron wrote something called Fragment of a Novel. This “fragment” became the basis for Polidori’s The Vampyre, A Tale—the first vampire novel published in English, some seventy years before Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Also in the vampire collection, are two lesser known tales by Bram Stoker: Burial of the Rats and Dracula’s Guest. Both were part of a collection of stories that Stoker had been working on but never published. After his death, his widow decided they were fit for print and submitted them to his publisher in 1914. And Théophile Gautier’s Clarimonde is by far one of the most controversial vampire stories from the early 19th Century. A would-be priest begins to doubt his path and his God when he meets (by chance?) fair Clarimonde. I won’t give it all away but this is some necromantic romance at its best! And finally, George Sylvester Viereck’s 1907 short story The House of the Vampire was the first novel to introduce psychic vampires.

You can purchase these little digital gems following the links below:

The Vampyre: A Tale by Varla Ventura and John William Polidori (Amazon) (B&N)

The Burial of the Rats by Varla Ventura and Bram Stoker (Amazon) (B&N)

Dracula’s Guest by Varla Ventura and Bram Stoker (Amazon) (B&N)

Clarimonde by Varla Ventura and Théophile Gautier (Amazon)

The House of the Vampire by Varla Ventura and George Sylvester Viereck (Amazon) (B&N)

Funeral Parlor Antics on Huffington Post

ImageMy latest article on Huffington Post all about the amazing things funereal homes are doing to say alive! Like adding a Starbucks, hosting a chili cook off, and more. Plus the origin of the word hearse!

Click below to read more:

Huffington Post Article on Funeral Homes

Who Do Voodoo? You Do! Or at least, Lee does.

Do you watch Secret Circle? I came to it a bit late to the game, but I am officially addicted (again!). Yes, I’m a teenager deep down inside.

As you may have seen in one of the most recent episodes,  the always-mischievous Faye and the always-trailing-behind Melissa have started spending more and more time in Faye’s new love interest, Lee’s, voodoo shop. While Faye insists that Lee is a fake, that none of his “voodoo” powers are actually real, she’s started realizing that there might actually be something to Lee’s odd voodoo spells and totems when he effectively cast a spell to draw out Cassie’s dark magic a few episodes ago.

I was struck by a warning Lee gave about Voodoo practitioners, about his Devil’s Spirit drug dealing friend, Callum, and about the nature of voodoo and the dangers of dabbling in something you don’t understand. Because lord knows Varla loves to dig into things she doesn’t understand! If it is freaky and sneaky or ghoulish and foolish, I can’t seem to help myself. And not to totally freak you out but my editor at Weiser Books found out about my Secret Circle fetish (and blossoming interest in Voodoo) and sent me this super cool book by Denise Alvarado. The truth is much of the history and practice of Voodoo is shrouded in superstition and false truths, and Alvarado’s The Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbookis an excellent resource for anyone looking for authentic Voodoo and Hoodoo root0work and magic.

Not for the faint of heart, this book is the real deal. It has money spells and love spells, and quite a few curses and hexes for good measure. This is not white magic! But it is full of amazing ideas and incantations. I love the author’s website and her crafts.

Check it out!

Afterdeath Communication on Huffington Post

Recent news had got me thinking about what kind of letters I’d leave behind if I were hit by a bus today, etc.

My mother and I have made arrangements for some post-death messages. What would you do? Read my latest post on The Huffington Post Weird News.

Click below:

Varla’s Huff Po Blog