A Christmas Ghost of Dickens’ Past

Happy Holidays, you weirdos! I’ve got a little present for you. I recently got together with my esteemed publisher for Weiser Books Radio Hour, to read to you from a little tale from Charles Dickens’ A Haunted House.

THE HAUNTED HOUSE

Charles Dickens’ Christmas ghosts were rampant in his 1894 pamphlet Christmas Stories, a holiday supplement to Âll Year Round, a publication for which Dickens served as editor. The Haunted House is both a fictional house where like-minded guests and ghosts gather and a literary gold mine, where Dickens’ favorite authors of the day gathered to tell their particularly assigned ghost stories. Dickens created the setting and each room of the Haunted House was assigned to one of his favorite writers (and to himself).

Wilkie Collins, born in London in 1824, met Dickens in 1851. Shortly after this, both men acted together in Edward “Dark and Stormy Night” Bulwer-Lytton’s play Not So Bad As We Seem. This “set the stage” for what would become a lifelong friendship. Like Dickens and most of Victorian England, Collins had a healthy relationship with the idea of ghosts. That is to say, he believed in them—at least as a literary device. He wrote dozens of plays, short stories, and novels, the most famous of which was called The Woman in White, which was later adapted for the stage and even modern film.

Wilkie Collins was assigned “The Ghost in the Cupboard Room,” occupied by one Nat Beaver, a salty old merchantman who has some nervous ticks brought on by a most unexpected specter of his past. Join me, to find out what haunts this sailing man; who else was in the house; and to hear a tale of terror (and bondage) on the high seas.

Click HERE to listen.

Merry Meet!

 

 

Oh How We Love to Hear You Scream

Doll hangs from bathtub in a bloody mess

Kick off Halloween on this eve of All Hallow’s Eve with a little ramble down a shadowy path. Who knows what will scream, reach out or come looking for you while you are distracted listening to the radio? We cannot say, nor can we guarantee your safety. What we can be sure of is a wild romp through a world of bizarre creatures, freaky facts and all manner of vampires, banshees, werewolves and other strange things. So keep this freaky Halloween thing going and tune in to hear Dave Cruz of Beyond the Strange Radio Show talk with me about whatever frightening things come to mind. And if you listen carefully, you just might hear a story I’ve never told before on air. It’s quite fearsome, and haunts me to this day. If there’s time, we may take callers so get ready with your own terrifying tales.

Listen live here. Tonight, October 30 at 7 p.m. PST/9 p.m. EST.

Just click the website and the player will be going.

Later it will be archived into a podcast so you can relive all the scary stuff in the light of day. But you really should listen now. What else are you doing on a Sunday night, besides sewing your kid’s Halloween costume?

 

Spend the Night with Me (and George Noory)

Nobed by creepy pasta

DAHLINK. I know you thought tonight is the night you’re finally going to get to bed at a reasonable hour but you were sadly mistaken. You can’t miss tonight’s Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. Why? BECAUSE I’LL BE THE GUEST.

Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to eat your gruel and pour yourself a draught of ale before I’m on. I’m the second segment so that’s MIDNIGHT to 2PM PST.

TUNE IN HERE if you are a Coast Insider (you can also listen after-the-fact as a Coast Insider).

Click HERE to find your local station and tune-in live (and call in!)

We promise to keep you very, very awake.

 

Image: CreepyPasta 

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.

Paranormal Geeks Interview: Live!

Tonight, from 6pm PST to 8 PM PST, I’ll be chatting it up with the great geeks of Paranormal Geeks Radio.  Join me and host Jim Heater LIVE at 6pm PST:
You can listen live tonight from 6-8pm PST. Join us! We’ll speak of mermaids, ghosts, and other creatures of the night!! the bride of frankenstein

Z is for Zombie: What You Need to Know Before World War Z

zombieZombie, zombie, zombie.

Yes, Yes everyone loves to say how FAKE zombies are and how very unrealistic it really is that a zombie apocolypse (zompocalypse?) could actually take place. But let me tell you: zombies ARE real. It may not be in the exact way you think. Even if you don’t beleive me, I’m going to give you one tip that just might save your life.

To release a zombie from its bondage, give it salted water or salted food, and it will drag itself back to its grave.

Okay that’s it. That’s my sage advice. Now enjoy some freaky facts, zombie-style. And send me your pictures of your zombie drag when you head out to see World War Z!!

  • In Night of the Living Dead (1968), the actors playing zombies were paid only one dollar for their work, but each also received a t-shirt that boasted, “I was a zombie in Night of the Living Dead.”
  • One of the investors for Night of the Living Dead was a butcher who paid the director in blood and intestines from his shop.
  • In Texas, the fire ant, one of the South’s biggest pests, is facing a new predator of its own. Researchers at Texas A&M University have introduced a tiny phorid fly, originally native to South America, to lay their eggs onto fire ants. These eggs hatch into maggots inside the ant and begin to eat away at the ants’ brains, essentially turning the fire ants into tiny little zombies. The ants wander around for up to two weeks while the maggots eat away at their brains, until the ants’ heads fall off. Then the maggot turns into a fly and is ready to start the cycle over again.
  • The origin of the tombstone lies in the fear of the dead, it seems. Lest the restless spirit, zombie, or other ghastly incarnation of the formerly living try to escape from its well-nailed coffin and six feet of earthly barrier, a large heavy stone was added to the grave to ensure it was sealed. Later, the tombstone was used more formally as a place on which to engrave epitaphs and depict angels, doves, and similar symbols of heavenly ascension.
  • Do you like to walk with the dead? Prefer the moans of animated corpses to conversations with mortals? Well, you should probably join or organize a Zombie Walk. A Zombie Walk or Zombie March is an organized public gathering of two or more people who dress as zombies and wander around, limping their way in an organized route to a public center or cemetery. What a stress reliever!
  • Narcolepsy, an uncommon sleep disorder, is a state of perpetual exhaustion. Contrary to common belief, a narcoleptic is not going to fall asleep randomly or in mid sentence while speaking. However, if someone else dominates the conversation and bores them for long enough, narcoleptics may very well fall asleep. Side effects of narcolepsy include cataplexy (complete loss of muscle tone), hallucinations, and caffeine resistance.
  • In an act that makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look mild, a homeless man in Florida was attacked by another man on a freeway onramp. The crazed man began tearing away at the victim’s face, biting with his mouth, and then eating the chunks of flesh he tore off. Though the police and hospital are not confirming, the attacker is believed to be under the influence of bath salts–and not the kind that soak your cares away. Bath Salts are an amphetamine, and this is not the first time the drug has led to zombie-like behavior.Users snort, smoke, or inject the amphetamine, which can lead to extreme reactions including severe hallucinations. Reports of bizarre and extreme crimes while under the influence continue to flood the news. A man slayed a goat while wearing women’s underwear, a couple repeatedly called 911 to report a non-existent intruder, and more than one person has exhibited the urge to eat another persons flesh!

I don’t think this is quite what Vincent Price was expecting as The Last Man on Earth. But then, who ever said the apocalypse would be predictable? (Oh wait…)

 

Calling all Vampires!

Perhaps the most enticing and desperately attractive creature of the supernatural realm, ask some folks and they will tell you vampires are quite real. And there are often more to them than meets the eye. So whether you’ve had your blood drawn, your energy drained, had an odd encounter with a bat, or self-identify as a vamprie (or vampyre) I want to hear from you. I’d like some first-hand accounts for my forthcoming (October of 2013) book Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night. Send me your encounters at varlaventura AT gmail.com.

(I’ll contact you for permission if I want to put your story in my book.)

clarimonde

Calling all Werewolves!

werewolfLycanthropy is a clinical disease, one in which a supposedly deranged individual “imagines” that they are a werewolf. And according to Sabine Baring Gould, everyone of us has the potential to be a werewolf–we all have a primal, uncontrolled element to us that manifests in some people as madnees, others as cravings, and others as murder. Not quite as “sexy” as the vampire, werewolves have an element of the pathetic and loyal dog, so often seeming to be animals without choice. In many stories the werewolf tries desperately to hide who he is, attempting to protect the ones he loves from his own animal-urges.

Have you encountered a werewolf or seen a were-creature?

I want to know! I’d like to include your first-hand account in my forthcoming book, Banshees, Werewolves, Vampires, and Other Creatures of the Night. Email me at varlaventura AT gmail.com. I’ll contact you if I’d like to include your story in my collection.

 

 

Zombies of Miami (Bath Salts Strike Again)

On a Miami, Florida off-ramp, a completely naked man attacked a homeless man with a ferociousness that makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look mild. The attacker began tearing away at the victim’s face, biting with his mouth, and then eating the chunks of flesh he tore off. Though the police and hospital are not confirming, the attacker is believed to be under the influence of bath salts–and not the kind that soak your cares away. Bath Salts are an amphetamine, and this is not the first time the drug has lead to zombie-like behavior.

Users snort, smoke, or inject the amphetamine, which can lead to extreme reactions including severe hallucinations. Reports of bizarre and extreme crimes while under the influence continue to flood the news. A man slayed a goat while wearing women’s underwear, a couple repeatedly called 911 to report a non-existent intruder, and more than one person has exhibited the urge to eat another persons flesh!

I don’t think this is quite what Vincent Price was expecting as The Last Man on Earth. But then, who ever said the apocalypse would be predictable? (Oh wait…)

Me, victim of a zombie encounter or just up all night?

Me, victim of a zombie encounter or just up all night?

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.