Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saturday Documentary Roundup

Last Saturday I posted about all the horror films I watched throughout the week, all of which were available through Netflix streaming.  THIS week I went in a little bit different of a direction---I focused on documentaries and non-fiction series.

1. Mystery Files: Hitler---I began with a short, 24 minute documentary by the Smithsonian Channel (available on Netflix streaming) about Adolph Hitler's earlier years.  This film focuses on the changes Hitler went through during WWI that turned him from an unambitious slacker to the anti-Semitic politician hell-bent on world domination we now know him as.  I didn't really know a lot about Hitler's involvement in WWI so this was definitely interesting and educational...but with most of these Mystery Files, there was still no real sense of...closure...maybe?  Only speculation and theories were presented in regards to the mystery of why Hitler became the most evil man in history.

2. Killer Legends---If you enjoyed the Cropsey documentary, you'll really enjoy this one as well.  It's put out by the same people, and has a similar theme.  Instead of focusing on ONE urban legend, however, in this film they tackle four popular urban myths and find REAL crimes that formed the basis of the tales.  I thought this was really well done and its probably my favorite documentary of the week. Interviews with the people who lived through the tales, plenty of newspaper accounts, and actual visits to the site were enhanced by statements made by historians, researchers, and folklore/urban legend experts, making this not only entertaining, but pretty educational as well. It was also pretty creepy...

3. Myth Hunters: The Nazis and the Book of Power---This one wasn't a documentary, per se, but part of a television series.  I chose to watch this particular episode because I've always had a fascination with the Nazi obsession with the occult.  The Book of Power in question is the Germania...a book Himmler read and based much of his ideas on genetic purity and the perfect German race on.  I was absolutely fascinated by how a stubborn Italian Count went to great lengths to make sure the Nazis didn't get what they wanted.

4. The Truth Behind: UFOS---Pretty standard UFO documentary, complete with a trip to Area 51 and much discussion on Roswell.  However, this was still pretty interesting as it delved a lot into the recent work of Moller and his UFO-like flying vehicles.

5. Mystery Files: Abraham Lincoln---Abraham Lincoln was a pretty complex guy.  This short film focuses on his early life and how it shaped his political agenda.  Lincoln's earliest years as a politician were of a stark contrast to his later years and I never realized that he sat out of politics for five years.

6. Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue---A look at the cultural history of horror movies in the United States.  Most of the American greats in horror film make an appearance in this documentary.  Probably my SECOND favorite pick of the week!

7. The Search for the Holy Grail---This was an excellent documentary as well.  Most grail documentaries focus on the Dan Brown interpretation of what the grail is.  While those theories are certainly discussed, this film tends to explore all possibilities and examines how art, literature and pop culture through the ages worked to shape the grail story...and vice versa.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Yokum's Vacationland

Shirley and Carl Yokum, Source

It all started in 1935 when Seneca Rocks resident, Carl Yokum, realized the potential of the area as a premier fishing tourism destination.  That year, he built the first two log cabins at an investment of about $30 per cabin that would grow into the massive vacation empire known as Yokum's Vacationland.  Three years later, Carl married his childhood sweetheart, Shirley Bland, and together they ran their rustic empire, which today includes a general store/motel, Princess Snowbird's Indian Village complete with teepee camping, campsites and cabins, a restaurant, a second motel, two school buildings and even more log cabins!

However, things didn't always go as planned for the Yokum's and their campsite near the base of Seneca Rocks.  Carl's very first customers only paid for one week---their second week's check BOUNCED. During WWII, Seneca Rocks was used as a rock climbing training facility for soldiers, and tourists were replaced with military personnel.  Vandals destroyed the original canvas coverings of the teepee village and in 1985, deadly flooding destroyed most of the original cabins.  But through it all, the Yokum's managed to stay together, and rebuild, bigger and better than ever at each setback.  Today, Carl has passed, but Shirley still takes care of much of the daily operations well into her 90s and visitors still come from miles around to stay at the campground.  Staff working as guides to Seneca Rock also sometimes stay for the season.

In fact, it is one such former employee who is responsible for sharing all the spooky goings-on here!  In February of 2014, a climbing guide who stayed at the campground in a pop-up camper all season long wrote into the WVGhosts website to share plenty of personal stories from the campground.

Activity experienced included a constant feeling of being watched, either through the windows of the camper, or from the treeline or pavilion on the way to the bathhouse from there.  The pavilion was also said to creak and make other noises, just as if someone was standing there. Footsteps were heard in the gravel behind this guide, and in one unfortunate incident, some unseen force seemed to have grabbed the neck of this unfortunate employee and slammed her head down on the table!

The most haunted area, however, seems to be the bathhouses, located on the lower level with guests rooms above it.  Stall doors would unlock and fly open, this employee would be poked while showering, and footsteps and movement could be heard upstairs, even when no one was staying in the rooms above.  It's anyone's guess as to who or what is responsible for the strange activity experienced in the area, but many believe that the root cause of the paranormal activity could be because of the Native American influence of the area, especially the disturbance of a burial ground.

Goldenseal Magazine: Fall 2008
Yokum's Vacationland Website
The Legend of Princess Snowbird

Monday, May 18, 2015

Louisville's Rose Bowl Lanes and the Ghost of Amy

All of the information regarding the hauntings of this establishment are from Robert Parker's awesome book, Haunted Louisville 2: Beyond Downtown

The Rose Bowl bowling alley in Louisville is an older, yet quaint little spot to spend some family time on the lanes, or some grown-up time in the on-site bar.  While many of the online reviews mention its a little shabby, perhaps a tad outdated...many counterbalance those claims that its a great value for what it is and it surely evokes a sense of nostalgia for many.  For me, the fact that its known to be haunted is enough for me!

Staff call the resident ghost 'Amy,' and believe that she was an equestrienne who was killed by falling off her horse way back in the first half of the 20th century when the area was all farmland...way before even Father Mahoney purchased the property for use with his Boys' Haven, a home for orphaned boys.

Amy is said to make herself known through a number of different ghostly phenomena, such as giving one waitress a hard time by undoing all her hard work getting the tables ready for the next day.  Amy is also blamed for equipment malfunctions, lights turning themselves on and off, and the sounds of machines running well after all power has been shut off for the night.  A few times, Amy has made her presence known visually.  A young employee working the snack bar witnessed a dark shadow walk by a doorway, followed by the sounds of someone opening the walk-in cooler.  A female employee stated that she's also seen Amy a few times, always in the bar area, and always out of the corner of her eye.  Unfortunately, she disappears before a good description of her can be assessed.

If you'd like to learn more about Amy, definitely check out Parker's book, but if you're in the area, take an evening trip down to the lanes.  Come for the ghost stories, but stay for a quick, affordable game in a cozy, haunted bowling alley!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Utah's Haunted Train Depot

Welcome to another installment of Haunted America!  Utah isn't generally known on a national level for its ghosts, but there are still plenty of wonderful legends and hauntings to go around...such as these stories from the Denver and Rio Grande Western Train Depot, located in Salt Lake City.

Commonly referred to as just the Rio Grande Train Depot, construction for this depot was completed in 1910 by architect Henry Schlacks, and for many years, was the main rail line in and out of Salt Lake City.  In fact, it is noted that many celebrities came through this station, as well as scores of LDS missionaries, and even more soldiers on their way to and from Fort Douglas during WWI and WWII.  However, as personal automobiles replaced the train as the preferred method of travel, the station's usefulness steadily declined.  It did act as the area's Amtrak station from 1986 through 1999, but even then, its career as a train depot was nearly at an end.  The building was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and was purchased by the state two years later.

In 1981, the Utah State Historical Society moved into the building and to this day, the old depot houses its many offices and facilities.  It also houses a couple of ghost stories!

Since the 1940s, sightings of what has been dubbed the Purple Lady have been reported at the depot, most often near the current cafe and mezzanine areas.  Legend tells that this lady was accompanying her fiance to the depot to see him off during his enlistment in either the First or Second World War.  The two allegedly got into an argument, breaking off their engagement, and a ring was flung or fell onto the tracks.  As the young lady went to retrieve the ring, she was struck and killed by an incoming train.

The most detailed sighting of the Purple Lady was recorded in 1992 by a staff member with the Utah State Historical Society.  While in the women's restroom near the cafe, she noticed a woman with black hair, wearing a purple sequined dress, sitting on the couch in the lounge area.  The woman apparently appeared very angry, and ran out of the bathroom before disappearing from view.  Her footsteps have also been reported throughout the northern section of the building.

The Purple Lady is not alone, however.  Another ghost is reported as being a man who was killed during the construction of a nearby train tunnel.  While it is not usually noted how this particular ghost makes its presence known, he is dubbed the Tunnel Ghost. 

All Aboard!  Rio Grande Depot Turns 100 This Year!
Prairie Ghosts

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Movie Roundup

With my boyfriend being out of town this week, I've had plenty of time to catch up on some spooky movies!  All of these are available through Netflix streaming.  Let me know if you've seen any of these and what you thought of them! Oh, and if none of these films are doing it for ya, iHorror has compiled a list of the best, most underrated horror films on Netflix right now!

1. Nightbreed (1990)---What a weird movie. In this tale, a young man is haunted by dreams of a place where monsters are forgiven; a place called Midian. He finds out the hard way that Midian is a real place, and he must accept his role in its very existence. Apparently this wasn't originally well-received, but over the years it gained somewhat of a cult following, and then a director's cut was released which made it a little more bearable.  I liked it, though!  It was unique, if not a little predictable, and one of those movies where you ultimately decide that the bad guys aren't necessarily who you think they should be.  It was a nice little story, with some comedy thrown in, and I appreciate the folklore behind the short story on which its based.  It's not the best film I've ever seen, but it was entertaining enough for a night in by myself.

2. Tales From the Darkside: The Movie (1990)---In order to prevent being cooked and eaten by a crazy Deborah Harry, a young boy relates three different spooky tales in this anthology series.  I've seen parts of this one before, but realized I've never seen the whole movie from start to finish. You've got three of two of revenge (in a way) and one love story, all with rather creepy endings.  Again, not the best thing ever, but an enjoyable way to kill some time with an array of famous actors!

3. The Houses October Built (2014)---I'm not big on found footage movies, but I really did enjoy this one! Five friends rent an RV and take a road trip in search of the spookiest haunted house attraction they can find.  Things get progressively weirder until they find what they're searching for...and much more.  I love Halloween and everything to do with Halloween, so the concept, with its mock-documentary style was really quite interesting...and will definitely make me re-think hitting up the haunted houses this coming October, lol.  The best part of the movie, however, was that it opened with a vintage commercial for the tri-state's own Camden Park's haunted house ride!

4. Black Sabbath (1964)---I absolutely adore my vintage horror, but this anthology was somewhat of a miss for me.  The first story, which involved a nurse being haunted by the ghost of an elderly woman, was one of the freakiest things I've ever seen, but the second two stories were just sort of blah for me.  I quickly lost interest and only half-heartedly watched while occupied with other things.  It did have Boris Karloff in it, which made it all worthwhile, though.  I'd definitely recommend this for the lovers of the classic horror tales.

5. The Babadook (2014)---I've heard a lot of people talking about this one for awhile now, so I decided it was time I watched it for myself.  I wasn't disappointed; in fact, this was probably my favorite movie watched this week.  I loved how even though the monster was pretty darn spooky, this film relied more on psychological horror than in-your-face blood and gore.  The symbolism for what the monster represented is also quite interesting.  As an interesting side note:  At one point, the mother in the film is staying up late watching television...and the movie Black Sabbath that I also watched this week is playing!

*Looking for another reason to LOVE horror flicks all-year round?  Read my article on Cinematic Research!*

Friday, May 15, 2015

Seven Lives to Go?

It's been awhile since I've really done a Friday Night Funny post! I'm not ready to make it a weekly thing, but I can't help sharing some paranormal humor once in awhile, especially when its this freakin' adorable!  There has been a lot of negativity as of late in the paranormal community and even in the world as a whole.  I've actually left several Facebook groups this month alone because I've been so sick of seeing people fight over silly things, letting their egos get in the way, and backstabbing the crud out of others in the community. General d-baggery is at an all-time high and its hurting the integrity of paranormal study.

Sometimes we all need to just take a deep breath and chill out with some precious lil' kitty pictures!  The paranormal community is filled with wonderful, caring people who will overcome this short period of negativity with no problem, though. Unlike this little guy, we've only got one life---live it to its fullest and make it count!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Paranormal Challenges 2015

Hey everyone!  I had enough responses on Facebook to go through with piecing together some type of monthly Paranormal Challenge!  If you missed that post, the basic idea is this:  Each month I'll post a different challenge and an example of how I completed that task.  If you choose to participate, you have an entire month to complete the challenge, then post your results, thoughts, etc. in the appropriate Facebook thread. 

These challenges are meant to be short, fun activities designed to get us thinking about and researching the paranormal investigation field.  They are meant to help us practice our investigation skills and hopefully become better investigators, no matter what our current level of expertise. 

Throughout the month, I'll be posting  articles and information that will be related to the challenge and perhaps will give you some inspiration and some ideas on how to complete it. This information will also help explain why this particular topic and challenge are important to paranormal research. You won't need any special equipment or skills to complete these challenges, and there really won't be too many (if ANY) set rules---do as many of the challenges as you like and complete them anyway you see fit---creative thinking is another vital skill for investigators, after all.  I'll be posting more information about each challenge, both here and on Facebook each month and if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas for future challenges, please let me know. 

As of right now, there are no prizes, but if we get enough people interested I'll definitely see what I can do about sending out some small gifts, or at least certificates saying you've completed the challenges! Here's a quick run-down of the challenges I've come up with---subject to change.

Paranormal Challenges 2015/2016:

June:  Observational Listening
For this first exercise, I'm going to have you sit and observe for a set length of time, probably somewhere between 5-10 minutes.  I want you to simply LISTEN. Write down EVERY little sound you hear! This exercise is designed to help you practice your observational listening skills, identify background sounds, and practice documenting, all skills used during EVP sessions.  More info to come!

July:  Make Your Own Ghost Photo
Use whatever means you want to 'create' your own ghost photo, then let us know how you did it! This challenge is to share our knowledge about the many, many false positives and downright hoaxes that can be mistaken for a paranormal photo.  Feel free to use apps, Photoshop, long exposure times, etc. If you don't have access to camera equipment, feel free to find and post an example you've found online---just be sure to give credit where credit is due!

August: Preserving the Past
This month I want you to interview someone, preferably older than you, about a paranormal experience they had, or their thoughts about a local haunted location.  If you'd like, you can videotape or audio record the interview.  Throughout the month, I'll be posting a few interview questions that you might want to use. This challenge isn't meant to analyze or debunk these claims, but rather to practice interviewing skills, finding the right questions to ask during the interview, and of course, preserving oral history for future generations.

September: Investigation Critique
Pick a documentary or television show that features a paranormal investigation team or individual investigators investigating a haunting.  Write THREE positives about what you're seeing.  Now write THREE things you would have changed or done differently. Only constructive criticism, please.

October:  Field Trip Time!
I know October is a VERY, VERY busy month for many in the paranormal community, but if you get the chance, I want to use this month to do a little field trip. I want you to visit your local historical society, genealogy library, state archives, county courthouse, etc....any place where historical research can be conducted.  You don't actually have to research anything if you don't want...but I want you to be able to locate your local sources for historical information and familiarize yourself with the resources available therein.  If you are unable to get out to complete this task, see if you can find any completely awesome sources for information ONLINE.

November: Get Educated!
There are a LOT of FREE courses/classes out there that can be of benefit to the paranormal investigator, both in your community and online.  I want you to find and share at least one course that you personally feel is of value.  Some places to look might be edX, Coursera, Open2Study, etc.  Bonus points if you actually sign up and take the course!

December: Random Acts of Paranormal Kindness
December is a time where people start becoming really aware and interested in community service and helping those less fortunate.  I'll be posting some ideas how you as an individual, as a family, or as a team can add a paranormal twist to your community service, be it on a large scale, or simply through small, everyday things you can do to brighten someone's day. 

January: Paranormal Book Club
I want you to read ANY non-fiction book of your choosing dealing with some aspect of the paranormal or paranormal research.  Give us a brief synopsis of the book and whether or not you recommend it.  If possible, try to get some of your friends/colleagues to read the same book and organize some type of book club-type discussion.

February: Ghost Apps
There are a lot of different apps out there geared toward the paranormal investigator...many of which, unfortunately are actually 'for entertainment use only.' But, there are some decent apps that a paranormal researcher may find useful.  Find and research at least one paranormal-related app.  Feel free to download it and try it out for yourself, especially if its FREE!  Let us know what you find out---could it be potentially useful in paranormal investigation, or is it simply a toy?

*Again, there will be more information about each of these topics when they're presented at the beginning of each month.  Hopefully after the first one is posted and everyone gets a feel for how the setup will go, it'll make more sense and go smoothly.  I can't wait to see what everyone comes up with for these projects! Thank you so much to everyone who has expressed an interest!*