The most fun place to spend Halloween used to be Bangor Maine. Stephen and Tabitha King would personally hand out candy at their famous bat wing wrought iron gate. Ever since that obsessive fan broke in and scared Tabitha you have to rely on a native (like me) to show you actual locations from King’s books because the Kings all hide on Halloween now. Then there’s New Orleans, they have that other famous horror writer who’s not as good (Sorry Anne Rice fans I’m hopelessly biased for the local boy) and for some reason Wilmington, North Carolina has decided they’re one of the most haunted cities in the world too.
So the Kings are in hiding, you hate sparkle vampires and you suspect Wilmington has a Leslie Knope who thought up the whole haunted Wilmington thing. Where are you going to go if you want a vacation with that Halloween flair?
Of course we have some suggestions
Cenote Sagrado, Yucatan, Mexico.
Cenotes are basically natures swimming holes. It’s getting chilly at home what better vacation to take than swimming in sunny Mexcio? That’s basically what the Mayans thought too. Called by some the Gates of Hell there are the remains of hundreds of people at the bottom of these pools. They were sacrificed to Chaak, the rain god. Some sacrifices had their hearts cut out but others were tossed in and watched to see if they’d drown. If they did survive they became sacred couriers. We’re not sure how this Monty Python logic worked but you know that beautiful clear blue tone to the water? So many people were chunked into the water here that there’s a 14 foot thick layer of the brilliant blue dye that coated the sacrifices. It’s called Maya Blue and it’s been studied for years due to the pigment’s staying vivid for centuries without fading.
Stull Cemetery, Kansas
Wilmington might have Leslie Knope but Stull has the force of actual urban legends behind it. Stull is the charming kind of place where a farmer burnt one of his fields only to find the charred body of his son after the field was cleared. Where it gets weird is people have decided that one of the gates to hell is hidden in the run down town cemetery. The steps are nearly impossible to find (There are actually steps) and if you know how to work the hidden seal the gate can be opened on Halloween and the Spring Equinox.
Unlike Wilmington where Leslie Knope wants you to look at all the spooking the cops patrol Stull Cemetery heavily. It’s almost impossible not to get picked up on Halloween and the fine is a hefty $1,000 dollars. Pope John Paul II refused to allow his plane to even fly over this unholy speed trap for fear the local Smokies would ticket him.
Mount Everest, Nepal
Actually climbing Mount Everest isn’t that hard. It’s a lot like being on a Stairmaster for a really long time. The thing is once you get past the 26,000-foot mark you’re in the death zone where there’s so little oxygen that the human body struggles just to take a breath. Some people just stop due to exhaustion and freeze in place. To date 240 climbers have died trying to make the summit and it’s so high up that they’re mostly still up on the mountain. There is a spot on the mountain called Rainbow Valley because of the many mummified corpses still clad in bright colored climbing gear.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
In 1975 this former high school was converted to Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge. It was a facility used to torture and murder prisoners. An estimated 17,000 victims died in this death machine. Only 12 people are known to have survived. Mostly Cambodians were victims but there were Americans, French, A New Zealander, Australians, Arabs, Indians, Pakistani’s and Vietnamese killed here too. No fictional horror movie could ever hope to match what went on at Tuol Sleng.
There were only ten rules.
- You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many many lashes of electric wire.
10.If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.
Island of the Dolls, Mexico City
After he discovered the body of a dead girl in a nearby canal Julian Santana Barrera began collecting discarded dolls and doll parts which he hung from the trees on his island. Mr. Barerera died in 2001 but his exquisitely creepy creation can still be visited by boat .
San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge holds the dubious distinction of the most popular place in the world for suicides. The runner up is the forest at the base of Mount Fuji. Aokigahara has a historical association with demons in Japanese mythology and an eerie silence makes it a disquieting place. The trees are so dense hikers who participate in the annual body hunt are advised to use plastic tape to mark their route and avoid getting lost.
The Overtoun Bridge, Scotland
Nobody knows why but since the 1950’s dozens of dogs have leapt from the arched bridge at the entrance to Overtoun House, a 19th-century estate in West Dunbartonshire. It’s speculated that the strong smell of mink urine in the undergrowth beneath the bridge has been luring dogs to their death. This theory doesn’t take into account why dogs only started jumping in the 1950’s when the bridge was built in 1895 by Calvinist Lord Overtoun. Dogs jump from the bridge to the waterfalls fifty feet below at the rate of one every month and the dogs seem to favor the same spot, between the final two parapets on the right-hand side of the bridge.
Buckout Road, Westchester, New York
Buckout Road was a big place to party for Westchester teens in the seventies. The road was dark, curvy and unpopulated until developers put hundreds of homes in the area. The developers said that the urban legends surrounding Buckout Road were just stories thought up by stoned kids who wanted to keep the area unpopulated. In a twist straight out of Poltergeist it turns out that there are several unmarked grave yards on the road and the Buckout and Foster Burial Ground had been vandalized and never repaired during the construction spree. In another twist again out of Poltergeist Buckout Road is sacred to Native Americans. They thought a mystical being called the Great White Deer appeared in the area during the full moon that could grant good fortune to those who know to look for him. Those who are less fortunate will encounter the Leatherman. His ghost haunts the woods without mouth or jaw those parts being eaten by cancer before his death. There’s also a house that was torn down in 2009 because so many people honked their horn three times out front to see if the Albino Cannibals would come out.
Stanley Hotel, Colorado, USA
Our boss here at Superficial Gallery Acadia Einstein keeps on trying to get us to do a Teamwork Workshop at the Stanley Hotel. He keeps on saying: “It’s only a movie.” But the Stanley Hotel situated high in the Colorado Rockies was already haunted before Stephen King stayed there in room 217 and was inspired to write The Shining. It’s actually room 418 that is haunted by the ghost of Lord Dunraven but guests and staff report hearing children playing in the corridors late at night and piano music coming from the empty ballroom.