Some people collect Halloween masks. Some people collect trading cards. Some people collect toy trains. Mark Voegel, 30, however, collected spiders, snakes, termites, reptiles, and loads of other nasty creatures. He was said to have more than 200 of these various critters contained in his Dortmund, Germany, apartment, including a black widow spider.
Unfortunately, in 2004, this specific black widow spider, which Mark named Bettina, was believed to be the culprit who dealt the deathblow to Mark. One bite and Mark swelled up like an unripe melon and he passed away in his apartment, alone.
Normally, when someone suddenly disappears for days and days, someone is bound to notice. But Mark Voegel never let anyone visit his apartment. He was dead for somewhere between seven to fourteen days before investigators received a complaint about the smell emanating from Marks apartment. When the investigators arrived, they described his apartment as a zoo and a jungle.
Somewhere during the days when Marks corpse lay in his apartment, the heating systems for his creatures tanks exploded, releasing hundreds of these creepy crawlies. Since there was no one there to feed them, they had to make due with what was available – Mark Voegels corpse, being the main source of nutrition.
A police officer on the scene said, It was like a horror movie. His corpse was over the sofa. Giant webs draped him, spiders were all over him. They were coming out of his nose and his mouth. There was everything there one could imagine in the world of reptiles. Larger pieces of flesh torn off by the lizards were scooped up and taken back to the webs of tarantulas and other bird-eating spiders.
Mark Voegel was consumed by his hobbies, literally.
First, I want to warn everyone that this article may not be safe for work (or even safe for life). Edward Gein was one of the creepiest, craziest, and most deranged individuals to have ever lived, and he is the core inspiration for countless horror characters, films, books, and plays.
Characters inspired by Edward Gein:
Norman Bates (Psycho)
Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Buffalo Bill (The Silence of the Lambs)
Who is Edward Gein?
Edward Gein was an American murderer and body snatcher. He would sneak into gravesites and exhume corpses, bringing their remains back to his humble abode. With these remains, he would fashion clothing, furniture, and other knickknacks. When investigated, Gein admitted to making as many as 40 trips to three local graveyards near his house, yet he claimed to be in a daze-like state during most of those trips.
Similarity to Norman Bates:
Similar to the character seen in Psycho, Gein had an odd fascination with corpses that resembled his mother, and he would only exhume the graves of recently buried middle-aged women.
When Geins mother died, Gein remained in the house, yet he boarded up most of the rooms used by his mother. He lived in a small room next to the kitchen.
Similarity to Leatherface:
Leatherfaces name stems from his masks crafted from human skin. When the police finally raided Geins house, they found nine masks of human skin, among other paraphernalia crafted from human remains.
In the original film depicting Leatherface, he wore three different masks, with each one representing a different personality. Edward Gein claimed that his fascination of masks fashioned from human skin came from his struggle with his sexuality and his personality.
Similarity to Buffalo Bill:
If you have seen The Silence of the Lambs, you understand the creepiness of Buffalo Bill, and you may also remember his infamous dress fashioned from human skin. Yup, that’s not just a fictionalized creation of someones morbid mind. An incomplete skin dress was found in Edward Geins house. If that doesn’t make your skin crawl, you have nerves of steel.
Dolls have always been viewed as creepy and frightful creations, even before Chucky was introduced to the world in the 1988 horror film Child’s Play. At a dolls core, it is a miniaturized representation of a human being. That alone should set off your creepy senses. Of course, there are some people out there who actually utilize dolls as their artistic outlet for all of their morbid thoughts and ideas. Shain Erin, an American surrealist and visionary, is the perfect example of one such person.
Although his dolls could be viewed as twisted and terrifying, they can also be viewed as powerful forms of art. In fact, Shain Erins dolls have been featured in galleries all around the world, including the United States, Canada, England, France, Italy, Norway, Germany, and Australia.
From Shain Erin’s website:
I am fascinated with the way that dolls can function simultaneously as contrived objects and living entities. This paradox of an object with a “soul” makes the doll a powerful tool to explore the spiritual predicament of corporeality. In my figures, the struggle to reconcile spirit and flesh is explored through various states of physical mis-creation, transformation and dissolution. This monstrous realism reflects an inner landscape of psychological and spiritual struggle with the pain and wonder of existence.
As someone who appreciates the darker side of life, Shain Erin is a breath of fresh air. Fear, death, and morbidity are parts of what it means to be human. Some people simply choose to ignore these facts, focusing instead on the lighter sides of life love, happiness, joy. However, without the sensations of fear, death, and morbidity, you could not fully appreciate life, love, and happiness. Is this what Shain Erin is trying to represent with his dolls? Maybe, maybe not, its simply my interpretation. If you have a separate understanding, I would love to hear it.
For those that have been sticking with the blog, you may remember my post detailing a zombie walk. They are massive events that span hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of people, who all dress to resemble one of the undead. From zombie makeup and torn clothing to severed limps and loads of fake blood, everyone does their best to look their worst.
In 2010, Paris held one of the best zombie walks ever recorded. (And by best, I mean best.) The attendants looked absolutely disgusting and the quality of detail that went into everyone’s costumes was astonishing. People walked around in post apocalyptic armor, with blood dripping from every orifice. Others shuffled in mobs, moaning and looking like they walked right out of a George Romero movie.
Live Rasoloarison, an artist living in Paris, was there to capture the whole thing. Even if you find the current over-saturation of zombie culture to be unbearable, you cannot deny the morbid beauty of these photos. Paris has definitely found a way to outperform every other zombie walk that has ever taken place. If America wishes to step up their zombie quality, we had better start planning now.
In 1884, Sarah Winchester began construction on the Winchester Mansion, also known as the Winchester Mystery House. The mansion was under constant construction for 38 years – stopping only due to the death of Sarah Winchester – and it is widely reported as a haunted house. During those 38 years of construction, Sarah directed all construction on a day-to-day basis, with no master plans to follow. The mansion cost $5.5 million to build, which would be the equivalent to $71 million today.
Sarah Winchester lost her daughter in 1866 to marasmus, and then she lost her husband, William Wirt Winchester, in 1881. Fearing that a curse was on her family, she sought help from a psychic medium. The psychic told Sarah Winchester that thousands of people have died because of [your husbands guns] and their spirits are now seeking deep vengeance. When Sarah asked what she should do, the psychic said to build a home for yourself and for the spirits who have fallen from this terrible weapon, too. You must never stop building the house. If you continue building, you will live forever. But if you stop, then you will die. And that’s exactly what Sarah did.
After her husbands death, Sarah Winchester inherited more than $20.5 million, and she also received 50 percent ownership of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The ownership of the company gave her an income of $1,000 per day, which would be equivalent to $22,000 today. With this money, she could easily afford the constant construction of the Winchester Mansion.
Today, there are 160 rooms, 40 bedrooms, two ballrooms (one incomplete and one complete), 44 fireplaces, 10,000 window panes, 17 chimneys, two basements, three elevators, and it stands four stories tall. It used to be seven stories tall, but an earthquake in 1906 destroyed some of the upper floors. Most of the halls, doors, and windows lead nowhere and end suddenly. There is a huge array of colors and materials throughout the house, and it took 20,500 gallons of paint to cover the whole house.
If you find yourself in San Jose, California, take a stop by the Winchester Mansion. It is open for tours and you will never see another house quite like it. Just be sure not to get too lost. There have been reports of people getting stuck in there for hours.
In December of 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz bought a house located at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. The house was purchased for what seemed to be a ridiculously low price – $80,000. The six-bedroom house had a boathouse, a swimming pool, a gambrel roof, and it was located on a canal. Overall, it was a deal that was simply too good to pass up, even when George and Kathleen Lutz learned that the previous owners, the DeFeo family, were murdered the previous November.
The Lutz family moved into the house on December 19th, 1975. It was a quick transition, since they had purchased most of the DeFeos furniture in the deal. When a friend of George Lutz learned of the DeFeo murders, the friend recommended that George have a priest bless the house. George and Kathleen contacted a local practicing priest, Father Ralph J. Pecoraro.
The priest arrived some time later and began his blessing rites. When Father Pecoraro splashed the first holy water and began to pray, he heard a masculine voice command that he get out. Father Pecoraro left the haunted house, without any mention of the incident to the Lutz family. Some days later, Father Pecoraro phoned George Lutz and told him to stay out of the room where he had heard the commanding voice. Before the conversation could continue, static cut into the call and it was dropped. Father Pecoraro developed a high fever and blisters on his hands over the next few days.
Here is an audio recording of Father Pecoraro detailing his experience in 112 Ocean Avenue:
George and Kathy Lutz lived in the house for only 28 days. During their time there, they experienced a variety of paranormal phenomena:
Swarms of flies plagued the house, despite winter weather.
Unexplainable cold spots and odors of excrement throughout the house.
Kathy Lutz felt sensations of being embraced.
George Lutz would awake and go out to the boathouse at 3:15 AM every morning. It was later learned that this was the suspected time of the DeFeo murders.
The Lutzs five-year-old daughter developed an imaginary friend named Jodie, which is suspected to be a demonic pig-like creature with glowing red eyes.
Large cloven hoofprints were seen in the snow on January 1st, 1976.
Green slime occasionally oozed from the walls of the house.
Kathy Lutz received red welts on her chest from an unseen force stopping on her.
A small room was discovered in the basement. Its walls were painted completely red, and the Lutzs dog would cower in fear whenever it approached the room.
Kathy had vivid nightmares depicting the murders of the DeFeo family.
Doors were heard slamming throughout the house, waking George from his sleep. No other family member heard or awoke to the sounds.
The Lutz family eventually attempted to bless the house, without the aid of a priest, hoping to quell the angry spirits. During the blessing, George heard a chanting of voices saying, Will you stop? The blessing did very little to negate the paranormal phenomena.
In January, after another attempt to bless the house, George and Kathy fled from the house and never returned. When asked to describe their final night at 112 Ocean Avenue, George and Kathy declined any comment and simply said that the events weretoo frightening.
Jay Anson, the author of The Amityville Horror: A True Story, based the title of his book on The Dunwich Horror, a story by H.P. Lovecraft.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft, an American novelist, was a dedicated lover of the macabre and the horrific. Dedicating his life to the art of writing, H.P. Lovecraft wrote some of the scariest, creepiest stories ever to be produced. His art of writing stories did not follow the typical Boo! scary stories, where you know why you should feel afraid. No, H.P. Lovecraft skirted fear and wielded it like a weapon showing you just enough to feel terrified, yet not enough to fully understand. This was previously unheard of, and these days it is referred to as a Lovecraftian literary tool.
In 1926, with the creation of Cthulhu, Lovecraft changed the world of horror forever. Cthulhu, a high priest to the Old Gods, is a fictional entity that first appeared in the story The Call of Cthulhu, by H.P. Lovecraft. Cthulhu is a hideous, gargantuan being that instills terror into all that come in contact with it. However, Lovecraft was infamous for never truly describing detailed events of characters directly contacting Cthulhu. Even the description of Cthulhu is based off of statues loosely depicting the ancient, gargantuan entity.
The true fear of the Cthulhu mythos stems from insanity. The more a human tries to understand Cthulhu, the faster the individual falls into madness. Lovecraft enjoyed toying with the idea of a human mental breaking point, like there was no way for a human to truly grasp the concept of Cthulhu. If you have ever read a Lovecraft story, you can see this in the writing style. Lovecraft writes in such a way that you literally feel like you are falling into madness and insanity yourself. You hear, imagine, see, and think about things differently, and it scares you. Lovecraft gets into your head and messes with the wiring, similar to the way Cthulhu invaded the minds of fictional characters and drove them far from the safety of sanity.
If we were to look at Lovecraft from a Halloween standpoint, we should observe his use of the subtle and abstract. Rather than directly attempting to scare his readers, he used atmosphere and vagueness to terrify. If you are planning to scare your visitors this Halloween, immerse them in the sensational feeling of horror, not the direct visibility of it. Utilize the surroundings to create subtle cues that cause the heart to race and the hair to stand on end. H.P. Lovecraft would be proud.
Sometime during the twentieth century, America became obsessively fascinated with studying the human mind, and institutions for the mentally and physically disabled began to pop up all over the land. This created a secondary location for individuals suffering from mental disorders. Rather than go to a psychiatric asylum, they could pursue help from a professionally staffed school dedicated to their needs.
Seeing the success of these institutions in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Rhode Island decided to build their own in the town of Exeter. The Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded, also known as The Exeter School or The Ladd Center, was founded in 1907. Originally, it was a farm colony, where its residents would work and learn.
In 1909, with the growth of the resident population, a girls-only dormitory was erected. This success led to attention from various medical groups, who criticized the school for labeling its patients as feeble minded. In 1917, the schools name was officially changed to The Exeter School.
The resident population continued to grow, yet the financial backing could not keep up. The school became overcrowded, underfunded, and the buildings began to deteriorate; however, the state continued to dump its unwanted citizens into the school, hoping they would get help, disappear, or simply cease to be a problem.
During the 1950s, rumors spread into mainstream media that The Exeter School was abusing and neglecting its students. In addition, there was one case of suspected murder brought upon the school, drawing even more attention to the institution and its students.
Somewhere in the 1960s, the facility was renamed once again to the Ladd Center after the schools first superintendent, Dr. Joseph Ladd. During this time, the school had well over 1,000 patients and no way to properly care for all of them.
Finally, in the 1970s, the school received enough attention to mark the start of its decline. Various organizations and groups rallied to have the students moved to other places that could properly care for the students and give them the attention they need.
The last student removed from the Ladd Center was on March 25th, 1994.
Here is a mini documentary covering The Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded:
Today, we are traveling to Taiwan for a doubleheader of ghost towns San Zhi and Katoli World. San Zhi, as you will soon see, is a strange and oddly experimental resort for the rich and famous, with building resembling UFO ships. Katoli World, on the other hand, was once an amusement park that brought joy to thousands, until an earthquake struck and the park was shut down for safety reasons. Regardless, lets go on a trip!
San Zhi, Taiwan
Construction on the UFO homes began in 1978. It was supposed to be a gimmicky vacation resort for U.S. military officers on leave from their Ease Asian postings. Unfortunately, the project was abandoned in 1980 due to lack of financing and several accidental deaths. After the deaths, rumors spread amongst the locals that San Zhi was haunted by the workers who died building these extremely unique homes.
As the years passed, the buildings felt the effects of nature and neglect, and no one restarted the project. Since it was originally started by the Government of Taiwan, they tried to cover up the failed attempt at bringing life to the area and eventually started demolition work in 2008. There is no current word as to whether or not the UFO houses are still standing there today. These pictures may be the closest we will ever come to experiencing San Zhi.
You can see a Google Maps view of the location here.
Katoli World, Taiwan
All week we have seen various ghost towns from around the world, but what about ghost amusement parks?
Katoli World was no Disney World, but it was the first amusement park in Taiwan to host a roller coaster. It opened in the 1980s and met with moderate success. However, on September 21st, 1999, an earthquake struck the surrounding area of Katoli World and killed thousands of people. Some of the park was destroyed during the quake and it was deemed too expensive to repair the damage, so the park was closed down and abandoned.
Katoli World, a place of imagination and youthfulness, turned into a rotting, decaying jungle of rust and disrepair. But, before you go running out to find it, there are rumors that demolition has already begun. Some sources claim that Taiwan is building another Katoli World close to the original location, hoping to bring back the joy once more.
On the 26th of April, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the town of Prypiat, sent forth a plume of radioactive fallout. The plume was birthed from an explosion that occurred in reactor number four at the Chernobyl plant. Since that explosion, some 350,400 people have been evacuated and resettled from areas around the site, which have been deemed too contaminated for human survival. With so many people leaving, it is no surprise that most of the towns have been completely abandoned. Prypiat, the closest town to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, is the subject of today’s ghost town review.
The birth and death of Prypiat stands only 16 years apart from each other 1970 to 1986. It was originally founded to house the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant workers. In 1979, with the increase of workers, Prypiat was officially named a city. Before the explosion and subsequent evacuation, some 50,000 people lived there, with expectations of housing at least 78,000. Prypiat was an extremely large city.
Since the evacuation of Prypiat, the city has been ransacked, vandalized, and turned into a pseudo tourist location. The idea of touring a radioactive ghost town may seem strange, but David C. Haines, a New York entrepreneur, runs a business dedicated solely to providing guided tours through Prypiat. The guides ensure that you are safe from any potential wild animals or thieves, and they take you through almost every building in the city. If I had the chance, you better believe I’d be there right now.
You may be surprised to learn that you may have already seen Prypiat. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, a popular video game for the Xbox360, PC, PS3, and Mac, features two extensive levels in Prypiat. Other various novels, movies, songs, and artworks have been based off of the decaying mysticism Prypiat seems to hold. Honestly, even the mere sight of pictures based in Prypiat brings a sense of dread and terror, knowing that mankind did this to itself. Today, Prypiat stands as a testament to mankind’s own faults and errors.
As a parting note, here is the official statement released to the citizens of Prypiat before the evacuation occurred:
“For the attention of the residents of Prypiat! The City Council informs you that due to the accident at Chernobyl Power Station in the city of Prypiat the radioactive conditions in the vicinity are deteriorating. The Communist Party, its officials and the armed forces are taking necessary steps to combat this. Nevertheless, with the view to keep people as safe and healthy as possible, the children being top priority, we need to temporarily evacuate the citizens in the nearest towns of Kiev Oblast. For these reasons, starting from April 27, 1986 2 p.m. each apartment block will be able to have a bus at its disposal, supervised by the police and the city officials. It is highly advisable to take your documents, some vital personal belongings and a certain amount of food, just in case, with you. The senior executives of public and industrial facilities of the city has decided on the list of employees needed to stay in Prypiat to maintain these facilities in a good working order. All the houses will be guarded by the police during the evacuation period. Tovarishchs, (Comrades) leaving your residences temporarily please make sure you have turned the lights, electrical equipment and water off and shut the windows. Please keep calm and orderly in the process of this short-term evacuation.”