Shain Erin: A Master of Dolls

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.

Shain Erin

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.

Shain Erin

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.

Shain Erin

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.

Click here to see more of Shain Erins dolls.

Shain Erin

The Paris Zombie Walk of 2010

Zombie Walk Paris 2010

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.

You can view the rest of Rasoloarison’s zombie walk photographs here.

Zombie Walk Paris 2010
Zombie Walk Paris 2010
Zombie Walk Paris 2010
Zombie Walk Paris 2010
Zombie Walk Paris 2010
Zombie Walk Paris 2010

The Winchester Mansion: The Legend of the Winchester Family

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.

Winchester Mansion.
The Winchester Mansion.

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.

Winchester Mansion
A view from inside the Winchester Mansion.

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.

Winchester Mansion
A staircase that leads to nowhere.
Winchester Mansion
A staircase inside another staircase.

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.

The Amityville Horror: A Debatably True Story

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.

Amityville house
The infamous Amityville house, as seen today.

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.



Amityville cover
Published in 1977, The Amityville Horror: A True Story details the events that plagued the Lutz family.

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 H.P. Lovecraft The Master of Cthulhu

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.

H.P. Lovecraft, circa 1934.

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.

An artistic representation of Cthulhu.

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.

H.P. Lovecraft’s gravestone, which can be found in the Swan Point cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island School for the Feeble Minded

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.

Ladd School
Ladd Center.

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.

Ladd School
The Ladd Center, after years of degradation, looting, and squatting.

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.

Ladd School
An X-ray table.

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:

Ghost Towns from Around the World: Friday San Zhi, Taiwan, and Katoli World, Taiwan

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

San Zhi
San Zhi.

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.

San Zhi
More San Zhi UFO houses.

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.

San Zhi
View from inside a San Zhi UFO house.

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
Katoli World entrance.

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
Katoli World roller coaster.

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.

Katoli World
You can almost hear the joy.

Ghost Towns from Around the World: Thursday – Prypiat, Ukraine

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.

Prypiat, with Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the background.

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.

Panoramic view of Prypiat.

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.

Prypiat carousel, which can be seen in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

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.”

Chernobyl Radiation
Map of Chernobyl radiation. The red areas were hit the hardest with radioactive fallout.

Ghost Towns from Around the World: Wednesday Hashima Island

Departing from the hellish fires of yesterday, we travel across the globe and out into the ocean to visit Hashima Island, one of the only known ghost islands.

Between 1887 and 1974, the island was a coal mining facility. Most of the coal was mined from undersea deposits, making the work extremely dangerous. Plus, its an island out at sea. Those concrete walls aren’t there for style they’re typhoon barriers. This was extremely dangerous work.

Hashima Island
Hashima Island.

During the industrialization of Japan, the demand for coal exploded, resulting in a massive influx of workers to Hashima Island. In 1916, the population had grown so large that apartments were built to help the growing amount of workers and further protect from typhoon damage. But, as time continued, the workers kept coming by the hundreds.

Hashima Island
Hashima Island apartments.

In 1959, the 15-acre island was populated by 5,259 people. If you do the math, that comes out to a density of around 216,264 people per square mile. To give you a comparison, in the year 2000, New York City contained 26,402 people per square mile. Hashima Island was a crowded, harsh environment, even more so than New York City, and that’s saying something.

When petroleum became huge in the 1960s, the coal mines started shutting down and the workers lost their jobs. Since coal mining was the only draw to Hashima Island, literally everyone left. These days, there is not a single person on Hashima Island, and it is extremely difficult to gain access to the island. Even the rare few that have gained access do so at their own risk, because the buildings have felt the harsh realities of time and decay.

Hashima Island
Hashima Island, as you would see it today.

As a parting note, Hashima Island was given the nickname Gunkanjima. If you translate this to English, it means Battleship Island. Go take a look at the first picture again. Uncanny, right?

Ghost Towns from Around the World: Tuesday Centralia, Pennsylvania

So, yesterday we saw what happened when a whole town was left to be consumed by the harsh desert. Today, though, we are traveling a little closer to home Centralia, Pennsylvania, a ghost town that may be a little more comparable to hell on Earth.

Centralia is a borough located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Since 1981, its population has dwindled from over 1,000 to its current number of seven. (The fact that even seven people still live there is baffling.) If you take a minute to look on any recently published maps, Centralia isn’t there it has been wiped away from geographic recordings of history. Even with the few people that live there, Centralia is a ghost town.

Centralia fire.
Why anyone would remain here, I have no clue.

Here’s the story of Centralia:

In 1962, some volunteer firemen were brought in to burn the towns landfill, which happened to be located on an abandoned strip mine. The strip mine was connected to a massive coal vein running near the surface. When the firemen lit the landfill on fire, they also happened to light the coal vein, causing a massive fire to burn beneath Centralia.

Centralia fire.
Seriously, stay away from Centralia.

Let me point something out though: the fire went unnoticed for seventeen years, from 1962 to 1979. Remember, coal burns very slowly, and a massive vein burns even slower. For seventeen years, the whole town was living normal lives above a gigantic coal-burning fire, unaware of the extreme danger they were in.

In 1979, a gas-station owner, and then mayor, John Coddington, tested the fuel level in his gas tanks. He noticed the fuel was hot, much too hot for normal storing conditions. He tested the temperature and found it to be at 172 degrees Fahrenheit. But, the problem did not receive massive attention until 1981, when a sinkhole that was four feet wide by 150 feet deep suddenly opened underneath the feet of a 12-year-old resident.

Centralia sinkhole.
One of the many sinkholes in Centralia.

Now, you may be thinking, Phew, glad Centralia is dealt with and that fire is out. Wrong, the fire is still burning today. There has been a massive, toxin-spewing fire burning underneath the town of Centralia for the last 49 years. And seven people still live there

Centralia, as it can be seen today.