For the last year I’ve been putting together this list for the “See You on the Other Side” podcast community. We usually pick a movie of the month to watch and then discuss during the monthly hangout. I realize that this might be something fun for people beyond that community to see as well. As someone who has a background in filmmaking and the paranormal, I really love seeing how different elements are depicted on screen (for good and for bad). That said, definitely check out the See You on the Other Side podcast Patreon community here: https://www.patreon.com/sunspotmusic
If there’s a title I missed, please just drop me a line or comment and I’ll update. I’m sure we’ll also fine tune how things will be displayed going forward.
Dec 1 30 Days of Night (2007) – Netflix – Vampires Anaconda (1997) – Amazon – Creature Feature Angels & Demons (2009) – Netflix, Hulu & Amazon – Illuminati & secret societies Annabelle: Creation – HBO – Possessed doll The Da Vinci Code (2006) – Netflix – Illuminati & secret societies Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) – Hulu E.T. (1982) – Netflix – Hey, it’s still an alien encounter story! The Fifth Element (1997) – Hulu Harry and the Hendersons – HBO – Cryptid family fun Hot Fuzz – HBO – Secret Societies Monster House (2006) – Netflix – Animated, can a house be possessed? Misery – HBO – Stephen King Priest (2011) – Amazon – Action, Vampire Shaun of the Dead – HBO – zombies
Dec 2 Alien Worlds (2020) – Netflix – documentary, conceptualizes what alien life might be like on other planets
Dec 16 The Ripper (2020) – Netflix – documentary, true crime. No, not Jack the Ripper. This true crime doc is much more recent and the killer far more prolific than the original ripper murders.
Dec 23 The Midnight Sky (2020) – Netflix – Sci-Fi, searching for a new earth once we’ve destroyed our own.
Dec 31 The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Season 4 (2020) – Netflix – witchcraft
Leaving…. Last chance to see these:
Dec 1 Children of the Corn (2009) – Amazon – cults, Stephen King The Exorcist III (1990) – Amazon Fright Night (1985) – Amazon – Vampires I, Frankenstein (2014) – Amazon Twilight (all films) – Amazon Secret Window (2004) – Amazon – Stephen King Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) – Amazon Underworld (all films) – Amazon
Dec 4 Cabin Fever (2016) – Netflix
Dec 8 The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Dec 10 Lights Out – HBO – Ghosts
Dec 30 Dexter, Seasons 1-8 – Netflix
Dec 31 30 Days of Night (2007) – Hulu – Vampires Aeon Flux (2005) – Hulu Alien Nation (1988) – Hulu Back to the Future 1, 2, & 3 – Netflix Cape Fear (1991) – Netflix Casper (1995) – Netflix Coneheads (1993) – Netflix Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) – Hulu The Hitcher (1986) – HBO – Maniac House Of 1000 Corpses (2003) – Hulu Interview With the Vampire (1994) – Hulu Nurse 3D (2013) – Hulu – Dystopian murder Piranha (1878) – HBO – Creature feature Poltergeist (1982) – Netflix – ghosts (I really want to make an episode of “A Ghost Hunter Watches” for this film) Session 9 (2001) – Netflix – ghosts, insane asylum Splice (2009) – Netflix – genetically created creatures The Witches (1990) – Netflix
One of the things I love most about ghost stories is that they are a way to unite people. When I was just starting out in the late ‘90s, I would frequently come across the stat that about 1/3 of Americans believed in ghosts. It wasn’t long before I was going from library to school to whoever wanted to book someone to tell stories, giving speeches. For a while I’d start my speech by asking my audience, “Who here believes in ghosts?” I found it amazing that even here, an event about ghost stories, that ratio remained: only about 1/3 of the audience believed in ghosts. I ended up finding comfort in that. Whether you’re a believer or not, everyone likes to hear a good story.
I should take this moment to mention that, inspired by Amelia Cotter’s weekly storytelling sessions at the beginning of quarantine, I started telling ghost stories every Wednesday night over at Facebook.com/WhatsYourGhostStory. In addition to telling themed ghost stories each episode, I also have a question of the week for the audience, which isn’t anything paranormal and more importantly, it’s never anything political. One of my big goals in life lately is to remind people that we all share in a million human experiences and that we’re far more alike than we are different. Loving ghost stories? That’s almost universally a human experience. Almost.
That said, not every occasion of telling a ghost story to a non-believer has gone smoothly. Though extremely rare, sometimes a skeptical listener actually is there with ill-intent. In all cases, there was a little lesson to learn. So, I’m going to share with you a couple of my own ghost stories, how certain people attempted to get in the way of each story, and, hopefully my pain can be your gain if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
Paranormal Investigation at the Tribune Tower and the Party Pooper When you’ve spent the majority of your life visiting haunted places, you tend to get invited to parties as the unofficial (unpaid) entertainment. At one party, the hostess was an avid fan of ghost stories. During a lull in conversation, I was asked to talk about a recent adventure I’ve had. The timing was good because I had just had the unreal experience of having the run of one of Chicago’s most iconic skyscrapers – the Tribune Tower. You can view the edited video of our investigation here:
The Chicago-area stand-up comic Patti Vasquez has long been a good friend of mine and when she got her own show on WGN Radio, we found more ways to have adventures together. She’d usually have me on her show around Halloween where I’d tell stories and take calls for an hour. One time, she lined it up so we could investigate the building her late night show wrapped for the evening. It was around 2am once her show wrapped.
Located right in the heart of Chicago on Michigan Avenue, we began our paranormal search in the “showcase studio.” It’s a “Today Show”– style street-level studio with big wraparound plate glass windows. The production team had recently lost one of their crewmembers to a heart attack and still wondered if famed broadcaster Bob Collins, who died years earlier in a plane crash, might be in hanging around after death in this space. The studio seemed very peaceful, still and quiet, so we eventually moved on to other parts of the building. There is a meeting room, which is where Chicago Tribune reporters would take important interview subjects to conduct their hard–hitting pieces. According to the team, this is the room where many a big name was brought to their knees, their corrupt careers brought to light. This seemed to be the most active location on our night. We experienced cold spots, voices that came over the spirit box and perhaps an actual voice in the room, to go along with some small EMF hits. Based on what he heard about the room, there could be a lot of emotional energy left behind.
As another aside for what might make this location haunted, the Tribune Tower is incredibly unique in that its ground floor, inside and out, has artifacts embedded in it from around the world. There’s a piece from the Great Pyramid, a rock taken from the site of the lost colony of Roanoke, pieces of the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, Angkor Wat, Lincoln’s tomb, Notre Dame Cathedral, and, more recently, a piece of the World Trade Center Tower wreckage. There’s more than a hundred more pieces including small rock samples taken from the site where Christ was born. If you can go along with the idea that a place can hold a spiritual energy charge, the Tribune Tower has gathered energies of unique sites from all around the world to this one location.
We talked to the overnight security team to find out if they have any stories and they pointed out to locations that they did not like to patrol. One was a stairwell very high up in the building. It was exciting to view this location, because we could see very quickly that the EMF readings were extraordinarily high here due to the wiring. Hi EMF can affect our perception to the point of feeling uncomfortable or paranoid. I believe we found a practical reason to rule out that location being haunted. However, we fully understand why the security team did not want to spend more time here than they needed to.
My favorite part of the night was when the security guards took us to the floor they find the most unsettling. According to them, there was a suicide on this floor and a negative entity remains. You can actually see in the video I posted on YouTube that the security guards bring us up to this location, but before we could ask many questions, they had already abandoned us… getting out of Dodge as soon as possible! Sometimes I find human reactions to things to be some of the biggest ‘evidence’ of a haunting. I didn’t see anything paranormal, but you could see their fear and that was significant to me.
So, back to me telling this story at a party…
The woman who was sitting next to me couldn’t have been less interested in hearing it. She certainly had the option to get up and walk away and I wish that she had. However, in staying, she took it upon herself to roll her eyes and loudly scoff at every statement. She would try to put me on the spot and call me out on minor details like, “well, what floor was it?” Always striving to tell an honest story, I responded,” I don’t remember off the top of my head, but it’s in the video, which is published on YouTube, if you really want the answer.” At this, She found another opportunity for a big eye roll and a gesture around the room as if to say, ”See, I told you this was all a lie.”
First off, how does this prove anything? I could’ve said any number in response to her question, and she wouldn’t know any different. Had I confidently said a number, would that have proven to her that the story was true? Of course not. Just for the record, it’s the 24th floor.
I never take the approach of “trying to prove something” while telling a story. I simply approach it like a journalist would approach a news story. I state the facts, interview witnesses, research, and try to be clear in my descriptions. This woman’s pushback was so strong that the natural instinct for me as the storyteller was to elevate to her level of intensity in argumentative way. Fortunately, that’s not my style and I tried to be the bigger person by ignoring her and simply addressing everybody else in the room who was interested in the story. However, the heckler completely undercut everyone’s enjoyment.
Lessons to take way from the experience… For the most part, I’m happy with how I handled things, but there was still room for improvement. If you’re dealing with someone who is aggressively against you and taking an active role in belittling you, it’s good to not feed that energy. Stay true to the story you were going to tell and focus on the people are having a good time.
That said, I think I should have called out the uncomfortable situation live, as it was unfolding. “Why are you acting so mean?” I have to imagine that calling out her behavior in an innocent way would have ended the situation immediately. Hopefully I will not have a take 2 to test this option in the future.
Asking about “Orbs” / Bachelor’s Grove / Setting a Trap for the Over-Believer
When I was running the LA hauntings ghost tour company, some of my favorite experiences would be when a private group bought all out the tour for themselves. That way, I would be able to customize the tour to meet whatever interest that group had. Several years ago, when the TV show “American horror story” was new, I had a birthday party group to lead around and they wanted to stop by the main house that was the focus of season one.
Sometimes however, the worst part of being a tour guide is doing a private tour where the decision-maker of the group wants to go on a ghost tour, but no one else in the group wants to. In this case, there was a birthday girl who loves ghost stories, dragging around a dozen friends who just couldn’t wait to get to the bar. One of the friends was a very outspoken skeptic who did not hide the fact that she really didn’t want to be there.
While everyone else got out of the van to take photos of the “American Horror Story” house, She decided to stay in the van and ask me what I perceived to be a “gotcha” question. She asked me, “What do you think about orbs?”
As I’m sure you know, orbs are a very common phenomenon that appear as floating spheres in still images and video taken at haunted locations. The problem with orbs is that there are countless ways that these anomalies can appear on camera. They pop up as bugs, dust, smoke, rain, snow and even during high humidity. However, it appears as though sometimes orbs are present when an actual paranormal event happens too. Therefore, you can’t dismiss all orb images as false positives. You have to take each image or video clip on a case-by-case basis.
I believe a photo or video containing an orb is not evidence in and of itself, but if that moment is captured while something else significant is going on, like an EMF detector going off or even a personal observation of feeling watched at the same time an orb appears on camera, then that orb image has significance to me.
I conveyed this while also telling the story where my cousin and my mom were visiting the famously haunted Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in Midlothian, Illinois. One point, they thought they felt a cold spot but didn’t want to leap to any conclusions, so they found me to report this. Buy sheer luck and coincidence, someone took a photo of them as they were walking away from that cold spot. When the film was developed you could very plainly see an orb was floating in the air behind them – right where they thought they felt that cold spot! To me, this is one of the most outstanding orb photos I’ve ever seen, because it’s paired with personal observations of two people.
This is not an uncommon question to have to address, so I am fairly well rehearsed with this response. I feel that it’s level-headed and practical. I realize any response that gives credibility to orb images will not jive well with a skeptic, but at least this response doesn’t come off as someone who is overreacting to every little thing.
In my years running this tour company I had only gotten one negative review ever. And that review came from this person. To my total surprise the review stated that I didn’t give enough credibility to orbs as paranormal phenomena!
Lessons to take way from the experience… I think the biggest lesson to learn here for me was to not pre-and judge someone’s motivations based on knowing very little about them. I knew this person was a skeptic and was fairly confrontational in her tone and body language, but taking the mindset that she would be “out to get me” was not helpful. Just because someone claims to be a skeptic, doesn’t mean they’re a nonbeliever in everything. Maybe this person was actually interested in and excited about orbs, but I leaned too hard on playing it safe.
Also, I wouldn’t change anything about the content of my message, since I spoke my mind to what I truly believe. However, I was likely not confident in my tone and my language, as I may have been trying to hard to play it too safe.
I always believe it’s great to ask people, “What do you think?” But I don’t believe I did that here. Who knows, it could have led to a pretty interesting conversation. As paranormal investigators, we go out of our way to try to listen to any communication for a deceased person we hope is in the room with us, however, it’s good to extend that common courtesy to the flesh and blood people we’re actually conversing with!
Intense Gettysburg Hauntings & the Intensely Absurd Skeptic
One of my favorite stories to tell when people ask me about a real ghost story I’ve experienced centers on my first ever visit to the Gettysburg Battlefield on my birthday in 2012. I always point out that it was my birthday to show that this event happened in December, and not a high tourist season, a time when a reenactment would be likely, or even on the anniversary of any of the fighting, which took place over July 1-3, 1863.
If you haven’t been, the Gettysburg battlefield is an absolutely must-visit location for every American. The three day battle was the bloodiest engagement of the Civil War and ended up being a turning point in favor of the Union’s eventual victory.
Today, you can go to the visitor center and purchase a guided tour on CD to listen to as you spend the entire day driving around the different significant locations throughout the battlefield. Yep, this is how I spend birthday!
Near the end of the day we found ourselves at the sight of “Pickett’s Charge.” This was effectively the site of the Confederate’s last ditch effort to breakthrough Union lines, led by Maj. Gen. George Pickett and two other generals under Robert E Lee’s command. 12,500 Confederate soldiers charged across three-quarters of a mile of open fields, forcing Union forces back behind a small stone wall. It was this stone wall, poetically, built by slaves, that allowed Union soldiers to repel the Confederate advance. This area is known as the “high watermark” of the Confederacy during the Civil War. The Confederacy never got any further north than this location.
I was here with a group of five people, but by the time we got to this later stop on the tour only one person still wanted to get out and look around with me. After taking our time to breathe in the history of the area, we paused for one last moment of silence before heading back to the car. That silence was broken by the unmistakable sound of three cannons firing, One shot after the next, in the distance! Of course I was standing there with a video camera in my hand… On pause.
I began rolling after the fact, but nothing but silence followed. At first. After a very long beat we again decided to return to the car, except I continued to roll on my camera just in case. Soon, the booms of distant cannon fire filled the air again. Quickly, it was joined by the lighter ‘pop’ sounds of gunfire. The amount of artillery fire built and built until you could not hear individual sounds anymore… It was just a cacophony of noise.
Fortunately, the location of where the sound was coming from, was where we had to just come from. So, we knew there were no events or reenactments going on in that location. Also, it was late in the day on a drizzly, cold December, so there were really no tourist events happening anywhere while we were in town.
When we got back in the car and hit ‘play’ on our guided audio tour, we were amazed to find out that the origin of the fighting at Pickett’s Charge began in same same location we heard the canon and gunfire sounds. It was also the largest barrage of artillery fire the world had ever seen up to that point… and we were able to witness what it sounded like!
I was recently at a family function and a family friend was excited to talk to me about ghost stories. This is one my favorite stories to tell because it is so amazing and in truth, maybe the most exciting event I ever witnessed.
Upon telling the story, a third wheel (of course) rolled up and threw a lot of “what if” scenarios my way. “Are you sure there weren’t speakers underground?” “Maybe they were speakers hidden inside of trees.” “You can’t be sure that the monuments around Gettysburg aren’t rigged with some sort of electronic devices.”
These are all claims or questions that I could not dismiss out of hand, because, I admit, I didn’t take metal detectors to the trees and I didn’t use ground penetrating radar to look under the surface of the battlefield on a hunt for speakers. However, I tend to enjoy when skeptic takes this approach. When their “explanations” are this far-fetched, they actually make a supernatural answer seem grounded and logical.
Lessons to take way from the experience… While I am never out to “prove” anything, it’s not uncommon for a skeptical person to try to prove my story false. This this actually works in the storyteller’s favor, as I have the lone advantage of being the person in the conversation who actually observed the event, while they are throwing ‘Hail Marys’ from the sidelines. And, in this case, there’s video to confirm my observations. Meanwhile, the naysayer has to grasp at increasingly outlandish leaps of logic to try to cast doubt on the event.
It is the nature of having a paranormal experience. With or without evidence, every element of a paranormal story will always be left up to interpretation. I’m always impressed by how Travis Walton, the famed Alien abductee, whose story inspired the movie “Fire in the Sky,” recounts his experience. He doesn’t know if it was aliens, or the government, or something else altogether. He just knows his scattered memories and results of numerous investigations into his story, but he doesn’t try to assign any more meaning to it than that. A “just the facts, not the conclusion” approach.
It’s important to stay centered, remembering that you are just telling a story, not trying to win an argument, which can keep everyone on civil footing. I think even skeptics will give you the benefit of the doubt, believing that you are being honest if you aren’t pushing too hard with an air of trying to prove a point. They may think you are mistaken, but they won’t think you’re lying. Small victories.
Before jumping into one of my favorite personal ghost stories I’ve experienced, I want to point out that one of my very best friends is an atheist. He doesn’t believe in anything spiritual and, by extension, doesn’t believe that ghost stories are fact-based. To keep the friendship going, we pretty much just avoid the topic. However, we were recently around a bonfire and the whiskey was flowing, so we decided to get into it.
To my surprise, when we really articulated our beliefs, sure, there were some differences, but they were much smaller then I expected. Mind you, I have also come into contact with skeptics who believe that everyone who’s ever had any sort of paranormal experience is either 1) lying or 2) mentally unstable. Fortunately, this great friend of mine is still a great friend of mine so he does not match that type of skeptic.
I believe there are a number of different types of paranormal phenomena, coming from a number of causes. I believe many are part of earth science or biology that we just don’t understand yet, but I do believe there is a spiritual life after death element for conscious hauntings. Naturally, he does not believe in conscious hauntings, but his problem with “the paranormal” is that he doesn’t believe anything on earth is unexplainable. There may still be some mysteries on earth, but science will be able to solve them all in time.
When you look at it through that scope, we are very nearly on the same page. I doubt serious future scientific projects and university studies will ever strongly focus on investigating the paranormal, but if they did, I think science could teach us a lot. Until then, it’ll just be up to us, our investigations and our less-than-scientific toys to go out into the field and record as much data as we can observe.
The Hollywood Sign’s Tragic Tale and the Open-Minded Skeptic
Most of you may have heard the story of the failed actress who committed suicide by jumping off of the Hollywood sign, back when it still read “Hollywoodland.” There is a lot more to the story, and I always feel a sense of obligation to tell a more complete version of Peg Entwhistle’s life and death. Even the recent Netflix series “Hollywood” missed the opportunity to tell her story more fully.
Peg Entwhistle wasn’t simply an actress who couldn’t hack it in Hollywood so she killed herself. She was actually an established and successful Broadway actress on the East Coast, who inspired Bette Davis to get into acting. She decided to try to take her career to the next level and try her hand at Hollywood. At this time, actors were leaving the stage for the screen in rapid succession, to the dismay of the theater companies they were leaving behind. Trying to make that transition to the screen essentially put actors on a sort of ‘do not hire’ list within the world of theatre. There’s speculation that when Peg got her small film role, it effectively prohibited her from being able to return to her life on stage. It was movie industry or bust for her.
Also, she was going through a very messy divorce, one that got more nasty by the day and dragged on, even after the divorce was finalized.
It is true that she was cast in, and almost entirely cut out of an RKO Studios film titled “Thirteen Women.” It should be noted that Peg is still in the film while Woman #12 & #13 were cut from the film entirely (how did they not rename it to “Eleven Women”?).
One night in 1932 she left her uncle’s house on Beachwood Drive, telling him that she was going to walk down the drug store. Instead, she embarked on 4 ½ mile hike up into Griffith Park where she reached the Hollywood sign and located a workman’s ladder was propped up against the 50-foot-tall letter H.
Taking one last look down onto Hollywood, ironically with the RKO Studios Headquarters (currently the Pantages Theater) directly in front of her, she leapt to her death. Also, what’s usually not reported accurately, is that she did not die instantly. The fall was approximately 150 feet into a wooded ravine that resulted in a crushed pelvis, which left her immobilized and dying slowly.
What’s commonly observed over the last 90 years is the vision of Peg on her death march up Beachwood Drive, through Griffith Park and to the Hollywood Sign. Even people visiting the Griffith Observatory have looked along the mountain’s ridge to the Hollywood sign where they see a figure take a suicidal leap. Authorities are called, search and rescue crews arrive, but no body is ever recovered.
I told the story to a skeptical friend in Los Angeles as an example of a residual hunting. I explained that the concept isn’t that this woman is continuing to kill herself over and over again, but for whatever unknown reason, the intensity of her emotional turmoil has somehow scarred the land where this event took place. Today, countless unsuspecting bystanders are able to catch a glimpse of the replay of this event. To my surprise, my skeptical friend said, “I can see that.”
In the span of one story, this person went from being a non-believer regarding everything paranormal, to being fully open to one of the most popular types of haunting – the residual haunting.
To continue on with my own experience here, there’s a great group called GHOULA (for Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles) that conducts all sorts of paranormal meet ups throughout Southern California. Each September, on the anniversary of Peg’s suicide, they organize a hike up to the Hollywood sign. I partook in the event in 2013. While I didn’t believe there was a conscious haunting at this site, I figured, since I was heading up there anyway, I might as well bring along some ghost hunting gear!
While a number of small things happened throughout the night, there is one moment that still blows my mind. We waited for most of the group to retreat back down the mountain at sunset. All that remained was myself and three other people. By sheer coincidence, one of the members of our small group worked at Warner Bros. Studios, which is now the studio that owns the rights to “Thirteen Women.” Attempting to appeal to the driven actress, during an EVP session, I mentioned, “Our friend here works at Warner’s. It’s still a big production company doing huge pictures. Would you be interested in meeting more people that work at Warner Brothers?”
Nearly immediately I thought I heard a whisper, but could not make out any words. Upon playback of the audio you can clearly hear a feminine voice say, “Yes.” Unlike most EVP evidence, this didn’t sound like a whisper or a hard-to-make-out raspy hiss. This was clearly a voice firmly saying “yes.”
But that wasn’t all! For the next minute and a half you can hear someone slowly breathing in and out, as if their lips were nearly pressed against the microphone of the recorder. All of this is on video, and you could see that the recorder was held at about waist level in the middle of our group – no one was near the microphone. The vocal EVP and somewhat unsettling breathing was not picked up by any camera mics, just the voice recorder.
Amazingly, Peg Entwhistle’s biographer, James Zeruk Jr., who was in the process of working on a book about Peg’s life (not a paranormal book at all), reached out to me and, without solicitation, said, “that was absolutely Peg’s voice you captured.” His book, “Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign Suicide: A Biography,” was released shortly after this investigation. The investigation video can be viewed here:
Lessons to take way from the experience… While a lot of the previous “lessons” involve making the best of a bad situation or knowing how to not get mired down in someone else’s chaos, this wonderful story shows me that sometimes people might assign themselves to a specific affiliation, but actually don’t have strong convictions behind it. In fact, they are actually completely open to taking in new information and making new decisions. The lesson here for me is to remember that as much as I am open to having my mind changed and having my viewpoints challenged, there are other people out there who are still excited about learning and growing as well.
We are gonna tell some weird stories related to UFOs! In order, we’ll talk about megalithic structures near Malibu, Ireland, Arizona and Chicago airport UFO sightings, Dundee Mountain in Wisconsin, the battle of Los Angeles, the Coral Castle & a great Area 51 firsthand story.
Contents: 0:00 – Welcome 0:34 – What’s Your Most Re-Watched Movie? 3:50 – Great UFO Podcast & web site 6:04 – News Weekly Wrap-up 8:23 – Good News 11:04 – Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Seen in the Sky 12:50 – “Sky Fishing” / Joshua P. Warren 14:21 – Malibu Megaliths 18:00 – Benson’s Hideaway, Dundee, WI 25:16 – UFOs Sighted by Multiple Pilots 29:30 – Battle of Los Angeles 33:50 – Coral Castle, Homestead, FL 37:38 – Area 51 Sighting 41:00 – Skinwalker Ranch
Coral Castle, Homestead, FL (45 mins south of Miami) Edward Leedskalnin 1,000 tons of the sedimentary rock (oolite limestone) was quarried and sculpted into a variety of shapes, including slab walls, tables, chairs, a crescent moon Billy Idol at the Coral Castle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVzF2…
Robyn Davis and Ted Williams are the hosts of the Haunted Galena Tour Company (Tour Company link), and if you haven’t heard of Galena, you’re about to get a deep dive into all of the amazing history, spooky ghost stories, and how their tour company is different than most. They’re also gearing up for a fun paranormal conference that features great speakers and the opportunity to do paranormal investigations at some usually off-limits locations. Whether they’re talking about the tour or the conference (Conference link), you really get a feel for how magical this locked-in-time town is for Ted and Robyn.
And in one of our favorite ghost stories yet, Robyn and Ted tell the sad and true story of Maryanne Miller, one of Galena’s resident ghosts…and she isn’t too happy about how things ended for her (and she probably doesn’t realize things ever did end).
Let’s all take a deep breath, relax, listen to some fun stories, and we’ll make our way through 2020 successfully, smoothly, and with good health.
As for our Society, if you haven’t already, you can look for and find us on Twitter @FantasticGhosty, and we’re always sharing stories, news, and more on our Facebook page at facebook.com/FantasticStorySociety/
Remember, there are stories everywhere, you just need to look for them…and when you find them, give a little knock on our door and you may just be welcomed into The Fantastic Story Society. Click the image below to listen:
By the time we reached our final destination, the weather had turned. Soon intense lightning strikes were replaced by intense snow. Very long, dark, narrow, wooded roads finally opened up to a single lane, converted railroad bridge that leads to the remote, tiny, haunted Miscauno Island, which is located in the middle of the Menominee River on the border between Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in Pembine, WI.
This island, for better or worse, in truth and in urban legend, has a long connection to the Chicago Mafia, specifically, the West Chicago neighborhood of Cicero. In the modern era, the island, which contains a 55-room hotel and a 9-hole golf course was purchased with millions of dollars, skimmed from the Cicero town budget by then-town President Betty Loren-Maltese, herself a long “connected” individual who was married to mid-level mobster Frank “Baldy” Maltese. Only in Cicero can politics and the mob intertwine so blatantly. The IRS seized control of the island and resort while Loren-Maltese served six and a half years in a federal penitentiary.
Another Cicero-based mobster going by the name of Al Capone allegedly visited this location during the heyday of prohibition. The resort staff are among the first to admit that this is a claim that’s been made for ages, but is impossible to verify. It’s not like Capone would’ve signed a guest book, after all.
The island was first developed in 1905 by the Wisconsin and Michigan Railroad to house a 25-room inn. Unfortunately that inn burned to the ground in 1923 (there were no deaths or injuries). All that remained was the fireplace, which served as the centerpiece of the rebuild. The new facility was opened in 1925 and included the addition of a golf course and a speakeasy, which is currently the sports bar. It opened with the name The Four Seasons Club as it caters to summer and winter activities, such as snowmobiling. It wasn’t until 2005 that the large 55-room hotel with massive salt water indoor pool was added. This location is not associated with the Four Seasons luxury chain.
The ghost story is not actually associated with the Mafia legends. As the story goes, the daughter of a successful industrialist by the name of Laura Van Du Rose was set to be wed on the grounds, but her would-be groom, Doyle Holmes, never arrived. Heartbroken, she threw herself out of an open window, to her death.
Poltergeist-like activity has been observed ever since with objects moving and the lobby piano even being played by some invisible being. While the staff seemed somewhat skeptical or level-headed about their Capone connection, they were adamant that this story is true. Her body landed right in front of the main doors, her presence is felt throughout the older building, especially in the uppermost ballroom (pictured below) and that she never enters the newest construction. When we were on hand, snowed-in with over two feet of snow falling in under a day, hotel staff mentioned that closed rooms are locked and checked by multiple people, but on the last walk-through, the door to the vintage ice cream parlor had somehow become unlocked and wide open.
The only problem: cursory internet and in-depth searches on newspapers.com, reveal no mention of the wedding, the suicide or even the names involved. A high-profile wedding like this would’ve generated plenty of ink in the early 1900s. I was even able to find reports out of Green Bay that detailed when trains were simply passing through town on the way to Miscauno Island.
So, either more research needs to be done (please comment if anyone has solid historical information), or there are other reasons for the ongoing hauntings. Asked if anything has been recorded, the staff mentioned that once a ghost hunting team did an extensive, overnight investigation… but by morning all of their recordings on all of their devices had been deleted. We’ll never know what, if anything was captured that night.
For a place with such deep known history, possible Mafia history and likely extensive Native American history and pre-history, there is a lot more to learn about this site, including the surrounding grounds before we know why this site is so actively haunted.
The snow didn’t keep us for exploring outside a bit and it eventually did stop, allowing us to leave. Thanks for the adventure, Wendy!
Well, can you think of a better way to kick off a surprise birthday road trip? Dream-come-true fiancée (too mushy for a paranormal newsletter? Fine.) “See You on the Other Side” podcast producer & co-host Wendy Lynn Staats ‘abducted’ me for a weekend getaway of mysteries. Driving north through Wisconsin, we drove alongside the expansive Kettle Moraine State Forest in Eastern Wisconsin. The southern portion of this forest is where Bigfoot hunter Jay Bachochin lead me on two expeditions, each of which left me beyond words (check out his documentary, “Finding Jay” now free on Amazon Prime). So, already, I knew I was in a strange area. Little did I know, I was about to come face-to-face with a being that came from another world.
The first thing that really caught our attention on the drive was Dundee Mountain. Yes, a mountain peak in Wisconsin… not a common sight in the Midwest.
Within 10 minutes, we were at our destination… Benson’s Holiday Hide-A-Way, a small lakefront bar that appeared closed and possibly out of business at first blush, owing to a ‘For Sale’ sign that has been on the building for over a decade. Fortunately for us, the bar was open and we were the only revelers to go along with bar owner Bill Benson and dozens of alien figures of various sizes.
Quickly, I realized I was at ground zero of a UFO sighting hot spot. You would assume a small, lakefront bar like this would be inhabited by ‘salt of the earth,’ blue collar recreational fishermen, and that is likely still true, but the conversation tends to be about strange lights in the sky, frequently seen in the area of Dundee Mountain, like Devil’s Tower in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
According to Benson, UFOs had been seen in the area for decades, even before he ran the bar. Crop circles have popped up in the area well before the phenomena took the media by storm in the early ‘90s. Within the last two decades, the bar and shoreline has been a great spot to set up a camera to wait and catch a glimpse of strange crafts flying through the sky, especially at sunset or shortly thereafter. He’s even got a well-worn photo album sporting dozens of unexplainable pictures taken on the premises. I must admit, many of them were very compelling.
Perhaps the landmark feature of this dive is hidden away in a foggy jar behind the bar. According to Benson, a man once entered the Holiday Hide-A-Way after discovering an alien corpse in a cave in Rosewell, New Mexico. Afraid of being on the government radar and it being confiscated, he decided the safest place to hide it was here in Bill’s bar. So, with word getting out that there is an alien body on site, has the government come calling? According to Benson, yes. A member of a government agency, perhaps the CIA, questioned him, asked to see the alien. The man took the jar into the next room, did his own examination and left, leaving the alien behind.
The greatest thing about how Benson tells a story is that he doesn’t go over-the-top, trying to convince or prove anything. “This is what happened,” plain and simple. Was the guy really a government official? Are those strange lights really UFOs? All he can do is report what he’s seen and repeat the stories he’s been told.
There’s never a bad time to swing by and see this place for yourself, but summer may be the best time as this becomes an absolute hot spot of enthusiasts of the unknown during the UFO Daze celebration. I know I’ve already got it on my calendar as I hope to attend the 32rd annual meeting in 2020.
I’m a little late for Krampusnacht (which was December 6th), but it’s never too late to look around the darker side of international Christmas traditions. And if you think Krampus is a scary deity, you haven’t seen nothing yet…. beware Perchta, the winter goddess!
The below video is beautifully animated and is by no way something I created. It was produced by the wonderful YouTube channel, Mythology & Fiction Explained. Their entire library is worth checking out and I encourage you to do so.
The Fantastic Story Society will release an episode every other weekend with weekly episodes in October. We talk with storytellers about the journey that lead them into the world of dark, supernatural or otherwise fantastical storytelling. Our guests will range from television writers/researchers, those trying to solve mysteries through archaeology and folklore to screenwriters and horror directors. This is a podcast ABOUT telling stories, but you know when you get storytellers together, they tend to tell some fascinating stories, so this will be as entertaining as it is informative. Join your hosts, paranormal researcher and filmmaker Scott Markus of WhatsYourGhostStory.com and screenwriting consultant, educator of TheCraftCourse.com and proprietor of TheStoryFarm.org, Max Timm as they induct a new member of the Fantastic Story Society each episode.
You don’t have to wait til autumn to take a historical, haunted tour, but there is something special about walking around outside among the crisp air with the leaves crunching under your feet. In the last couple weeks, Wendy Lynn Staats from the “See You on the Other Side” podcast & I had the opportunity to visit a couple fun towns and get the grand, macabre treatment!
Lake Geneva is in southeastern Wisconsin, an easy destination whether you’re coming from Chicago or Milwaukee. It is today as it’s always been, a resort town catering to out-of-towners looking for a beautiful, quaint and quiet destination. The town’s modern history dates to the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 when many wealthy Chicago families retreated to their Lake Geneva summer homes while the city lay in ruins. However, the prehistory of native American habitation of the area dates back at least 3,000 years including mound builders who created effigy mounds in the shapes of a panther and lizard, which have unfortunately been destroyed in recent years.
The walking tour, one of several across the Midwest by operated by American Ghost Walks (click the banner to the left or click here to link directly to the Lake Geneva Tour) meets near downtown and takes place over the span of about 90 minutes where around a dozen sites are visited over the course of roughly one mile. The hostess was fun and personable, decked out in a funky take on Victorian style, a fitting, colorful counterpart to Beetlejuice (minus the ghoulish makeup).
One off-location Lake Geneva site I would like to investigate further is the current Havenwood Apartment complex, which stands on the site of the former Oakwood Sanitarium. The 1885 sanitarium boasted the latest techniques for treatment of the mentally ill, which, by today’s standards, was the dark ages. It’s no wonder that the site began earning a reputation as a haunted location while it sat vacant in the 1950s. Today, phantom footsteps and even screams are reported at the Havenwood Apartment complex.
Tempted as I may be, I will not talk about all of the locations on the Lake Geneva tour, but I will say that I was surprised to hear the tales of a frequently seen story of a 60-foot snakelike creature observed commonly by steamboat captains, the tale of a drown woman whose corpse is still sighted just under the water, generations later, and an exceptionally spooky spirit who seems to wipe the minds of those who encounter it, eventually leading people away from their friends. I will say as the director of “The Hidden Truth?,” a documentary that explored the idea of a negative spirit leading people to drown in the Mississippi River, this is an exceptionally chilling story. The photo below is the park this specter patrols.
Rather than dive into further ghost stories, I wanted to share some beautiful images of two more locations on the tour. The Maxwell Mansion was built in 1856 and bears the same name of the man whom the famed Maxwell Street in downtown Chicago is named for. Currently the location is a hotel that features two open to the public bars, including one, speakeasy style, in the basement. The Baker House is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful buildings in Lake Geneva. The 1885-built Queen Anne Mansion is now a hotel that overlooks the lake.