Haunted House Online Guide Helps You Get Scared This Halloween

haunted house
Trauma Towers at Blackpool, England. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Looking for a haunted house this Halloween season? The online guide Hauntworld will help you find the best one.

Hosted by Hauntworld Magazine, a trade journal for those running haunted houses, it lists creepy attractions in every state in the U.S. and many in Canada too. Most listings just have promotional material from the businesses themselves, while some have garnered numerous reviews and comments, making it as sort of TripAdvisor for scary attractions.

In my old stomping grounds of Tucson, Arizona, there’s Nightfall, which earned nine out of ten skulls. For even bigger scares, check out their Most Extreme and Shocking list. The number one place goes to the Erebus 4 Story Haunted Attraction in Pontiac, Michigan. HauntWorld says “Erebus is by far the most unique haunted house in America because they have monsters, animations, and props that touch the customers some even swallow customers whole. Erebus is a multi-story haunted house with special fx you’ll see no where in the World but at Erebus near Detroit Michigan.”

If you want to get scared on vacation, the international section will help you out. If haunted houses aren’t your thing, the site also lists hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, ghost tours, and zombie events.

There’s even a section for supposedly real haunted houses.

We are showing you how to eat, drink and be scary this Halloween season. Read more about Halloween on AOL:
7 Creepy Museum Treasures That Will Give You the Halloween Shivers
Disney Halloween: The Scariest Place on Earth
Historic Haunted Houses

5 Prisons for Law-Abiding Citizens

visit prison - Eastern State Penitentiary
Flickr, Celine Aussourd

In this lull between fun summer TV like “True Blood” and the fall premieres of network television shows, many people have been binge watching the Netflix comedy, “Orange is the New Black.” Set at a women’s prison in Rockland County, New York, the series has generated new interest in jail. (From the outside, at least.) Here are five notable prison museums around the world with flexible visiting hours for an easy escape.

Alcatraz, San Francisco, CA
Built as an “inescapable” prison on an island off San Francisco, Alcatraz has had quite a few famous inmates, including Al Capone. The federal prison was closed in 1963 and has been a museum for several decades. In addition to the prison museum, it also has the country’s oldest lighthouse and a permanent exhibition on the historic Native American occupation. Tickets are a steep $30 and up per adult, but they include transportation, since you can’t make it off “the Rock” alive.Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA
Another stop on Al Capone’s “jail tour,” this Center City Philadelphia jail has been the set for several films including “Twelve Monkeys” and the Transformers sequel, and many TV shows about ghosts and jails. The self-guided audio tour (narrated by Steve Buscemi!) details the history of the prison, active from 1829 to 1969. Regular tickets are $14, and look out for special events; the Halloween Haunted House is especially popular.

Gestapo Headquarters and Pawiak Prison, Warsaw, Poland
Telling another part of the Holocaust, these two related historical sites in Warsaw show what it was like to be interrogated and imprisoned in the gruesome Nazi occupation. Part of the Polish city’s excellent collection of museums, they are free to visit and well-maintained, though very somber.

Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa
The isolation of the small island near Cape Town made it a fitting site for a leper colony, a military training station and a place for political prisoners. Nelson Mandela was the most famous of former inmates for 18 years; he was one of dozens imprisoned during apartheid. Tickets are about $22, including ferry transportation to and from the mainland, a bus tour of the island and “interaction” with a former prisoner. President Obama visited the island and museum this summer, and was “deeply humbled” by the experience.

Tuel Sleng, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The secret prison of Pol Pot, dictator of Cambodia in the 1970s and leader of the Khmer Rouge, Tuel Sleng is now a museum cataloging the genocide perpetrated there. The museum contains the 6,000 detailed photographs and records of inmates left by prison staff, though as many as 30,000 were said to have been detained, tortured and murdered there. The museum is preserved as it was found in 1979, and is an important site, along with the “Killing Fields,” documenting and memorializing the victims of this dark regime.

Would you visit a prison?

A Spooky Road Trip On Vermont’s Haunted Highways

Vermont

The state of Vermont thinks it has plenty of ghosts and is looking to share them with the world, at least during the witching month of October. In the southwest part of the state, known as “Bennington Triangle,” hikers mysteriously went missing between 1920 and 1950. At Lake Memphremagog in the north, the ghost of General “Mad” Anthony Wayne has been spotted walking across the top of the lake. To share stories, Vermont has launched Haunted Highways, a collection of ghost stories with lodging packages available statewide.

“Ghosts have been part of the Vermont landscape for hundreds of years, marking each phase of Vermont’s historical development,” said Joseph Citro, Vermont’s official Ghost-Master General and author of “The Vermont Ghost Guide” in a statement. “Across all corners of the state, vengeful vagrants, lovelorn ladies, and lonely lads lurk in Vermont’s eternal shadows, and it’s wonderful how the state is embracing its spooky past.”

Travelers hoping to catch a glimpse of one of these elusive figures can follow Vermont’s highway system, starting in the southern part of the state in Bennington, then driving North on Route 7 to The Equinox resort off exit three to historic Manchester Village where the spirit of Mary Todd Lincoln is said to haunt the third and fourth floors of the resort’s south wing.

Along the way, several spooky Vermont inns and bed-and-breakfasts close to ghost sighting areas – some with haunted rooms and the home to strange events – have special seasonal offers.

VermontThe Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont, wants guests to listen for the tap dancing steps of the inn’s former horseman Boots Berry. Born in 1840 in the servant’s quarters of the Green Mountain Inn, Boots Berry was a local hero before he was fired for excessive drinking. Legend has it, he saved a little girl stuck on the Inn’s roof during a snowstorm before slipping and falling to his death. During severe winter storms, Boots can still be heard tap dancing on the third floor of the hotel. From October 21 through November 30, 2012, rates start at $96 per night based on double occupancy.

The Readmore Bed & Breakfast in Bellows Falls, Vermont, is offering a bottle of local Spooky Sparkling Cider and scary tales about the haunted “Cook’s Room” to travelers who book a two-night stay with breakfast through November 30, 2012. Total package price starts at $300, based on double occupancy.

The White House Inn in Wilmington, Vermont, haunted by the presence of the baroness who originally occupied the inn, is hosting a special séance/haunted tour with dinner on October 27, 2012. Rates for a two-night stay through November 30, 2012 start at $349, based on double occupancy.

The Golden Stage Inn- Interstate 91 in eastern Vermont, where guests and staff alike have noticed strange events in the “new” wing, and where innkeepers have become familiar with a young friendly spirit they’ve named George, who appears dressed in a traveling cloak and some say bears a remarkable resemblance to Robert Redford. The Golden Stage Inn is encouraging curious visitors to have their own ghostly experience through November 30, 2012, with rates beginning at $165 per person based on double occupancy.

Forty Putney Road Bed & Breakfast in Brattleboro, Vermont, is showcasing the spooky side of town at locations such as the Retreat Cemetery, just steps away from the inn, where numerous ghost sightings have occurred. Through November 30, 2012, rates start at $159 per night based on double occupancy.

This video has more on the ghosts of Brattleboro, which seem to center on the cemetery of the former Vermont Asylum and a stone tower built by Asylum patients as well as a haunted castle.



[Flickr photos by VTscapes]

Haunted Houses Back In St Louis To Kick Off Halloween Season

Haunted Houses

Kicking off Halloween season, haunted houses around the United States are opening their doors to brave travelers who come to experience spooky, scary things that go bump in the night. Between now and October 31, a variety of events around the country make for a great weekend diversion or road trip. Centrally located St. Louis is an easy drive from most mid-west states and offers Scare Fest, a trilogy of terror with three haunted attractions known as some of the best across the nation.

The Darkness is a two-story haunted house in downtown St Louis. Now in its 19th year of screams and scares, The Darkness has flying and flesh-eating zombies, Hollywood-quality sets and animated zombie effects and more. Included is admission to their Monster Museum and TerrorVisions 3-D, one of America’s first 3-D haunted houses featuring freaky crazed clowns in a 3-D environment where the walls appear to be moving, floors are floating and everything is right in the face of visitors.


The Haunting of Lemp Brewery takes visitors several stories below ground into real caves and caverns, just a block away from the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. In an interactive pre-show, sprits and ghosts of brewery founder William Lemp come back from the underworld to warn visitors of demons that haunt the caves under the brewery.




The Screampark in Fenton has the longest maze of scare inducing “hauntings” in the country that last more than one hour and feature more live actors than any other haunted house. New this year are Twisted Torture 3D, Demons Dominion, Grisly’s Gore Zone, the Zombie Town theme for the haunted hayride and the world’s largest Famous Faces Pumpkin Display.


Find zombies, ghosts, haunted houses or more at HauntWorld, a site that has listings for the United States and Canada as well as international attractions in the UK and other parts of the world.

[Flickr photo by dehub]

The good old days were horrible


Ah, Merry Olde England! A time and place with happy people, clean streets, and scenes that looked just like they do on BBC historical dramas.

Not!

Premodern England was a grim place of death, filth, and general misery. Actually that can describe pretty much everywhere in the nineteenth century, but the town where the Brontë sisters lived was especially nasty. Some authors write novels to escape reality, and the Brontë sisters had a lot to escape from. Two of their sisters died in childhood thanks to the neglectful conditions at their boarding school. Then the Grim Reaper took the remaining sisters and their brother one by one.

This may have been due to the horrible health conditions in their town of Haworth, Yorkshire. At a time when all towns were unsanitary, Haworth took the prize. Haworth stands on the side of a steep hill with much of its water supply coming from natural springs near the top. Also near the top of the hill is the town graveyard. So crowded was this graveyard that the coffins were often buried ten deep. Water flowing through the graveyard contaminated the public pumps and ensured a steady supply of more dead bodies, which would rot, seep their juices into the water supply, and start the cycle anew. The Black Bull pub contributed to this by using this spring water to brew its own beer. One wonders what it tasted like.

%Gallery-104759%This wasn’t the only spring in Haworth, but the locals managed to ruin the others by placing open cesspools next to the pumps. Although the connection between cleanliness and health was only imperfectly understood, Patrick Brontë, local clergyman and father of the Brontë sisters, realized a place where 41 percent of the population died before age six had some serious issues. In 1850 he brought in Dr. Benjamin Babbage (son of Charles Babbage, who built the first computer) to make an inspection. Babbage was horrified at what he saw and his damning report of the local squalor made reformers take notice. If it wasn’t for Babbage, Haworth probably wouldn’t get so many tourists. People tend not to like smelling open cesspits and drinking decayed bodies while on vacation.

If natural causes didn’t bump you off, the Haworth poisoner might do it for you. John Sagar ran the local workhouse, the place where the poor were forced by law to live. There they were underfed, overworked, and slept in rat-infested little rooms as a punishment for the cardinal sin of poverty. Sagar was a “short, dark, vulgar-looking man” who only had one arm, which he used to beat his wife Barbara mercilessly. Everyone was too afraid of him to come to her aid. When she finally died it wasn’t by beating, but by arsenic poisoning. Sagar was the obvious suspect. Questions were also raised about the deaths of their nine children. Yet Sagar got off due to lack of evidence, and he lived to the ripe old age of 78, a small miracle considering the conditions of the town. Strangely, his is one of the only graves in the cemetery that shows signs of weathering. Some locals say nature is serving justice where the courts did not.

Links to the eerie past still linger. On some old buildings, strange stone faces stare out onto the street. They look like ancient Celtic stone heads, but researcher John Billingsley says they were a continuing folk magic custom that experienced a rebirth of popularity in the area in the 17th and 19th centuries. They were used to ward off evil, and as late as 1971 a head was placed over the front door of the Old Sun Inn to stop a haunting. It’s said to have worked! If you had witch trouble you could also carve a “W” into your door frame, or put pins into a bullock’s heart and bury it beneath the floorboards. Special witch bottles could be used to trap witches. I’ve seen pinned hearts and witch bottles at the West Highland Museum in Ft. William, Scotland, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, so the practice was widespread

With all the death and tourists, it’s not surprising that Haworth is full of ghost stories. Not only did I stay in a haunted hotel room, but every single bar I drank at or restaurant I ate in had a resident ghost. Phantom drinkers, gray ladies, even haunted carriages all prowl Haworth at night. There are deeper mysteries than ghosts, however. Witchcraft and folk magic abounded. Fear of witches was so great that local “cunning man” Old Jack Kay, a contemporary of the Brontës, would lift curses for a price. He also told fortunes and could show you your future spouse in a mirror or bowl of water. He and other “cunning men” brewed cures for the sick. Some were herbal medicine that might have been effective, while others had dubious ingredients. The urine of a red cow supposedly cured cancer. I suppose it would be unscientific to dismiss red cow’s urine as a cure for cancer with testing it, but good luck getting volunteers for the clinical trial.

So the next time you’re in some charming historic locale, think back on how things used to be, and be thankful that they’re not like that anymore!

Don’t miss the rest of my series on Exploring Yorkshire: ghosts, castles, and literature in England’s north.

Coming up next: Hiking the Yorkshire moors!

A special thanks to local historians Steven Wood and Philip Lister for all the great stories that contributed to this article, and all the great ones I couldn’t fit in.


This trip was sponsored by
VisitEngland and Welcome to Yorkshire, who would have a lot less to brag about if Dr. Babbage hadn’t fixed a few things.