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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Haunted Day in Connecticut...

A while back, in preparation for Halloween, I decided it would be a capital idea to make my own little “haunted tour” of my local surroundings in Connecticut. Add to the fact that my daughter Zombelina is extremely fascinated by all manner of hauntings and paranormal phenomena (no surprise there), and it really seemed like an obvious thing to do during the Halloween season. So Captain Cruella and I packed up the little ones and made our ghostly pilgrimage.

I selected as our two primary locations, two of the most notorious haunted spots in the entire state: Union Cemetery in Easton and the Remington Arms factory in Bridgeport. It was quite a chilling experience, and the resulting images turned out to be very striking. In fact, the reaction I got from initially posting them to social media led me to (finally_ bring them right here, where they can be enjoyed by all you fine Vault dwellers.

So please proceed, and follow our exploits from that day, if you will…

A portion of the ominous Remington Arms munitions factory on Barnum Ave. in Bridgeport, our first stop...
The fearless Captain ventures down into the factory. I soon followed, and heard some honest-to-goodness footsteps... This, along with the prompt arrival of the Bridgeport PD, led to our hasty departure to a safe distance.
More of the inside, as seen from the street. The factory was run by Remington until 1988, when it was closed down after a series of mysterious deaths. G.E. has since purchases the property and has been planning to tear it all down for years.
See something in there? Yeah, I wasn't sure either. Besides, the decidedly foul neighborhood in which this factory is located left little time for careful inspection.
Although closed off to the public, this doorway seemed to have been forced open, no doubt by some reckless teenagers looking for a spooky time.
Travel Channels' Ghost Adventures show did an episode here at the factory back in 2009, and apparently found "conclusive evidence" of paranormal activity. The footsteps I heard, admittedly, could not be found to have been made by anyone else at the site...
Another view of the vast Remington Arms campus, made up of several buildings in various states of gross disrepair.
Farewell, Remington Arms! And really, is anyone going to check out that tag sale..?
Next, we made the trek through Fairfield, up Route 59 to the posh town of Easton. There we came to Union Cemetery, home of the notorious "White Lady".
Many of the graves here date back to the 17th century. They're largely worn away by weather erosion, but much of the 18th century stones, like this one, still stand.

A closeup of one of the 18th century stones, showing the angelic iconography common to grave markers of the era.

This tree stump shows just how old the place is. And although we caught no sight of the White Lady, we eventually had out fill of the cemetery's general creepiness. The start of a cold drizzle also motivated to head back into the warmth and safety of the car...
There you have it—just a taste of our experiences that day. I’ll never forget those footsteps I heard, nor the very eerie presences palpable at both locations. All in all, I’d call our “Haunted Day” a success, and the perfect prelude to a generally smashing Halloween season!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Random Ramblings from the Vault

  • First things first: The Walking Dead has very pleasantly surprised me this season thus far. As much as I love the concept, I don't really believe the show had hit its stride until now. Last week's episode in particular was just about the most harrowing dramatic television I've ever witnessed, and I don't mind telling you that I was seriously emotionally shaken. Not to mention some amazing acting all around! Kudos to the entire WD creative team, but just go easy on me for the next couple of episodes, OK? I'm a very sensitive boy.
  • I know I'm not the first to say this, but The Cabin in the Woods was everything everyone said it was, and then some. What a creative and brilliantly executed horror film! A horror fan's wet dream, plus entertaining enough to bring new fans to the genre in the process. Horror had been in desperate need of a reinvention after nearly a decade of nihilistic torture porn aftereffects, and I think this was just the kind of deconstructionist fun that was called for. I can't remember the last time I was this downright amused by a horror movie.
  • Maybe it's not popular to say it (or maybe it is, what do I know?), but I was also very pleasantly surprised by the red-band Evil Dead remake trailer that's been making the rounds. You can count me in the camp of, "Why are they remaking this movie," but after seeing that, I'm on board. I'm not dead-set against any and all horror remakes--sometimes they turn out excellent, like The Thing, The Fly, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and even Dawn of the Dead. The original Evil Dead is a 30-year-old shoe-string budget student film, and while it is a great horror flick, I do not consider it sacred or anything. It's been more than a generation, why not let someone take a crack at it, especially with Sam Raimi's blessing? Count me in.
  • And on the flipside of that, the last thing I expected was that I'd be looking forward to the Evil Dead remake, and NOT looking forward to the World War Z movie. What a turd of a trailer that was! Here I was, hoping for the last six years to get the ultimate big-budget zombie epic I'd been waiting for, and what it looks like we're getting is Brad Pitt running from zombie tidal waves. I mean seriously...what the heck is that? I'm not even sure what I'm looking at, but it sure as hell ain't zombies, and definitely not the creatures of Max Brooks' novel. Sadly, that one is looking like a giant disappointment.
  • As I mentioned at the Vault of Horror Facebook page, I'm proud to announce that my BEDLAM AT THE BIJOU double feature series will indeed be continued through March! That's right, the Bijou Theatre in downtown Bridgeport is giving more opportunities to share my love of horror with the community at large. It will be my pleasure to be screening Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein and Young Frankenstein (12/27), The Mummy (1959) and Curse of the Werewolf (1/24), Theater of Blood and The Abominable Dr. Phibes (2/21) and The Giant Claw and Plan 9 from Outer Space (3/28). Plus as always, there will be special guests and giveaways galore! Check the official Bijou website, plus the VoH Facebook page for more info, and I hope to see you there!
  • One of the films I'll be showing this Thursday at the Bijou is Nosferatu, whose 90th anniversary I've been celebrating all year--hope you've been enjoying it. I like to do that every year with a notable anniversary for a different horror film (Nightmare on Elm Street 25th in 2009, Psycho 50th in 2010, American Werewolf in London 30th in 2011). Right now I'm thinking of celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist next year. Sound like a good idea? Anything you'd rather see instead?
  • Do you have a favorite one-shot Hammer film? I think I'd have to go with either The Gorgon or The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll if put to it.
  • For those dying to know, my young progeny Skeleton Jack and Zombelina hosted another smashing Halloween party this year--I daresay the annual party has become one of the highlights of the social calendars of little ones in our community. I mean, what other Halloween party features a haunted walking tour of the surrounding neighborhood? Special thanks to Michael J. Bielawa, author of Wicked Bridgeport, for the terrific tour, and of course what better party planner could any Halloween gathering hope for than Captain Cruella herself??
  • Speaking of Zombelina, she recently found herself in the bookstore with a gift certificate burning a hole in her pocket--and what did she choose to buy with it? Why, the first hardcover volume of the collected archives of Warren's Creepy Magazine, of course. Did you expect anything less?
  • In closing, I'd like to thank Turner Classic Movies for carrying the torch of horror filmdom during the Halloween season. AMC's Fear Fest is a pale shadow of the former greatness of  Monster Fest, and TCM has dutifully stepped in to fill the seasonal needs of horror fans everywhere. I love AMC, but after all, how many times do you really want to watch Jason X and Halloween 5 in a three-week period? All Hail TCM and their excellent, eclectic mix of selections! Long may they reign.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Conversations in the Dark: Universal Armageddon Part 1, w/ Miguel Rodriguez!

A little while back in Conversations in the Dark, I had as my special guest for a series of discussions, the one and only Miguel Rodriguez of the Monster Island Resort podcast. Both here, and at Monster Island Resort, Miguel and I discussed the massive 28-film Godzilla series in exhaustive detail. It was a lot of fun, and I hope a lot of people enjoyed it. However, once it was done, we were left with that empty feeling inside, and determined we should continue our discussion on a different topic.

That topic would turn out to be the classic Universal monster movies. We both agreed we would next turn our attentions to those timeless horror gems of Hollywood's home for horror during the golden age. What you have here is the first chapter in this brand new series, in which we take on the first half of Universal's Frankenstein series, arguably the studio's flagship franchise.

So join Miguel and I as we wax philosophical on Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein. You'll hear tales of Boris Karloff, James Whale, Dwight Frye, Elsa Lanchester, Basil Rathbone and more. Listen in on the embedded player below, or head over to the official Vaultcast page and download for listening at your leisure!

Stay tuned for further Vaultcasts in the Universal Armageddon series!
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