Chippewa Lake Park

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Chippewa Lake Park was open from 1878 to 1978, when competition from nearby Cedar Point caused a sharp decrease in admission. What could not be salvaged and sold was left behind and the forest has reclaimed much of the old amusement park, leaving just barely a hint of the 100 years the park stood.

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31 Days of Horror Movies: Day 3

31 Days of Horror Movies

Day 3 | Grave Encounters 2 (2014)

There were some valid criticisms of the first movie–at least from the horror perspective–about it not having enough scares. They listened to that criticism with this movie, though. Even going so far as to splice in seemingly random scares from the first movie into the introduction scenes of the second one.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this movie, given that it is a sequel to a horror movie (and that usually never bodes well!) but this one used the same set up as The Human Centipede 2 (2011) and later on The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014); that is, that the original film was really just a movie in-universe in the sequel. So, in Grave Encounters 2, Grave Encounters was a movie that the main characters of the sequel thought might have actually been real. This leads them to go on an expedition to find the mental institute investigated in the first movie. Again, the team finds themselves lost the ever-changing asylum, even busting through a wall in one room only to fall from the ceiling into a hallway. This whole loop, like the building is alive, is reminiscent of  “The Navidson Record” portion from the 2000 book House of Leaves by  Mark Z. Danielewski (and honestly, this book is so interesting and bizarre I absolutely recommend it to all of you).

I will admit, there is definitely a fair amount more blood and violence in this one. We physically see three people murdered on camera–one of which is murdered by an invisible voice that breaks the girls back, seeming reminiscent of Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) where one of the parents has their back broken in a similar fashion. Another homage can be seen in the scene right before the next death where the boy (pictured above) talks to the camera and his family, crying just like in The Blair Witch Project. He’s subsequently strangled to death. The final death involves a face getting smashed in with one of the cameras…so:

This iteration of the narrative of “grave encounters” is not for the faint of heart.

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Atolia Tungsten Mine

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Abandoned mining towns can be found all over the United States. This one in particular is the Atolia Tungsten Mine in California. It was founded in 1905 and closed its doors when the mines dried up in the 1940s. Equipment and furniture was left behind, and some places still smell of the chemicals used in the mining process.

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31 Days of Horror Movies: Day 2

31 Days of Horror Movies

Day 2 | Grave Encounters (2011)

This movie starts out really hokey–just look at that screen shot!–and runs exactly like any other “ghost hunting” show out there (and trust me, I watch a lot of those!) at the beginning. Basically this team of ghost hunters pitched their show to a producer and they called it “Grave Encounters,” hence the name. I actually think this is pretty clever and a cool frame for the whole movie. It plays in to what a lot of us wish we were seeing when we’re watching those ghost hunting shows! This one does have some jump scares, but mostly everything is very subtle but still kinda creepy.

Spoilers! (if you’ve never seen it!)

A similar issue that happened in the Blair Witch Project (that we discussed on day 1) is the loop (sort of). The team gets stuck inside the mental institution they’re investigating and things heat up quickly. I think this concept is so cool and I can see why people have definitely been impressed by this movie. It does the found footage, just like Blair Witch, but the 12 years between the two movies made a lot of difference–Grave Encounters is much smoother and is much less likely to make you feel a little nauseous! There were some hokey bits (where they wake up with hospital bracelets with their names on them??), but the movie does borrow a lot from Blair Witch. Though, Grave Encounters does ramp it up a notch–they actually show the things menacing the characters (and some of those effects weren’t spectacular but they were still pretty good!). Towards the end, there was a lot of yelling and screaming and f-bombs, too. Just like in Blair Witch!

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31 Days of Horror Movies: Day 1

31 Days of Horror Movies 

Day 1 | The Blair Witch Project (1999)

This movie is a classic–or soon to be classic?–horror movie. It’s one of the pioneers of the “found-footage” genre made popular by films like Paranormal Activity and The Poughkeepsie Tapes. (We may talk about both of these movies later on!)

So, this movie–as we said–is an earlier film; it’s about 15 years old now, so not old in the horror genre but definitely for the found footage. It’s kind of funny because the main issue of the movie is that the three people get lost (and into the predicament in the first place!) because they’re deep in the woods with just a compass and a map (though I don’t know who has like super accurate maps of wooded areas in a nowhere part of Maryland??). It’s hard to imagine this being much of an issue now, you know with iPhones and satellite GPS devices. Also, I just don’t know how much people would actually want to go out into the woods like that (yes, I know about urbex-ing but also the word “urban” is in there so it mostly implies that the areas being explored aren’t super remote). Regardless, they go in to the woods and they get caught in what seems to be a loop. And that’s pretty terrifying, to be honest. Even though the little sculptures dangling from the trees aren’t really all that menacing, the movie does a very good job of building the tension since you never really know what you’re gonna see, if something’s going to pop up around the corner, and that’s a quality I love to see in horror films–a bit of that building tension, the “doom” horror that we’ve discussed before.

One of the main complaints about the movie is that it’s a little “too” realistic with how shaky the camera shots are; a lot of people say it makes them nauseous (there’s actually a line about that in Legally Blonde!) and I would have to agree with that. Tread lightly if you have motion sickness! My personal complaint about the movie was how much screaming and yelling went on. I guess I understand that that’s supposed to add to the “realism” of them freaking out and having break downs, but maybe a few less f-bombs would have been nice!

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The Bell Witch Cave

This creepy cave, which was formed through erosion of soft rocks, is now named after the Bell Witch who supposedly haunted the Bell family. It’s named as such because the cave is on the land in Adams, Tennessee, (population of only 628) that the Bell family used to own.

The witch (who supposedly manifested as a poltergeist) that haunted the family was named Kate Batts and the main victim of the haunting was the daughter of the family, Betsy Bell.

There are multiple, multiple stories about what happened with the family—some of which are incredibly far-fetched—but, in the end, it certainly makes for a creepy site to visit.

The story of the Bell Witch also inspired the movie The Blair Witch Project.

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Barrow, Alaska

The northernmost city in the entire US. It is well above the arctic circle (320 miles, to be exact) and has a population of only 4212 people. The only roads in Barrow are inside the town and they are unpaved since it would be too expensive to maintain with all the permafrost the city experiences. There is no way to drive to Barrow; the only way in or out of the city is by an Alaska Airlines flight to or from Anchorage or Fairbanks, Alaska.

Ever heard of 30 Days of Night? Yeah, this is where it’s based. And it’s because in the month of December in Barrow, the sun never actually rises–a phenomenon known as the polar night.

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Bodie, California

Now I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger, but if she moved to Bodie, California in the late 1870s, she probably was there for the gold and silver ore that created this old boomtown. Despite two fires that destroyed much of the tinderbox buildings in this mining town, Bodie is the best preserved abandoned mining town in California. Each year, thousands of visitors come to see and photograph the town turned state-preserved historic park.

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The Athens L*natic Asylum

The Athens L*natic Asylum is, without a doubt, the creepiest shut down mental health institute in the United States. Opening in 1874, the facility was originally very pleasant. It hosted two wings (one for males and one for females) with 572 rooms. Patients were able to receive personalized care from the nurses. It even had farms and its own power plant, which patients could work on to help sustain the facility.

However, by the 1950s, the institute was drastically overpopulated–holding three times the recommended amount of patients with no increase in staff. They kept the same number of staff members as they had when the population of patients was much smaller in 1874. Patients were restrained in bunks in rooms that were only ever supposed to sustain one person. Nurses would be in charge of over 50 patients and more inhuman practices, such as lobotomies and shock therapy, began to be implemented.

It wasn’t until the 1960s when psychotropic drugs (while not a perfect solution, these were more humane than previous procedures used) were administered to patients. Geriatric and drug rehabilitation programs were brought into the facility and specialized care was made available to those with congenital mental handicaps.

By the 1980s, the facility housed less than 300 patients and shut its doors officially in 1993. Staff and patients were moved to a newer facility and ownership of the buildings and cemeteries was transferred to Ohio University.

The subject of much conversation, however, is a stain on the floor of Ward N. 20. On December 1, 1979, a patient named Margaret Schilling allegedly locked herself in the unused ward. She took her clothes off and folded them neatly near her, laid down on the cement floor, and died of heart failure that could have been caused by the ward’s lack of heating. She was discovered on January 12, 1980, nearly a month and a half later. Apparently, her body decomposed in the sunlight, which left an eerie stain in her shape behind. To this day no one has managed to scrub the stain off.

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