Saturday, November 12, 2016

My Top 15 Horror Movies of the 1970's

        After over three months of covering haunted locations around Louisiana, I decided to take a break from things and touch on my second vice: horror movies. As I mentioned with my blog on The Stanley Hotel, I have always had a certain penchant for the mad and macabre that makes up our beloved horror movies. Horror movies of today are so predictable, as the ho-hum “jump scares” have become so repetitive, you can pretty much get the jest of the whole movie by simply watching the trailer. I have always had much respect for the classics of the 70’s and 80’s, as they truly paved the way and have never been replicated since. I have compiled a list of my personal favorites in the order that I find best. Be advised this is strictly my opinion so save the tar and feathering for another day!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, CO (The Birth of Redrum)

333 E Wonderview Ave.
Estes Park, CO 80517

I have always had an immense love for horror movies. This love has fortunately been passed down to my daughter, who is equally an aficionado for the sinister cinema. My son, on the other hand, wants no part of anything remotely spooky! Sadly, most of the horror movies of today are not very good and if there happens to be a decent one, it is likely a remake of a classic. Personally, there are no better horror movies than those produced in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Sure, the special effects may not have always been the most realistic but I think that is what makes them so good. Nothing like the neon red blood used in George Romero's Dawn of the Dead or Dario Argento's Suspiria!
What many people may not realize is that there are quite a few fictitious horror movies that are not quite as fictitious as you might think. Many of the classics were at least inspired by some sort of real life events. For instance, Silence of the Lambs was inspired by the true life terror reigned by the Plainfield, Wisconsin serial killer and necrophiliac, Ed Gein. Additionally, while Tobe Hooper's classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was also loosely based on Gein, the whole premise of the character Leatherface is rather comical. During a busy holiday season, Hooper was standing in what seemed like an endless line of shoppers at a department store. As most of us in such a similar situation, Hooper became so aggravated with the crowds, he glanced over to the hardware department and noticed several chainsaws on display. In a moment of hidden rage, Hooper thought, “I bet I could really reduce these crowds with one of those chainsaws!” The rest is history and an instant classic was born for years to come and would ultimately be one of my all time favorites! However, nothing can top my all time favorite movie, the Stanley Kubrick's classic, The Shining.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Waverly Hill Tuberculosis Sanatorium - Louisville, KY (The Pucker Effect)

4400 Paralee Dr.
Louisville, KY 40272

           Over the years I have given dozens of interviews for various newspapers, magazines, television and radio around the country. Most are always conducted in the normal fashion and almost always include the same question: “What has been the most active place you have investigated?” Although I have spent years visiting hundreds of reportedly haunted locations in every nook and cranny of the south, my answer is always undisputedly the same: Waverly Hills Tuberculosis Sanatorium.
           For centuries, one of the many deadly diseases that ravaged the human population was tuberculosis. TB, as it is most commonly known as, is an infectious airborne disease that most regularly affects the lungs and respiratory system, but can also spread to other portions of the body. As with many of these mysterious deadly diseases, regular experimentations were conducted in attempts to find a cure. In most cases, these attempts proved to be futile, as you were left with painful procedures and a growing body count.
           As I mentioned with the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, early medicine was basically a guessing game. Doctors “brought the pain” so to speak, as medieval-like procedures were conducted and concoctions containing who-knows-what were administered to often unwilling participants. The race to find a humane cure for tuberculosis would not be spared, as many of these attempts were torturous and often proved just as deadly as the disease itself.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Haunted Louisiana Honorable Mentions Part 4

(PART 1)  (PART 2)  (PART 3)

The Strand Theatre (Shreveport)

619 Louisiana Avenue #200, Shreveport, LA 71101 (32.509954,-93.749932)

Built in 1925, the Strand Theatre has remained a landmark of the city for many years. Always known for its ornate design, the Strand started out as a Vaudeville venue and then converted to motion pictures by the 1940’s. The theatre would close down in 1977 and almost faced demolishing. Fortunately, a group of concerned citizens pooled their resources together and brought like back to the venue. Since 1984, the Strand continues to host the Shreveport Broadway Series as well as other traveling off-Broadway shows. As with many haunted theatres, staff members have witnessed unexplainable shadows in the balconies and on stage, accompanied with the sounds of disembodied voices.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Haunted Louisiana Honorable Mentions Part 3

(PART 1)  (PART 2)  (PART 4)

New Orleans Fire Site of 1788 (New Orleans)

619 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116 (29.957146,-90.064445)

As I have mentioned many times in this book, the Great Fire of 1788 played a crucial role in rebuilding the entire city. Many would lose their lives from this massive inferno. It was at this location on Good Friday, March 21, 1788, where the fire is said to have initially began, destroying eight hundred and fifty-six of the one thousand one hundred structures in the city in only five hours! At the time of the fire, this location was the home of Army Treasurer Don Vincente Jose Nunez.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Haunted Louisiana Honorable Mentions Part 2

(PART 1)  (PART 3)  (PART 4)

The Alibi Bar (New Orleans)

811 Iberville Street, New Orleans, LA 70112 (29.955001,-90.06934)

This popular hangout spot was built sometime around 1830 and was connected to the old D.H. Holmes building. It served as private residences and apartments for most of its tenure. Legends tell that the attic area was used to hide slaves during the days of the Underground Railroad. Stories recount that several young children perished in the attic but there is no verifiable proof of this taking place. Several years ago, an employee was stabbed to death behind the bar. These two incidents are said to fuel the haunted tails at the Alibi Bar. Objects have literally flown off the bar and staff members have seen dark shadows and unexplainable black mist, appearing in the shape of a human figure.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Haunted Louisiana Honorable Mentions Part 1

(PART 2)  (PART 3)  (PART 4)

            I have never claimed to be Agatha Christie or Kolchak but I have tried my best to excavate as much history as I could on haunted locations, especially throughout Louisiana. As you have read, many of these places are worthy of their own books, as they are so rich with interesting tales and folklore. Still, once everything was laid out for presentation, I was still left with a handful of locations that, although little to no history could be found, they have long been rumored to being haunted. Whether it is that these areas have never been investigated, they are barred from the public, or not enough light has been shed on them, I felt that they still had to be mentioned for the sake of truly covering as many reportedly haunted locations that I was aware of. Here, you will find what I simply call the “honorable mentions,” as they still are connected to haunted stories in some fashion. Some may be folklore while others are simply urban legend; they still deserved some form of acknowledgement. This will be part one of a four part series.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Nottoway Plantation - White Castle, LA (The Nation's Largest Plantation)

31025 Louisiana Hwy 1
White Castle, LA 70788

            After over two months of covering haunted locations, I would like to hope that you have learned a few things about the great state of Louisiana. You have been introduced to the state’s amazing history, our intriguing culture and my lame attempts at humor. If you have made it this far, consider yourself one of the select few that has been able to tolerate me for so long. For the others that turned their nose as soon as they read my misinterpretations of the Biscuit Palace and the Sausage Man’s House, they sure missed out on what I would like to consider a hidden gem of Louisiana haunted history, told in a very different tone. I have never liked books that read out like a college text book. I try to write like I speak, which doesn’t necessarily mean it is gold but it seems to work for some. Sometimes, it’s not how you finish the race, just as long as you make it to the end.  
            I have touched on nearly every single plantation in Louisiana, which conveniently all seem to have a haunted past. It’s really no huge surprise that the plantation-to-hauntings ratio is so high, as these homes are all so old with such a dense amount of history. Lots of blood, sweat and tears went into these homes, which is always a great place to start when culminating the birth of a haunting. In an era ravaged with war and disease, life expectancies were not very long whether the causes have been natural or other. While some plantations have stayed within the same family for years, others have been sold more times than one can remember. We have touched on the most famous, most haunted and most notorious plantations that Louisiana has to offer. It is only suiting that we save the largest plantation, not only in the state, but in the country, for last.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Woodland Plantation - West Point a La Hache, LA (Southern Comfort)

21997 Highway 23
West Point a La Hache, LA 70083

            As one travels about thirty miles south of the extremely up-tempo beat of which is New Orleans, you run into the complete polar opposite. You will encounter a near barren land of swamps, marshland, creeks, bayous, sloughs, lakes, rivers and every other body of water you can fathom, mixed in with a few residential areas. All signs of an eroding coastal area, slowly shrinking year after year. With hundreds of hurricanes pummeling this area over centuries, this area is slowly transforming to a hydrated wasteland. An area that was once swarmed with over sixty grand plantation homes and acres upon acres of farmland looks quite different today with only a couple of antique homes as a reminder of a land that time forgot.
            One of the few plantation homes that still stand in this area is Woodland Plantation in a small community of Port Sulphur known as West Point a La Hache which translates into “point of the axe.” The plantation was originally built in mid-1830 by William Johnson, a river pilot/captain/pirate (depending on how polite you are) from Nova Scotia. Prior to the turn of the nineteenth century, with the aid of his partner, George Braddish, Johnson would build the now defunct Magnolia Plantation, which once sat approximately four miles from Woodland. Along with both men’s wives and children, the whole bunch would live under one roof as an antique Brady Bunch of sorts. The Woodland property would consist of the main house, an overseer’s house, tenant’s house and two-story brick slave quarters, which are a very rare site for the time, as the only property to have such slave quarters are at the previously mentioned Ormond Plantation. According to the Woodland Plantation website:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant - Washington, LA (Food and Phantoms Alike)

525 N Main St.
Washington, LA 70589

            As I have said numerous times, I love to eat! It doesn’t help matters when you live in a state that is known for its rich and delicious dishes, which are not often the healthiest for you. I jokingly tell people that our great food has given me the body of a God. It’s just too bad that God happens to be Buddha! I have always enjoyed travelling the state not only to look for new haunted areas to investigate but for new places to eat. Louisiana is filled with these hidden jems just waiting to be tried out. After finding a new restaurant that has a superb dish I have never tried before, I will often try to replicate it at home as cooking is another passion of mine. My wife often says she cannot remember the last time she has even cooked while the kids regularly place their meal orders with me like they are at a diner. I only have two rules that I tell me wife. The first is that I’ll cook until the cows come home but she has to clean behind me as I hate doing dishes. The other is quite simple: Never trust a skinny cook!
            For years, one of my favorite restaurants in all of Louisiana has been the Steamboat Warehouse Restaurant located in the historically quaint town of Washington. Although the town is quite small, it is normally known for three things: Antique shops, the Steamboat Restaurant and one hell of a speed trap, as the local police seem to have an erotic obsession with writing tickets faster than a scalded cat. The town of Washington was founded in 1720 and incorporated in 1835, making it one of the oldest settlements in the state. The town is bordered by a main body of water, originally known as the “River Opelousas” but was later named Bayou Courtableau in honor of one of the first pioneers of the area, Jacques Courtableau. The bayou served as a major source of transportation and importing. Small settlements began to spring up along these waters, making Washington the largest inland port between New Orleans and St. Louis during much of the nineteenth century.