Senin, 19 Maret 2012

Top 10 Creepiest Tales of Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe. Can you think of a name more synonymous with spine-tingling macabre literature? A master craftsman of prose and poetry alike, Poe dwells in that dark corner of our literary consciousness, along some creaky corridor laden with dust and cobwebs. Even more than a century on, reading Poe still feels like walking a razor’s edge between grim amusement and irrevocable madness. Here is a list of ten of Poe’s best-known tales and poems. Halloween’s still a few months off, but there’s no harm in starting early…
published 1849
Hopfrog Greg Hildebrandt
A dwarfish court jester serves as the titular character of this fiendish revenge tale. Hop-Frog is the childish king’s favorite entertainer. But when the king and his foppish cabinet humiliate Hop-Frog’s friend Tripetta, he decides to play a prank of his own. He dresses them as apes for the king’s grand masquerade ball, and then sets them on fire in front of the shocked crowd. As he escapes with Tripetta, Hop-Frog revels in his vengeance, declaring “This is my last jest.”

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
published 1845
In the mid-19th Century, the pseudo-science of mesmerism was all the rage in the salons of America’s bourgeoise, and Poe made it the central theme of this gruesome short story. On the verge of death from tuberculosis, one M. Valdemar agrees to be hypnotized in a crack-pot experiment in immortality. Unfortunately for Valdemar, his soul becomes trapped in his now-dead and increasingly yucky earthly remains. Definitely one of the more graphic Poe stories, and among one of several to deal with the terrors of deathly consciousness.

The Black Cat
published 1843
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The narrator and his wife own several pets. Among them is a large black cat named Pluto. One day, in a drunken rage, the narrator blinds Pluto in one eye, and then later hangs the cat from a tree. Mysteriously, the house burns to the ground, leaving a silhouetted mark of a cat hanging from a gallows. Later, our narrator acquires another cat eerily similar to Pluto. Again, incensed with drink, he attempts to kill the cat but murders his wife instead, hiding her body in a cellar wall. When the police come sniffing around they’re drawn to a wailing sound coming from the wall. They then discover the wife’s body, atop which sits the screeching black cat, condemning its master for his terrible crime. [Image: Aubrey Beardsley’s “Poe’s Black Cat”]
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
published 1841
C. Auguste Dupin is a man who lives in Paris, and he takes it upon himself to solve the shocking murder of two women after a suspect has already been arrested. Multiple witnesses claim to have heard the murderer, but report different languages being spoken. Later at the crime scene Dupin discovers a hair that cannot be human. It is then learned that the murderer is in fact an escaped Ourang-Outang. This is considered to be the birth of the detective story. And face it, what’s scarier than a massive, knife-wielding primate?
The Cask of Amontillado
published 1846
In some nameless European city in some unspecified year, old Montresor finds himself with a grudge on poor Fortunato, and entirely too much free time to think about revenge. Montresor waits until Fortunato is good and drunk at the carnival before he lures him to his wine cellar for a swig of fine Spanish sherry. He then chains an increasingly-sober Fortunato to a niche in the wall and ruthlessly seals him in. And there he remains forever. “In pace requiescat.”

The Masque of the Red Death
published 1842
Prospero, a ridiculously-detached potentate whose domain is being ravaged by a plague called the Red Death, invites his wealthy friends to take refuge in an abbey and leave the poor to their fate. During a lavish masquerade ball, a mysterious cloaked figure wanders through the abbey. Thinking it to be an uninvited guest, Prospero confronts the figure, and to his horror discovers that it is the embodiment of the Red Death itself. Decadent Prospero and all his guests then fall ill and die, unshielded and unexcluded from the misfortunes of the world at large.
The Fall of the House of Usher
published 1839
An unnamed narrator arrives at the home of reclusive basket case Roderick Usher and his sickly twin sister Madeline. Roderick suffers from extreme sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety and hypochondria. Madeline suffers from a wasting disease, and she eventually dies and is buried in the family crypt within the cavernous mansion. On a stormy night, the narrator and Roderick begin to hear screeching and crashing noises in the house. We learn that cataleptic Madeline had not died when she was buried, and she has returned to confront her mad brother, who in turn dies of fright. The narrator then flees as the cursed house is swallowed by the murky bog.
The Tell-Tale Heart
published 1843
Here we follow a narrator trying to prove his sanity to himself after murdering his elderly roomate. Driven mad by the old man’s “vulture-like” eye, the narrator slays him in his bed and hides the dismembered corpse beneath the floorboards. When the police show up to question him, the narrator finds himself at the mercy of his heightened senses. He begins to hear a steadily-increasing heartbeat coming from the floor. Sure that the police must hear it too (they don’t), he confesses to the crime. Recounting the events, presumably to a judge, the murderer’s innocence is less important than his sanity, or lack thereof.
The Pit and the Pendulum
published 1842
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This story follows the horrors endured by a prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition. Guilty of an unknown crime and placed in a completely dark chamber, the protagonist is subjected to tortures only Poe could dream up. Drifting in and out of consciousness, he discovers that he is strapped to a platform above which swings an slowly-dropping pendulum blade. He eventually finds a way out and is saved by an unlikely rescue. This story is unique in that it relies almost entirely on senses such as sound to convey primal fear rather than the supernatural. The only visual descriptions are fleeting at best, and only serve to heighten the terror of what is unseen.
The Raven
published 1845
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This narrative poem is undoubtedly Poe’s most famous work. Musical, mysterious, even maddening, Poe spins the tale of a grieving lover who is visited by a talking Raven on a cold winter’s night. At first, the narrator is curious as to the purpose of the Raven’s one word: “Nevermore.” He is soon overcome with memories of his lost love Lenore, and begins to feel her presence. Believing the Raven to be a messenger from the next world, the narrator implores it to say if they will be reunited in heaven, to which the Raven responds “Nevermore.” We follow the narrator’s descent into madness and despair as the Raven sits forever above his chamber door, forever tormenting him with its call.

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Rabu, 14 Maret 2012

Another 10 Eerie Haunted Places

Many of you will remember our original list of haunted places in which we visited some of the most famous haunted sites in the world. This list contains fewer famous, but equally spooky places. Not restricted to houses, we also look at graveyards and towns.
Babenhausen Barracks
Gun Park Babenhausen 1974
At the German Babenhausen Barracks (now a museum) the ghosts of German soldiers, some in World War II era uniforms, have been reported. Lights are said to turn off and on by themselves and voices are heard in the basement. Footsteps and commands are allegedly heard at night, supposedly without physical cause. Legend has it that if a soldier happens to visit the museum and pick up a telephone, a woman will at times be heard “talking backwards”, unintelligible, in neither German nor English. The town was the site of a witch burned at the stake in the 19th century, and her ghost is said to have seduced, and then killed, several German soldiers since then. Pictured above are two American Soldiers at the Barracks in 1974. [Wikipedia]

The Screaming Bridge
Maud Hughes Road is located in Liberty Township, Ohio. It has been the site of many terrible accidents and suicides. Railroad tracks lay 25 feet below the bridge, and at least 36 people have been reported dead on or around the Maud Hughes Road Bridge. Ghostly figures, mists, and lights have been seen, as well as black hooded figures and a phantom train. The legend says that a car carrying a man and a woman stalled on top of the bridge. The man got out to get help while the girl stayed. When the man returned, the girl was hanging on the bridge above the tracks. The man then perished with unexplained causes. To this day, many people have reported hearing the ghosts’ conversations, then a woman’s scream followed by a man’s scream. Another story says that a woman once threw her baby off the bridge and then hanged herself afterwards. [Wikipedia]

112 Ocean Avenue
800Px-Amityville House
This house will be no stranger to people who love horror movies. It is the house on which the film The Amityville Horror is based. The house is a six-bedroom Dutch Colonial style house built in 1924. The best known feature of the house was, at one time, its pair of quarter circle shaped windows on the third floor attic level, which gave it an eerie, eye-like appearance. These windows have since been removed and the house renumbered to keep tourists away. On November 13, 1974, 23-year old Ronald DeFeo, Jr. fatally shot six members of his family at the house. During his murder trial in 1975, he claimed that voices in his head had urged him to carry out the killings. He was found guilty and is still in jail in New York. In December 1975, George Lutz and his wife, Kathy, purchased the house and moved in with their three children. After 28 days they left the house, claiming to have been tormented by paranormal phenomena while living there. The family experienced foul smells, faces at the windows, screams, moving objects, and all manner of bizarre phenomena. The image above is the house as it appears today. [Wikipedia]
Pickens County Courthouse
Face In The Courthouse
The Pickens County Courthouse in Carrollton, Alabama is a courthouse in west Alabama famous for a ghostly image that can be seen in one of its windows. The image is said to be the face of Henry Wells, who, as legend has it, was falsely accused of burning down the town’s previous courthouse, and lynched on a stormy night in 1878. The image on the window is easily seen, although it is more face-like from some angles than from others. It is said that the image is only visible from outside the courthouse; from inside the pane appears to be a normal pane of glass. Since the photo above was taken, the city of Carrollton has installed, on the exterior of the courthouse, a reflective highway sign with an arrow pointing to the pane where the image appears. There are permanent binoculars installed across the street from the window for people who wish to get a closer look. [Wikipedia]
Balete Drive
Balete Drive is a street located in New Manila, Quezon City, Philippines. It is known for apparitions of a white lady and haunted houses which were built during the Spanish Era (1800s). New Manila has an abundance of balete trees, which, according to legend, is a favorite spot of wandering spirits and other paranormal beings. Paranormal experts believe that the white lady was raped by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. Witnesses of the white lady, advise motorists to avoid the street at night, especially if they are alone. If it is necessary to travel the route, they advise that the backseat of the car is fully occupied and that no one should look back or look in any mirrors. The apparition wears a night gown, has long hair but has no face or one covered with blood. [Wikipedia]

Rosenheim, Bavaria
More well known as the Rosenheim Poltergeist, this infestation of bizarre activity is one of the most well known in Germany. In 1967, strange phenomena began occurring in the office of lawyer Sigmund Adam. Telephones would ring with no one at the other end, photocopiers spilt their ink, and desk drawers would open without being touched. A German paper installed equipment to monitor the phones and in 3 month they recorded over 600 calls to the speaking clock – despite the fact that all of the telephones were unplugged. In one 15 minute period, 46 calls were recorded – a rate that seemed impossible given the mechanical dialing system in place. In October 1967, all light bulbs in the building went out with a huge bang. After installing cameras and voice recorders, investigators were able to discover that the events only took place when 19-year-old Annemarie Schneider (a recently employed secretary) was present. It was claimed that a suspended light would swing violently when Ms Schneider walked beneath it, and the lights would flicker whenever she walked in to the office. When Schneider went on holiday the events stopped. Upon her return, the poltergeist activity returned. Schneider was fired and the problems stopped for good. Pictured above is Schneider beneath the lights that were seen to swing.
Bélmez de la Moraleda
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One house in one street in Bélmez de la Moraleda, Spain has recently become very famous thanks to eerie faces that have been appearing in the floor. Street Real 5 has become a popular attraction for ghost tourists as the faces appear frequently and can be easily photographed. The appearances in Bélmez began on August 23, 1971 when María Gómez Cámara saw a face appear on her cement kitchen floor. Her husband took a pickaxe and destroyed the face. Soon after another one appeared. An excavation, conducted under the location of the house, revealed human remains, which were removed. The picture above is one of the faces.
Union Cemetery
Union Cemetery in Easton, Connecticut is not just the most haunted cemetery in Connecticut, it is considered by many to be the most haunted cemetery in the United States. The most famous ghost there is the White Lady. Numerous photographs have been taken of her and she has even been caught on film. She has long dark hair and wears a bonnet and nightgown. She frequently appears in the roadway along route 59 and sometimes route 111 where she is often “hit” by oncoming vehicles. On one occasion in 1993, a fireman was driving along the road when he hit the lady – he heard a thud and a dent was left in his vehicle. As the woman appeared in front of his car he also saw a farmer with a straw hat sitting beside him in the car. The cemetery is locked at night and regularly patrolled by the police. The image above is one of many that can be found on the Internet.
The Street2
Pluckley is a small village in Kent, England that is believed to be the most haunted village in England. In addition to the 12 (some say 13 or 14) ghosts in Pluckley, the village is also famous for the television program The Darling Buds of May which was filmed there. Of the ghosts you can see here, the most spectacular are the ghostly highwayman and coach and horses seen near the town hall, the ghost of a gypsy woman burned to death in her sleep, two hanging bodies, a phantom monk, three upper class ladies and, perhaps spookiest of all, the Screaming Woods. The Screaming Woods is an area just outside the town haunted by the ghosts of many people who were lost there. Their screams can be heard coming from inside the forest at night.
50 Berkeley Square
This residential area of London best known for the song A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, is also home to the most haunted house in London! Number 50 Berkeley Square is home to a large number of ghosts, the earliest of which is that of a young girl murdered in the 1700s by a sadistic servant. She is frequently seen on the top floor sobbing and wringing her hands in despair. Another woman trying to escape her uncle fell from a window – her ghost is often seen hanging from a windowsill. While the house was vacant in the 1870s, the neighbors heard numerous screams and moans coming from the house. They also heard furniture moving, bells ringing, and windows being slammed shut. Years later the house was occupied by a Mr. Dupre, who locked his insane brother in a room on the top floor. He fed the insane man through a special opening in the door. This is the room that is supposed to be central to the haunting. The house is currently home to a bookstore – strange occurrences have been noted by all of the staff of the shop. The top floor is kept locked at all times and no one is allowed to enter it.
This article is licensed under the GFDL because it contains quotations from the Wikipedia articles cited above.

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Kamis, 08 Maret 2012

Top 10 Bizarre Curses

History is full of curses – even dating back as far as Biblical times. These curses are normally attributed to simple bad luck but many of them do make for very eerie reading. This is a list of the ten most famous curses.
10. Björketorp Runestone 1901
This is one of a group of runestones found in Blekinge, Sweden, dating back to the 6th century AD. The stones measure up to 4.2 metres in height. Some of the stones appear in circles while others stand alone. The Björketorp stone bears the following inscription:
I, master of the runes(?) conceal here runes of power. Incessantly (plagued by) maleficence, (doomed to) insidious death (is) he who breaks this (monument). I prophesy destruction / prophecy of destruction.
A local legend relates that the curse was once tested and proved. A very long time ago, a man wanted to remove the stone so as to get more land to cultivate. He piled wood around it in order to heat it up and then crack it with water. The weather was dead calm and there was no wind. He had just lit the fire when a sudden gust of wind turned the direction of the flame setting the man’s hair on fire. He threw himself on the ground to extinguish it, but it spread to his clothes and the poor man died in terrible agony. However, the fire around the rune stone was extinguished as if an enormous hand had enveloped the stone and smothered the fire.
Read all about the paranormal subjects in Famous Curses at!

9. Curse of the Bambino
The curse of the Bambino refers to the run of bad luck that the Boston Red Sox experienced after trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1920. Up until that time, the NY Yankees had never won a World Series, and hoped that Ruth would change this for them; he did. After the trade, the Boston Red Sox did not win the World Series Title again until 2004. During their winning game, a total lunar eclipse occurred – a first for the World Series. Even more dramatic was the fact that the 2004 win was against the New York Yankees.

8. Curse of Tippecanoe 800Px-Tip And Ty Banner
William Henry Harrison won the presidency in 1840 with the slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.” This refers to his participation in the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. One year later, he died. From then, until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, every president elected in a year ending in a zero died whilst serving their term. The years and presidents who suffered this curse were: 1840 (W Harrison – natural causes), 1860 (Lincoln – shot), 1880 (Garfield – shot), 1900 (McKinley – shot), 1920 (Harding – natural causes), 1940 (F Roosevelt – natural causes) and 1960 (Kennedy – shot). Interestingly, an assassination attempt was aimed at Reagan – had it succeeded, he would have died before the end of his first term.
7. Curse Of Superman
The superman curse refers to the misfortunes that occurred to people involved with the Superman story over the years. Probably the most famous people to have been allegedly afflicted by this curse are George Reeves, who played superman in the television series, and Christopher Reeve who played the character in the early movies. George Reeves committed suicide, and Christopher Reeve became paralyzed after falling from his horse. Other victims often named are Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster who created the character but made very little money from it because DC Comics, their employer, held all the rights. Some even say that Jerry and Joe put the curse on the character because of what they believed was unfair compensation for their work. There is even speculation that John F Kennedy was a victim of the curse. Shortly before his death, his staff approved a Superman story in which the hero touts the president’s physical fitness initiatives, scheduled to be published with an April 1964 cover date. Because of this curse, many actors have refused to play the role of Superman in the latest movie. Paul Walker (Top 10 Bad Male Actors) was one of these actors, though perhaps in his case it is for the best, as he was more likely to kill the role than to have the role kill him.
6. Curse of the Billy Goat
The Curse of the Billy Goat is a curse on the Chicago Cubs that started in 1945. As the story goes, Billy Sianis, a Greek immigrant, had two $7.20 box seat tickets to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers, and decided to take along his pet goat, Murphy (or Sinovia). The goat wore a blanket with a sign pinned to it which read “We got Detroit’s goat”. Sianis and the goat were allowed into Wrigley Field and even paraded about on the playing field before the game before ushers intervened and led them off the field. After a heated argument, both Sianis and the goat were permitted to stay in the stadium occupying the box seat for which he had tickets. Before the game was over, Sianis and the goat were ejected from the stadium at the command of Cubs owner, Philip Knight Wrigley, due to the animal’s objectionable odor. Because the Cubs organization had insulted his goat, Sianis was outraged and allegedly placed a curse upon the Cubs, that they would never win another pennant or play in a World Series at Wrigley Field. The Cubs lost Game 4 and eventually the 1945 World Series, prompting Sianis to write to Wrigley from Greece, saying, “Who stinks now?” Following a third-place finish in the National League in 1946, the Cubs would finish in the league’s second division for the next 20 consecutive years. This streak finally ended in 1967, the year after Leo Durocher became the club’s manager.

5. James Dean’s Porsche Jamesdeancar
At 5:45 p.m. on 30 September 1955, film icon James Dean was killed in a car accident when his new Porsche Spyder (nicknamed “Little Bastard”) crashed head on into another car. Rolf Wutherich, Dean’s friend and mechanic (who had been riding with the movie star) was thrown from the Spyder and survived the wreck, but Dean was pinned inside, his neck broken. Donald Turnupseed, the driver of the other car, suffered only relatively minor injuries. After the tragedy, master car customizer George Barris bought the wreck for $2,500. When the wreck arrived at Barris’ garage, the Porsche slipped and fell on one of the mechanics unloading it. The accident broke both of the mechanic’s legs. While Barris had bad feelings about the car when he first saw it, his suspicions were confirmed during a race at the Pomona Fair Grounds on October 24, 1956. Two physicians, Troy McHenry and William Eschrid, were both racing cars that had parts from the “Little Bastard.” McHenry died when his car, which had the Porsche’s engine installed, went out of control and hit a tree. Eschrid’s car flipped over. Eschrid, who survived despite serious injuries, later said that the car suddenly locked up when he went into a curve. Accidents continued to occur in relation to the car, until 1960 when it vanished. Its whereabouts is still known.
4. The Kennedy Curse
The Kennedy Curse refers to a series of unfortunate events that have happened to the Kennedy family. While these events could have happened to any family, some have referred to the continual misfortune of the Kennedy family as a curse. Several of the Kennedys died young, notably brothers John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy who were assassinated while in office, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., who died in a 1999 plane crash. Other members of the family cited as evidence of the curse are John F Kennedy’s sister, Rosemarie, who was institutionalized due to an unnecessary lobotomy, Joseph Kennedy, killed during World War II, Edward Kennedy Jr, who had his leg amputated at age 12, and Michael Kennedy, who died in a skiing accident.
3. The Hope Diamond
The Hope Diamond dates back to 1642, it is a diamond noted for its remarkable color, size, clarity, beauty, and history. The Hope Diamond is a very brilliant deep blue faceted ovoid diamond, that measures 25.60 millimeters by 21.78 millimeters by 12.00 millimeters and weights 45.52 carats. The diamond is set in a pendent in which it is encircled by sixteen white diamonds. The Hope’s color is a combination of blue, caused by boron, as in all blue diamonds, and gray diamonds. It is most famous for bringing great misfortune upon its owner. According to the legend, a man named Tavernier made a trip to India and while he was there, he stole the large blue diamond from the forehead (or eye) of a statue of the Hindu goddess Sita. For this transgression, Tavernier was torn apart by wild dogs on a trip to Russia (after he had sold the diamond). King Louis XVI is probably the most famous owner of the diamond – he was ultimately beheaded along with his wife Queen Marie Antoinette. It was eventually donated to the Smithsonian institute. The Hope diamond is currently on display as part of the National Gem and Mineral Collection in the National Museum of Natural History for all to see.
2. The 27 Club
The 27 Club, also occasionally known as the Forever 27 Club, is a popular culture name for a group of influential rock and blues musicians who all died at the age of 27, sometimes under mysterious circumstances. There is some debate as to the criteria used to include people in the “27 Club”. The impetus for the Club’s creation was the death of an unusual number of 27 year old prominent musicians within a two year period of time. Lists commonly include Hendrix, Morrison, and Joplin; Brian Jones is usually included too. Kurt Cobain is now often included due to his impact on music in more recent years.
1. The Curse of Tutankhamen
A few months after the opening of Tutankhamen’s tomb tragedy struck. Lord Carnarvon (the financial backer of the search for Tutankhamen’s tomb), 57, was taken ill and rushed to Cairo. He died a few days later. The exact cause of death was not known, but it seemed to be from an infection started by an insect bite. Legend has it that when he died, there was a short power failure and all the lights throughout Cairo went out. His son reported that back on his estate in England his favorite dog howled and suddenly dropped dead. Even stranger, when the mummy of Tutankhamun was unwrapped in 1925, it was found to have a wound on the left cheek in the exact position as the insect bite on Carnarvon that lead to his death. By 1929 eleven people connected with the discovery of the Tomb had died early and of unnatural causes. This included two of Carnarvon’s relatives, Carter’s personal secretary, Richard Bethell, and Bethell’s father, Lord Westbury. Westbury killed himself by jumping from a building. He left a note that read, “I really cannot stand any more horrors and hardly see what good I am going to do here, so I am making my exit.”

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