They Walked Like Men and Screamed

By: Joseph Guerra

(The clip above is from the famous Gable Film that supposedly shows footage of the Dogman)

Every October for has a special meaning for me as a person who has lived in Michigan all my life. And when I say that I mean it’s particularly exciting for someone from the northern part of the state. That’s because every October means the return of Michigan’s own Dogman. More important than the pumpkin or even trick or treating, for people who have heard the legend know that Halloween isn’t a time for celebration but instead a time for fear, a time when the Dogman comes out to play. The Dogman in our times has become popular through a song that originally played in 1987 on a local country radio station. The song speaks of a creature that stands on two legs which looks and howls like a dog. Unlike the werewolf, a dogman is and always was a wild animal that loves to attack and frighten its prey. The legend says that the dogman only comes out on the seventh year of every decade, but that doesn’t stop sightings from all year round. People who have encountered the creature describe the terror of watching an animal walk like a man as well as the fact that it’s a goddamn seven foot tall wolf. Cabins have been found destroyed, livestock have been found slaughtered, and the whole town of Sigma in the northern- most part of the state has its whole populace vanish without a trace, with hundreds of wolf tracks surrounding the houses in the village. The Dogman is a real monster.

Which brings me to the reason has to why I’m writing about it. The legend of the Dogman has always been an integral part of my Halloween as well as why I love horror. If you look at the Wikipedia article for the Dogman you’ll find that it says the creature resides in Wexford County. That’s literally where I was born and raised. Every single October I would eagerly search for signs of the Dogman and I would listen to WTCM just to hear the song play again. I never found any signs but I loved the idea that a monster might live outside my house. Of course, I also spent a lot of nights staying awake as I lived right next to several hundred acres of forest. Nevertheless, the legend played a huge part in my search for even scarier stories, which lead me to Stephen King, Wes Craven, and other icons of horror. Although I live in Ann Arbor now I always listen to the song every October as a reminder of home and that childhood feeling of fear. If there’s a point to all this it’s that sometimes horror can be just as close to your heart as a childhood friend or your first crush. The Dogman will always have a special place in my heart, and hopefully you have something that scares you as well as brings out the warm fuzzies.

Recurring Dreams

By: Onaca Bennett

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I’ve always had an incredibly active imagination. My mother tells me, although I can’t remember it myself, that I used to tell her stories about odd men that would come and take me away in the middle of the night. Oftentimes, when I do dream I dream so vividly that I wake up trying to remember if certain events actually happened in the real world, or if they were all just in my head. Honestly, I still sometimes wonder if I really couldn’t levitate on brooms as a child, because I’m occasionally sure that I can perfectly remember it. The dream I remember the most from childhood though, and definitely the one I’m most creeped out by, is a certain recurring one about aliens.

Once a year, around the same month, I would have this dream. It started out fairly normally, in the elementary school that I went to. It would be the end of a class day, and most of the kids had left, though one or another that I was close to that year would usually still be hanging around. Slowly, I would realize that something was wrong, and begin looking for my mother, who worked as a teacher there. Halfway to her, in front of the cafeteria, I would run into one of the teachers. She seemed to be talking oddly, in a stilted, buzzing sort of speech, until finally I would try to pass her and antennas would slowly rise from her head.

I’m not entirely sure what happened between that and the end of the dream, for all the times I had it, but I know that it usually involved a lot of running, battling, and a general alien invasion of the school. Every year, I would end up with the aliens captured, or retreating to their spaceship, telling me that they would return again the next year. And they did. Year, after year, after year.

Then, one year, the dream came, we battled, the aliens were defeated, and they looked at me and said…well, not what was always said. They told me they were done, and that they were never coming back. And the thing that really freaks me out about that, above all else? After that, I never had the dream again. Not even once.

I’ve had nightmares about haunted mansions, detached thumbs hanging from cave ceilings, murderers invading my house, and wedding massacres, but the fact that these gosh darned aliens came back every year, at the same time, and stopped coming after they said they would, just gets to me. I mean, I’m not gonna say that I secretly must have actually had aliens invading my mind every year, but isn’t it just a little creepy to you?

Ordinary Horror

By: Grace Hamilton

Vampires are terrifying. So are werewolves and witches come Halloween. Ghosts and ghouls creep into bedrooms and make shapes in the dark. Blockbuster hits give us headless zombies and videogames fill homes with unstoppable gunmen.

The texts in this course have shown us similar kinds of horror. These examples demonstrate a realm of fright belonging to an alternative universe. I don’t remember the last time I accidentally went on a date with a vampire or stumbled upon the devil, do you?

This raises the question: what does horror look like in this universe? In the human world you are living in this very moment. It’s there, I promise…

black hole 2

We are all familiar with the feeling of fear. Fear is the feeling produced in us when we are unsure where the murderer lurks in the house on the screen before us. It is the feeling we feel when we think we hear footsteps in our quiet homes. When we think we are being followed, or when we are young and we think that a monster is beneath our bed. We may tense up a bit, breathing increases, the room feels hotter, and your stomach tightens. Books, films, and oral stories alike have the power to make us sweat.

But what about the fear we experience when we watch horror on the news? Terror overseas that fills people’s homes and sleep. This is the kind of horror that makes entire countries tremble with fear and close their blinds.

There is also horror in the mundane that many of us experience glimpses or inklings of every day. Fear and horror usually take a very different shape in our everyday lives then they do on print, in picture, or on screen. In those instances, the horror is defined by who is telling the story and how it is being told. It is quite another thing when we are living the story itself.

This feeling, fear, is the same one that we get when we see a voicemail from mom after we know we have made a mistake, or “your exam scores have been posted.” Or when you know your heart is about to be broken.

I fear intensely the passage of time. I find its speed horrifying. I think expectations can be terrorizing, hopes can be dangerous, regret makes my blood run cold, and memories are often spooky. The prospect of rejection makes my hairs stand on end and the future is the ultimate creator of panic. These are my monsters, and far more frightening then any myth or movie.

So think about it: What is it that really keeps you up at night?

Some Ghosts Just Want to Play

By: Marijn Meijer

I like to consider myself a pretty logical man, someone who doesn’t fall prey to the faux-news stories shared on the internet and stands his ground on topics of debate until presented with well-researched, established, and convincing counter-arguments. One of these topics includes the existence of ghosts, ghouls, and other incarnations (or reincarnations) of dread and the afterlife. My long-seated beliefs have admittedly been questioned after I sat around the dinner table with my long-time friend, Josh, and his family. They shared with me a plethora of short, albeit creepy, stories of their old house from my hometown of Saline, and the ghost, “Tomas” who dwelled within its walls.

Through the flickering of dim candle light Josh’s mother recalls the precursors to the haunting of the household ten years ago. She starts with the story of Josh’s little brother, who was four at the time. He was playing in his newly cleaned room when his mother comes in to see the place a mess. Before she can say a word, his brother looks to her and tells her that his new friend, who he calls “Tomas”, wanted to play, and insisted on taking everything off the shelves to find what toys he wanted to play with. A week later, Josh hears a bloodcurdling female scream from the basement while getting ready for school. After investigation, he tries to play it off as nothing. But this was only the beginning of a long series of paranormal encounters.

Weeks pass with no incident before a friend of Josh’s older sister visits with an Ouija Board, where they try to contact the afterlife. Josh, his sister, and her friend contact his cousin Rachel, yet “Rachel” cannot recall anything from her previous life aside from the family in the house, which leads them to believe it was another entity trying to impersonate her. After Josh’s sister confronts the entity, he threatens to harm her on Halloween if she doesn’t listen to him. At the time they did not know who – or what – this entity could be, but soon the pieces fall into place.

A month goes by, and Halloween was quickly approaching. In the basement (containing Native American artifacts that Josh’s father collects), Josh, his brother, sister, and cousin were sleeping. His sister wakes in the night to a young, friendly seeming boy. She was in shock, frozen with fear until he shows that he was only trying to play. Soon, she becomes more comfortable. As he approaches her, a presence with a farmer hat lingers at the door. She believes it was the father of the boy, filled with anger that the boy wanted to play, demanding that he goes off with him and now realizes that the threats are likely from this overbearing father, in attempt to keep the family away from his son.

The day before Halloween, as the entire family sits in the living room, they hear a dim chatter coming from the kitchen. As Josh’s mother goes to investigate, she discovers the radio is still on. As she goes to turn it off, the volume cranks to its highest, startling the household. Being too much for the family, they sleep in the living room that Halloween together, in fear of the father keeping his threats against Josh’s sister and the family. He never showed himself that night, but he had one last attempt before they moved away. At the families going-away party Josh, his sister, and cousin amongst others were having their last hurrah in the basement when one of their father’s spears falls off the wall right by his cousin and sister, almost piercing the two.

spear

The spear in its new home.

Saline is a small, strict and religious farm town at its roots, which is why the family believes that Tomas was the murdered son of a strict farmer who also took the life of his wife (hence the screams), even trying to control his family in the afterlife. To me this still seems far-fetched, there could be so many other explanations for the occurrences in the house, but there is no denying the fear I saw in this family’s eyes and the horror that these events – paranormal or not – caused them.

The Zodiac

By: Jake Reece

Zodiac-logo

Arthur Leigh Allen was and remains the prime suspect for the horrifying Zodiac killings in California during the 60s and 70s.  Although there was never enough concrete evidence to suggest Allen was the Zodiac, there is a tremendous amount of circumstantial evidence against him, leading me to believe there is no other possible suspect.  Circumstantial evidence, to me, should be considered as seriously as if it were factual evidence, especially in a case like this where Arthur Leigh Allen has so many “coincidental” connections to the killer.  Arthur Leigh Allen, in my opinion, was the Zodiac.

On the night of July 4, 1969, Darleen Ferrin and Michael Mageau were shot in their car in Blue Rock Springs Park in Vallejo, California.  The Zodiac was carrying a flashlight and a 9mm Luger, killing Ferrin and severely wounding Mageau.  Mageau would later identify Allen as the man who shot him from a suspect lineup photo. (Voigt)

On October 11, 1969, the Zodiac shot and killed taxi cab driver Paul Stine in San Fransisco, leaving behind size 7 black-leather gloves.  Officer Don Fouke, originally responding to the call that stated the killer was a black male, saw a middle-aged, stocky white male of average height with a crew cut and glasses casually walking down the street away from the crime scene with a slight limp.  The call was later corrected to a white male after Fouke ignored the passing man.  The Zodiac later sent a letter to the press that confirmed Fouke saw him.  Allen matched this general physical description and after a surgery he underwent years prior, walked with a slight limp.  Although he did not wear glasses, the Zodiac stated in one of his letters that he wore a disguise.  (Voigt)

Another significant Zodiac case on March 22, 1970 on Highway 132 involved Kathleen Johns getting kidnapped by a man after he reportedly stopped her, told her that one of the wheels on her car was loose, and removed the bolts.  Johns jumped out of the man’s moving car and hid. (Voigt)

Don Cheney, a friend of Allen, reported chilling comments he had made to him prior to the 1969 Zodiac murders.  According to Cheney, Allen talked about killing many people at random, taunting the police with letters and ciphers, using a cross with a circle around it for a signature, calling himself the Zodiac, attaching a flashlight to his gun so he could shoot people in the dark, and loosening the bolts on a woman’s car. (Voigt)  In an interview with Cheney, he remembered Allen showing him a gun with a flashlight fixed to the top with duct tape that matched the light to the scope’s sight. (Prior 2008)

The Zodiac was known for sending letters and ciphers to The Chronicle, often containing oddly misspelled words.  People who knew Allen commented how he would purposely misspell words because he thought it was funny.  Although Allen’s handwriting did not match that of the Zodiac letters, he was ambidextrous, leading me to believe he was able to write very differently with his other hand.  One of the Zodiac’s letters contained blueprints for explosives and stated he would “shoot out the front tire and then pick off the kiddies as they come bouncing out.” (Voigt) Upon investigation of his trailer, police found a 9mm Luger and explosives.  Allen was reported to wear size 10 ½ Wing Walker military issued boot, the same size and type footprint found at a Zodiac crime scene, size 7 gloves, and he wore a Zodiac brand watch, displaying the same symbol signature used in the letters on the face. (Chasingthefrog 2014) An early decoded Zodiac cipher read: “I like killing people because it is so much fun; It is more fun than killing wild game in the forest because man is the most dangerous game of all.” (Voigt) Allen was known to have knowledge of cipher, and he loved the book The Most Dangerous Game, which was about hunting human beings.  Allen also possessed a Royal typewriter with elite type, the same typewriter and type used by the Zodiac.  Lastly, after Allen’s death in August 26, 1992, the Zodiac letters stopped.

What makes horror movie killers scary is the fact that they have this power that allows them to stay hidden.  They are smart, confident, and are mostly able to avoid capture.  We take comfort in knowing that the killers in these movies are not real and that we are safe from them.  The Zodiac, however, is essentially one of these killers that has ripped out of the movie screens and into the world we live in.  He has all of the scary attributes we would expect a movie killer to have, except he was never actually caught.  With little hope for the future, the Zodiac case is one that will most likely remain officially unsolved.

To read more about the Zodiac and Allen, click here or watch the video below.

Citations:

Voigt, Tom. “The Arthur Leigh Allen File.” Zodiac Killer. ZodiacKiller.com.

Voigt, Tom. “The Victims.” Zodiac Killer. ZodiacKiller.com. Web.

Voigt, Tom. “The Letters/Ciphers.” Zodiac Killer. ZodiacKiller.com. Web.

“Movie vs. Zodiac Killer True Story.” Chasing the Frog. Chasingthefrog.com, CTF Media. Web. 1 Jan. 2014. <http://www.chasingthefrog.com/reelfaces/zodiac.php&gt;.

“His Name Was Arthur Leigh Allen.” David Prior, 2008; < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrYITFhq7cE>

The Dark Side of Cartoons

By: Jacob Walker

When people think of the horror genre their minds normally go straight to slasher or possession live action movies such as Halloween or The Exorcist. Additionally, when people think of animated movies their minds go to happy movies such as Cinderella or Toy Story. The horror genre and animated movie style do not cross over, the only exceptions to this are Tim Burton’s wonderful creations. It is puzzling why a style of movie making, where you can make anything happen because the laws of the world do not apply, chooses to not take up a darker side. Is it because animation is supposed to be funny, happy, and for kids. Could it also be that animators are scared to make a horror film because of the difficulties that are unique to horror? If that is the reason than I have three great examples of short animated clips, that take advantage of being animated, that are truly terrifying and have haunted me for days.

The first clip is called The Backwater Gospel. This clip takes place in a little town called Backwater. Within this town everyone but one guitar playing hobo faithfully goes to church and listens to whatever the pastor says. Instead of going to church the hobo sings of The Undertaker. The Undertaker is a mysterious devil like figure who only shows up when someone is about to die. This clip is truly terrifying not because of the plot but the art style the animator chooses to use. The animator chooses to use dark shades for everyone and everything. It gives a very shadowy effect. Another style the animator uses is making everything very rigid and sharp along with making everyone seem like zombies with the use of off colored skin tones, dark non-pupil  eyes, and the mindless way they walk with that disturbing humming noise. Many of these visual effects would be very difficult for a live action movie to reproduce on such a grand scale and it is all these effects that make this clip so terrifying.

The second short animated clip is called Memoria. This clip that follows a young man who visits his childhood home and all the horrors that went on there. This animated film uses a much more realistic animation style for the characters and setting. What does make this scary, which would be difficult for a live action movie to do, is the use of a red tint and cracking of setting whenever he encounters another memory. This red tint and cracking parallels with his own mental breakdown from being within the house. It also leads one on a high anticipation factor of what exactly happened since we only get bits and pieces until he, like the walls, finally breakdown. This parallel and style leads one to sympathizing with the main character even though he is a monster.

The third and final short animated clip is called Who’s Hungry. This clip is about a brother and sister duo who get kidnapped by the ice cream man after he gives them free ice cream. The animation style that made this clip terrifying is the use of size disproportions. The ice cream man is a giant while the two kids are small enough to fit on a coat rack. This size proportion installs the fear of how are two little kids going to escape from a giant. This type of size proportion would not be doable in a live action movie.

Animation and horror are two subjects that do not typically mix and it is a shame that they don’t. Horror is all about taking some fear and intensifying it to some unrealistic proportions. This level of intensity is very difficult to achieve using realistic proportions and people. It is more affective and allows more free rein to do unrealistic things if horror directors simply made it all animated. This would allow the spider to be twenty five feet tall or blood to seem much more realistic and not like corn syrup. I strongly encourage the directors of these three short clips to keep using animation because it allows one to bring out the best in horror.

Behind the Walls

By: Hannah Katshir

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Growing up I was never really one to believe in ghosts. My parents continually drilled the whole “it’s just a movie” mantra into my head that I ceased to believe that anything remotely paranormal could happen in real life. It was all just smoke and mirrors and people dressed up in scary masks – the Scooby Doo effect if you will. Because of this my threshold for horror has always been extraordinarily high. Going to haunted houses was always a fun Friday night with my friends, but I always ended up being the one sitting in the back of the hayride laughing instead of being properly terrified.

hanna1My junior year of high school, all of my past ideas about what can and cannot happen in regards to real life horror were thrown into flux. As a class, the AP Psychology students at my high school annually take a field trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary. I am originally from south central Pennsylvania, and Eastern State is in Philadelphia, so it was only an hour and a half away. A little background on Eastern State: it was created as a new kind of penitentiary – the goal was to inspire change and remorse in the inmates, and it abandoned all ill treatment and corporal punishment which was prevalent in other jails of the same time. However, the system was still very, very strict; the inmates were kept in solitary, as well as kept silent. They were not allowed any connections with each other, were forced to wear hoods any time they exited their cells, and also permitted no connections with the outside world. This system was criticized by many and eventually discarded. Many infamous criminals were held here through the years, including Al Capone and Willie Sutton. The prison was closed in 1971, but there have been eerie stories about the happenings there since the early 1940’s. Eastern State is continually ranked as one of the most haunted places in the world, and there is a lot of clout to back up this accusation.

My personal experience at Eastern State was on one of these guided tours. It was also in the middle of the day on a school field trip, so I wasn’t expecting much real horror out of it. There are specific places inside which are said to be related to specific paranormal activities, so I remember being very nosy around all of those places, just trying to find something out of the ordinary, but not actually believing that anything could or would happen.

There’s no denying that there was a creepy feeling throughout the tour, partly because of the gothic architecture and decrepitness of the building, but also because of the stories we were being told about what had happened right where we were standing. Other than that, we escaped relatively scot-free as a group. Nothing dramatic had happened, and we had all had a fun day off of school in Philadelphia. However, when we got back to the bus and everyone was looking through their pictures from the trip, one girl a couple of seats in front of me – one of my classmates since middle school – started freaking out over something in the background of one of the pictures she had taken. We started passing her camera around and looking at what had startled her so much. In the back of her photo was what looked kind of just like a smudge, but, when looked at closer, could definitely be described as a human-like figure. There were distinguishable extremities off of the blur, and it looked too real to not question. (I wish I could find any of the pictures from this trip, but after trying for a very long time, I couldn’t find anything).

Opinions surround the haunted nature of Eastern State (and hauntings in general) are varied, but it all comes down to what you want to believe, and from that day on, I have been much more willing to believe in things that may not seem so viable at first glance.

For more information on hauntings at Eastern State, click here.