A (Very) Haunted Homeland

By: Azalea Hinojosa

The following stories were first narrated to me around the age of 7 or 8. They belong to my mom and dad. Both took place during a visit in Mexico. If I ever think about what they told me for too long, the fear I felt more than a decade ago begins to rush back.

(Note: My mom was reluctant to go into too many details. To this day, she still gets chills.)

MOM:

“The house I stayed at in Mexico belonged to my brother-in-law’s mother, who had passed away prior to our visit. There weren’t enough rooms for all of us, so they set up a bed for my sister and I in this hallway area that connected to the kitchen.

In the middle of the night, I got woken up by my sister. She shook me awake and hysterically asked “Do you hear that?!”

It was raining outside but that didn’t matter. I could clearly hear what sounded like someone washing dishes in the middle of the night and in the dark.

On another night, when we were sleeping in an actual room, we heard someone knock on our door. We said “come in”, but no one ever did.

DAD:

“December, 1991. I was 15. That Christmas break, we drove down to Leon, Mexico. We stayed there for one week. It was in Leon, while staying at my stepfather’s parent’s house, that I had the most frightening experience of my life.

Like most other houses in that neighborhood, this one was old, cold, long and narrow; cold because it was December and all of the houses were made out of concrete with no insulation.

This is an example of what the house looked like.

This is an example of what the house looked like.

The room in which Rick (my brother) and I slept in was dark and windowless. We shared a queen size bed with thick, heavy Mexican cobijas (blankets) to keep us warm.

The first night there we were fatigued from the long drive and I slept like a baby. But the second night was the night I will never forget.

I will admit that we were warned by my stepfather’s parents about strange sounds coming from the kitchen and how others have experienced a strong presence of an unnatural being in that house. My stepdad’s nephew mentioned that once he thought he felt someone sitting next to him and quickly jumped in fear because he knew he was home alone.

Despite the fact that these stories were now in my subconscious, what I experienced was 100% genuine.

After touring the city on the second day, we walked back to the house. It was now time for bed. We all went to our rooms and fell asleep. I have no clue what time it was, but that night I randomly woke up. I was very cold and tried adjusting the blanket. As l did so, I looked up and at the foot of my bed there stood a woman I didn’t know. It was a very distinct image.

She was glowing due to a beam of light that was coming from a top corner of the room. She didn’t appear threatening but this strange woman scared me beyond belief! I tried waking up Rick but he didn’t budge. So I closed my eyes and prayed endlessly for her to go away. I eventually prayed myself to sleep.

Then morning came.

I told my family what I had seen. Suddenly, I noticed that I had a super high fever. I had to spend the rest of the week in bed, recovering.

Years after my stepdad’s parents passed away, the house was sold. The new owners uncovered a nice surprise when doing some construction in the kitchen. They found gold coins. They were specifically centenarios which are Mexican coins from the 1800’s. I don’t know how much it was but enough for it to be big news.

In Mexican culture it is believed that if a ghost of some type appears to you it is for a reason. Now, I don’t know why that woman appeared to me, but I will never forget her.”

 

 

TV’s Grand Event

By: Kelsey Mannarino

Trigger Warning: Mention of suicide

My dad celebrated his 50th birthday this past March. A week later, we celebrated his birthday at TV’S Grand Event. This former hotel and now banquet center, is in Trenton, Michigan, which is about an hour from Ann Arbor. I was home that weekend because I had to work the Tigers opening day block party for my job with a Detroit’s sports radio station. Needless to say, my parents forced me to go to the party, so I could be the designated driver. I was really bored and tried to entertain myself, so as a joke I decided to ask the waitress if the place was haunted and she told me that it was. She told me a story of a little boy (ghost) named Charlie who lives in the basement of the building. I don’t remember his story or how he ended up there. Apparently the workers weren’t supposed to let visitors down there but somehow she convinced her boss to let us and my cousin Tony and I were able to look around. In the basement there was a tricycle that they left for him to ride around on which was kind of creepy and cute at the same time. Workers said that the bike will move all the time, they will look away and then look back and it will be in a different spot.

The workers told a bunch of my relatives that we could go upstairs and look around on the second floor, which is now another ballroom type area. The same waitress told us that this area used to be a hotel and tried to describe where each room was. One room in particular had an eerie past. In that room a man had hung himself (I don’t remember why). My cousin Mark can be kind of obnoxious. He thought it would be funny to mock the man who killed himself. While he was mocking the ghost, my cousin Jackie was using the burst camera function on her phone. We didn’t notice anything until we looked at the pictures the next day. It is hard to see what is in the picture unless you have your brightness up very high. What appeared to be in the picture was some sort of shadow thing. It wasn’t any of us because it was pitch black upstairs. Who knows if it actually is anything, but we had a lot of fun thinking that it is something and scaring ourselves.

imgA local ghost-hunting group called The Motor City Ghost Hunters did a tour of this place and documented their findings. Here is a link to their site.

Main Street Emporium

By: Kelsey Mannarino

Ever since I was a senior in high school I have worked at Greenfield Village, which is part of The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The village and museum are very educational and are the top field trip destinations for children in Michigan and surrounding states.

The Main Street Emporium is a single person run store in Greenfield Village. As of now it is a happy place that sells candy and old-fashioned toys, but before that it used to be a Funeral Parlor. Before I worked in the Main Street Emporium I worked in just the Village store. My co-workers that worked in the Main Street Emporium would always tell me about the creepy things that happened to them there. One co-worker said that she would see things fall off of the shelves and another said that the blinds would pop up on their own. When I was promoted I finally got to work in the Main Street Emporium, but it wasn’t until my third year there that I experienced something in the store.

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I really wanted to experience something supernatural so I thought I would download a ghost-hunting app as a joke to see if anything would actually happen to me. The app had really good reviews so I was excited. The app would say random words that related to the place that you were at. Some of the words that I got were “murder” and “hanged.” Let’s just say that I was pretty creeped out.

A few months later I was able to experience something really creepy that I won’t ever forget. This particular event happened in May or June, which are the top field trip months. I was working in the Emporium when a group of six or seven little girls came in the store with their chaperone. They were all talking to me and being cute. For some reason I asked them if they knew what this place used to be? They told me that they didn’t know but wanted to. I told them to guess and one little girl out of nowhere says “A place where dead bodies used to be.” I screamed. I asked them who told her and the chaperone said no one. I then asked her how she knew that this place was a funeral parlor and she said because her house is haunted and that she had the same eerie feeling in the store as she does at home. I was shocked and told everyone that I worked with and every person that walked into the store. It was probably one of the craziest things that have happened there.

The Ghost of Residents Past

By: Azalea Hinojosa

I always knew my grandmother’s house was old but I didn’t realize it was 1895 old. It’s been over a hundred years since the building first went up and, for the most part, the exterior remains untouched: reddish brown brick with beige stone accents. The first floor still has the original hardwood flooring from the 19th century. So when my mom joked about the house being haunted, I laughed off the comment with a kind of “Yeah, whatever. Ghosts aren’t real” nonchalance.

I was the oldest of the grandkids present that day. My younger sister and I had left the family gathering on the first floor and made our way up to the third floor, where our favorite cousin Karina, lived. She is 6 years younger than me, and yet we always managed to find things to do that we all enjoyed. On this particular afternoon, we were watching a movie in her room. Or were we listening to music? Who knows.

The three of us sat in Karina’s room, anticipating the arrival of a few more of our cousins. Partly because we wanted to hang out with them, but mostly because we were waiting on them to eat dinner.

“Let’s go check to see if they’re here!” my sister yelled.

She quickly jumped from the floor and ran from the bedroom to the living room where three big windows peered out onto the street below. Karina and I followed, lightly running to keep up with my sister. (Here’s a hand-drawn floor plan of the third floor to give you a better picture.)

floor-plan“I don’t see their car,” she said.

My sister spent a mere 5 seconds looking down at the line of parked cars before running back to the room, almost colliding with me and Karina on her way back. Karina was the next one to arrive at the window, and she took her turn looking out even though my sister had already spoiled the news. Being a good 2 feet taller than Karina, I could easily peer over her head to see that there was no familiar vehicle in sight.

But out of the corner of my eye, I saw something else. In the room adjacent to the living room, I saw a small figure. A person. It was too blurry to make out any details but I got the sense that it was a male spirit. As I turned to look into the room, there was nothing. Am I going crazy or was there really a little boy there just a second ago? I stayed there for a moment, looking at the spot where the boy had stood, wearing all white and staring at me. For some odd reason, I wasn’t immediately scared. I actually wanted to see the boy again to confirm that I wasn’t imagining his existence.

I was the last one standing by the window, and so I made my way back to Karina’s room to rejoin them. I wondered whether I should tell them what I had just seen, but decided against it. Scaring them with this information would end up frightening me even more. Instead, I simply said “Let’s go back downstairs.” Thankfully, they agreed to this.

I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t think they would believe me.

Two hours after my brief encounter with the little boy, my mom bought us food and suggested we eat it on the third floor since it was much warmer than the first floor. I felt safe up there in the company of my grandma and my mom.

As my sister, Karina and I began to dig into the food that my mother had served us, I noticed that my mom kept staring from the kitchen at the living room area.

“What?” I asked.

She quickly averted her eyes from the living room back to the food.

“Nothing, I just thought I saw someone across walking from that second room to the dining room. It looked like a short man,” she answered.

I stopped eating.

The Old Lady on the Stairs

By: Zachary Hall

A staircase is very similar to the one where my little sister most often would see the “old lady.”

A staircase is very similar to the one where my little sister most often would see the “old lady.”

Had I not seen it with my eyes, or heard about it through people I trust, I truly don’t know if I would believe it. Nevertheless, I had always been 50/50 on whether or not I believed in ghosts, until this date.

I was 13 years old at the time, approximately some 7 years ago to date. And still, after all this time I can vividly see the ghost that lived in our home. My mother was busy getting my little sister’s costume ready in the bathroom, and I stood alone in our living room. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly. I was standing on the living room floor, just inside the entrance leading to the kitchen. I glanced left, where the couch sat, and couldn’t believe what I saw. It was a half witch, half demon looking figure. Its body was a greyish color, with loose wrinkly skin. It had the facial structures of a witch, the long nose, some warts, and the eyes were nothing but empty holes. Long thin hair sat upon both of her shoulders. The most memorable thing though, was the green shimmering light that came from the being. Upon seeing its presence, I let out a scream, and then it vanished. My mother asked what was the matter, but now I was a bit confused with the monster no longer sitting upon the couch. Had I simply been seeing things? I finally replied to my mom, telling her nothing had happened, and figured I was just imagining things. It actually completely slipped my mind until a few weeks later.

We were downstairs eating, and I noticed that my dad was acting a bit strange. When I asked him what the deal was, he told me, “Well I had this dream last night, actually I’m not sure if it was a dream. I swear to god I was awake, but there’s no way I could have been. Anyways, I kept seeing this green light go back and forth in the hallway outside our door. At first I thought I was dreaming, but the more I think about it the more I realize it actually happened.” With this new knowledge, I proceeded to tell both my mother and father about my occurrence. My mother even mentioned that at times she could feel pressure at the foot of her bed, almost like someone was sitting on the edge of the bed. So here’s where the real kicker comes in.

It is said that children and dogs are more susceptible to ghosts than anyone else. Seeing that my sister was 4 and could obviously communicate, she made it quite evident that there was a non human presence among us. She would constantly glance into a completely dark room, or into the darkness of the stair case with a grimacing look, declaring at my mother, “mom, the old lady is scaring me make her stop.” We would look, but could see nothing. This pattern continued for months, and my sister would sometimes cry, and refused to be left alone once the sun had faded. So my mom decided to take action.

Though I must admit I thought it sounded absurd when she told me, I do believe that it worked. One day, when my mother was the only one in the house, she stood in the kitchen, which according to my sister is where the “old lady” hung out most often. She spoke to it, saying that she did not care if the old lady chose to live among us, but to please stop scaring her kids. From that moment on, the weird occurrences stopped, and neither my sister nor anyone else ever mentioned seeing the old lady again.

An Immersive Horror Experience with Ten Thirty One Productions

By: Calvin Amin

The other day I was watching a re-run of Shark Tank (which is perhaps not the most relevant show to write about on this blog) when I noticed a very unique idea that was pitched to the “sharks.” This idea was Ten Thirty One Productions, a company that, if it had to be categorized, would likely fall into the genre of haunted house, but it does a good job differentiating itself from any traditional haunted house experience that I have seen. Currently, Ten Thirty One Productions offers several different horror excursions, including haunted hay rides in both Los Angeles and New York, a newly introduced Ghost Ship experience, and the Great Horror Campout.

While I’m sure the hay rides and Ghost Ship are both terrifying, what really got my attention during the Shark Tank episode was the Great Horror Campout. The campout is a 12-hour, overnight, “choose your own adventure,” horror extravaganza. Throughout the night there are many activities that you are allowed to participate in and during all of them you will be tormented by monsters and other horror figures that I imagine are quite frightening. Alternatively, if you are an individual who is very easily scared (I would probably fall into this category), you can elect to enter the “chicken zone” where you can enjoy camping with friends and watching horror movies without the possibility of monsters jumping out and scaring you half to death. Just to provide some perspective on what the campers who elect to participate in the “high octane horror experience” have to put up with, here is a description from the website; “camp creepers may get entombed in a mass grave, be the hunter and hunted in the latest edition of blood tag, outwit the Pishtaco to survive a hallucinatory cannibalistic nightmare, and much … oh so much more.” While I have no idea who or what Pishtaco is, I personally don’t ever want to participate in any sort of “hallucinatory cannibalistic nightmare.”

One of the activities for the campers who aren’t faint of heart is the “Hell Hunt,” where you go around searching for items, called SCAG (shit campers all get), all the while you are pursued by the monsters of the campout. While it is a little unclear on the website how this hunt works, I believe that the idea is to collect all of the “SCAG” so that you can be crowned “Hellmaster.” During the hunt, campers face many different challenges that can leave them “kidnapped, caged, or trunked.” Basically, everything about the Hell Hunt sounds very atypical to the traditional haunted house experience.

Long story short, if you want an insane and ridiculously immersive horror experience I would suggest looking into some of the attractions offered by Ten Thirty One Productions. I have a hard time watching a horror movie without screaming like a 6-year old, so I don’t know if this would be a very fun time for me, but I’m sure some of the readers of this blog would be interested in this type of experience. Also, if you’re still reading and curious, Mark Cuban ended up investing 2 million dollars into the company for twenty-percent equity. So it’s definitely a well-funded company, which means they likely have one of the best, most thrilling horror experiences right now.

The Finishing School

By: Katie Rehberger

During the Haunted House unit we have looked at houses haunted by devils/demons, ghosts, both demons and ghosts, as well as houses that just seem to be haunted themselves. What we haven’t seen yet is a house haunted by the living (except for maybe Carl in Horrorstor).  The 1969 Spanish film La Residencia (or, in English, The House that Screamed) offers a unique take on the traditional haunted house while also exploring several other paths of horror, making it a truly bone chilling film that holds up well despite its age.

The first horror film by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, La Residencia is set in a French boarding school for troubled young women. The boarding school, however, is more like a prison than a school, run by the strict Senora Fourneau (played by Lilli Palmer) who doesn’t let the girls leave and frequently resorts to corporal punishment. Senora Fourneau also makes sure to keep her own son away from the girls.  The girls, however, start disappearing despite the fact that they can’t leave the boarding school. This plot allows the film to encompass several subgenres of horror—psychological, slasher, haunting, and monster.

The environment that Senora Fourneau cultivates with her severity creates a crucial layer of psychological horror. The general tone of the film is rather tense because of it. Viewers are immediately made uncomfortable by the way these girls—who aren’t even the delinquents they’re made out to be—are treated. The tension is only increased when the first girl disappears. Fear doesn’t even necessarily arise from the disappearance itself—although that certainly is creepy—but the way in which Senora Fourneau responds to the disappearance: by locking everyone in her abusive school. Senora Fourneau puts spectators on edge and the film plays with this, exploring other topics that will increase spectator discomfort. The film does not shy away from sex—there are strong lesbian undertones due to the all girl nature of the school. Viewers never get a clear answer, but it is heavily alluded to that there is sexual abuse occurring within the walls of the school—a truly disturbing thought. Not only that, but, because the girls are confined, they have made a schedule that dictates who gets to sleep with the one gardener when he comes by—a schedule with dubious requirements to become a part of it. The way sex functions in the film is truly unnerving.

Working in tandem with the psychological horror are the disappearances and murders taking the place. The school appears to be haunted as no one can seem to find the source of the terror that has befallen the school. The scariest scene in the film is the last scene when all of our questions are answered. Even though the unsettling and terrifying tensions that have been building up to this point are resolved in this scene, that doesn’t mean the horror dissipates. Rather, the horror culminates in one of my favorite scenes ever (horror or non horror). The scene is not only terrifying because the answer to the murders is so disturbing, it is also spectacularly scripted and acted. I watched the last scene in a film class (having not watched the rest of the movie) and I almost cried it was so great. I then went home and watched the rest of the movie. I expected that the last scene wouldn’t be as impactful the second time around, but it was even scarier and even greater because I was so wound up from the rest of the film. Therefore, I won’t give anything away, but I would strongly recommend at least watching the end of the movie. And watch the totally cheesy YouTube trailer above.