Casserole of Disaster Visits: Eastern State Penitentiary

better eastern1¬†Welcome back to the Halloween Hell Show as we continue our journey through the spookiest season of the year. Speaking of journey, this week we will be traveling around the country and world to some of the weirdest and creepiest places I have visited. It’s a segment I will call “Casserole of Disaster Visits”. (I know it’s lame)

Tonight we start out with what is believed to be the most haunted establishment in not just America but the world. A penitentiary which housed some of the most famous criminals to include Al Capone and Willie Sutton and broke just about anyone who entered its massive doors. This place is this infamous Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Opened in 1829, Eastern State was the first of its kind to bring reform through physical, psychological and spiritual strain, using isolation as the main tool of choice. An imposing structure which was constructed like a wagon wheel where each of the long blocks met in the center, housing hundreds of small single person cells. From the outside it looks like a fortress with its massive high stone walls making it feel nothing less than medieval. This place was without hope by design.

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Many prisons of the late 1800’s through the mid-1900’s required hard labor in general population to serve out a sentence but not Eastern State. The method of reform and penance was to live with one’s self in total isolation away from everything in a cell so small, the bed would take up most of the floor space. Prisoners had no windows other than a small skylight to ensure that even a glance beyond the walls to civilization was impossible. If they misbehaved, torture methods like freezing exposure or loss of circulation tied to a chair was the preferred punishment. This was an institution of psychological pain which was then referred to as “reform”.

The prison was finally closed down in 1971 and was left vacant (other than cats) until 1996 when parts of the cell blocks were refurbished enough to allow people back in as a National Historic Landmark. Tours are daily with the help of an audio headset voiced by the actor Steve Buscemi which is narrated quite well. My friend and I stayed on track for as long as we could but with time constraints we hustled to get as much in as possible minus Steve.

Watch the video of me talking about the Eastern State Penitentiary and my theory of how freezing water-torture came about. I’m not saying it is historically accurate but I am pretty sure it was just as stupid.

The Hell Show continues! Don’t forget tonight I will be doing something live and announcing tomorrow’s #CODAMN! I hope you can be apart of the craziness.

Halloween Bratwurst, Beer and Hot Sauce

Oh World Market. How I love thee, especially during the Halloween season. Every year you bring out the strange and unusual and fill my Hell Show with content. I can’t say great content but nonetheless, content.

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Over the last couple of Halloween Hell Shows, World Market has been the place to be for rare Halloween sodas and adult beverages. Unfortunately, this year the pace of new flavors has slowed in those particular categories but that is not slowing anything down here! Tonight I am reviewing a few items I picked up over the past week and will give them a fair shake in the CoD HQ.

I also picked up a large amount of “horror” themed beer and wine but that will have to wait for the weekend. Lately, the week days have been pretty slammed with work issues so no time for a foggy head during the 9 to 5.

Come join me for Halloween Brats, Beer and Hot Sauce from one of my favorite retail chains; World Market. If you are asking yourself how I filled twelve minutes in a video review I will tell you I don’t know. I just don’t know. But come watch anyway. Or just play it as background noise for Jack-o-lantern carving. Either way.

Big Lots Were Wolf Rug!!!

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I don’t know how they do it but every year Big Lots strikes first and strikes hard with new animatronic Halloween decorations and this season is no exception. I have reviewed new items in the past from Big Lots and it always seems to be a little KB Toys to the Toys R Us, if you catch my drift. Very much a discount store with many of it’s items hovering close to their expiration date or selling cookware from celebrity chefs who fell from grace receiving facial wounds from a prostitute. (that’s a real thing)

I think where I am going with this is Big Lots isn’t known for high-end products. But that is when Halloween hits and holy cats, I dare you to find better for the cost. The aisles of Arizona teas from 1999 seem to drift away when the Halloween season comes around. And let’s just talk about the Halloween season at Big Lots! It starts in July!

Well, I can go on and on waxing love for this retail chain but tonight it is all about the queen of the dance; the Werewolf Rug. This beast comes in around $70 when I purchased it but looking now, they discounted the item down to $50 and for most households, this is still not even the Halloween season yet. Oh well, I still love this and buyer’s remorse won’t hit until December 23rd.

The notable cool features are the eyes which light up blue or red and has the iconic wolf howl. This can be activated through touch or even motion so you can also test out the new defibrillator on grandma when she visits.

All in all, it’s a cool product to start the season off with and I am going to try really hard not to do a posthumous Burt Reynold’s impression, if you know where I am going.

Watch my review and in the comments tell me your favorite werewolf movie. It’s a tough one for me but The Howling still gets me today. How about you, Bright Boy?

Slains Castle

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I will tell you, this season I had the opportunity to visit some pretty amazing and creepy places around the world. Of all the spooky spots I will say this one takes the cake. Said to be the spot that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, Slains Castle is now a ruin south of Aberdeen, Scotland. There are no gates or tolls or a even a sign saying “Slains Castle this way”. Nope, just word of mouth is how I found this one.

I was playing golf at the impossible Cruden Bay golf course losing more balls than my dogs when I noticed a castle way off in the distance from the 9th hole. My caddie informed me that was the infamous Slains Castle and was one of the creepiest place in Scotland so be sure to never visit. He obviously didn’t know who he was talking to and for the rest of the game I hammered him with questions. When he said it was the castle that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, I damn near threw my golf clubs into the sea and ran directly there.

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The next day I set out to visit Slains Castle before, what I thought to be, a mass tourist exodus. Before I get to that, can I tell you how amazed I was that for the entire trip and over 300 miles driving, I drove a manual transmission on the opposite side without incident? That was a shocker.

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The castle was not as easy to find as I had imagined. Like I said earlier, there were no signs or huge billboards like we have in the states. The ruins I saw were way off in the distance so to find the way there was pretty much a guessing game using a sense of direction. When I found a small dirt road, it didn’t feel like the way to a famous castle but like everything else on these trips, the real thing is always more impressive than your expectation little to no fanfare.

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Slains Castle is, in fact, not a tourist attraction. Actually, I don’t even think I was allowed to be there but there was absolutely no one around for miles and miles which made this visit all the more creepy. Oddly enough, later that evening I was reading up on the history of Slains Castle and there were a lot of people who die visiting there! No kidding, a woman was found dead there not long before my visit and in the recent years past people have fallen off the sea cliffs and all sorts of bizarre deaths. Kinda glad I read that after my trip.

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To be there was surreal and absolutely unnerving. It wasn’t like visiting a burnt out old building with urban legends from kids in the neighborhood. No, this was a ruin from the 14th Century that even in it’s prime was creepy enough to inspire the story of Dracula. The sounds of the North Sea crashing against the cliffs were almost completely silenced when inside the open stucture. To add to the lore, a murder of crows flew in and out of holes in the walls and some just perched staring down at you. It was as if hundreds of eyes were on you and not just the crows.

You’ll notice at the beginning of video I enter and quickly turn around. I was a little overwhelmed for some reason. Maybe it was the fact I was walking into a castle for the first time or maybe I heard something, I can’t truly recall. I do remember being shaken right away and you can clearly see that when I did a 180.

I spent roughly an hour walking through the ruins without sign of a single human. No car sounds in the distance. Not even a boat to be seen out at sea. It was such a sensory overload I had to walk out just to collect my thoughts. When navigating the halls it kinda felt like R2D2 as he(?) was stalked by Jawas. It all felt just a little too much.

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Leaving these kind of places is always weird like backing out of the driveway of the Amityville house. It is empty, you know that and I know that but deep down it feels like it isn’t. You get this sense that something is watching you leave and that dreaded sense or foreboding loneliness setting back in. Maybe I am being overly sensitive, I don’t know, but it is a real feeling that even now as I write this in bed, I get goosebumps and the hairs stand on end.

Watch my visit to Slains Castle! Sorry not sorry about the bagpipes.

 

The Banshee Labyrinth

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Oh Scotland, you have my heart. From scenery that would make the most complaisant person weep to history so rich and dark it makes every step sacred as you walk along the same streets as the Jacobites. It humbles you. That’s all I can really say. I am so enamored with history that I often wonder how I am in the business of selling the future.

Today, as we spend the last few days of the Halloween season, I take you to the self-described “most haunted bar in Scotland”, The Banshee Labyrinth. Center in the Edinburgh New City, it is a multilayered pub that offers a little something for everyone. It is only open after 4:30 but I heard it has great food, music and even a cinema. But really, at the end of the day, it is all about the atmosphere. This place is amazing and makes you feel as if you are the etherial plane, between this world and the next.

I lucked out and got a private tour from one of the managers. I knew from his Cramps t-shirt we would be best friends if I was a resident but I will take a personalized tour just the same. He goes into the darker realms of the Labyrinth and shares his stories about all the ghostly happenings in this bar. There is even a coven of witches which is said to have sealed a demonic force in a stone circle that is right above a section of the underground pool rooms. You can enter but you have to leave the same way or you risk getting really hurt. I didn’t take any chances.

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The most famous story was from a group of workers who were renovating parts of the Labyrinth and heard faint crying from one area. When they went to investigate they found a girl with long black hair weeping in the corner with her face buried in her hands. They approached her and she looked up. This is when I would have shit twice and died on the spot. She had no eyes and let out a blood-curdling scream causing the workers to flee from the building for their lives. But that isn’t the worst of it. Later in the day they all received calls informing them someone in their families had died that very afternoon. Hence the Banshee.

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So, come take a tour with me and Drew as we should you Edinburgh and Scotland’s most haunted pub, The Banshee Labyrinth.

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