Many is the paranormal researcher who has said Poveglia Island in Italy is one of the scariest places on earth. It has a long, sordid history. It’s been the site of bloody battles, a burial ground for victims of the plague and host to a mental asylum. If tortured spirits would linger anywhere, it has to be amongst the ruins of Poveglia Island.
Today, the island is off limits to the public, but I was lucky enough to interview author J.H. Moncrieff who made it on the island…alone!!! Share her journey as she walks us through her chilling trip…
Also, check out J.H. Moncrieff’s article on the most haunted islands in the world. While you’re there, sign up for her newsletter. You won’t want to miss a single issue!
Now it’s time for me to be a fan boy. I’ve been a huge fan of Jim Harold and his incredible Paranormal Podcast for years. A long time subscriber, I listen to every single episode, from The Other Side, to Crime Scene, Ancient Mysteries and the newest addition, The Cryptid Report (on which I was a guest recently, talking about my old pal, the Jersey Devil. You can check that out here).
It’s an honor to have Jim on this old blog n’ chain. We talk about a possible grand unified theory of the paranormal, dream guests and pursuing podcasting full time. So read on, Hellions, and do yourself a favor and listen to the free podcast and subscribe to his Plus Club. You can thank me later.
When it comes to bringing the best and brightest of the paranormal world to listeners all around the world, your podcasts are the top of the heap. How has this decade-plus ride been for you as creator, chief, cook and bottle washer (to steal your own phrase)?
It has been nothing but great. Of course, there have been frustrations and times when I wasn’t sure it was all going to work out but all in all it has been the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
Everyone has to start somewhere. Who was your first guest and how did you get them on the show, especially being an unknown quantity at the time?
It was July 29, 2005 and the guest was Loyd Auerbach who is one of the best people in this field. I simply wrote him an email asking. He was kind enough to say sure. My plus members can still listen to that show but my ears bleed when I hear it.
You often talk about the impact In Search Of had on you and your career. I see that with so many people of a certain age (like myself) who have gone on to write and create in the horror/scifi/paranormal fields. What was your favorite episode? Which one scared you the most?
Hmm, that is a tough one. I always loved the stuff about The Bermuda Triangle. That eerie music freaked me out. I loved it! (Hunter’s Note : The soundtrack to In Search Of still creeps me out. Literally the only music that gives me the willies.)
People really appreciate the fact that you’re not a ghost/cryptid/UFO investigator. You’re the even-keeled man behind the mic giving voice to those who have dedicated their lives to the study of the strange and unusual. After hundreds and hundreds of interviews, what’s surprised you the most?
That there is very possibly some tie between these different phenomena…I originally viewed everything as very siloed but now I wonder. Is all of this stuff, or at least some, connected?
Over the past year, you ask a lot of your guests about a grand unified theory of the paranormal, where perhaps everything is all part of the same whole. You have a unique view of the entire landscape. Gun to your head, do you think ghosts, cryptids, UFOs, the whole gamut, are related and if so, what do you think is behind it all? If it’s all originating from some starting point, there has to be an originator.
Ah, I anticipated your question in my last answer! I think that there is SOMETHING connecting everything but I don’t know what. I have no idea. I think it is kind of like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where we are just all looking at the shadows on the wall, trying to interpret them but failing because we can’t see what is really going on.
Did you ever interview someone outside of your Campfire show that told a story so frightening (maybe even because it was a horrifying potential reality), it gave you chills or maybe made sleep a little more difficult that night?
I recently did a show on the 1949 case of a possessed St. Louis boy who was the inspiration for The Exorcist. To know, and this is well documented, that there are real cases of what appears to be demon possession is very unsettling to me. If demons come out this aggressively and it is documented, how do they infiltrate our daily lives and we don’t even realize it? Road rage, child abuse, war, etc. The list goes on and on. How many ways does evil invade our lives and we just chalk it up to human nature gone wrong? Is there really something sentient trying to lead the world astray? It makes you think about the existence of a literal Devil.
If we could get a substantial government grant to dedicate millions of dollars and resources to the scientific study of one aspect of the paranormal, which should we choose? I have my own answer that I think we’re going to be in agreement with because of the broader implications.
Life after death, hands down. It answers so many other questions. (Hunter’s note : that’s exactly how I feel! We answer that question, what else really matters?)
Who have been some of your favorite guests? Who is the one guest who has since passed that you wish you’d gotten, and one current dream guest that you’re hoping to get?
I wish I would have been able to interview Budd Hopkins on UFOs, that is one who comes to mind. John Keel is another. Loren Coleman would be a great guest and I’d very much like to interview James Randi. I know that seems counter intuitive but we need to understand the hardcore skeptic to learn how to have communication with other skeptics who might be capable of having an open mind.
A few years ago, you took the leap to full time podcasting, as well as writing. How terrifying was that and how has it been? By the way, the day you announced it, you became my hero. You have the career I dreamed of as a kid.
Thank you. I didn’t dream of podcasting, per se, because it didn’t exist in its current form but I always wanted to be a content creator in both broadcasting and written form. Audio, visual and the written word. Sometimes I would take stories and rewrite them from the neighborhood newspaper with a manual typewriter (remember those?), I would go around the house with a flashlight pretending I was a game show host, so broadcasting seems to have been bred in me as well. Another funny story is how I asked for a DJ “radio studio” toy when I was a kid. I didn’t get it but I have done a really good job of reconstructing it in my home studio now! Amazon must love me. Can you say compensating?
I was moderately scared at first when going full time but I had changed jobs many times while working in traditional media and kind of just viewed this as another job in terms of risk. If it wouldn’t have worked out, I would have just found another job. My wife and family were very supportive and I couldn’t have done it without them. It has been nothing but a blessing and I am so grateful to my audience. The feedback tells me they enjoy what I do and I am so glad it resonates with them. We are all just fellow seekers. I hope your readers will check out the shows at jimharold.com and wherever fine podcasts are heard. Thank you for the time to talk with you and your audience today.
A new Catherine Cavendish book always shivers me timbers. She really knows how to hit my paranormal sweet spot. To celebrate the release of her latest and greatest, Saving Grace Devine, I invited Catherine to stop by and give my Hellions some world class goosebumps. So dim the light, settle into a comfy chair and read the tale of the White Lady of Stow Lake…
In my novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.
From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls and young women, who are apparently bound to the shores of the lake where they died. They all appear to be searching for something, or someone -in dire need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.
And not all of them are benign.
One such wraith seems to constitute a deadly reason why I, for one, would think twice before venturing on a walk around Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Her appearances have been frequent and well documented.
Golden Gate Park is landscaped on similar lines to New York’s Central Park. It hosts a museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, Sprekels Park and, of course, Stow Lake. It also houses a number of ghosts – and even an allegedly moving statue. But more of that later. We’re concerned now with “a thin, tall figure in white.” So said Arthur Pigeon, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 6th 1908. Police had pulled him over for speeding and he told the newspaper that it had blocked his way as he drove out of the park, “…it seemed to shine. It had long, fair hair and was barefooted. I did not notice the face. I was too frightened and anxious to get away from the place.”
Of course, the temptation is to say the man was merely trying to avoid getting a speeding ticket. And if his had been the only report, then that could well have been the case. But it wasn’t. Over the hundred plus years since that Chronicle article, many other people have reported seeing precisely the same apparition.
So who is this mysterious ‘white lady’ of Stow Lake?
There are, as always, a number of theories. One of the more compelling is that in the late 1800s, a young woman was out, walking her baby in its pram around the lake. She became tired and sat down on a bench. Presently another lady came to join her and the two struck up a conversation. So engrossed was the young mother that she failed to notice the pram rolling away. Suddenly she realized it had gone. There was no sign of either the pram or the baby. Panic stricken, she searched high and low, asking everyone, “Have you seen my baby?” No one had. For the rest of that day, and into the night, she searched.
Finally, she realized the baby and the pram must have fallen into the lake. She jumped in and was never seen alive again.
Witnesses who report seeing her speak of a woman in a dirty white dress, sometimes soaking wet and, contrary to Arthur Pigeon’s assertion that she had fair hair, the other reports consistently state she has long, dark hair. Sometimes she is also seen on Strawberry Hill – adjacent to the lake. Her face wears an anxious expression and she has been known to approach people walking around the lake at night. She asks, “Have you seen my baby?”
As for the statue I mentioned earlier, this is called ‘Pioneer Woman and Children’. It has a reputation for moving around – and even changing shape. These phenomena always occur at night and seem directly linked to the white lady. Sometimes the statue’s face changes. Other times, it has no legs or head. Motorists have reported electrical problems. Different cars driving near the statue or lake at the same time have stalled simultaneously.
Finally, if you are brave – or foolhardy – enough, try going down to Stow Lake at night and say, “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times. It is said she will then manifest herself before you and ask you, “Have you seen my baby?” If you say, “yes”, she will haunt you ever after. But, if you say, “no”, she’ll kill you.
Now there’s no documented evidence of the white lady committing murder. But are you prepared to put her to the test?
Can the living help the dead…and at what cost?
When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.
But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.
You can find Saving Grace Devine here:
And other online retailers
Other books by Catherine Cavendish include:
And are currently available – or soon will be – from:
Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and ‘trainee’ black cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century, which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV. Cat has written a number of published horror novellas, short stories, and novels, frequently reflecting her twin loves of history and horror and often containing more than a dash of the dark and Gothic. When not slaving over a hot computer, she enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.
You can connect with Cat here:
We just put this together, so I apologize for the last minute announcement. I’ll be doing a live stream on Sunday, 10/23 at Untermyer Park in Yonkers, NY. You can watch the stream on my Facebook page.
Untermyer Park was home to a very active satanic cult in the 70s and 80s, and known to have been frequented by infamous serial killer, The Son of Sam. The beautiful grounds and old mansion have also seen their share of ghostly apparitions over the years. If you’ve ever wanted to see the legendary spot but can’t get there, this is your chance. We hope to get down the terrifying ‘Fiend’s Path’ while we’re there.
You can bone up on the paranormal happenings here, thanks to the Yonkers Ghost Investigators.
It’s getting chilly outside and I see a smattering of brown crunchy leaves on the ground. That means it’s time to dive headfirst into the pile of books I curate just for the Halloween season, or as I call it, Horrortober. This year’s list may be a bit ambitious, but I think I can do it. That’s along with watching 1 horror movie a day and other decadent things. So, if you’re looking for a hot read when the nights are dark and our spirits colder, pluck one of these off the shelf…
THE NIGHT PARADE BY RON MALFI
First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .
They call it Wanderer’s Folly–a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.
After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.
Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .
EAT THE NIGHT BY TIM WAGGONER
For Joan Lantz, it starts with a dream of a death-cult’s mass suicide in the jungle of Suriname thirty years ago, followed by the discovery of a hidden basement in her new house, where heavy metal music echoes on humid tropical air.
For Kevin Benecke, long-suffering employee of a mysterious organization known simply as Maintenance, it starts with the violent death of his co-worker at the hands of a madman who tells him, The Big Dark is coming for you.
Long-dead cult leader and former rock star Mark Maegarr has returned from beyond the grave, and Joan and Kevin have front-row seats to his apocalyptic comeback. Maegarr’s waited decades to finish what he started, and this time no one will stop him from putting on a killer show designed to hasten the universe’s end.
LOVECRAFT’S CURSE BY BRIAN LETENDRE
A horrific childhood incident cast a shadow over Fela Barton’s life for fourteen years.
Now a 20-year-old college student, Fela survived her first semester of living on campus and is finally ready put the past behind her.
Until the nightmares start again.
Fela’s dreams hold the key to the madness that has plagued her family for generations. But as she searches for answers, a terrible evil gets closer to finding her.
Only one person can help Fela now–and he’s been dead for over 70 years.
LITTLE SECRETS BY MEGAN HART
They’re not alone in the house.
With a baby on the way and a brand new house, it seems Ginny and her husband, Sean, are on their way to a fresh start. But strange occurrences and financial strain seem determined to keep Ginny and Sean stuck in the past. Ginny begins to believe the house may be haunted…or that her husband might be trying to trick her into thinking so. As Ginny researches the house’s former owner and the tragedy that happened there, it becomes clearer than ever that something is in the house with them. The question is, who…or what…is it?
CHELSEA AVENUE BY ARMAND ROSAMILIA
On July 8th 1987, in Long Branch, New Jersey, The Haunted House Pier and Murphy’s Law club fires destroyed not only local landmarks, but everything Manny Santiago found dear.
And it isn’t over.
The entity responsible for killing Manny’s family and wreaking devastation in the small seaside community has reappeared. Again. As it has every year since. And is growing in power.
Every July 8th it returns, as survivors of the fires, including Manny, are mysteriously led back to the now-vacant seaside lot on Chelsea Avenue, where the entity intends to finish what it started in 1987 once and for all.
TAR BY IAIN ROB WRIGHT
How do you go on living when you’re already dead?
The world has ended, yet a few places still cling to life, dragging out their final, dwindling moments until the last second. The United Kingdom is one of those places still left alive, but it is only a matter of time before it too is wiped from the face of the earth.
The Tar is coming, covering every inch of the globe. There is no escape.
It means the clock is ticking for Finn, who needs to find the monster that murdered his sister. The world might be over, but vengeance never dies.
By bestselling author, Iain Rob Wright, comes an apocalypse like no other. Follow a broken brother’s vengeance as he seeks to kill a man who is already dead.
Do the dead speak to us from time to time?
Maybe not so much in words, though that’s been known to happen. Sometimes they communicate with us in dreams, or in a strange happenstance.
I know it’s easy to dismiss those instances as coincidence or an unconscious longing to know that a loved one is not only ok, but nearby.
It’s coming up on 3 years since my father passed away. He went in to have a kidney stone blasted, a simple procedure, and 36 hours later, he was gone. It was devastating.
I’ve literally not purged my phone of pictures since 2013, so a few weeks ago, I decided it was long past due. I wanted to download all of my pics (graduations, vacations, holidays and just goofing around) and save them to my computer and a backup drive.
You all know how that works. It’s real simple. You connect your phone to your computer, select all, and presto, they’re off the phone in one fell swoop.
When it was done, I was relieved, because I was really worried about losing those captured memories. I unplugged the USB cable with a feeling of satisfaction. The old man had conquered modern technology.
I went to my Camera icon on my phone just to bask in the afterglow of a job well done, which in this case would be zero picture files.
I quickly discovered one solitary picture had refused to move on.
It was the last picture taken of my father.
He’d just had the outside of the house redone and was very happy with the results. Super Storm Sandy had done a number on it, and the whole structure had to be resided. We were in the yard and I snapped a pic of the house. My father just happened to be standing by the grill, looking off somewhere to my left. Now, I know it looks like he’s not happy, but that was his ‘I’m conentrating’ or ‘the sun is too damn bright’ look.
And there he still is, in my phone, in a sense, with me at all times, since my phone is practically attached to me.
There is no logical reason why that picture didn’t transfer over. Select All means you select all, not all minus one.
I’ve been doing a lot of flying lately – something I hate and dread – and I guess he wanted to make sure he was there with me. Or maybe he just wants to collect some frequent flier miles. But there he is.
I hope he enjoys the flight from New Orleans later today.
It’s Halloween, the time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Ghosts and demons lay in wait for little boys and girls who prefer tricks over treats!
What better way to spend the season than watching great horror movies? Here are what I consider the 5 best haunted house movies of all time. For my money, ghosts are far scarier than monsters because we’re potentially looking at our own destinies. Will you be among the trapped spirits some day, haunting the family living in your former home?
5. THE SENTINEL
The 70s were a treasure trove for horror. This is the decade that gave us true frights like The Exorcist, The Omen, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left and Halloween. Lost in the mix is this chilling classic about a NY fashion model who moves into a creepy brownstone apartment. The residents are the most disturbing cast of characters you’ll ever meet. Part ghost story, party possession tale, some scenes in The Sentinel will haunt you for the rest of your life. And it’s loaded with stars, including Christopher Walken, Chris Sarandon, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Beverly D’Angelo, Ava Gardner. John Carradine and so much more.
4. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
This flick needs no introduction. Even if the story the Lutz family told the world is total B.S., this is still a spine tingling movie.This one has it all – evil spirits, bleeding walls, mystery rooms, imaginary friends with bad intentions and a home clouded by the spectre of a mass murder. James Brolin is brooding and terrifying as the spirit of the house drags him down. Almost 40 years later and this one still gives me chills.
3. THE CHANGELING
George C. Scott plays a composer who lost his family in an accident. Trying to put his life back together, he moves into a huge old house that, as we come to find out, is quite haunted. First of all, Scott may be the biggest-name actor in a horror movie – ever. His performance gives a gravitas rarely seen in the genre. As the story unfolds, you’ll find your goosebumps just won’t go away. That’s one haunted house I might skip if invited to spend the night.
2. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY
I wasn’t a fan of The Blair Witch Project and the whole found footage dealio, but Paranormal Activity changed my mind. This one actually made my wife and I nervous when we went to sleep that night (it doesn’t help that we live in a haunted house). I can think of better things to film in the bedroom, but I’m glad they concentrated on the demonic spirit here. I just watched it again last week and it’s still unsettling. Find the BluRay with the alternate ending if you can!
Hands down, this is my favorite ghost movie ever. Short on special effects because it doesn’t need them, a college professor gathers willing subjects to live in a haunted mansion in Massachusetts. As the caretaker warns them in the beginning, “No one can hear you scream in the dark. In the night.” Using the twisted history of the house to put your nerves on edge, The Haunting is all about atmosphere and odd sounds and tortured souls. This is a must watch for any true horror fan.
So, what would make your top 5 list? There were so many I could have added here, but I forced myself to whittle it down to the 5 that deeply affected me, long after the end credits.