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Number 82 (Vol 2, No. 42).  This edition is for the week of October 15--21, 2001.
The Haunted PCR: 2 weeks of Halloween Mayhem
Does it look DEAD ratty in here to you? Next week will be even worse!

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!! And, of course, I'm very excited. More than any other holiday, Halloween is the one I seem to enjoy the most. I'm just real f&%ked up that way.

And it's a good time to take a freakin' break from the non-stop bad news we've been enduring day to day since the unfortunate circumstances of last September 11th. I hope no one thinks I'm being disrespectful. It's just that there is tons of disaster coverage for those who seek that out. For the rest of us....well, here we are. And I hope some of you can ride along with me--at least temporarily--to revel in the creepiness that is the season.

As a "tradition" started only last year (LOL!), we all get together and hack out the Top Ten Best Horror Movies of all time. It was first challenged in PCR #29 (last year) by our own Terence Nuzum not long after the smoke cleared from his, shall we say, colorful entry into these pages!

All of the choices listed in the tables below were originally published accompanied by extensive commentary that, to this day, I still find impressive and inspirational (I'm a lucky man to have stumbled on this group of writers, no joke. Only teen-titan Brandon Herring is not with the PCR anymore; he is presently attending college and we wish him the very best). I encourage all new readers, if you can possibly spare the time, to click on the relevant link in each writer's "box", go back and see why they chose the films they did. For space concerns, I've simply re-published our lists sans comments. Be aware however, that like almost all our lists, they originally came with fudges, special mentions, two-in-ones, and disclaimers you just don't want to miss. LOL!! What a gas!

Terence Nuzum  (as published in PCR #30)

1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
2. Nosferatu (1922)
3. The Old Dark House (1932)
4. Carnival of Souls (1962)
5. Tombs of the Blind Dead (1971)
6. Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things (1972)
7. Suspira (1972)
8. Halloween (1978)
9. Phantasm (1979)
10. Vampyre (1932)

Nolan Canova  (as published in PCR #30)

1. The Exorcist
2. The Silence of the Lambs
3. Alien
4. Psycho
5. Night/Dawn of the Living Dead
6. John Carpenter's "The Thing"
7. Andy Warhol's "Frankenstein"
8. The Evil Dead
9. The Brain That Wouldn't Die
10. The Cyclops

Michael A. Smith  (as published in PCR #30 LetterCol)

1. Jaws
2. Carrie
3. The Exorcist
4. Alien
5. Arachnaphobia
6. Halloween
7. Silence of the Lambs
8. Suspira
9. Tales From the Crypt
10. Curse of the Living Corpse

Matt Drinnenberg  (as published in PCR #31)

1. Frankenstein (1931)
2. John Carpenter's "The Thing"
3. The Evil Dead
4. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave
5. The Shining
6. Nosferatu
7. Alien
8. An American Werewolf in London
9. Scanners
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Brandon Herring  (as published in PCR #31 LetterCol)

1. Halloween
2. the Exorcist
3. The Blair Witch Project
4. The Shining
5. Night/Dawn of the Living Dead
6. Hellraiser
7. The Evil Dead series
8. Deep Red
9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
10. The Haunting (1963)


La Floridiana--Will at haunted houseTHE PARANORMAL IN FLORIDA
Part 3 of a 4-part series

This issue: Ghosts and Hauntings

by Will Moriaty The first known inhabitants of Florida are presumed to be the Native American Indians. It is alleged that they have inhabited Florida for well over tens of thousands of years. The Spanish and the French in the 1500's, the British in the 1600's, and the Americans followed them by the late 1700's.

Needless to say, millions upon millions of people have lived in, visited, and died in the great Sunshine State throughout time. That gives plenty of opportunity for the spirits of such colorful, benign, tortured, or malevolent individuals or incidents to become indelibly manifest in timeless disembodied forms that still inhabit the State's homes, businesses, streets, buildings, fields, woods, bays, swamps, and oceans.

Blonde, Beautiful and Dead: The Spectral Jumper and Hitchhiker             
Throughout the 1960's and 1970's scores of motorists using the Sunshine Skyway Bridge claimed to see a young blonde lady dressed in a tight T-shirt in an off-white or tan outfit poised to jump off of one of the main spans. She was reported during both day and night, many times when the structures were shrouded in fog. When Sheriff's Deputies would investigate, no trace of the young lady could be found, either at the top of the bridge, or in the waters below. By the end of the 1970's reports of a lady of similar appearance filtered in to toll collectors and local Sheriff's Deputies, only this time she was hitchhiking. Several motorists would pick her up. She explained in a nervous tone that she had to get to the other side of the bridge. She would become more notably agitated the closer to the top of the bridge that the motorists went. When the drivers of the cars would turn around to reassure her that everything was all right she had simply vanished. These incidents involved many out of state drivers not familiar with these stories! Once the old southbound Skyway span was destroyed in May 1980 by the freighter "Summit Venture", the spectral Skyway lady was never seen again. Was she the spirit of a young lady who unbeknownst to others jumped to her death from the Skyway in the 1960's, or was she a harbinger of the death and terror that would occur on the old south span on that fateful May day in 1980?

A Ghost Bus Rides the Skyway             
On the morning of May 9, 1980, a storm born in Texas several days earlier slammed into the Tampa Bay area, pelting it with heavy rains and winds. At 6:20 A.M. that morning, Harbor Pilot John Lerro climbed the pilot's ladder in order to navigate the empty 606' long phosphate freighter, the "Summit Venture" from the mouth of Tampa Bay to port of Tampa. As the ship continued to head east in the channel not far from Egmont Key, visibility became near zero. The storm became so intense that Lerro lost his bearings by 800' and the result was that the bow of the ship struck the southbound span's support pier at 7:34 A.M., resulting in a horrendous collapse of the main span. Six automobiles, one pick up truck, and one Greyhound bus bound for Miami plummeted almost 200' down at an estimated speed of 67 miles per hour into the waters of Tampa Bay-only one person survived-the pick up truck landed first onto the ship itself, then into the Bay-the driver of the pick up truck was recovered rom the water, hospitalized and later released. All in all 35 people died that morning. The Greyhound bus, a 1975 MC-B Crusader, had one driver and 22 passengers onboard. The bus was sheared by the impact so severely that the entire top 2/3rds of it was shorn off "like a pop top". Several years later as the remaining southbound span was relegated as a fishing pier, Juan Suarez and Jose Cabrerra were fishing before dawn one foggy fall morning when Cabrerra heard what sounded like heavy truck tires on the pavement. This was followed by the sound of the downshifting of an engine. Cabrerra and Suarez turned to look-that's when they saw the Greyhound bus going past them on the roadway towards the old destroyed southbound span.

"I could see the driver's face. His eyes stared dead ahead horrified--his hands had a death grip on the big steering wheel. I could see the passenger's faces through the windows as the bus flew past. Blank stares, all of them except that one woman in the back, she was looking at us--My God, she had a big smile on her face and she was waving. Waving at us and smiling!" said Cabrerra. He continued, "Then it was gone and you could feel the draft of cold air blow past. Juan and I cranked in our lines and got the hell out of there!"

When in the Tampa Bay Area, Visit these "Haunts":
   The DonCeSar Resort--St. Pete Beach: In the 1920's, Thomas Rowe developed this grand Moorish hotel. He named it after the name of an opera that starred a Spanish lady named Lucinda who he was deeply in love with, although her father forbade it. It has been reported from 1940, the year of Thomas Rowe's death, up until the present, that Rowe still mingles with hotel guests and employees. He is dressed in 1920's attire with a white "Panama Jack" hat, appears to be very helpful, does talk, but tends to vanish the second that a person talking to him turns their back. From an architectural viewpoint this is worth the visit alone-who knows, maybe it will be you who Thomas Rowe helps out if you get lost in the gigantic structure!
   The Tampa Theater: This is another place that you simply must visit! This 1920's majestic theater is fashioned as an outdoors Mediterranean village, complete with stars and moving clouds along the gigantic ceiling. But don't roam its many cavernous dark halls alone if you are faint of heart-you may run into Foster "Fink" Finley! Finley ran the theater's projection machines until his death in 1965. His "ghost" reportedly turns lights on and off, moves peoples possessions around, and jangles his keys in the theater's blackness before the building's lights are turned on in order to prepare for opening.
   The Falk Theater-Tampa: In the 1930's this theater (then known as the Park Theater), located across the street from the University of Tampa, was Tampa's premier vaudeville showplace. An actress named Bessie Snavely committed suicide during that decade by hanging her self one night in the theater. Staff members up until the present have seen apparitions of Bessie roam the halls and then vanish. The have also seen a luminous fog appear and then disappear in a theater wall, and one U of T professor unaware of the legend saw a succession of dressing room doors open and slam themselves shut.
   The Bigelow-Helms House-Tampa: This grand former mansion still resides at the northwest corner of Bayshore and Gandy Boulevards. When I was growing up two blocks away from it in the 1970's, it was abandoned, run down, and often vandalized. This once majestic, and now majestic again structure had quite an interesting history. It was built in 1908 by one of Tampa's first City Councilmen, Gilas Leland Bigelow. After Bigelow's death in 1917, his widow sold the house to Dr. John Sullivan Helms, who converted it into west central Florida's first private hospital-former Tampa Tribune Sports Editor, Tom McEwan was among those born there. The house was later used as an artist's studio, and then an office building. Those visiting the artist or the businesses claimed to have heard the crying of babies in empty sections of the house. Others felt as they were always being watched. By the 1990's the massive 500-ton structure was relocated to another part of the same property in order to make way for luxury apartments. The former mansion, now proudly restored, has a new lease on life as an office complex. Since its relocation there have been no reports of feeling watched or hearing the cries of disembodied babies--yet.
   The Sunshine Skyway Bridge This magnificent set of structures spanning Tampa Bay connects the City of St. Petersburg with roadways leading to Bradenton and Sarasota. Before the first spans were built in 1956 and 1971 respectively, the only way to connect by automobile between Pinellas and Manatee Counties was by ferry. The second spans were completed in 1987. They were built as a result of a disaster in 1980 that we discussed in the above article. The Skyway now serves as a highway for I-275 and U.S. 19.

Next issue we'll meet a passenger who rode several commercial airliners without paying for the first ticket. His face was seen reflecting on the glass of microwave ovens at stewardesses, and he was also seen sitting in unassigned seats-passengers may not have recognized him, but crew members remembered him as the flight engineer who died in a plane crash in the Everglades several months earlier. Be prepared to meet the "Ghost of Flight 401", and I'll share my top ten horror movies with you--all in next week's PCR!

Wake Up and Smell the Comics
# 6: The horror  the horror

Hmm, well it appears as though my usual format will take a leave of absence this edition and possibly the next as my fellow Reviewers have talked me into going with a Halloween theme. I thought about covering the supernatural books of Top Cow, one of the many independent studios that are part of Image Comics, but I decided to put it off for at least another week. Instead, I'm going to point out some of the nifty horror/magic themed books from the major publishers over the last 30 years that have come to my attention. I've been collecting many of them over time but haven't had a chance to actually read them all (or finish the sets). Most of these books came recommended to me or have creative teams that are among some of my favorites. Also, I've got some huge news regarding the return of Howard the Duck at the bottom of the article (no joke!). For now though, here is my overview of appropriately themed comics that may interest you:

Tomb of Dracula (Marvel: volume one, April 1972 - August 1979) - Essentially Marvel's contribution to the Hammer-style of horror, this comic lasted nearly 7 full years with 70 issues in all. Launched by writer Gerry Conway and legendary artist Gene Colan, the series detailed the adventures of a small group (including ancestors of the Van Helsing family) in their fight against the lord of vampires, Dracula himself. The series really took off when Marv Wolfman took over as writer during the first year, who also introduced Blade, the vampire hunter (later made into a feature film with Wesley Snipes). Not only did Wolfman and Colan make TOD one of the most popular comics of the 1970's, but they also managed to complete the series their own way by the final issues. Due to the finite and well-structured nature of the series, Marvel has decided to collect the entire run into three black & white Essential volumes beginning next year. These books (which would have cost hundreds to track down) will cost only fifteen or sixteen dollars a piece. You simply can't miss this opportunity and I'll be sure to place a reminder in this column once the solicitations are made for the first volume.

Man-Thing & Giant-Size Man-Thing (Marvel: volume one, January 1974 - October 1975) - This ongoing series and its complimentary specials (Giant-Size) was the springboard for many of Marvel's magical, and at other times, zany popular 70's characters. Inspired by the story of The Heap, much like DC's famous Swamp Thing, the plots of the book revolved around a scientist who by a twist of fate had been transformed into a living plant monster, who now scoured the swamps terrorizing evil doers. Differing slightly from Swamp Thing, those who experienced fear would burn at the Man-Thing's touch. To make the situation even more interesting, it just so happened that the "nexus of all realities" existed in this particular swamp and also attracted the universe's most powerful sorcerers. Written by 70's comic legend Steve Gerber (Howard the Duck), this series introduced popular characters such as Dakihm the Enchanter, his apprentice Jennifer Kale, the original Fool-Killer, Howard the Duck and Steve Gerber himself. Unfortunately, these issues aren't that easy to come by though the Howard issues will be collected in the upcoming Essential Howard the Duck trade. More on that later.

Night Force (DC: volume one, August 1982 - September 1983) - Looking to recapture the success of their Tomb of Dracula run, writer Marv Wolfman and artist Gene Colan launched a new monthly through DC comics following the adventures of a strange baron and his crew of unlikely heroes. Investigating strange occurrences and dealing with macabre and even Lovecraftian type horror, the series was probably a little past its time (or before, depending on how you look at it). The popular horror trend had passed on and wouldn't come back for another decade, leaving this book with only a year to live. As it's not a very widely known series and only lasted fourteen issues, it should be pretty easy to track down if you go to a comic convention or know a store with a really good back stock.

Man-Thing (Marvel, Strange Tales: volume three, December 1997 - July 1998), Werewolf by Night (Marvel, Strange Tales: second volume, February 1998 - July 1998), Strange Tales (Marvel, Strange Tales: volume three, September 1998 - October 1998) - Two of three new ongoing series, Werewolf by Night and Man-Thing were a much bigger problem behind-the-scenes. They were part of an entirely new imprint called Strange Tales, which was to be the first mature label under the actual Marvel banner. Unfortunately, editorial pulled out at the last minute forcing re-writes on both books, leaving Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan) and Ariel Olivetti's Satanna series cancelled before it even shipped. Man-Thing was of course the latest attempt to relaunch the popular 70's character, now written by J.M. DeMatteis (Amazing Spider-Man) and drawn by Liam Sharp. Werewolf by Night was the retooling of yet another popular 70's horror character, a man named Jack Russell (yes, really) who by night would turn into a werewolf. You never would have guessed that twist, right? Anyway, the strength of the Werewolf series was in its creative team… two up and coming individuals who would soon go on to do great things. Writer Paul Jenkins, of Marvel Knights and Spider-Man fame, and penciler Leonardo Manco who would become one of Marvel's fan-favorite artists. Neither series took off, as they were produced during one of Marvel and the entire industry's lowest periods. Both would later be collected, after cancellation, into a monthly anthology series titled Strange Tales. This collected format only lasted two issues and the third, despite solicitation, never shipped.

NightsideNightside (Marvel: volume one, October 2001 - January 2001) - No, you didn't read this wrong. This new six-issue mini-series from Marvel is shipping in October to coincide, obviously, with this Halloween. The book is the first creator-owned title to come from Marvel in a very long time and promises to be the first of many such endeavors. Written by award winning horror novelist Robert Weinberg (Vampire: The Masquerade) and drawn by rising talent Thomas Derenick, in his tonal style no less, this series follows private eye Sydney Taine on her investigations into the darker side of the night. The writer/creator of the new series puts it best: "Sydney Taine is a woman who walks the narrow path dividing good from evil, the gray line that separates the daytime from the Nightside. She's a detective, and she knows a lot of secrets concerning the living and the undead. But no one knows very much at all about Sydney other than that she solves crimes that ordinary crime solvers can't. The Others avoid the police and politicians at all cost. Taine is one of the few humans they trust, and some of them wonder about her. A few elders speculate behind locked doors that perhaps Taine is yet a third life form, a race called the Players. Could all life on Earth, both Humans and Others, be mere pawns in a vast game for unknown stakes played by a select few like Sydney Taine? When asked, Taine laughs and walks away. But she never answers." Having read Weinberg's previous run on Cable, one of Marvel's current monthly series, I can definitely recommend this series to anyone that's interested in horror comics or the like.

ATTENTION! - I want to take this opportunity to inform any readers out there with an interest in Howard the Duck that the character will soon be returning Marvel Comics in a big way, with his original creators Steve Gerber and Gene Colan.

the new Howard the DuckHoward the Duck - Through Marvel's new mature line of comics, titled MAX Comics, Marvel is launching a new 6-issue mini-series by original Howard writer/creator Steve Gerber, fan favorite artist Phil Winslade and even some pencils from original Howard artist Gene Colan! For those of you curious as to why Howard is a rodent, I'll try and pare down the story for you. Big bad corporate Disney decided to bully Marvel (during their quite insane, desperate days in the 90's) over the "similarities" between Howard and Donald, despite it never having been a problem for the last 25 years. Instead of actually consulting their lawyers, Marvel freaked out and handed the character over to Disney without consideration. Disney wrote up a list of do's and dont's for Marvel to follow from that day forth, so as long as they had any intention of using the Duck character they would be forbidden to show him in any other manner than a harmless and family friendly plush toy-like robot. When Gerber came back under the new Marvel management and they all discovered this together, the new project was almost completely scrapped. Instead, they all opted to change the likeness of Howard and run it as a story. If the series does indeed take off, don't fret over Howard's future. Marvel will find a way to determine a new and permanent look for the icon and possibly even get the readers involved in the process. Otherwise, under that changing skin is the same character you all know and love. Personally, I wish I could see the surprise in those Disney representatives' faces when the new series begins and Howard's a mouse that's cussing up a storm. Oh the sweet irony.

Howard the DuckIf you have any interest in Howard the Duck, please go to your local comic book shop and order a copy at the end of this month. For more information on the new book, click here. To coincide with the new series, Marvel is reprinting all of Gerber's canonical work with the character that is luckily outside the jurisdiction of Disney's fascist actions. All 27 issues of Gerber's direct involvement of the original ongoing series, as well as both first appearances in the first Man-Thing volume and a special will be collected in this new trade. You can order this book anytime as it's already been solicited, or wait until it ships and check your local bookstore for a copy or order. From a personal viewpoint, I have always been a big fan of social satire and I know I wouldn't have had several years of the cartoon series Duckman if it hadn't been for Howard in the 1970's. Unfortunately for me, I grew up in the early 80's and was only around to see George Lucas's obliteration of the character with his war crime, Howard the Duck: The Movie. If anyone here is only familiar with the character through that garbage, I apologize and humbly ask that you believe me when I say that it was nothing but a worthless Hollywood mess that has little resemblance to the actual series. Please do not let the painful apocalypse-causing imagery of that "film" influence you in your perception of the classic, cult comic book of the same name.

That concludes this edition of "Comics." As always, I hope I motivated you to check out some comics and especially the second coming of the Duck. Until next time.

"Howard the Duck" is a trademark and copyrighted by the Marvel Comics Group; Nightside, Night Force, Giant-size/Man-Thing, and Tomb of Dracula, likewise. All names and images are used here for reviewing purposes only.

Terence's Tirade
The Enlightenment
Alright, it's been awhile, so it's time for another enlightenment again; you know, those columns where I enlighten all lesser beings to my status. And make no mistake, I am enlightened--just read one of my many rebuttals to Deadguy. Snicker,snicker.

With it being October, I've decided to do a two-part enlightenment about the true stories behind some of our favorite horror films. I'm skipping Ed Gein, who inspired Psycho, Deranged, and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre among others, and decided to focus on some of the lesser-known ones.

The first being the "true story" inspiration behind William Peter Blatty's THE EXORCIST. "The Exorcist" was based on the alleged exorcism of a 13-year-old boy, Roland Doe ( an obivous psuedonym) from Mount Rainier, Maryland in 1949. The boy was exorcised twice, first by local preist Father Albert E. Hughes at Georgetown University Hospital, and then later in St. Louis, by Father William Bowdren. The following are paraphrased excerpts from a supposed diary of one of the priests present at the exorcisms.

January 15, 1949-- A dripping noise was heard in his grandmother’s bedroom by the boy and his grandmother. A picture of Christ on the wall shook and scratching noises were heard under the floor boards. From that night on scratching was heard every night from 7 p.m. until midnight. This continued for ten consecutive days. After three days of silence, the boy heard nighttime “squeaking shoes” on his bed that continued for six consecutive nights.

January 26, 1949-- Aunt Tillie, who had a deep interest in spiritualism and had introduced Roland to the Ouija Board, died of multiple sclerosis at the age of 54. Mrs. Doe suspected there may have been some connection between her death and the seemingly strange events that continued to take place. At one point during the manifestations Mrs. Doe asked, “If you are Tillie, knock three times.” Waves of air began striking the grandmother, Mrs. Doe, and Roland and three knocks were heard on the floor. Mrs. Doe again queried, “If you are Tillie, tell me positively by knocking four times.” Four knocks were heard, followed by claw scratchings on Roland’s mattress.

February 17, 1949-- On this night a local Lutheran minister named Reverend Shultz [sic] arranged to have the boy spend the night at his parsonage. Roland arrived at 9:20 p.m. and stayed until 9:20 a.m. the next morning. The Reverend reportedly heard scratching noises, and witnessed the following: bed vibrations; a chair in which Roland sat tipping over; and the movement of a pallet of blankets upon which Roland sat.

February 26, 1949-- Beginning on this night scratches or markings appeared on the boy’s body for four consecutive nights. After the fourth night words began to appear and seemed to be scratched on by claws.

It also states that when attempts were made to exorcise Roland Doe he responded with rage. Also, the three-day stay at Georgetown University Hospital is mentioned. The diary continues during the first week of March 1949 when the boy was taken to Normandy, Missouri.

March 9, 1949-- Father Raymond J. Bishop, S.J., of St. Louis University was called in (for the first time) and witnessed the scratching of the boy’s body and the motion of the mattress.

March 11, 1949-- Father Bowdern (described as being pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church) arrived on the scene. After Roland retired at 11 p.m., Father Bowdern read the Novena prayer of St. Francis Xavier, blessed the boy with a relic (a piece of bone from the forearm of St. Francis Xavier), and fixed a relic-encrusted crucifix under the boy’s pillow. The relatives left and Father Bowdern and Father Bishop departed. Soon afterward, a loud noise was heard in Roland’s room and five relatives rushed to the scene. They reportedly found that a large book case had moved about, a bench had been turned over, and the crucifix had been moved to the edge of the bed. The shaking of Roland’s mattress came to a halt only after the relatives yelled, “Aunt Tillie, stop!”

March 16, 1949-- Archbishop Joseph E. Ritter gave Father Bowdern permission to begin the formal rite of exorcism. That night, accompanied by Father Bishop and a Jesuit scholastic , Father Bowdern began reciting the ritual prayers of exorcism.

As the exorcism continues, markings appear on Roland's body and Roland responds in outbursts of cursing, vomitting, urinating, and the use of Latin phrases. It also reports that Roland got his hand on a bedspring, broke it, and jabbed into a priest's arm. Another time, while Roland is instructed to go into the Catholic Church and receive communion, a six-inch, detailed portrait of the devil appears in red on Roland's calf. The exorcim lasts long and the boy is transported from relative to relative. During a train ride with Father Bowdren, Roland becomes maniacal, striking Bowdren in his testicles and yelling, "That's a nut-craker for you, isnt it?"

April 18, 1949-- As the nighttime ritual continued, Father Bowdern forced Roland to wear a chain of medals and hold a crucifix in his hands. Roland’s demeanor changed and he calmly asked questions about the meanings of certain Latin prayers. Bowdern continued the ritual, demanding to know who the demon was and when he would depart. Roland responded with a tantrum and screamed that he was one of the fallen angels. Bowdern kept reciting until 11:00 p.m. when Roland interrupted. In a new masculine voice Roland said, “Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael! I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits to leave this body, in the name of Dominus, immediately! Now! Now! Now!” Roland had one last spasm before falling quiet. “He is gone,” Roland pronounced, later telling Bowdern he had had a vision of St. Michael holding a flaming sword. Twelve days later, he left Missouri and returned to Maryland.

Though most of this account and Roland's possesion are considered speculation and he is thought to have been merely emotional and mentally ill. In fact he never was from Maryland. Yet, there are many no doubt who believe it did happen. There are many sites and magazine articles that cover this story far better than I have. Check out www.strangemag.com for an excellent article (much of the information for this column was found here). They all seem to come to the same conclusion: that it never really happened as the "Diary" stated.

Matthew HopkinsWhile the truth behind the EXORCIST is mostly speculation and Hollywood myth, the truth behind Michael Reeves THE CONQUEROR WORM (a.k.a. MATTHEW HOPKINS, WITCHFINDER GENERAL) is a far more sadistic truth. And it is true. In the 17th century, the Church of England had so much authority in the land and society that if it was challenged, it was deemed evil, blasphemous, and an enemy of the church. These enemies of the church were to be feared and logically (in those days) sought out and destroyed.

In 1640, well known for his great attributes of interrogation from his military service, Matthew Hopkins was commissioned by Parliament to seek out and sentence all those involved in suspected witchcraft. Thus, he became the witchfinder general. Hopkins started out his career with the interrogation of old one-legged Elizabeth Clark of Manningtree. When he was finished 31 others had been accused with her of witchcraft.

The main tools of Hopkins interrogation craft included tortures which shed no blood(believe it or not!). His favorite was sleep deprevation. In one case, John Lowe 70-year old vicar of Brandeston, was "swum in the moat", kept awake for three days and nights, and then forced to walk without rest until his feet were blistered, from there he was hung. Hopkins also employed the spring-loaded knife to help prove that these unfortunate folks were witches. If stabbed and then they did not bleed, they were witches. With a retractable blade, Hopkins could never be wrong.

What, you ask, did Hopkins get out of the torture and death of innocents? Well, naturally, money. Most daily wages were as little as 2.5 pence. Hopkins was earning 15 to 23 pounds per town "cleansed" !

Eventually, Hopkins met with opposition against his unsavory methods. His eventual demise is of two accounts, one that he died in bed of tuberculosis, the other has him being accused of withcraft himself and sent to the gallows to be hung!

That's enough enlightenment for now, you all can only handle so much. Check back next week for the true story behind Wes Craven's cannibal cult favorite THE HILLS HAVE EYES!


Terence Nuzum ©2001  Viddywell Productions

Mike's Rant

Hello gang. A few notes for you this week. Shall we begin?

I am really enjoying Will's piece on the spooky side of Florida. I read with much interest his bit on the haunting of the Tampa Theatre. I was part of the group that helped turn the place around in the mid/late 70's. I spent many a day exploring the building top to bottom. Sadly, the scariest thing I ever saw was a display for the 1964 film, "Santa Claus Conquers The Martians" with Pia Zadora. (And that's PLENTY scary ANY day!---N)

   Australian stand-up comic Eric Bana has been chosen for the lead role in the Ang Lee-directed adaptation of "The Incredible Hulk." Bana will portray both scientist Bruce Banner and his green-skinned, muscle-bound alter ego. Filming begins in March. (How funny...I figured they'd go all CGI for scenes of The Hulk. Hell, after "Final Fantasy", I'm surprised they didn't decide to CGI the whole damn movie! LOL! Watch them digitally "paste" huge muscles on Eric Bana. Sigh...I remember Lou Ferrigno when...---N)
   Sad to report the passing of director Herbert Ross, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 74. Ross directed such films as "The Turning Point," "Footloose" and "Steel Magnolias. He frequently worked with Neil Simon, directing five Simon scripts, including "The Sunshine Boys" and "The Goodbye Girl."
   Good to see George Lucas chose to release "Star Wars: Episode One, The Phantom Menace" on two DVD discs. I found the disc containing the film made an excellent coaster for my soda while I watched the behind the scenes stuff. Thanks, George. I am currently singing the praises of the new DVD set of "The French Connection." A great film in it's own right, the DVD is packed with great extras and possibly one of the funniest commentaries (by Roy Scheider, who talks about everything BUT the movie) I have ever heard.
   In an attempt to prove that they don't make them like they used to, I took my son and some friends to a screening of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Needless to say, there was ample laughter by all in attendance. The only downer was the nervous titters by the audience when Sir Gallahad found himself in the Castle Anthrax!

Hope you don't mind me saying this, but we, as a country, are getting "anthrax happy." I don't mean to trivialize the recent cases of this disease that have shown up in various places in America, but I think we need to use some common sense when dealing with this. Here in Leavenworth, Kansas (where I live) the local post office was closed for two days because one of the mail handlers saw some powder on an envelope he took out of a street drop off box. Last week, two separate airplanes were diverted to emergency landings when flight attendants saw powder in the galley. One of the powders was found to be talcum powder used to separate plastic bags. The other was Sweet and Low, spilled accidentally by an attendant making her tea. I do agree that the government should come down hard on ANYONE that attempts to scare others by intimating that they have sent anthrax to another. Locally, (3) eighth grade boys, in an attempt to have school canceled for the day, slipped an envelope full of plaster of paris under the school office door. For their troubles, they have been arrested and charged with a felony. Here, here!

The above is one of my favorite lines from "Airplane." Congratulations to former President Ronald Reagan, who this week passed John Adams as the longest living US President. Too bad the poor bastard doesn't know it.

When Bob Dylan's security chief told guards at the Jackson County Expo Center in Oregon that he "didn't care if it's Bob Dylan himself, no one gets through without official credentials," the guards assumed he meant it. So, when three of them refused to let Dylan backstage for his own show, the recent Oscar-winner demanded the three be fired and thrown out of the building. The venue manager did have the guards moved, but told them later they had "done a great job." ("..and I was...Knock-knock-knockin' on the backstage doooor...."---Nolan)

A judge has ruled that a former waitress can sue Hooters over allegations that the restaurant promised her a new car for winning a beer sales contest, then gave her a Star Wars toy instead. As reported here in PCR, Jodee Berry, 26, won the contest in May and thought she would be driving home in a new Toyota. Instead, after being lead blindfolded to the restaurant parking lot, she found herself in front of a Toy Yoda. Berry can now go ahead with breach of contract and fraudulent misrepresentation suits.

Hey, how about everyone's favorite television shows, excluding Saturday/Sunday morning shows? The latter can be another topic. (Sure, but after Halloween---remember, I'm still collecting Top 10 horror-movie lists! Plus, Matthew still has yet to respond to his own challenge: the Top Ten Best Debut Albums! He did IM me, however, and said his grueling work schedule has put him behind, but he will write us ASAP.---Nolan)

That's it for now. Have a great week!

"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Wake Up and Smell the Comics" is ©2001 by Drew Reiber    "La Floridiana" is ©2001 by William Moriaty    "Terence's Tirade" is ©2001 by Terence Nuzum    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

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