A long time ago on a dusty space of farmland far, far beyond the beaten path there was a horror house by the name of SPOOKY WORLD. This place was THE premiere haunted destination and was one of the only big haunts in operation at the time, so it was pretty much the horror equivalent to Disneyland.
*Before we continue let’s get one thing straight – this is not that uninspired, indoor zombie walkthrough that operated under the same name through the late 90’s and early 00’s – this is the original SPOOKY WORLD located way out in creepy Berlin, Massachusetts on an old farm. Yes, the one with the bone-chilling hayride and free cider & donuts!
First off, I’d like to mention just how crucial the commute was to the whole essence of Spooky World. Because it was located in isolated western Mass, many people had a lengthy ride to deal with. Being the time of year it was and how backwoodsy that region of the state is – the ride itself was dark, soggy and quite menacing. This beautifully set the tone for the blood, guts and latex one would soon be facing that night.
During it’s first few years of production that began in 1991, Spooky World drew enormous crowds because of their much talked about haunted hayride and impressive lineup of celebrity appearances. The 30+ minute hayride crept through the woods and would stop at a series of mini “horror shows”. These ranged from watching a gruesome surgery being performed which concluded with a guy’s face popping out of the patients stomach, to Leatherface chasing innocent victims in a mass of fog and lighting effects. Even our pal Toxie was the leading man in a scene which saw him slithering around an elaborate toxic-waste dump straight out of the real Tromaville.
The set designs were well done for the budget they must have been restricted to. One minute you’d witness some impressive, real-time gore effects. Then right around the corner would be a bunch of 99-cent store foam graves. Nothing was perfect by any means, but the performers were enthusiastic and the atmosphere was pure magic. If you haven’t experienced New England in October, it’s pretty much the fucking ultimate. It’s cold, it’s damp and there’s an eeriness in the air that certifies it as the best place if you want to be fully immersed in Halloween-mode. The actors took full advantage of this and it paid off during these mini-performances.
At the end of the hayride, workers passed around trays with free apple cider, donuts and cookies for all surviving victims. Then your group would walk over to the ‘haunted barns’ to do some wandering. Outside was more like a carnival than a spook-house. Visitors donned in warm clothing sat at picnic tables and ate pizza, hot dogs, pretzels and other country fair-type food. The air was crisp and smelled like a mixture of dead leaves, bonfires, hay and fried dough (something I want bottled up and sold in TNUC’s Food Court). One barn was full of animatronic beasts and ghouls, while the other held a massive assortment of classic horror movie nostalgia, props and merchandise for purchasing.
Then of course there were the FREE autograph meet-and-greets. This was back when someone like Alice Cooper, Elvira, Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees) or Linda Blair would sign your stuff without charging a fee for it. The only “celebrity” I met at Spooky World was world-renowned ukulele player Tiny Tim. I didn’t have a clue why I was waiting in line to meet a man named Tiny Tim or what he was even doing there, but I said hello and shook his hand. I’m still confused as to why he was there.
The following video is a rip of the entire official Spooky World VHS released in 1994 which gives a guided tour of the venue’s haunted grounds. It’s narrated by Jason Voorhees himself (Kane Hodder) and produced by splatter effects legend, Tom Savini. Prominent icons of the horror community such as these were behind the magic of Spooky World – which gives you a good idea of how special this place was!
And who could forget the Spooky World mascot? A grinning grim reaper figure that no New Englander could escape in the early 1990’s. He started appearing on highway billboards and in convenience stores flyers every September to promote the hayride. For many youngsters not only was he the 1st sign that the annual event was coming but also that October, Halloween and everything-HORROR was right around the corner. I started collecting Spooky World stuff recently in hopes of eventually having a monstrous contribution to display in TNUC’s backyard tree house hangout..
In 1998 a building inspector issued several citations to the establishment which would eventually shut the place down. After a short silence, the name Spooky World started appearing again with promotions announcing a new location. Corporate slugs had taken the name but it’s original creators had nothing to do with the sudden reincarnation. The original hayride had been replaced. This “new” Spooky World had its moments, but certainly didn’t have the charm that the old farmhouse way out in Deliverance-country did.
If you’re a native east coaster reading this, hopefully your memories of this iconic horror theme park are of the original Berlin location. Spooky World was truly one of a kind and sadly we’ll never see it regain the strength it had in 1991. Unless of course Uncle TNUC resurrects it’s unholy spirit and reopens the place on a newly found Native American burial ground. Kids, start sending those applications in!
Jay Chattaway’s music from 1985’s Silver Bullet strikes in all the right places. It’s spooky enough that I can count on it to awaken that part of me which feels the most alive this time of year, yet emotional enough that somehow it brings back memories of my earliest exposure to horror movies. Those first tastes of the macabre were intimidating but fascinating at the same time. Like the first time on a haunted hayride, you dread what’s next but can’t force yourself to look away. Jay’s score, especially the selection we’re sharing today, is a creepy-crawly brew of both dark and light sounds which creates an eerie but delightful atmosphere. The most memorable movie scores are the ones that play tricks with your senses. The type that are perfect for the scene but could do just fine by themselves. I recommend waiting until nighttime to play this one. Or at least dusk. Then, find a secluded area beside a window with a brisk breeze. Now you’re ready.
This little number also reminds me of riding bikes under the moonlight through Old Man Covington’s woods on chilly October evenings. We’d race through the damp paths, our tires slipping on the wet leaves as each of us raced to be the first one to reach our monster club’s tree house hangout. If you stayed left at the fork in the path you’d eventually pass the town slaughterhouse where butchers could be heard inside working the graveyard shift. One night I dropped my Baby Ruth bar by accident and out of the corner of my eye saw the figure of what appeared to be a 7 foot tall wolf with a huge smile on his face entering the front entrance to the slaughterhouse. Then I caught a strong downwind smell of freshly poured beer. Then came the human screams of agony, followed by a brief silence and finally the distinct (and unexpected) noise of beer cans opening. As I stood paralyzed with fear, I saw two blood-red eyes from a distance looking directly at me. Then that huge, grizzly smile appeared again which was followed by constant burping noises. I found this to be extremely strange and quickly got back on my bike to pedal away. I shared my story that night at our monster club’s midnight society tree house meeting. “The Tale of the Thirsty Wolf”…
*Special thanks to our core sponsor of this post, Coors Light.
This year we convinced stubborn old Count TNUC to come down from his dusty attic and make a “Halloween Mood Table” to help spice the place up. Here’s what resulted..
Credit for coining the title of “Halloween Mood Table” goes to Matt of Dinosaur Dracula. In a nutshell these tables are meant to evoke that October/Halloweeny spirit and should be displayed somewhere in your home. That’s pretty much it as far as rules go. Everything else is up to you. Head on over to Dinosaur Dracula to see how his tables have evolved throughout the years. Dino Drac has been a huge inspiration for TNUC this year and we can’t thank him enough for what he does!
I realize that we’ve been talking about Francis ‘Chainsaw’ Gremp from the movie Summer School for about the last 27 years or so. During our October spread just last year we paid tribute on two separate occasions to this legendary teenage gorehound. Well, just when I thought there was probably nothing else to say about the man, I came upon an item that physically and emotionally knocked the living daylights out of me when I saw it.
I FOUND CHAINSAW’S RUBBER HAND ALARM CLOCK.
Yes, right now Uncle T could take you on a ride with one of his “tall-tales” about him borrowing the hand for research from an aging, burnt out Chainsaw who now lives under the Venice Beach pier with his old buddy Dave. In reality, I was innocently spending another afternoon browsing around Ebay for vintage-rubber-horror-stuff and BAM, there it was. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a radiant glow coming off the screen and an echoing gregorian-chant humming in the room. I was pretty confident it was the exact rubber hand, but could only really confirm by seeing it in person. A nervous 2% hoped it wasn’t an Addam’s Family “Thing” toy, or a replica of Garth Algar’s rubbery-robot hand from the “we fear change” scene in Wayne’s World. Not that I wouldn’t be happy owning those two items, but with this being Chainsaw’s rubber hand it truly felt like the planets were aligning and I somehow I was meant to find this wonderful nonsense.
So when the hand arrived at Castle TNUC, I had the “nightmare” scene in Summer School cued up and ready to validate. I unboxed the hand, immediately inserted the batteries and sure enough – those fingers wiggled just like they did when waking up Chainsaw in his bodacious horror bedroom. See for yourself in the video below.
The hand is insanely and creepily realistic. It’s rubber material feels like the same rubbery gold that those pesky Boglins are made of. It came in it’s original box which has the title “The Wigglin’ Hand” and the manufacturer’s name on the back of the box reading “Vic’s Novelty”. After doing a little research I found out the company was based in Oxnard, California with a guy named Victor Provenzano Jr being the brains behind the operation.
This entire journey – from growing up idolizing Chainsaw in the movie, to ending up finding the same hand as well as information about it’s origins felt like some strange, rubbery, latex, pre-CGI-era mindtrip. Never did I seek out to find this precious artifact in stores or on the internet. This gold at the end of the rainbow was completely unintentional. The more I stare at it, the more I’m convinced it is the hand in Wayne’s World that we were talking about earlier. This hand seems to really get around and i’m wondering where else it’s shown up? If by looking at it more it starts to ring some bells, let me know where you may have spotted it and i’ll get members of TNUC’s top research team on it.
The time has come. Now YOU can own your very own, limited edition CAMP TNUC shirt just like every victim that ever strolled down our path wearing denim booty shorts and a cropped belly shirt! The shirts feature a left breast woodland creature “CAMP TNUC” logo on the front – and the full-blown woodland Manimal across the back. These are extremely limited (50 pieces) and will only be available during the month of October, so grab yours before it’s too late.
I’ll be shipping these rad bastards out as quick as possible because Uncle T wants to see you in them. Snap a picture, then jump on Instagram and either @ me or tag #uncletnuc and I’ll eventually collect all the photos to make a shrine with them surrounded by candles and rotting flesh! Here are some fashion statement tips if you’re interested in turning your shirt into the ultimate cliche-camp-victim garment:
Ghouls: Sleeveless muscle tee’s, rolled up sleeves with joints tucked inside, shredded heavy metal buzzsaw style or standard fit.
Ghoulettes: Cropped belly (HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION), spaghetti strapped, rolled up sleeves, curled-up-bottom-into-ball-thing, shredded heavy metal buzzsaw style or standard fit (all styles w/ no bra for complete accuracy).
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Pictured above is Krystal Lake, who was photographed by Jason Sheppard of TrueHorror.net. Many of you will remember Jason being the mastermind behind the “Wanna Play?” photoshoot where he shot one of his hot vixens posing as a Good-Guy Doll from the toy factory in Child’s Play 2. This month he’s got a number of Halloween-inspired projects lined up which I urge all of you to check out with your own headless eyes.
October 1, 2014
It all started the day Grandmother TNUC threw him out of her basement for not helping out with rent and for biting the heads off the neighbor’s chickens in the middle of the night. This didn’t sit well with Grams, so she threw together a comfort bag of butterscotch candies, cream of wheat and one pack of Sweet n’ Low…plus his boots, leathers, some VHS tapes and his saxophone…and sent him on his way.
With not much of a plan in sight, he took off on his bike for the big city. He figured once he got there, he’d find work at one of the local hellraiser bars or meat-packaging factories. The Manimal hadn’t worked a day in his life, but reality was rapidly setting in. If he ever wanted to ever see a quaalude, horror comic or frozen pizza from the grocery store again, he’d have to work for it. He soon found out that finding a steady gig was more difficult than it looked. Based on his overall appearance and civilian wardrobe, he was rejected everywhere. No one dared to hire a guy that looked like he just stepped off the Santa Carla boardwalk, circa 1987. It didn’t help that he tore up all his job applications, figuring instead he’d impress these ‘suits’ face to face. During one job interview he jumped up on the manager’s desk and ripped a few chords from his saxophone. His trench-coat swayed back and forth, knocking over the manager’s family pictures and spilling hot coffee all over his lap. Then he finished his mini-performance – sat down – kicked his legs up on the desk, and lit a cigarette…
While the Manimal was failing miserably with job searching, he found shelter in an abandoned nuclear waste plant, because c’mon…WHERE ELSE? It was far cry from the hearth and home of Grandmother TNUC’s, but it would do for now. He sure did miss the ol’ hag…even the times she’d whack him with her cane when he’d try to switch channels from Little House on the Prairie to TNT’s Monstervision. Inside the plant he found a large drainpipe that looked good for nestling in at night and hopefully wouldn’t be bothered by any of the kooks and critters that came out after dusk. He also noticed that every night exactly at midnight a large flow of ‘city steam’ (you know the type) came pummeling through the pipe and he thought his silhouette in the steam looked ultra-cool.
Still, this is what life had become? The Manimal had hit an ultimate low. He would’ve given just about anything to bask in that once-haunting aroma of moth balls and peach schnapps at Gram’s house. Now starved and living in a cold, damp, nuclear waste plant, he started to scavenge for food. He made friends with a rat named “Bobby the Rat” and the two of them made a blood oath to split every inch of food they found. One night after licking way too much marshmallow crust out of old Twinkie packaging, they wandered back to their sleeping quarters, feeling lightheaded. Suddenly a group of tranny hookers appeared and started whipping them weapons that looked straight out of Children of the Corn. Manimal lost his balance, grabbed Bobby the Rat and fell straight into an open vat of toxic chemicals!
The Manimal woke up dazed and disoriented in a sludgy pile of stinky muck a few days later. He stood up but could barely move his muscles. He tried doing a roundhouse kick, a crotch-thrust and a few of his other signature moves but couldn’t produce. There was an oozy, radioactive looking material dripping from his flesh which burned and blistered. He began to slither around for a while until he passed a broken window where he caught his reflection and let out a war cry that must have woken up every person in a 10 mile radius.
He was paralyzed with shock. Gone were the brute, chiseled Manimal-traits that he was born into this life with. Gone was the award-winning jawline that won “Foxiest Facial Features” on the Boardwalk three years in a row back in 1985. His skin pigmentation had turned murky green. Nuclear waste had melted the left side of his face, leaving it permanently slanted. All the narcotics he had consumed throughout the years were pouring out of every orpheus on his face. He smelled like raw sewage. Flies buzzed around him at all times. This was no longer the life-of-the-party Manimal we’d all been so accustomed to. He had morphed into a toxic terror known as the MANIMAL MUTATION! His vile appearance sent him into a sadistic rampage and made his blood boil to the point where he decided everything in his path needed to be slaughtered. He looked at the markings on the wall and realized today was OCTOBER 1ST – the first day of the annual festivities at CAMP TNUC. Not only was he disfigured and mutated, but he was also late for camp! Knowing that he had a responsibility to uphold as lead counselor for one of the most savage sleepaway camps in America, he grabbed Bobby the Rat (who had also survived the toxic chemical submersion and was now the size of a Husky), jumped on his Harley and took off into the night.
Now he’s returned…and because of the recent MANIMAL MUTATION incident, he’s in NO MOOD for whiny, promiscuous skinny-dippers causing a ruckus down by the lake. But make no mistake, we still encourage you to make your way down our dusty path and claim your lakeside cabin at CAMP TNUC. For the next 31 days we have a whole mess of activities planned, including TNUC’s “How to?” exercises on how you can become an expert on – surviving in the forest alone, eating raw meat, safe use of power tools, stalking showers, peeking into windows, popping up at the right moment, cutting phone lines, hiding under bunk-beds, swimming under water at night, stealing canoes and more!
P.S. What’s that I hear? Limited edition CAMP TNUC t-shirts on the way? STAY CLOSE. REAL CLOSE.