Longtime readers of this sacred land should know how near and dear the original SPOOKY WORLD aka “America’s Horror Theme Park” is to my heart. For years I’ve reminisced about how special Spooky World’s original Berlin, Massachusetts establishment was, while building a collection of nostalgic artifacts from eBay, Etsy and unearthed gold at yard sales (usually supplied by East coast TNUC fans…thanks disciples!)
Spooky World was one of the first major haunted attractions in America back in 1991. For roughly 7 years the popular spookhouse frightened and delighted patrons with their impressive hayrides, haunted barn, animatronics and mini horror shows. Special guests visited regularly for signings including Elvira, Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees), Tom Savini, Linda Blair, Tiny Tim, Robert Englund, Alice Cooper and many others.
It was by no means a perfectly organized and flawless haunt, but what Spooky World lacked in perfection they made up for with charm and a natural, eerie atmosphere, something so many haunts these days tend to be lacking. There was also a sense of danger and uneasiness that lurked in the air, especially during the hayride. With lighting kept to a minimum and gore/costumes/effects obviously restricted to a tight budget, somehow all of this generated a more seedy vibe for the whole experience. Were the blades on that chainsaw actually removed or not? Probably, yes…but these were the beginning days of haunted attractions and much of what people were seeing in front of them was new and therefore a bit shocking at times.
The property itself was set on an old farm in Western Massachusetts, an area that during daylight hours is a beautiful, picturesque version of Autumn. However when night falls, cold winds and the woodsy ruralness of the location made for an evening already dark and full of terrors.
If you haven’t been to Massachusetts in October and call yourself a big Halloween fan, I can’t stress how badly you NEED to visit there during this time of year. Amidst the crisp air and smell of dead leaves there’s a sense of genuineness that cannot be described in words. The old graveyards, ‘real’ hauntings, SALEM, Native American burial grounds and the state’s ancient history just flat out honor the state as the spirit of Halloween.
So I felt a little bummed continuing our “Local Hot Spot of the Month” feature for 2016 and entering October without inducting Spooky World. But then an idea hit me…
LET’S DRIVE OUT TO THE OLD SPOOKY WORLD BARN.
I knew the address and how to get there, but what would actually be standing 20 years after they were shut down? During the late nineties the place relocated and as years progressed, the original creators left the business. These days the venue operates under the Spooky World title somewhere up in New Hampshire but it’s charm is long gone…don’t be fooled.
So on a recent trip back East, we decided to take the drive…
UPDATE! IT’S STILL FUCKING THERE.
I was absolutely stunned to see the building still standing. Shockingly enough even the red paint on the old barn remained. As I made my way around the property, the perimeter of the barn was mostly covered in overgrown weeds while a dilapidated stairwell and broken windows could be seen on the entrance side.
As I stood and waited for a corpse to crawl out from underneath that staircase, a family member shouted for me to come check out something. So I crept over to the backside of the largest building and saw something that made this entire trip even more worthwhile…
This was the last thing I would’ve guessed would still exist. Perfectly airbrushed horror artwork just sitting there untouched by humans or unchanged from the elements. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. For over 20 years this demon, reaper and gargoyle have sat on a rotting building and no one’s done or said squat about it until now (Trust me I’ve done my homework). A pure holy grail for TNUC.
Apparently in 1993 an artist named Ed Beard Jr. painted these pieces. Mr. Beard is a seasoned professional who’s been painting dragons, motorcycles and other radical airbrush murals for the industry over the past 33 years.
Just when I thought there couldn’t be anything else that survived two decades, I noticed in the distance a small shed which I figured was nothing but a home for rats and the possible town drunk/hermit.
Inside the shed through a thick glob of cobwebs I found even more wall artwork. The airbrushed style totally almost made me tear up as it brought back memories of county fair spookhouses and dark rides at the carnival! I pretended for a moment that sweet aromas of fried dough and cider donuts filled the air even though all I was sniffing was rotted wood and must.
What’s this now…20+ year old props? Laying on a barrel of toxic waste? What good deeds have I done in this life to deserve a day like this?
Possibly the most fitting part of the day was finding an old Papa Gino’s pizza banner in this nasty old shed. Papa Gino’s is of course the most popular pizza chain in Massachusetts and is quite a force to be reckoned with. Lil’ TNUC grew up scarfing this very pizza every Friday night and had a growing collection of those plastic pizza toppers (who knows why).
More haunted pizza.
I circled around the building a few more times, looking for a window to peek inside. In my wildest dreams I wanted to see a giant wood-paneled wall of vintage rubber masks, Elvira standees, buckets of fake blood, buckets of green ooze, animatronic bats, chainsaw accessories, Good Guy dolls, an untouched Spooky World merchandise table and Fastway’s “Trick or Treat” soundtrack blasting on repeat while Linnea Quigley performed dance aerobics.
It was fascinating to visit a structure that has virtually gone untouched for so many years. I’m planning on contacting the current owner of the property to see if we can open up those creaky doors and take a look inside. Then maybe Uncle T can move back, buy the property and re-open the old haunt under new management, the same old charm and a new name: “TRICK R’ TNUC”.
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[Local-Hot-Spot-Of-The-Month is a adrenaline-thrusting history lesson and celebration of signature hangout spots one might recognize from television, film or real life. Our objective is to not just rediscover and dissect these places, but more importantly create a feeling like you’re really there. Take your time with these entries. Hang out. Turn some music on.
To visit the rest of ’em, go here.]
It’s time to talk about one of Hasbro Toys’ greatest creations, Monster Face!
For those who don’t know or need a good memory slap, Monster Face was a giant skull head which you could assemble yourself using over 30 frightful facial parts, including monster glop (ooze), blisters, spiders, worms, scars, a movable jaw, mohawk hair and glow-in-the-dark fangs! In every description of Monster Face on the internet, he’s referred to as a “monster version of Mr. Potato Head”, but that’s a lazily lame description because in actuality he was SO MUCH MORE.
It all began at Christmas of ’92, a holiday morning Uncle T will surely never forget. Streams of red + green wrapping paper violently flew through the living room as a giant neon box with the words MONSTER FACE and a demented skeleton squash on the front appeared before him.
This toy definitely wasn’t something you set up once and let it rot on a shelf, waiting for his white boney head to turn yellow from the sun. This rad bastard was made to be experimented with over and over again, with guaranteed fun times like making slime pour out the side of his head, to controlling the jaw for him to host your own “Midnight Hour with Monster Face” in front of a packed crowd in your bedroom (your grandmother).
I’m not really sure how I tipped off Santy Claus about this guy, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was either from seeing him in the Sear’s holiday wishbook (AKA The Toy Bible) or from this commercial:
I can’t think of any toys that could be brought to life more than this cool ghoul. Hours and hours were easily burned by doing your best Dr. Frankenstein impression and morphing him into whatever nasty mutation you desired. Also figuring out how each of the control mechanisms worked, like creating bubbling boils by placing a layer of clay over a compartment filled with ooze, then pumping it at the base to make the wound fester. If you really cherished Monster Face like Uncle T did, playing with this toy might as well have been an intro course to practical gore effects (for ages 5 & up).
Wait. What’s this? A GOOSEBUMPS RIPOFF?
Not exactly. In 1994, a few years after Hasbro, Inc. purchased Tonka Corporation (which included Kenner Toys), the company restructured the corporation into two groups – the Hasbro Games Group (Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley) and the Hasbro Toy Group (Kenner, Tonka and Playskool). Under the Kenner name they redesigned Monster Face into the Goosebumps Monster Head Maker, capitalizing on the smash success of the R.L. Stine book collection.
At first glance the two toys appear to be identical, minus the fancy new box illustrations and purple base for his squash. Looking into it a bit further, one very cool difference was that Mr. Head could be transformed into one of your favorite Goosebumps monster!
Borrowed from the Monster Head Maker instructions (download PDF)
What better way to intensify those nightmarish thoughts after reading Goosebumps by breeding one of the book’s monsters at home? With the included sculpting scalpel you could also now create ghoulish gore effects like blisters, welts and maggot mounds. Best of all, the modeling clay didn’t dry out. C’mon now, how long did clay really last from some of your other toys before it was smudged across the carpet or lodged in the vacuum?
∴ ∴ ∴
So…now the burning question, why isn’t TNUC’s own Monster Face pictured here? Well, I just recently found out MY MOM GAVE IT AWAY. Excuse me why I climb to the top of the Camp TNUC flagpole and jump off.
[Don’t forget, our new t-shirts are still on sale! CLICK HERE]
Think we could go a whole October without talking about Creepshow? Not a chance.
Not only are these movies still the greatest horror anthologies to date, but back in nineteen-eighty something these films provided a gateway into the horror genre for a pint-sized-demon named TNUC. Bare with me, I know we’ve brought up Creepshow multiple times, but I promise this post delivers.
From of all the segments, “The Raft” was the one I could never turn away from if I happened to catch it on TNT’s MonsterVision while flipping channels and wolfing down Spaghetti-o’s late at night. The film’s daytime scenes with teenagers smoking weed, rocking out and heading to the lake was the perfect trick to lure me over to the couch and demand my full undivided attention.
By the time the lake muck started devouring the promiscuous teens, I was pretty wrecked. The story’s simple concept struck a nerve and left me thinking about it for days.
One of the things hardcore Creepshow disciples have always longed for was a decent soundtrack release for it’s sequel, Creepshow 2. The first film had an original vinyl release featuring the outstanding score by John Harrison. Then just a couple years ago Waxwork Records put together a special edition of that score, featuring every cue of the film score mastered directly from the lost master tapes.
With the successful follow-up sequel in 1987 featuring original music by Rick Wakeman and other anonymous artists that fans still seek information about, you’d think something would have showed up by now. Especially during this age of soundtrack/score-mania. Well, this season at Camp TNUC that’s partly what happened…
Fans of “The Raft”: Listen Up! One of our counselors was partying by an abandoned lake last weekend and found old rusted out Chevy Camaro buried beneath weeds and deadfall. After some extensive restoration of the vehicle – which included a ceremony featuring demonic chanting, lighting bolts and wind storms – the only part able to be resurrected was a tape cassette found in the deck!
So without further ado, here are the (3) exceedingly rare songs that Randy, Lavern and the others were blasting in the Camaro before getting eaten by the sludgy lake creeper! *Click downward arrow on player to download*
To the best of our knowledge, these haven’t been available to the public until the moment they were brought back to life in Uncle T’s shop class. If we’re violating some kind of copyright regulation, please speak up. Otherwise, download these tracks immediately for your next trip to an abandoned ancient lake.
And hey, CHECK THIS OUT. These hand crafted, one of a kind “Raft dioramas” are for sale on Etsy by an artist named Phillip Weisenberger. The scene comes in a wooden box and can be displayed closed or open. He’s selling these pieces of radness for only $30 so if you’re interested, follow this link!
Crawling outta’ coffins and sneaking into bunk beds for over 3 decades, TNUC is back with a vengeance this October with a brand new slice of paraphernalia for all you lost warriors of the fog! Super limited quantities available (Only 30 made).
Printed on “Tri-Blend” American Apparel tees in Athletic Blue. Made in the USA.
Gift Shop: uncletnuc.bigcartel.com
“Power of the Night
Raise the fist of the metal child!”
AT LAST, the time of year when Uncle T feels most alive is here! Pretty soon demons will cry out for him and the manimal within will respond, compelling him to stalk the haunted grounds of CAMP TNUC, thirsting with vulpine ferocity for the taste of apple cider, Reese’s pumpkins and blood.
October is that special time to divulge in all the essentials like moonlit long butts, wet leaves, rubber bats, creaky gates, bite size candy and graveyard guitar solos! It’s not like we don’t partake or cherish those things during the other 11 months of the year, but we celebrate it right now like it’s the last time to do it.
Question for all you dearly devoted disciples. If you could vamp out (rock out) in a foggy cemetery for just one night without the cops showing up or Old Man Rivers chasing you with his pitchfork, what band or artist would you choose to jam with? What music would make you party down in the cemetery like Trash and her friends in Return of the Living Dead? What tunes would prompt you to bend a knee in power-stance-amp-position, on top of a crypt, leather-bound fists clenched and pointed at the moon? Dancing and headbanging into the night?
After careful consideration, my choice would be Dokken, and this goes far beyond the Dream Warriors/Freddy Krueger connection.
George Lynch is one of those guitar dudes whom I’ve always looked up to for his tone and style. He holds the guitar like a goddamned reaper’s scythe and his riffs and solos always give me that chilly nighttime feeling. Aside from the Nightmare on Elm Street thing, Dokken isn’t a band people necessarily associate with horror. They don’t write songs about Satan, witches, murder or anything in the dark realms of bands like Slayer, Candlemass, Ozzy, Bauhaus, WASP or any of the obvious ones. But listen to Lynch’s opening riff to “When Heaven Comes Down” and tell me it’s not the soundtrack to nails popping off a coffin and fog emerging from the casket.
Lynch didn’t need to write riffs for songs about ghouls and rituals to have that guitar sounding like it’s creeping up from a murky basement. Same goes for “Unchain the Night”, “Into the Fire”, “Mr. Scary”, “Kiss of Death” and “Lost Behind the Wall”. The fact that these songs don’t dip into horror themes but still make me want to go for eerie night drives in the middle of nowhere really appeals to me for some reason.
Interesting story about a Dokken music video for one of their other major hits, “Heaven Sent”. Apparently the band was scheduled to shoot the video in a little town during the middle of their tour. They pulled into town but weren’t allowed access to the cemetery so they ended up making a fake cemetery directly outside the gates of the real one. All the headstones you see in the forefront of the video are fake cardboard graves with comical names on them including some of the band and road crew. Watch the video for “Heaven Sent” below and wait for the graveyard solo @ 2:50!
So tell me in the comments section below what band would soundtrack your graveyard stomp. Also, what “non-horror” music unexpectedly lurks into your loins and evokes spooky nighttime feelings?