It’s time Uncle T tells the sad story of how he was 99.9% close to being the proud owner of a 15-foot, ceramic grim reaper head from “America’s Horror Theme Park”, the original Spooky World.
If you’re a regular around here, than you’ve had to put up with Uncle T’s constant babbling about the old haunted house attraction in Berlin, Massachusetts known as Spooky World. I’ve written about this place more times than is necessary, this I fully admit. But just when I think there’s absolutely nothing else to say, I’m pulled right back into its vortex. I promise this time it’s a doozy of an update.
Quick recap. For those of you not familiar with Spooky World, check out article #1, continue to article #2, then report back here. In a nutshell, a little place way out in rural Massachusetts called Spooky World was doing the haunted house/haunted hayride/horror show thing before it became a big deal (and big business) in just about every state in America. These days it’s hard to imagine these places not existing during the Halloween season, but this was the late eighties/early nineties. Adults and kids loved a good scare, horror icons were huge, and they all flocked to one place for that “big” feel: Spooky World.
In the height of it’s popularity, the original location was shut down for different reasons depending on who you talk to. Spooky World moved to new locations, then years later it was bought out by other haunters, but the charm and thrill of the old barn in the town of Berlin was long gone.
These days, now that TNUC is firmly nestled in New England, he “checks in” every few months on the old property grounds, just to be sure it hasn’t burned to the ground or something. It eases his mind seeing the old demons and gargoyles still airbrushed on the barns. That giant reaper mascot still hovering over a doorway for 30+ years…
Ah, that grim reaper. The gargantuan-sized, symbol of Spooky World is such a sight to behold. I’ve always admired how it has withstood over 30 years of harsh New England winters and still looks just as deadly! What a crime it would be if it was demolished for some dumb reason. I knew it would eventually probably happen. I had to try and get it.
I finally got in contact with the current property owner after staking out the place and seeing a few work trucks parked on the lot. Come to find out, a nice contractor guy uses one of the garages for landscaping equipment storage. This was my chance.
My plan was to speak with him about potentially taking that giant symbol of death looming over his garage off his hands. Or at least make him a proposition. After a briefly awkward phone conversation, he agreed to meet and give me an offer.
Standing proud as of June 28, 2019.
As a certified freakazoid and self-proclaimed historian of Spooky World, I was beyond ecstatic. THIS THING IN MY BACKYARD is all I could imagine. Plans were already made in my mind about getting a flatbed trailer for hauling it down the highway to my house. The owner and I agreed to meet on a Sunday.
I pulled up into the driveway at the property and we exchanged hello’s. He asked me to wait a couple minutes because he was speaking with a couple of his workers. I meandered around the barn to where the reaper was and saw that suddenly it wasn’t in its regular spot, attached to the garage. This took me off guard but I figured maybe they got a head start and detached it already. I turned around and saw the owner walking up towards me with a puzzled look on his face. He acted shocked that the reaper was gone and began asking his employee what happened. The guy explained in broken English that during renovation work around the building they demolished it because it was rotting and falling down. The owner appeared to be as surprised as I was, telling his employee that he wasn’t supposed to do that because a guy (me) was there to pick it up.
My blood was boiling. I saw red. I probably looked like Junior from Problem Child during one of his rage-out temper explosions. Shocked and at a loss of words, I revved up a nearby chainsaw and went running after them.
Kidding aside, I couldn’t believe it. The ridiculous truth of how close I was to getting this thing, and after 30 years of it being in this same location, now OUT OF THE BLUE it was destroyed and in pieces.
Dead and demolished on July 11, 2019.
I’m highly suspicious of this incident. Everyone I tell this story to is highly suspicious. How on earth does this thing survive all those seasons, for all those years, then suddenly when someone shows interest in obtaining it, it’s gone! Something ain’t right. But then again, why would this seemingly nice contractor have me commute over an hour to make an offer on it?
I’ve vented all I could vent. Now I’m angry again from just telling the story. Even though part of me thinks this is a conspiracy of some kind, the guy did give me a few original metal signs. They don’t take the place of this once in a lifetime artifact from my childhood and pinnacle of nostalgia, but they’re pretty cool.
Because I won’t let this rain on my October, and since Halloween is coming up, maybe I’ll round up a few hooligans to perform a seance at the old property. A punker, a handicapped jock, a cheerleader, a nerd, one loud slob and Uncle T. Maybe together we can conjure some stormy weather, get a lightning bolt to strike down on the crumbles of grim reaper and resurrect that bad ass son of a bitch to rain some hell.
If you’d like to know more about Spooky World and why TNUC never stops singing its praises, I encourage you to read our prior articles. Also check out the home video from 1994 which was produced by special effects legend Tom Savini and features Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees), Linda Blair, Elvira and more!
It’s hard to look back and pinpoint when the actual peak of “Freddy Mania” took the world by storm. TNUC’s sources say it falls somewhere between when Freddy Kruger had his own MTV show and when his greatest hits novelty album was released.
Somehow over time, the burnt up child murderer became a little too much of a a pop culture icon. Uncle Fred’s popularity grew so huge that he was basically a household name with toys, commercials, child costumes, candy and other miscellaneous hijinks everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love all that crap too, but his demeanor went from pure terror in Wes Craven’s original to wise-cracking-punchline-killer-guy. The death scenes and effects were still effective but it felt like more of a theme park ride. The more popular the franchise became, the less identifiable Freddy was to that sadistic child killer we all cherished in 1984.
As mentioned above, one of the drippiest cheese-fests came in 1987 with “Freddy’s Greatest Hits” under the title of The Elm Street Group. The 9-track collection of goofball lyrics and lazy melodies is almost unbearable to listen to with the exception of one track that snuck itself on here and retains some of that icy-sinister vibe we loved in the original Nightmare on Elm Street.
This track oozes with dreamy evilness, meaning it manages to balance effortlessly between darkness and light. It conjures up a very similar feeling as Tuesday Knight’s smash hit “(Running From This) Nightmare” which came a year later on the Nightmare on Elm Street Part 4: The Dream Master soundtrack, not only with the lyrics but the music which sounds distant and echoey. Almost like it was recorded in a boiler room!
I’ll go ahead and put this track at #3 on my Klassic Krueger Kuts rankings. Here they are:
#1 Dokken – Dream Warriors
#2 Tuesday Knight – (Running From This) Nightmare
#3 The Elm Street Group – Don’t Sleep
#4 The Fat Boys – Are You Ready for Freddy
#5 DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – A Nightmare On My Street
#6 Bruce Dickinson – Bring Your Daughter…to the Slaughter
#7 Joe Lamont – Quiet Cool
Freddy Rules! October Rules!
– The TNUC Lair
After checking out Pet Semetery locations in Ellsworth and Sedgewick, Uncle T and his #1 lady disciple of TNUC headed west to the city of Bangor, the home of MASTER himself.
King’s gothic-style mansion is more haunting looking in-person than I’d seen in photos. Black iron gates surround the property with bats and dragons looming over entrances ominously. If you look closely there’s a deflated red balloon hanging limply on the front gate. I also found it really cool that his house is in a totally accessible, regular neighborhood. While we didn’t catch Uncle Stevie in any of the windows on his typewriter, frantically trying to finish a novel with a bottle and cigarette by his side, a painting contractor in the driveway said he was coming home in a couple days.
The next batch of photos are locations in the city of Bangor where King was inspired to create the fictional town of “Derry” from IT. The drainage systems and “barrens” areas we visited aren’t actual movie locations from the 1990 film or remakes, but for the novel the author would walk these specific areas of town and pull direct ideas from.
Last but not least, our next destination ended up one of my favorite spots of the entire trip…the sleepy town of Dexter which was used as the setting of the introduction to CREEPSHOW 2!
Then in 1987.
Now in 2019.
This one really got me. The old town of Dexter is just as sleepy and desolate today as it seemed to be 1987. By pure coincidence, we ended up booking a couple nights at a fantastic place called The Brewster Inn which ended up being just a few steps from this location (really didn’t plan on that). I walked down the road from the old inn and boom…it was like looking directly at the still shot from the opening to Creepshow 2.
All that was missing was the old creep giving Billy the new Creepshow magazines hot off the presses!
Thanks for reading about my pilgrimage to Stephen King locations in Maine! Don’t forget to check out Part I of this feature. Hopefully reading this inspires some people to venture out of their homes and check out some bizarre locations in their region. You’ll be surprised at what you can find out there. All you really need is a tank of gas and a will to be weird.
If anyone has the urge to seek out these locations, get in touch with Uncle T for a map and some self-guided tips.
Everyone knows Stephen King stories are pretty much synonymous with the state of Maine. The master of the macabre and the Northeastern coastal state have met in most of King’s literature and in doing so, also on the big screen as well. Whether it be the fictional towns of Castle Rock, Derry or Salem’s Lot, to a real town like Bangor, it feels like the quaint and spooky atmosphere of these small towns is as much a character in the story as the people or monsters.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve read a huge number of his novels, but I’ve seen just about every film adaptation. While growing up and inching my way into horror, some of those first experiences of terror were with Stephen King movies. The Shining, Creepshow 1&2, Pet Sematary, IT, Cujo….you couldn’t get away from these on TV and falling victim to one on a rainy Saturday afternoon was a rattling feeling I’ll never forget. Brilliant storytelling with engaging characters, unrelenting fear and dark settings that I could relate to being a native New Englander.
The fictional names of towns King uses in his stories are based on real places the author either grew up in or areas that for whatever reason resonated with him. I had been hearing that many of the “shot on location” settings are still to this day exactly how they appear in the movies.
Beautiful rocky coastline, eerie woods, sprawling farm towns, lobster shacks and endless blueberries….Uncle T’s mind was made up. It was time to make a pilgrimage to this bizarre state and experience standing in one of these horror locations that has haunted my brain for decades (in a good way).
The cool thing about Maine is that so much of the state is unchanged. While driving through small town after small town, this is immediately noticeable. *Granted we focused our attention on rural, off-the-grid areas of the state to get the full effect*. The following seemed to repeat for miles: old diner, old church, ancient cemetery, dilapidated barn, rusty auto body shop, general store and antique shop. If that sounds backwoods-ish and boring, trust me it was not. There is a classic sense to these areas that just feels right. Like a vintage pizza parlor that knows nothing will ever beat their charm, so they refuse to go modern. However, the small towns do shift back and fourth from gorgeous, picturesque, New England landscape to spooky and strange. So again, what’s not to like!
I could trail on about how much I loved touring this state, but instead let’s stick to the subject and check out TNUC’s self-guided Stephen King tour:
The venture started with finding locations from my all-time favorite Stephen King adaptation which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, Pet Sematary.
Creed Family Home, 1989.
Now in 2019.
Driving up to the house was pretty surreal. At about a 1/4 mile before the house it already felt like we were approaching the old movie scene. I could see the set up of Jud Crandall’s house to the right, the sprawl of woods on the left and the Creed property coming into focus after we began descending down a hill. There it was. The exterior of the home and general landscape are virtually the same three decades later.
All that was missing was the tree with the tire swing and pathway to the pet cemetery. I didn’t feel the need to take a photo of Jud’s house across the street, because even though it was there, in the film they built a facade on the exterior, so nothing about the current home resembles the movie version.
Little Gage about to get plowed by the semi truck.
Just like in the film, the park where Louis Creed and family are having a picnic is right next to the house. I regret not having Auntie T take a photo of Uncle T screaming on his hands and knees in the middle of the road like Louis did to really make this photo come alive. It might be just a road, but it’s the road that shaped a devastating scene in King’s book and the 1989 film that fans will never forget.
The family picnic before all hell brakes loose.
From this point we ventured to the little town of Sedgwick to find the infamous MICMAC BURIAL GROUND.
This was more off the beaten path than I realized and Auntie TNUC wanted to ring my neck when she saw what I was dragging her out to see. The actual location of Micmac Burial Ground is on top of an old blueberry field. It requires some off-roading and then walking up a hill to the burial summit. The giant, somewhat circular solid rock looked precisely the same, minus the evil rock formations that set designers created to give it a ritualistic vibe. Several piles of rocks were still strewn about the area, although it was difficult to tell if they were the same ones used in the film.
Something about standing at the top of these ancient sour grounds with only gusts of wind and a few birds chirping seriously fueled my soul. It didn’t feel like most movie locations where it’s so clear that fans visit all the time. This was pretty remote and it made the experience feel more unique.
As for the cemetery location where Louis digs up Gage and Stephen King makes a cameo appearance as a minister, I was pressed for time but quite frankly its just a very well-kept cemetery in a city so it didn’t seem that interesting.
Thanks for reading about my voyage to Pet Semetery locations in Maine. There’s more…so stay tuned for PART II!
The moon is rising. Night winds blow seductively. A strange, bubbling-red mist erupts from beneath the ground…
Yes, the trail to The House Where TNUC Dwells AKA Manimal Mansion is a long and treacherous one. One of the bizarre things is that the trail actually disappears during the day. You would assume it would be easier to navigate during daylight hours, but for whatever reason (probably something to do with the Native burial grounds it crosses through) the trail is only somewhat manageable after the sun goes down.
Courageous hikers, city punkers and groups of frisky teens give it their best each year, and predicatively as the years pass, fewer and fewer return home. The milk cartons with “MISSING” labels show up in town every couple weeks into October. Preachers and churchgoers run frantically around town warning people. Angry townsfolk carry lead pipes, chains, flaming torches and pitchforks toward Manimal Mansion in hopes of destroying it…but never return.
Brave souls need not only to follow the path to the old house on the hill but also follow their nose as the stench of the night beast TNUC has chained up to an old oak tree on his property can be smelled from miles away. “Just follow your nose” it reads barely legible on a piece of plywood that kids painted at the edge of the trial.
Crossing through swamps, fog-drenched cemeteries, cornfields, then over the deadfall and under rock boulders they make the trek. At this point the deformed weirdos of the woods start coming out. One of them is typically our alcoholic, perverted groundskeeper “Petey” who has a knack for scaring girls in particular, getting them to clench onto their boyfriends’ letter jackets that much tighter. Petey has worn the same single pair of overalls since 1972 and he can always be seen clinging onto a bottle of Four Roses. He’s a rotten ol’ prowler but TNUC respects his dedication to working hard at Manimal Mansion all these years.
Next you’ll be dodging a series of masked psychos, winged creatures, dead Camp TNUC lifeguards, ghouls sitting around campfires, mindless slaughterers and living dead babes that you’ll be tempted to flirt with but beware…THEY BITE.
One creature-repellent that’s proven to work for some survivors has been having some righteous tunes. The right playlist of music can wean off even the worst of the worst. It actually puts them in a good mood. This will provide a nice head start to your journey and believe it or not, you might get a glimpse of monsters and killers dancing in the moonlight while that boombox is blasting. TNUC’s Spooky Mixtapes are highly recommended. There’s currently 9 of them so grab those here if you haven’t already.
…But make your own lists as well! The more appropriate for the setting, the better. If someone brings Maroon 5 or some modern pop pig vomit, prepare for immediate death.
Here’s an obscure slice of Swedish heavy metal appropriately titled “Nightwinds” by a band called Parasite that our creatures of the night are sure to dig.
Don’t stop there. Load up that mixtape with all genres, then hoist that boombox on your shoulder and good luck to ya out there…
“Do you like the dark?
Do you like the way it moves?
Do you come alive when neon kills the sun?”
– Dio ‘Night People’ (1987)
Ever since I was a young creeper, the Halloween season can’t ever truly begin until I FEEL IT in the air. These days stores start selling Halloween junk earlier than ever, and while I do appreciate getting a head start to the season, I don’t feel that ravenous urge in my loins until a chilly breeze combs over me, leaves start crunching on the ground, lightning strikes our town’s clock tower and I get a feverish appetite to watch The Howling in the middle of the night with all the living room windows open.
A stubborn ol’ bastard like Uncle TNUC simply won’t budge until it hits him that directly. Once that old familiar feeling does arrive, villagers and townsfolk start reporting of that eerie silhouette of a heavy-metal-rat’s-nest hairdo and glowing red eyes on the porch of the old farmhouse looking ghoulish as hell in the pale moonlight.
WELCOME TO THE HOUSE WHERE TNUC DWELLS: the moss-covered mansion on the hill with the rusty gates, creaking floorboards, chairs rocking by themselves, cobwebbed chandeliers, billowing curtains, perverted groundskeeper, unidentifiable smells, Elvira cardboard cutouts dancing in the living room (strung up like Kevin did in Home Alone), screams coming from the attic, electric blue lighting coming from the basement bulkhead and a chained up beast in the backyard howling at the moon.
Uncle T was inspired after listening to Purple Stuff Podcast’s ongoing ‘Spooky Songs’ series and hearing Dino Drac’s inclusion of the more under the radar spooky songs to present a rare tune of my own today. The sort of song that might not be so on-the-nose or conceptually Halloweeny but still reeks of deadly vibes and eerie atmosphere.
My contribution to that category is from the late-great Ric Ocasek of The Cars. With the very recent passing of Ric, this track from his 1986 solo album is all too appropriate and provides an extra layer of emotion. ‘Coming for You’ is such a massive song in terms of production, lyrics, guitars and SPOOKY FEELING.
The song has a build of tension and dread that I can’t help imagining a pack of braindead flesh munchers coming for you.