Walking Sam – Urban Legend

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Featured Haunted Places Horror Mystery and Lore

Near the Black Hills of South Dakota sits one of the largest Indian reservations in the country: the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Home to the Oglala Lakota tribe, Pine Ridge has a long history of trauma. It’s the site where hundreds of Lakota Indians were killed during the Wounded Knee Massacre, and it’s currently one of the poorest county’s in the United States. When it made headlines in 2015 for a spree of teen suicides, many began to suggest that darker supernatural forces were at work in Pine Ridge, citing the urban legend of Walking Sam.

Sign for Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Between December of 2014 and March of 2015, there were 103 suicide attempts made. Nine of those were successful, and none of the victims were older than twenty-five. Many died by hanging. In previous years there had been other clusters of suicides, but none this large. Stuck in a crisis situation with no clear answers, many began to point to a sinister force that has long existed in Native American tradition and lore. Children raised in Lakota households grow up hearing of “suicide spirits,” “stick people,” or shadow people who attempt to lure adolescents from the safety of their homes at night. Over time, and with the explosion of popularity in Slender Man, these stories may have morphed into the single figure now known as Walking Sam.

The Legend of Walking Sam

Though he goes by other names as well (most notably “Tall Man” or “Stovepipe Hat Bigfoot”), most of the stories describe Walking Sam as a seven-foot tall figure with eyes but no mouth, sometimes wearing a stove-pipe hat. When he raises his arms one sees the bodies of previous victims hanging beneath. When teenagers hear him calling, he tries to persuade them of their worthlessness, encouraging them to kill themselves. Some believe he targets younger people because they are more susceptible to his tricks.

Shadow of man standing in dark tunnel

There are also those who believe he is not even necessarily a malicious entity, but rather one who wanders the forests as some sort of punishment and is merely looking for companionship. There are also the obvious ties to boogeyman folklore and Slender Man legends, but from a cryptozoological standpoint some believe he may be another version of, or in fact related to, Bigfoot. Finally, for a people group who have such an intertwined spiritual connection between the land and their heritage, some believe that Walking Sam is a sort of physical manifestation of the hurt and trauma that Lakota Indians experience on a regularly basis.

A Growing Epidemic

Whether Walking Sam is real, or perhaps a metaphor for depression, many of the adults at Pine Ridge take the threat he represents seriously, asking for help from government officials in curtailing the devastating effects of the legend. Disturbing videos have surfaced of teens explaining how to tie the rope just right. Pastors and teachers have stepped in at the last moment to stop group suicides. Authorities find nooses hanging grimly from trees. Whether or not these young adults are having their dark desires exacerbated by an ominous urban legend boogeyman remains a mystery. However, what is clear is that in a land plagued by extreme poverty, alcohol abuse, and skyrocketing high school drop out rates, teens are struggling with mental health issues and need proper care and support.

References

Was the Inspiration for the Scream Movies & Ghostface Killer Real?

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Featured Scary Movies and Series

Is Scream Based On a Real Story?

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” Ghostface can be heard around the world by countless fans mimicking his famous catchphrase. Ghostface taunts his victims by telephone and with a voice changing device to help hide his identity (which ultimately changes every movie).  He then stalks and chases them with a scary looking dagger to ensure a violent death.  Ghostface is certainly one of the horror genre’s favorite slashers.

The Scream franchise did very well, with the first movie raking in more than $103 million in the United States alone (that’s great for an estimated budget of only $14,000,000)!  But where did the story get its start? What is the Scream movie origin and is Ghostface based upon a real life killer? Horror Enthusiast has dove deep to untangle some wires and figure the true origin of the Ghostface killer and Scream movies.

The Real Story that Inspired Ghostface & Scream

The Real Life Unnerving Murders

The writer of Scream, Kevin Williamson, created the story line surrounding his fascination with the Gainesville Ripper.  While watching a news story about the terror, he realized his very own window was open, and that he could be susceptible to the same horrible fate that had already befallen a number of people.  The horror script was born that very day as Kevin completed the first 18 page draft of what would be Scream. 

The initial script featured a young woman who was alone at home (where she should be safe), being taunted by a killer over the phone.  The woman would then be chased by the slasher, who would be a scary-masked villain with a knife. Shortly, Kevin had completed a full-length script for the movie. He even planned the concept of Scream becoming a franchise right away.  In addition to his full-length script, Kevin provided suggestions that outlined two possible sequels. 

The Gainesville Ripper

Danny Harold Rolling is the Gainesville Ripper, a serial killer responsible for murdering 5 students in the Gainesville, Florida area, as well as 3 others in Louisiana.  Rolling is the initial inspiration  (although somewhat loosely fit) for the plot horror enthusiasts all know as the Scream movie today.  Rolling was a gruesome killer, mutilating his victims after raping them and even decapitating one body. He would also pose his victims in sexually provocative positions before leaving the scene. Hardly Ghostface, however, nonetheless the Gainesville Ripper would scare Kevin Williamson so bad he’d come up with the basis for a truly scary plot with a real-life feel. 

Rolling was put to death by legal injection in 2006.

Where Did the Ghostface Mask Come From?

ghostface masked killed from the movie scream

The Ghostface mask was discovered by Wes Craven himself as he were hunting for filming locations.  He noticed the mask hanging on the wall of one of the rooms within a possible film house and knew it was a perfect fit.  The mask could not be exactly similar as he could not obtain the rights and so he had one made to resemble the mask as closely as possible based upon a photo he took.

Where Did the Ghostface Cloak Come From?

Ghostface was designed, originally, to be cloaked in a white robe, not a black robe.  The costume only changed to a black robe after the crew realized he resembled a member of the Ku Klux Klan when wearing white.

Where Did the Title “Scream” Come From?

Scream was originally going to be called “Scary Movie.” This is super ironic, as that title would later be used for a parody that pretty much featured the Scream franchise. The (now more famous than ever before in light of their sexual harassment scandles) Weinstein Brothers decided to rename the film to Scream towards the end of filming.

What Made Scream More Interesting?

Scream was (basically) the first horror movie that featured characters who understood horror movies existed and even referenced real-life horror movies throughout the film.  With characters that understood how people die in horror movies and the common mistakes to avoid…it made the audience feel as though anything could happen.

Additional Inspirations

There is a lot of inspiration behind Scream that appears under the surface, as well.  Scream script writer, Kevin Williamson, had been a huge horror movie fan his entire life before beginning the Scream script. He loved popular horror franchises Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Prom Night, and many others.  His passion for these films is evident via a number of references and obvious homage throughout the Scream movies.

Scream Still Scares Even Today

painting of ghostface from scream

Ghostface today is still a very popular slasher horror icon.  He makes several appearances throughout popular media (other movies included, even comedies like ‘Scary Movie’).  And almost everyone knows who Ghostface is, or has seen at least one Scream movie.  He is even a very popular Halloween mask choice more than 20 years after his first cinematic appearance (the original Scream being released in 1996).  And very recently, more interest slasher favorite, Ghostface, has spawned a rebooted Scream franchise in form of a TV series. The TV series first aired in June of 2015, but is currently three seasons strong.  The third season has yet to air (begins in March of 2018). 

Whether on the big screen or on TV, one thing is clear: Ghostface is here to stay and wants to know what is your favorite scary movie?

Was Vlad Dracula The Real Count Dracula ?

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Count Dracula has earned his place alongside the most iconic horror monsters, including Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. The 1897 novel by Bram Stoker has left a legacy on the gothic horror genre and beyond, with the depiction of vampires in pop culture transforming over the decades in the same way that Dracula’s victims did upon receiving a bite from the famed blood-sucking monster. But where exactly did the origin of vampires begin? Is Dracula real? Who inspired his taste for human blood? As it turns out, Count Dracula is widely believed to be based on real-life prince Vlad Dracula also known as Vlad the Impaler, who used his royal status as a weapon and lived up to his violent name. 

Who was Vlad Dracula aka Vlad the Impaler?

Born in the early 1400’s as Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (now known as Romania), this ruler had a variety of monikers. The first was Vlad Dracula, which means “Son of Dracul” and was adapted from his nobleman father Vlad II Dracul. And then there’s the universally known Vlad the Impaler, a name derived from his reputation for torture and mutilation of his enemies. But he had quite the journey towards such cruelty, and it all began when he was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1442.

Map of Wallachia and Transylvania region 1400's

“The sultan held Vlad and his brother as hostages to ensure that their father, Vlad II, behaved himself in the ongoing war between Turkey and Hungary,” said historian Elizabeth Miller. While the two boys were treated decently, being taught in science and philosophy as their father returned to Wallachia, Vlad III felt reasonable hostility towards his captivity. It came to a head when Vlad Dracula was ousted as ruler of his country and later killed by noblemen. Vlad III made it his mission to reclaim his late father’s seat from Vladislav II, which he did for a mere two months before the latter returned from the Balkans to reclaim his throne. 

In the years after, Vlad III switched teams and severed his ties from Ottoman governors to obtain military support from King Ladislaus V of Hungary. After the fall of Constantinople in 1454, he achieved his goals and was named voivode of Wallachia in 1456. That’s when the bloodshed began. 

How did Vlad Dracula get his name? 

Bran castle Vlad Dracula's castle in Transilvania

Tales of Vlad III’s lust for blood have been told for centuries. One tells of two Catholic monks that he had impaled to “assist them in their journey to heaven,” before butchering their donkey as well. Another time, diplomatic envoys declined to remove their hats for religious reasons upon a meeting with the voivode, only for Vlad to keep the hats forever on their heads by nailing them to their skulls. Perhaps one of the most famous, however, is the time that Vlad III invited hundreds of unsuspecting and feuding boyars to dinner –  before having them stabbed and then impaling their still-twitching bodies. Red Wedding from Game of Thrones vibes, anyone? The most widely-believed reason for the dinner massacre was that the boyars were causing strife and dysfunction amongst the land, and Vlad simply did what he had to do… but we’re more inclined to believe that he just liked the violence and power that came with it. 

“I have killed peasants, men and women, old and young, who lived at Oblucitza and Novoselo, where the Danube flows into the sea,” Vlad III wrote to a military ally in the late 1400’s. “We killed 23,884 Turks, without counting those whom we burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by our soldiers.” His body count is believed to be around 80,000 – with 20,000 being impaled and put on display in the city. The violence continued until his death in the 1470’s.

How did Vlad Dracula inspire Dracula?

Dracula by Bram Stoker Book Cover

As you can see, Count Dracula and Vlad Dracula aren’t exactly the same person. The two biggest similarities are likely a surname and sensational taste for blood, but they share other traits as well. The Transylvanian setting, reputation as an outcast, and desire for vengeance are just a few other mutual characteristics between the Romanian prince and the classic horror icon. Was Dracula a real person? Not exactly, but he had a beautifully bloodthirsty real-life inspiration!

Sources

https://www.livescience.com/40843-real-dracula-vlad-the-impaler.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/sciencemain/vlad-impaler-real-dracula-was-absolutely-vicious-8c11505315

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_the_Impaler#CITEREFFlorescuMcNally1989

We Are The Flesh – “The spirit doesn’t reside within the flesh; The spirit is the flesh!”

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Featured Horror Movie Reviews Scary Movies and Series

History is littered with questions as to the validity of extremism in art and media. Traditional English-speaking sensibilities all but protect us from the taboo-destroying underground world of experimental cinema, a place until now reserved for those who were prepared for a deep-dive into their local video rental store or, more recently, the internet. That being said, if I see that a horror film originated in the likes of France, Japan or Korea, to name a few, I know I may be in for a bit of a ride. At least I could be about to see something I had, through cultural linearity, never seen before. When I discovered Arrow Video’s release of We Are The Flesh (2016) promising an extreme and uninhibited French-Mexican horror experience, I was cautiously optimistic. 

Written and directed by Emiliano Rocha Minter, it’s a gleefully depraved slice of post-apocalyptic experimentalism. Beginning with a brother and sister (played by Diego Galamiel and María Evoli, respectively) discovering the makeshift lair of a primitive loner (Noé Hernández) after wandering a seemingly ruined city for ‘days’, the loner offers them refuge under his own, as of yet unknown conditions. Before long the ethos of this energetic stanger has leached fully into their minds, as well as our own, and from here We Are The Flesh consistently ups the ante until we’re sure we’ve seen it all. Displaying shockingly brash instances of sex, torture, murder and cannibalism, one would be forgiven for assuming that this is simply another exercise in shock horror and likely deserves the dreaded ‘Torture-Porn’ moniker. 

What Genre is We Are the Flesh?

The fact is, Minter’s directorial feature debut is far too intelligent to fall into such derogatory categories. The full commitment to its views, monologued with gusto by Hernández, completely backs the primordial hedonism to follow. As he bangs his drum and screams of deep phenomenology and the freedom of primitive chaos, viewers can’t help but be sucked into his words, nodding along and cheering for things that would have otherwise disgusted them. The core themes of his diatribes being isolation and the liberation it has afforded him, these matters could not be more apt for times like these. Rather than condemn his seclusion, he describes its effects with violently joyous energy. He speaks lovingly of mankind’s dual and savage nature as beasts who only suppress their most ancient of instincts, urging his new acquaintances to do away with the thin frameworks of moral decency that only other people held in front of them.  

“The spirit doesn’t reside within the flesh; The spirit is the flesh!”

The storytelling is vague and often confusing. The destruction of the outside world is only hinted at by the state of the converted apartment block the characters reside in. Many elements are implied and only fall into place in the final moments leading to an ending that makes any right-minded viewer question everything they have seen, their own values, and likely those of the entire human race. This is the essence of experimental horror.

Shock or Thought Provoking Imagery, Maybe Both?

We are the flesh horror movie poster featuring a person in a war helmet and tank top

We Are The Flesh left a hell of an impression on me; the type you sit and ponder for a time, probably long after the credits roll. While a lot of people won’t make it to that point, and some may even react negatively at being shown such an uncompromising film. But that’s where the true point of cinema like this lies, for me anyway. If someone becomes joyous or angry or upset at what they see then they’re making a decision on it; for better or worse it has made them think. Either we reject the new and strange ideas being shown to us or we embrace them for all of their gleeful depravity. These long, unbroken scenes of increasingly bizarre, deviant sex and violence will unnerve even seasoned horror fans and, elite as it may sound, only those with the capacity and intent to soak in the true meanings behind the insanity will gain anything from their viewing. If Hernández chanting, flapping his arms like a bird and appearing like something between Gollum and Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet (1986) doesn’t spark at some primitive charge in your brain then what follows will only deepen your confusion. 

Through focused cinematography, blistering intelligence and chilling commitment to performances, We Are The Flesh is one of the finer experimental horror films I have subjected myself to. While appreciators of this type of art remain in the few, this is one of the more accomplished pieces of work that could take its shameless style to a wider audience. That being said, I won’t be recommending it to any family members. 

What is Lycanthropy and Where Did It Come From?

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore NA

The official definition of Lycanthropy? “A delusion that one has become a wolf,” or “the assumption of the form and characteristics of a wolf held to be possible by witchcraft or magic.” Basically, it’s the werewolf that’s become a common fixture in not just horror, but cinema in general. There’s something truly terrifying about this half-man, and half-wolf creature that brings bloodshed wherever it goes. Perhaps it’s the fact that this affliction usually happens to a helpless man – in the wrong place at the wrong time as he’s bitten by a mysterious creature and becomes a monster right before his own eyes. Or the fact that lycanthropy dates back to centuries-old folklore, and many believe that the wolfman isn’t just a symbol of cinema… but a real-life terror that walks among us. Here’s what you need to know about the phenomenon of lycanthropy. 

Lycanthropic woodcut of a village attacked by werewolves by Lucas Cranach der Ältere, 1512

Where did Lycanthropy Originate?

Where does the legend of lycanthropy, or werewolves, originate? It’s complicated. Like many mythical creatures, the werewolf is a widespread concept in European folklore… was a critical part of stories told throughout the Medieval Period. However, the witch hunt (literally) for werewolves began during the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period alongside the witchcraft trials. According to Wikipedia, “the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century.”

Being accused of witchcraft is one thing, but accusations of lycanthropy were quite literally a whole other beast. While many believed that you could become a werewolf by being bitten by one, others believed that lyncathropy took place by sleeping under the full moon or eating the wrong type of meat. In her book “Giants, Monsters, and Dragons,” folklorist Carol Rose notes that “In ancient Greece it was believed that a person could be transformed by eating the meat of a wolf that had been mixed with that of a human and that the condition was irreversible.” Yikes. 

Accusations of Lycanthropy

While the accusations are featured in less textbooks and movies than those of witchcraft, they were very much alive for centuries. One of the best known cases is that of Peter Stumpp, who was accused of werewolfery, witchcraft, and cannibalism in the 16th century. Known as “the Werewolf of Bedburg,” he had a violent and brutal history of torture, murder, and eating everything from goats and lambs to human children. After a grotesque execution where he had flesh torn from his body, limbs broken in multiple places, and was beheaded before being burned… his lyncathropy story became one of the most famous in history.

That being said, Peter Stumpp was a special case. And like the Salem Witch Trials, it’s safe to say that most accused of lycanthropy were not actually werewolves. Or were they? Many genuinely believed that werewolves walked among us centuries ago… and they remain a common presence in the gothic fiction and horror genres. We all love a good werewolf movie, but it becomes a bit darker after learning the fascinating history of lycanthropy.

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