Be Cautious of The Dollmaker (2019)

Categories
Featured Indie Horror

If you hadn’t noticed by now, we really enjoy what Horror Short Film producers ALTER have been putting out into the horror universe, so much so that some of us dedicate a good amount of time just going through their content every week, just for fun. Even if you haven’t heard of ALTER until now, this is a great one to start with. Who knew such a wealth of horror culture would lay within the confines of the lower-budget, self-produced content of YouTube? Well, we did, but now you do too!

ALTER’s The Dollmaker (2019)

Almost a year to the day ALTER came out with what can only be described as one of the creepiest, blatantly paranormal films yet. We won’t spoil the story for you, so let’s just leave you with this–a mother’s love is eternal.

Mother grieving
Photography by Kat Jayne

The question that this short horror film leaves us with is, to what lengths would a mother go in order to preserve the memory of her lost child? Grieving the death of a child is a long and arduous journey; it ruins marriages and it can ruin lives, with some people never fully recovering from the pain. So to cope with that loss, it’s not incredibly difficult to believe that a grieving mother would turn to the supernatural to bring back some semblance of normality after her child was taken from her. The Dollmaker (2019) shows us the gritty and uncaring attitude that would accompany the kind of person willing to take monetary advantage of someone who is suffering this kind of loss, but it also shows us what can happen when we don’t seek the help we need. Both psychological and supernatural influences are at work in this simple, yet incredibly complex story and hopefully it freaked you out as much as it did us. You can find ALTER’s Youtube channel here, if you’d like to check out what else they’ve produced.

Movies That Capture the Disintegration of a Family After Loss

Pet Sematary (1989)

Based upon the Stephen King’s Pet Semetary (1983) novel, where the regular American family by the name of the Creeds move into their perfect home in the countryside. What they don’t know is that they have moved in right next door to a pet cemetery that was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, which is revealed to them by their mysterious neighbor just after disaster has struck their happy home. What evil have they awakened?

Pet Sematary IMDB Listing

The Ring (2002)

Based on the Japanese movie, Ringu (1998), if you’re not old enough to remember the sensationalism that surrounded this movie when it first came out, you certainly missed some pretty great scares. I’ll never forget after watching that movie, I would randomly get calls from friends telling me in a creepy gravelly voice that I had, “seven days.” The story starts off with a bang, as we see the fate of a teenage girl who has watched the mysterious videotape–those who have the misfortune to watch it will be doomed to die within seven days. We follow a journalist, that we know is the aunt of the teenager we saw die at the beginning of the movie, as she investigates the videotape and races the clock before she suffers the same fate as her niece.

The Ring IMDB Listing

Orphan (2009)

After the heartbreaking experience of losing a child just before it has been born, the Coleman’s decide to adopt a nine-year-old who is the picture of perfect manners and an amiable, talented girl. We start to see the dark nature that plagues this girl as she hides her behavior in front of her adoptive parents.

Orphan IMDB Listing

The Babadook (2014)

If you ever come across a disturbing storybook called, “The Babadook,” that has randomly turned up in your home, it’s probably a sign that something sinister is afoot. The story takes place six years after the violent death of, our protagonist, Amelia’s husband and she is still plagued by his memory. Amelia also happens to be struggling to discipline her six-year-old son, Samuel, who she believes has been hallucinating about a monster who he says has invaded the house. When Samuel tells his mother that the Babadook is coming to kill them both, she ends up getting her son medicated–she could have never imagined what would happen next.

The Babadook IMDB Listing

The Witch (2015)

Not quite in the same line of grief and loss as the rest of the movies in this list, The Witch (2015) still deals with a certain type of grief–the anger that comes when people place blame for the death or loss of a child. This period-piece is as dark and nail-bitingly exquisite as they come, from the perspective of typical New England colonialists we get witchcraft, black magic, and possession. We see a family of farmers who have moved to an unconquered plot of land that sits on the edge of a dark and dreary forest. Is evil looming within its shadowy depths? You bet your ass it does, watch it and see just how messed up Robert Eggers’ debut film that still left me rooting for the Witch of the wood.

The Witch IMDB Listing

Hereditary (2018)

The Graham family has suffered the loss of one of its most beloved members, the grandmother, and matriarch–Ellen. This is when things start to turn creepy for them because it’s only then that the family begins to find out mysterious and dreadfully frightening new things about their family’s ancestry. Once they realize the malevolent destiny that they have inherited, we see the breakdown of each and every character within the movie.

Hereditary IMDB Listing

Pet Sematary (2019)

A remake of the original Pet Sematary (1989), there are a few swap outs when it comes to the characters that we knew from way back when, but this movie actually had a lot more mixed reviews that you might expect. Not everyone was a fan to see this one remade for the big screen, but it was actually still pretty compelling.

Pet Sematary IMDB Listing

Check out a couple of other ALTER shorts we loved!

Check out our other articles about creepy dolls!

Are you a fan of creepy dolls and the roles that they play within supernatural and paranormal horror lore? Well then take a moment to read these articles, we guarantee you’ll learn something new!

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Beast of Bladenboro: The Vampire Cat of North Carolina

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Bladenboro, a quiet rural community, was established in 1857. To this day, it remains tucked away in the swamps and pine forests of the southeastern edge of the North Carolina Piedmont (Scary Truth). The population of the area remains limited to this day. In 1954 the peaceful community of Bladenboro experienced two weeks of terror that would put it on the map forever.

Newspapers all over the southeastern United States covered the mysterious incidents. Gallehugh mentioned that even the United Press International and Associated Press carried the story. Those articles were unable to be located for confirmation. The creature that stalked the countryside for those two weeks was never able to be accurately identified.

The authorities never successfully identified the creature. As such, the Beast of Bladenboro would continue to be

As a result, the monster panic that gripped the community would be remembered as a “standing joke” for North Carolinians (Gallehugh 53).

The Elusive Vampire Cat of North Carolina

Watch the story here on Youtube

The story of the vampire cat of North Carolina is one that stretches back seventy years. Unlike many urban legends which are based primarily on stories passed around verbally from person to person, this legend has a basis in fact. Whether the antagonist of the story was truly a vampire cat is up to you to decide. We here at Puzzle Box Horror believe that anything is possible, especially given the evidence.

December 29, 1953

A woman local to Clarkton in Bladen County heard the neighbor’s dogs barking and whimpering in the evening. Her curiosity spurred her to investigate since she didn’t often hear the dogs at all. She would later recall that what she saw was a sleek, black catlike animal. She believed it to be about five feet long with a round face just before it disappeared into the darkness. The creature had only eaten a piece of the body, according to Police Chief Roy Flores (Gallehugh 53).

Reports from D.G. Pait stated that he saw a dog being attacked by a large creature and subsequently dragged into the woods, from his service station.

New reports of canine death flooded Chief Flores’ office from all across the county. These reports varied between sightings of bears or panthers, but the description was consistent—three feet long, twenty inches high, long tail, and a face like a cat.

December 31, 1953

Woody Storm, a local farmer, called Chief Flores out to his property. Storm had found two of his dogs dead, slaughtered by something large and powerful. Flores found a disturbing similarity between Storm’s dogs and the victim from the day before. Something had completely drained their blood.

January 1, 1954

Gray Callihan, a local farmer, found his dog slaughtered. Just like the previous victims, the carcass had no blood and a crushed skull (Gallehugh 54). Two more dogs turned up dead and drained of their blood. Flores called in a team of professional hunters from Wilmington, NC to track down the animal. (NCG)

January 2, 1954

“Several imaginative townspeople” brought around the theory that they were dealing with a vampire-like creature, due to the state in which they found the bodies of the slaughtered animals. Despite his skepticism, Police Chief Flores organized a small search party. Their efforts to locate the animal before dark were hindered by the dense swampy land they had to cover. The town became noticeably more anxious as the creature continued to go undiscovered. (Gallehugh 54)

January 3, 1954

Flores examined the carcass of another dog that had been killed at a service station on the outskirts of Bladenboro. He concluded that “all except a drop or two of blood had been sucked.” A witness found another dead dog within city limits later that day. This would cause fear and rumors to begin to run wild. Mayor G. W. Fussell took more direct control over the investigation and ordered Flores to form a larger search party. Nearly thirty armed men and seven dogs scoured the Big Bay and Red Hill Swamp areas to find the creature. (Gallehugh 54)

The search party returned by nightfall, unsuccessful in their venture to find any sign of the creature. The failure of yet another search only served to bolster the apprehension the residents of Bladenboro felt in their own homes. This newfound fear for the residents of the small town caused them to lock their doors, concerned that the next victim might not be “just a good dog,” fortunately there were no new sightings that night. (Gallehugh 54)

An increasing number of newspapers had taken up the story of the mysterious “Vampire Beast of Bladenboro,” and the news spread like wildfire. Professional hunters throughout the state eagerly flocked to eastern North Carolina for a chance to kill the notorious creature. Speculation on what the beast really began to grow, some stating that it was a black panther, or a large bobcat, while still, others claimed that it was just a rabid dog or a wolf. None of these theories accounted for the immense force the beast possessed, nor did they consider the vampiric tendency to lust for blood. (Gallehugh 54)

January 4, 1954

The next morning, a citizen reported “unusual tracks” at the edge of the swamp behind the mill section. That same morning, three illustrious hunters arrived from Wilmington, fifty miles away, to aid in the hunt. The hunters brought their professionally trained dogs and began their search where they found fresh tracks. Their hunt for the creature was fruitless, but they gained some helpful insight into its behavior. They deduced from the evidence of the creature’s tracks that it traveled in a circular pattern and stayed within an approximately three-mile radius. The three men believed that this might indicate the creature had a mate and therefore presumed that there was more than one creature making the killings. (Gallehugh 55)

As the day passed more hunters joined the fray to locate the creature—before the end of the night, there were between forty and fifty men seeking out the elusive beast. When darkness fell, they gave up the hunt for the day. They knew that if it were indeed a large cat that it would undoubtedly be capable of eluding them under the cloak of darkness. (Gallehugh 55)

Mad Wolf Feared: Vampire Killer Roams At Large In Bladenboro
Bladenboro, Jan 4 — This nervous town chewed its nails today, dreading night that might bring a return visit of a mystery killer-beast with a vampire lust.
The killer, so far, has vented its depredations only on dogs. Three mutilated corpses have been found. Four other dogs are reported missing.
Police Chief Roy Fores and a posse of eight or 10 officers and citizens are armed with pistols, rifles, and shotguns for a hunt tonight. This afternoon a band of youths beat bushes at the edge of town in an attempt to rout the bloodthirsty marauder.
Chief Fores disclosed the vampire motive of the animal today.
He said a dog killed last night was opened up today and not more that two or three drops of blood was found in the carcass.
The chief believes the vampire beast is a mad wolf lurking in the wild reaches of Big Bay and Red Hill swamps skirting Bladenboro.
January 5, 1954

Despite no new incidents overnight—no unusual sounds, tracks, or drained animal carcasses to speak of—the hunting party continued to grow (Gallehugh 55). Most notably, a man by the name of Sam Spivey came from Tabor City and brought along with him his bear dogs.

Escalation of the problem…

The attitude of the hunting party changes dramatically when “a dog within a hundred feet of the hunting party was attacked by the vampire beast.” It was reported to have been dragged screaming into the swamp nearby before anyone could arrive to help it, or a shot could be fired at the creature.

Another Body Found…

Eventually, they found the dog with its head crushed and drained of all of its blood. They got a break in their search, however, when they found tracks that revealed claws that were at least an inch long. This indicated to the hunters that the beast was approximately a hundred pounds. When the hunt ended that night, the town was abuzz with inquisitive tourists, newspaper reporters, and an inpouring of hunters hoping to be the ones to catch the dreaded community menace. (Gallehugh 55)

‘Vampire’ Charges Woman
A large marauding cat that has killed and sucked the blood of at least seven dogs charged a woman here tonight, but turned and fled back into a swamp when she screamed and her husband rushed onto the scene. 
Police Chief Roye Forbes said the animal charged into the yard of [Kinlaw] when she went out onto her front porch to investigate whimpering dogs in the street. 
After the incident occured, the armed posse that went out tonight to track down and kill the “vampire” swelled to some 500 people and scores of dogs.
Mrs. Kinlaw, who lives in the mill village near Bladenboro Mills on Highway 211 one mile west of here, said she heard the dogs whimpering early tonight and went to investigate.
Near the dogs, she said, was what looked like “a big mountain lion.” It raced from three doors down the dirt street in front of her house to a few feet from her porch, then turned back when she screamed and her husband rushed out of the house, she said. A neighbor also came to her aid.
Chief Forbes said tracks in the dirt road in front of the Kinlaw home were “bigger than a silver dollar.”
A search party from Wilmington which tracked the animal last night as it moved in a three-mile circle along the edges of swampy areas found tracks which revealed claws…
Cutting from News and Observer in Raleigh, NC from January 5, 1954
The Clemmons Incident…

Mill worker Lloyd Clemmons and his wife heard their two dogs growling that night and to them, it was highly unusual. Mr. Clemmons decided to investigate the commotion. Clemmons was on record saying, “I glanced out of the window and saw this thing … [the beast] had me plumb spellbound.”

Before Clemmons was able to load his shotgun the beast had already disappeared into the darkness, so he called the police to report his sighting and provide his description of the creature. In his words, it was “about three feet long and 20 inches high. It had a long tail, about 14 inches long. The color of it was dark … it had a face exactly like a cat … Only I ain’t never seen a cat that big.” (“Vampire on Loose” 1)

The Beast attacks a woman…
Bladenboro — Officers and armed citizens hunted today for a vampire beast that has killed at least three dogs and left their corpses bloodless. Police Chief Roy Fores said he believed the killer was a mad wolf lurking in the wilds of Big Ray and Red Hill swamps near here.
Cutting from The Daily Record in Dunn, NC from January 5, 1954

The story of the Beast of Bladenboro made front page news across several different news outlets across the state. One such report from the Raleigh News and Observer detailed an incredible close-call with the creature on the same day as the Clemmons sighting. Not too far from the Clemmons’ home, Mrs. C. E. Kinlaw heard two of her puppies whimpering outside of her house. The beast charged from the darkness the moment Kinlaw stepped out onto her porch to investigate.

Her screams prompted her husband to rush immediately to her aid, which gave the beast an opportunity to escape back into the night. When questioned by authorities as to what she saw near her dogs, she reported that there, “was what looked like a big mountain lion.” It had apparently raced from three houses down the dirt street on which she lived to just a few feet from her porch. When Chief Flores had a chance to investigate around the Kinlaw’s home he reportedly found tracks that were “bigger than a silver dollar.” (Gallehugh 56)

The Beast attacks a woman…

After this incident, an armed posse of around five to six hundred people and scores of dogs thoroughly searched the mill section that surrounded the Kinlaw home. They remained on the premises until daybreak and yet found no sign of the evasive beast. When hunters compared two sets of tracks found, they surmised two different animals created them. On that same night, D.G. Pait and Chief Flores were standing together in the mill section when they heard a dog yelping in pain. Flores believed the dog was being dragged into the thicket that enclosed the houses, but when Flores and Pait arrived to save the dog, there was no sign of either creature. That dog’s body was never found. (Gallehugh 56)

January 6, 1954

The continued search for the beast was hindered by the excessive amounts of armed hunters who were vying for the chance to claim the life of the beast for themselves. “By midafternoon, all hopes of killing the beast were given up,” but that didn’t keep the beast from attacking another pet. It was later found out that a pet rabbit had been killed, its head bitten off, and the blood sucked from its body. Even more disturbing, is the fact that the rabbit’s body was still warm and found in an area that had been covered by the search parties earlier in the day. (Gallehugh 56)

Bladenboro, N.C. — Citizens terrorized by a mysterious "vampire" beast pinned new hope for its annihilation today in a volunteer hunt with a pack of experienced "cat dogs." A two-pronged strategy of lure and chase last night resulted in another failure to shoot the creature that has killed at least eight dogs and drunk their blood and charged a woman on her front porch.

A new hope emerged to put an end to the monster panic. A group of volunteer hunters with their purported “cat dogs” (think bird dogs, but for hunting big cats). Their first tactic, the night previous had been a lure-and-chase strategy which unfortunately ended in failure (“News Shorts”). Traps were set and baited with dogs as a way to bring the beast out of hiding and lure it to its death. Police Chief Flores, Bladen County Sheriff John B. Allen, and the State Highway Patrol were tasked with crowd control. Despite the traps, people refused to move out of the area where they were set. The threat of the Beast of Bladenboro was superseded by the hundreds of nervous armed people milling around the outskirts of town. Chief Flores and Mayor Fussell decided to stop the hunt to avoid the possibility of someone getting accidentally shot. (Gallehugh 57)

BULLETINS — Bladenboro, N.C. — Authorities today planned to continue their hunt for the mysterious "vampire beast" which has killed dogs near here and drained their bodies of blood. Four packs of trained hunting dogs and hundreds of eager hunters have joined in the search for the beast. Police Chief Roy Rores said yesterday that the hunt for the animal had actually been hampered by the number of hunters taking part.
January 11, 1954

Two cars full of witnesses watched, shocked, as the “Beast of Bladenboro” crossed a road at its leisure near Bladenboro. Each of the six witnesses gave Chief Flores an expectedly similar description to those of the past two weeks. One of the witnesses, by the name of Jeff Evers, described the beast as having a large head with “runty-looking” ears. The road it crossed was near the bridge at Big Swamp, an area approximately four miles away from Bladenboro and near to the area where the creature and its tracks had been spotted frequently. (“Runty-Looking Ears”)

January 13, 1954

Five days after the hunt had been called off, Luther Davis a local farmer brought in a 25-pound bobcat that he had trapped and killed around 8:30 that morning. The authorities believed that the bobcat fit all of the descriptions and tracks of the Beast of Bladenboro, but in retrospect, it seems as if they were trying to make it fit the descriptions so as to ease the townsfolk of their fears.

The only thing they could not manage to explain was how a wildcat so small could manage to take down dogs twice its size. Regardless, Mayor Fussel decided to report to the newspapers that the beast had been killed, as a means to quiet any remaining excitement over the creature.

Despite the claims that the bobcat was the infamous beast, townsfolk continued to report sightings of a large catlike creature in the Big Swamp section of Bladen County. The bobcat was nonetheless hung from a flagpole in the center of town by Flores and Fussell and displayed with a sign that read “This is the Beast of Bladenboro”. (Gallehugh 58)

Bladenboro, N.C. — Residents hoped today that a 25-pound bobcat killed near here was the "vampire" beast that kille deight dogs and drank their blood, terrorized townspeople, and attracted eager hunters in such numbers that officials attempts to slay him had to be cancelled. Luther Davis trapped the male bobcat near his home about three miles from here. He said the animal was so "scrappy" in the trap yesterday that he had to shoot it. The animal measured about 30 inches llong and matched closely descriptions give of the "vampire", except that it had a bob tail.
Cutting from The Daily Record in Dunn, NC from January 14, 1954
January 21, 1954

As an added curiosity to the claims that the beast had been killed, Berry Lewis, a farmer local to the area reported that he had found a half-grown hog killed near Big Swamp to Chief Flores. When examined, Flores saw that the hog’s bones had been crushed and part of its flesh eaten. (Gallehugh 58)

S. Ray Johnson Takes New Post
S. Ray Johnson of Lillington has assumed new duties as Wildlife Protector for Bladen County and is stationed in Bladenboro.
Johnson was graduated on Decemeber 19 from the Wildlife Protector's School sponsored this fall by the Institute of Government at the University of North Carolina.
Mrs. Johnson and their young son, Stanley Ray Johnson, II born December 25 have joined him in Bladenboro. She is the former Miss  Lola Colman of Lillington.
Johnson, who was here on a week end visit a week ago, had to take his share of razzing from friends about drawing for his first assignment, Bladen County, alleged "haunt of the beast of Bladen" which has captured a lot of headlines this month. So far stories of a strange vampire beast loose in the swamps has not been verified.
Cutting from The Daily Record in Dunn, NC from February 8, 1954
February 8, 1954

By February the entire incident would become akin to satire. Bladen County assigned S. Ray Johnson as its newest Wildlife Protector. People began to doubt the copious amounts of evidence collected and the beast would remain an unverified story. (“S. Ray Johnson”)

May 5, 1954

The Tabor City Tribune ran a story by W. Horace Carter about a trip he took to Burgaw on April 29, in order to attend a Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting. Carter stopped in Bladenboro to pick up Lumberton Jaycees, Jim Phillips and E.J. Britt. The meeting ran much longer than they expected, so they didn’t leave Burgaw until approximately 10:30 PM. (Carter)

The three drove through Elizabethtown toward Bladenboro and around a quarter to twelve they witnessed “a huge cat-like animal” jump out of the woods into the road around 100 feet in front of the car. It disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared, but the three witnesses were positive that it wasn’t a bobcat, as they all saw it had a long tail, which “appeared to be about half the length of the cat itself”. The three witnesses described a creature remarkably similar to the vampire cat. Carter didn’t explicitly state that it was the Beast of Bladenboro. It was clear, however, that it was a frightening experience that he wished to not repeat. (Carter)

December 15, 1954

An alleged strike from the beast, had residents of Robeson concerned that the Beast of Bladenboro was back “on the prowl.” The attack happened “within shouting distance” of Robeson Memorial Hospital, where the beast killed five pigs and three chickens on a farm belonging to K. M. Biggs. The killings left behind no blood evidence. This indicated that there was a recurrence of the blood-sucking traits associated with the vampire cat. (“’Beast Of’”)

The Return of the Beast of Bladenboro

The shocking pattern returned with a vengeance in October 2007. More than fifty pets and livestock died in a strikingly similar way to the killings of 1954. The victims showed little sign of struggle, this indicated that they died instantly. Leading experts believe that the creature is an efficient predator. Those who examined the bodies postmortem would find that the victims not only had their blood drained, but their skulls crushed as well. (MonsterQuest)

The beast claimed a larger hunting ground and roamed an approximately two-hundred-mile range. This information shocked authorities, as it meant it had a larger range than any known predator of the region. Townspeople reported incidents in Bolivia, Bladenboro, Lexington, and Greensboro. A new name for the creature circulated—The Beast of Bolivia.

More Dogs found dead…

After the more recent attacks, new witness descriptions of the creature surfaced—with claims that it was dark brown, approximately 4.5 feet long, with the face of a cat, claws of a dog, and vampiric teeth. Due to the areas the creature has claimed as its hunting ground many assume that the predator dwells primarily in the swamps.

In Lexington, a local farmer found approximately sixty goats with their blood drained and heads crushed. Thirty miles away, in Greensboro, another farmer lost his goats in the same way. Residents of Bolivia became concerned that the vampire cat had returned after several dogs had turned up dead. One morning Bill Robinson, a resident of Bolivia, found his pitbull gutted in his yard. Robinson proceeded to bury his dog quite a distance from where he had found it laying dead. The next morning Robinson discovered his dog was back where it had been lying dead the day before. The beast allegedly unearthed and dragged the carcass back to the origin of the kill. Robinson’s dog was just one of ten that had been found slaughtered in the area, over a two-week period.

New tracks found…

Four days after Robinson found his dog dead in his backyard, another resident of Bolivia—Leon Williams—found his own pit bull dead, covered in blood, and missing a few body parts. There was no sign of a struggle which Williams found incredibly strange considering his dog’s breed. Around that time, Robinson found unidentifiable tracks in the surrounding area. Robinson measured the tracks and found that they were 4.5 inches in diameter. The town of Bolivia grew more apprehensive, due to the inexplicable dog deaths, and as a result, parents kept their children inside.

Scientists Remain Skeptical and Unimpressed

Over the decades this alleged vampire cat has had several eyewitnesses who have all come back with fairly similar descriptions. Skeptics theorize that it’s due to the Beast being a variety of Eastern Puma, since common descriptors include the beast being black in color, 3-4 feet in length, with an approximately 14-inch tail, and an estimated 20-inch shoulder height (Eberhart 37).

MonsterQuest aired an episode about the Beast of Bladenboro in 2008 due to a recurring pattern of animal deaths. In this episode, Tom Padget, a now-retired biologist from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission appeared to lend his expertise. He spoke on the claims that he received yearly calls on the death of wildlife and pets, but his scientific background leads him to question the existence of a vampiric beast. Instead, he hypothesizes that the killings are simply other, known predators and that it happens more regularly than most people are aware of. (MonsterQuest)

For Padgett, it was clear that the physiological abilities of cougars would surpass that of the dogs and other animals in the area. Extreme habitat loss and logging at the turn of the last century had all but extirpated the cougar from North Carolina. Up to that time, there had been no documented evidence that cougars existed in North Carolina for the past century.

New Evidence Surfaces…

The evidence came one month after the initial investigation when Bill Robinson and Brian Gardner received an update from a photographer that happened upon a startling find. Less than half a mile from the homes of Robinson and Williams, the photographer captured a blurry image of a cougar. MonsterQuest did not bother to authenticate the photo in question, but they concluded that people were experiencing a resurgence of cougars reclaiming territory. This, of course, took into consideration the fact that the cougar had been extinct through the east coast of America—except the tip of Florida—for the past century. (MonsterQuest)

Immortalized into Folklore

To this day, the Beast of Bladenboro remains a genuine terror to central North Carolinian communities. The North Carolina Folklore Society added the story of the Beast of Bladenboro to its annals in 1976. Over the last seventy years, the residents of Central North Carolina have pieced together a recurring pattern they have imputed to being the alleged vampire cat.

Related Creatures

Check out this list of related creatures to learn more about Cryptids alive in legend and urban folklore:

  • Ball-tailed Cat
  • Chupacabra
  • Splintercat
  • Vampire
  • Wampus Cat
  • Wolpertinger

Works Cited

“Beast Fest.” Boost the Boro, Inc., https://www.boosttheboro.org/beast-fest.html. Accessed 9 May 2023.

“’Beast Of Bladenboro’ Type Killer Strikes In Robeson” The Robesonian [Lumberton, NC], 15 Dec. 1954, p. 9.

“Bulletins, Bladenboro, N.C.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 8 Jan. 1954, p. 1. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-01-08/ed-1/seq-1/.

“Bulletins, Bladenboro, N.C.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 14 Jan. 1954, p. 2. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-01-14/ed-1/seq-2/.

Byers, Thomas. “The Vampire Beast of North Carolina.” Exemplore, 16 Mar. 2023, https://exemplore.com/cryptids/The-Vampire-Beast-Of-North-Carolina.

Carter, W. Horace, “Carter’s Column: That Bladenboro Beast Again” Tabor City Tribune [NC], 5 May 1954, p 2. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn91068761/1954-05-05/ed-1/seq-2/.

Eberhart, George M., Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2012.

Gallehugh Jr., Joseph F., “The Vampire Beast of Bladenboro.” North Carolina Folklore, vol. 24, no. 2, Aug 1976, pp. 53-58.

Godfrey, Linda S., American Monsters: A History of Monster Lore, Legends, and Sightings in America, Penguin Publishing Group, Aug 2014.

“Mad Wolf Feared: Vampire Killer Roams At Large In Bladenboro,” Charlotte Observer [NC], 5 Jan. 1954, p. 1.

“News Shorts, Bladenboro, N.C.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 7 Jan. 1954, p. 2. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-01-07/ed-1/seq-2/.

“’Runty-Looking Ears’ Beast of Bladenboro Seen Again” The Daily Tar Heel [Chapel Hill, NC\

“S. Ray Johnson Takes New Post.” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 8 Feb. 1954, p. 5. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn88063132/1954-02-08/ed-1/seq-5/.

“State News Briefs, Bladenboro'” The Daily Record [Dunn, NC], 5 Jan. 1954, p. 6.

“The Beast of Bladenboro.” The Beast of Bladenboro | North Carolina Ghosts, https://northcarolinaghosts.com/piedmont/beast-bladenboro/. Accessed 5 May 2023.

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Beyond Frankenstein—Mary Shelley’s Literary Successes

Categories
Featured Horror Books Horror Mystery and Lore Women in Horror

The tragedy of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is that, despite having one of the most famous horror stories of all time, her other work is virtually unknown. Her other two novels, aside from Frankenstein, were actually strange and unique in their own way—keep reading to learn more about the roads Mary Shelley paved for the literary community.

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818)

Shelley’s first and most notorious novel was started when she was still a teenager, in 1816, at age 18. Female writers around the world, myself included, are grateful for her contribution to literature, even though she published initial additions anonymously when she was twenty in London in 1818. Her name didn’t actually appear on the publication until the second edition was published in Paris in 1821.

Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

What is incredible about this book is not just that it was written by a teenager, or that it was written by a woman, but that it was written by a woman from the perspective of a young male scientist. This story arose from her travels through Europe in 1815 while she traveled along the Rhine in Germany. Eleven miles away from what is considered Frankenstein Castle, where two centuries before her visit a mad alchemist conducted various experiments. She continued her travels across Geneva, Switzerland—which was also used as a setting for much of the novel. Shelley and her traveling companions had incredibly controversial conversations that ranged from the occult to galvanism—this of course was around the time that Luigi Galvani was conducting his experiments with his frog galvanoscope.

The legend of how Shelley came up with her idea of this particular novel tells us that Shelley and her traveling companions, most all of them writers, decided to have a contest amongst themselves. They wanted to challenge each other and see, who among them could create the most engaging, terrifying, and outrageous horror story. Initially stumped by the prompt, Shelly thought upon the topic for days until she finally had a dream that would inspire her to write the story of a scientist who created life, only to be horrified by his own creation.

The story of Victor Frankenstein was rather controversial due to the idea of Galvani’s technology and what his experiments meant for the scientific community at the time. So, Shelley portrays Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist as a man pursuing knowledge that lies in the unorthodox, blasphemous fields of secrets yet-to-be-told. Life and death are uncertainties in this story, when Victor creates a sapient creature, one constructed from the pilfered parts of those who have died.

Galvani’s experiments gave the scientific community a lot of ideas about reanimation after death and also launched experimental medical treatments using electricity to cure diseases that were incurable at the time. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the process that Luigi Galvani used to achieve this ground-breaking discovery about electrical impulses and the nerve system, there are a few YouTubers who decided to replicate the experiment. Enjoy!

The Last Man (1826)

Shelley’s novel The Last Man is an unusual topic for the time during which it arose; originally published in 1826, this book envisions a future Earth—set in the late twenty-first century—that is ravaged by plague and unknown pandemic. It harbors the eery scene of a planet in the throes of apocalypse, where society has degraded to a dystopian nightmare, amidst the ravages of an unchecked and unknowable plague that blankets the globe.

The Last Man

In order to write this particular novel, Shelley spent time sitting in meetings of the House of Commons in order to have a deeper understanding of the inner workings of a Romantic Era political system. As such, she created another first in literature—dystopian apocalyptic visions of the future within the writing community. Due to the insanely new concept of a dystopic world, her novel was suppressed by the literary community at large, as it was a wholly nightmarish idea at the time. It was almost considered prophecy and it wasn’t until the 1960s that the novel resurfaced to the public where it was clearly understood to be a work of fiction.

Mathilda (1959)

Mathilda is one of those books that, if it had been published during Shelley’s lifetime, it might have created another scandal for Mary Shelley—as such her second long work, despite having been written between August 1819 and February 1820, wasn’t published until 1959, well after Shelley’s death. While this isn’t a horror novel, it does provide some insight into the dark and depressed mind of Shelley following the death of two of her children. Their deaths in 1818 and 1819 respectively caused Mary Shelley to distance herself emotionally and sexually from her husband which was an incredible hardship on their marriage.

The plot of this particular novel dealt with a common theme found in Romance Era novels—incest and suicide, this novel in particular was the narrative of a father’s incestuous love for his daughter. Now you may be thinking—that’s disgusting! And by today’s standards of familial relationships and romantic relationships, you would be correct.

Mathilda tells her story from her deathbed, having barely lived to her twenties, in order to tell the story of her darkest secrets that have led her to such a young demise. She confesses the truth of her isolated upbringing which leads to the ultimate begrudging truth of her emotional withdrawal and inevitable, secluded death. She never names her father, who confesses his incestuous love for her—his confession fuels his decision to commit suicide by drowning.

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