4 Sinister Moments of ALTER Short Horror Films

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Featured Indie Horror Scary Movies and Series

What makes a horror story so scary? We believe it really depends upon the person and what they may have experienced in their lifetime. Some people are easier to frighten than others, but we believe everyone is afraid of something. Hopefully we found something here in Alter’s short horror films that will frighten you!

3:36 (2020)

Do we know when we’ve passed on? Or, if it’s a violent, painful, or emotionally traumatizing death, do we relive the moments that surround it? We’ve talked a lot about ghosts here at Puzzle Box Horror, we’ve tried to figure out what they are, why they come back, if they’re really ghosts or if they’re demons in disguise. We’ve also discussed their roles in ancient societies, how ghost stories still thrive in a world of skepticism, and whether or not mirrors can be portals to ghostly realms. We haven’t discussed too much about how or why ghosts are really scary, or why–maybe it’s because they show us a point in time where we may no longer be able to follow our dreams, or tell our loved ones how we feel before it’s too late. We think ghosts are fascinating regardless–we love a good haunted tale that makes our blood pump, or our breath catch in our throat.

Check out this ALTER horror short film that shows how pain, grief, and death all play into the horror that we feel in our own mortality. Let us know what you think about it below!

Now that you’ve seen this original horror short film about ghosts, take a look at some of our own original short stories where we tackle haunted locations!

Still (2020)

This next horror short film also deals with a certain level of grief, but that’s not where the horror lies–instead this story deals with monsters in the night, what we might think are just night time terrors, but are really true nightmares. Sleep paralysis is a real phenomenon in our world and has been studied throughout the ages, so we can perhaps have a medical understanding of what we go through at night. Are the monsters real, or is it just our minds trying to cope with the disturbing images that we absorb throughout the day?

Check out this ALTER horror short film about the monsters that prey on us in our sleep, then let us know what you think about it below!

Here There Be Monsters (2020)

We love paranormal and supernatural horror here at Puzzle Box Horror, perhaps because reality can be scary enough without the creatures in our collective imagination running wild. The real monsters in our world are bullies, the people that take advantage of the weak, pick on the underdog, or kick an injured person while they’re down. It’s always interesting to see how the victims to life’s real monsters end up being the ones who stand up the strongest against the most nightmarish creatures of horror.

Check out this ALTER horror short film about the monsters we face not only in the shadows, but the ones we face on a daily basis, and tell us what you think about it below!

We’ve taken a look at other ALTER shorts before, one in particular which was about nighttime phobias and the monsters that we face as children (and sometimes well into adulthood, to our own dismay). In Here There Be Monsters (2020) the bullies are external tormentors, but in La Noria (2018) the bullies are our own fears and the deception of the shadows at night. If you haven’t seen this horror short, it’s a great time to check it out now!

The Armoire (2019)

When you’re looking curiously at that eBay listing for a haunted doll, or a sealed dybbuk box, just remember the victims of haunted objects in horror cinema. These objects are no joke, folks! What happens though, if you stumble upon a haunted or possessed object unwittingly? What do you do then? Well, hopefully, you figure out that it’s haunted before it’s too late–otherwise you may end up like the woman in The Armoire (2019).

Check out this ALTER horror short film that has to do with haunted objects that we might unintentionally bring into our lives and let us know what you think about it below!

50 Years of Sasquatch Experiences in Clackamas County, Oregon

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

As most people are aware, Bigfoot or Sasquatch is a notorious cryptid that has been reported to roam throughout all of North America–one state, however, that seems to have an abundance of sightings is Oregon. While it’s impossible to cover all of these sightings in one article, these are some of the highlights we found during our research.

Timeline of Sightings

1971

June – Motorists see Sasquatch at Nighttime Near Boring

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY near the town of Boring, a witness was driving in the wood when a large bipedal creature ran up onto the road from the right.

First-Hand Experience

After seeing the car, the creature ran away from the car on the road approximately thirty to forty feet before it ran up the small embankment to the left and out of eyesight. The driver and their companion jumped out of their car to investigate, but couldn’t see anything else—they estimated that it was at least six feet, covered in hair, and they also reported that the creature ran as if flat-footed. It reportedly paused to look at their car when it first came up onto the road, before it turned and ran—it was dark, so they only witnessed what could be seen with the headlights of the car.


1974

June – Sighting From a Hunting Platform Behind Skyline Mobile Park

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY two brothers witnessed a cinnamon-colored creature walk by them while sitting on a hunting platform in the woods behind Skyline Mobile Park off of Sandy Heights Road.

First-Hand Experience

Behind the Skyline Mobile Park are woods, with a small stream at the bottom of the hill called Tickle Creek—an area that these two witnesses used to frequent, but noticed after having been absent from the area directly before the sighting, that the area had grown immensely. Just six feet up on a platform in the crook of a tree, the two brothers, both in their teens at the time, were using their BB gun to shoot a stump down the hill from where they were sitting in their tree. Just as one of the brothers was about to shoot the BB gun, something passed right in front of the tall stump, but everything except the creatures head was obscured by the surrounding trees and brush. The witness got a good look at the head though, as it had short cinnamon-brown fur covering the head, and a flat nose.

The view of the creature was quick, as it disappeared into the brush without making a sound due to the bed of fir needles that covered the ground. While there were two boys there, only one of them actually witnessed the creature, the other only having seen the disturbed brush that the creature had disappeared into. Once they were sure the creature had gone they decided to investigate what they believed they had seen and estimated that the creature must have been approximately 7 1/2 feet tall. The witnesses went to an adult and related their story, but weren’t taken seriously. Later that same day, during the evening, they looked up to where the tree platform was and they saw a silhouette of a bipedal creature—they were unable to make out any facial features.


September 1 – Foul Odor and Unusual Sounds Near the Northfork Bridge on the Collawash River

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY while camping, a witness reported a foul odor and unusual sounds at 2:30 am, then found tracks the next morning.

First-Hand Experience

A short distance off of a sandy shore, a family was camping in a small bushy clearing. Right before the encounter, the family’s dogs woke suddenly and frantically began to bark for several minutes—after a short while their barks stifled into whines and then whimpers. Eventually the dogs were so frightened that they lay there silent and trembling—this of course awoke the witness who reached for the gun he had resting under his pillow. He began to hear something wading through the water, which he noticed smelled utterly foul—this witness reported it smelled as if it were urine-soaked fur. The witness pretended to sleep, hoping that it would pass by without attacking and said that the encounter lasted approximately four minutes. He also reported that it brushed against his head which greatly frightened him. The next morning, he investigated the shoreline in which he found very large foot prints in the dryer sand, as well as all around their campsite.


1978

August – Nighttime Sighting by Motorist Between Barton and Carver

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a motorist driving between Barton and Carver encountered at nighttime.

First-Hand Experience

A motorist and their roommate were driving along Highway 224 between Carver and Barton around 10 pm when they saw a pair of eyes reflecting the car’s headlights on the side of the road nearest to the river. The two frequently traveled up to Estacada at night in order to visit a friend who was working at the Safari Club. As they got closer to where the owner of the reflective eyes, they began to see the creature they were attached to standing near a maple tree. The creature enormous, dark brown and hairy—and simply stared at them as they drove past. After driving another mile, the driver finally asked their roommate if they had seen the creature on the side of the highway, which they had.


1984

August – Molalla River Sighting by Tree-line

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY past Molalla in Dickey Prairie, there is a small store that sits alongside the river–just three miles further is a bridge that crosses the river where some girls viewed an unidentified bipedal creature that happened to be retreating back into the tree-line.

First-Hand Experience

In 1984, a fifteen-year-old who lived just outside the town of Molalla in Dickey Prairie where her home sat just on the river. One evening before dusk, she and her friend were hanging out near the bottom of the bridge where they swam regularly during the warm summer nights. Something–perhaps a sound or just a feeling–made the two girls look across the river where they saw a flash of a man-like creature running between the trees. She described it as being dark brown or black and covered in hair, she also estimated that it had to have been at least 7 1/2 feet tall.

Having been a resident tomboy, this young girl had roamed all over the woods, the abandoned logging roads, and knew the forest well. She reported having never been more scared than that evening, where she and her friend promptly ran all the way back to her home. It wasn’t until they reached the safety of the house did they even try to talk about what they had both seen, but when they tried to tell her parents they weren’t taken seriously. They noticed that the creature had wanted to get away from them as much as they wanted to get away from it.


1987

June 20 – Couple Hears Strange Vocalizations on Troon Drive

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a couple hears what sounds like a woman screaming.

First-Hand Experience

During a construction development of homes, a couple had just moved into the first completed house—after two weeks of living in their new home, they left their windows open overnight and began to hear strange sounds. They couldn’t identify them at first because it was a low rumbling sound, which eventually got louder and louder—very soon they believed it to be a woman screaming or yelling. At first they believed that it may have been a woman or teenage girl being attacked by a potential rapist and the wife was told to call the police. The husband threw on clothes and ran down into the newly paved cul-de-sac and as soon as he got outside he realized there were no cars or teenagers that he could see, but the vocalizations got much clearer. After about five minutes the screams stopped and the police arrived, they checked it out but found nothing.


1991

July – Sounds Heard at Skookum Lake

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a group of friends went camping near Skookum lake when they had a strange encounter and heard unusual sounds.

First-Hand Experience

Four friends went camping near Skookum Lake, one of whom had a father who worked for the Forest Service and set up their camp as soon as they arrived near the lake. They decided to go on a long hike up Thunder Mountain and upon returning, the sun had already begun to set. The four friends were exhausted after such a long hike and all decided to go to sleep right away. Sometime during the night, one of the campers woke up to strange sounds—not the type of forest sounds that they were used to hearing. They heard rocks being thrown down from the ridge above them, and heard them banging off the other rocks on the way down.

During the hike earlier in the day, they had noticed a large pile of boulders near the top of the ridge where the rocks were tumbling down and speculated that it sounded as if there was someone hunting for something. The witness sat up in their tent and realized that they weren’t dreaming and then they tried to wake up their friends, but no one else would wake up. The noises of the rocks falling stopped and the camper fell back only to be woken up to the sound of foot steps outside of their camp. The camper didn’t believe it was a bear, because they heard that the foot steps were too spaced out to be a four-legged animal. None of the other campers friends heard anything that night.


1993

June – A Family is Approached Near Cabin in the Forest

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a family was approached near their forest cabin outside of Rhododendron.

First-Hand Experience

A woman’s fiancé had a cabin on Mt. Hood near Rhododendron and while visiting their cabin, she had their Rottweiler tied to a tree. While she was outside doing some work, the Rottweiler started growling towards the forest, which is when she looked up and saw a big and hairy creature stepping between the trees. She didn’t register what was happening at first, so she yelled at the thing to leave the property, or else she would let the Rottweiler loose.

When the hairy creature continued to step behind and between trees, she called out her kids and told them to keep an eye on whatever it was while she got her work done. All the while, the creature continued to move closer and closer, before her fiancé pulled up to the cabin and the creature disappeared. This was when she realized that what she had seen was not actually an intruder or a bear.


1995

May – Campers Hear Vocalizations Near Timberline Lodge

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a group was camping within walking distance of Timberline Lodge near Mt. Hood when they heard strange unidentifiable sounds.

First-Hand Experience

Three friends were invited to go camping, just below Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, by mutual friends who worked at the ski resort. They had gotten there on a Friday afternoon, but on the following evening while sitting around a campfire they began to hear strange sounds coming from the woods directly below them. One of the campers, who was less knowledgeable than some of the others asked if any of them knew what had made the sounds, but after listening for several minutes, none of them could identify what could have been making the noise. They all agreed it sounded like a scream or a yell that could not have been coming from a human due to the volume of the sound. The sounds lasted for approximately a half-hour, but they could also hear the sounds of something large walking through the brush where the vocalizations were coming from. They jokingly discussed the possibility of it being a Bigfoot, but after returning home from camping, they heard audio from a Discovery Channel program where they were researching the legend of Bigfoot and the sounds presented as evidence in the show were identical to the ones that they had all heard while camping.


July – Camp Counselor Has Daylight Sighting Near Molalla River

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a camp counselor was doing trail work near the Molalla River when they sighted a Bigfoot during the daytime.

First-Hand Experience

A sixteen-year-old was volunteering as a day camp counselor when they took a friend for a walk on the trails within the camps—they were cleaning the trails and brought their lunches to eat while on a break. A half-mile away from the main camp, on the outskirts, the two friends were near a swampy area when they stopped to eat lunch, one of them realized they had left something back at camp and left while the other ate their lunch.

Expecting only to be alone for around ten minutes, the volunteer counselor heard something in the woods to their left and stood up to get a better look at what it could be. What they saw was a massive hairy man-like creature that was standing next to a large cedar tree approximately fifty feet away. They estimated that it was about eight feet tall, very wide, and bulky. They perceived the creature as having long thick fur that was approximately six inches long and medium brown in color. The creature looked at them for a few seconds of solid eye contact before it immediately ran away. The witness knew it was not their friend pranking them, due to the fact that they ran into their friend on their way back to the camp after their disturbing encounter.


November – A Dusk Encounter in the Woods Off of Hunter Road

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a bow-hunter reported having an encounter around dusk in the woods off Hunter Road.

First-Hand Experience

A witness was bow-hunting between two deer trails, facing west into the wind at around dusk—he noticed that the night was eerily quiet considering it was usually a hot-zone for deer activity. By the time it became too dark for the bow-hunter to see through his aiming sights, he heard footsteps crunching along the forest floor behind him—at first he believed it to be a buck and that it seemed to be following his scent to where he was hidden in some blackberry bushes. That’s when the witness realized that the creature was actually what looked like a Bigfoot standing approximately 75 feet behind him; the Bigfoot looked to be approximately 7 1/2 feet tall and around 600 lb. Eventually after staring at each other for what seemed like forever, before the Bigfoot turned around and walked in the direction that it had come from. When the hunter went to look for tracks the next day, there were no tracks due to the thick layer of leaves on the ground.

Dark Creepy Forest
Photography by Harrison Broadbent

2000

June – Strange Sounds Heard on a Property Outside of Molalla

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a sixteen-year-old experienced something strange while walking home.

First-Hand Experience

A teenager who had lived in a wooded area all of their life, had been accustomed to walking alone in the woods in the dark without worrying about their safety or being anxious about creatures being in the forest with them. This particular night, they had been using the computer at their grandmother’s home before they walked to their own home which was less than a football field away. For some reason that night they had a a strange feeling that they weren’t alone in the forest and adrenaline rushed through them as they walked home, terrified. Thirty feet to their right they heard a loud thumping and crashing sound. They broke out into a run and believed they could hear bipedal movement quickly following after—the teen got to their house and threw the door closed behind them and locked the door.


July 22 – Vocalizations in the Morning Near Sandy

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY a visitor to the area heard unusual vocalizations in the early morning near Sandy.

First-Hand Experience

While looking out of a second-story window of the Sandy Inn Hotel, a witness in a room on the north side of the building was looking upon the woods and the Columbia River in the distance. During his three day stay, on the night of the 21st, this particular witness couldn’t sleep. The rest of his family was sound asleep; it was a humid night a few hours after a thunderstorm and was awake around 3 am on the 22nd when he heard the strange sounds. The witness was attempting to cool off and had their head out of the second-story window, enjoying the breeze while looking off into the woods. Otherwise a silent night, they suddenly heard a sound that they could not quite describe—it was too long for it to be the sound of tires screeching, but then thought it might be a man screaming or wailing—but it was definitely a high pitched and inhuman sound. Admittedly the witness emphasized that they had never heard a Bigfoot sound previously, but from later research, they believed them to be a match to what was heard.


2001

March 18 – Tracks in Table Rock Creek

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY within the wilderness of Table Rock, once again near Molalla and Dickey Prairie, nearest to the town of Glen Avon. Two Hikers came across tracks during their hike near the Table Rock Wilderness.

First-Hand Experience

While hiking near Table Rock Wilderness, near the end of the winter season in March, two brothers came across footprints in the snow. They were surprised to find that their size 12 and 13 boots were dwarfed by these veru large, bare, human-like footprints. The men took pictures using a digital camera, where they used a dollar bill as a size reference of not just the track, but also the length of the stride, the latter of which they measured to be approximately four feet.


November 29 – Sighting in Neighborhood Near Mt. Hood

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY an Oregon resident near Mount Hood caught a glimpse of a Bigfoot in his neighborhood.

First-Hand Experience

This sighting was approximately forty feet from a small outhouse building in an area near Rhododendron off Highway 26. The witness who submitted this report said that they saw the creature from a distance of about 130 feet, from a window in their home. Although this sighting was at night, a car’s headlights backlit the creature as it ran from the left side of the road to the right side from this witness’s perspective. The here unidentified occupants of the car also sighted this creature, all witnesses stated that it was around seven-feet-tall hairy bipedal creature, running quickly. The neighborhood dogs were apparently all barking excitedly, which is what initially caused the witness to look through his window. A limited search for footprints with a flashlight were unsuccessful, despite a moist evening with light precipitation. Upon going out to investigate what he had seen, the witness also reported noticing a bad odor where the sighted creature had been.


2003

November – Bigfoot Experience in Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY on the property that bordered the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness—a witness that was living off of Elk Park Road in Welches believes they experienced a Bigfoot attempting to come into their residence, as well as having witnessed several vocalizations.

First-Hand Experiences

A forty-year-old had an experience with what they believed was a run-in with Bigfoot. This person was living in an apartment just above a garage that overlooked the Salmon River. That particular night at 6 pm, there was a loud bang on their (thankfully) locked front door, which prompted them to call 911 and report being alone and scared after something hand banged on their door. After calling 911, they heard grunting on their deck, and looked out to see if they could see anything. When the witness came face-to-face with a set of eyes from what would have had to be a huge creature. They made eye-contact and just watched each other for a moment—it was described as having been furry.


2004

June 19-22 – Off of Highway 211 Northeast of Colton

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY just off of Highway 211 Northeast of the Colton area, around midnight, the witness heard strange vocalizations and discovered footprints.

First-Hand Experience

While visiting a friend in the Colton area at the base of Goat Mountain in a reportedly known Bigfoot area; a witness reported that around midnight, they began to hear strange noises in the tree-line which was approximately 100 yards from the friend’s house. These noises also seemed to be coming from three different locations, as if communicating back and forth, but it was clear that these calls were coming from something very large. After listening for around thirty minutes, when the witness finally had everyone else at the house come outside to bear witness to what the original person had been hearing. Not a single one of them could identify what the noise was and all agreed that the noises were strange.

They decided to shine a light at which point the noises ceased until the flashlight was shut off—they couldn’t identify anything due to heavy brush. The calls back and forth lasted until about a half an hour before dawn. The witness was an experienced outdoorsman, as was the owner of the property and neither could identify anything other than a Bigfoot that the creature could have been. That morning after day broke, they went and were able to discover two possible tracks that were also unidentifiable after comparing them to other animal tracks from the same area. They also noticed that the grass was pushed down in what looked to be heavy three to four foot strides. The property owner has heard the same noises ever since that night, as well as thrashing sounds from within the brush. There is a speculated link between the sudden frequency of the sounds and logging that may have pushed them out of their habitat.


September 26 – Tree-shaking Display near Molalla River

In CLACKAMAS COUNTY campers were greeted by an unexpected tree-shaking display near Molalla River.

First-Hand Experience

Thirteen miles south of the Glen Avon Bridge on the Molalla River, two friends and their two large dogs took a trip to check up on a campsite that they were planning on using during the summer. They had only walked approximately twenty-five feet from the gravel road and a huge sound of bushes and trees crackling and breaking came from their left. One of the witnesses saw the disturbance out of the corner of their eye and looked over where they saw brush moving violently ten feet off of the path. No creature was visible, but it was clear there was something large moving the trees—they could all feel the vibration of footsteps under their own feet and the distinct sounds of heavy thumping strides. They felt as if they had been startled by something that was enormous, close, and very fast.

If you happen to live in Clackamas County and you have encountered a Bigfoot or Sasquatch, let us know below!

7 Terrors of the Far North

Categories
Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

The frontier of the far north is typically regarded with mystery and a sense of trepidation. Even if you have lived through it all, there is always something about the place that can feel rather unsettling. The standardized phobia of the dark is exacerbated by the long, cold winters of Alaska—a place where nearly half the year is shrouded in the dark bitter cold. Those of us who live in a place that is constantly trying to kill us can attest to the harshness of the environment, at least during the winter, where temperatures often plummet to thirty degrees below freezing. To say that the cold and dark are our sole worries would be a farce, but that’s only because we have all heard the stories about what lurks in the darkness of the Last Frontier.

Don’t be mistaken—you don’t have to be a Sourdough to be wary of the beasts abound in the frozen tundra. Stay for a couple of days in a rural cabin during the darkest part of the year and you’ll soon be wondering if those are really are the eyes of the Adlet glimmering at you from the shadows, or if it’s just light shining off of the crystalized snow. Was that shadow under the the water the Tizheruk or something else? Turn your back and you’ll likely feel as if you’re being watched by a deadly monster waiting to attack.

The Monsters of Alaska Native Culture

Every culture has its own unique beasts that torment the locals—the farther you get out of the urban atmosphere, the closer you get to what keeps people from roaming unnecessarily into the shadows.

The Stalker - Adlet, the Werewolf of the North

1. The Adlet: The Werewolf of the Far North

The murderous Adlet is considered the arctic counterpart to the well-known werewolf. Believed to be the unholy descendants of an Inuit woman and a dog, they have an upper body of their human brethren, but their lower half is fully canine. They are considered to be a full-fledged race of humanoids, who after their initial creation were sent to a remote island away from humans, so as not to satiate themselves on local tribes—except that didn’t last.

Keelut Evil Earth Spirit

2. The Keelut: The Evil Earth Spirit

A mixture between a cryptid and the paranormal spirit—the Keelut (key-loot) is considered an earth spirit who primarily takes the shape of an immense black, hairless dog. It’s often compared to the Church Grim of Great Britain and stalks travelers at night, often attacking and killing them.

Qalupalik, the Inuit Siren or Mermaid

3. The Qalupalik: The Inuit Siren

If you live by the arctic ocean you will have undoubtedly heard about the Qalupalik (kah-loo-pah-lick), a creature that stems from Inuit culture and haunts the nights of children as they’re sleeping. She’s described as being humanoid, with green skin, long hair, and even longer fingernails. Like a siren, her home is the sea and she hums to lure children to come closer to the water, but what does she do with them?

Thunderbird Alaskan Lore

4. The Thunderbird: An Avian Nightmare

From Southern Alaska all the way to the Pacific Northwest, there are legends that speak of the mythical Thunderbird. As large as a small plane, stories have been told by Natives as well as bush pilots who can confirm the existence of such a monster. Considering the reputation that even the bald eagle has for snatching up small dogs, it’s not too much of a stretch to fear for your children with such a gigantic vicious bird of prey in the skies above.

Tizheruk Sear Monster of the Arctic

5. The Tizheruk: The Sea-Monster of the Arctic

Not unlike the lore that brings us Loch Ness, the Tizheruk (te-zer-ook) is described as being a sea serpent that is approximately fifteen feet long. Where Loch Ness is considered to be less of a threat and more of a mystery, the Tizheruk is known to snatch their unwitting victims from docks and piers.

Alaskan Bushman The Tornit

6. The Tornit: The Alaskan Bushman

Even Alaska has its own legends about Bigfoot—we reference it as the Tornit (tore-nit), or the Alaskan Bushman. Another monster from Inuit folklore, the Tornit is nearly indistinguishable from a bear except for the ghastly skunk-like smell they exude. They mostly keep to themselves out in the bush, after their troubled history dealing with humans, who can blame them?

Read our original story about this beast and his fateful encounter with an Inuit boy.

Scary Kushtaka hand

7. Kushtaka: The Otter People

The Otter People are most often seen in the Pacific Northwestern region of Alaska known as the Kushtaka. These tall, ape-like creatures are known to be aggressive and deadly and chase and kill their victims. Described as being horribly ugly, covered in long coarse hair, scabs, scars, and have enormously long claws. Their scream is high-pitched and terrifying, they have a strange whistling call that also alerts people to their presence.

A Voodoo Practice: Mysteries of Zombification

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

Digging Up the Origin of Zombies

Hand reaching into the darkness
Photography by Lalesh Aldarwish

While zombies have been on the pop culture radar pretty heavily for several decades now, the history of this undead phenomenon has a history deeply rooted in the Haitian Voodoo religion—in fact, the belief in zombies is still a relevant aspect of New Orleans Voodoo. In our western society, we rely heavily upon our knowledge of what is presented to us in movies and television, but the zombie culture we know and love evolved from a very real magical tradition. Original zombification didn’t involve leaks from biological factories, like what happened in Train to Busan (2016), or an airborne virus as was the case in AMC’s The Walking Dead (2010)—it involved a spiritual, magical, and chemical process that arose through voodoo ritual which required the calling of several voodoo spirits (Loa).

Where we see zombies being portrayed as people who have died then coming back to life, the voodoo tradition it is actually a person who is under the powerful influence of psychoactive drugs. These drugs are usually administered to the unfortunate person by a bokor, the voodoo equivalent to a sorcerer or witch doctor. After being dosed with these psychoactive drugs, the victim essentially goes into drug-induced paralysis which mimics death so profoundly that it is rumored that people have been buried alive after being zombified. This is the case in one of the original, classic zombie films The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), where the main antagonist, is buried alive while fully cognizant—which, needless to say would be incredibly terrifying.

The Process of Zombification

Skulls piled on the ground
Photography Renato Danyi

There is a lot of disagreement about whether or not the person who is to become a zombie is actually deceased or not—some believe that the process revives the recently dead into mindless, soulless automatons, while others insist it’s just the effect of psychoactive drugs that leaves the victim in a state of deep, chemical-induced paralysis, which mimics death to the point that even vital signs are not measurable. Within the Voodoo religion, only bokors have the power to create and control zombies, while the methods and ingredient amounts changes from each individual bokor, the process follows the same pattern. Some processes use voodoo dolls, blood and hair from the intended victim, and others use a “zombie” powder—this powder is a concoction of varies herbs and animal parts, most of which are poisonous, as well as human remains.

This powder can then be administered through ingestion or injection and begins to take effect immediately. Immobility, slowed vitals, and reduced oxygen intake occur within minutes which results in the death-like paralysis where the victim is still fully conscious of their surroundings. Once officially declared dead, the victim is buried alive and within eight hours, the bokor digs up the body to keep the victim from actually dying from asphyxiation. Other procedures follow, which result in a mindless and easily controlled zombie which does the bidding of the bokor who created it. The person remains a zombie until the bokor passes away and is no longer capable of administering the drug that maintains the victim’s zombie-like state.

Clairvius Narcisse the Real Haitian Zombie

Creepy old, overgrown cemetary

Photography by NeONBRAND

Zombification is often referred to as either a solely magical or physical experience, but in truth it is a mixture of both, it’s essential for a person to have a belief in voodoo and the ability to be turned into a zombie in order for the process to work in its entirety. This was the case for Clairvius Narcisse, the man who claimed to be a zombie, but returned home after eighteen years and his story was finally told.

In 1962, Narcisse was admitted to the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles, Haiti. He complained of fever, body aches, and ‘general malaise,’ but after being admitted he began to spit up blood. His condition declined rapidly, until two days later when he was officially pronounced dead by two separate physicians. Narcisse’s sister, Angelina, was present when he was declared dead and then notified the rest of the family, a day thereafter his body was buried, and ten days after that a concrete memorial slab was placed atop the grave by his family.

What most the family didn’t know is that Clairvius had actually been pulled out of the grave and resuscitated. He was given the zombie concoction and kept in a zombie-like state for two years, working as slave labor in a region of the country that was much farther north. This was all done at the behest of his brother, after refusing to sell his portion of the family estate to him. After two years of being a zombie, his master had been killed, then he and all of the other zombie-slaves were released from their chemical induced state of submission. Clairvius stayed away from his home for the next sixteen years, knowing that his return would make his brother aware that he was no longer being controlled by another. Once his brother passed, he finally returned home, where he approached his sister Angelina in a local marketplace and introduced himself by his childhood nickname which she and a few other intimate family members alone were aware of.

Investigating the Haitian Zombie with Hamilton Morris

The following six-part Vice production follows the investigation of The Haitian Zombie, with Hamilton’s Phramacopeia, in order to find the truth behind the folk magic and legends of this walking dead phenomenon; Hamilton follows the scientific trail to the origin of the poisons that are said to cause Zombification in order to bring them back for formal chemical analysis.


Please watch the following footage with discretion–there are scenes and images that some viewers may find disturbing.

These videos are meant to be educational in nature.


Part One

This first episode goes into the initial introduction, including the nature of what Zombification entails.

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia Season 01 Episode 05

Part Two

The following video contains graphic footage included in a voodoo ritual, in which an animal sacrifice is made for the Loa, please be advised it may be considered disturbing to some viewers.

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia Season 01 Episode 06

Part Three

In this third episode, Hamilton goes to find a Bokor in order to witness the process of Zombification, but results in angering the Bokor and being told the deal is off.

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia Season 01 Episode 07

Part Four

Hamilton goes to find the main ingredient of Zombie powder, in this fourth episodes, which is a species of puffer fish.

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia Season 01 Episode 08

Part Five

In the fifth part of Investigating the Haitian Zombie, Hamilton meets up with another Bokor who possesses the Zombie powder that they have been searching for and witnesses a real zombie.

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia Season 01 Episode 09

Part Six

The final installment of the investigation into Haitian zombies, they travel back to the Bokor who showed them what they had been searching for to come through with the final product they paid for.

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia Season 01 Episode 10

Knowing what we have learned from different sources, about the process of Zombification, can it truly be said that it is a purely chemical process? These videos in particular have all but debunked the rationale that it can all be chalked up to a chemical reaction, so some aspects of this spiritual process is often contributed to the powerful belief in their magical practices. What do you think about the phenomenon of Zombification? Let us know in the comments below.

Alaska’s Bigfoot: The Tornit

Categories
Horror Books Horror Mystery and Lore

History and Mythology of the Tornit

Tornit, Alaska's Bigfoot, caught and caged
Photography by Elmira Gokoryan

Back in the old times, when Baffin Island was still known as Nunatsiarmiut (new-naht-saw-me-oot) and before European influence, the Inuit people lived near the coast of Kangiqtualuk. They were master kayak-builders and survived by means of subsistence—they were excellent hunters, regularly bringing in seals and whales to feed the people in their villages. They were not the only people living on the island though, they lived under the shadow of fear with a tribe of much bigger and aggressive people. Their way of living was different than their Inuit counterparts, as they could not build kayaks, tan hides, or preserve food in the traditional ways of the north.

These people are known as the Tornit (tore-knit) and possessed not only a larger stature but extraordinary strength; they would build houses out of stones and boulders that were much too large for any Inuit person to lift. These creatures, although human-like, are not human at all, with long arms and legs, they present more like a large ape or Neanderthal. Although they are bipedal in nature they would still be mistaken for a bear at a distance, due to their hairy appearance. Despite their largely physical advantages over a regular man, the Tornit have exceedingly poor eyesight which hinders their ability to hunt. They often smell like ghastly rotting flesh at worst and at best as if they have been freshly sprayed by a skunk—this concept also connects them largely to the creature of the southern United States known as the Skunk Ape.

So What’s the Story?

Crouching ape; Alaska's bigfoot, the Tornit
Photography by Kelly Sikkema

There is an abundance of lore available on these creatures through the published anthropological surveys of the Northern territories from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Franz Boas wrote down the oral traditions of the Inuit people from Baffin Island to Hudson Bay and captured many stories of the unscrupulous nature of the Tornit. There were some inconsistencies, with some villages recalling oral traditions that painted the Tornit to be a friendlier beast and even other recollections that the Tornit were actually hunted as a food source.

Their tense relationship with most of the Inuit tribes may have had less to do with the race of people as a whole and more so with the idea that neither the Inuit nor the Tornit seemed to be too fond of each other in general. The overwhelming consensus with all of the information available in books and online suggest they are a morally repugnant, dim-witted, unpleasant, and vicious creature. All of the lore taken into consideration, the reputation that the Tornit have, smacks more of a feudal war than that of a monster that hunts its prey from the shadows, but the isolated incidents of Tornit invading Inuit villages while the men were away simply to kill all of the women and children, in my opinion, makes them creatures to be feared.

Read the first installation of our original story, which features a rendition of the Tornit folktale, or check out other fascinating Alaskan cryptids!