Friday, October 21, 2016

Ouija legacy: Saying 'Hello' to the real history, and mystery of the talking board

(A version of this post was previously published last October)

Whether you say yes or no to the power of the Ouija board, there's no dismissing the legacy of this supposed spirit communication tool that inspires intrigue and amusement -- and sometimes fear.

For more than 125 years, the Ouija has been an all-American invention that's alternately viewed as a practical way to reach out to the beyond, a slumber party game and a great narrative device in pop culture. Some even see it as a negative creation and a potential gateway for the nastier denizens of the spirit realm to enter our turf.

Whichever way you may view it, Ouija is baaack. In the new movie, Ouija 2: Origin of Evil, opening today, the talking board returns as the focus of horror. But regardless of the Ouija's power (or lack thereof?), it is an undeniable part of our nation's history.

That history was honored last year on Oct. 14 when the Talking Board Historical Society -- led by the world's leading talking board expert, Robert Murch -- worked with the City of Baltimore to install a plaque commemorating the location of an April 1890 séance where the board was named.

Though it is now a 7-Eleven, the building at 529 North Charles Street was once the Langham Hotel boarding house. Inside, the board's first manufacturer, Charles Kennard; his attorney friend and fellow Mason Elijah Bond (who registered the Ouija/Talking Board patent); and Bond's sister-in-law and medium Helen Peters asked the board what it wished to be called during a seance. When it spelled out "O-U-I-J-A," the board allegedly said it meant "good luck." Though later stories said the word was an amalgam of "yes" in French and German.

And much like the location where it earned its name in 1890, the Ouija board has changed over the years. What is currently sold by Hasbro, and marketed as a kids game, is a cardboard platform with glow-in-the-dark letters, or a plastic planchette with an embedded black light to read the board's "hidden" messages.

But there is much history to the Ouija board, and the talking boards (aka witch boards) that pre-date the brand. Join me and Murch, who has consulted on the show Supernatural and both Ouija movies, for a brief tour of this mysterious, mystifying (and some would say malevolent and murderous) device.

Monday, September 26, 2016

'World's Largest Ghost Hunt' Kicks Off National Ghost Hunting Day on October 1

Check out the official press release for National Ghost Hunting Day and celebrating with the World's Largest Ghost Hunt...

Historic first National Ghost Hunting Day celebrated with record breaking “WORLD’S LARGEST GHOST HUNT” to benefit local nonprofit animal shelters worldwide. Hundreds of paranormal groups and investigators to simultaneously kick-off search for supernatural evidence at locations across the United States and around the world--
Haunted Journeys -- in conjunction with partners The Scarefest, Destination America, America’s Most Haunted, Paranormal Database, our regional ambassadors and network of participating ghost hunting teams -- is proud to announce that National Ghost Hunting Day is now officially registered with the National Calendar Day Registry, to be celebrated on the first Saturday of every October.
This celebration of the techniques and culture of ghost hunting will initiate the Halloween season annually in spectacular fashion!

On October 1, 2016, National Ghost Hunting Day will be celebrated for the first time with the World’s Largest Ghost Hunt serving as the inaugural mega event.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Destination America Series, 'Haunted Case Files,' Premieres August 28

Photo Courtesy of Haunted Case Files' Facebook
Destination America is quickly becoming your go-to network for paranormal programming. Debuting this August 28 is their newest spooky series premiering exclusively in the U.S.

Haunted Case Files doesn't have a set cast like most ghost hunting shows, and follows different groups as they take on some of their most challenging cases.

Destination America provides all the details in their release that's included below...

From Destination America:
From the producers of Paranormal Survivor comes the all-new series Haunted Case Files, in which ghost hunters recount their most extreme supernatural experiences – from the terrifying to the downright dangerous. Even the most hardened veterans aren’t always prepared for what they might find. These are the cases that truly tested them.

Each episode features a story from three different paranormal investigation groups, along with interviews, recreations and actual recordings of the evidence they captured.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

American Horror Story teams with Universal's Halloween Horror Nights

As reported over at, Universal theme parks are getting a double dose of horror this autumn as FX’s anthology series American Horror Story teams up with Halloween Horror Nights in both Orlando and Hollywood.

Announced in a press release yesterday, the annual event at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood will include a maze featuring chapters from the “Murder House,” “Freak Show,” and “Hotel” seasons of creator Ryan Murphy’s show.

According to the release, the temporary attraction, opening Sept. 16, will expose guests to “twisted scenes from Murder House” where “evil spirits that possess the Harmon estate” and “decades of the tortured dead who previously resided there” will be unleashed.

The release continues:

“In Freak Show, guests will join a troupe of biological misfits in a sinister sideshow where they’ll be stalked by the murderous and deformed Twisty the Clown. Finally, guests will succumb to the warped desires of The Countess after checking in to the haunted Hotel Cortez, conceived from the beginning as a torture chamber for its customers.”

John Murdy, Creative Director at Universal Studios Hollywood and Executive Producer of Halloween Horror Nights, said AHS has been the “number one requested maze” from our guests.  Michael Aiello, Director of Entertainment Creative Development for Universal Orlando Resort, commented, “It's that constant evolution that makes this popular series a perfect fit for Halloween Horror Nights – and we can’t wait for our guests to experience some of the horror they’ve seen on the show."

The opening of the attraction also coincides with Season 6 of American Horror Story, which kicks off Sept. 14. Meanwhile, AHS joins Halloween Horror Nights mazes based on other successful horror properties The Walking Dead, The Exorcist, Krampus, Halloween II, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as Freddy vs. Jason in Hollywood. Entering its 26th year, Orlando’s HHN event will also include The Repository, an “immersive paranormal virtual reality experience.”

Check out the trailer for the attraction below, and let us know if you will be headed to Orlando or Halloween for HHN. 

-Aaron Sagers

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Award-Winning Horror Film, 'A House is Not a Home' Heads to Your Home this September

Courtesy MVD
When the horror film, A House is Not a Home debuted at the Burbank International Film Festival it was honored with the title of "Best Horror Feature." I got to check out the film last September and I'm thrilled to announce that this September 27, it will be available to view on DVD and digital platforms. The full release and its trailer are below...

Full Press Release:
Following a limited theatrical run, MVD Entertainment Group will release A House Is Not A Home, a DeInstitutionalized LLC production, on DVD and digital platforms on September 27th. The film stars Bill Cobbs (Night at the Museum), Richard Grieco (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, 21 Jump Street), Eddie Steeples (My Name Is Earl, Raising Hope), Aurora Perrineau (Jem and the Holograms, Equals), Diahnna Nicole Baxter (Scandal), Gerald Webb (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Sniper: Special Ops), Melvin Gregg (3.7 million Vine followers) and is directed by Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray (Mercenaries). The diversely cast horror film premiered at the Burbank International Film Festival to rave reviews taking top honors as the Best Horror Feature.