Haunted California: 10 unexpected and uncommon spots for a spooky Halloween adventure
Who knew California was so spooky? Some are historical, some gruesome, some fun. And it’s all sure to send chills down your spine.
A Flick and a Tour
If you’re not quite ready to step up to the big leagues and visit a true haunt, a good old-fashioned horror flick is the next best thing. Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood is hosting Horror Made Here: A Halloween Screening and Twilight Tour that offers a Halloween-themed movie screening in the Stephen J Ross Theater at Warner Bros. and a special twilight tour of the studio lot. It’s a two-night only show that invites fans to visit classic set locations and hear insider tales of the most iconic horror films shot on the Warner Bros. Studio lot. Dates are Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29. Tickets are $75 per person. Guests under age 17 must be accompanied by an adult age 21 or over. Valid ID will be required. Visit www.wbstudiotour.com.
This one may come as a surprise, but Griffith J. Griffith wasn’t that great of a guy. It’s said that since the 1800s, death and ill omens have befallen the land’s deed owners. And it started with a girl. When owner Don Antonio Feliz died and left his 17-year-old niece Dona Petrenilla out of his will, she furiously cursed the land and all its future owners. Only time would tell whether her curse had been true. Things seemed to be going well when Griffith kindly donated 3,015 acres of land to the city – but only before getting locked up for shooting his wife, disfiguring her face and blinding her in one eye. He served two years in prison, and his wife shockingly lived. Dona Petrenilla is still said to haunt the grounds, wearing white and riding horseback.
Please visit www.laparks.org/griffithpark for more information.
Rancho Los Amigos Hospital
In the 1890s, the Rancho Los Amigos Hospital for the mentally ill and destitute was ahead of its time. Today, a rehabilitation facility still is still active on a portion of the property, but the abandoned mental ward remains eerily fenced off since it closed in the 50s. If you dare to trespass against the diligent security to enter the mental ward, beware of what you may find. Old desks, files and equipment are said to be left as they were in some rooms, and in 2006, U.S. Marines found a freezer in the morgue that still held frozen legs, feet and brain bits.
Visit the working rehabilitation center at 7601 Imperial Hwy, Downey, CA 90242.
Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary
Many died here. Some may have escaped, and others reportedly never escaped. The infamous San Francisco island jailhouse closed more than 50 years ago, but visitors still report strange occurrences among the walls that once held the country’s most notorious criminals. Long before the island became a prison, in fact, it was inhabited by Native Americans who claimed evil spirits lived there. Today, the legend remains. The lingering smell of fresh cigarette smoke. The sounds of running feet. Singing canaries. Phantom banjo music wafting through the cells. Enter at your own risk.
Visit www.alcatraztickets.com to book your visit.
Colorado Street Bridge
Any location known as the local suicide bridge is sure to hold a heaviness, a darkness. Many a tortured soul has plunged into the depths below – more than 102 documented deaths and counting. Walkers describe all sorts of ghostly run-ins. Some say they’ve seen a man jump, only to leave no trace when they run for help. Cars also have swerved to miss a woman walking across the bridge until she vanishes completely. You can access the Colorado Street Bridge from Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.
The White Lady of Fillmore
Many know of the White Lady on Highway 126. Few know why she still haunts the ancient old sycamore tree in Fillmore. Some think she was hanged from the tree’s branches during the Mexican-American War. While the circumstance surrounding her death remains unclear, it’s said that, after a nearby murder or suicide, the White Lady emerges to reach into the skulls of those she encounters, filling their heads with visions of their worst fears until they die of fright.
And we can’t forget Santa Clarita’s own haunted history. The restored houses at Heritage Junction are said to be haunted by many local people who work there or have visited. Residents have reportedly called in sightings of a woman in the window of the yellow Pardee House, which is visible from Newhall Avenue. The callers all thought someone had broken into the home, but no signs of a break-in were visible. Others say they’ve watched boxes slide across the floor when no one else is in the room. And there’s always those commonly heard footsteps.
Heritage Junction is located at 24101 Newhall Ave, Newhall. Visit www.scvhs.org.
Silent Movie Theatre
When Lawrence Austin had ownership of the Silent Movie Theatre in 1997, now called The Cinefamily, he was shot to death by a hitman in the lobby of his own theatre, as guests sat watching movies inside. Investigation later revealed Austin’s projectionist and his lover had devised a plan to murder him and take the theatre. Evidence included a will the projectionist claimed had been signed before Austin’s death. But the two are currently serving life in jail. It’s said that Austin still haunts the lobby.
Visit www.cinefamily.org for more information.
Fright Fest at Six Flags
Maybe the manufactured scare is more up your alley. Six Flags Magic Mountain is billing this year’s Fright Fest as the biggest and scariest yet. For comic book fans, a brand new Suicide Squad scare zone is sure to turn fun to fright. If that doesn’t do it for you, try the largest outdoor maze in the park’s history: Aftermath 2. The park also has upped the number of ghouls and demons who rove around in the dark, so come prepared with plenty of screams. For tickets and information, please visit www.sixflags.com.
The Comedy Store
The Comedy Store on Sunset Strip was once a restaurant called Ciro’s, one of Hollywood’s best clubs in the 50s. It’s owners were said to be in tight with the mob, and the building even has peepholes in the upper walls of the main room. Mobsters had to keep tabs of who was coming and going. The club was used as a headquarters for mobster Mickey Cohen, and it’s said he used it for people who caused him problems. There’s even a hole in the stairway that could fit a gun if need be.
The Comedy Store is located at 8433 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Visit our website at www.thecomedystore.com.
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