Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

It’s a famous media broadcast now, it’s also a very gripping thing to listen to as well. The original book is a work by H G Wells that started life as a serialisation by the English author.

The Martians have been plotting an invasion to Earth that’s to their own diminishing resources. In the book the events of the invasion are set in motion in Woking, Surrey but Orson Welles transfers them to America. Wells no doubt picked his location as it was local and he knew how to describe things with familiarity and if you pop over to Woking at any point you can locate a 23 feet high sculpture of a tripod fighting machine, ‘The Martian’ near the local railway station.

I’m not going into the plot, the reviews or such like but it is worthy of note because of films and of course the above-mentioned broadcast. That’s the bit I am going to look at it here for now.

George Orson Welles, 6th May 1915 to 10th October 1985 was involved in the business of entertainment and is famous for the film Citizen Kane, 1941 amongst other things but this is a blog for weird and interesting things, and I’ve picked out the 1938 broadcast of the War of the Worlds which, supposedly, sent thousands of American people into a mass panic about the alien invasions in their home states…

CBS radio invited Orson Welles to create a summer show that would last 13 weeks, the series began 11th July 1938 and the adaptation for H G Wells book aired 30th October 1938. It brought Orson Welles instant fame, the broadcast itself really is worth a listen to and you can sit back and appreciate it yourself if you wish.

There was supposedly a mass panic from people convinced of its validity, that aliens truly landed and it’s this bit I am looking at, were people really panicking so much that they would run from their homes in masses?

1.7 million listened to the broadcast and polls calculated that 1.2 million ‘were excited’ and mostly the reports seem to have been anecdotal. Cantril interviewed 135 people who cited some colourful claims about grabbing guns or packing up in a panic. It would hardly have been unusual for a busy area to have fast moving traffic and other rambunctious behaviours at the time so this was not entirely unexpected. Grovers Mill, New Jersey was not blasted by alien lasers or any such thing but the media took the story of the panic and without looking at data it might even be assumed claims of heart attacks and suicides were another effect but again, there was not noticeable shows in the data to support this. Miller countered Cantril’s claims and just did not seem to match up to the 1 million plus listeners.

American Telephone Company figures suggested a 40% rise in calls, again however, they did not lead to anything specific and it was just a higher record in some parts of New Jersey.

He also mentions that there is a notable other broadcast with the results of frightening some listeners, 31st October 1974 at Rhode Island, and one in Northern Portugal 1988 but they were not reported to on the same level. The same sort of thing appears in a 2010 publication by W Joseph Campbell and, they in turn also look at media myths or fake news and include the press reports of the panic-stricken US citizens.

31st October, 1938 Daily News of New York’s front page encapsulates the news with the title “FAKE RADIO ‘WAR’ STIRS TERROR THROUGH U.S’. The New York Times gave us ‘Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact.’  The Detroit News went with ‘War Skit on Radio Terrifies Nation’ and The Boston Daily Globes ran with ‘RADIO PLAY TERRIFIES NATION’.

But was all of this remotely correct or fake news? Well in short, no, CE Hopper Company did the 2% response to people listening to it because most people were listening to NBC. The poll was conducted for 5000 people, so 100 people of 5000 were listening? Frank Stanton of CBS also said they were never censored for it because most people hadn’t even heard the show.

6 weeks after the broadcast it was admitted to, the figures were largely skewed and descriptions like disturbed or excited were inflated to ‘panic’. It did get enough hype that Adolf Hitler cited the panic as ‘evidence of the decadence and corrupt condition of democracy’.

So why?

Well in short radio was being seen as a threat to newspapers, they could use a few isolated cases as a way to make it sounds like these types of shows were an example of this terrible new media being irresponsible and untrustworthy. The Telegraph (UK paper) says that a woman tried to sue CBS for $50,000 thank to nervous shock but it was dismissed and a man tried to claim for shows as he’d spent that money on a train ticket, Welles was said to have paid for those.

There was indeed action taken that night, the police came to the station and one minute from the end of the show they were trying to shut it down. It played out and as a result Paul White, the head of CBS News, was summoned over. Welles found out later and was convinced it would end his career, but it didn’t.

Some listeners had turned in part way through and this seems to be where the reports started. Again, though it was very much a case of over-exaggeration and it does also seem that the repeated broadcasts about it being fictional could have fallen to few ears, a case of a small audience from the previous show affecting it too.

Let’s also put this into context, at the time a German Invasion was a possibility, rumblings of the inevitable war were a reality and was it so hard to imagine those who were affected and lured in part way through might have thought it was something to do with that?

Hadley Cantril calculated a 6 million strong audience, but it was then 1.7 million later on and yet this calculation seems flawed. He had doubled the usual audience and had tried to work on the idea not ever listener had a phone too. He summarised many reactions into panicked and yet quite a number had thought it was more of a prank than a reality.

No admissions for shock were made at Newark Hospital at that time, and there were no spikes in admission at New York either. Washington Post claimed a man died from a heart attack but the claim was not verified and Snopes also places this as mostly false.

So here is my summary – firstly its put Grovers Mill on the map for tourists like me who enjoy a bit of quirky history, radio hasn’t been stopped by the papers and vice-versa. I am quite sure we can safely say the average U.S citizen would have noticed laser space blasting Martians at the time and I, for one, love the broadcast. Thank you, H G Wells and Orson Welles, you gave me a great piece of history to look back on (and no I don’t rate the latest War of the Worlds film if you were wondering.)


Robert E Bartholomew, Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics



Google Books

Project Gutenburg


It is a cemetery in the Gorbal’s district, Glasgow, Scotland and was opened in 1840 to provide more affordable burials; there are over 250,000 burials there on various layers of the place. The Old Gorbals cemetery was vastly overcrowded, this is not unusual for the time period, London and many major cities around the UK were opening more graveyards to compensate for the lack of space in those already established.

The proposals for a new cemetery started in 1839 and the following year the land was purchased and the first burial commenced. The first soul laid to rest there was 16-month old and occurred 21st July 1840. The three sections opened as follows: Central in 1840, Eastern in 1846 and Western in 1850. In 1954 the cemetery suffered from a large group of children who were committed to hunting down a vampire that they believed was buried in the cemetery. The incident sparked it’s own urban legend, a vampire had killed two children. The influence for this was blamed on American horror comics like Tales from the Crypt, despite no evidence for the reason being the comics the moral outrage led to an increased comic censorship.

23rd September 1954 PC Alex Deeprose was called out and expected to deal with a case of vandalism, instead he was met with hundreds of children from around 4 years old up to 14. They were armed with sticks and knives and were patrolling around inside the cemetery. They told the constable that they were looking for a 7 foot tall vampire, with iron teeth and had that he had kidnapped and eaten two local boys.

The rumours started in the playground, and there was a Chinese whisper emerging that they were going to head out there after school. At three o’clock that day the school emptied and children headed to the graveyard, gathering around the walls. Some were too scared to go in and stayed outside. There were no records of missing children at the time and the only blame they could come up with – comics.

Newspapers at the time took the tale and ran with it, the children turned up a second evening running and the headmaster of a local school had told them it was a ridiculous tale and eventually had the crowd dispersed.

Some of the other people in the area pointed out that they had got little reason to blame comics, after all the children were taught the bible. Daniel 7.7 specifically mentions a monster with iron teeth in it. The political frenzy however meant blaming comics was far more convenient. A local man explained that they would threaten the local children with the Iron Man before then, it was meant to be a sort of bogeyman affair but the political agenda against the comics made a better fit for the reason.

The cemetery is now operated by Glasgow City Council and is protected as a listed Category B building with the entrance listed as Category A. The cemetery also has 11 Commonwealth burials.

Glasgow. Southern Necropolis. Thomas Lipton's grave

Animal Planet – The Haunted, Episode 1, Season 1 in 2009 had found a nameplate with “The Blakely Home” upon looking for information, the owners of a software company, find that from 1919 to 1950 it was an insane asylum. Going outside the owners of the company find empty animal cages, the cages seemed big enough for cats, dogs and other small animals. Some weeks after this the motion sensors went off the police could find no reason for it.

I tried to look into this, I really found it quite hard work as I am not local and the information online is scant. I found that there were references to Blackley, Blockley or Blakely Insane Asylum all in the area. What I could find in general was an old reference to Blakely Home as an historical building stating it is now used by Calvert Laboratories. The company deals in pharmaceuticals and my research online shows animal testing is mentioned.

Initially I was getting frustrated but genealogy sites can really be of great help. The Blakely Home is located in Lackawama County, PA, USA. Kriswfield has entered a message on about the place, he says that his father and his partner brought the property from the county in 1976. The business his dad owned ran up until 1982. He comments he could not say about the ethics of the lab that came in after that. He does however say that the labs were tightly regulated by the FDA and says in the main building, where they lived, that it was never considered to be haunted.

A nurse prior to that was able to say it was used as convalescent home and she worked there from 1971 to 1972, she states that it was a nice place to work.

Mentions I found in the area:

Built 1891 – Blakely Poor Farm.

Active Electronics building 2014, the shows a picture of the building.

Ease Diagnostics – Auto Inspection & Testing Services

What can I work out? There was more than one building and I’m sure there are blurred lines here as I am not local and actually you need to ignore Ease Diagnostics, I believe. So that leaves the electronic company and Calvert Laboratories Inc on the same site. In 1891 the poor farm expanded and on that area there has been an old poor house; insane asylum, nursing home and then animal testing lab. So perhaps the bit more referred too is the one used by the electronics company and its really more coincidence Calvert Laboratories Inc are nearby now.

Haunted Title Screen.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

Or the Dybbuk Box, is basically a wine cabinet that was sold on ebay and some believe it is haunted by a dybbuk. They are usually restless spirits that are able to haunt and possess the living. It is also the inspiration for the film The Possession (2012). I became more aware of the story when it was covered on the Mysterious Universe Podcast, they went into detail about it.

Kevin Mannis listed the wine cabinet on Ebay and the item description included a paranormal story about events he linked to the item. It is worth noting that Mannis is by trade a writer and creative professional and at the time was involved in the antiques business at Portland, Oregon.

The story he provided was that the box was brought during an estate sale in 2003, A Polish Holocaust survivor named Havela had escaped to Spain and then purchased the box there before immigrating to the United States. Havela’s granddaughter provided the information and he said that as it was a family heirloom he would happily hand it back. She said that they did not want it, it had always been in her grandmother’s sewing room and had not been opened as a dybbuk lived inside.

Mannis opened the box and found two 1920’s pennies, a lock of blond hair bound in a chord, a lock of black/brown hair with a chord, a small statue with the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’ on it, a small golden wine goblet, a dried rose bud and a single candle holder with four octopus shaped feet. He said that since owning it he suffered horrific nightmares, and that anyone staying at his place experienced the same thing. He gave the box to his mother has a birthday present and she suffered a stroke the same day it was handed to her.

The claims are that owners or those staying near the box suffer nightmares, and that many report the smell of cat urine, jasmine flowers or nightmares of an old hag. Iosif Neitkza was a student at Kirksville, Missouri and the last person to have auctioned it on Ebay. He said that the box caused lights to burn out at the house and his hair to fall out. When it was ready to be sold the Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine stepped forward to offer to buy it and Neitzke sold it to him.

Haxton wrote The Dibbuk Box, and claimed that since he had taken hold of it he had developed strange health problems that included hives, coughing up blood and ‘head to toe’ welts. He said that he also spoke to Rabbi’s to find a way to seal the dybbuk back into the box. This was successful and he states he has now hidden it away in a secret location, that he does not intend to reveal.

Skeptic Chris French states that he think it’s down to the owners being primed about the purchase and relating it to bad things. If they believe it has caused them to be cursed then it would play out that way, anything bad would be related to the box and not to something unfortunate happening, with or without its presence.

So it sounds like quite a tale, but here’s the thing, the entity is supposed to possess people not objects and talks from the victims mouth not from a wooden box, the soul of the dybbuk clings to the soul of the person it is possessing. However again that’s folklore so who is to say that this one didn’t decide the box was a better offering?

What is worth noting – it’s not been handled by “lots of people”, more a small number, Kevin Mannis who owned it, said he got it off someone that had it in the family. Mannis gave it to his mother, it was returned and then tried to give it to his sister and brother. Having had it returned he then sold it and the new owner returned it, “This has a bad darkness”.

Mannis then sold it on Ebay and the owner became Neitzke, he then relisted it 8 months later having created a blog and talking about it. However there seems to be no blog to refer too about this now. He doubled his money on the sale for the old wine box and it went to Jason Haxton. So in total there have been three full owners, three Mannis family members and one person that handed it back quickly to the antiques store.

Given that no one can find Nietzke and that all of them have promoted the thing to sell it, resulting in a film which gave no credit to them, it seems that there are more questions about it than answers. And now that it cannot be located it is, lets offer the sceptical point here, no way to investigate the validity of this crummy old wine box anyway.

I remain sceptical on this one due to the lack of actual evidence about some of the people involved and that seemingly the end result of this is Haxton’s book, a story for profit.


Alan Moore created the comic book character of John Constantine, later adapted into a film that starred Keanu Reeves playing the character, but Alan Moore may well have come face to face with his ceration before then. In his words:

One interesting anecdote that I should point out is that one day, I was in Westminster in London – this was after we had introduced the character – and I was sitting in a sandwich bar. All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trenchcoat, a short cut – he looked – no, he didn’t even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar. I sat there and thought, should I go around that corner and see if he really is there, or should I just eat my sandwich and leave? I opted for the latter; I thought it was the safest. I’m not making any claims to anything. I’m just saying that it happened. Strange little story.”

In the snakes & ladders book a fictionalised version added he once came up to say “I will tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any c*** could do it.”

Now either Alan Moore was telling another good tale, delusional, had subconsciously made him and had seen the guy before or possibly he had brought Constantine into existence. This has been discussed before as something called the Tulpa effect, essentially this is a Buddhist belief that a thing or being can be willed into existence with the right spiritual and mental discipline. The concentration and the power of the mind is what creates it but with enough vitality the creation can free itself from its maker. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Alan Moore’s story, or come to think of it, a child with an imaginary friend….

DC Comics' Constantine No. 1 cover.jpg
DC Comics’ Constantine No. 1 cover” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.