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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The 7 Creepiest Places on Earth (Part 3)

Even the best Hollywood set dressers in the biggest budget horror movie can't outdo real life. As part of our continuing effort to find real-world locations that you wouldn't want to spend a night in regardless of the number of shotguns and Bibles you were allowed to bring, here are some of the creepiest places on Earth. In case you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2.

#7. The Abandoned Takakonuma Greenland Park, Japan

Takakonuma Greenland Park in Japan today stands abandoned not only by people, but also by joy, hope and the foolish belief that life ends in anything but lightless hollow death.
The amusement park first opened in Hobara in 1973 but abruptly closed only two years later. Some say it was because of poor ticket sales, but local lore insists the park was forced to shut down after its rides were responsible for a number of accidental deaths.
We don't know for certain because there's virtually no official information available on Takakonuma, a fact which, when paired with the images below, arouses no suspicion of any kind.
We're sure the final wail of a fading life never echoed against this twisted metal skeleton.
What we know for certain is that the park opened again in 1986 and remained operational for 13 years, at which point it closed down for good. Nowadays the derelict attractions stand there alone in the middle of nowhere, gathering rust and being slowly consumed by the encroaching forest.
Jens of Japan
The trees here are nourished by souls.
By the way, we mean that "middle of nowhere" part literally, as Takakonuma can no longer be found on any official maps. It just isn't there.
In addition to willing itself off of charted Japanese territory, Takakonuma seems to occasionally will itself out of existence entirely with a thick fog that periodically rolls in and completely swallows up the park, providing excellent cover for anyone with a monster mask to Scooby-Doo the living shit out of hapless wanderers. This is provided they can stomach the radiation, seeing as Takakonuma is located just a few dozen miles north from Fukushima, whose nuclear power plant had a spectacular meltdown earlier this year in the wake of the tsunami.

Really, it would be insulting if you came here and weren't eviscerated by ghosts.

#6. The Ghost City of Fengdu, China

The Bridge to Hell is shorter than we expected.
So you're taking a boat ride along the Yangtze River in China, for some reason, and you come across this, sticking out of the water:
Well, that's clearly going to come alive at Ragnarok and fight the gods.
You've stumbled across Fengdu. It's a famous Chinese ghost town (allegedly the only ghost town in the entire country) with a creepy, nearly 2,000-year-old history. So, you climb the hill and come across a series of ancient temples. Oh, look, it's some old statues ...
That's not how you use a saw. That's not how you use a saw!
You see, Fengdu is believed to be a link between this life and the afterlife, and where demons live. This is real-world Chinese hell. So, you've got your souls being tortured:
No one ever says the ancient Chinese had no imagination.
And your massive stone demons:
Rafael Gomez
"OK, OK, I look ridiculous. I'll go change."
Fengdu is also full of tourist attractions like Nothing-To-Be-Done Bridge, Ghost Torturing Pass and Tianzi Palace. Another attraction is the Last Glance at Home Tower, where spirits consigned to hell could take one last look at their families.
If none of that seems quite haunted enough for you, the locals will let you know that the area used to be a Taoist graveyard ... but most of the site got sunken under water due to the building of the Three Gorges Dam. So the hill with its sacred temples and nests of demons is now an island, surrounded by water and presumably the drowning cries of the outraged dead.
Who have kind of a man-boob problem.

#5. Matsuo Ghost Mine

This is exactly the type of place where we'd go looking for our supposedly dead wife.
Matsuo Kouzan in northern Japan used to be the biggest sulfur mine in the Far East, but it closed in 1972. Today, the only things that remain of it are the abandoned apartment complexes that were used by the mine's workers, cut off from the rest of the world high in the mountains. Those abandoned buildings, however, are not what make the Matsuo mine truly creepy -- it's the fact that you can't even see them through the ghostly mist that envelops the place like an ethereal death shroud.
Legends say that if you wander into the mist, you'll stub your toe something wicked.
At one time 15,000 people lived here. Now it's deserted. It seems that despite having been closed down, the Matsuo mine is still pretty operational, though instead of sulfur it now produces a tingling feeling of dread clawing out from deep within your immortal soul.
They package that up and release it on people who accidentally tune in to The Big Bang Theory.
It has become famous among urban explorers for the ebb and flow of the mist, which is thick enough to completely conceal the entire makeshift town where the mine's workforce once lived. We're talking about a giant complex of 11 four-story buildings just totally disappearing from sight, which is pretty disconcerting when David Copperfield isn't involved.
And also ripe for the filming of at least one movie where Jean-Claude Van Damme is hunted for sport.
Some people have spent up to an hour simply trying to locate the town while wandering through the mist, and towns are generally things that stand out in the middle of an empty goddamn mountaintop. Once you finally find the place, though, it's just a typical abandoned town in a secluded region surrounded by inexplicable terror mist.
"Ventured into village, was ripped apart by otherworldly creatures. Pretty standard small town experience."
The fact that the Matsuo mineworker town used to have an acid river nearby just ratchets up the horror level, considering that means the only other available liquid for bathing and drinking would've been the blood of the fallen. And blood won't eat through your clothes, so ...

#4. The Bird Suicide Grounds of Jatinga

Don't do it! Arrested Development is coming back!
In Assam in northeastern India sits the quiet little village of Jatinga, population 2,500. At first glance, it might not seem like much, but the village has become a real hit with visitors who fly in to Jatinga all the time during the monsoon season. Many of them just drop in and never leave, completely falling for the place. What we're getting at here is that birds smash themselves to death in the streets of Jatinga.
This is an extraordinarily tactless sign.
For reasons that are still not fully understood (though almost certainly involve the Thuggee cult and the theft of a sacred stone), around September and October a whole bunch of birds just come plunging down from the sky to their deaths.
The most bizarre part of it all, however, is how precise the whole thing is. The "suicides" always occur between 7 and 10 p.m. and only around a specific mile-long, 200-yard-wide strip of land. The process has gone on like clockwork for roughly the past 100 years.
"You wanted full custody of the eggs, Martha? YOU GOT IT!"
So far, 44 species of migratory birds have been identified as part of the phenomenon, which we reiterate is something scientists still can't fully explain. Some have blamed it on the village's lights, claiming that they confuse the birds and cause them to crash (which would make sense if Jatinga were the only place in the world that had lights, but research indicates this is not actually the case). Other, more sense-making theories suggest the presence of weird magnetic fields and very specific weather conditions, but there's still nothing that the science community fully agrees on.
They do all agree that picking up the birds and using them as feathery missiles is super fun.
While that debate continues, the government of Assam is planning to cash in on the suicides by setting up viewing platforms where tourists can enjoy watching a bunch of wild animals brutally killing themselves for no conceivable reason.

#3. Prague's Old Jewish Cemetery

We can hardly see the creepy for all the tombstones.
In Prague, there is a cemetery where the gravestones are crammed against each other in a standing-room-only mass of the dead:
Brain eating? Take a ticket and queue.
What's going on there? Well, it's normally considered an instant haunting when you build on top of an old cemetery. But in Prague, they decided to build over a 15th century cemetery with more cemeteries. Prague's Old Jewish Cemetery (this is its actual name) now features 11 cemeteries stacked on top of each other.
As of this day, there are about 12,000 visible headstones around the Old Jewish Cemetery, with an estimated 100,000 bodies buried beneath the ground in up to 12 layers of dead folks like some weird necrotic bean dip.
We hope those bars hold.
The cemetery was in use from around 1439 to 1787, in a time when Jewish people from Prague were not allowed to bury their dead outside the Jewish Quarter of Josefov. The Hebrew faith also forbids the moving of headstones, so given just this one place to bury all of their dead, the graves kept piling up until the whole area went from "sacred place of solemn remembrance" to "corpse minefield."
Catherine Murray
"Seriously, the ground here is like a pinata full of dead people."
Naturally, the bizarre eeriness of the Old Jewish Cemetery has lent itself to a number of stories over the centuries. For example, one of the cemetery's most famous permanent residents is Judah Loew ben Bezalel, a 16th century rabbi who, according to legend, created the magical Golem of Prague, a monster made from clay to destroy the enemies of the Jews.
Judging by the photo, the Golem did not succeed.
The cemetery was also believed to be the secret meeting place of the Elders of Zion, a group of powerful people plotting to take over the world and give rise to the New World Order (although their efforts up to this point seem to have been marginal at best, so maybe they should've met at Showbiz Pizza instead).

#2. Staten Island's Tugboat Graveyard

You can cut the tetanus in the air with a knife.
North of Rossville, Staten Island lurks the Tugboat Graveyard, where the busted, decayed shells of old harbor vessels are kept. From tugboats to barges to ferries, most of the remains there date back to the early 20th century, when the New York harbor was still bustling with life. Now they've all been forgotten and left to rot away in the shallow waters of Arthur Kill, presumably because Scary Boat Bay was already full.
Don't feel sad. When you're not looking they go on adventures and learn the value of friendship.
In 1990, there might have been as many as 200 boats abandoned in the Tugboat Graveyard, but over the years the number dwindled, the ships long ago stripped of any valuable parts by looters, vandals and tentacle phantasms.
Or carried off to a secret treasure cave by a petulant teenage mermaid.
Looking at the pictures, you can almost hear them, creaking and groaning in the lazy currents with the faint skittering of rats and lurking nautical serial killers. Nobody died on these boats, as far as we know, but you can't tell us at least one of these vessels doesn't have a decaying skeleton standing at the wheel.
Pulling the weight of the world behind it.

#1. Actun Tunichil Muknal

Actun Tunichil Muknal ("Cave of the Stone Sepulcher") is an important Mayan archeological site in Belize. It was only discovered in 1989, but in the short time since it has already proven itself invaluable as a window into the ancient Mayan culture. And of course by that, we mean this:
Oh, so the Mayans had bones, too. Neat.
That is, one chamber in the cave is believed to have been used for human sacrifices, a theory suggested by the characteristic markings on some of the pottery found inside it. And by "pottery" we of course mean "murdered skeletons."
If we know our CSI, natural deaths don't cause skull holes.
They've found several skeletons in the cave, and most of them are, uh, small. That is, most of the sacrificed were children.
They were probably sacrifices to Chaac, the Mayan god of rain, during a particularly severe drought. But don't worry -- these kids didn't have their hearts cut out while still alive or anything. No, evidence shows that they were all killed by having their skulls crushed, which is way more genial and to the point. They were dealing with children, after all.
Over hundreds of years, the bones became calcified and fused with the cave floor, which is why modern excavators have just left them there without a proper burial (though seriously guys, maybe like throw a tarp over them or something?). The most famous skeleton in the cave is that of a teenage girl, nicknamed the Crystal Maiden because her bones have partially crystallized and now sparkle in the light.
Joshua Berman
Oh, well that's not scary at all then.
Only a few selected guides have received permission from the Belize Department of Archeology to take tourists into the chamber. And you will need a guide, because to get there you have to trek through a dense jungle, swim through a cavern lake, dodge big-ass cave spiders and navigate a labyrinthine ancient bludgeoning cave.
James Snyder /
After all this, that cave better have leprechaun gold in it or something.
Once you make it inside, though, you have more or less unrestricted access to the cave's ancient remains. You're free to touch them, take pictures with them, even decorate them with novelty top hats and pretend that they're talking in a British accent. Anything you feel is necessary to get your money's worth of entertainment out of the bones of ritualistic murder victims.
Ron Brinkmann
Go wild. After all, you never knew him.


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