Friday, December 21, 2012

REPOST from 2009: 2012 and the Coming Apocalypse

Montanus was a former priest of Cybele. A recent convert to Christianity, he began his ministry as a prophet and mouthpiece for God during the late 2nd Century in the small village of Ardabau in Phrygia (Asia Minor-Modern Day Turkey).
He claimed that God came to him and filled Him with His Spirit, causing ecstatic utterances and prophecies. He gathered to himself two others who proclaimed to have the same gift, Maxamillia and Priscilla, and the two of them went about Asia Minor proclaiming that God Himself was speaking through them and the end of the world was nigh. As his message of Apocalypse spread across the world, Montanus commanded his followers to gather together in the city of Pepuza, which (according to his prophecies) would become the New Jerusalem after the global conflagration. His followers obeyed and came to him in this new city of hope and awaited the appointed time. But the end of the world did not happen. Some were dissapointed, but some still 'girded their loins' in determination and continued to believe in the prophecies of Montanus. Later the prophet would be condemned as a heretic for various bizarre teachings, the foremost being that he proclaimed to be God the Father Himself when he made his prophecies, and not just a prophet indwelt with the Spirit of God.

For us today in the early 21st century the dire mystery of the 2012 Apocalypse prediction looms menacingly. I will not go into any of the theory, I am sure most of the readers have heard of it and the multitude of substatiating 'facts' that surround this view that the world will end on December 21st 2012. You do not even have to do any research, you just have to watch the History Channel regularly to get the full rundown. Myan Calander interpretation, planetary and galaxy alignments, solar storms, climate change, economic disaster and an upcoming volitile Presidential election all seem to point to a very rough time is to come near the end of 2012.

It seems as if someone flushed an M80 firecracker down the cosmic toilet and we are all waiting for the big explosion.

Of course when there is fear with potential death and mayhem Hollywood can't but be drawn to the fire and produce an epic movie where all our previous fears pale to the technicolor global holocaust that assaults our eyes in a darkened movie theater. So this weekend as the epic opens we are also bombarded by various news monkeys who have just discovered that the world will end soon. Of course almost all of them do not take the source material for the movie seriously. But with most reports you do see an ominous tension.

I think it is because socially we feel like we are all teetering on the edge of the abyss, and are waiting for something to push us over.

Many are overwhelmingly pessimistic because of the dire straits they find themselves in. Be it economic trouble, environmental worries or social and political disdain, many find themselves gripped by a fear that the worst is yet to come. We are communally holding our breath and waiting for what we feel is inevitable, hoping that we are wrong.

So the end of the world is a natural conclusion, not just because of the substantiating evidence of the 2012 theory, but because of the global angst we all perceive.

But such is the human condition. Since the dawn of civilization mankind has been waiting for the dusk to overwhelm them in darkness.

A clay tablet dated at 2800BC was found that has the inscription "Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common."Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts

Since then humanity has faced the coming apocalypse thousands of times, mostly fired by social or religious motivation. An incredible resource for those who wish to study the history of Doomsday is found on the website A Brief History of the Apocalypse, where you can view each failed prediction chronologically.

Armageddon for good or ill is hardwired into our human consciousness. Prognosticators and those who diligently follow are part of who we are as human beings. It is a means to find order out of the chaos that surrounds us. There will always be a coming apocalypse. And one day there will be an end of the world. How will we know which one is the real end? Christian Scripture can shed some light on that. In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 24 the Disciples ask Jesus how they will know when the end is near:

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? And Jesus answered and said to them- “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.-the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:3b-4a;36;44b.

So safe to say from a Christian perspective is that whenever a 'prophet' or anyone else claims to know the exact date or time that the world is going to end, you can rest assured that that will not be the day or time. There might be incidents of trouble, disaster or tribulation. But such is life on the planet Earth. Looking at the dilemmas brewing worldwide, we may face unprecedented challenges for freedom, liberty and survival on a global scale in the years preceding and following 2012.

The Mayan calendar does stop in December 21 2012; but then it starts all over again.
It has a new beginning.

Like any situation we find ourselves in we can look at the end pessimistically, or in hope we can look at the new beginning with optimism and take advantage of a new opportunity.

Mankind grows and flourishes when faced with trouble, for it is a challenge to overcome which brings with it personal and communal character.
In the words of Captain James T. Kirk, "Man stagnates if he has no ambition...We were meant to fight our way through - struggle, claw our way up, scratch for every inch of the way."

So whatever befalls us on Friday December 21, 2012- Saturday the 22nd will prove to be a most exciting day.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Slenderman for Christmas

This Christmas give the gift your kids will remember, "Slenderman: From Fiction to Fact"!

The book has been in the top 50 in Folklore and Mythology on Amazon for the past 2 months, and the positive reviews keep pouring in! Get yours today and have it before Christmas!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Erie Pennsylvania's first recorded Haunted House

The first colonists to 
Erie Pennsylvania arrived in the mid 18thCentury, building a small town adjacent to the newly constructed French Fort Presque Isle. With wars and migrations soon to follow, English settlers would also arrive in the area by the end of that century and build a permanent settlement.

Since the time of those first settlers Erie’s history has been awash with folklore tales of mysterious places where the paranormal seems to manifest itself quite frequently. Be it cursed Indian burial grounds or old dwellings where spectral apparitions of the past startle the present owners; Erie has a rich history of unexplained phenomena.

However, it was not until the late 19thcentury did one of these locations rise to prominence in the imagination of the local populace to a point where it would become infamous. It was in name if not in fact Erie’s first haunted house. And few today have ever heard of it, since it was long ago lost to popular memory for those who encountered its horrors have long turned to dust. This lost Erie legend is the old Crowley Mansion of Harborcreek.

The house was located on the west side of Walbridge Road, less than a hundred yards south of East Lake Road. It was built by a member of East Erie’s first pioneer families, the Crowleys. Thomas Crowley, b. 1789, came to Erie in 1821 or 1822, as did his younger brother Michael. Thomas and his wife Ellen Ahern had several children in Ireland and several more in Pennsylvania, as late at 1836. Michael married a girl from a family from New York State and Canada. Michael's son Thomas was Erie police chief in the 1860s and 70s. The Crowley family very were wealthy and owned considerable property and built the brick mansion as their family homestead. Thomas's eldest son Bartholomew, 1813(4)-1897, lived with his growing family on the property. Beautifully manicured, the grounds of the mansion boasted a diverse orchard and lush gardens.

Tragedy struck 80 year old Bartholomew and his daughter in 1893 when a team of burglars broke in and pulled off a home invasion, pouring oil over him and lighting him afire and threatening to cut the rings off his daughter's fingers. The original report can be viewed in this copy of the November 3rd 1893 Buffalo Express here:

As time marched on and the Crowley family grew, the pioneers’ children moved on and the estate was purchased by another family. The ancient legend told by local residents was that not long after moving into the mansion the husband and wife began to fight often and began to despise one another. When typhoid fever began to break out in the community, the husband was gravely stricken. A skilled local doctor attended the man and soon he was on his way to a healthy recovery. One of the instructions given the wife was that the man was not to be fed any salty foods, for they could not only halt the recovery process, but they could actually prove to be fatal to her husband.

The story goes that this advice by the doctor gave the wife a ghoulish idea. She would rid herself of her loathsome husband by feeding him rich meals that contained large quantities of salt. Her unsuspecting husband ate the heavily seasoned meals with gusto every day. After one excessively salty dinner of corned beef the husband died just before midnight that very evening. From that day forward the ghost of the husband was said to manifest itself in the house just as the clock stuck midnight. Some of these were said to be extremely violent, one night a china cabinet in the main dining room where the husband often dined shook so violently that all the dishes inside were smashed to pieces. Oddly enough the glass housing of the cabinet was untouched. It was not long after this that the wife moved out of the house never to return.

Others lived in the house afterwards, but none of them stayed very long. Whether it was because of paranormal activity or just the ominous story itself that made the mansion abhorred none can say. But soon none wanted to live in the haunted house on Walbridge Road.

For over fifty years the mansion remained unoccupied and soon time took its toll on the building and it went into disrepair and eventual ruin. The beautiful orchards soon became overgrown with weeds and the trees withered and died. The once elegant mansion became an ominous and foreboding presence of desolation which lived up to its disturbing reputation. Children shunned the house and passers by would claim to see ethereal figures staring out at them from the mansions broken windows.

John G. Carney in his 1958 book “Tales of Old Erie” tells that in the years before the mansion was torn down the legends began to flourish once more. A new generation had used the building as a place to prove their bravery by trespassing its grounds and playing practical jokes on one another.

The land on which the mansion once stood is now an abandoned field, given over to weeds and wild overgrowth. There still is a sense of desolation and sadness to the area that one cannot quite explain. You can sense a sadness, a dreadful emptiness there that is somewhat otherworldly. Perhaps the long betrayed spirit of the murdered husband still abides there, mourning his betrayal at the hands of one who promised to love him forever.

Below is a google map of the area where the house once stood, directly across from the Fairfield Fire Department and Catering Hall.

Until next time,
Pastor Swope

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dakota Laden's Ghost Adventure's spoof

Dakota Laden is a 17 year old writer, director, editor and actor. He has been on the Ghost Adventures TV show, MTV's PRANKED and MTV Ridiculousness. Here is his latest, a spoof of the television show
Ghost Adventures:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Karma

As we in America feast on Turkey, I think we should remember Fabio Spanu. He is the face of the unsung heroes who annual give their lives fighting these foul animals in order to give their families a bountiful feast.

Fabio Spanu tried to kill a turkey for dinner in Nuoro, Sardinia, in February 1992. The 20 year old swung the axe, missed the bird, and hit himself in the chest. He died on the way to hospital. A police spokesman remarked “He was not very expert in killing turkeys.”

Be safe this Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Guest article: Beware The Slender Man Suit This Halloween!

By Georgia Penny
He’s tall, he’s slim, he’s never seen without a suit and tie, and he is back. Making his reappearance across the digital world after years of inactivity is none other than The Slender Man. After centuries of haunting children’s dreams and striking fear into the hearts of their parents, this urban legend has made his way from folklore and fables and into games, websites and fancy dress shops worldwide, with Slender Man morphsuits proving very popular this Halloween.
The Slender Man is an alleged supernatural figure that has supposedly existed for centuries; he has appeared in a variety of different locations worldwide and as a result, accrued a number of aliases: Fear Dubh (The Dark Man) in Scotland, the Takkenmann (The Branch Man) in Holland and Der Grosse Mann (The Tall Man) in Germany. The earliest known historical reference to this creature is a cave painting found in the Northeast of Brazil, depicting an odd elongated character leading a child away from a crowd of people. Other representations of the Slender Man come from Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, sixteenth century German woodcuts and paintings and the Romanian fairy-tale telling the legend of ‘The Tall Man’.  According to the legend, he has tentacle –like extensions protruding out of his back, no face, and arms that can stretch or shorten at his will; his victims are children, to whom he causes memory loss, insomnia, paranoia and coughing fits before kidnapping or killing them.  For centuries he has hidden his existence from the world.
Until now.
Stretching his tentacle-like extensions into the digital world, the Slender Man has caught the attention of online commentators, gamers, bloggers and vloggers worldwide. His initial return took place in The Something Awful Forum’s “Create Paranormal Images”, wherein his reappearance was noted, alongside pictures provided as evidence. Following his unexpected arrival into the online community, The Slender Man went viral; vloggers and bloggers began spreading the word, informing the world of the urban legend’s existence; videographers and film makers began creating short films and documentaries providing footage and commentary; and game developers created Slender. Slender is a free indie-developed psychological horror video game for both Microsoft Windows and OS X based on The Slender Man, and it has driven the online gaming community wild. In the game, the player must seek out eight letters and avoid the figure in the Slender Man suit at all costs, or face death. Since its release in June 2012, the game has received fantastic reviews; Explosion scored the game 4/5 and gaming website IGN calling Slender ‘pure horror’.
The Slender Man’s eruption into the digital realm has led to the development of a solid fan base; he now has over half a million likes on Facebook, a number of followers on Twitter and – thanks to – millions of people planning to dress up as The Slender Man this Halloween. I’m not sure how The Slender Man will respond when he sees this army of people dressed in Slender Man costumes, but this paranormal pariah looks set to haunt the land for years to come.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The 'Zombie Girl Diary' kills at The Eerie Horrorfest

The cast of the upcoming movie "Zombie Girl Diary" made a special guest appearance at the Erie Horror Film Festival this last weekend. This exciting new movie in the zombie horror genre will chew up the screen early next year. It was my pleasure to find out more about this upcoming movie from the film's Writer/Director and Special Effects Director Michael Pine and the films stars Vanessa Rae Bent and Jim Krut.

When is “The Zombie Girl Diary” coming out?
Mike: Hopefully the beginning of 2013.

Briefly describe the movie’s synopsis.
Mike: It’s the survival of a little girl and her mother trying to survive a Zombie Apocalypse, and meeting some others along the way. Trying to survive any way they can.

What was the inspiration of the movie?
Mike: The concept is the point of view of a little girl and what she has to go through. Which I have never seen done in film before.

The Zombie Girl herself, Mikayla Wagaman
Is there a lot of Family interaction; is it kind of a family drama?
(Mike and Vanessa both laugh and knowingly look at each other. There is obviously more than your usual family interaction in the movie!)
Mike: ah…yes…very much!
Jim: There are two twists in that family business though, not to let the cat out of the bag, but there are definitely going to be some twists.

Are there any zombie movies that gave you inspiration?
Mike: No not really, we sort of went our own little way.

Have you made any movies before this one?
Mike: No, no. this is the first one. I am by trade a special effects artist, so I have worked on a few other films like “Lovely Molly”, “South Mountain” and “Dead Love”.

And Vanessa, what movies have you done before?
Vanessa: I worked on "Jebediah" and "Garden of Hedon", but this one has stood out to me because Mike had such a comfortable feeling on set and let the actors have such creative freedom and that is something really, really special. When you get in that situation everybody just seemed to bond and help each other. I was sad to see it end, even though the end is the beginning in film making, but I was sad to see it end just because of the experience of it.

Vanessa Rae Bent and Mike Pine
So you really became a family?
Mike: Yes, definitely!

Who else is in the cast?
Mikayla Wagaman, Tim Cassidy, Hillary Styer,  Jimmyo Burrill and Eliza Jayne.

Why a Zombie movie?
Mike: Zombies have been my favorite genre from Jim’s Dawn of the Dead to night of the Living Dead. The Romero films and the independent films that are out there that are really good.

Was there any difficult special effects in the film?
Mike: Well usually there are always problems because not everything goes as planned every time. We had some issues but all in all for a film I could not ask for anything better because we got so much on first takes. I could not ask for a better group of people to work with.

Legendary Zombie actor Jim Krut 
And Vanessa how was it acting in a Zombie film?
Vanessa: Oh, I got to the point that I was the character. The intensity filming this was amazing. And as an actress that is kind of why you do this you get to step out of yourself and  become someone else and in this I for sure definitely became someone else.

Did it give you nightmares?
Vanessa: YES! YES! And I have been told that I have a really good scream so…
Mike: Ear piercing! Very ear piercing!
Vanessa: And I have to say that Jim to be mentored and to work with somebody of his caliber was an honor, truly.
Jim: that is very kind of you Vanessa, thank you.

What was the most challenging scene for you as an actress in the movie?
Vanessa: You will know it when you see it, that is all I am going to say! There is chaos and madness and you will know. And it was just awesome and scary at the same time, I have to admit that sometimes I was scared to death. You will have to guess when I am acting and when I am really scared out of my mind.

Was there any improvisation?
Vanessa: Yes and that is what was really wonderful about Mike because he allowed us to have that creative choice and that was a wonderful freeing thing as an actress, to be able to make your character come to life.
Vanessa Rae Bent autographs a poster for a fan as fellow
"Zombie Girl Diary" actress Eliza Jayne looks on
Mike: I think that personally, a script is just a guideline. Your actors are the ones that make your vision come true and if you push them to what the script actually says then they don’t feel comfortable doing it then you are not going to get the best performance out of them and I think allowing them to be able to take it in their own way but still being able to follow the guidelines of where it is going you get so much better work out of the actors.
Jim: that was great working with Mike in that way say to whether a character can go this way or that way  because it was an open book still. And we would say do you think a character would go this way or that way and he would say what do you think? And there was a lot of freedom to add and to interpret the role. And on larger sets on non independent films you don’t necessarily have that. So that is one of the beauties of independent films. When you work with someone who has a vision but they are large enough to let that vision fill in its own gaps. And so it was a pleasure to work on this film and as Mike said there were some great people to work with.

The beautiful Vanessa Rae Bent
Where are you in the film making stage right now with the movie?
Mike: We are still editing, and we still have more audio to do. We are hoping to have all that done by the end of the year. Hopefully by in the end by 2013 we will have it out there. So hopefully by next year we will be back here in Erie to see it on the big screen.

With all the Zombie Apocalypse talk going around on the Internet and everywhere, what would you do in a Zombie Apocalypse? Is there a special weapon that you would use or a special place that you would go?
Vanessa: I would try to keep my heart, as long as I possibly could. And just go out that way. I would probably just try to use the core of who I am. In a positive way, I know it would be an emotional tug of war.
Mike: I don’t know. I guess in that situation it is life or death so you do whatever you can to make it as long as you can. You are either gonna be turned or you are gonna live. So you have to fight to live and that is what I am going to do.
Mike Pine onset
Jim: It was interesting, I was at a screening last week and we had 5 authors who had written stories about Zombies. And they all talked about the preparations you need to make. And one of them said, do you have your preparations made? And the author said ‘Oh yeah I have all my stuff at home.’ And they said what if you were here in this hotel and the Zombie Apocalypse began? What would you do now? Which is kind of an interesting perspective, the author said ‘well my ready bag is in my truck with all my other gear and weapons.’ So you can prepare but if you are not where your preparations are, you will miss the boat.

It was great to meet Mike and Vanessa in person and talk to Jim on a conference line. (Jim was busy at another engagement that weekend) The cast was very open and personable and their vision for film makes 'Zombie Girl Diary' a highly anticipated film for 2013.

Coming up soon is another "Zombie Girl Diary" interview with actress and model Eliza Jayne.

For more news on 'Zombie Girl Diary' go to their Facebook Page and give it a look and like!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Makeup Artist "Monster" Mark Kosobucki at the Eerie Horrorfest

This is the second in a series that will focus on the talent and celebrities that will appear at this year’s Erie Horror Film Festival. The Eerie Horrorfest will take place from October 11th to the 14th at the historic Warner Theater in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania.

“Monster” Mark Kosobucki is a talented local Erie artist. Those who know the contemporary Erie arts and entertainment milieu know Mark’s artistic talent well. Not only has his artwork highlighted many local bands and adorned some covers of popular local news publications, he is also a talented motion picture special effects artist ( and sculptor. In addition to his hectic schedule in the arts, Mark has been giving seminars on how to do practical motion picture special effects at the Erie Horror Film Festival for the last couple of years. I caught up with Mark at his home studio last week.
"Monster" Mark's Loft Lair

How did you get the name Monster Mark?
It sort of happened in High School, because I was really getting into movies and all that and someone came up with that. I thought if it is easier for them to remember that rather than Kosobucki then it’s good.

Just a small portion of Mark's movie collection
How did you get into art?
I had been drawing since I was a kid and I really loved watching movies. I would watch them over and over again. One in particular was “Dick Tracy” the Warren Beatty. It was an all star cast, and the make up was perfect! All those characters, they brought them to life. I always tell people when they bring up comic book movies, that was really the best one, ever. I started with pen and ink and eventually went into photography. I always loved special effects in movies. And everyone always has that pipe dream that they would really love to do that. And before I went into High School they started the Savini program. And I was like ‘I really wanna do that!’ so, when I graduated it was new and they were not accredited yet, so I waited after I attended Edinboro University and so here we are.

What was the first medium that you started working in?
Just pencil, pen and ink. Just working on little doodles and stuff. I used to get sketch books for Christmas and stuff.

The entire attic of Mark’s house has been converted into a monster makeup and art studio, along with an extensive collection of movies from the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genre. He has a few recent zombie face molds sitting next to his couch and television. Mark explains:
Mark's current project: a Zombie head
I try to keep my work confined to up here because if it would tend to be cluttered downstairs if I take up the living room and everything. I just watch movies and plug away at stuff. These are two of ones I am going to have at the Horrorfest this year. This is a new guy, I actually had him molded and sculpted for over a year, it took me forever to clean out the mold. I really wanted to have a real cool zombie, I had one of him made for a movie premiere I went to in August and I sold him within like 10 minutes, so it was great. 

What is your favorite medium right now? Besides special effects, but what else are you currently working on?
 I love sculpting, I love sculpting monster heads it is something from nothing, you know? That is kind of really cool to me but I definitely get more work in graphic design, illustrating and stuff like that. I have always loved the artwork that would tag along with movies. It is almost unheard of now, but in the 70s and 80s not having a hand drawn illustration for your movie was almost unheard of. And I always loved the hand drawn artwork as opposed to photos and stuff.

So what are some of your current projects now in the medium of pen and ink artwork?
Some of Mark's posters for local bands
I just finished a poster for The Crooked I last night, they are doing a tribute to Black Sabbath on the 27th. It is called ‘Electric Funeral’ and they are one of my all time favorite bands and when they came up to me and said they were doing this I was like wow, I know all the lyrics to their songs. I did a poster for that it is 24X36 , I had a friend who commissioned me a print for the movie “Them” the giant ants. I’m working now with the Erie Reader, that is free around town. I did a cover for them called the “Weight of War” about PSD and I asked if I could do a Halloween cover too and I did that. The Halloween cover is going to be so cool, it has Glenn Strange as the Frankenstein’s Monster. The PSD article is a good story, it makes you think. I am happy they let me be the voice for that as far as art goes.

Now at this Horrorfest you are in a movie as well as doing the special effects.
"Skull Forest" (2012)
I am in a movie called ‘Skull Forest’ I was the Key effects artist on it. My friend Len Kabasinski made it, and I have shown it to my family and friends and they say it is his best yet. I am really proud of it, I think everyone did a good job on it and I think it will go over very well. Hopefully he will get a really good distribution deal from it. It was filmed in Erie, a lot of it was filmed in Fairview. One of the guys in the movie James Howells, his family had a fairly large amount of land and we used the woods out there. The Plot is kind of like “The Most Dangerous Game”, these four girls go into the woods to have a weekend away, and they end up being caught in an organized hunting ring where they put in bids like a lottery and if you are selected you get to go into the woods and hunt somebody.

Were the effects challenging?
What scared me the most, because I had never done it before was the scalping. There is a Native American character in the movie, when she takes the life of one of the girls she scalps her. I always remember the movie “Maniac” when it comes to that because that movie had the best version of that effect. I don’t know who Savini had working with him but they had some really good effects for removing the scalps of these women in this movie and it always stuck with me. But it was challenging and I had a plan for it and it worked pretty good. And I think it looks good on screen, when they did the premiere for it, it was all cast and crew and everything and that was the one effect and when it appeared on screen there was somebody down front that actually screamed out because it actually grossed them out heavily. It was very vindicating, because you are like, “they are buying it!”

Is there any other work that you are involved in lately?
Mark and his "6 Degrees of Hell" poster at the movie's premiere
I have been working with a producer that I met at Horrorfest last year, his name is Harrison Smith. I believe he produced the movie “The Fields” with Cloris Leachman and Tera Reed. He was down there and just finished filming the movie “6 Degrees of Hell” with Corry Feldman, and he met me through Josh Emmerich who did the ‘Basket Case’ comic and Herrison like my artwork and gave me the job to do the graphic novel of Six Degree’s of Hell’s opening sequence, which is quite a story it has a beginning, middle and end of course where the girl dies. I got to allude to what Cory Feldman does in the movie as a paranormal investigator and in addition to that he gave me the task to do the official poster for that movie. We got to meet Corey Feldman, the premier was in the Pocono’s it was red carpet and the media was there. All the VIPS got a copy of my poster and it was up on a billboard. It was pretty cool. He has a new movie in post called “Dead TV” and I did some poster work for it, I don’t know the plot yet, but I heard that he wants me to do the movie poster for that as well. Eric Roberts is in it, and last I knew Daniel Harris I don’t know if the cast has changed or not.

What are your future goals?
I did the poster for the event for band Calabrese and they liked it so much they made it the cover for their album. I had listened to the band since I was in school and it totally surreal for me; they have a huge backdrop of my art. It is crazy. I would love to do art for a living and not have to worry about a paycheck so much. I would like to turn this house into a studio, a fully functional mass media studio that has graphic design and special effects and video production. I would like to offer that to the community. I have one friend named Richard who is going into the Savini program and asked me to mentor him for his senior project and I hope that we can work together on these movies. Because right now it is ok to do these smaller independent movies, but it would be nice to give someone these mold making jobs while I sculpt other things. I would like to bring on a few friends and pull resources and get something functional in this creepy old house by the cemetery. It really fits in with the community.

To look at more of Mark’s work or to contact him to do professional work visit his website at
Tickets for the Eerie Horrorfest and a list of other celebrities appearing there this year  can be found at their website . A daily pass will also be available for purchase at the door during the event. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Slenderman Book

This Halloween season give a gift that will send shivers up their spine, "Slenderman:From Fiction to Fact"!

The book has been consistently in the top of the charts on Amazon's Folklore and Mythology listing since August and positive comments have been rolling in! Order yours today to get it by Halloween!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pastor Swope on the Creedence and Bishop Radio Show

Tonight October 1st it will be my pleasure to be on "The Creedence and Bishop Show" go the the link to listen live at 8:30pm EST, or come back later to hear the archive.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Ghost Boy and His Dog of Wintergreen Gorge

Four Mile Creek meanders through the woodlands of Northern Erie County Pennsylvania and empties into Lake Erie. Over the eon's it's slow moving waters have cut a large swath of land, and one of the more spectacular creations of the small creek is a mile long ravine called Wintergreen Gorge.

From Prehistoric until Colonial times the Gorge and creeks path provided a clear route to the Lake for both the local Native Americans and European Settlers. Ancient Indian war trails line both sides of the Creek, trails that were used by the Seneca Indians as they waged their war with the local Eriez Indians before the white man entered the area. Many intrepid amateur archaeologist and even professionals from the local Penn State Erie have found a rich stash of pre-Colonial Native American artifacts lining the paths and cliff sides of the small waterway.

My friend Tim grew up in a small house on the banks of Four Mile Creek, near the thousands of acres that made up the Penn State Erie's Wintergreen Gorge. Tim Randall grew up hiking and exploring the endless trails that crisscross the ivy covered cliffs of Four Mile. From the age of six onward there was hardly a day that passed that you would not find him with walking stick in hand on his way to have a new journey.
And many of his adventures were fruitful indeed.

He had found a treasure trove of arrowheads and discarded pottery near ancient Indian campsites, as well as early European coins and sword hilts. Perhaps the most spectacular discovery he made was an out of the way vale on the Westerns side of the Gorge, far off any path, that was covered in thick foliage and had hearty vines from which you could safely swing out into and across the vale. In this mystic sanctuary it was hard to believe that you were less than a mile away from a major Interstate Highway and close to one of the largest cities in the State of Pennsylvania.

Most of the time in his journeys of exploration he had the constant companionship of a large Newfoundland Dog named 'Dutch'. 'Dutch' was a birthday gift for Tim from his father on his 10th birthday. From that day the two were inseparable. Despite its formidable and imposing size, the large black canine was the most gentle of creatures that I had ever encountered. With thick webbed feet, the dog is specialized for water rescue and there were numerous times while traversing the slippery, slime covered slate of the creek bottom that Tim would fall into a nearby pool. Dutch would inevitably jump into the pond, no matter the depth, to rescue his little master. Dutch lived a very long life and died at the age of 14 years. Needless to say, Tim was devastated. Though many women had come and gone in his life, Dutch was his best friend and constant companion. Moreover, the loyal Newfoundland was a constant assurance of unconditional love in a life filled with turmoil and difficulty.

For you see, throughout his life Tim was in and out of trouble in one way or another. In Grade School he was the practical joker who held the attention of the entire class. He ended up many times in the principles office and there were many calls to his parents concerning his disruptive behavior. In his teens Tim moved from being the class clown to being the chief stoner, sampling any kind of illicit substance that came his way. Gradually, his meager funds could not keep up with his veracious appetite for illegal pharmaceuticals and he turned to crime. First it was shoplifting and then it escalated into burglary. Sadly, when he was 17 he was sent away to a juvenile detention facility a few months after he was caught shoplifting at the local mall.
But even this close brush with the law did not stop Tim's lust for mind altering pharmaceuticals. By his early 20's he was dealing drugs and breaking into houses to sustain his addiction. At age 24, when Dutch died, his downward spiral seemed to escalate. In response, he ventured into harder drugs in order to find the release that he could no longer find in marijuana and LSD.

In the fruitless attempt to numb his constant inner pain he turned into a ghost of himself.

As the effects of a hard life aged him far beyond his years, eventually he was no longer the happy go lucky jokester of his youth. By age 25 he was a morose and antisocial malcontent . The only legitimate earnings that he made during this time of his life were while working in a fast food restaurant.

Unfortunately, after only working there 6 months, he and his manager (who also had a drug habit) cooked up a phony robbery scheme so they could pocket the bi-weekly deposit. But the plan unraveled quicker than it was hatched and both Tim and his manager found themselves in jail before they could spend even a penny of their ill gotten gain.

Whether it was the forced detox of the prison stay or the new found faith he professed after serving his sentence, Tim was a changed man after his incarceration.

He began to attend church and devoted himself to make up for all the wrongs he had done in his short life. He even fell in love with a beautiful young girl who attended the Cathedral where he attended mass. Their courtship was a short, but very romantic, fairy tale relationship. Tim felt truly loved by a significant other for the first time in his life. The young lady loved him more and more each day. Within 6 short months of dating, they were engaged.

Unfortunately, Tim's Bachelor party was at a local bar and pressured by his old friends, he drank alcohol for the first time in many years. Like a dehydrated man who could not quench his long denied thirst, he drank too much, and on his way home he drove off the road and struck at tree at 65 miles per hour without wearing a seat belt and with no airbag.

He was dead on impact.

The funeral was the darkest day the Randall family had ever experienced. Their oldest son who had gone through so much heartache and grief was on the brink of experiencing everything he had ever wanted, but was cut just short of finding true fulfillment in life.

That dark day was almost 20 years ago.

I often think of Tim as I hike the miles of trails in the Wintergreen Gorge area of Four Mile Creek with my son. All those years ago when I was my son's age I was introduced to the beauty of the Gorge by Tim one Saturday afternoon. Though I lived only a half mile away from the woodland, I had never explored that far down the creek. Its large imposing cliffs, waterfalls, and dense conifer forests are a treasure; I often thank him as I walk through the areas we frequented together in our youth.

One afternoon in 2006 I was walking the trails of Penn State Erie near the 'Devil's Backbone', an area near the Gorge's peak where the creek's path turns dramatically, leaving a narrow path with cliff faces of over 100 feet on either side. It was an area where Tim and I would sit for hours and talk about everything from movies to the latest school gossip. The trail gently slopes down from the peak and then, after the barren area of the 'Backbone', it drops back into a fully wooded path. I was just coming onto the barren area when at the far edge where the path drops into the trees I saw a young boy and a large dog walking down that far edge and disappear. I was taken aback a bit because for the life of me I swore it looked just like Tim and Dutch did 20 years ago. With curiosity I quickly made my way to the other side of the clearing so I could watch as the boy and his dog descended the steep trail. But when I got to the other side mere seconds later they were nowhere to be seen.

Perhaps they had quickly made it down through the underbrush or else I was just seeing things. I logged it in the back of my mind and continued on with my hike, enjoying the refreshing walk in the wilderness.
It wasn't until months later while having coffee with an old high school friend, Donna Bradburry, that the significance of the event truly sank in. Donna and her husband Eric love to hike the Gorge as well. Donna grew up near the Creek and knew the grounds almost as well as Tim did. She knew Tim from both encounters in the woods and school but she never really liked him, for he had picked on her ruthlessly through Grade School and Junior High because of her weight. They did have a reconciling of sorts shortly before his death when they ran into each other at a social event. Tim had apologized profusely for treating her the way he did, and she saw him in a new light.

She was there a few months later at one of his viewings.

It was shortly a year afterward that she began seeing Tim and Dutch walking in the woods. At first, like me, she thought it was a figment of her imagination. She had seen them from a distance numerous times and she was sure that it was just another young boy with a large dog walking in the woods. But after seeing the same boy and dog a few times over the span of five years she began to realize that something strange was indeed happening in the thick woods of Wintergreen Gorge, for the boy never seemed to age and his clothing never changed. It was in the spring of 1999 while walking alone down the Creek that she had a closer encounter with the mysterious dog and boy. She was on the Creek bed coming around a bend when she saw the two of them walking parallel to her on the ridge pathway to her left. She was only twenty feet or less from them when she first caught sight of them. The boy turned to look her in the eyes before he quickly disappeared into the dense foliage next to the creek.

It was Tim.

Not the Tim she had met during the reconciliation years before or the bullying teen she remembered from her tortured high school days.

It was the little 12 year old Tim, the young prankster. The innocent little boy before he had been severely ravaged by drugs and alcohol.

And Donna was sure that the dog was Dutch.

She wanted to run up the lip of the embankment and confirm her fears but she was too shaken by the experience. She knew what she had seen.

She had seen him twice after that close encounter but only from the back and at a distance, just as I had. But it was the same boy, in the same clothes with the same dog.

We sat there together in quiet contemplation for a while after she shared her story. Had Tim Randall finally found peace in the afterlife by endlessly repeating the only thing that ever gave him true happiness?
To some such a fate would seem akin to purgatory or even a form of hell. But knowing the tragic life of Tim it seemed a fitting rest if he could wander the Earth for a while with his faithful dog. After having such a tragic and unfulfilling short life it seems appropriate if he could be given a few extra years to relive and enjoy one of the only times he was loved unconditionally and lived fully.

Even if that time is relived in death.

Until Next Time,
Pastor Swope

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pastor Swope on Beyond the Edge Radio

This Sunday night it will be my honor to be on the "Beyond the Edge" radio show with Lon Strickler and Eric Altman. I will be joining documentary film maker Christopher Maloney while he discusses his new film "Cryptotrip" which I appear in discussing my various personal encounters. Join us this Sunday at 8PM Eastern Standard Time! Listen live and join the chat!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Creepy Camping Stories

Summer vacation is always a fun time to get out and do things that you have wanted to do all winter long, such as swimming, hiking, or boating. During the good weather we travel to places we have wanted to see, or like a lot of us, we go camping.

When in the deep woods you are separated from civilization. Many times you can’t even get your cell phone to get a signal. You are isolated from everything; it is just you and the wilderness. Many times that can be alarming or frightening.  How many horror tales and movies take place in an isolated spot in the woods?

Sometimes we actually do have unexplained or seemingly supernatural things happen to us while we are in the middle of nowhere. Here are a few sent in by readers and others that I have stumbled upon over the last few years.

 “My three friends and I were camping in the backcountry of Yellowstone National Park. We were about 12 miles down a good sized path when we came upon a beautiful lake. It was crystal blue clear water, truly amazing. So we decided to strip down to our boxers and go for a swim after our long hot hike. It was beginning to get dark and we kept swimming. We were going to set up camp by the lake and stay the night. As we were swimming my friend Ron was sure that he saw someone move along the bank out of the corner of his eye, but as he turned to look, there was nothing there. He told us he thought he had seen someone but we stopped to look around for a few minutes and there was nothing to be seen. After a while we got out of the water and set up camp. As the night approached, we ate some food and settled down to watch the night sky. After about a half hour, Ron got up on an elbow and asked us, “Did you hear that?” We did not hear anything and he sat up peering into the night. “It sounds like a baby crying in the lake. You don’t hear it?” At this point he stood up and started walking toward the lakeside. Before we knew it he had just jumped in the water and began to swim with all his clothes on. We ran to the edge of the water and called his name, but we didn’t see him anymore; the water was still. Then Ron jumped up from the water and screamed for help. We wadded out and jumped in to get him. He was so scared he almost dragged us down, but luckily it was very close to the shallow edge of the lake. He was babbling about something grabbing him from under that water, something was pulling him down.
At this point we were just ticked at Ron. We had not heard anything like a baby and wondered what had snapped in his head. He sat there kind of out of it for a while and then slowly stood up and began to change into dry clothes. After that he crawled into his tent and quickly went to sleep. My other friend and I just sat there really creeped out. After a few hours we lay down as well and drifted off into sleep. Sometime in the evening I awoke to hear a rustling in the bushes, and when I got up our bags had been opened and the food was thrown all over the ground. For me that was it. Somebody was out there messing with us. So I got up the guys and we walked to the next big campground on the trail, it took us all night, but there was no way I was staying anywhere near the lake and we wanted to be close to other people. Ron did not remember going in the water. But we did notice claw marks on his leg when we looked at it in good light. It looked like three distinct scratches and red marks like a three fingered hand had grabbed him. This was the freakiest thing I have ever experienced!”

Although this person’s experience took place in Yellowstone, the phenomenon sounds a lot like the Native American legend of the “Water Babies”. These supernatural entities would dwell in springs and lakes. They were dwarfish with old wrinkled bodies and long thick black hair. They were harbingers of death and doom; just hearing them could kill you. But if you lived they would attempt to drag you down into the water to drown you. They are the spiritual cousins to the Spanish Southwest’s La Llorona, or Weeping Woman. Instead of being small, the weeping woman was a tall thin beautiful woman with long black hair. She also liked to drown people, but her prey of choice was young babies.


“When I was 9 years old my family went hiking up to Mystic Lake. All the way up there my father was telling me creepy stories. One of the stories was about the trail that we were about to hike on, it involved a little boy and his dog who were running on the trail, and the boy was following the dog. The dog ends up leaping off the edge of a cliff because it's full on stupid and it wasn't watching where it was tearing up the trail. The kid follows, not paying attention either and both die. I was scared to death because I did that with my dog, I never pay attention to where we are going. I think he knows where he is going. It scares me to death when he tells it. I can see myself as the boy. I had my dog with me and I kept looking at it wondering if it was that stupid.  As we continue on, he tells other stories and I forget about that one.  We get to the trails and my father and I go ahead of my mom and sister with my dog. The path was curvy with a ledge that gradually got steeper. We were getting way ahead of mom and sis so my dad waited for them; I take off running with my dog. The backpack made it hard to run and I held my walking stick with both hands.

Suddenly I hear a girl’s voice right behind me, calling my name. I was startled! I thought it was my sister catching up with me. So I look back for just a split second and bam I hit a tree root and go flying off the trail and off the cliff. The only reason I'm not falling to my death is because of the walking stick getting stuck in rocks and it loops around my hand. I am dangling there and get some footing, but there is no way to get up. I start crying and calling out for help. My dog wasn’t stupid; he was at the edge barking his head off. Dad appears and pulls me up. He is very upset.

Later on that night I asked my sister why she yelled at me. My sister tells me that she didn’t yell and we get into a fight. My mom comes over and tells us to stop, she was walking with my sister and my sister never yelled my name.

I spent the rest of our camping trip scared to death over ghost boy yelling my name. Honestly I don't know whether I just imagined it or anything even happened, but it really freaked me out.”

Was that a ghost boy looking to kill someone? I am always curious of such stories- why would the dead kill? Wouldn’t the ones they kill also look for revenge? That is not good afterlife planning.

Next, something that I can really relate to:

“Shortly after turning 17, I was visiting my uncle and 3 cousins in Tennessee. My uncle had a rather large property that was connected to some "no-mans-land" as they called it, so we took 2 ATVs out for a spin on the back trails with the intention to camp overnight. We kept hearing this weird sound, like an elk bugling, but no such animals lived there. After the sun had set, we set up camp against the ATVs and had a campfire going, when a thick fog suddenly rolled in. With it we heard yelping coyotes and such, and one of my cousins who had a run-in with a starving coyote got scared so I volunteered to head back to my uncles place with him while the other two stayed out camping. We hopped on an ATV and made our way home, but I guess we became disoriented by the fog and my cousin could no longer identify the trail. We try backtracking, but it sounded like the coyotes were getting closer so my cousin started flipping totally out. We also began to hear the bugling from before, which became more panicked and more frequent, and the coyotes sounded pretty riled up. We kept seeing reflections of eyes in the headlights through the fog, but never the coyote itself. My cousin is flipping crazy at this point and doesn't know what to do, but we keep driving. He suddenly remembered his dad's advice and began to follow the moon to get back home, when suddenly some massive, shaggy creature burst across the trail. It must've been around 9 feet at the shoulder and it made this bugling shriek because we nearly hit it with the ATV. My cousin books it and takes a sudden right and we find ourselves back on his property. We told my uncle and he says he heard the bugling and that it was probably a bear, but we didn't know what to believe.”



“My good friend invited me camping one Thursday afternoon. My Mom and Dad were grateful to get rid of me, I was 14 and they were always complaining about how I was always playing video games. I was just as excited to get away from them at the time. So my friend and his parents headed to the deep woods of the Alleghany forest. It took hours to get there; it was a family camping site that looked really great. Hills and woods, we were in a little valley.

We played around in the woods as his Mom and Dad set up camp. There was an old trail that was sort of grown over. I remember getting covered with prickers all up and down my pants. It took me a half hour to get them out when I got back to camp. Anyways, we came upon a patch of trees by the side of the trail that had old trees. It looked like the bark had been burned off the bark from the bottom three to five feet of the whole bunch of them. We also noticed a big pit in the ground near the trees that looked blackened too, so we investigated it. In the pit were all kinds of junk, pots and plates all cracked and burned. But what was weird is that there was what looked like burned clothing pieces all along the edge, kind of scattered. It was flowery with lace on some of the edges. We got spooked and headed back to camp.

My friend’s parents had fixed up the camp that put their van across the road, sort of blocking it. The tent for my friend and I was pointing away from it with the opening facing away from the van. Sort of like a T. We all stayed up around the campfire late and then the parents went to bed in the van and we went into the tent. We were wired and decided to stay up as late as we could and pull an all nighter. Way into the night we started telling each other ghost stories and after a while we heard someone walking around the outside of the tent. We ignored it, thinking it was his parents going off to go to the bathroom in the woods or make sure the fire was out. The footsteps stopped and a figure of what looked like a girl stood on my side of the tent. My friend stared with a pale complexion on his face as this 'person' leaned into the fabric of the tent so you could make out some of their facial appearance. The face began to chew and then it looked like it was smiling, except that a little girls face shouldn’t be able to be making that sort of smile, it was really deformed and grotesque. It reminded me of the old music video for Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” where the woman’s mouth stretches across her face. It then began to gurgle and try to talk and it said something, I couldn’t tell what, but  then it spoke and all we heard was "Help me" in a whispering female voice. I actually really pooped myself. No kidding. My friend screamed and we bailed out of the tent to the van to sleep in there for the rest of the night. I tried to look through the darkness and I noticed a girl standing perfectly straight by a water pump. She was all grey and wore a tattered dress. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was sure I saw a white edge on the dress so I am sure it was the same material we saw around the burnt hole. It was amazing that we did not wake his parents.  I couldn't sleep all that much and I tried to look outside, but all I could see was through the small window. I kept waiting for that face to pop up like a horror movie and kill us all. My friend fell asleep after a few hours but I stayed awake until dawn. Only one time did I see something in the window, it was a shadow moving quickly around. I could have stood up to look out, but I knew if I saw it, that little demon girl would get us for sure. I never went camping with that family again, although I still go camping. But now I always come armed with some weapon.”

That one sounds like a good horror movie! Was it some weird apparition or someone else who was camping in the same area? I wonder what was in that burned pit?

I received a few other stories as well and perhaps I will share them at a later time. Isn’t it curious how many face the demonic or evil entities in the middle of the woods? It makes you wonder why it happens. Cursed ground? I have heard many Missionary stories like the ones we just read where the Missionary battles the darkness in the name of Christ and it flees. It would seem that the dark corners of the world are, well…really DARK.

I guess you really never know what you will encounter in the woods during summer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Friday, August 17, 2012

Scary Summer Stories

As the summer rolls down we all have fond memories of the months just past. Many of us went to amusement parks, beaches or tourist sites. But a lot of us also spend some time this summer in the deep woods, either camping or hiking with family and friends. And some of us had some...odd ... experiences out there miles away from civilization. Do you have a creepy wilderness story to share? Contact me at and share the scares.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What is that in Curiosity's mysterious Mars photo?

From my Examiner page, one of the first photographs from the Mars rover Curiosity is causing a bit of a stir. There seems to be something in the foreground that mysteriously disappears from further photos. Close examination reveals something...weird. I give a look at the controversy, with explanations and whimsy. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Slenderman on Dark Matters Radio

Tonight, August 7th I will be on Dark Matters Radio, hosted by Don Ecker. Tune in at 10PM pacific Time to hear me talk about the Slenderman Myth, encounters and archetypes. I will also be talking about my book "Slenderman:From Fiction to Fact".

The show is archived here:

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Archetypes of Slenderman

My latest Examiner article focuses on the various Slenderman archetypes in local folklore. From the Babau of the Southern Mediterranean to the Pugot of the Philippines, I look at the local legends of the worldwide lurker Slenderman.