Tag Archives: halloween

220 – True Crime Halloween: Scarier Than Superstition

When we think about Halloween, we think of witches and ghosts and demons. Superstitions and mythical creatures. Wicked? Sure. Scary? You bet. Real? Well, the jury is out. We talk about the veil between the worlds being at its most thin on the holiday, we talk about Samhain, horror movies, and jack o’ lanterns. We make evil into a joke, something cute for kids. We dress up little girls as witches, little boys as vampires. The terrors of our Dark Ages become fantasy fodder for our Enlightened era. We’ve talked about all kinds of supernatural brutes on this show and every kind of superstition. But sometimes the most horrible monsters aren’t monsters at all. They’re just people, sick and weak and selfish and angry people. 

  • Halloween night 1974, Ronald Clark O’Bryan laced candy Pixy Stix with cyanide in order to kill his children and collect their life insurance policies. He pretended to go to a neighbor’s house who wasn’t home and “trick or treat”-ed the candy, giving it to his own children and their friends. His son Timothy was poisoned to death and O’Bryan was caught and eventually executed. He was nicknamed “The Candy Man” or “The Man That Killed Halloween”.

  • On Halloween 1975, 15 year old Martha Moxley’s body was found bludgeoned to death and stabbed with a golf club. The affluent and troubled Skakel brothers were implicated in the murder and one of the brothers was eventually tried and convicted of her murder 25 years later. The case was international news because their aunt was married to Robert F. Kennedy.

  • October 28th, 2014, 35 year old Derek Ward decapitated his mother, Patricia Ward, and carried her body out into a Long Island street. There were several witnesses that watched him carrying the headless corpse but they had no idea it was real, they thought they were looking at a Halloween decoration. Derek Ward then proceeded to walk three blocks and killed himself by jumping in front of a train.

  • Halloween 1981, Ronald Sisman and Elizabeth Platzman are found murdered in their New York City apartment. The apartment is ransacked and they are killed execution style. Police suspect a drug transaction gone bad until a prison inmate came to them with an unusual claim. That inmate was imprisoned with David Berkowitz, the infamous “Son of Sam” killer, who was arrested in 1977. The inmate claimed that Berkowitz told him earlier that he was part of a cult that was planning on killing a photographer in an apartment in Greenwich Village on Halloween in a Satanic ritual. The police couldn’t get enough evidence and the case remains unsolved.

  • On Halloween night 2002, Christopher Jenkins was kicked out of a Minneapolis bar into the freezing weather while still in his costume. His body was found in the Mississippi River four months later. Four years later, the Minneapolis police changed the status of his death from an accidental drowning to homicide, but no one has ever been charged in the crime. Two New York detectives have their own theory about a “Smiley Face Murder Club” that travels along the Mississippi, killing young men and covering up their crimes by dumping the bodies in the river.

When we use names to describe these real-life terrors we turn people into monsters: “Smiley Face Killers”, “Son of Sam”, “The Candyman”. Nicknames are catchy, they sell newspapers and get clicks, but it also de-humanizes the people behind the names. It turns them into a witch or a vampire or a ghost. Because how could someone, a regular person like us, do something as horrible as this?

The song this week is based on a  true crime that happened in St. Louis in October of 1899. Francis “Frankie” Baker was a young woman who was keeping company with ragtime piano player named Allen Britt. Allen he stepped out on her with a prostitute named Alice Nelson, Frankie heard about it and got so enraged that she shot him. Allen died 4 days later and was able to tell the police who did it.

At Frankie’s trial, she claimed that it was self-defense, that Allen pulled a knife on her and that he beat her in the past. That was good enough for the jury, who acquitted her. But within months, someone had already written a song about it and soon afterwards, the names were changed a little bit to accommodate easier rhymes. The song “Frankie and Johnny” was born and was covered by everyone from Johnny Cash to Merle Haggard to Elvis. Francis Baker died poor in 1952, and was bitter that she never received any money from the song that she inspired. However, she did kill a guy. This episode’s song is our own acoustic guitar and violin version of the true crime murder ballad, “Frankie and Johnny”.

Frankie and Johnny was lovers, oh, how they could love
They sworn to be true to each other, true as the skies above
He was he man, he wouldn’t do her no wrong.

Frankie went down to the corner, to get her a stein of beer
She asked the big old fat bartender, “Have my lovin’ Johnny been here?
He is my man, he wouldn’t do her no wrong. “

Said, “I ain’t gonna tell you no story, I ain’t gonna tell you no lie
He was here ’bout an hour ago with that gal they call Nellie Bly,
He was your man, but he’s been doin’ you wrong.”

Frankie went down to the hotel, she didn’t go down there for fun
Under her long red kimono she carried her .44 gun
Lookin’ for the man that was doin’ her wrong.

Johnny pulled off his Stetson hat, hollered, “Now, baby, don’t shoot!”
Frankie pressed her finger on the trigger and that gun went “rrrroooolietoo”
She killed her man, ’cause he was doin’ her wrong

This is the end of my story, this is the end of my song
Frankie’s down in the county jail, poor thing, down there all alone
She killed her man, ’cause he was doin’ her wrong.
She killed her man, ’cause he was doin’ her wrong.
She killed her man, ’cause he’d been doin’ her wrong.

168 – Stranger Things and Soul Cakes: Facts You Didn’t Know About Halloween

Hey, it’s Halloween time again and we’ve been watching Stranger Things 2  to get in the mood for our favorite holiday. Especially because the new show takes place during the Halloween of 1984.  And while we’ve explored Halloween a couple times in the past, including the urban legends that surround the holiday and an in-depth discussion of the phenomenon of Devil’s Night, there’s still plenty that we can learn about the holiday.

stranger things milwaukee paranormal conference
Outside the Jabberwocky’s Ball at the Milwaukee Paranormal Conference – Wendy and I are hanging out with our friends Corey from Phantasmagoria Photo and Scott Markus from What’s Your Ghost Story.com It was a Alice in Wonderland-themed event, so we went simple with the costumes!

So, with all the nostalgia of Stranger Things 2 from Ghostbusters to Dragon’s Lair, we decided to reminisce a little about our own Halloweens past as well as look to discover some facts that we didn’t know before about the Holiday. And we did! From soul cakes to snapdragon, Allhallowtide to the origin of the word “bonfire”, we cover a ton of little known fact about the best holiday out there.

Plus we even uncover a new story (to us) about the 1980s’ Satanic Panic! There’s tons of fun in our 2017 Halloween special.

If you’re looking for fun songs to enjoy for Halloween, look no further than our Sunspot Halloween playlist – we’re counting down our personal favorite songs that are perfect for the Holiday! Follow our Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/othersidepodcast to see all of the songs!

This week’s Sunspot track is inspired but the nostalgia of Stranger Things because we’re going back to the Junior High Fall dance. This industrial-ish number is all about how the little things of your youth, like your first heartbreak or your first kiss can affect the rest of your life, for good or for bad. We’re an accumulation of our experiences and our emotional reactions are often developed by events that happened to us when we were very different people. It’s hard to escape that “Ancient History”.

The little boy was glassy eyed
they kissed on the pumpkin hayride
just another notch on her notebook
he wrote a note in seventh hour
he passed it on through her best friend
but in phy ed is where it would sour
he would never be the same
his heart was bitter now
all his lungs inflamed
she knew what she was doing to him
Ancient history
always sneaks up on you
ancient history
will never let you go
ancient history
remembers every putdown
ancient history
always comes round
The little girl was terrified
and at the harvest dance, he lied
when he whispered a secret in her ear
She thought she was gonna die,
but the parking lot was just so big
And then there was nowhere that    to hide.
she would never be the same
her heart was bitter now
all her lungs inflamed
and he knew what he was doing to her
Ancient history
always sneaks up on you
ancient history
will never let you go
ancient history
remembers every putdown
ancient history
always comes round

115 – Deadly Candy: Legends and History of Halloween

Since it’s our favorite time of year, we thought we’d spend an episode talking about the history of Halloween, our favorite Halloween legends, Halloween costumes, and share some personal Halloween stories.

wendy2
Speak of the Devil… Sunspot’s 2000 Halloween costume was positively “horny” nyuk nyuk nyuk
Halloween 2000 Ben
Have no fear, friends, that’s not a real cobweb!
And for Halloween that year, I went as a guy with two chins!
And for Halloween that year, Mike went as a guy with two chins!

From the ancient Celts of the British Isles  and theirAutumn Samhain festival which they believed was the time where the veil between the worlds of this life and the next was super thin to the origin of the world Halloween (think All Hallow’s Eve, the night before All Souls’ Day!), we cover all you need to know about everyone’s favorite dressing up holiday (and how that holiday used to be on Thanksgiving instead!)

Scottish Sunspot on Halloween 2000!
Scottish Sunspot on Halloween 2000!

We’ve gone as a lot of group costumes for Halloween and talk about some of the best costumes we’ve seen at the various shows we’ve played to celebrate the holiday. The Sunspot Witch Project, which was our Halloween costume in 2001 was a fun one because all we had to do was recycle our flannels that were left in our closets from living int the mid-1990s. Just add a hat like Doug or Bob McKenzie and instant Halloween costume, ya hosers!

strange brew
Looking’ good in your toques, eh!

mike1 sunspot2 wendy1

Of course we have to delve into the urban legends of Halloween, including the truth behind the needles and pins in candy rumors that traumatized our trick or treating as youths as well as the “dead person mistaken for a Halloween decoration” (spoiler alert: both legends have a real basis in fact!)

Have you seen this boy? Halloween 2004.
Have you seen this boy? Halloween 2004. Wow, and if Mike’s face was any rounder he could have gone as the Pillsbury Terminator!

Mike shares a real-life ghost story and adventure from an abandoned supposedly haunted hotel in Mukwonago, Wisconsin called Rainbow Springs and everyone discusses their favorite Halloween-related shows, from The Great Pumpkin to the unexpectedly terrifying Garfield Halloween Adventure.

Super Sunspot Bros and The Princess!
Super Sunspot Bros and The Princess!

So, sit back and enjoy the episode if you wanna learn all about the history of Halloween and how it became the awesome holiday we celebrate today.

And last but not least, here’s Wendy and Mike as a coupla rockin’ zombies from The Raven’s Ball at this year’s Milwaukee Paranormal Conference.

For this week’s track, we took inspiration from the usual cable TV network Halloween programming, which loves to run specials about Satanism. Satanists embrace Halloween as a time when the rest of the world explores its own darkness and it’s their biggest holiday (besides a Satanist’s birthday!) One of the most talked about Satanic magic spells is the Destruction Ritual, a meditation based on cursing an enemy. It’s their most dangerous rite, and we thought it would make the perfect subject for a song. Take a listen to “Destruction Ritual”.

Hail Satan!
Hail Satan!

Is such a silly cliche.

Vengeance is mine!
Vengeance is mine!
And you can have it anyway.

Let’s play the game where you were never born.
I’d love to watch your demise.
Through these very eyes,
on fire with spite and scorn.

Hail Satan!
Hail Satan!

It just sounds stupid when you say,

Vengeance is mine!
Vengeance is mine!

Cause all this hate will rot your brain.

Let’s play the game where you were never born.
I’d love to watch your demise.
Through these very eyes,
on fire with spite and scorn.

Mind your thoughts and where they tread,
Be careful where you leave your head,
These words are better left unsaid,
Be careful where you leave your head.