Tuesday, August 22

Spooky cinema at haunted site


Angelenos wearing trash bags, heavy clothes and covered in blankets were scattered around a projector screen in the middle of Griffith Park Sunday evening.

Why would I or anyone else dare brave the rainy weather?

For some pre-Halloween frights, of course.

The film shown was the original 1959 “House on Haunted Hill,” a classic cheese-ball horror movie that had been filmed around the supposedly haunted park. We were stationed at the base of the actual hill used in the flick.

The Ghost Hunters of Urban Los Angeles, or GHOULA, put together the film screening and others like it at reportedly haunted locations around the Los Angeles area.

The founder, Richard Carradine, described it as a “social group of ghost enthusiasts.”

The scene was fitting, and, quite frankly, a bit creepy. The only lighting was provided by the illumination of the projector screen and a few headlights from passing cars on a nearby road.

We set up our lawn chairs looking inward at a large hill and an adjacent valley that is located at the southernmost tip of the massive plot of land, positioned between four different freeways.

Other than the group of 40-or-so dedicated thrill-seekers, the area was completely empty ““ not taking into account at least one coyote that ventured a little too close for comfort.

Aside from the site’s obvious connection to the movie shown, Griffith Park is actually the source of the oldest ghost story in Los Angeles, said freelance writer and guest speaker at the screening, Michael Imlay.

Imlay called it the “curse of Los Feliz,” a tale he told prior to the film screening, explaining that the land on which we sat may have been cursed nearly 150 years ago.

He explained that anyone who owned the land would be met with a fate of death and misfortune. He traced the story back to the first owners of the land, the Feliz family, whose fortune was taken by a crafty family friend.

Ghost sightings at the park usually encompass some element of this story but, at least on this Sunday evening, there were no sightings to report. In fact, the movie elicited more laughs than anything else.

From those I spoke with, the emphasis seemed to be on having a good time, not on actually experiencing paranormal activity. Clayton Farris, an actor in his mid-20s, said he had come to the event just to find something fun and scary to do with his friends.

The weather ended up detracting from the experience. While everyone sat through the movie, as the rain became more consistent people dug deeper under protective covering. Afterward, some folks were running to their cars.

The ghost-hunting group will have future film screenings at other haunted locales through the end of October. If you’re interested, you can find out more at ghoula.blogspot.com.

Are you a novice ghost hunter or general thrill seeker? E-mail Standifer at [email protected]

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