Wednesday, November 20

The Quad: Exploring Los Angeles’ spookiest haunts this Halloween


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Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated David Shorter is a professor in the anthropology department. In fact, Shorter is a professor in the world and arts cultures department.

This post was updated Oct. 30 at 8:11 p.m.

Halloween’s just around the corner – it’s the time of the year when there is a chill in the air, carved pumpkins dot entryways and everything becomes a little spookier.

Bruins who want to get a taste of the creepier side of the season need look no further. Westwood and the greater Los Angeles area happen to have an abundance of spooky places, beyond the well-known attractions such as Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights.”

The Quad has your list of unsettling scenery for this year’s Halloween season, with everything from freaky filming locations to abandoned zoos and old Hollywood cemeteries.

UCLA tunnels

At the top of the list, we had to include the most convenient spooky spot and the one underneath our feet everyday: the infamous underground tunnels. Three stories below UCLA’s campus is a network of steam tunnels, constructed in the 1950s to connect the major buildings on campus.

The dimly lit, hot tunnels are littered with artifacts of the past, such as dozens of old beer bottles. The tunnels have been well documented by Daily Bruin staffers, and they are not a place you would want to find yourself in the dead of night. In fact, students who have explored the tunnels reported an ominous feeling of stepping into the past.

Though students are not allowed to venture down there on a whim, the tunnels remain one of the lesser-known and – dare we say – spookier spots on campus.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

This is one of Hollywood’s oldest cemeteries, and borders Paramount Studios, after RKO Studios purchased part of the cemetery’s lot.

The cemetery is located in the Hollywood Hills, with a direct view of the Hollywood sign. Some major names of the film industry’s golden age are buried here, such as Janet Gaynor, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland.

There are rumors that a “Woman in Black wanders the cemetery near the grave of Hollywood heartthrob Rudolph Valentino. The story alleges that Valentino was friends with the woman’s father, and visited her when she was sick before his passing. Even after her own death, employees have reportedly seen her kneeling at Valentino’s grave, and say she vanishes when approached.

To visit this spooky attraction, which is open throughout the year, you must buy tickets online.

Devil’s Gate Dam

The Devil’s Gate Dam in Pasadena was given its name because of a demonlike face that is naturally carved into the rocks.

The history behind this location goes back nearly a century. A group of occultists in the 1940s performed rituals intended to open a portal to hell. A decade later, several children went missing in the area around the dam, and were never found. Two children vanished, one while with his parents, and the other with a YMCA group.

The old Griffith Park Zoo

Griffith Park Zoo is an abandoned zoo in Griffith Park filled with narrow stairways and tight spaces. It was left empty when the Los Angeles Zoo opened in 1966. The zoo features a trail lined with abandoned cages which many believe to be haunted.

The location serves as a hub for graffiti artists by day, but the old cages have a different aura at night. Those who have walked through the zoo have described the experience as very unsettling.

The “American Horror Story: Murder House” home

The “American Horror Story: Murder House” home is located in Los Angeles, and its old Victorian style alone evokes a spooky feel.

Many believe the house is a place where people who die are unable to cross into the afterlife. The house has become a very popular filming location, though no visitors are allowed inside.

The odds of coming across a ghost, demon or serial killer in these locations is, without a doubt, pretty low, but the history of the spot has a haunting aura.

What is it about paranormal sightings and past horrors that chill us so deeply to the bone? Why does this fear remain so strong years after the events in question took place?

David Shorter, a UCLA professor in the worlds and art cultures department who created the popular class “Aliens, Psychics and Ghosts,” believes he knows why it is people get so freaked out by ghost stories. He has been teaching about ghosts and paranormal activity since 2004 when he created the class, but has always been interested in the paranormal world.

“I think that spooky resides between the unbelievable and the fathomable,” he said. “Meaning when a person watches something or experiences something that, up until that point they did not think was possible, but now, right in front of them (is) becoming true or real.”

Shorter also said that despite his extensive experience studying and researching haunted places, he still gets scared by them.

While we can’t guarantee you’ll encounter a poltergeist, we’re confident that visiting these places can give you the heebie-jeebies. If you’re going at night, there’s one thing we wouldn’t recommend: going alone.

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