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Horror Holidays: Travel To Terror

When you get excited by the undead and can’t wait for the next slasher film to come out, a vacation to The Magic Kingdom just isn’t going to cut it.  Lucky for you, some of the greatest fright films were filmed in cities regularly haunted by ghosts and traversed by members of the underworld.

We’ve scouted out a couple famous film locations that can be year-round fear fests, complete with haunted hotels and chilling shows and tours.  Planning a terror-themed trip to one of these hauntingly horrific destinations can be just the ticket to keep the scare you need in your life.

New Orleans

New Orleans is hands down the spookiest city in the United States, and home to a multitude of fear-filled flicks.  Our favorite, Interview With A Vampire, is just one of the many Anne Rice novels set in of this ghost laden town.  Ms. Rice even keeps her private domicile in the Garden District, and many of the homes she has based her famous Vampire Chronicles and the Mayfair Witches series are available for public and private tours.

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New Orleans is one of those cities that attract the supernatural and also those that worship it.  Even Business Insider features it as a city full of real-life vampires. They may not turn into bats and generally can be seen in mirrors, but they do believe consuming blood is a necessity.  There is even a New Orleans Vampire Association; after all, vampires were once people too and have rights to protect.

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If we are going with a vampire themed journey to NOLA, it should definitely be planned around the Endless Night Vampires Ball, where one can join the creatures of the night in an all-night party.  This year’s festival will be held at The House of Blues in the French Quarter, where voodoo, witchcraft and haunted tour shops are only interrupted by amazing restaurant featuring cuisine for humans only.

Las Vegas

Don’t let the glittering lights fool you.  Las Vegas has an underworld as well, and it was the location for the gruesome Hostel III, featuring our favorite crazy rusty scalpelled surgeon and his gruesome antics on the innocent.  It’s also a great place to get your zombie fix.

Take in the Zombie Burlesque Show at the Planet Hollywood Hotel.  The show features the most beautiful “dead” women Las Vegas has to offer and was awarded “Best New Show” by the Las Vegas Review for 2014-2015.  The show is often sold out so get there early and hunt down the zombie themed slot machines that surround the theatre, including the new The Walking Dead slots, designed after the popular AMC show.

Slots machines have been around as long as the undead and are unique in being a popular casino game that can adapt its theme to match a television series, movie, celebrity or even a pop phenomenon. Before The Walking Dead, there was (and you can still find) Hulkamania slots, Hasselhoff slots, Avatar, Halloween slots and so on. While the original mechanical slots were limited in their 1000 possible combinations to win, the invention of electronic slots in the 1960s transformed the ability to change themes with a keystroke of a computer, increased the number of winning combinations (now in the billions), and also allows you to play on credits instead of constantly feeding coins in.

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After you’ve filled your pumpkin with your winnings, why not try your luck shooting real zombies at the Combat Zone?  This unique interactive experience places you in the midst of a “real” Zombie Apocalypse, where you must clear the infected zones by paintballing the zombies to death.  Well, they are already “dead,” but you know what we mean. If you happen to be there during Halloween, r out the trip with a visit to the Fright Dome at Circus Circus.  This annual attraction transforms the five-acre park into one of the top 5 haunted houses in the country, and it will scare the life out of you.

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Salem Mass

Known for the Salem Witch Trials and subsequent hangings of over 20 women from 1692 to 1693, Massachusetts is the home of quite a lot of unnatural energy and spooks roaming about.  It has been a film location for a multitude of supernatural movies, from the more lighthearted Practical Magic and Witches of Eastwick to the frightening Shutter Island.

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Salem, as well as nearby Boston, boast quite a few eerie edifices. Danvers State Hospital in Salem is well known for its history of hauntings and was the inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanitarium.  Even before the hospital was built, it is reputed to be the land that the judge who sentenced the Salem witches to death lived on.  Once a hospital, it has the gruesome reputation of some extremely cruel and unusual punishments for the psychiatric patients who resided there and now remain to haunt the gothic structure.

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Want to stay in a haunted hotel?  Massachusetts has plenty.  Spend a night in Boston’s Omni Parker House where Harvey Parker, the original owner, still roams the halls and visits the occasional room.  Go overboard at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast, rated one of the creepiest places in America.  We all know the nursery rhyme, and apparently forty whacks with an axe don’t stop the ghosts of Lizzie’s parents from haunting their old rooms and wandering the halls. Don’t plan on sleeping much.

Paris

If you wish to head overseas – and who doesn’t – the older cities of Europe and the United Kingdom are popular destinations for the dead and the living alike. Paris has long been the home to many vampires and demons and has museums and monuments erected to pay tribute.

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While over 3 million come annually to pay respects to Jim Morrison’s grave (it’s the 4th most popular tourist attraction in Paris!), we are pretty sure he is still lurking about the Paris Vampire Museum, complete in black leather pants and white billowy shirt.

Also frightening are the catacombs that seethe, twist and turn in the darkness under the City of Light.  The recent film As Above, So Below features these catacombs as young alchemy student Scarlett Marlowe goes in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, originally discovered by the mysterious Nicholas Flamel.  What she finds is a whole lot more! The film grossed $8.3 million in its opening weekend.

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The 200 km of underground catacombs are every terror tourist’s dream and nightmare.  Originally the catacombs were the quarries for the limestone so many Parisian buildings are made of.  It is also said that those quarries became the graveyard for Paris’ overflow of putrid corpses during the plague. Very little of it is open to the public, but there is always some “cataphile” ready to take you on an unapproved tour.  Just be careful the authorities don’t mistakenly seal up your exit while you are in there!

London

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Jack The Ripper – need we say more?  The legendary fog of London swirls the streets, making a perfect backdrop for such films as An American Werewolf in London, The Mummy Returns, countless Jack the Ripper movies and of course Shaun of the Dead.  Yes, we are obsessed with zombies.

Like New Orleans, the streets and alleys of the darker side of London are filled with shops vending haunted tours and augments and tools of witchcraft.  London features the Witchfest International, the largest gathering of witches in the world. The event offers workshops and talks by the most renowned Wiccan authors and speakers, including Wiccan high priestess Kate West and Pete Jennings, former President of the Pagan Federation. Yes, really.

No trip to London is complete without touring the dumping grounds and hangouts of local icon Jack the Ripper – did we mention him already?  Wander the streets with a guide as detectably disturbed as you while trying to pick up on the energy of the world’s most infamous and mysterious serial killer.

Venice

Ah, Venice…. Is there anywhere in the world more romantic or easy to get lost?  Perhaps that is why Hannibal chose it as his hiding home where he could freely chow down on the local not so god guys – Oh wait, that was Florence.  Whatever! Venice has the opera, the art, the underwater graves, the hauntings….  It just doesn’t get any better.

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Venice is actually the home to, what Time Magazine actually proclaimed the most haunted place on Earth.  The deserted island of Poveglia off the coast of Venice was noted to be the European dumping ground for those dying of the plague and later a secret insane asylum with botched lobotomies and doctors who threw themselves from the ramparts.  The soil is actually said to be 50% human ash.

While you’re in Venice, pay a visit to the Ca’Dario, but don’t stay too long.  Everyone who ever lived there more than 20 days died a violent death.  Another fearsome favorite is the Palazzi Ducale’s Piombi and pits, because everyone loves a prison where inmates mostly suffered and died due to inhumane treatments and now are awaiting their revenge.

Whether your dream is of dancing zombies, haunted catacombs or a good serial killer bar and grill, you wont be disappointed by a trip to one of these destinations.  The world has been both kind and unkind to many in these cities and souls that have suffered never stray far from their source.  Festivals and gatherings of vampires, witchcraft and other fearsome forces are welcome in such cities, rich with supernatural histories and easy to get lost in.

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