Weird Year in Review: The Best Weird News and Oddities of 2017
A roundup of the weirdest news and most popular posts from Cult of Weird for 2017.
2017 has been a ridiculously strange year. There have been countless Mothman sightings reported in the Chicago area. Not one but two famous mustaches were discovered intact in their graves during high-profile exhumations. A mysterious photo was discovered that seems to offer clues to the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart after her disappearance. Hugh Hefner died. Charles Manson died. Luke Skywalker died. And, most recently, the US government admitted it has been studying UFOs for the last decade to assess the threat to national security.
It’s been an interesting year here at the Cult of Weird hive, as well. Every attempt I made to get out from under the crushing weight of the walls around me, and the stagnant routines I was drowning in…lead me to some new bit of irresistible weirdness.
I stumbled into a cemetery founded in the mid-1800s on the property of a family who believed the dead taught their daughter to play the piano. In Wisconsin Dells, the “water park capital of the world,” I came face to face with the mummified head of German serial killer Peter Kurten, the Vampire of Dusseldorf. I met filmmaker John Borowski and had a fascinating conversation about the exhumation of H.H. Holmes for the History channel series American Ripper. And, crossing a big item off my bucket list, I saw Stephen King with his son Owen in Milwaukee during their fall tour to promote their new novel Sleeping Beauties.
Also, my sister, along with my favorite Irishman (and soon to be brother-in-law, congrats, you guys!) took Cult of Weird on the road with an October trip to Salem on Friday the 13th.
Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Here are the most viewed posts and weirdest moments of 2017:
Lizard Man Sightings During the Eclipse
In all seriousness, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) warned citizens in the path of totality during this year’s solar eclipse to be on the lookout for lizardmen, even tweeting a map of locations where they have been spotted in the past. “SCEMD does not know if Lizardmen become more active during a solar eclipse,” the agency explained, “but we advise that residents of Lee and Sumter counties should remain ever vigilant.”
Pentagon UFO Study
The US government admitted it has been studying “anomalous aircraft that were seemingly defying the laws of aerodynamics” and that, according to Intelligence official Luis Elizondo, who ran the secret program, there is “very compelling evidence that we might not be alone.”
19th-Century Girl Identified
Researchers discovered the identity of a young girl found buried beneath a home in San Francisco, left behind when the city’s cemeteries were moved to Colma.
Serial Killer H.H. Holmes Exhumed
The grave of H.H. Holmes, America’s “first serial killer,” was exhumed to prove whether or not he conned his way out of his 1896 execution.
Clown Motel for Sale
The haunted clown motel was put up for sale.
The main ingredient in the Yukon’s famous Sourtoe Cocktail, a real mummified human toe, was stolen.
Lost Chapel of Bones
A lost Chapel of Bones still remains beneath the ruins of an ancient church in Malta.
Man Eaten by Python
A man who went missing in Indonesia was eaten by a 23-foot python.
A brutal 1928 case of demonic possession became the inspiration for William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist.
A piece salvaged from the ruins of the cabin used in Evil Dead 2 was sold on ebay.
World’s Largest Ouija Board
The world’s largest Ouija board is on the roof of the haunted Grand Midway Hotel.
Restoration of a famous diorama at the Carnegie Museum revealed a real human skull had been used in the 150-year-old display.
Salvador Dali’s Mustache
When the tomb of Salvador Dali was exhumed to retrieve DNA samples for a paternity case, the artist’s surreal mustache was found intact.
Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film
Purporting to show a female sasquatch walking along the banks of Bluff Creek in Northern California, the controversial Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film turned 50.
Heilung Live at Castlefest
Watch this spellbinding performance of neopagan band Heilung from the Castlefest 2017 festival in the Netherlands.
The Torryburn Witch
Using photos taken before the skull was lost, the face of the Torryburn witch was digitally reconstructed.
Greatest Show on Earth
After 146 years, the Greatest Show on Earth came to an end with the final performance of the Ringling Bros. circus.
Vampire of Dusseldorf
The mummified head of Peter Kurten, a depraved serial killer who was beheaded in 1931, is on display in the water park capital of the world.
Lost in the Catacombs
Two teens were rescued and treated for hypothermia after being lost in the Paris catacombs for three days.
Only 333 bodies were recovered from the Titanic disaster. Those that were disfigured too badly to be identified were thrown back in. What happened to the rest?
Ouija in Class
A Milwaukee teacher was suspended for using a Ouija board in the classroom.
Deemed a blasphemer, 19th-century amateur scientist Andrew Crosse believed he had accidentally created life in a laboratory experiment.
Death in Venice
Funeral gondolas, flooding graves, and an island of bones: What the floating city of Venice does with its dead.
That time a band of beatniks exorcised the grave of Senator Joe McCarthy.
A sacred piece of St. John Bosco’s brain was stolen from an Italian basilica.
Searching for Amelia Earhart
Forensic cadaver dogs used to search for the remains of Amelia Earhart on the remote island of Nikumaroro.
Families and police make plea to end treasure hunt, as another dies searching for Fenn’s hidden treasure chest.
Jeremy Bentham’s Head
Jeremy Bentham’s preserved head went on display for the first time in decades.
Historic Torture Devices
The history of the Nuremberg torture collection, the largest collection of used torture devices ever assembled.
The Silver Bridge disaster, known for the bizarre rash of Mothman sightings preceding it, happened 50 years ago.
Amelia Earhart Photo
This photo seems to show Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan on a Japanese dock after they disappeared.
Hip Bone of St. Nick
A bone fragment believed to be from the tomb of St. Nicholas has been dated to the correct era.
Tower of Skulls
Archeologists unearthed a legendary 16th-century tower of skulls in Mexico City
At nearly 9 feet tall, Robert Wadlow is the tallest person to have ever lived.
Ed Gein’s Grave
Ed Gein was arrested 60 years ago. Here’s the reason why his grave is unmarked.
This artist creates detailed dioramas of dark moments in history using miniature skeletons.
Odd Fellows Skeletons
When the Odd Fellows moved out of their lodges, sometimes the skeletons in their closets got left behind.
Lizzie Borden’s Mansion
The Victorian mansion Lizzie Borden lived in until her death in 1927 is for sale.
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Our top 9 posts of 2017 include Lizzie Borden's Victorian mansion, the mummified head of German serial killer Peter Kurten, a diorama of a Capuchin crypt by @historybones, a skeleton waving in the window, Burying Point cemetery from our expedition to Salem in October, Krampus candles from @divine_excess_, the graves of an influential spiritualist family in Wisconsin, the Victorian Book of the Dead by Chris Woodyard, and the Cult's own seance bunny. #cultofweird
Best Weird Books of 2017
Here are the top 10 most popular books of 2017 from the Weird Book Club:
- The Victorian Book of the Dead
- Understanding Cemetery Symbols
- 199 Cemeteries to See Before you Die
- Atlas of Cursed Places
- The Butchering Art
- Morbid Curiosities
- Beyond the Dark Veil
- From Here to Eternity
- Paperbacks from Hell
Rienzi Cemetery, January 2017
Here’s to a weird new year! May 2018 be supremely bizarre.