October Instagram Giveaway Contest of Doom

Test your knowledge of the weird! Enter to win a box of weird things from Cult of Weird on Instagram each week of October.
Cult of Weird October giveaway on Instagram

Follow Cult of Weird on Instagram @cultofweird

Happy fall equinox! In accordance with prophecy, the shadowy creatures that live beneath the floorboards here at Cult of Weird HQ have coerced me into announcing their plans to infiltrate your brain pan by way of an October giveaway contest and boxes filled with fabulous prizes.

How does it work, you ask? And maybe you’re also wondering…will it tingle when their tentacles slither into my tender dura mater? Well, before we get into some awkward 50 Shades of Neural Manipulation realm, let me assure you that I have been instructed to ignore any such questions. Pay no attention to the sensation of slimy noodles sliding along your cerebral cortex.

Here are the contest details:

I’m going to dig up questions related to things I’ve written about here on the site, and post them on the Cult of Weird Instagram on Fridays.

To enter the contest, all you have to do is correctly answer the question on Instagram in a creative photo or video, making sure to mention @cultofweird and tag #cultofweird so we see it.

Then, each week the creatures and I will pick our favorite (correct) answer and ship you off a box of certain doom. Easy, right? There has (maybe) never been a more hassle-free way to acquire evil parasites bent on world domination while winning a copy of Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? By Cult contributor J. Nathan Couch, a nose-shaped pencil sharpener, a Cousin It finger puppet, and other prizes essential to your existence…all at the same time!

Fabulous Prizes

A few weeks back, while wandering around the local science and surplus shop for way too long, I found myself assembling collections of completely useless but irresistible items that I had no excuse to buy. But then, after the floor beings hatched and gained control of my subconscious, these trinkets found a greater purpose in the bid for total control of the universe.

Also, Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? (which was named the Best Weird Cryptid Book of 2014 by International Cryptozoology Museum founder Loren Coleman) is a fascinating fall read…and it fit nicely in the box. Everyone needs a little Goatman in their lives.

Each box of weird will include:

  • Zombie finger puppet
  • Small wood coffin
  • Miniature Moai
  • Glow-in-the-dark Roswell alien
  • Plastic beetle
  • Nose pencil sharpener
  • Cousin It
  • Box O’ Bones
  • Goatman: Flesh or Folklore? by J. Nathan Couch

Here’s some more propaganda:

Zombie finger puppet
Zombie finger puppets will vary from manifestation to manifestation.

Nose pencil sharpener
Insert pencil into nostril and twist.

Easter Island head fish tank statue
Your very own miniature moai.

Cousin It finger puppet
Cousin It

Box O' Bones glow in the dark skeleton
Assemble your own glow-in-the-dark skeleton.

Are you ready to submit your will to the forces of unfathomable cosmic evil from below? The first question will be posted Friday, October 2nd.

Watch for it: instagram.com/cultofweird

*May not be appropriate for people with heart conditions or peanut allergies. Please enjoy Cult of Weird responsibly.

Cult of Weird 2015 Fall Reading List

Peculiar children, cannibalism, and the glorious misadventures of a dead man’s head top the list of macabre history and strange fiction on this year’s fall reading list.
Cult of Weird fall reading list

If you’re looking for the perfect weird book to curl with this fall, here is a collection of macabre history and strange fiction recommended by the Cult of Weird community. *Cult of Weird is not responsible for paper cuts, nightmares, existential breakdowns or sudden metamorphosis from your larval stage.

Last year: Fall Reading List 2014

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Library of Souls is the third installment of the best selling Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Bad Days in History by Michael Farquhar

Bad Days in History by Michael Farquhar
If you feel like you’re having a bad day, this book details something horrible that’s happened in history for every day of the year. Your lousy day at work has nothing on the great molasses flood of 1919.

Lady ParaNorma by Vincent Marcone

The Lady ParaNorma by Vincent Marcone
If your familiar with the work of Vincent Marcone and his design studio My Pet Skeleton, you won’t want to miss his first lavishly illustrated book about a haunted woman who finds happiness in an unlikely place.

Monster Hunters by Tea Krulos

Monster Hunters by Tea Krulos
What’s it like to be a paranormal investigator? Tag along with Tea Krulos as he hunts for ghosts, UFOs, Bigfoot and other legends with those who have dedicated their lives to finding the answers.

Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us by Paul Koudounaris

Memento Mori by Paul Koudounaris
Explore the strange ways that cultures around the world celebrate and remember their dead, from extravagant bone-filled catacombs to vibrant festivals where the remains of their ancestors are the guests of honor.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

Spook by Mary Roach
I haven’t had the opportunity to read anything by Mary Roach yet, but there’s no denying that she is a Cult of Weird favorite. Her name pops up again and again every time I’m looking for book recommendations. Last year’s list featured her book Stiff about cadavers, so this time we’ll take the next step…into the afterlife.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielwski
I have no idea what House of Leaves is about, but after several recommendations and a compelling description, it seems like this list would be incomplete without it.

Parasite by Mira Grant

Parasite by Mira Grant
Designer tapeworms…what could possibly go wrong?

The House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson

House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson
Because a fall reading list isn’t complete without some historical cosmic horror. This is a classic work of weird fiction from 1908 that went on to influence H.P. Lovecraft.

The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell: A Memoir by Marc Hartzman

The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell by Marc Hartzman
Oliver Cromwell died in 1658, but that was not the end of his story. He was later exhumed, hanged, beheaded, impaled, bought and sold until his final burial in 1960. This memoir recounts the many misadventures of Oliver Cromwell’s head through 300 years of bizarre history.

Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale the novel
A shadowy government agency wants me to tell you that this book from the creators of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast should not be read, as it may cause a wormhole to open in your nostril…a serious threat to national security to be sure. Don’t read it. Just don’t. Okay, maybe just a little. But stop when the tingling starts.

Mothman’s Curse by Christine Hayes

Mothman's Curse by Christine Hayes
What are the origins of the mothman? Does he cause death wherever he goes, or is he trying to help? Mothman’s Curse explores these questions through the story of three kids who find themselves hopelessly entangled in the creatures mysteries through a terrible disaster they hope they can prevent.

Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal

Man-Eater by Harold Schechter
True crime author Harold Schechter tackles the sordid tale of one of America’s first cannibals. Was Alfred Packer a cold-blooded killer, or did he eat his travel companions in a last ditch effort to survive after they had already killed each other?

Did you read something recently that belongs on this list?
Tell us about it in the comments below!

Original Psycho Door from Wisconsin Funeral Home Up for Auction

Door from the original Psycho house and other horror movie props are hitting the auction block at the end of this month.
Original door from the Psycho house

I would have missed this if it wasn’t for Odd Things Ive Seen:

At the end of this month, Profiles in History will be auctioning off a trove of Hollywood history. Many are props from beloved horror movies – things like a monster from Ghoulies, the Hellraiser puzzle box, Herman Munster’s head, the mask of Frank the Bunny from Donnie Darko.

But one in particular is worth taking a closer look at, not only because it is a great piece of film history, but because it has an odd connection to the story it was used to portray…The original door from the house of Norman Bates in the 1960 Hitchcock classic Psycho.

And up until recently, it was being used as the front door of the Dallmann-Kniewel Funeral Home in Rib Lake, Wisconsin. The owner of the funeral home bought it on an online auction and installed it at his business because he felt it matched the period decor.

And, of course, everyone loves a bit of morbid history at their wake. Right?

Here’s what makes this story significant:

Author Robert Bloch was a Wisconsin resident in 1957 when the gruesome details of Ed Gein’s bizarre life in Plainfield, WI was discovered. Inspired by the horrific revelations of a lonely small town farmer with a deranged pass time of robbing graves, Bloch crafted his own version of the story around a character named Norman Bates.

So it is rather poetic (in a weird and unsettling way) that the front door of the house used in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 adaptation of Bloch’s book ended up on a Wisconsin funeral home.

Psycho house door up for auction

But now, the door is up for auction again. This time, the entrance that once belonged to Norman Bates is part of the massive Hollywood Auction 74, with an estimated price of $20-$30,000. See this and other items in the auction catalog right here.

If a Hitchcock funeral isn’t quite your thing, how about taxidermy?

Safe House: A Clandestine Lunch Adventure in Milwaukee

If you’re a secret agent looking for a great place to lay low and grab some good food in Milwaukee, the Safe House restaurant is the place to be.
Safe House restaurant in Milwaukee

You’ll find it in downtown Milwaukee, along the river near the life-size bronze replica of Fonzie. An inconspicuous door in a back alley. A nameplate on the wall reads International Imports, LTD. But beyond the door (if you can find the secret entrance) is the legendary, espionage-themed Safe House restaurant.

Since we happened to be wandering around the area on a top secret Cult of Weird mission last weekend, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity for a lunch adventure in once of the most unique restaurants you’ll ever find.

David J. Baldwin opened the Safe House in 1966. But before it was a safe haven for international spies, it was home to a jazz club. I haven’t found any other info about the history of the building, but it’s not hard to imagine the hidden doors and passages serving the clientele of a seedy, prohibition-era speakeasy.

Entrance to the Safe House

We managed to find our way inside, and that’s where the real mission begins. After taking our order, the waitress handed up a scavenger hunt with clues to the secrets hidden around the restaurant. Can you find the piece of the Berlin Wall? How about the cell door from a notorious KGB prison?

600 feet of tubing along the ceiling is the secret behind the Spytini. It’s shaken, not stirred, by zipping around the perimeter of the restaurant. I’m not a martini drinker, but I wanted to order one just to see it in action.

Get your Spytini shaken, not stirred

A piece of the Berlin Wall on display at the Safe House in Milwaukee.

No shooting within the city limits

Return fire here...

Don't disrupt the interrogations.

Spy women only.

If you chose to take refuge at the Safe House next time your mission takes you to Milwaukee, don’t forget to bring a quarter so you can make your escape through the secret subterranean exit.

The Safe House is located somewhere in the vicinity of 779 N. Front Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202. Decode more information on their website at www.safe-house.com

Bonus Find: The Bronze Fonz

The Bronze Fonz on the riverfront in Milwaukee

The death of Jumbo the elephant

Jumbo the Elephant

P.T. Barnum’s famous elephant Jumbo, the “largest animal in the world,” was struck and killed by a train in 1885. But that was far from the end of Jumbo’s story.