The true story behind a series of Ouija board experiments that uncovered the frightening legend of the Bye Bye Man.
Doug Jones as the Bye Bye Man in the new film
If the reviews are to be believed, it seems the newly released horror flick The Bye Bye Man is just the latest in a long line of watered-down PG-13 duds trying to boil down unexplained fortean phenomena into mainstream Hollywood fodder. Though I’m sure Doug Jones as the titular ghoul is brilliant and creepy as usual, I don’t have faith that this movie does any justice to the real Wisconsin ghost story it is based on.
The story of the Bye-Bye Man, as recounted by “historian of the strange” Robert Damon Schneck in the story The Bridge to Body Island, began in the town of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin in the fall of 1990. A close friend of Schneck’s, a graduate student with a degree in Cultural Anthropology, was living there with two other friends when they received an old Ouija board someone had found in an attic.
The three friends decided to conduct a series of experiments with the board to test the unconscious ideomotor effect attributed to the ghostly movement of the planchette. They used it in a variety of different ways, including writing the answers down instead of saying them aloud, and playing blindfolded, in the dark, while one of them watched with a flashlight to record the answers.
STORY CONTINUED BELOW
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They made consistent contact with an entity that called itself the “Spirit of the Board,” which seemed to control and limit the other entities it allowed them to communicate with. None of them, apparently, were spirits that had ever lived, but rather some kind of free-ranging consciousnesses. Each entity seemed to have individual, discernible personalities expressed by the words they used and the way they moved the planchette. The Spirit of the Board only allowed them to communicate with about 8 different entities, claiming it was to protect them from the dangerous ones. But they kept pushing to speak to others, eager to make contact with a spirit that had actually lived so they could get details they could try to verify.
Eventually, over several sessions, the board transmitted the story of the Bye-Bye Man, an albino orphan born in Louisiana who eventually turned to murder. Hopping trains to get around, along with a companion called Gloomsinger which he had made himself from the eyes and tongues of his victims, the Bye-Bye Man honed in on anyone who was talking, or even thinking, about him. When he found them, he would kill them and add their organs to a bag he carried around called the Sack of Gore.
When they asked where the Bye-Bye Man was now, the board said he was in Chicago…and coming closer.
Read about the the strange encounters that ensued, as well as the research to uncover the truth behind the story in The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-But-True Tales.
Also by Robert Damon Schneck: Mrs. Wakeman vs. the Antichrist