The Bye Bye Man is Based on a Real Wisconsin Ghost Story

The true story behind a series of Ouija board experiments that uncovered the frightening legend of the Bye Bye Man.
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.



The Bye Bye Man by Robert Damon Schneck
The Bye Bye Man and Other Strange-But-True Tales – BUY NOW ON AMAZON


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

Watch the First Trailer for The Bye Bye Man

Watch the first trailer for The Bye Bye Man, a horror film based on the true story about a supernatural serial killer who feeds on fear.

The first teaser trailer has arrived for The Bye Bye Man, a film based on real events experienced by a group of college students in Wisconsin. It was originally written about in a story called The Bridge to Body Island, from Robert Damon Schneck’s collection of strange-but-true tales The President’s Vampire.

From the trailer description:

People commit unthinkable acts every day. Time and again, we grapple to understand what drives a person to do such terrible things. But what if all of the questions we’re asking are wrong? What if the source of all evil is not a matter of what…but who?

From the producer of The Strangers and Oculus comes The Bye Bye Man, a chilling horror-thriller that exposes the evil behind the most unspeakable acts committed by man.

When three college friends stumble upon the horrific origins of the Bye Bye Man, they discover that there is only one way to avoid his curse: don’t think it, don’t say it. But once the Bye Bye Man gets inside your head, he takes control. Is there a way to survive his possession?

Watch the first trailer for The Bye Bye Man

Get Your First Glimpse of The Bye Bye Man

First look at upcoming horror film The Bye Bye Man, based on a short story by Robert Damon Schneck about true events that happened in Wisconsin.
Doug Jones as The Bye Bye Man in the upcoming horror film from STX Entertainment
The Bye Bye Man image via STX Entertainment

Filming recently wrapped on the upcoming horror film The Bye Bye Man, and now we have our first look at actor Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak) as the evil entity himself.

Recent: Watch the first trailer for The Bye Bye Man


Set in 1990s Wisconsin, the film follows three college students who move into an old, off-campus house, where they find themselves preyed on by a malevolent supernatural entity called “The Bye Bye Man.” They must find a way to save themselves while keeping the whole thing secret to protect anyone else from becoming the entity’s next victim.

What is The Bye Bye Man?

The Bye Bye Man movie is based on a short story by Fortean author Robert Damon Schneck called The Bridge to Body Island. Culled from Schneck’s 2005 book The President’s Vampire, the story recounts the experiences shared by several of his friends from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin after conducting a series of experiments with a Ouija board.

The phenomena associated with Ouija is typically attributed to the ideomotor effect – users moving the pointer unconsciously, making it appear as though an intelligent, supernatural entity is communicating through the board. Skeptical and well aware of this concept, these three friends used blindfolds, sat in the dark, or with their backs to the board to ensure they could not influence the movement.

Still, the planchette moved. It spelled out the story of an albino orphan from New Orleans who became a murderous demon that follows train tracks in the direction of those who are thinking about him.

The film has some good things going for it so far: It’s the perfect premise for a horror flick, Doug Jones is one of my favorite monsters, Schneck’s work is fascinating and, of course, the actual events happened in Wisconsin.