Tag Archive for: Ronni Thomas

The occult oddities of Calvin von Crush

Inside the Macabre Personal Museum of Occult Collector Calvin Von Crush

A look at Calvin Von Crush’s morbid collection of rare occult and paranormal history, human remains, and grotesque freaks of nature.

In the latest from The Midnight Archive, filmmaker Ronni Thomas explores the amazing and bizarre occult collection of Calvin Von Crush.

“As an atheist and skeptic,” Crush says, “I’m in awe at the power people give to lifeless objects no matter how innocent or macabre they may be.”

Crush, a full-time tattoo artist, has spent years scouring dark nooks and crannies for rare pieces of occult and paranormal history. A director of the Talking Board Historical Society, he has amassed an impressive collection of vintage spirit boards, but it doesn’t end there. His TBHS profile says, “Ouija boards are just a segment of his massive horde of pieces related to the occult and paranormal history. His apartment is also home to a number of freak animals in jars, taxidermy from far-away lands, and pieces of people that lived long ago.”

Occult collector Calvin Von Crush
Calvin Von Crush with an articulated human skeleton from his collection

Crush recently completed a renovation to convert part of his home into his own personal museum.

“I share my home with a real human head shrunk down to the size of a baseball, countless antique photos manipulated through trickery and passed off as dead loved ones, dozens upon dozens of wooden boards with the alphabet on their surface that are thought to open doors to the other side and let spirits guide our hands to messages. Even the skeleton of a murdered Parisian prostitute named Monique and nearly 50 freak animal specimens of varying levels or grotesque deformity call this creepy crypt home.”

Watch this walk-through for a glimpse inside:

Crush has practically built a temple to what some may consider dark energy, but he doesn’t experience anything supernatural.

“Not once has anything ever bumped in the night,” Crush says. “No ghoul or ghost has ever come knocking, but my door is forever open and the spirit, pun intended, is always willing.”

For more, you can find Crush and other collectors profiled in Morbid Curiosities: Collections of the Uncommon and the Bizarre.

Documentary to Explore the Mad Mind of Carl Von Cosel

Proposed documentary will explore the morbid obsession of Carl Von Cosel with the dead girl he stole from the grave.

View the Kickstarter campaign right here.

Sure, it’s hard to pass up a film that promises puppetry and necrophilia, but there are other reasons to head over to Kickstarter and back this new documentary project from Morbid Anatomy Museum filmmaker in residence Ronni Thomas, creator of Fragments of Faith, Ghosts and Gadgets, The Art of Ryan Matthew Cohn and other fascinating short films. I can’t think of anyone I would rather see take on the bizarre legend of the doctor who carried on a seven year relationship with a dead girl he exhumed from the grave.

German immigrant Karl Tanzler, otherwise known as Count Carl Von Cosel, was working as a radiologic technologist at a hospital in Key West, Florida in 1930 when he met Elena Hoyos. Her mother brought her in for an examination, which eventually concluded she had tuberculosis. Cosel, who believed he had earlier vision of the Cuban-American beauty, befriended the family and attempted to treat Elena with his own self-professed medical knowledge to no avail. She died the following year, and was interred in the Key West Cemetery in a tomb Cosel commissioned himself.

Cosel visited the tomb often, claiming her spirit would visit him and tell him to take her away. So, nearly two years after her death, Cosel broke into the tomb and stole Elena’s corpse. For the next seven years he would keep her in his bed, replacing rotting skin with wax, silk, and plaster of paris, until Elena’s sister discovered her body in Cosel’s home in 1940.

But, as Ronni Thomas puts it, the most interesting thing about this story is the fact that those disturbing details are the least interesting thing about this story. Von Cosel spent years experimenting with science, alchemy, and ancient mysticism in hopes of resurrecting his beloved.

Carl Von Cosel with Elena Hoyos

No Place for the Living

From the press release:

NO PLACE FOR THE LIVING will feature experts including Key West historians, authorities on the occult, artists and psychologists to provide insight into Von Cosel’s story as it connects to the age old conflict between science and spirituality that has absorbed mankind to this very day. Taking inspiration from the poetic dreamscapes of filmmakers like Tim Burton and David Lynch, Thomas will tell the Ed Wood-Like story of Carl Von Cosel and his sensational tale of macabre matrimony with the help of artfully made puppets used to reenact key moments of his life, as described in detail in Von Cosel’s own published journal.

“Puppetry is the art of animating the inanimate, making it the perfect approach for a story like this,” said Thomas. “Von Cosel not only pulled the strings on a physical corpse he was trying to reanimate, but metaphorically he pulled everyone’s strings, manipulating Hoyos’ family, the justice system, even public opinion.”

Working alongside Thomas to bring this story to life are puppeteer Robin Frohardt, special FX designer Shane Morton and his Silver Scream FX lab, and composer Stephen Coates (lead singer, The Real Tuesday Weld). Among our list of specialists who have jumped to the occasion to discuss this captivating window into the wayward are true crime author Harold Schechter, occult expert Mitch Horowitz, TV’s ODDITIES co-star Evan Michaelson, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead frontman Conrad Keely, and author of Von Cosel’s biography, Tom Swicegood. The film will feature narration from Von Cosel’s journal read by celebrated indie filmmaker Richard Stanley (HARDWARE, DUST DEVIL).

Carl Von Cosel documentary by Morbid Anatomy filmmaker Ronni Thomas

If you are as excited to see this project become a reality as I am, you can support the Kickstarter campaign right here.

Ghosts And Gadgets: Communicating with the Spirits

Morbid Anatomy presents this short film by Ronni Thomas exploring Brandon Hodge’s incredible personal collection of planchettes and other devices used to communicate with the spirit world.

From his profile on the Talking Board Historical Society:

Brandon Hodge is a collector, author, historian, and the prevailing authority on automatic writing planchettes and early spirit communication devices. Long fascinated by the bizarre occult world of tipping tables, séances, Spiritualism, and ghostly encounters, Brandon acquired his first automatic writer—a boxed E.I.H. Scientific Planchette—nearly two decades ago. He has since traveled the globe documenting, collecting, and lecturing on the world’s rarest séance artifacts.

For more, check out his website at mysteriousplanchette.com

via The Daily Grail

Ghosts and gadgets: Brandon Hodge and his collection of spirit communication devices

Fragments of Faith: From Religious Relics to Victorian Hair Jewelery

Historian and Morbid Anatomy Museum Instructor Karen Bachman discusses the origins of the strange and romantic art of Victorian hair work.

Art historian and master jeweler Karen Bachman discusses the history of Victorian hair work for the Morbid Anatomy Museum.

With it’s origins in the religious relics and reliquaries of dead saints, the art of memorial hair work in the 18th and 19th centuries became a popular way to honor and remember loved ones. Locks of hair from the deceased was woven into jewelry, chains and intricate works of art.

Victorian hair work

The Art of Ryan Matthew Cohn

The Collective Disease: The Art and Artifacts of Ryan Matthew Cohn explores the Oddities star’s incredible personal collection in his museum-like New York home, including his exploded Beauchene skulls, taxidermy, anatomical wet specimens, skeletal articulations, shrunken heads and a complete Greco-Roman period Egyptian mummy.

The exploded skulls, skeletal articulations and medical preparations of Oddities star Ryan Matthew Cohn
Cohn examines an elongated skull from his personal collection

See more fascinating and bizarre videos over at The Midnight Archive.