Event Reports,

The Establishing Shot: The Hole - Haunted Happening at The London Tombs

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

the hole haunted happenings london tombsThe one, where I accidently raise the dead at a creepy séance. OK! So last week to commemorate the launch of master auteur Joe Dante’s The Hole on DVD and Blu-ray I was invited along to a Haunted Happening at The London Tombs of The London Bridge Experience.

OK! So possibly if you got a similar invite you would have clicked the links in the invite and done a bit of research in to what the dark night might hold. I on the other hand enjoy discovering experiences without expectation. And too be honest I was expecting some kind of chat over cheese & wine followed by a “Mystery Tour” through The London Tombs. Boy! Was I wrong. Well not entirely wrong, a tour was involved.

6:51pm - A combination of arriving at The London Tombs later than expected and the event kicking off a little earlier than planned left me sitting in the waiting area on my own with a pretty decent cup of coffee and an exhibition of London Bridge and it’s dark secrets - whilst the rest of the expedition party got an after hours tour of the Tombs.

The Hole : Haunted Happening at The London TombsThe Hole : Haunted Happening at The London Tombs
Surrounded by some rather scary and gothic pieces gave me some time to explore the nearby exhibit and learn that:
- London Bridge was built by Romans during the Roman invasion.

- London or should that be Londonium? Started off as a settlement built on the North side of London Bridge.

- During blood thirsty Viking invasions (and who doesn’t love a good Viking invasion?) London Bridge was a key defence until Olaf the Viking tore down the houses on the banks and used them as cover for his ship. This allowed him to destabilise the bridge and pull it down. This is the suspected origin of the song “London Bridge is falling down”

- The London Bridge experience can peak at around 1000 visitors a day during school holidays.

- Whilst The Great Fire of London was razing London, London Bridge was hardly damaged at all.

- Back in the rocking 1600s London Bridge’s supports were so big that they slowed the flow of the Thames down enough to be frozen during winters.

- In order to regulate the massive traffic flow on the bridge The Mayor decreed a left & right side rule. This became the driving on the left road rule that is still in place today.

- You can buy weird & bizarre coloured contact lenses (think Marilyn Manson) from the London Tombs gift shop. I kid you not.
From what I could see The London Bridge Experience used to be a plague pit but now it is part museum, part tour of some of the most dark times that the Bridge has witnessed including interacting with scenes like: Fight Viking Hordes, Smell the Great Stink, Witness the Great Fires, The Boneyard, Snake Pit, Spiders Nest, The vermin infested sewer, The Bloody Butcher, The Living Dead, The Dark Catatombs, etc. Each with its own particular brand of gruesomeness.

7:14pm - Pretty soon the party arrives back. Led by James the General Manager of The London Bridge Experience and Jane.

Over another cup of Joe I try get some context of what has happened and is going to happen. The 10 or so people at the event are mainly bloggers/writers apart from Jane who is a full time Paranormal Expert. I promise I’m not making this up. And we are about to embark on a ghost hunt by way of a séance. That’s right we are going to contact the other side, invoke the spirits, raise the dead, telephone the Beyond! Yea! I’m pretty sure that you had the same though I had at the time.

a) Ah! That ties in nicely with The Hole release as it is about a pair of brothers that discover a Hole in their dark basement and after opening it have to face their fears.
b) This is bonkers
c) It was also taking the 3D experience of The Hole 3D one step further by offering a real immersive experience

I’m immediately torn between in credulousness and excitement. The left side of my brain eagerly clapping it’s evil little hands together like a monkey with a pair of cymbals while emoting “Yes!!" flashes of The Exorcist, Evil Dead, The Ring, Six Sense, Poltergeist, Patrick Swayze, The Hole, breaking forth each time the cymbals glint in the light.

I must confess the prospect did excite me. I have had a mild interest in the occult since a period in my youth when I researched everything I could about Harry Houdini and his quest to expose Victorian parlour tricks. But the opportunity had never presented it’s self so overtly (or seemingly safely).

7:29pm - So, while we are sipping our warm drinks Paranormal Expert Jane starts to unpack her silver briefcase and if I still had any doubt about her seriousness, they were soon gone when she revealed more ghost hunting gadgets than James Bond and Batman combined. The point of the gadgets is to help test the validity of any Paranormal Activity that we encounter thereby proving that the activity was real and not hoaxed.

Disappointingly there were no silver bullets, wooden stakes or even garlic, but we are introduced to the ancient and mystical GPS system of old Dowsing Rods.

The Hole : Ghost Hunting Kit - The London TombsThe Hole : Dowsing Rods - The London Tombs

You are probably familiar with Dowsing Rods as every now and then they crop up in a film or TV show when some one is looking for water. OK! So apparently these are actually used by the police and military and no-one can explain how they work apart from it has something to do with energies and that they can detect; water, Ley lines, Hartman lines, vortexes, radiation, electricity and various other energies and their sources.

The sets Jane gives us to use are titanium, because titanium cannot be influenced by magnetism - thereby proving beyond any reasonable doubt that they are working without influence. How they are operated is fairly simple you hold each rod, about 6 inches apart at a right downward angle to ensure that gravity doesn't affect them. And ask them questions – Spirits willing or in spite of their unwillingness to help - they should move to a position in response. What the position means is unique to each person. Jane demonstrated and her “No” position was rods crossed and “Yes” was rods apart.

I was surprised when the rods seemingly worked right out of the gate for me. First I asked “Where is my coffee?” and almost immediately one of the London Bridge Experience staff appeared from the canteen area with a tray full of beverages. I looked on in astonishment as the both rods pointed toward the table to the lower left of me, where he placed them.

Shocked I tried it again “Where is the Loo?” The rods must have misheard me because for some reason they pointed in the direction of a famous Paris art Museum. However on asking again they swung towards the bottom of the Men’s room door to the left. I was flabbergasted. Unfortunately they were less reliable when asked the location of Blackbeard’s gold. Jane assured us that someone had indeed used Dowsing Rods to predicate winning lottery numbers.

Next out of Jane’s slick aluminium briefcase was an EMF detector a device used for measuring or detecting electromagnetic fields created by either AC or DC currents. Followed by a Motion Detector, then a Digital Recorder to monitor EVP (Electronic voice phenomenon / White Noise).

Then Jane brought out the big gun - a Planchette. To the untrained eye it may just look like a flat heart-shaped piece of wood on castor wheel. But in the fingers of a trained professional and with a pencil placed point down in the hole in the middle of it is a telephone to the other side.

Similar to a Ouija Board which I found out from Jane are actually banned in the UK. She also let us know that she doesn’t like Ouija Boards because much like Facebook there is a risk that when a stranger contacts you they may be nothing like their profile.

Anyway the Planchette works by everyone placing their fingers on it and Spirits willing it will move around and the pencil would write subconscious or supernatural messages on the surface below. Although too be honest I would have been convinced if it just moved never mind spelling anything.

Ok so once we ran through the equipment Jane lets us that she loves the London Tombs as they are rife with paranormal activity including regular encounters in the Catacombs with Jack and Shadowman (I’m unsure if that is hyphenated like Spider-Man or one word)

Turns out Haunted Happenings conduct regular ghost hunts and séances in some of the most haunted places in the UK, The London Tombs being one of them. And one of the most haunted spots in the Tombs is the Spiders Nest.

7:43pm - Those with torches turn them on as we head into the pitch black (and when I say pitch black - I mean Riddick would have problems finding his way around here, pitch black) of the Catacombs. As this is my first foray into the Tombs I’m unsure of where anything is, or where I’m going but every now and then I get a torch light flash of some horrendous waxwork depicting a gruesome scene. Stringy things are being dragged across my face and occasionally a hanging severed limb bumps into me. Turns out the stringy things are spider web.

We haven’t even started yet and I’m a little creeped out. What kind of mind would plan a place like this never mind actually build it. Already visions of some Saw like mastermind luring unsuspecting ghost hunters into his lair and then slowly one by one dispatching them in the gruesome ways depicted in each of the waxwork scenes, had started manifesting themselves.

In the dark we find a table set out for us, Jane sets out a upside tumbler (I suspect up until recently the contents which may have been Scotland's finest) in the best position to receive signals from the other side. We all place our fingers on the glass.

7:59pm - Jane stars calling out some incantations or at least that’s what I thought until I figured out I was just struggling with her West Country accent. After a little the darkness creeps in closer as all torches are turned off and the temperature starts to drop and we are only a few minutes away from the air we are breathing out being turned into condensation gas. The mood started changing. Below is a video of what transpired.

The only surviving documentation of what happened at the The Hole Haunted Happening evening at The London Tombs

We then replace the tumbler with the Planchette, yet despite our efforts we encounter no haunted activity. At this point I made a mistake - a little bored and the guy next to me clearly taking a bit of strain. I start lifting the mood a bit, possibly warding off any spooks in the area so I'm escorted to the naughty corner the severed heads gallery and to be used as Ghost bait to draw Shadowman out.

8:23pm - OK! So now I’m all alone in the pitch black (without a torch) in a long corridor dripping with a bunch of severed wax heads hanging from the ceiling. In fact it’s so dark that a Fire Extinguisher’s Luminous Label is all I can see about 10 meters away, that and it’s glow reflecting of various objects.

How I felt at The Hole Haunted Happening evening at The London Tombs

Occasionally I hear a creak, scuttling and what I assume are the muffled voices of the rest of the party as well as Jane calling out the ghosts. I’m pretty sure I’ve reached the middle stages of hyperthermia by now.

Torn between peering into the darkness as the luminosity of the fire extinguisher labels seems to be flickering almost if something (or someone) was moving in my line of sight and I was curious as to why this was and sitting down on the floor and taking this opportunity to relax, however, knowing that my body temperature would drop more I wasn’t too keen on the idea. So when I hear Jane calling me back I’m actually a little relieved. I stumble (and feel some bizarre objects) in the pitch black as I make my way back to the group.

It’s been decided that the party is too split into smaller groups and relocate to different areas of the Tomb. Which is great as this gives me the opportunity to see a bit of the rest of the Tombs albeit by flashes of torchlight.

8:47pm - We pass through a room of dismembered dolls which entirely creeps me out (again what kind of a mind plans this type of stuff?), a room full of severed limbs, a large freaky clown and then a room full of cattle parts (I think).

As we have uneven numbers I’m left with Jane and alone we attempt to contact the other side again. In between Jane’s calling and the deafening silence we hear an odd clunking noise. Which puts me on edge - it’s not a Poltergeist or at least that’s what I keep telling myself - but it’s still unsettling.

9:01pm - Jane goes off to collect get the rest of the group and on their return we decide to head back upstairs to try contact the spirits on the upper level - again with no luck even with the help of a large stuffed horse keeping an eye over us.

9:23pm - A final attempt in the dark pits below with just the remaining 3 members of the party and Jane, it's worth noting that the rest were not skewered, boiled or drowned but just plain chickened out. But with only the 3 of us in the darkest Tomb each noise is amplified, each trick of the light magnified and the atmosphere intensified. It becomes a little too intense and one of the group is forced to take refuge under their hoody and the table saying prayers - while his lady, Jane and I continue with the séance. I'm guessing my constant shock boos, pen prods and talking in scary voices (Dead by Dawn, Dead by Dawn) probably didn't help either.

9:29pm - Despite intensity levels being turned up all the way to 11, we did not make contact with the other side this time. Probably a good thing as I don’t think the dark side are quite ready for the level of prankiness I could bring.

9:37pm - The end of the evening felt a little like dawn had broken and we, the remaining 3 were like survivors of a night in a haunted house had made it. I had survived a Haunted Happening in the The London Tombs. I do check behind me as I head off home to watch the end of The Hole again.

Thank you Jane from Haunted Happenings for the fun evening as well as The London Tombs for letting me out alive this time.

The Hole: Haunted Happening at The London Tombs

The Hole
Joe Dante (Gremlins) directs this 3-D extravaganza concerning two brothers who discover a hole in their basement that acts like a portal to a dark world. Vacancy's Mark Smith provides the screenplay for the Bold Films production.

Director: Joe Dante
Starring: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett and Nathan Gamble

Joe Dante’s The Hole is available on DVD and Blu-ray from all fine outlets right now