Creepy cemeteries - they are the thing that dreams are made of. This past summer, Julie and I went to the cemetery used for the filming of "Night of the Living Dead" and it lived up to our expectations. It was isolated, no visitors, felt like the end of the world, surrounded by woods, rustic, and an intense feeling of being watched.
What makes a cemetery creepy?
Aged and weather beaten
Upright headstones and statues in various states of disarray
Admittedly, autumn and winter make any cemetery bleak
Wrought iron, statues, tall headstones, lots of trees
How do you find the creepy ones?
Well, New England is going to have some of the oldest ones, but don't let that sway you. Anywhere in the US where the cemetery has burials in the 1800s and before, is likely to still have headstones (instead of those godawful flat things they can mow over). Weather is critical too. Moss and lichens take over in wet locations. Some of the creepiest cemeteries I've seen were in the Portland, Oregon area. You can also look up cemetery photos online by "creepy cemetery" image search and such. Try doing some google image searches for "abandoned cemetery," "creepy cemetery," "scary cemetery," and the like. Look for ghost towns, defunct mining towns, and towns that are nearly vacated due to economy. Very rural towns in the mountains like Appalachia have tons and tons of family plots everywhere.
And, then there's the Arizona desert -
Where's the haunted cemeteries?
Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois is famous for “Resurrection Mary,” a female ghost who likes to hitch rides and then disappear. This is a favorite urban legend and truly believed by the locals who have witnessed a wandering woman along the roadway.
Wolfinger Cemetery in Toledo, Ohio is known for a family who died within a few weeks of each other. The children are said to be seen playing amongst the headstones.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery
Bachelor's Grove Cemetery in the area of Midlothian, Illinois is probably one of the most talked about haunted cemetery in America. Most of the phenomenon here is related to its isolation, its ramshackle condition, and vandalism, as well as signs of occult practice. Sometimes, a creepy isolated cemetery is more haunted by the living than the dead. However, reportedly very solid figures of ghosts have been seen here.
Greenwood Cemetery in Decatur Illinois is where a limping boy in large overalls is seen amongst the headstones. Spectral lights are also seen.
St. Louis Cemetery
St. Louis Cemetery in New Orleans, LA is probably one of the most photographed and toured ones. Madam Laveau, the proclaimed queen of voodoo is buried there. Many people leave her offerings to appease her spirit.
Lake View Cemetery
Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio has foggy apparitions at night. (picture above is the Haserot Angel, a favorite landmark at this cemetery).
Stull Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas is often referred to as the “Cemetery of the Damned.” The story says that the Devil’s half-human child is buried in the cemetery and shows himself as a 9-year-old boy who can turn himself into a cat or dog or werewolf. (Convenient, depending on what stray animal wanders into the cemetery). As legends go, this one is pretty good. Certainly a curious place.
Tips for going to cemeteries
Admittedly, the majority of cemeteries have gates and attendants. Ones that don’t you can still get in trouble for hanging around at night. Believe me, cops know folks up to no good like cemeteries. I admit, being a middle-aged woman with a camera, I don’t get bothered much. I hardly look like I’m going to perform ceremonies with candles and knives. I just tell them I was photographing as the sun was setting and wanted to get pictures of just a couple headstones I’d missed and got caught in the dark.
I suggest if you want to capture activity, you follow these tried and true things I’ve been doing and have found consistently helpful.
Come armed with some flowers from the grocery story. Come about an hour before sunset or more. Give the place time to “get used” to you. Honestly, nothing will happen within the first 20 minutes. Get the feel of the place, walk around, check out interesting graves. I usually try to find ones where no one visits anymore because they’ve been gone so long. I lay a flower on that grave, say the person’s name, read the epitaph and take some pictures. Sometimes I ask if I can take pictures, ask if they’re lonely, run my audio recorder. Sometimes, I set it on the headstone and take pictures. If I’m lucky, I can coordinate the time on the camera and the recorder to see if a sound occurs when a shot was taken. Now and then, when I feel particularly drawn to the grave of a young adult, I sit and carry on a conversation, telling them what's happened in the world since they passed and take pictures now and then. I thank them as I leave. As weird as it sounds, intentions and respect seem to go a long way in earning trust from whatever intelligence might be at play there.
If the cemetery has people visiting a grave, when they go, you might approach and take pictures or try audio. I have no idea if is their emotions or what, but there always seems to be activity around newly visited graves. Newly decorated ones, as well.
Concentrate on pathways especially. It sounds weird, but well worn paths and roadways in cemeteries are very active. I have yet to figure out why, but sometimes it seems as though energy in all forms prefers unobstructed pathways (a lot like the Feng Shui principles I talk about often where a crowded cluttered house holds energy in).
Have a super happy time visiting the haunted cemeteries or any cemeteries. Have a quiet walk in a peaceful beautiful place and a bit of reflection on life and our imprint.
Do not just stand there at viewing height and snap pictures. Be ready to find shady areas, go at sunset, go in fall and winter when it's bleak, barren, colorful or snowy and overcast. When you find a headstone you like, walk around it, crouch down, look at every possibly perspective. Be ready to get on your belly for a creepy perspective or even lie down atop of the grave as if you're buried there and take a shot looking up showing headstone upside down to show the view of the occupant. Use dead trees, left behind items that are poignant and close-ups of broken statues to give atmosphere.
Here's 25 scariest cemeteries
Horror movies with cemeteries
Night of the Living Dead
House By the Cemetery
Army of Darkness