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The Ghoulish Times | 10/23/23
Extreme Haunted Houses - Book Donations - Ghoul Pics
Hello and welcome to the latest issue of The Ghoulish Times. My name is Max Booth and this is my spooky newsletter. Usually I try to get these out on Fridays, but if my math is correct, I am a few days beyond that goal. Or, if you’re an optimist, I’m almost an entire week early. Either way—hi. I am happy to be here once again typing words into my laptop, and I am happy that you are here reading them. Unless you’ve already skipped past the opening paragraph—or, possibly, clicked DELETE without reading. Both of these decisions would have been understandable, and I respect them. Unfortunately, you are now my enemy for life. But now I’m typing words for someone who’s never going to read them, and if that’s not a waste of time, I don’t know what is.
What wasn’t a waste of time, I hope, was spending a year and a half doing a deep dive on extreme haunted house attractions—specifically, but not exclusively, Russ McKamey and his McKamey Manor out in Tennessee (formerly San Diego). Why I hope it wasn’t a waste of my time is it led to me writing a brand-new book, which comes out this Tuesday (Oct 24th) from Cemetery Gates Media titled The Last Haunt: An Oral History of the McKinley Manor Massacre. Notice that the book is not named after McKamey. That would have been a very foolish thing to do. Because this book is not based on Russ McKamey. God no. It is an entirely fictional novella about a man named Gus McKinley. Very, very different.
Russ McKamey has been in the news off and on for over a decade now. He was featured in a documentary called Haunters: The Art of the Scare, as well as the last episode of Netflix’s Dark Tourist. Most recently, Hulu released an entire documentary about him called Monster Inside: America’s Most Extreme Haunted House. And when I say recently, I mean this fucking doc came out earlier this month. When I was writing my book, and we scheduled it for an October publication, I had no idea that this documentary was also happening. It is very bizarre timing. Will it lead to extra interest in my book? I imagine so. Will McKamey’s fans learn about the book and get super weird about it? I hope not, but something tells me it’s inevitable.
I’ve never personally attended an extreme haunted house, and I have no desire to. When I was a kid, we hit up tamer ones all throughout October, and I loved them for the most part. I haven’t been to one in years and a part of me certainly misses their spell. Next year, I actually hope to somehow turn Ghoulish Books into a one-night only haunted bookshop attraction. I’m not entirely sure how we’re going to do that yet, but I feel like I have to at least try, right?? If you have any ideas or suggestions, drop a note in the comments below.
Anyway, The Last Haunt is written in oral history format—so, think about books like World War Z, Rant, and Fantasticland. In The Last Haunt, the central event discussed is what’s labeled the “McKinley Manor massacre.” What that massacre actually is, and who was involved, and how they were involved…that’s what our interviewer is attempting to document, once and for all. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you have a lot of fun reading it.
Here’s the front cover, illustrated by the god Trevor Henderson.
Ghoulish Books was recently featured in Texas Monthly’s The Big Map of Texas Indie Bookstores:
Coming out next month through Ghoulish Books: Saint Grit by Kayli Scholz. Check out this awesome review we recently received on Goodreads:
You can watch Kayli read an excerpt from Saint Grit HERE.
And you can pre-order it from our webstore HERE.
Last week we launched a Halloween book donation drive for Texas prisons, partnered with the Inside Books Project in Austin. We allowed ghouls to drop off books in-person at the shop, and we’re also letting everybody mail in books from all around the country throughout the rest of October. Come early November, I will drive all of our donations to the Inside Books Project headquarters, and they will begin mailing everything out to prisons throughout the state of Texas. Here is what we’ve received so far:
If you’d like to donate something, you may mail us horror books to the following address (this is the last week to do so):
PO Box 1104
Cibolo, TX 78108
Alternatively, if you’d like to avoid going through the hassle of shipping something, you can also buy a book or two directly through our WEBSTORE, choose LOCAL SHIPPING, and write “prison donation” in the NOTES section.
Books we CANNOT accept as donations:
Books in poor condition (water damaged, ripped or missing cover, old/falling apart)
Hardcover fiction – these books are too heavy to mail
Encyclopedias – these are too heavy to mail
Blank journals / composition books – these have sadly been banned
Books with nudity or partial nudity (i.e. string bikinis) – these are banned
Spiral bound books – these are banned
Martial Arts books – these are banned
Books that contain detailed maps of Texas – these are banned
Over the weekend we hosted our first ever Ghoul-R-Treat, which consisted of children trick-r-treating at our bookshop, making fun crafts (drawing, coloring, decorating foam pumpkins, etc), listening to spooky kids music, and getting their photo taken with The Ghoul. For obvious reasons, I am not going to post any photos of children in this newsletter, but here are a few promo shots we did before the event officially kicked off.
I did take one photo with an adult (horror writer LP Hernandez), which I feel comfortable sharing:
There were vampire fangs in all of the goody bags we gave out to kids. At one point, the children of two friends were hanging out and being vampires together. I happened to notice a woman walking in the parking lot toward our bookstore—a complete stranger, simply coming here to browse our books. For some reason, I joked that we should all put fangs in our mouths and attack this woman when she entered. The children overheard me, and obeyed my suggestion like the most loyal cult members I’ve ever known. As soon as this woman walked into our lobby, they charged her, growling like monsters, and started…chomping on her stomach.
“Whoa!” she shouted, terrified and confused.
She…did not buy anything. I regret nothing, and honestly wish I could keep these two vampire attack guards in the shop every week going forward.
Unfortunately, their parents aren’t as excited about this idea as I am.
This Saturday, if you’re near Ghoulish Books, consider stopping in for our FREE horror movie screening at 8pm. We never reveal the title of what we’re playing until showtime, but I can tell you it’s one of my favorite movies of all time and I can’t wait to watch it with a crowd.
ICYMI, here’s what aired last week on the GHOULISH Podcast Network…
GHOULISH - Small Towns with E. M. Roy!
E. M. Roy is the author of LET THE WOODS KEEP OUR BODIES. On this week’s episode of GHOULISH, she joined me to discuss their debut novel, why dogs are awesome, small towns, cryptids, the pressures of growing up in Stephen King Land, and the filmography of David Lynch.
My Horror Confessional - CUBE with Sarah Wambold
This week Sarah Wambold and Miguel Myers discuss the techno-sci-fi horror classic Cube from 1997. They also discuss Sarah’s job as a licensed funeral director and embalmer. They talk about cremations, green burials and what Sarah’s plans are for when it’s her time. This was such a fascinating conversation, we really hope y’all enjoy it.
Decayed Tapes - VIDEO VIOLENCE 2
On this week’s episode of Decayed Tapes, we’re continuing our Gary P. Cohen marathon with VIDEO VIOLENCE 2. This time, Eli and Howard are making snuff films live on their renegade public access show, and boy howdy is it horrendous to watch. ALSO: have you ever discovered a rodent in your soda bottle? You may be owed monetary compensation from Pepsi. By the way, how often does your spouse think of Lorena Bobbitt? The answer may shock you.
And, since I’m so late with getting this newsletter out, here’s this week’s episode of Decayed Tapes, too:
Decayed Tapes - CAPTIVES (aka MAMA’S HOME)
On this week’s episode of Decayed Tapes, we’re wrapping our Gary P. Cohen marathon up with his final feature-length SOV production: CAPTIVES! Originally butchered by Majestic Home Video and released under the title MAMA’S HOME in 1988, this movie has it all: bigamy, home invasions, arson, dogs drowned in fish tanks, gratuitous cocaine abuse, incestual relationships, Max Headroom posters, rude paperboys, and even baby-smothering. There’s something for everybody in this one.
I should also mention that if you’d like to watch video versions of the Decayed Tapes podcast, we are posting those exclusively on the DT Patreon, which you can access HERE. I’m having the time of my life recording this podcast with Miguel, and I really hope y’all consider subscribing!
REMINDER: You have until next week to pre-order some of the gnarliest banned books merch ever created. T-shirts, tanks, bags, and more!
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