Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: The Murder of Laetitia Toureaux

For our final obscure unsolved mystery of Fiend Fest 2020, I present to you the double life of Laetitia Toureaux.

Laetitia Toureaux was an Italian woman who moved to Paris when she married. A few years later, her husband died, leaving her penniless. Taking a job at a glue factory to make ends meet, Laetitia spent her days at the factory, and spent her evenings carousing on the streets of Paris.

On the evening of May 16, 1937, Laetitia boarded the Paris Metro. She sat in an empty train car. When the train reached its next stop 45 seconds later, the passengers who attempted to board the car Laetitia was seated in ran out immediately, screaming. Laetitia was dead; A dagger plunged into the back of her neck.

Authorities found that no one had entered or exited the train car in the 45 seconds between the two stops. Because of the angle of the dagger in Laetitia’s neck, it was impossible for her to have done this to herself. It was a true murder mystery.

Who would want a seemingly unassuming woman dead? Authorities later speculated that Laetitia was a spy. Shortly before her death, Laetitia was working as an attendant at a dance hall with a seedy reputation. To make matters worse, she worked there under a false name, all the while discreetly visiting the Italian embassy. Some even speculated that Laetitia was hired to infiltrate the violent political group La Cagoule.

Laetitia Toureaux’s case was dropped at the onset of World War II. It is still one of Paris’s most baffling unsolved mysteries.

Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: Halloween (1978)

I always save the best for last…

In honor of Halloween week (not to mention the last week of Spooky Season), I watched John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) for the millionth time. As with all the other times I’ve watched, it didn’t disappoint.

If you’ve never seen Halloween, the story goes like this… Laurie Strode is a babysitter in the small town of Haddonfield, IL. When escaped mental patient Michael Myers travels to the town, Laurie finds herself and her friends being stalked by the silent menace.

This is a straight-forward suspense flick. It’s categorized as horror, and although it has horror elements, I don’t feel that it’s a horror movie. It’s not your typical slasher, in my opinion; There’s so much more going on here.

The haunting score immediately puts you on edge. As the film progresses, the use of silence during pivotal scenes intensifies the suspense. Then the score kicks in again, the moment gaining momentum until it crescendos. This is one of the things that makes the film terrifying.

Let’s talk about the use of suspense. The fiend Michael Myers stays in the shadows. He watches and waits. With his featureless white mask, silence, and patience, he is the most terrifying villain put to screen. The film plays with light and shadow in a way that cannot be rivaled; Myers can be seen hidden in the background of most shots in the second half of the movie if you look closely. This puts the viewer on the edge of their seat, or cowering inside their hoodie.

I don’t really have to say much more, do I? Halloween is a simple film that does a couple of things extremely well. Those things are what makes this movie a classic of the horror genre. I have watched it a million times. It never gets stale, and it never fails to scare me.

Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Directed by Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was released in 1974. Touted as a “true story”, the plot follows Sally and her friends who are traveling through a small town only to run into the local family from hell. Although the plot of the movie was inspired by Wisconsin’s favorite psycho, Ed Gein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not a true story, folks.

I have to admit… This isn’t one of my favorite films. To be honest, I have a hard time sitting through it, but I will give it credit where credit is due. I love the character of Leatherface. I find him a sympathetic character trying to break free of the chains of his family. He doesn’t really want to kill people, but his family wants him to, so he does. It’s sad. Leatherface seems to have the mental capacity of a toddler. This gives his family free rein to walk all over him.

Another aspect of the movie I did like was Hooper’s intention behind it. I haven’t found out if this is true or simply a fan theory, but the thought is interesting to me and makes me look at the movie in a deeper way. Has anyone heard that the whole movie was a subtle commentary on the political climate of the time, specifically the Vietnam War? I’ve been hearing that lately, and I’m fascinated. I even watched the film again through the lens of the commentary, and it makes sense. It also makes the movie more thought-provoking for me (as thought-provoking as a cheap slasher can get, anyway). I’m not going to get into this theory here, but if you want to read more about it, Erik McClanahan wrote a great article about it and other theories surrounding the film.

I am not a fan of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I can appreciate aspects of it. It is a well-made film mostly free of gore and straight violence (that is strange to be saying, but it’s true). I simply don’t care for the story. Despite this, I will probably watch it again, some summer night while hanging out with friends.

Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDui

Cryptids are usually not my thing, but when I heard the story of the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDui I had to include it in Fiend Fest 2020.

In 1891, Professor Norman Collie was scaling the Cairngorm mountains in Scotland, the highest peak of which is Ben MacDui, when he got the feeling he was being watched. As Collie descended the mountain through a heavy mist, he recalled hearing long, heavy footsteps walking behind him. Each time he looked over his shoulder he couldn’t see anything, but he knew something was there. Norman Collie was being stalked as he descended the mountain.

As it turns out, Professor Norman Collie wasn’t the only mountain climber to have come into contact with the Big Grey Man. Doctor A.M. Kellas also had a strange experience with the creature. Kellas and his brother, Henry, saw a large monster come at them from the opposite side of the mountain. It disappeared inside a dip, and the men did not wait for it to reappear.

It is also said that whenever the creature is around, visitors to Ben MacDui will feel as though they’ve been put under a hypnotic trance. They will snap out of it dangerously close to a ledge, then hear eerie laughter. Some, it is believed, have even been chased to their deaths off the edges of cliffs in their desperation to escape, disembodied laughter following them every step of the way.

There are other accounts of the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDui, and each account has three things in common: The creature is large, it resides on top of the mountain, and it stalks trespassers. If you ever find yourself on top of Ben MacDui, take care. There may be someone watching you.

Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: A Nightmare on Elm Street

“1, 2, Freddy’s coming for you…”

Every horror fan knows this rhyme. A Nightmare on Elm Street didn’t begin the slasher craze of the 1970s and 1980s, but the titular character Freddy Krueger is one of the best slashers to ever be depicted on screen. 

Released in 1980, Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street tells the story of Nancy and her friends. These teenagers being having nightmares about some guy with a burnt face and “Knives for fingers.” As her friends die one by one in their sleep, Nancy learns that the scary guy who is hunting them is one Fred Krueger, a child murder who terrorized Nancy’s small town. As it turns out, Krueger was hunted down and murdered by the town’s parents, including hers. Nancy now must come up with a plan to defeat this monster before he gets her too. 

This movie, actually the entire franchise, is one of my favorites. I remember when I was three, my older stepbrothers were watching the series’s third installment. This is how I was introduced to Freddy Krueger and to the world of horror. I remember not sleeping for weeks. Now, I have nothing but love for Freddy Krueger.

The first movie in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise was groundbreaking. No one had ever thought to create a boogeyman that could only hurt you in the dreamscape. Craven had a problem getting the projected picked up by a studio. No one believed it was scary because the horror happened in dreams, but if you think about it, what’s scarier than not being safe when you’re at your most vulnerable? 

After Craven left the franchise, subsequent films became vehicles for comedic one-liners. The films themselves became dull, retelling the same story over and over. The magic was gone, but the character of Freddy Krueger skyrocketed to icon status. Krueger may have been loved, but he was no longer a terrifying monster. The franchise had become a laughingstock. 

But that first film is still scary. If you can forget the asinine films that followed it (aside from the third film, which had the best dream scenes in the franchise), the original Nightmare on Elm Street still has that special magic. This film is worth a watch any time of the year, but especially on Halloween.

Fiend Fest 2020

Fiend Fest 2020: The Disappearance and Murder of Dorothy Jane Scott

“I’ve got her.” 

Imagine you receive this phone call a week after your child has disappeared. The caller does not identify himself, and hangs up after he says these words. 

This is the first of several anonymous phone calls Dorothy Jane Scott’s parents received beginning a week after she went missing.

Dorothy Jane Scott attended an employee meeting at work in the spring of 1980. At around 9 pm, Dorothy noticed a co-worker had a pretty nasty spider bite and offered to take him to the hospital. Another co-worker offered to join them. 

After the spider bite had been treated, Dorothy went into the hospital’s parking lot to get the car. Her co-workers waiting at the exit for her to pull up. When they saw Dorothy’s car barreling toward them, they waved their arms to get her attention. The vehicle sped past them and made a sharp right turn out of the parking lot. They reported Dorothy missing the next day.

A week later, Dorothy’s parents receive strange phone calls. The first call is the one transcribed above. All of the mysterious calls after continued to claim that either he was holding Dorothy captive or he had killed her. The Orange County Register also got an odd phone call from an unidentified man. This man claimed, “I killed her. I killed Dorothy Scott.” The police believe that this caller was indeed Dorothy’s abductor. 

Dorothy herself had also received strange phone calls before her disappearance. These calls began with a man telling her how much he loved her and that he would eventually kill her. Dorothy’s mother recounted a time when the caller instructed Dorothy to go outside because he had a surprise for her. Dorothy did go outside, only to find a single dead rose on the windshield of her car.

Dorothy’s remains were found in 1984 30 feet from Santa Ana Canyon Road in California. Investigators believed that her body had been at the spot for two years.

What happened the night Dorothy disappeared? Where was she taken, and who was she with? Did she survive until 1982 with her captor or was she murdered that spring in 1980? No one may ever know.

Fiend Fest 2020

It’s Time to Celebrate Spooky Season with Fiend Fest 2020

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

It’s time for classic horror books and movies that give us that warm, tingly feeling. It’s time for murder mysteries that are so obscure you can’t help but want to go investigate. 

I celebrate spooky all year, but when pumpkin patches open and leaves start to fall, everyone is on board with spooky. I like to share the fear with others.

So, in honor of Halloween, I will be posting twice a week on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the month of October. Monday’s posts will be devoted to reviews of classic horror books and movies that we all love. Tuesday’s posts will consist of unsolved mysteries no one talks about.

I will be posting both of this week’s content today (October 6) and we’ll get on a regular schedule beginning next week.

This week I will be revisiting one of my childhood favorites, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and we’ll be delving into the disappearance and death of Dorothy Jane Scott.

Thanks for joining me in this wonderful celebration of horror and all things spooky. Every year it goes by way too fast.