As It Happens

UFOs, zombie bugs and creepy clowns: 5 stories perfect for Halloween

From the paranormal to the scientific, here’s a look back at our weirdest, wildest and most Halloweeny stories from the last year.
As It Happens is not a show to shy away from the strange and spook. (Bob Gimlin/YouTube, Sydney Martinez/Travel Nevada, America's Got Talent/NBC)

Last week, As It Happens brought you the person behind internet dance sensation Dancing Pumpkin Man and the psychology behind people's fear of spiders — but we don't save all our spooky stuff for the Halloween season.

From the paranormal to the scientific, here's a look back at our weirdest, wildest and most Halloweeny stories from the last year.

Clown motel

Is there anything creepier than a motel filled with clowns? How about a motel filled with clowns in the desert next to a graveyard?

"It's like any other motel, except for the fact that it has been called the scariest motel in the United States," Bob Perchetti, owner of The Clown Motel in TonopahNev., told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann in July.

The Clown Motel is located between Reno and Las Vegas in the town of Tonopah. (Sydney Martinez/Travel Nevada)

Generally, the people who come to stay at the motel are clown lovers — but that's not always the case.

"I've had people come in to get a room and register and, all of the sudden, they kind of scream and get anxiety and say, 'Oh my God, I can't stay in here,'" Perchetti said.

The establishment  — which is next door to a historic cemetery where miners were buried in the early 1900s — is for sale.

For  $1.1 million, it could be yours — 600 clowns included. 

Bob Perchetti, owner of The Clown Motel, says he'll miss his passion project once he finds a buyer and he'll continue to visit once it's sold. 6:14

Dollhouse murder scenes

Earlier this month, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington put on an exhibition of meticulously detailed dollhouse murder scenes.

The haunting, blood-stained miniatures were created by Frances Glessner Lee — a.k.a. "The godmother of forensic sciences" — who used them in the 1930s to train detectives on how to spot clues in crime scenes.

These so-called 'nutshells' were created decades ago by Frances Glessner Lee — a philanthropist known as 'the godmother of forensic science.' (Smithsonian American Art Museum )

At the time, women weren't allowed to go medical school, so she used her domestic skills to pursue her passion.

"She took all of these traditional crafts and things that are traditionally associated with women and she used those to make unbelievably detailed scenes," Ariel O'Connor, who refurbished Lee's work for the exhibit, told As It Happens host Carol Off in September.

Smithsonian curator Ariel O'Connor explains how Frances Glessner Lee a co-opted traditionally feminine crafts to advance the field of forensic investigation. 8:49

Kentucky alien invasion 

While people all over North America were watching solar eclipse in August, folks in one small Kentucky town were also keeping an eye out for UFOs.

In Hopkinsville, the eclipse coincided with the anniversary of the day in 1955 when a group of extra-terrestrials are said to have paid a visit to the Sutton family farm.

Cindy Hinson photographs Roy and June Ezell with an alien display during the opening night of a festival celebrating the supposed visit of aliens to the Kelly-Hopkinsville area in 1955. (Harrison McClary/Reuters)

"They saw little beings — about three, three-and-a-half foot tall. Kind of silver. [They] didn't know what they were, but they definitely weren't human," Joann Smithey, who organizes an annual festival to commemorate the sighting, told As It Happens guest host Jim Brown.

"So they ran back inside and did the only thing that Kentucky folk know how to do to protect their family from the unknown — they grabbed shotguns."

The "shootout" apparently lasted throughout the night. 

When police surveyed the scene the following morning, they found shotgun and rifle shells but, alas, no aliens.

Residents of a small Kentucky farm town gathered to watch the total solar eclipse. But they're also keeping an eye out for aliens. This is the anniversary of the day in 1955 when celestial visitors are said to have paid a visit. 6:16

Bigfoot is a lady

October marked the 50th anniversary of the famous grainy footage that purports to show the mythical Bigfoot in Bluff Creek, Calif. 

But Bob Gimlin, who was with Roger Patterson when he shot the clip in 1967, doesn't think she's at myth at all.

The iconic frame 352 still of the Patterson-Gilmlin film, which allegedly depicts a female Bigfoot looking back at Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. (Bob Gimlin/YouTube)

"The moment I saw her I just said, 'Oh my god, they really do exist.' To see is to believe with me," Gimlin told As It Happens host Carol Off earlier this month.

The Bigfoot in the footage, Gimlin noted,  had "mammary glands," but he suspects there are male Bigfoots out there too.

"To me, they're just big forest people," he said.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of some of the most compelling proof of a mythical creature: Bigfoot. Bob Gimlin is one of the creators of the legendary Patterson-Gimlin film who says Bigfoot is still out there. 5:57

Exploding zombie caterpillars

There's nothing paranormal about this story — just good, old-fashioned terrifying biology.

Caterpillars on a nature reserve in England this year came down with a deadly case of baculovirus, which takes over thie brains and forces them to make a death march towards treetops in the middle of the day.

A virus in England is turning caterpillars into exploding zombies. (Chris Miller)

Once they get high enough, they die and their bodies liquefy, causing the virus to bursts from their corpses and drip onto unsuspecting caterpillars below, starting the cycle over again.

"It's really quite gruesome," scientist Chris Miller told As It Happens guest host Piya Chattopadhyay in August.

"Something's taking over your brain and it's forcing you to do something against your will, so it is kind of zombie horror film type of thing, but for caterpillars."

The baculovirus forces caterpillars to make a death march towards treetops, where the critters liquefy and the virus bursts out of their corpses and drips onto victims below. 6:27

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.