Cemeteries can be creepy at the best of times. There are, however, those cemeteries that are arguably beyond creepy. And, it’s some of those cemeteries I’ll be talking about in today’s article. Let’s begin with a certain cemetery situated only about a twenty-minute drive from where I grew up as a kid: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The local government says of the cemetery: “During the First World War when there was a large military camp at Cannock Chase which became the base for the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. There was also a prisoner-of-war hospital with 1,000 beds, and both camp and hospital used the burial ground. Cannock Chase War Cemetery contains 97 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, most of them New Zealanders, and 286 German burials. There are also three burials of the Second World War. The 58 German burials in Plot 4 were all brought into the cemetery in 1963, as part of the German Government’s policy to remove all graves situated in cemeteries or war graves plots not maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.”
As for the monster of the graves, it became briefly infamous in April 2007, thanks to a story that appeared in the pages of the local Stafford Post newspaper. According to newspaper staff: “A rash of sightings of a ‘werewolf’ type creature prowling around the outskirts of Stafford have prompted a respected Midlands paranormal group to investigate. West Midlands Ghost Club says they have been contacted by a number of shocked residents who saw what they claimed to be a ‘hairy wolf-type creature’ walking on its hind legs around the German War Cemetery, just off Camp Road, in between Stafford and Cannock. Several of them claim the creature sprang up on its hind legs and ran into the nearby bushes when it was spotted.”
Nick Duffy, of the West Midlands Ghost Club, is the person we have to thank for bringing the story to the attention of the newspaper, as it was the WMGC that was the recipient of the first, initial batch of reports. Duffy said: “The first person to contact us was a postman, who told us he had seen what he thought was a werewolf on the German War Cemetery site. He said he was over there on a motorbike and saw what he believed was a large dog. When he got closer, the creature got on his hind legs and ran away.” There was also a Cannock-based scout-leader, who had an encounter with the creature, and right in the heart of the cemetery: “It just looked like a huge dog. But when I slammed the door of my car it reared up on its back legs and ran into the trees. It must have been about six to seven feet tall. I know it sounds absolutely mad, but I know what I saw.” Occasionally, I still get reports of strange, wolf-like things in and around the cemetery. At night, of course.
Now, let’s move onto the matter of Mothman. There can be few people reading this who have not at least heard of the legendary Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, who so terrorized the town and the surrounding area between November 1966 and December 1967, and whose diabolical exploits were chronicled in the 2002 hit Hollywood movie starring Richard Gere: The Mothman Prophecies, so named after the book of the same title written by Mothman authority John Keel. A devil-like, winged monster with glowing, red eyes, Mothman’s appearance came quite literally out of nowhere and, some say, culminated in high tragedy and death. But what was the Mothman of Point Pleasant? And how did the legend begin? To answer those questions we have to go back to the dark night of November 12, 1966, when five grave-diggers working in a cemetery in the nearby town of Clendenin were shocked to see what they described as a “brown human shape with wings” rise out of the thick, surrounding trees and soar off into the distance. Everyone remembers Mothman. Very few, however, remember that initial encounter, and the monster that soared over the old cemetery.
In relatively modern times, there are few stories quite as strange and sinister as that which concerned a fearful monster called “The Highgate Vampire” – on account of the name of the old, London, England-based cemetery in which the creature lurked, slaughtered and, of course, drank. It was in the 1960s that Highgate Cemetery found itself inhabited by a most unwelcome visitor: a seven-to-eight-feet-tall monster with bright red eyes, an evil-looking and gaunt face, pale skin, and who wore a flowing black cloak. Amid the old graves, a dangerous parasite roamed by night. As for Highgate Cemetery, it was opened in 1839, is located in north London, and is comprised of the East Cemetery and the West Cemetery. It’s a huge and undeniably atmospheric cemetery which extends close to forty acres in size. Catacombs abound, as do moss-covered, crooked gravestones. The dead are everywhere. Also, the cemetery is dominated by huge trees, endless bushes and a massive variety of plants – not to mention a large fox population, owls, and birds of prey. In fact, so revered are Highgate Cemetery’s wooded areas, it has officially been listed as a “Historic Park and Gardens” by the British Government.
England’s Halden Hills have been the sight of more than a few strange creatures, including large “Alien Big Cats. Or, ABCs, as most people term them. It may not be a coincidence that in 1996, Jonathan Downes – the director of the Center for Fortean Zoology – investigated a wave of sightings of a strange, large, cat-like animal on the Haldon Hills. Jon related the facts in his 2004 book, Monster Hunter. Most of the encounters occurred in the vicinity of an old pet cemetery, which housed (and still houses) the remains of numerous, beloved, long gone old friends. Downes did not solve the mystery, but he did come away from the investigation fully convinced that the Haldon Hills were home to something dangerous and predatory. And, finally…
Panteon de Belen is the name of a cemetery which can be found in Guadalajara, Mexico. Just like so many cemeteries all around the world, it has a deeply sinister vibe surrounding it – one which still persists today, almost 170 years after it was built. Most of the residents of the cemetery do what they are supposed to do: namely, stay at rest. One, however, did not. In the latter part of the 19th century, one particularly restless character roamed the cemetery, something which led to horror and even death. Matters began when the blood-drained body of a woman was found, late at night, on nearby Nardo Street. Her body was found in an alleyway off the street, with nothing less than a savage wound to the neck – specifically to the jugular vein. Days later, yet another body was found; this time, on the fringes of the cemetery itself. This one, however, had been dug up from the grave in which it had been buried just days earlier. The dangerous monster which was responsible had dug deep into the grave and wrenched the lid of the coffin off. Yet again, there was the classic calling-card of a vampire: two bites to the neck. Across the following week, several children were killed – all in the very same fashion.