Published by Santa Monica Press
Anyone’s who’s ever made a pilgrimage to a reputed site of either a favorite horror film location or creepy horror-related destination knows the thrill inherit in standing on the spot where, for example, a reputed witch was burned alive, or maybe where the crew cleaning out Danvers Insane Asylum had their lunch, or walking up and down the same stairs the ill-fated priest offed himself in The Exorcist. Now imagine traveling the world to do feel that thrill over and over again, then writing a book about it.
That’s just what journalist/world traveler Leon Marcelo did, along with his horror-loving wife, to come up with Creepy Crawls which is, for the most part, the kind of travelogue book every horror fans has probably wished they had at some point. Indeed, I was first introduced to Marcelo through the freshmen “Travelogue of Terror” column in Rue Morgue so when I heard he was penning a whole book on the subject of visiting famous horror sites, I was understandably curious.
The book is broken up into sections starting in England, moving on to Paris, then back to the U.S. During the European portion, Marcelo visits the sites of ancient horrors such as Bedlam and the Tower of London, focusing on the real terrors that once plagued the other side of the pond. It’s definitely informative and will give you cool tidbits of horror-centric trivia that most tours would likely leave out; it’s clear that Marcelo’s done plenty of research beforehand.
From England to Paris, where not much is really seen in terms of historic horror locations other than the Catacombs, then back to the states to visit the old haunts of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. This is where things get a bit slow in the book since many of the names and locations featured in the authors respective works weren’t real, but rather based on geographically similar areas (for example, King’s Derry has elements of Bangor), so there’s not really a lot to to see or do in any of them. Still, Marcelo manages to fill out the sections nicely with some history of the men and their works, with a big focus on Stephen King and specifically It, which struck me as a bit odd since it was only one of quite a few books set in and around the fictional town of Derry.
From there it’s on to Hollywood and beyond, and this is where we get into the territory you’re most likely familiar with through our own Horror’s Hallowed Grounds, though Marcelo has a bit more predilection to graveyards than our man Clark.
Though Creepy Crawls is a fun read, one that both informs and entertains, there are some issues with it you should be aware of before you run out to scoop up a copy; first off, author Marcelo uses a lot, and I mean a lot, of alliteration (where you string words together with the same constants i.e; Vick’s vile and vicious vapor viper) and some pretty groan-inducing puns to the point of annoyance. He always refers to himself as “yours cruely”, his wife is his “black bride”, their car a “meatwagon”, instead of writing “of course” he writes “of corpse”… you get the idea. It’s hokey and a tad irritating; you’ll either get used to it and learn to read around it or it will bug you for the entire book. For the most part it bugged me.
The other issue is that it really seems like very little was done to try and get permission or talk to people before going to a lot of the places he covered, resulting in very little being relayed about the location other than the facts because they weren’t able to get inside or too close. It seems to me if you were writing a book about locations, getting as much permission as possible ahead of time would be beneficial. Such is not the case here, however, though I bet the book would’ve been that much richer if they had been able to get more access.
Those complaints aside, Creepy Crawls is still a fun read and full of cool information not just about what you’ll find at the haunted locations, but the best way to get there and how long it will take to do so from a given location; information that’s crucial to making the most out of your very own creepy crawl. The biggest drawback for me was the hokey writing style, but perhaps if you’re prepared for it won’t get under your skin like it did mine … perhaps.
For a sampling of what the book has to offer be sure to click here for its official site.
3 out of 5
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