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Halloween unmasked

Ghostbusting has never been easier. Sites hed: Halloween unmasked dek: ghostbusting has never been easier.

You’d think that Halloween would bring out the best of the Web, offering flash-animated, ear-splitting, spine-tingling trips through creepy back alleys of cyberspace. Unfortunately, most sites are still knocking around in a circa-1994 HTML casket, offering primarily a series of links draped in black. But don’t judge a site by the color of its fonts-there’s plenty of ghoulish fun to be had, and maybe even a shiver or two. Your first stop should probably be … you guessed it:, where links to the essentials–vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts, and cemeteries–earn this site its moniker.

If you’re particularly intrigued by the paranormal, check out GhostWatcher, where you can help June monitor ghost activity in her Manhattan apartment building by viewing images from a series of Webcams she’s set up. Think about becoming a professional? Visit Ghost Web of International Ghost Hunters to take courses on becoming a certified ghost hunter or paranormal investigator (I’m not making this up). Next stop, Castle of Spirits, an Australian site that provides a thoughtful look into the unexplainable. Its webmaster, Rowena, helpfully debunks events that are patently false (such as the Amityville Horror story), as well as other more convincing natural phenomena. For example, many people claim to awaken with a feeling that they are being strangled by an invisible force–a ghost. It’s no ghost, she writes, but rather a scientifically documented condition called sleep paralysis. Other links under the “unexplained” caption explore the history, facts, fiction, and tricks behind the Bermuda Triangle, vanishing into thin air, “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” and the alleged ghost that appears in the movie “Three Men and a Baby.” This site also has an extensive collection of ghost stories submitted by readers.

Often the creepiest Halloween thrills come from tracing legends and ghouls back to their origins in American colonial times, as well as across the sea. The fear of vampires, for example, according to the site called Ghosts of the Prairie: American History & Hauntings, derived some of its origins from tuberculosis. This disease was often called “white death” in 1880s New England because it left its victims with ghostly pale skin, except for a reddening of the cheeks. For other good scares, click to The Horror of the Grave, Premature Burial & Vampires in America and America’s Haunted Cemeteries. You can also find books, tours, ongoing ghost hunts, haunted highways, and lists of famous folklore related to your neck of the woods. Also, don’t miss the Museum of Talking Boards for a look at the history of the much-maligned Ouija board. Check out the picture gallery of boards, including the weirdest board ever made, and communicate with the virtual spirits on any of five different boards.

Last but not least, I’ll leave you with a true terror: Halloween by Martha Stewart, your guide to creating charmingly perfect ghost cookies and decorations. Now, that’s scary.

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