Tales of cursed and haunted objects have been around for as long as the human animal has been able to tell stories. Every town has a haunted house, abandoned asylum or hospital, and every so often an actual thing is haunted, cursed, or possessed. Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators and controversial exorcist and medium, respectively, started The Warren’s Occult Museum to house some of these cursed objects. Not everyone believes in the supernatural, but these stories sure can incite some chill bumps.
10. The Tallman Family’s Haunted Bunk Beds
You don’t expect children’s furniture to be haunted, but in the case of the Tallman family from Horicon, Wisconsin, that might be the only explanation. Once they bought used bunk beds for their kids, truly weird stuff started happening. A fire-eyed old hag would appear to the children. Radios would turn themselves on. Doors would open and shut on their own, and the father even saw a figure manifest itself and tell him he was dead. The family finally had enough, and fled their home in fear. Of course, rumors abounded in the small Wisconsin town, and the press was all over the “Haunted House of Horicon.” The Tallmans, in the meantime, destroyed the bunk beds and never had another paranormal experience, and no family who lived in the house afterwards experienced the same.
It’s said that the family buried the pieces of bunk beds in a private landfill where they felt nobody would ever build a house. The bunk beds were so evil that if someone built on them, the evil that inhabits them could get into the house. How did a set of bunk beds become so very evil? Were they created in a demonic This End Up facility? Did Hansel and Gretel meet their end in them? Or, maybe the wood itself came from a cursed tree? Guess we’ll never know, and hopefully those beds are long gone. But maybe we should destroy all bunk beds, just to be safe.
9. Anna Baker’s Wedding Dress
Anna Baker’s father did not want her to marry an iron worker. He thought it was beneath her. Anna was determined to marry him, and bought the prettiest wedding dress she could find. Her father succeeded in preventing the marriage, and another girl got to wear the dress. Anna never did marry, and grew old and bitter. Stories say that the servants would see her dancing in the wedding dress she never got to wear. Years later, the family mansion was turned into a museum and Anna’s dress was displayed in a glass case in her bedroom. Museum goers would see a woman looking back at them in the reflection from the case, and the dress is said to swing from side to side on its own.
Is the spirit of Anna Baker trapped in what was supposed to be her wedding dress? If so, what in the world did poor Anna do to deserve that? It’s bad enough she was kept from her love, and some hussy got to get married in her dress. Now she’s got to haunt the darn thing, swaying to music only she can hear? Thanks a lot, universe.
8. The Dybbuk Box
Despite the fact that the seller of this wine box seemed terrified of it, and the buyer experienced really weird stuff once it entered his antique shop, he gave it to his mother, who had a stroke the minute she touched it. He tried to give it to a bunch of other family members, but then finally had to take it home. Things got worse. According to the buyer’s story, he started having a really terrible nightmare about realizing there was something evil lurking in his friends and family. He didn’t make a connection between the box and the bad dreams, but when his sister came to visit she told him about a nightmare she had — it was the same as his. He started to see things out of the corner of his eye, and the smell of cat urine was strong, even though he didn’t have a cat. The owner wrote a book about his experiences, and it was later turned into a movie starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
That’s the least fun “this is not my cat” meme possible, and not even John Wincheseter’s rugged mug could make it palatable. Possessed and stinky boxes, as it turns out, are just possessed and stinky boxes.
7. Valentino’s Ring
Rudolph Valentino started off as a dancer, but quickly became a huge star in silent films like The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and The Sheik. While shopping at a jewelry store in San Francisco, Valentino purchased a silver tiger’s eye ring. The shop owner told Valentino that the ring had “an evil history,” but the young film star was compelled to purchase it anyway. He would even tell people about the curse, and film studios encouraged him to wear the ring while filming The Young Rajah. That film was a big flop, but Valentino didn’t make the connection. Either way, he didn’t wear the ring again until he went out to promote Son of The Sheik, and while in New York, Valentino collapsed and later died at 31 years old.
The ring went to Valentino’s lover, Pola Negri, and she got sick right away. She didn’t die, however, and gave the ring to Russ Colombo, a singer and actor who closely resembled Valentino. A few days later, Columbo was shot and the ring went to his best friend, Joe Casino, who locked the ring away for many years. He got over it and finally took the ring out, wore it… and got hit by a truck the same day. Cursed ring, or coincidence?
6. Robert the Doll
Robert is a 40 inch tall doll dressed in a jaunty sailor suit. He is stuffed with wool and his face has mostly worn off. He was made by the Steiff Company, the same folks that made the first teddy bear, and was bought in Germany. He’s also, possibly, the most terrifying doll in existence. He belonged Robert Eugene Otto, who went by Gene. When Gene would get in trouble as a boy, he’d blame Robert for his misdeeds. As Gene grew up, he still carried Robert with him everywhere and sat him in an upstairs window of his home, scaring local schoolchildren. After Otto died in 1974, a lady named Myrtle Reuter bought the house, and Robert was conveyed. People who visited Reuter would report that they heard footsteps and giggling in the attic, where Reuter kept the doll. Others said that Robert’s facial expression would change if someone said something bad about Otto. Reuter herself said that Robert would change locations within the house. On his own. She finally donated him to Key West’s For East Martello Museum, and died a couple of months later.
Once at the museum, Robert continued his antics. Cameras and other electronics would not function normally around him. Robert started receiving letters from people who, after seeing him, experienced strange things. They asked for forgiveness for disrespectful behavior. Did Otto put so much energy into Robert that he is charged? Did a voodoo spell make Robert so darn creepy? Or, did Otto start haunting the doll when he died? Who knows? We just know that doll is creepy.
5. Myrtles Plantation Mirror
Fitting for one of the most haunted houses in the country, this mirror is said to hold the spirits of members of the Woodruff family, killed by a slave named Chloe. That’s probably not true, but visitors do report seeing drippy marks on the mirror, the reflection of women dressed in old timey clothes, and handprints. The house itself was built in 1794, and since then, at least ten murders have occurred there. The mirror is said to hold the ghosts of Sara Woodruff and her daughters, killed by a slave named Chloe who baked them a poison cake. There is nothing to substantiate that. All the same, handprints appear on the mirror, and drips run down the length and cannot be cleaned off. And the ghostly figures? Maybe they are Sara and her daughter who died of Yellow Fever. Or maybe they’re some of the people who were murdered there.
Or, possibly, it’s all the handiwork of the ghost of the person who used to have to clean the mirror. Old beveled mirrors like that are hard to clean, and it’s totally feasible, in a non-feasible way, that someone’s afterlife penance would be dealing with the ghost goo on an old mirror.
4. Chair of Death
The story goes that in the late 1600s, a man named Thomas Busby fell in love with Elizabeth, the daughter of a counterfeiter named Daniel Awety. The lovebirds were married, and dad was none to pleased. That, however, didn’t stop him from involving his son-in-law with his business, and the two would often drink together. Busby liked to drink. He and his bride lived in a little inn, and one day her dad came to take her home. With no explanation. Elizabeth refused to go anywhere until her husband got home, so Elizabeth’s dad sat down to wait. He sat, as it turns out, in the wrong chair. When Busby returned, he and Awety got into a huge argument. Awety argued that no daughter of his would be associated with the town drunk, while Busby argued that Awety was sitting in his favorite chair.
Awety left in a huff, but Busby was so mad he walked three miles to his father-in-law’s house and beat him to death with a counterfeiting hammer. Busby was charged with murder and sentenced to hanging, which happened in 1702. On his way to the gallows, he stopped at the inn to tell everyone that anyone who sat in his chair would be cursed… to death. He was hanged, then dipped in pitch and then hung up for everyone to see. The inn owner found himself with a tourist attraction, and started telling people about the cursed chair. Of course, some of the people who sat in the chair ended up dying horrible deaths, and some people chalk 63 deaths up to the cursed chair. It now hangs on a wall at the Thirsk Museum, so nobody can sit in in. Just in case.
Annabelle is a spooky enough doll that she inspired a film. The film doesn’t pull a lot from the original legend, including the appearance of the doll, which was a second-hand Raggedy Ann doll given to Donna by her mother. Donna was in college to be a nurse, and lived in an apartment with a roommate. The doll moved around the tiny apartment frequently, and would write messages like “Help us” or “Help Lou” on parchment paper. Donna didn’t keep parchment paper in the house, so where did those notes come from? It wasn’t until a red liquid appeared on the doll that Donna and her roommate called a medium to conduct a seance.
The medium said the doll was possessed by the spirit of a girl named Annabelle Higgins. Annabelle lived in a house that was there before the apartment building was constructed, and was found dead in the field where the apartment building stood. The medium said the spirit was friendly, so Donna and her friend gave Annabelle permission to stay. That’s when things got super weird. The girls had a friend named Lou, who never liked Annabelle and said the doll was evil. Lou had a nightmare one night, and woke to find the doll crawling up his leg to his chest, and then strangling him. He blacked out, but was sure it wasn’t a dream. Lou had another encounter with the doll that resulted in seven angry claw marks on his chest. They healed instantaneously, but it was enough to incite Donna to call a priest. The priest said that it was time to bring in Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal experts.
The Warrens told Donna and friends that the spirit was inhuman, and that it was looking to possess a real person. A priest performed an exorcism, the Warrens took Annabelle to their house for safe keeping, and Donna and her friends were safe. The Warrens were not. Their car swerved suspiciously on the way home until Ed threw holy water on the doll, and Annabelle levitated (reportedly) when Ed got her home. A priest told Annabelle she couldn’t hurt anyone, and then his brakes failed on his way home. The Warrens built a special case for Annabelle, so she doesn’t move around anymore, but a young man who visited the Occult Museum talked smack to Annabelle, and died in a motorcycle accident not long after. Don’t mess with Annabelle.
2. “The Crying Boy”
In mid-’80s Britain, a popular type of painting called “The Crying Boy” gained a lot of notoriety for, oddly, causing fires. One family in South Yorkshire had a terrible house fire, and the only thing that was unscathed was a painting of a crying boy. Smoke did not damage the painting and flames never touched the frame. The Halls weren’t the only people who had unlucky “Crying Boy” paintings. A tabloid called The Sun wrote an article in 1985 about an epidemic of spontaneous fires where the “Crying Boy” paintings were mysteriously saved.
After that, a massive version of “the telephone game” occurred in print, media and, eventually, the internet. A whole backstory developed about an urchin that was the subject of the paintings. Allegedly he started a fire that killed his parents, and lived a luckless life until he himself died by fire. Of course, it turned out that the paintings, mass-produced, were flame retardant, and that most of the fires that started were normal – cigarettes, grease fires and the like. Yet the legend persists and most people avoid these paintings in favor of remaining, you know, not on fire.
1. The Basano Vase
The story goes that this carved silver vase was crafted in the 15th century, by a young Italian woman on her wedding night. That night was bad for her, apparently, because she was found murdered, still holding onto the vase. Who knows if her spirit entered the vase, or if the darn thing was made out of cursed silver? Either way, the vase changed hands to one family member, who died. The next family member? Yep, died too. Family members just kept on dying until someone hid the vase where nobody could find it.
In 1988, someone found it with a note that said, “Beware, this vase brings death.” So of course, some genius put the vase up for auction, and it went for a little more than $2,000. The pharmacist who purchased the cursed thing died within three months. His family sold the vase to a surgeon, who died at 37 years old. Owner after owner died within months of possessing the silver vase. The last family that had it threw it out the window, and police came and eventually buried the vase so it couldn’t cause any more trouble. Let’s hope it stays buried!