Justin Long plays psychology teacher Clay Dalton, the supportive yet disbelieving boyfriend to Alison Lohman’s tortured bank assistant Christine Brown, in Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell, but Long himself is anything but a skeptic. In fact, he unequivocally states that he believes in ghosts, and proceeded to relate this story about his own personal experience with the specters of the afterlife, with his typical good-natured humor. Check out his tale below, and see if you get as freaked out as he did.
I believe in karma. I believe in a higher power in the universe. I think people may consider that superstitious. It depends on how you define it. I believe in ghosts, I certainly do. I’m probably in the minority there. I’ve had experiences. It’s a long story. Here we go!
One of my favorite things to do is go on ghost tours in antebellum cities in the south, and it’s just a good way to see the city and learn about history, which I love, and I’m fascinated by ghost stories. I was on one in Key West – there’s a great one in New Orleans, but Key West is the best one. Key West used to be a penal colony. It really was a place that was unpoliced and chaotic. There was anarchy down there. That’s why all these artists and people who consider themselves outside of society would just find their way down there. They would just flock there. So there are all these great ghost stories and things that happened with all these real characters that lived there. But one in particular – there was this awning, this great marquee, right off of Duval Street, which is the main artery, where all the cheesy, awful bars are. This is prime real estate and it had been abandoned for ten years. It was the one stop on this ghost tour that was across the street, and the tour guide refused to go there.
She told us the story about how it used to be a church, and back in the 1830s or 40s – this is documented – the preacher found out his wife was cheating on her, and so he waited until she was in the church, boarded it up and set it on fire. But he didn’t realize that she was teaching Sunday School. This is a true story, he killed 14 or 15 kids, just burned alive. A horrible story. They lynched the preacher, he couldn’t get off the island. It was that kind of martial law, they just strung him up.
Throughout the years, it had gone through all these incarnations and it never settled on anything because it kept changing hands because people would have these experiences that were too frightening. The latest incarnation was as a theater for a long time, and the actors would complain about hearing children screaming or playing or burning sensations. She said “there are a lot of homeless people in Key West, and there are a lot of rainy nights, and you’ll never see them sleeping under this awning.” It’s by far the biggest awning. They’ll bundle up under these small little shelters. She said several people on the tour have gone there and just been freaked out. They heard it, they smelled burning, they had visceral reactions. She said “I refuse to go there now, because the energy there is so dark and bad that I can’t.” She said that one woman on the tour was underneath the awning and felt a burning sensation, and at the end of the tour there was a palm mark. There was a picture of it. Her husband was a dermatologist and said ‘that is a burn mark.’ She thought that something had bit her.
So, we’re taking pictures, my girlfriend at the time and I, just taking random pictures of things. The windows on the second floor were all boarded up and you couldn’t see much in it, but there were some exposed where the curtains were pulled back. We zoomed in one, so it was sort of pixelated and not clear, but I swear to God it was a kid’s face. Clearly. Eyes, nose. In the identical pictures we took, it wasn’t there. So we were freaking out. My skin is crawling just telling this story. I can see the face. We were freaking out. The tour guide was saying “just tell me afterwards, just save it until the end of the tour.” And we were like “okay.” We can’t wait, we were sitting on this bombshell.
At the end of the tour, there was this one woman who was on it with us, who had long, gray stringy hair, and she was kind of strange. She kept asking weird questions on each stop, like “how many times a day do people stand here?” or “have they ever sold hot dogs nearby?” What? She was just creepy. My girlfriend at the time and I were making fun of her – she was that kind of lady. So we were leaving, and we were peeing our pants wanting to show this tour guide our picture, and she was in front of us. She hadn’t heard anything. We hadn’t said a word about it. We were overhearing the stringy-haired lady talking to the tour guide, and she was clearly some sort of medium or psychic, because the tour guide was saying “did you get anything? Did you experience anything?” The woman very casually said “No, I didn’t, except when we were at the old church.” She said it as if she were saying “I have to go buy milk at the grocery store.” She said “I saw some kids playing on the second floor, and there were some kids looking at us.” I’d never been more terrified and excited. My skin was just – our spines were – I was just standing on edge, and I said “excuse me, what the fuck did you just say?” Again, as if she said “I enjoy eating Oreos,” she said “I saw these kids looking at us,” and then she just left.
[My ex-girlfriend] has the picture, and she also has my dog, who I haven’t seen. I don’t know which I’d rather get back more. But it does exist. I should get it back. I do want it. It’s frightening.