Truth is stranger than fiction.
— Mark Twain.
At Universal Studios Singapore’s Halloween Horror Nights 6’s haunted houses and scare zones, you’ll find a haunted hospital, gruesome “art works”, witches, a celebration of the dead and many more.
If you think these are just the imagination of our creative team, think again. Some elements of the houses and zones can be found in real-life events.
Warning, some photos are not for those with a weak stomach.
Old Changi Hospital
Roaming the corridors and rooms of the hospital are ghosts of patients who do not know they are dead, female Malay vampire Pontianak, a vengeful spirit in red, soldiers and prisoners of war and others.
Reputedly Singapore’s most haunted spot. Old Changi Hospital was built in 1935 by the British government. Its reputation for hauntings comes from its past as a prisoner of war camp during the Japanese Occupation.
More than 50,000 prisoners were housed there. Some buildings were rumoured to be torture chambers. After the war, the hospital remained in operation until it closed in 1997.
It has remained vacant since then, though it is a favourite spot for ghost hunters. Those who have visited at night said the place is “eerie”. The folks from Singapore Paranormal Investigators even heard footsteps and rainfall despite seeing no one or actual rain.
Hawker Centre Massacre
Patrons and stall owners have turned into flesh-eating creatures after a radioactive food poisoning incident. The source? A contaminated radioactive fish.
Though we couldn’t find stories of hawker centres haunted by flesh-craving patrons or radioactive poisoning (phew!), there was a spate of raw fish poisoning incidents at hawker centres in 2015.
The cause of the food poisoning was the strain of Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria found in the raw freshwater fish served. While the bacteria are found in the gut and urinary tract of about 15 to 30 per cent of adults without causing harm, they can cause infections of the skin, joints, heart and brain.
Following the cases, the government banned the use of freshwater fish in raw-fish dishes. Eateries would need approval to sell ready-to-eat raw seawater fish dishes.
Salem Witch House
Maison Deux-Six stood empty for years after the villagers tried to burn the DeFeo Witches in 1692. Now the witches are awakened by modern-day witchcraft enthusiasts, and they are out to seek revenge against those who wronged them in the past.
The name “Salem” is synonymous with witches in the United States because of the witch trails in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. Twenty people were accused of performing witchcraft and were executed.
Separately, the name “DeFeo” comes from mass murderer Ronald DeFeo. Butch was charged with murdering his family–his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters– in 1974 in his house in Amityville. He is serving six life sentences in prison.
The house was later sold to the Lutz family who stayed for 28 days but moved out because of paranormal activities such as disembodied voices, damaged property by unseen forces and green slime that appeared out of nowhere.
Later, the Lutzes worked with a writer on the book The Amityville Horror: A True Story which was later turned into more than 14 films. However, many disputed the family’s claims of haunting, saying the whole story was a hoax.
Bodies of Work
A misplaced candle by artist Damien Shipman burned down his art gallery, along with his family inside. Driven to the brink of madness by guilt, he stages his final exhibition Bodies of Work with macabre “art works” as a tribute to his family.
Not much information has been revealed about Bodies of Work. But from what we do know, there will be “bodies” displayed as art works.
There has been such a tradition in Europe, thankfully, no real bodies are used. In the Natural History Museum of Florence, you’ll find anatomical wax figures with flayed skin and their internal organs revealed in details–down to the muscles, arteries and veins. It’s definitely not Madame Tussauds.The concept of the house also reminds us of Ed Gein, a murderer and grave robber. In 1957, when the police visited his lodgings, they discovered chair seats covered with human skin, masks made from the skin of female heads, leggings made from human skin and many more gruesome objects. [Note, Ed Gein’s creations are too ghastly to even link to. You can still find them if you search online.]
Hu Li’s Inn
Don’t believe what you see. Demonic shape shifters seduce passer-bys to their lair so they can devour their flesh and souls.
Finding real-life stories of shape shifters was the most difficult, probably because no one survived to tell the tale.
However, shape shifters have been part of the folklore since ancient times. In China, fox spirits are said to turn into beautiful women to tempt men so they could eat their souls. Coincidentally (or not), “Hu Li” means fox in Chinese.
In the legends, the shape shifters could create illusions to transform empty caves or buildings into grand mansions. Their victims wouldn’t know any better until the next morning where they wake up and find themselves lying in caves littered with bones.
March of the Dead
Celebrate the Day of the Dead (Día De Los Muertos) and a carnival procession of spirits in the Death March.
Based on Mexico’s ‘Day of the Dead’, a festival similar to our local Hungry Ghost Festival but with more sound and colours. The people dedicate the celebration to the goddess “Lady of the Dead”.
The festival has spread to other Latin communities around the world. During the Day of the Dead parade, people dress up as the dead–painted their faces to resemble smiling skulls–to honour the deceased. We’ll likely see something similar during the Death March.
Evil spirits in the forest call out to desolate souls to their death.
Based on the Suicide Forest in Japan at the foot of Mount Fuji. The dense forest means that once you’re lost inside, it’s practically impossible to come out.
The 35-square-kilometre forest (about the size of 7 Sentosa Islands), called Aokigahara in Japanese, became popular as a suicide spot after the publication of a 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees) where the lovers headed to the forest to commit suicides. The spirits of the unrest are said to linger there.
Yearly, the police head into the forest to retrieve the remains of those who committed suicide. The Japanese authorities have stopped publishing the number of suicides in the forest to dissuade others from doing the same. Sign posts reminding people not to give up on their lives are erected in different spots.
Now that you know of the true stories, perhaps it will change your perception or experience at HHN6. Let us know if you stumble upon things that can’t be explained at the event.