By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Halloween in Florida can feel redundant since living in the Sunshine State is often inherently a horror story. All future slasher and disaster flicks should be filmed here. For one, the people are usually coated in sweat and tears (no makeup artists required), and the fauna includes sharks, alligators, and snakes (no animatronic creatures needed either). Florida has also been a bonanza for some of the world's most terrifying serial killers: Danny Rolling, Ted Bundy, and Aileen Wuornos all murdered here. The final nail in the proverbial coffin: The peninsula even looks like a gun shooting little island bullets. Though it's almost impossible to choose only three of the strangest and scariest stories to come out of South Florida, we've given it our best shot. Here are the top three:
Key West's Corpse Bride (fictional equivalent: Psycho): Carl Tanzier was an x-ray technician in Key West who frequently had visions of a dark-haired beauty. He became fixated on a local girl named Helen, who was a tuberculosis patient at the hospital where he worked. Tanzier was desperate to cure the object of his affections, but she died at the age of 22. Helen's body was laid to rest in a mausoleum commissioned by her former suitor, but it didn't remain there. Visiting Key West Cemetery every night eventually failed to satisfy Tanzier, who dug up the corpse and loaded it into a toy wagon that he pulled to his home. He fashioned his corpse bride into a doll made from wire coat hangers, wax, plaster of Paris, and a hunk of her hair. He slept with the body in his bed for almost a decade before getting nabbed by the cops in 1940.
Miami Zombie (see: Night of the Living Dead): This is probably the scariest thing that has happened in the history of the world. In May 2012, Rudy Eugene approached Ronald Poppo near the MacArthur Causeway and complained about not being able to "score on the beach." He then accused the homeless Poppo of stealing his Bible before stripping naked and eating off 80 percent of the man's face. The attack was so disturbing that the CDC felt compelled to tell the public that a zombie apocalypse was not at hand and that there was no known virus that could reanimate the dead.
Robert the Doll (see: Child's Play): Robert Eugene Otto grew up in Key West at the turn of the century with a Bahamian nanny who was fired for practicing voodoo on the family estate. Before departing, she gifted her young charge with a 40-inch-tall, wool-stuffed doll possessed with a wicked energy. Soon, Robert gave his name to the doll and began going by "Gene." The Ottos and their neighbors swore Robert the doll could make objects move, change his expression, and giggle. One newspaper reporter who met Robert totally bought the whole story. "There was some kind of intelligence there," he wrote. "The doll was listening to us." The doll terrified the Ottos and the next family to move into the home. (For some reason no one destroyed the doll even though multiple people have claimed the doll tried to murder them.) Now Robert resides in the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, where visitors are told to ask before taking a picture of him, lest the doll feel disrespected and curse them for life.