Most bizarre tales of haunted objects

It's pretty audacious to assume we know everything about the world we live in, and it's exactly that kind of hubris that gets us in trouble. While it's certainly necessary to read any ghost story with a healthy dose of skepticism, it's worth pointing out that no one's ever proven ghosts don't exist. There's no real evidence that says the supernatural doesn't attach itself to inanimate objects. So settle in, turn down the lights, and don't say we didn't warn you.

The Dybbuk box

Check out the Jewish Virtual Library and you'll find that Jewish folklore is full of stories of a dark spirit that takes over the bodies of living people and uses them for evil. When these dybbuks are exorcised, they usually head straight to hell without passing Go and without collecting $200, but one popped up on eBay.

The seller listed a vintage wine cabinet that supposedly came from the estate of a woman who survived a World War II concentration camp. The eBay seller had purchased it from the estate and claimed that the first owner's granddaughter was terrified of the box, warning him that her grandmother said it held a dybbuk. After buying the cabinet, he was plagued by a series of unfortunate events, including recurring nightmares of a horrible hag and strange smells. Worst of all, his mother suffered a stroke while sitting in a room with the box. It's not surprising that he decided to get rid of it.

When Missouri museum director Jason Haxton bought it, he turned the story into a book. According to Skeptoid, the box may have had the last laugh: when the story was turned into a 2012 movie called The Possession, writing credit went not to Haxton but to a freelance journalist named Leslie Gornstein who'd simply profiled the box in a newspaper article. It's a vengeful spirit that hits a writer where it hurts.

'The Hands Resist Him'

If you plan to paint a creepy painting, a good name is crucial. "The Hands Resist Him" is an epic name for a haunted panting, and whether or not you believe the stories that go along with it, you can't deny it's a seriously disturbing piece of work on its own. It was painted in 1972 by Bill Stoneham, and according to The Daily Dot, three men associated with the painting — including onetime painting owner and Godfather actor John Marley — all died. Before you get too creeped out, though, realize that Marley was 74 when he passed. The other two were also in their 60s and 70s. People die; that's normal, right?

Anyway, the painting disappeared from public view after Marley's death, and it only reappeared in 2000 when it was listed on eBay along with a story from the painting's new owners. Their kids claimed that the boy and the doll in the painting were fighting, so Dad set up a camera to show them they were just imagining things. The camera actually caught the boy crawling out of the painting. Rather than killing it with fire like a rational person, he put it up on eBay with the disclaimer. 

People started saying that they felt sick just looking at the listing, while others heard voices and experienced other kinds of supernatural phenomenon. It was purchased by a gallery in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and sits in storage now. That probably makes it even more determined to get out.

Dorset's screaming skull

If you say that skulls are more cool than creepy, you're a dirty, rotten liar who's never seen a real one. Some are more terrifying than others; the Dorset County Museum tells the story of a skull that holds a place of honor in Dorset's Bettiscombe Manor.

According to the story (as it was told in an 1884 publication), the skull belonged to a slave who had once worked at Bettiscombe Manor. The slave and his owner lived abroad for some years, and when the slave died overseas, his owner brought his skull back to England. Supposedly, anyone who removes the skull from the house dies within the year, leaving the manor's residents no choice but to listen to it screaming.

There are several versions of the history of the skull with different reasons for the curse. Another version of the tale claims that the slave's owner was a Roman Catholic priest, while yet another (via Dorset Life) says that when the Pinney family sold off their West Indies plantation holdings and returned to England, they brought one of their slaves back with them, and it's his skull. In 1963, the skull was examined and found to belong to a European woman somewhere between 25 and 30, which proves no one has the foggiest idea what the actual story is.

Robert the Doll

Robert the Doll belonged to a Florida boy who was also named Robert. Robert Eugene Otto (who went by "Gene") had a super-weird relationship with Robert the Doll, which he'd received as a birthday present. Atlas Obscura says the creepiness started when Gene began blaming accidents and other childhood naughtiness on Robert. Hilariously adorable, right? It would have been, if he had grown out of it.

Gene grew up but still kept Robert around. When he bought his own house, passers-by swore they saw the doll moving in the windows and visitors would hear him giggling. Week in Weird says it's believed the doll was made with human hair and blood and cursed by a practitioner of voodoo. Robert the Doll lives at the East Martello Museum in Key West today, and he's still blamed for the bad luck that seems to follow those who disrespect him. Believe or not, that's an important life lesson for everyone: don't disrespect your imaginary friends.

The old man puppet and Peggy the Doll

Jayne Harris is something of an expert when it comes to haunted and cursed dolls, and we know what you're thinking: if you'd known that was a legitimate thing, you'd have dropped out of college. There's a catch, and her job comes with being the caretaker of a few seriously creepy things. One is the old man puppet, and she has some footage of it appearing to move during the night. It's kept in a sealed container that's also been blessed, because you can never be too careful when you're dealing with something that supposedly tried to choke its last owner in the middle of the night. When Harris spoke to the tabloid Daily Mail, she said the spirit is pretty much giving them all the paranormal middle finger, since the box he's now kept in can't actually hold him and yes, that sounds exactly like the sort of cranky spirit that would take up residence in an old man puppet.

She's also the caretaker of Peggy the Doll, and according to her comments in the video above, many people have claimed disturbing experiences after watching videos of Peggy, including reports of migraines, nightmares, and even one heart attack. Psychics that have worked with Peggy say she's possessed by a woman from London who died of some sort of chest condition in 1946 and supposedly hated clowns. Even haunted dolls hate clowns.

The Baleroy Mansion chair

The Baleroy Mansion in Philadelphia has a reputation as being one of the most haunted homes in the city. There are all kinds of stories of the mansion, from housekeepers that suffer untimely deaths to the presence of an old woman dressed in black. Thomas Jefferson supposedly hangs out there, too, because even hauntings can benefit from a little name-dropping.

A lot of the activity is centered around what's called the Death Chair, a 200-year-old piece rumored to have been owned by Napoleon. He's not the one who haunts it, though, and according to homeowner George Easby, it's a spirit named Amanda who tempts people to sit in the chair. He described Amanda as a wicked spirit fond of appearing near the chair in the form of a red mist. If that doesn't sound evil enough, anyone who sits in the chair is destined to die not long after, and Easby knew several people who succumbed to the chair's curse. According to The Line-Up, Easby passed away in 2005, but there's no word on whether or not he chose to finally sit in the chair he typically kept covered and roped off for everyone's safety.

'Man Proposes, God Disposes'

In 1845, explorer John Franklin set out to find the Northwest Passage. While he had no luck finding a nonexistent thing, he did find starvation, a bit of cannibalism, and death for his men. By the 1850s, other explorers brought back grisly tidings about the traces of the men they'd found, so when Edward Landseer decided to immortalize the men's fate in painting form, titling it "Man Proposes, God Disposes" and depicting two polar bears tearing apart the remains of the expedition's gear and a skeleton.

The Conversation says that the eerie painting was bought for the Royal Holloway College at a record price, and according to the BBC the stories of its curse started almost immediately. It's in a hall used for exams, and legend says that students unfortunate enough to be seated next to it are destined to fail — like the expedition it depicts — and that it's also been responsible for the suicide of at least one student. The student supposedly died after turning in her paper with "The polar bears made me do it" scrawled across the test. Of course, there's no evidence that ever happened, but the fear of the painting is so great that teachers started a tradition of covering it with a flag for all tests. The tradition has lasted for decades. Better safe than sorry.

Annabelle the Doll

If you've seen The Conjuring, you've heard the general story behind Annabelle the Doll. Hollywood loves to take liberties, though, and the "real" story has been told by controversial paranormal investigators Lorraine and Ed Warren.

Annabelle is actually a pretty standard-looking Raggedy Ann doll, which is completely creepy in its own right. This particular one was bought in the 1970s from a hobby store and given to the college-age Donna as a birthday present. Kids weren't ungrateful then, and the doll was given a special place in her apartment. Within days, Donna and her roommate noticed that the doll appeared to change positions when no one was looking. When they saw some blood on the doll, they decided to get help. A psychic told them that the doll was possessed by the spirit of Annabelle Higgins, a little girl who had once lived there and died under mysterious circumstances. The spirit apparently claimed that she only wanted to be loved. Because college students are dumb, they believed her and told her to stay.

It wasn't long after that the doll — and whatever demonic spirit lives in it — attacked a friend of Donna's. After it allegedly tried to strangle him Chuckie-style and slashed his chest, they called in a priest. The priest contacted the Warrens, and the doll ended up with them. Since then, she's been blamed for a number of fatal and near-fatal accidents surrounding those who doubt the spirit's power.

Letta Me Out

Even the biggest believers have to admit that the origin story behind Letta Me Out sounds like something Stephen King might have written in grade school. But the doll has been making the rounds of Australia's paranormal world since 1981, so maybe there's something to it after all.

It's in the care of Kerry Walton, who said he discovered the doll beneath the floorboards of a haunted house. He took it with him because good ideas are dead. Walton claims numerous people have seen the doll move on its own. Dogs hate it, too, and try to kill it because dogs are smart. The one time Walton tried to sell the doll, he said was pinned in his car by an unseen but powerful force, which he took as a clear message that the 200-year-old creeptastic little monster-puppet was quite happy with his current family.

According to The Chronicle, scientists examined the puppet and found it has human hair, glass eyes, and some kind of facsimile of a brain inside its wooden head. Psychics claim it contains the spirit of a boy who drowned, and Walton says that explains the rain that seems to follow them wherever they go. You'd think an evil spirit would be more interested in a drought, but who are you to argue with the supernatural?

Katherine Griffith's skull

The first parts of Burton Agnes Hall were built in 1173, and it's a pretty cliche example of an English manor built by a family with way too much money and an unhealthy obsession with scrollwork. There's plenty of haunting potential there; just ask the haunted skull.

Like many manor houses, pieces were tacked on here and there over the years, and in 1620 the current residents were adding on. According to the story, the family's youngest daughter, Katherine (known as Anne) Griffith was the most excited about the renovations. Unfortunately for her, she was attacked by some ne'er-do-wells on the road while she was heading off to visit neighbors. She died from her injuries a day later, but not before she asked her sisters to promise her something: they would behead her and leave her skull in her beloved hall for the rest of eternity.

Those were different times. The sisters agreed but buried Anne in the standard way because they were not, presumably, sadistic nutters. Anne wasn't happy with their decision, and she allegedly haunted the house until they had no choice but to exhume the skull and place it in the hall. No one's entirely sure where it is, but it's rumored to have been sealed in one of the walls of the Great Hall. That's probably for the best.