Joyland Journal 3: Dead Body In The House Of Horror -- FOR REAL!

The mystery in Joyland regards a woman who was murdered in the House of Horrors.   Her body was only discovered  later.  

This plot theme reminded me of a conversation I had with my mother some time back.  She related total terror she had going through a funhouse at a local California theme park.  She described what she felt sure was a dead body in the funhouse.  Later I saw a program called Autopsy in which they discussed a case where a dead body was discovered in a California house of horrors.  I called my mom, and she was stunned.  "I saw that body!" She said.

Turns out the ride was Laff in the Dark and the park was The Pike.

She wrote me this:
When I was a kid, my cousin and I rode Laff in the Dark at The Pike, an amusement zone in Long Beach.

We were absolutely terrorized.  We felt spider webs.  A green monster popped out of the wall, almost hitting us.  We vowed to NEVER go again.

The following year, we thought we were too mature to be frightened.  When the ride was over, I had my hands over my eyes and my cousin had his arms over his head in my lap.

One of the things that scared me the most was a hanging body.  I thought, "What if it's real and no one knows!  I should tell someone!"  But I was just a kid and thought surely they knew if it was real or not.

Decades later I saw a report on tv ... the body was real! has a great article on the Laff in the Dark ride at The Pike.  It says in part:
It seems that McCurdy's body popped up everywhere after that, in places such as an amusement park near Mount Rushmore, lying in an open casket in a Los Angeles wax museum, and in a few low-budget films. He continued to tour with carnivals until 1976 when he was finally discovered by mistake hanging in a California fun house as a wax dummy. The Six Million Dollar Man crew discovered this prop to be a corpse, McCurdy had been hanging in a Long Beach fun house for four years. 
In 1976, Laff in the Dark, a dark attraction located in Long Beach California, leased their location to Universal Studios to film an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. While making adjustments to the set, one of the workers attempted to move a "prop," a mummified man that had been painted several times with phosphorous paint and was suspended from the ceiling by a noose around it's neck. Grabbing the hanging figure by the arm in an attempt to loosen the noose, the prop man was startled when the lower portion of the man's arm hit the floor! 
Long Beach police were called in, and the following is an excerpt from the police report filed December 8, 1976. "The Laff in the Dark located at 210-A-A-A West Pike Avenue was entered, and their attention was drawn to the human-like display, which was hanging from a rope. Criminologist E. Williams and filing officer examined the display, and noted beneath the outer covering there appeared to be bone-type structure having bone like joints. There was also noted to be a small trace of hair on the back of a leg. The display remarkably resembled a human cadaver in size and proportion."

The website goes on to say that the corpse was taken to the Medical Examiner's office, where an autopsy revealed that it was indeed human remains -- A DEAD BODY!  And not just a dead body -- the body of a murdered man.  The body was identified as Elmer McCurdy.

Check out the full article at


  1. Proof that real life is just as weird as fiction.

    Awesome post, David!

  2. My reactions after the first blows of the words has sunk in:

    Me:..................................................................................(starts open mouth, closes it)..................(opens closes mouth again)............(pause to wonder about butterflies in stomach, they seem to have gone now)..............(Is he actually PSYCHED about this?!!!! To myself, I wonder).

    Er, sorry.