"Brian's the king of the child-people," Fransisca says.

The Pulidos' large home in north Scottsdale has two sections: the main house, which Fransisca's decorated in neo-gothic, Osbournes style, and Brian's basement suite, which consists of three rooms. There's a theater called the Red Room — adorned with posters of horror movies, aliens, Japanese character Devil Man, and Captain America — and a "collector room" filled with markers of his own comic book career: sculptures and action figures of his comic book characters, and framed copies of the first issues of most of his comics. The bathroom houses several framed tarantulas and scorpions.

Pulido's office is surprisingly plain. His desk faces a blank wall, and the wall behind him has only a few family heirloom objects, like a couple of wooden ducks. "I like to create in a fairly blank slate," he says. "I like looking at plain stuff because usually, after a while, you just disappear anyway."

“Mama” is just one of the creepy people lurking in Skull City.
courtesy of Mischief Maker Screen Partners llC
“Mama” is just one of the creepy people lurking in Skull City.
A cover for Pulido’s Evil Ernie comic.
Courtesy of Tales Told LLC
A cover for Pulido’s Evil Ernie comic.

When the Pulidos get out of the house, they like to hike the mountains around Arizona and take road trips to weird places around the state. That was how they discovered Vulture Mine.

The history of Vulture Mine is filled with thievery, murder, and suicides. No one knows the exact number of people who have died there, but there are still bodies at the bottom of the mine. Many people believe the place is haunted — they say empty swings by the old schoolhouse move on their own, shadowy figures appear and then vanish in the open desert, and car doors unlock by themselves.

Getting to Vulture Mine requires getting on Grand Avenue and driving west for 75 minutes. Wandering through the town around the mine feels like walking into a post-apocalyptic surrealist painting — bathtubs, box springs, and scrap heaps of old cars sit half-buried in dust across the landscape. Massive buildings with crumbling stone walls and spider webs of orphaned electrical wires house artifacts of an industrial wasteland; visitors must sometimes navigate around piles of huge rusty orange pipes and bolts.

The town brims with sounds — the clanging of tin sheets partially detached from roofs banging against each other, the wind whistling through the brush, the occasional caw of a bird, the buzzing of flies. What you don't hear much is the sound of human voices. This is a lonely place, Vulture Mine: population zero.

Today, Vulture Mine is a rustic roadside attraction about 12 miles off U.S. 60 in Wickenburg, a place where visitors can wander the more than 30 dilapidated buildings on a self-guided tour. Caretakers Marty and Roma Hagan have run the place since 2003, but it's been in their family since 1972. Marty's always happy to chat about the mine with visitors while Roma does things like skin rattlesnakes for hat bands, but for the most part, visitors are on their own.

It's hard to believe now, but in its heyday, Vulture Mine was home to 5,000 people, including Jacob "Lost Dutchman" Waltz. And it was a prospecting boon, producing more than $200 million dollars in gold. Legend has it that in 1863, Henry Wickenburg picked up a rock to throw at his burro, and the rock was gold. So he founded Vulture Mine and worked it for about eight years before agreeing to sell the mine to Benjamin Phelps (of the Phelps Dodge family) for $85,000. "He was swindled out of it," Marty Hagan says. "They paid Henry 20, and he didn't see the rest of his money."

Hagan says that wasn't the only cheating at the mine. There's a place called the Glory Hole there, and it marks where seven miners died in 1923. "Two or three of them would go into this other area where they weren't supposed to be and start chipping away at the columns," Hagan says. "But the columns, being eight feet across . . . As they chipped them down to maybe four to three to two feet, they wouldn't hold the weight, so the mine collapsed on them. So they're still there. Why recover the bodies? They were stealing, and they had to bury them anyway, so leave them there."

Henry Wickenburg shot himself in the head on the bank of the Hassayampa River in 1905, but his home still stands (barely) near Vulture Mine. It's right next to the Hanging Tree, where 18 miners were hanged for stealing gold from the mine. Half the house has collapsed into a pile of bricks and timber, but the kitchen and living area remain intact. The only thing in the front room is a rickety white rocking chair and a rusty box spring bedframe. And there's a dead, mummified bird stuck between the windowpanes, its head somehow ripped off and lying at its feet.

The whole town feels creepy, so Brian Pulido, of course, fell in love with it after he and Fransisca took a couple of self-guided tours. In fact, Pulido loved the location so much that he wrote the entire script for The Graves around it.

"I think that, for a horror film in particular, having a very remote location that has a ton of character is key," Pulido says. "So as crazy as we were to go up and shoot there, I decided to set the movie there. I couldn't write this story and then go talk to the owners and make a deal, because if they said no, what would I have had?"

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Nice article but the pic shows that they still aren't making fake blood that LOOKS like the real stuff. Still looks like that sticky red-dyed stuff we used as kids on Halloween.

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