I grew up in New Jersey and still live here . New Jersey is the home of the folklore tale of the Jersey Devil .
So let’s take a journey into the pine barrens of New Jersey and a glimpse into my deep fears growing up .
When I was in 6th grade we had to go on a class trip to Mt. Misery in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey . We had to sleep over in cabins and hike through the woods. At night the counselors told tales of the Jersey devil haunting the woods surrounding us . It fascinated me.
While hiking through the woods one day I slipped and fell into the muddy swamp infront of everyone including my 6th grade crush Ryan and thus began my fear and loathing of the pine barrens. The embarrassment alone had me wishing I saw the Jersey Devil so it could swoop me away from the teasing of my classmates .
(Ryan if you read this thank you for still square dancing with me in gym class )
See 80’s square dancing pic
The tales of the Jersey Devil began in 1735.
The Leeds family were one of New Jersey’s earliest settlers.
Mother Leeds or Jane Leeds was married to a man who was a drunk . She had given birth to 12 children and upon finding out she was pregnant for a 13th time she cursed the child in frustration. She said it would be the Devil . She simply could not handle anymore children and her drunk husband . Upon giving birth the child ,who was born normal, turned into a creature with bat wings ,hoves , horns and a tail. The creature murdered the mid wife and some of her other children before it flew up through the chimney and out into the forrest of the pine barrens .
There are a couple different versions for the tale but basically they are all the same . People who live in that area tell tales of spotting the creature from time to time and everyone always mentions hearing the creature’s screaming haunting howls at night by the dark moon lit swamps .
1998’s ,The Last Broadcast, is about four men entering the pine barrens to film a documentary and only one survives . It is filmed in a documentary style . It was rumored that this film inspired The Blair Witch project but that is false . The Blair Witch movie was developed in 1993 and production began months before this film premiered .
The 2002 film , The 13th child, is about an investigator for the district attorney named Kathryn. Kathryn along with help from the local police try to solve the mystery of the jersey devil . This was a direct to video movie . It got bad reviews but i give it props because it was filmed locally in Wharton State Forrest , Batsto Village and Hammonton.
2012 ‘s ,The Barrens , is about a family camping in the pine barrens and they are convinced the Jersey devil is after them . It stars Steven Moyer from True Blood . The fact that Steven Moyer is in it makes it worth watching .
2006 ‘s ,Satan’s Playground, is about a family getting lost in the pine barrens and being preyed upon by the jersey devil . The car breaks down and they find a old broken down house belonging to Mrs Leeds and cliche horror ensues as our characters ask to “ use the phone “. Felissa Rose from Sleepaway Camp is the heroine and scream queen in this flick. If you are a fan of hers give this movie a chance . Also you will recognize Ellen Sandweiss from Evil Dead . Ellen plays Paula.
2009’s , Carny ,staring Lou Diamond Phillips ( as the sheriff), is about a creature ( the jersey devil ) escaping from a traveling carnival and killing and munching on the town people.
Weird carnival folk are creepy in their own right and then adding cannibalism also makes it at least watchable .
To this date I haven’t found any really good Jersey Devil movies but I’m sure that’s debatable.
Television also payed homage to the Jersey Devil . X-FILES ,starring David Duchovny *swoon * and Gillian Anderson actually touched on the subject in 1993. Scully and Mulder search for a half man and half creature who is devouring people in the woods . The agents get no info or help from the Atlantic City police and it seems as though the police know the creature is out there but are worried about the impact on tourism . So the agents have to search on their own with the help of a archeologist and park ranger .
The Jersey Devil tales have spread from the pine barrens all the way to Bristol , Pennsylvania.
New Jersey residents have embraced the folklore and you can find pictures of the creature on coffee mugs and shirts and don’t forget the NFL hockey team named after him ( I’m a Philadelphia Flyers fan though, FYI ). The Jersey Devil is an unofficial mascot of our state .
“Rams Head , forked tail, clove hoof, loves my trail , I sup on your body, sip on your blood like wine” – Bruce Springsteen
Until next time hugs and hisses,