Local filmmaker explores spooky hospital grounds - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Local filmmaker explores spooky hospital grounds

Dan Hall Dan Hall
Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - A local filmmaker wanted to make a documentary about the old Central State Hospital. Dan Hall was interested in the conditions there and how patients were treated. He wound up uncovering things he describes as both creepy and disturbing.

Central State Hospital closed in 1994, and most of its buildings are locked up and abandoned, or are they?

Central State, Asylum for the Insane is a new, one-hour documentary. Filmmaker Dan Hall says it began as a look at how the mentally ill were treated at the turn of the last century.

"Before drugs, they didn't know how to handle people who needed help in that way, so they chained them up, put them in dungeons and would leave them there," Hall said.

Hall says while filming on site, weird things happened. "From way things were lit, it looked like someone screaming out the window to doors shutting when no one's around," he said.

Hall felt compelled to find out more. "I took psychics into the tunnels, I figured like a canary in coalmine sort of way," he said.

Hall also took paranormal specialists or ghost-busters inside to record electronic voice phenomena. "It's for your own interpretation. Some are very clear, some are not. But some people are saying names or 'go,' or 'leave,'" said

There are skeptics, including people who work on the grounds at Central State. "I have never had an experience like that," said Virginia Terpening. She runs the Indiana Medical History Museum in an old pathology lab. It draws visitors who want to see medicine's past, but not, she says past patients.

Referring to Hall, she said, "He gave me the sense he was looking for ghosts or spooky stories. We just don't have evidence of that."

Hall says his film isn't a Blair Witch Project or a Halloween stunt. "This is all real stuff. Everything I captured on tape is unaltered in any way."

But he says what disturbed him most is the known - the pain and suffering some here endured. He hopes filmgoers take away "a good sense of what happened there and how as humans we can do good and bad things to each other. Even in the best of intentions, we don't always do the right thing."

Hall's film opens tomorrow night at the IMAX. It's also playing other theaters.

For more info about the film:

Central State

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