I’m sure there’s a mansion hidden deep within a forest that surrounds a city somewhere in the world, though I’m the probability of said mansion leading to an underground lab performing numerous illegal experiments that may or may not lead to a worldwide zombie apocalypse is significantly less likely. We already know the zombie apocalypse is drawing ever closer, it’s merely a matter of time (so stock up on your munitions while you still have a working brain people!)
The idea of there being a town somewhere in the world that shares a remarkable resemblance to the infamous town we’ve explored over numerous games seems a impossible. However, there is a nearly empty town nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania that’s been struggling to contain a fire that threatens to consume the entire town. I’d very much like to introduce you to the ghost town of Centralia. I wanted to take a break from lists and retrospectives to show you something that’s actually incredibly creepy, and made all the more so because this place actually exists. The 2006 film based on the Silent Hill games wasn’t great when it came to its plot or characters but it’s hard to argue the film didn’t nail the atmosphere of the games perfectly. And even though the creatures weren’t necessarily terrifying (with the exception of the insanely intimidating Pyramid Head who looked excellent in the film), a great deal of attention was invested into getting the personality of the games transitioned well into the film.
Honestly, I always wondered what it’d be like to be exploring the fog-shrouded town, instead of merely moving a character through its empty streets. Would it be cold? Would the fog be too thick to see my hands in front of my face? Would I hear the haunting melodies of Akira Yamaoka’s work playing softly from no recognizable source? Then one day before the film had come out I was reading about how they researched what the town would look like, and that’s when they mentioned its creation had been heavily inspired by the real-world ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania.
Fun fact: Silent Hill 4: The Room actually gives homage to Centralia as the town the game takes place in is called Ashfield and it borders Silent Hill. Centralia has a town that borders it named Ashland.
Immediately upon hearing the town’s name I set to researching it; how far away is it? Could I visit the town? Is it infested with monsters that would like nothing more than to rip me apart and feed my naught bits to their deformed offspring? Sadly, there are no monsters walking the broken streets of Centralia, but because of the fire burning under it the town has been cut off from the rest of the world, just like Silent Hill.
Part of me has always desperately wanted to take a road trip to Centralia, take some pics and perhaps make up some insanely ridiculous story about how I was chased away by Pyramid Head. The other more logical side recognizes the dangers of visiting such a place. The fires burning in its belly have been spreading for half a century (and may very well continue to expand until it consumes the nearby towns) which makes every step you take on its broken ground fragile. One wrong move and you fall into a burning pit of flames, and I hear that’s not a great way to go. Then there’s also the poisonous air, so unless you have a gas mask, or preferably one of those kickass miner suits from the film, that’s another intelligent reason not to go.
Just like the town it inspired (at least in the film), Centralia has been slowly consumed by fire, dropping its residents from over a thousand people in 1981 to a brave seven souls that remain today. A neat effect caused by the fire has formed vents of steam that shoot extremely hot plumes of smoke into the air, which in turn look somewhat like fog.
So, did you find all of this Centralia chat insanely boring or did you stop reading long ago so you could start planning your tip to the Real SIlent Hill?
In case you missed the rest of the series, here’s a quick recap:
Day 1, A Resident Evil Retrospective
Day 2, A Silent Hill Retrospective
Day 3, What Do You Fear?
Day 4, The Four Scariest Kids in Gaming
Day 5, A Look Through the Lense
Day 6, Six New Games You Need to Play this Halloween
Day 7, The 7 Biggest Horror Games of 2011
Day 8, Alone in the Tower