Republic Park was on the Texas coast, near Galveston. It opened during the post-Disneyland theme park boom in the 1960s and was very profitable for many years because it was much closer to Houston than Six Flags and was heavily subsidized by the county government, so admission was really cheap. They started it out as a Texas heritage park with a waterpark and roller coasters–very popular during the reaction to the civil rights movement and desegregation.

It ran into troubles in the 1970s when the subsidies ended and wound up rotating through about three or four owners a decade, each with a different vision for the place. Eventually the people who own Tonk’s Fruit Farm in California and RKO Studios Florida bought it and tried to turn the place into a traditional Six Flags style roller coaster farm, dropping the Texas heritage theme except as a decorative accent. It never really worked, and attendance was mediocre through the 90s and 00s.

Hurricane Ike was the real nail in Republic Park’s coffin. On the coast, it was vulnerable to flooding and wind damage, and the drainage system failed at the height of the storm surge. The owners never had a clear vision for the place, and they tried to write it off for insurance purposes. But the county had a partial ownership stake thanks to the old subsidy days, and there were some eminent domain issues too. So Republic Park was essentially abandoned after Ike.

The legal problems kept anyone from enforcing anti-trespassing security; the city and county won’t patrol, and the former parent company won’t spring for private security. So it became popular with vandals, graffiti artists, and urban explorers–all of them drawn by the spectacle and the lack of effective security. It’s also become popular with amateur filmmakers.

One crew took advantage of the grey legal situation to try and film a horror movie in Republic Park. Despite fair weather, good cellular coverage, and proximity to Galveston metro, most of them were never seen alive again. The involved parties hastily cut through the red tape in order to demolish the park and entomb what remained in quick-setting concrete, work that was largely complete by 2013.

The exact details of what happened during the shoot have remained hazy…until now.

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