For three years, Blair Murphy went to bed each night inside his haunted hotel in Central Pennsylvania, secure in the knowledge that he alone could call himself the owner of the world’s largest Ouija board.
And then, one day this month, Murphy heard about “Ouijazilla.”
“Even though I’m a psychic,” Murphy said, “I didn’t see that coming.”
In Salem, more than 5oo miles from the Grand Midway Hotel in Windber, Pa., it seemed someone had outdone him. Rick “Ormortis” Schreck, a New Jersey man whose interest in the macabre appears to rival Murphy’s, had created a monster: a 72-foot-by-44-foot behemoth to dwarf the Guinness World Records holding 44-foot-by-29-foot board on the roof of Murphy’s hotel.
Unveiled to much fanfare on the sprawling lawn of Salem Common two weeks ago, Ouijazilla’s emergence was only the beginning of a fight that has bubbled over like a witch’s cauldron. And even though Schreck’s board is clearly bigger, determining who truly holds the title of owner of the world’s largest Ouija board is stirring spirits on both sides.
In one corner, you have Murphy’s Ouija board, which sits atop the roof of the 32-room hotel he purchased with friends in 2001. Murphy helped turn the purportedly poltergeist-filled property into a major tourist attraction, with rooms such as the “Vampire” and “Frankenstein” suites. His Ouija board is so well known that the attempted ouster from the north made the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Murphy and his then-girlfriend, Camille Zamboni, a contortionist, made the board with other artists in 2016, after learning there was no Guinness World Record-holder for “Largest Ouija board” at the time. And according to a Guinness spokeswoman, the hotel still holds the official title in the company’s record books.
But that hasn’t stopped Schreck from claiming his board is the biggest and baddest there is — with or without Guinness.
“Mine is bigger than the roof of his whole building,” said Schreck, who owns a “Ouija Hearse” called Blue Ghost and spent more than a year constructing his hand-painted, 99-panel plywood board in his tattoo shop, House of 1,000 Tattoos.
“And that’s a fact.”
If you were to set aside actual measurements, and go by headlines alone, it would appear to anyone with an Internet connection that Schreck is, indeed, the titleholder. That, Murphy says, is part of the problem.
“UNLEASHING OUIJAZILLA: THE WORLD’S LARGEST OUIJA BOARD,” shouted a headline written by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!
The company concedes it’s “unofficial,” but it presented Schreck and his family with a certificate of recognition with that exact designation on the day it was placed in Salem.
“The numbers and scope of this monstrosity speak for themselves,” Ripley’s wrote.
Ahead of the big reveal, Ouijazilla was even billed by Salem Haunted Happenings, the city’s guide to all-things Halloween, as an “enormous board” that “will crush the existing Guinness World Record for largest Ouija Board.”
“On videos, it says winner of the Guinness Book of World Records, and that part is disingenuous because they didn’t take our title,” said Murphy, who called Ripley’s less prestigious than Guinness. “They said ‘we crushed’ — crushed was the word — the other title. But they didn’t. They did do a big board and it’s big, impressive, fascinating. But apparently, from what Guinness said, it didn’t affect our title.”
Schreck, the vice president of the Talking Board Historical Society, a nonprofit devoted to the history of Ouija and similar board games, acknowledged that his board hadn’t set the Guinness record. But to Schreck, the certificates are secondary; it’s all about the size.
“If in the Guinness Book of World Records there was a record for world’s largest baby born, and it was 13 pounds,” he said, “if me and my wife had a 14-pound baby, I don’t need permission to tell the world I have the world’s largest baby.” (The Guinness World Record for heaviest baby is 22 pounds.)
A Guinness spokeswoman said an application for Schreck’s monstrous project is currently “under review” by the the company’s Records Management Team, a process that can take months to complete.
Schreck said he has yet to submit any evidence from the official unveiling, but will likely do so if he hears back from Guinness.
Until Murphy’s name is scrubbed from the Guinness website, he believes himself to be the reigning champ. His record could survive on some sort of technicality — perhaps having to do with a handful of advertisements on Schreck’s board, which was disassembled earlier this month.
“[D]espite recent headlines of another Ouija Board claiming to have broken his record title, Blair [Murphy] still holds the official Guinness World Records title per the guidelines and submitted evidence,” Guinness noted in an article about Murphy’s board posted to its website Wednesday.
Leaning into the playful banter, Murphy sent a Globe reporter an image of Muhammad Ali standing over a knocked-out opponent, boxing gloves thrust in the air.
He said Schreck is welcome to pack up his movable board and bring it to the Grand Midway Hotel. Murphy’s nearby cathedral, home to a collection of dolls once owned by author Anne Rice, might make a good place to discuss their Ouija-off. He said he’d be happy to host him.
Schreck, who claims building Ouijazilla was never about the competition and was a natural progression born from his longtime infatuation with talking boards, said showing up in Pennsylvania might not be in Murphy’s best interest. Just take out a measuring tape.
“The numbers don’t lie,” Schreck said. “The one thing I’ll say to him, as I’ve been saying, is: Ouijazilla is undeniable, with all due respect.”
Even if Murphy ends up losing the battle for the biggest board one day, he’s got another record to fall back on. Hanging from the ceiling in the Grand Midway Hotel is the world’s largest tarot card.