Tortured slaves. Victims of a "Helter Skelter" blood bath. Theater-goers incinerated in one of America's deadliest fires. The restless spirits of these and other tormented souls haunt creaky homes, dreary cemeteries and dark alleys. Or maybe it's all a con, a scam played upon our morbid curiosity about ghosts and the occult. With Halloween approaching, it's only natural to be a bit more curious about life, death and that misty cold void in between. If you feel like testing your courage and exploring the world of spooks, ghouls and poltergeists, consider one of the following ghost tours. -- Hugo Hugo Martín, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Dearly Departed: The Tragical History Tour (Hollywood) Celebrity spook enthusiasts can jump on a bus and cruise through Hollywood for three hours, checking out stops like the site of the Tate-LaBianca murders by the crazed Manson family. Guests also see spots where celebrities took their dying breath, including the site of the Ambassador Hotel, where presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the Viper Room in West Hollywood, where actor River Phoenix died of an overdose. The tour also includes a rest stop -- at the Beverly Hills restroom where singer George Michael was arrested for lewd behavior in 1998. 1 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. $35. For reservations and meeting location, call (800) 789-9575 or go to www.dearlydepartedtours.com. Pictured: The Viper Room in West Hollywood.
Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times