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A team of ghost hunters found the body of a missing woman as they explored the old Kuhn Memorial State Hospital in Vicksburg, Mississippi. VPC

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If you're older than 35, and lived in this region during the late 1970s or early '80s, chances are that you still have some memories of Brigantine Castle.

Or, at the very least, of the television commercials for it.

Every season they flashed across television screens from New York to Philadelphia, featuring a vampire that leapt from a picture and sprung to life, a headless woman, monsters, goblins and other assorted ghouls.

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And always there was that creepy organ music playing in the background.

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Drawn largely by the advertising, tourists flocked by the chartered busload to this spooky house extraordinaire, built in 1975 in Brigantine, the island just north of Atlantic City.

The "monsters" that worked in the five-story wood-and-foam clad citadel were mostly young drama majors who measured success by the number of patrons they could frighten into the fetal position.

Among them were a large group of actors from Vineland and Millville.

They spent countless hours preparing new sets, costumes and acts with each passing season. Handling drunk or unruly patrons and hosting an occasional celebrity were also part of the job.

Among the castle's most memorable attractions was the rat room, a pitch-black hallway where "man-eating rats" scurried about the floor. The rodents were actually garden hoses pushed through holes in the wall with recordings of shrill squealing and scratching piped in.

For the first few years, attendance was brisk. But island residents soon tired of the traffic, vandalism and tourists urinating on their lawns. They filed lawsuits.

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An engineering study yielded suspected building code violations, and the place closed for good. In 1987, the castle was being dismantled when a spectacular blaze destroyed it.Then, in 1984, a deadly haunted house fire at Jackson Township's Six Flags Great Adventure brought the castle's safety to attention.

Today, like fast food from Gino's, Pong, customized vans and CB radios, Brigantine Castle seems a distant novelty of that bygone era.

Do you have a photo of Brigantine Castle? Please send it to amonacelli@gannettnj.com and we will add it to the photo gallery above.

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