Tag: ghost stories

Woman With a Haunted House for a Face

‘The Haunting of Hill House’ and the Literary Tradition of Horror

Happy Halloween! If you are a horror fan and you haven’t watched the Netflix adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s masterpiece The Haunting of Hill House, I highly recommend you sit down for the ten hours it takes to watch it all. If you have read the book the series is based upon you will realize that it is the definition of a very loose adaptation. Many names are recycled, plot points reused, and broad strokes painted, but in the end the story is very different. And this is a good thing. 

 

The Haunting of Hill House already received a very faithful cinematic treatment in 1969’s The Haunting from director Robert Wise (with an accompanying terrible American remake in 1999). It was refreshing to see a familiar story get a new take from Netflix, this time focusing on the scariest thing of all: family.

 

In the original novel, the Crain family were the landowners and builders of Hill House, all of whom were driven insane and died in various horrible ways by the malevolent presence in their home. The Netflix show recasts them as a family of home flippers who have invested in the haunted Hill House as their latest project. The familial drama as it relates to the supernatural projects of the house takes center stage this time around, and it’s powerful stuff.

 

I’ve long held that most modern horror films and television shows are terrible, because they so often lack the very literary roots of the genre. Genuinely good horror delves so deep into the subconscious that it’s nothing but inky blackness obscuring our true fears. The fear of death, your own or a loved ones. The fear of mental illness, real or imagined. And of course, the fear of the unknown, the actual ghosts.

 

This is where the screen, big or small, so often fails. Subconscious is notoriously difficult to portray visually. Many Stephen King adaptations fail miserably because the internalization of his characters is so important. The Haunting of Hill House succeeds spectacularly at delving into the traumatized members of the Crain family. All five children and both parents receive an episode in the limelight where we really get to know them as people, and how the House has come to envelop their lives and poison their relationships with one another. 

 

Subtlety is sorely lacking in contemporary horror, and while the series does indulge in a few jump scare moments, the real horror lurks around the edges of the screen. Just take a look at all the hidden horror in between frames. This is the cinematic equivalent of reading and then rereading a passage in a book over and over again, going back because you’re sure you’ve missed something. I often did this while reading The Haunting of Hill House and similar fare. The dread is palpable.

 

I’ve said it, and I’ll say it again. The best horror has its feet firmly in a literary tradition. It’s less about the demon girl popping up behind you in the mirror and screaming her undead lungs off, and more about the circumstances of the demon girl’s death, and her state of mind when she surrendered her soul to Satan, or what have one. One makes you jump out of your seat for a few moments, the other stays with you for years.

Spooky Library

These 5 Haunted Libraries Will Give You the Heebie Jeebies

Libraries are mysterious places. They are sites in which the past gets stacked on the present. They are home to ancient and obscure books that fill shelves from floor to ceiling, which eventually form into a collection of human history. Sometimes stories do not get left in the past, and instead continue to influence life today. The same can be said for dead people who refuse to be dead. Some of these people have chosen to set up ghost camp inside libraries, much to the dismay of people who are trying to work or read there, ghost-free.

 

ghost

Image Via Patch

 

Paranormal researchers on the other hand, have rushed to these sites over and over again in order to investigate why and how these sightings have affected the lives of the living. Some of these chilling stories have been passed down through generations, or have been reported in more recent years. They include creepy tales of disembodied moans and cackles, moving cold spots, ghostly apparitions, and unexplained camera presences.

 

1. The Library at Combermere Abbey, Cheshire, England.

 

Lord Combermere was struck and killed by one of London’s first electrically powered motorcars in May of 1891. Soon after this, members of the Abbey staff began reporting possible ghost sightings and other paranormal activities in and around the premises, particularly in the Abbey’s library.

 

Lord Combermere

Image Via Combermere Abbey

 

The photo above was taken in 1891 by Sybell Arbet. The figure of a bearded man can be faintly seen sitting on the chair to the left, and people are pretty sure that this is Lord Combermere himself because that particular carved chair was his favourite to sit in. The scary thing about the photograph is that Lord Combermere was in fact being buried four miles away at the time. The photographer exposed the frame for over an hour and, although to our modern eyes this figure may just be a product of double exposure, this was certainly not the case in 1891. Others have criticised the authenticity of the photograph by claiming it could have been one of the Abbey’s servants who sat there momentarily during the exposure. However, each has testified to having been at the Lord’s funeral at the time. So unless some of those servants lied to cover their funeral-skipping asses, this is a photograph of a ghost. A pretty pissed-off-looking ghost. 

 

2. The Willard Library, Evansville, Indiana, USA.

 

This Indiana library is haunted by a ghost known as ‘The Grey Lady.’ Every October the library runs a ghost tour in honor of her presence. In its first year during the 90s, 800 curious individuals attended. Yep. That’s how real this ghost is. The first recorded sightings of her occurred in the 1930s and since then, the Grey Lady has appeared to numerous people including policemen who arrive to the sound of the alarm in the middle of the night, to visiting lecturers from nearby universities. Both parties have described books and furniture being inexplicably moved around, noticing moving cold spots, hearing strange whimpers, feeling ghostly sensations on their skin, and, creepily enough, a moving smell of perfume. No one knows who she is, or was, but one thing is for sure: she is there to stay.

 

Indiana

Image Via Twitter

 

3. Morelia Public Library, Michoacán, Mexico.

 

The “Nun in Blue” has reportedly been haunting the 16th-century Morelia Library for many years. The library’s director, Rigoberto Cornejo has said, “When I leave the building, I feel the sensation of someone following me. In fact, I can hear their footsteps.” Another library worker named Socorro Ledezma requested a transfer in 1996 because she was experiencing regular bouts of paralysis while sitting at her desk, caused by an unseen presence. The presence would move around her and blow into her ears.

 

Mexico

Image Via Michoacan Travel

 

4. Houston Public Library, Texas, USA.

 

So, Houston has a basement-dwelling, tree-planting, violin-playing, dog-loving, butter-churning ghost. Only in Texas. Julius Frank Cramer lived where he worked his whole life, from his time at the Star Creamery churning butter to his job at the Milam Seafood Company, and finally onto his role as security guard, custodian, janitor, and, also, resident at Carnegie Library in Houston.

 

Those who encountered paranormal activity at this library have reported finding violin sheet music strewn across the basement floor where he lived. Cramer was a fan of playing uplifting Strauss waltzes. Aside from music, he was an avid gardener, and brought his German Shepard with him wherever he went. 

 

People have reported hearing a scratching sound, as if a dog was digging at the marble floors of the library. Current employees have also noticed trees sprouting up around the building, despite the gardener insisting he had planted nothing. Talk about a ghost who knows how to entertain himself.

 

houston

Image Via The Pecan Park Eagle

 

5. The National Library, Kolkata, India.

 

After India was freed in 1953, the Imperial Library in Kolkata was renamed as the National Library. It was then moved to Belvedore House, where it was opened to the public. Years later, in 2010, the library took the help of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for restoring the building, during which time a chamber of secrets (*wink wink*) was unearthed. 

 

The room the archaeologists came across was nearly 1000 square feet in size and had no entrance to it except for a bricked-up archway that must have once served as an entryway. Many rumours spread immediately, along the lines of it being a torture chamber or treasure vault. Due to the colonisation of India by the English, many thought the chamber must have been similar to the punishment rooms many castles in England possessed, where people were systematically beaten and tortured. The ASI decided to drill a hole inside the wall, and to their dismay no treasure lay inside. Nothing but mud lay inside.

 

The chamber is now shrouded with secrecy and, since its opening, twelve labourers have lost their lives in freak accidents during restorations. Some eyewitnesses have reported hearing disembodied footsteps throughout the building. Not to mention the two students who died on site. *Shall not be visiting.*

 

Wiki

Image Via Wikipedia

 

Feature Image Via Spectral Illusions

'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

New Christmas Movie Will Remind You How Awesome Charles Dickens Is

‘There may be something there that wasn’t there before…’ This could most likely be Dan Stevens’ new wig in order to play the part of the popular Charles Dickens in his new movie coming up. Yes, that may be it.

 

'The Man Who Invented Christmas'

Image Via Teaser Trailer

 

The handsome actor will be playing Charles Dickens (alongside Christopher Plummer) in The Man Who Invented Christmas, a somewhat crafted up story about how the author struggled in his career. Somehow he manages to create a holiday, time-travel, ghost, and morality story all rolled up into one as A Christmas Carol

 

Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer

Image Via City Bible Forum

 

“It’s difficult to appreciate how weird the idea of a Christmas book was in 1843,” Stevens explains. “People were baffled by it! Since then, it’s really become a part of the fabric of our conception of Christmas. I was really interested  to examine it as a work of art and also as a cultural moment.”

 

The actor’s curiosity and desire to get into character allowed him to happen upon some interesting accounts of the past author. It was written in one of Dickens’ daughter’s diaries that she would often find him in his study making faces in the mirror and speaking in funny voices to act out his works as he wrote them. What a dedicated man.

 

Charles Dickens

Image Via Encyclopedia Britannica

 

As far as inventing Christmas, many people have pegged Dickens with this hefty title, however, it’s true in certain ways. Due to Britain’s industrial toil and the gritty hard times, Dickens wanted to make charitable works and goals the focus. He encouraged us to remember those who have passed and weren’t able to be a part of Christmases any longer. Through his stories we are meant to reflect on past, present, and future at Christmas time, the most special time of year. Another recurring theme seems to be failure and being humble along with gratitude. We definitely use a lot of his phrases about the holiday to this day.

 

I don’t know if I would say Dickens invented Christmas, but he sure as hell reinvented it. Check out the movie in theaters November 22nd!

 

God bless us, every one!

 

Feature Image Via HeyUGuys

Halloween Night

5 Plans To Spook Up Any Bookworm’s Halloween Night!

This is not a joke people! Halloween is less than two weeks away and we need some plans! Now, since we are booklovers, we’re usually in the mood for specific things at specific times. We like to have fun, but in a laid-back setting and at our own terms. Like everyone, I want something special to come from a night out; it’s got to be worth setting down a good book for!

 

Based on my own preference (as well as some of my friends), I’ve figured out some ideas for what we book folk can do the spookiest night of the year, All Hallows’ Eve! Which is really just fancy talk for Halloween. Whether you want to stay in and stuff yourself with sweet, glorious chocolate or throw on your best character costume and hang out with a few of your best friends, I’ve got your plans right here!

 

1. Stay in with some tasty treats and watch a harrowing movie!

 

Image Via Giphy

 

This is a common plan, but it will never get old! Although this may put you on duty for trick-or-treaters if you’re the only one home, it will definitely make for a more frightful night. Not frightful in the answering-the-door-in-your-ghost-pajamas sort of way, but the staying-home-alone-on-Halloween-night sort of way. That makes me feel like I’m going to turn into Jamie Lee Curtis and get stalked by Michael Myers. Let’s hope not.

 

But even if you have a friend with you, it’s fun, mysterious, and anything seems possible. If you’re looking for eerie films (or adaptations) try classics like The Shining, The Amityville Horror (my personal favorite), The Exorcist, Psycho, and, of course, Halloween. I love those. For those of you who want something less frightening, I’ve got Hocus Pocus for you! Nothing beats classic and old-school. If you want to be extra literary, dump the Reese’s (not really, though) and try candies like the famous chocolate frogs or Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, grab some Wonka Bars and check out more on this sweet treat list! Haven’t you heard that staying in is the new going out? 

 

2. Dress up as your favorite literary character and go to a friend’s party!

 

Image Via Giphy

 

As terrifying as Halloween might seem, it can actually be rather comforting. You feel nostalgia in the air and, for the first time in a while, you feel like a kid again. That’s all thanks to the good ol’ costume. If you have a pure love for a certain story character, throw it together and show it off! We’re not saying go to a wild costume party at a club or dance hall, but if a friend is having a get-together or maybe you want to host one, then just do it! Here are some ideas, courtesy of us. To me, dressing up and celebrating with a few good friends is all you need to make the night magical. You got your drinks, your snacks, and some cool costumes…what more do you need? Whether it’s your house or theirs, think of fun games people would love to play! I’ve had some of my best memories at other friends’ houses for parties and celebrations. 

 

3. Read scary ghost stories all night long…

 

Image Via Giphy

 

If you’re the kind of person who creeps yourself out over the smallest thing, then hey, me too! Hearing creepy sounds or the light whistle of the wind can cause my mind to run rampant with every scary movie scene. I know, I’m the worst. But if you’re in one of those moods where you don’t feel like watching a movie and nothing on TV seems to satisfy you, then read it out. I’m talking stories, stories, and more stories. Ghost stories. You can find countless short ghost stories on line with just a quick search. Short would be better to fit in as much spooky as you can when you’re home alone on Halloween night. Try HuffPost‘s list of unbelievable haunting ghost stories. If you do have a great horror novel that you’re in the middle of then read it all through the night. Enhance your chilling fear by reading in the dark with a night light. Although these stories may be short, the feeling that you’re not alone can still linger in the air.

 

4. Check out local bookstore parties!

 

Image Via Giphy

 

This is as bookish as it gets for Halloween. Check out your local bookstore or one that’s not too far from you, chances are they’re having a party and you definitely have to grace them with your presence! Impress your fellow bookworms with your character costume and chat with other readers about your favorite horror novels, this is the number one way to get your book recommendations: word of mouth. If you’re in New York for Halloween, check out Strand Bookstore’s smashing party and costume contest! If not, then keep searching. Bookstores know bookworms love something different.

 

5. Visit a haunted house…

 

Image Via Giphy

 

Yes, I said it and I don’t take it back. I know everyone is different, but if we as readers enjoy a good scary read then why not a good scare in person? I love books because I love thrills. Isn’t that why we read in the first place? To experience something different from everyday life? Haunted houses are all over now. Some are really haunted and some are just made as attractions. I do not mean the ones where you sign a waiver beforehand so you can be grabbed; you want a bit of a fright, not full-blown terror. But rather than rowdy clubs and bars, haunted houses are the next best hotspot for Halloween.

 

These are merely suggestions and ideas to get your mind going for the Halloweekend. Everyone’s got different tastes and maybe some of you bookworms want to let your freak flag fly rather than reel it in. If that’s the case I have three words for you: go for it. As long as you do something fun, safe, and frightening, you’re basically set. Hope this helps and spook on, my friends.

 

via GIPHY

 

Feature Image Via Unsplash

Image of the shop's window

Readers Beware: America’s Oldest Bookstore Is Also Haunted

The oldest bookstore in America, and possibly the world, is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Moravian Book Shop has been open and running since 1745, meaning it is actually older than the United States, clocking in over 270 years.

The shop itself has featured a few changes, having moved once to Philadelphia and then back. It also once was named “Bethelhemer Bücher Shop.” Moravian returned to Bethlehem in 1858, then claimed its current name in 1905. The first books sold were frequently (and amusingly) religious. The store also had it’s own printing and publishing system.

 

The Store Front

 

Courtesy of Poets & Writers

 

In an interview with the Guardian, store manager Lisa Girard says “I know this downtown has seen its rises and falls. There used to be some big department stores on this block that are now defunct and gone, but this place has been steady and true. We’ve created something here. What you hear people say is we’re an experience.”

 

It now has expanded to over 15,000 square feet in the town’s downtown. With such a rich history and years of existence, it has accumulated a little more than just books; many say the store is haunted.

 

Woman shopping in the store

 

Courtesy of Lehigh Valley Live

 

Ghosts are one thing most big box stores can’t provide. Due to the age and history of the story, it isn’t surprising a ghost snuck into the facility at some point, whether through rumors or something more sinister.

 

Jane Clugston, who has worked at the store for over 30 years, has had a hands-on experience with the ghost. From the same Guardian article, she reported seeing the ghost, following it and then finding the stove and a fan were left on when employees were closing and getting ready to leave. Clugston says “I don’t know why this person, ghost, spirit drew us back there, but I guess to turn off those appliances,” says Clugston. “I’d never thought of it until I told someone else and they said a ghost led you back there. But in that back hallway, a lot of people have said that they’ve felt things and they’ve seen things.”

 

Feature courtesy of Topix