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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Spotlight On: Haunted Houses

We touched on the problem of ghosts before, but I think we need to talk a bit more about this issue, because the thing is, they infest your houses. They're everywhere. It's like the world's worst vermin problem.
And what do we do? We call the Ghostbusters/Hunters/crazy priests, and we "foul-fiend-be-gone" them. Has it worked? No. I propose we look at this problem from a new angle. What is a common thread in many of these hauntings? A creepy house. It doesn't even have to be extreme; we're not talking The House of Usher here.
It can be any number of things, or a combination (and if it's all of the above, um, you may have an Amityville Horror house on your hands...).
Ghosts are atmospheric (ba-dum-bum); location, location, location.
So if you want to buy a ghost-free house, I would suggest a little checklist of deal-breakers:
  • is there a little lichen growing on old stone?
  • is the house made of just crumbly stone?
  • is the house situated on a crag/cliff-face/high, high hill?
  • did you drive down a long, winding path through a dense forest to get to the house?
  • can you see a cemetery from any aspect of the house?
  • is there any chance that the cemetery is below the house?
  • have there been any famous murders on the premises?
  • does everyone in town refer to it as 'the old ______ house,' and then get really quiet?
  • was it left to you in a will on the condition that you spend one full night in it?
  • can the night you look at the house or arrive to take possession be described as "dark and stormy"?
  • are there windows that look like big empty eyes staring into your soul?

from Wikipedia

A haunted house is defined as a house that is believed to be a center for supernatural occurrences or paranormal phenomena.[1] A haunted house may allegedly contain ghosts, poltergeists, or even malevolent entities such as demons.

Haunted houses are often seen as being inhabited by spirits of deceased who may have been former residents or were familiar with the property. Supernatural activity inside homes is said to be mainly associated with violent or tragic events in the building's past such as murder, accidental death, or suicide—sometimes in the recent or ancient past. Among many cultures and religions it is believed that the essence of a being such as the 'soul' continues to exist. Some philosophical and religious views argue that the 'spirits' of those who have died have not 'passed over' and are trapped inside the property where their memories and energy are strong.[citation needed] Entities which are said to 'haunt' homes are often believed to make noises, appear as apparitions, and shift or launch physical objects. This is sometimes manifested into 'poltergeist activity', poltergeist meaning 'noisy spirit'. Traditionally an exorcism is the method used to remove unwelcome spirits from the property.

Legends about haunted houses have long appeared in literature. Haunting is used as a plot device in gothic or horror fiction or, more lately, paranormal-based fiction. Roman-era authors Plautus, Pliny the Younger and Lucian wrote stories about haunted houses, as did the Arabian Nights (such as the tale of "Ali the Cairene and the Haunted House in Baghdad"),[2] and more modern authors from Henry James to Stephen King have featured them in their writings. Haunted castles and mansions are common in gothic literature such as Dracula.

The actual structure of a fictional haunted house can be anything from a decaying European feudal castle to a newly occupied suburban ranch-style house of fairly recent construction, although older buildings tend to be more commonly used. The widespread American image of the "haunted house" as a Victorian (particularly Second Empire) structure is said to have its origins in the Panic of 1893, which led to the foreclosure and abandonment of many then-new houses.[3]

Check before you buy: use this map of haunted houses in the US to do a little sleuthing before you bring all of your breakables into a poltergeist-infested house.

A visual reference guide to haunted houses:

As a little bonus for people who actually read this post and are participating in Helluva Halloween, 5 Helluva Halloween points to anyone who comments telling me any/all of the following:
their ghostly experiences
their favorite haunted house/ghost story
their favorite haunted house/ghost book or movie
which is the house they'd least want to live in, the Amityville Horror house, the hotel from The Shining or the Poltergeist house

Scare yourself silly:
  • find a haunted house at Real Haunts, or with the map I told you about earlier
  • visit a haunted house attraction where you can experience the terror , but where you are less likely to be flayed, as a job-security concerned worker is less likely to want to peel the skin from your bones, as it may result in their being fired. [and can I just mention that the world's largest freak-you-the-hell-out attraction is in my state, fairly close, as well as the realm of darkness where apparently, if you make it all the way through and "defeat the wizard," you get double your money back. People don't get their money back)
  • find out how to make your own haunted house and freak out your friends.

Haunted Houses in the books:
The Amityville Horror, Jay Anson
The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red, Ellen Rimbauer & Stephen King
Haunted, Kelley Armstrong
Haunted Ground, Erin Hart
The Haunted House, Charles Dickens
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
The Haunts of Mackinac, Todd Clemens
Hell House: and other true hauntings from around the world, Alison Rattle & Allison Vale
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
The Shining, Stephen King

Haunted Houses in the movies:
13 Ghosts
Amityville Horror
The Haunting
The Others
Rose Red
The Shining


  1. Ohhh, haunted houses are fun! Great post. I love the buyers guide.

    What are you doing next week. I am thinking vampires, but that leaves me one week. Zombies were done so much during zombie week I might skip them, maybe Jack-O-Lanterns?

  2. My boyfriends house is haunted. I'm sure of it. There is this little boy in blue we see often.=]

  3. Haunted Houses are awesome, granted the only haunted places I've been are The Haunted Mansion at Disney (animatronic ghosts) and Tower of Terror (more animatronics -- prior to the ride).

    Very intriguing post, I shall keep your tips in mind while house-shopping :-D

  4. Elnice: I've already done zombies. I was thinking vamps next, but I have a long list of things I wanted to work in. I'm going to try to do 2 a week from here on out, but we;ll see.

    Toast (I love that I just addresses someone as "toast"): Boys in blue and women in white seem to be common. I wonder why?

    April: Yes, definitely take it into account. Houses cost a lot of money, and if your "extra occupant" isn't paying rent, well then...

  5. LMFAO! I just love the list of deal-breakers. This sounds strange, but I want to live in a haunted house. That way the girl scouts stop bothering me. And annoying relatives. I also need to check out the Stanley Hotel--everyone I've talked to have experienced strange occurrences while staying overnight.

  6. Great post! I love all the deal breakers and all the pretty houses that I would want to live in even if they were haunted.
    I love Haunted Houses!
    There's this abandoned street in New Jersey that is said to have been abandoned because of all the haunted houses. My friend drove me down it for the first time in the middle of the night, and I totally freaked out.
    My favorite haunted house book was actually the Babysitter's Club one. . .I can't remember what it was called, but it was a Stacey one. Soooo good! And there was a tv show made from it.

  7. L.H.: I want to live in a haunted house, too. There's a gorgeous eerie house right in the middle of town that I COVET. And yes, I want to visit the Stanley Hotel, but I would have to have someone with me, so that if anything happened, they wouldn't think I was making it up, but I don't think I know anyone who would go through with a night there.

    And Brismuz: Man, the Babysitter's Club...that takes me back. I bet I still have a stack of those somewhere...

  8. Amazing post!
    I love the ghost hunters... it's somewhat of a guilty pleasure :p

  9. Haunted houses...I think I live in one.

  10. I haven't had any ghostly experiences, but there is a supposedly haunted abandoned mental institution near where I live. My favorite ghost movie would be a tie between the new House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts. Both are filled with cheesetastic awesomeness.

  11. Great post! I'll try to keep an "eye" out for eyes staring into my soul, and houses hanging over cliffs. Always a bad sign.

    I once woke up in the middle of the night with an old guy leaning over the other side of the bed, looking at my sleeping husband. I sat straight up and he dove to the side of the bed. I woke my DH and told him to check the room.

    There was no one there..
    *double blink*

    I didn't sleep good for weeks.

  12. I absolutely LOVE The Fall of the House of Usher. Actually, I love Edgar Allan Poe in general!

    Great post. Just so you know, this post is my Favorite Post of the Week on my Weekly Wrap-Up, and is featured on my blog. Yay!

    Natalie @ Mindful Musings

  13. Another interesting post and just in time for Halloween. You'll have to excuse me for skipping over bits of it - a vivid imagination and a fear of the dark (yes I know at my age I should be able to go to the loo in the middle of the night without having to turn on a light) means it could have given me nightmares for days on end.

  14. My wife many years ago was standing behind her Mother as
    she washed up by the Kitchen sink. She wondered why there was no answer to her questions...Mum, Mum she shouted only to watch her Mother turn and walk out into the garden with her hands clasped together in front of her. My wife then walked upstairs to her bedroom in annoyance. When reaching the upstairs landing she passed the bathroom. Her Mother called out from behind the bathroom door where she had been for the past quarter of an hour and asked who my wife was talking to downstairs as they were the only two in the house. My wife in a state of shock said to her Mother. I was talking to.....well you in the kitchen and you totally ignored me and walked into the garden with for some reason your hands clasped together in front of you. Her Mother started to cry and she said to my wife. I think you have seen yor Grandmother, she always walked with her hands clasped together. My wife's Grandmother had died several years earlier...I promise you that this is a true story.
    I am fascinated with ghosts and I have just realeased my first novel (a ghost story)-All In The Mind (The Voice of Innocence)By Danny Backhauser- available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel etc. Have a look at the synopsis as it really is an appropriate read for this site.
    Thanks Danny (my blog address:http://dannybackhauser.blogspot.com/

  15. All this haunted house talk has me thinking of watching Monster House when I get home ;)

  16. Titania: A haunted mental institution soooo trumps haunted house. And I love Thirteen Ghosts. The make-up was awesome, and Matthew Lillard was Matthew Lillard, which makes me happy.

    Lula: A ghost diving to the side of the bed is creepier than just the fact that he was watching you. If he was just standing there, it could have meant anything, but diving = peeping Tom, and who knows where he could pop up. *shudder*

    Natalie: AWESOME! Thanks so much. :D And I was such a weird kid, I read Poe all the time and loved Usher (and the Cask of Amontillado), which is not necessarily appropriate for a 10 yr old. Looking back, I wonder who the hell bought be Poe?

    Danny: Aw, sad and creepy, great mix.

    Everyone else, thanks guys. :)

  17. so many places in the world are treated as a haunted, like Amityville house or viagra online house, in my old house happens weird events the lights turn on alone, the doors open by itself.

  18. I normally delete spam right away, but that one ^ amused the hell out of me. Way to work your spam into the topic, spammer! I like your dedication.


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