Posts Tagged ‘ghost stories’

A couple of years ago, I published a couple of lists about haunted locations I wanted to visit before I die and become a ghost myself (click here and here to read those lists). And yes, I am planning on becoming a ghost after I die. I’ll hang around a century or so as a wandering spirit, see some sights, and then ascend to heaven. And if you don’t read at least one of my books and leave a review before I die, I WILL HAUNT YOU!!!

So anyway, it’s been about two years since that last list, and I figured now would be a good time to come out with a new list. Especially since I’ll be visiting a few haunted locations this summer (more on that in a later post). So without further a-BOO! here’s even more haunted places that I plan to visit before I also become a ghost.

BEWARE!!! Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

1. Old Licking County Jail

Location: Licking County, Ohio

I swear to God, as soon as I get a car, I’m going to visit the ones that are located in my home state. It is so hard to get to these places when you know basically no one who’s willing to go with you and drive you!

Old Licking County Jail is a prison in Licking County, Ohio. Like the Ohio State Reformatory, more than a few inmates died here, some under violent circumstances. There were also corrupt guards, beatings, and everything else you can think of when it comes to jails in an era more prone to punishment than correction. It’s been shut down for a number of years, but since then, there have been claims of full-body apparitions, voices from nowhere, and even spirits following paranormal investigators home.

I’m not going to say throw me in and throw away the key, but do throw me in for a night.

2. Double Eagle Restaurant

Location: Mesilla, New Mexico

I’m hungry. How about you? At the Double Eagle Restaurant, you not only get dinner, you get dinner and a ghost or two! The building the restaurant is housed in used to be the family home of a wealthy Latino family. The family’s eldest son reportedly fell in love with a servant girl, which ticked off his social-climbing mother. One day she returned home early from visiting friends, and caught the two lovers in bed. In a rage, she murdered the girl, and accidentally wounded her son, leading to his death three days later. The mother later was committed and died in an insane asylum. Years later, the house has become a restaurant, but apparently it’s also become a home for various kinds of spirits. Poltergeist activity has been recorded, and there have been voices and even full-body apparitions too.

Not only that, but the room those two lovers were killed in has since become a private dining room with two chairs kept in there for the lovers. It’s said that anyone who sits in those chairs will have horrific nightmares.

Um…waiter? Ghosts please!

3. Goatman’s Bridge

Location: Denton, Texas

According to local legend, back in the 1930’s a black goat farmer named Oscar Washburn moved across the Old Alton Bridge, where he ran a successful goat farm, and became known to the locals as the Goatman. He apparently took that in stride, putting up a sign on the bridge that said, “This way to the Goatman’s.” And because white racists get upset very easily, in 1938 they hung him from the bridge, only to find that the noose was empty when they looked over the side. These men, dressed up as Klansmen, later went and murdered Washburn’s wife and kids.

Since then, there have been reports of a demonic, satyr-like figure stalking the bridge and the surrounding woods. Glowing eyes have been seen, people have been attacked, and women have reportedly suffered attachments that have tormented them all the way home. There have also been reports of Satanic activity in the area, leading to a negative charge about the bridge.

This sounds like one billy goatman I’d love to meet trip-trapping on a bridge!

4. Zak Bagan’s Haunted Museum

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

You guys know I’m a big Ghost Adventures fan and the team’s lead investigator, Zak Bagans. Well, apparently he’s bought a 30-room mansion in his home city of Las Vegas, and he’s been converting it, room by room, into a museum for paranormal objects he’s collected over the years. There’s a room devoted to haunted dolls and puppets, a room devoted to the Kevorkian van and the hospital room where Dr. Kevorkian did assisted suicides, to skulls, and to all sorts of weird and interesting things. I even hear the famed Dybbuk Box, whose previous owner I know and which inspired a short story of mine and The Possession, is in the museum.

All this is sure to create a rather interesting mix of paranormal energy, which would make for a very interesting visit. Don’t you agree?

5. Dorothea Puente Murder House

Location: Sacramento, California

Dorothea Puente was a serial killer who used her job as a caretaker for the elderly to kill off her charges, dispose of the bodies, and collect on their rent checks. Several of her victims were later dug up in the yard of her building. She was sentenced to life in jail, still insisting on her innocence, and died in 2011. Since then, her home/boarding home has become something of a tourist spot, part private home, part attraction with weird stuff in the front yard. There are also reports of paranormal activity in the house, and thus a few paranormal investigators have been allowed inside the house.

How about a novelist with weird interests?

6. Winchester Mystery House

Location: San Jose, California

Weirdly enough, this show hasn’t been featured in any episode of Supernatural. Too bad. I think Sam and Dean would have a blast in a house that shares their last name.

The Winchester House was built starting in 1884 and going on around the clock for thirty-eight years. Its owner, Sarah Winchester, was the widow of William Hart Winchester, owner of the Winchester Rifle Company, maker of the famous guns. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Winchester became convinced that the ghosts of those her husband’s guns had killed were haunting the Winchester family, and had even been the cause of her husband and infant daughter’s deaths. A medium later confirmed this, and told her move out West and continually add onto a house so that the spirits would get lost and never find her. This she did, buying property in California and having a mansion built there until her death in 1922, after which work ceased immediately.

The house is well-known for its massive size and oddities, including staircases that lead to nowhere, and doors that open to the outside…on the second floor. Windows at odd locations, glass doors on the bathrooms, and even rooms that have yet to be discovered (they actually found a new room in 2016). It’s also become a paranormal hot spot, with plenty of documented activity taking place there (some think the activity might even be slightly demonic).

Sam and Dean, I’ll meet you there! Bring the Impala and your hunting gear. I’m bringing the humor and the beers (oh, if you’re a Supernatural fan, that line’s hilarious).

7. The Clown Motel

Location: Tonopah, Nevada

The name says it all. It’s a clown-themed motel, with tons of pictures, dolls, and even a life-sized clown mannequin! Worst place to read or watch Stephen King’s It ever! And if that’s not all, it’s right next to a graveyard! Yeah, talk about creepy! And a great source for the supernatural activity that has been reported at the motel.

Yeah, I’ll take whatever you have available.

8. Moonville Tunnel

Location: Moonville, Ohio

Moonville was a small mining town in Southeastern Ohio during the late 19th century. It was small as heck, it was never prosperous, and it was dead by the 1950’s. The only thing keeping it from falling into obscurity is the train tunnel built into the side of the mountain. Supposedly, a train engineer was hit by a train (or possibly two, the record’s not exact) one night, and since then, glowing lights and white mists have been spotted in the tunnel. There have even been rumors of further deaths.

ROAD TRIP!

9. Haunted London

Location: London, England

I know. I’ve already been to London. I’ve even visited the Tower of London, which has a few ghosts in it. But I WANT TO SEE MORE! I never saw as much of London as I wanted to, and that includes haunted locations. There are haunted hotels, Highgate Cemetery, and so many more! There are even supposedly haunted Underground stations.

Cool guv’nor! Let’s go!

10. Akasaka Mansion

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Now known as Akasaka Weekly Mansion, it’s a hotel with more than one building, and it’s Building #1 that has been known for the paranormal activity. There have been reports of figures standing at the end of the beds, noises being heard at night, guests being touched (sometimes sexually), and a woman being dragged from her bed. Even creepier, there’s supposedly a woman who crawls from room to room on her hands and knees. That’s something right out of a J-Horror film!

I’ll go, but I’m not watching any Ring or Grudge movies right before I do.

What haunted locations have you been to recently?

Have you been to any of these? What were your experiencces?

It’s Friday again, so you know what that means. It’s #FirstLineFriday!

Now if you don’t know what #FirstLineFriday is, let me explain the rules. On Fridays, you:

  1. Create a post on your blog entitled #FirstLineFriday, hashtag and all.
  2. Explain the rules like I’m doing now.
  3. Post the first one or two lines of a potential story, a story-in-progress, or a completed or published work.
  4. Ask your readers for feedback, and encourage them to try #FirstLineFriday on their own blogs (tagging is encouraged but not necessary).

As I said in my last post, I’ve been having a lot of great ideas for stories. And on Monday, I had this rather strange and unique idea for a novel, inspired by Japanese mythology and culture (one of my best sources of ideas, by the way), and has an interesting structure to it that would be unusual and fun to write. Obviously, I can’t go into more details without giving away the plot (and I hate to give that sort of thing away). But I can hopefully give you a very good opening for this story, while maybe adding a hint in that opening.

Anyway, enjoy:

Almost everybody has a bucket list, along with something on that list that they want to accomplish before they graduate or leave town or die: to learn how to code (the dream of my somewhat nerdy brother Eric, as well as my somewhat cool boyfriend Luca), to go to a heavy metal festival and see their favorite bands perform (my friend Rudy, who plans to do just that after graduation), or to confess their feelings to the rebellious, cool-as-hell River Fuhrmann (my friend Lavender Murphy, who has no idea that the rebellious, cool-as-hell River also has a thing for Lavender, but is too proud to admit it). I have my own bucket list, but mine is rather unusual, as at the top of my list was ghost stories.

Thoughts? Overly long? Any errors? What’s on your bucket list*? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

And while you’re at it, why not try #FirstLineFriday yourself? It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s great practice for authors of all stripes. Sadly, I’m taking a small break from tagging, so you’re safe from my torture for now. But if you want me to tag you, consider yourself tagged. Or better yet, let me know. I’ll catch you next week.

Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m hoping to see a movie this weekend and maybe write a review of it. If not, you can expect a blog post this Sunday.

Until the next time, my Followers of Fear!

*Mine involves meeting and/or having my books read by Stephen King and/or Anne Rice, going ghost-hunting with the Ghost Adventures Crew, having a custom car made from a hearse, and writing for Doctor Who. Does that surprise any of you?

Last year I made a list of haunted places I wanted to visit before I died and became a ghost (and yes, I plan on becoming a ghost. If you don’t buy at least one of my books and leave a review, I WILL haunt you!). Since I made that list (and visited the location I most wanted to see), I’ve come across a few more haunted places I’d like to visit. So I did what any good horror writer with a blog who believes in ghosts would do: I wrote a list and now I’m transcribing it down here.

This list isn’t in any particular order, and they span all over the United States, Mexico and even parts of Europe (parts I’m nowhere near at the moment, unfortunately). I hope you enjoy it, and that if this list or the previous one influences your travel plans in any way, shape or form, it’s in a positive way.

BOO!

1. Island of the Dolls

Location: Xochimilico, Mexico

Located in Xochimilico’s extensive canal network is La Isla de la Munecas, or the Island of the Dolls. According to the history of the place, a hermit named Julian Santana Barrera lived on one of the chinampas, or artificial islands, in the canals. One day, Barrera found the body of a girl who drowned in the canals, and was reportedly hit very hard by it (some locals believe a water spirit was responsible for the girl’s death). Not too long after that, Barrera started finding dolls around the island, and hanging them up all over the place, on tree branches and in his own hut. He said it was because the dead girl hung around, so he was giving her a whole playground of friends, and to keep evil spirits away as well (the water spirit, perhaps?). Over the years hundreds of dolls were hung up, leading to the island’s nickname. Even after Barrera died in 2001, the dolls still hang about, some of which are purported to talk or walk around on their own. The place has been investigated by ghost hunters with some interesting results.

If I ever get to Mexico, I’m heading there. Ghosts and spirits and creepy dolls? Sounds like fun.

2. The Villisca Ax Murder House

Location: Villisca, Iowa

Properly known as the Josiah B. and Sara Moore House, this charming little house was the spot of a brutal ax murder in 1912 on eight people, the Moores, their four children, and two young friends of the children. Several suspects were considered for the murder, and one was even tried and let off twice, but so far the murders remain unsolved. Since then, there have been several reported hauntings of the place, including seeing shadows of a man wielding an ax, children crying, and other freaky stuff. One family reportedly left the house screaming one night and never returned. Since 1994, the house has been a museum dedicated to its dark history, and several ghost-hunting crews, including the Ghost Adventures Crew, have investigated the house, finding some very interesting evidence. This is definitely a place I’d like to visit.

Villisca also happens to be the town where my friend and colleague Joleene Naylor lives. So Joleene, if I ever make it out to Villisca, I hope you wouldn’t mind showing me around for a day. It’ll be a spooktacular good time.

3. Sedlec Ossuary

Location: Sedlec, Czech Republic

What looks like the Paris catacombs but is above ground and is part of a working church? The Sedlec Ossuary, located beneath the titular town’s Cemetary Church of All Saints. In the 13th century the abbot of the local monastery visited the Holy Land and brought back with him some dirt he’d picked up while over there and sprinkled it around the abbey cemetery. This made it a premiere spot to get buried and, along with the number of people dying of the Black Plague, caused the cemetery to be expanded several times. Of course, there was no way to keep up with that many bodies, and in the 16th century bodies were exhumed and their bones stacked inside the cathedral that had grown up around the spot. In the 19th century a woodcarver was hired to take the bones, roughly 40,000 to 70,000 bones’ worth of skeletons, in order, which he did, creating several macabre furnishings, decorations, and religious objects out of human remains. As you can imagine, this place has become quite the tourist destination, and ghost sightings or photos are not unheard of.

Sounds like my kind of furniture-shopping destination.

4. Leap Castle, Massy Woods, Montpelier Hill, The Stewards House, and Loftus Hall

Location: All over Ireland

I couldn’t leave these off the list, and they’re all in Ireland, so I figured, why not just group them as one big entry/tour of the nation? Leap Castle has a history of dark and mysterious deaths, almost like something out of a Shakespeare tragedy, and is also reportedly the home of an elemental spirit that hides in a pit deep in the castle. Montpelier Hill is the home of the Irish counterpart of the Hellfire Club, which supposedly did some very strange rituals, possibly Satanic ones. There’s even a story of the devil actually visiting the premises one evening.

Down the road from the Hellfire Club Lodge is the Massy Woods, which supposedly have several different kinds of spirits within, including a banshee, and the Steward’s House, which is said to be frequented by a demonic cat. If you look at a painting of the cat the wrong way, or if you hang it up wrong, you might bring something malevolent upon yourself.

And Loftus Hall is supposedly the most haunted house in all of Ireland. As the story goes, in the 18th century the Loftus family went on vacation, and the Tottenham family, consisting of a father, a mother, and a daughter, came to take care of the place. During their stay a ship broke on the coast nearby and a man from the ship came to stay at the mansion. During this time the man and the Tottenham daughter Anne became quite close. One night, during a game of cards in the aptly named Card Room, Anne dropped a card under the table. When she went to retrieve it, she discovered their guest had a cloven hoof. When she pointed this out in alarm, the man supposedly flew through the ceiling, leaving a nasty hole where he went, and was never seen from again. To this day people claim that the devil stayed at Loftus Hall, and that the hole he left through has never properly been repaired, that part of the ceiling is different from the rest.

Anne herself later went mad and was confined in the Tapestry room, where she died some time later. Years later a child’s skeleton was found in a hole in the Tapestry Room, leading to speculation that Anne had a baby while in confinement and that it was killed because it was a bastard and the possibly the devil’s spawn. Since these strange events, the house has been the site of poltergeist activity and visions of Anne walking down hallways looking for her lover. There have been several exorcisms performed on site over the years, which have only done so much to quell the spirits in this haunted place.

In any case, I’d like to make a trip to see these places!

5. Grand Canyon Caverns

Location: Peach Springs, Arizona

In the 1920’s, Walter Peck (not the actor) discovered a deep hole that went underground for quite a distance, in both depth and length, and discovered some skeletons down there while he was at it. He quickly turned the cavern into a tourist attraction, saying the bones he’d found there (and which were removed for scientific study) were of cavemen. Turns out they were Native American, but that never stopped the tourism industry.

Today, the caverns are a popular tourist spot with a restaurant, hotel, and museum. You can even tour the caverns and even stay overnight down there in an equipped hotel suite if you wish. Just be aware that you might be sharing the caverns with some Native American spirits who are upset about having their burial grounds disturbed by tourists. They may throw rocks at you.

When can I make my reservation?

6. The Bell Witch Cave

Location: Adams, Tennessee

This is one of those locations where people, even ghost hunters, are on the fence about the veracity of the reported hauntings. According to the legends, the Bell family lived in the area in the early 19th century and came under attack by a witch (though the events described sound more like a poltergeist or a malevolent spirit). Supposedly the witch did everything from tapping on walls, pinching people and other harmless stuff to full-on assaulting family members and even appearing as a creature that was half-dog, half-rabbit and all black. She makes a certain cave her home and will attack anyone who takes rocks or shows disrespect in her cave, hence the name “Bell Witch Cave.”

The thing about this legend is that all sources about the witch come several years after the Bells are supposed to have lived in the area. Even secondhand witnesses would’ve died out by the time the earliest known sources of the legend were published. Regardless, there have been reports of people being attacked by spirits after visiting and occasionally taking rocks from the cave, and there are rumors that the cave may have held some spiritual significance to local Native Americans. And a few paranomrla groups have investigated the cave with interesting results.

Whatever the case may be, this is definitely a place where I would like to visit and maybe see for myself if there’s any truth to the stories. Just as long as it doesn’t come home with me, I don’t think the witch would like Ohio winters.

7. Bannack Ghost Town

Location: Bannack, Montana

Ghost towns. There’s something about a town that’s totally been abandoned, something so…enchanting. So is the case with Bannack, which was founded in the 1860’s during a gold rush, but died out in the 1970’s. Today, the town is mostly a tourist attraction, once a year being revitalized for a festival called Bannack Days that recalls the time when it was a boom town and the seat of the county.

The rest of the year though, the town is populated by spirits. Some say that the sheriff ran a gang that killed anyone who looked at them the wrong way, making for a rather lawless town and for the events that would cause several hauntings. There is also reports of the ghost of a drowned girl being sighted, and even following people home.

Sounds like a good excuse to visit Montana, if you ask me. It even inspired a scary story I’d like to write someday. Better get some firsthand experience, right?

8. Linda Vista Hospital

Location: Los Angeles, California

Originally a hospital for railroad workers, the hospital saw a definite decline as the railroad industry and the neighborhood changed. The number of deaths increased, mainly ones associated with gang violence. With most of their patients being uninsured or under-insured, the hospital was forced to close its doors in 1991. Today, part of the hospital has been renovated into an assisted living facility, while the rest is a frequent set for movies and TV shows and a historic landmark.

However, some patients are said to have never left the building, and there have been multiple investigations into the hospital’s paranormal residents. To which I say, “Nurse, I’ve got a bad case of ghost obsession! Can I stay overnight for monitoring?”

Also influenced an idea for a story I had a while back. Hope I get to write that too.

9. Targoviste and Hundeora Castles

Location: Romania

These were the castles where Dracula lived. The former is where he impaled over two-thousand of his enemies, while the latter was where he was imprisoned for seven years of his life. It’s said at one of these that some Satanists did a ritual and ever since weird stuff has happened. Don’t know if that’s true, but it’s Dracula, so I have to check it out.

And then I will have some blood! Mwa ha ha!

10. Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Location: Paris, France

I did not know about this cemetery when I visited Paris last year, or I would have made an effort to visit it. One of Paris’s most famous cemeteries, it has flowers, graves and mausoleums that look like little houses or very interesting sculptures, and its fair share of famous folk, from Oscar Wilde to Jim Morrison. There’s actually a waiting list to be buried there, and if your family doesn’t renew the lease on your burial plot every thirty years or so, they dig you up and put someone else in your place.

Over the years, plenty of ghosts have been reported around the graveyard, including famous folks, Morrison himself, and even a few wandering lovers. As someone who visited the Paris catacombs and loved it, this seems like my sort of place. Vive le cemeteries francais!

Have you been to any of these places? What were your experiences like?

It’s Friday again! You know what that means! It’s #FirstLineFriday!

It also happens to be my 1000th blog post. Yes, you read that right. This is my one-thousandth blog post. Nearly four years after I started blogging, I’ve reached this momentous milestone. And I couldn’t have done it without all of you. In the early days, when I only got one or two views every couple of days, I thought a lot about giving up. But you guys kept coming. From the far reaches of the globe and the farther reaches of the Internet, you came, read, liked, commented, and even followed. So thanks everyone. Without your help, I would not be here today.

And now, it’s #FirstLineFriday, so let’s dive right into it. Here’s what you do: on Friday you post the first or first two lines of a potential work, a work-in-progress, or a published story. This week’s entry comes from a novel involving ghosts I might work on after I get through Video Rage, Laura Horn and Rose (yeah, I’m planning that far ahead, apparently). I’ve had an idea for what the opening lines would be for awhile now, so here’s a good way to test them out and see how people react to them. Enjoy:

I awoke, feeling very uneasy, though why I couldn’t say. Sitting up, I scanned my bedroom, sure I’d heard somebody scream just a moment before.

Thoughts? Errors? Critiques? Let me know.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. This weekend I’m spending time at home just relaxing (especially since Sunday is Tisha B’Av, a big holiday with a fast in the Jewish calendar. Don’t want to do anything crazy, do we?), maybe planning a trip to Munich, maybe cleaning and doing laundry and editing Video Rage. If I have something to post about, I’ll let you guys know.

Ein schonen tag, mein Anhanger der Angst! Let’s stick together for another thousand posts, shall we?

It wasn’t a dud! It wasn’t a dud! IT WASN’T A DUD!!!

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. I’ve seen so many bad horror films lately, it felt necessary to shout praise of a good one. And I’m not surprised that this one is so good. Leigh Whannell, James Wan, Jason Blum, and Oren Peli all worked together on this film. These guys are known for great, scary films, so when they come together you know you’ve got something worth getting excited for.

The third chapter in the Insidious saga takes place a few years before the events of the first two films. Quinn Brenner, played by Stephanie Scott, believes she’s being contacted by her dead mother, and encourages this contact. This tragically leads to a car accident that breaks both Quinn’s legs and puts her at the mercy of the spirit after her, The Man Who Can’t Breathe. At the same time, Elise Rainier, the medium from the first two movies, reappears to try and help Quinn, while facing her own darkness and a loss that has made her afraid to do what she does best.

There’s a lot to be said on this film, so I’ll try and keep it to the things I think everyone should know before going to see this one. First, the actors all handle their roles very well. Scott, along with Dermot Mulroney and Tate Berney as her harried father and annoying preteen brother, have great chemistry as a family crippled by a devastating loss and pulled together again by the dark events surrounding them. Best of all though is Lin Shaye as Elise, whose personal journey to recover her confidence is extraordinary and heart-wrenching. I almost cheered in the theater when she had finally regained her former airy manner from the first two films. Plus it’s fun to see her first interactions with Specs and Tucker and how they formed the team we met in the first film.

And speaking of the first film, there’s a notable change between Insidious 3 and its predecessors. In the first two films, they built a mythology based around astral projections and the realms of the dead (aka the Further), but Chapter 3 seems to eschew that mythology for the most part in favor of creating a good old-fashioned ghost story, and a great one too. The suspense is powerful, the atmosphere tense and the creepiness of the whole movie, coupled with the amazing visuals and sets, the jump-scares and the screeching violins in the background music, will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the movie.

Creepiest of all, of course, is the villain, The Man Who Can’t Breathe. Honestly, even when you see him fully in the light near the end of the movie, he’s still one of the freakiest looking villains I’ve seen in recent memory. What makes him even scarier than his appearance is that you’re not sure exactly why he’s menacing this girl or where he came from. There’s mention of him living in Quinn’s building long ago, and something about “pets” is also mentioned, but we’re never really sure what his reasons are. And that just adds to the horror factor here.

There are only two major complaints I have with this movie. One is that the character of Hector, the lovestruck boy-next-door, seems like he was going to be a bigger part of this movie than he was. Were most of his scenes cut for time? That, and I feel that the climax was a little cliched and a little too short to be truly frightening, though the ending makes up for that. Other than that, I had a really good time.

All in all, I’m giving Insidious Chapter 3 a 4.3 out of 5. A scary good movie that’s put out of my mind all the bad horror films I’ve seen lately and make me want to tiptoe through the tulips with terrified glee. And if the critics and the box office agrees with me, I think we can expect a Chapter 4 someday. And you know what? Even if it might be a little unnecessary (ah horror, the original junkie for unnecessary movie sequels), I might just be okay with that.

I’m going to tell you right now, I’m a little disappointed with this film. That might be because I hyped myself over this film due to the trailer being so awesome. However, I think a lot of it was because…well, it was a bad film. Not kidding. There was a little girl in the audience, I thought she was brave for coming to see this. She didn’t need to be brave. It just wasn’t scary.

I should’ve known a Poltergeist remake wouldn’t be good.

We all know the story, so I don’t think anyone will mind if I spoil this movie. If you don’t know the Poltergeist story, then spoilers ahead, and I wonder what rock you’ve been living under. Basically the filmmakers decided that since almost everyone knows the story about a family moving into a haunted house and the cute, innocent kid being abducted by the dead and her family having to go after her, they’d just update it for 2015, change some minor details, and throw the mythology at the audience, who will hopefully find it scary. Really, they would’ve done better going in a new direction, which Insidious did with a new mythology and some slight twists on the familiar formula, adding atmosphere, mystery, and surprise to scare us to death.

Here, like I said, they just throw the mythology at the audience. We’re drowned in it so that we  aren’t scared at all and the moments that actually halfway close to being scary were either included in the trailer and don’t have the same impact, or the sense of danger is just not there. For instance, there’s a moment with a power drill that could’ve been very scary, but the way it’s done you just know things will turn out fine before it does.

The thing about the original Poltergeist was that it took its time. It slowly built up the strangeness and horror and helped us wade into a mythology that would be expanded in the later two films. Here, the filmmakers are so concerned about paying homage to the original film that they rush us into it and pay homage to all that made the original scary in ways that just don’t terrify. “Look here!” “Here’s this reference!” That’s literally what they do.

Another thing is the humor in this movie. They try and insert humor at various times in the movie, and while humor in horror does help in some horror stories in-between terrifying moments, the ones here are all at the wrong places and seemed forced. They’re only barely funny. I think they would’ve done better not to insert humor at all the wrong places and instead try and expand on the character development of these barely-developed characters. Maybe show how the dad is trying to be a good provider even though he’s jobless and refuses to allow his wife to get a job and then show how he fixes that?

Also, why does the the little boy have a sink in his attic bedroom? There’s no bathroom up there, so why’s there a sink? Is it an unfinished bathroom or something? And I don’t care how much wiggle room there is on a house in a neighborhood with plenty of foreclosures and that was built on a cemetery. You don’t buy a freaking huge house like that when you have no steady income! Move into an apartment until you can find something better! You’ll avoid the ghosts too!

There are some good points to this film though. The few variations they make from the original are inventive and interesting, and the scene in the afterlife is much more visually interesting and creepy than the weird green screen effect they had in 1986’s Poltergeist II. And I like how the movie incorporates the ghost-hunting field and how some ghost hunters have become famous through reality TV. As a fan of some of those shows, I had a little laugh at that. Plus I don’t think this version has a curse on it (unless the curse either left the movie alone because it was so bad or it made the movie bad, in which case it’s a very intelligent curse we’ve got here).*

But other than that, not much going for this film. Even the “They’re here” falls flat where it should soar, which is just sad. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving the Poltergeist remake a failing grade of 1.4. It’s almost as bad as the Friday the 13th remake. Almost as bad. Poltergeist wasn’t ruined by Michael Bay, and it didn’t use sex to try and utterly fail to liven things up (which is good, because two of the main female characters are under the age of 18).

All for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m signing off for the night. Let’s hope I find a good horror film next time around. I’ve gotten so many duds lately.

*If you didn’t know, the original Poltergeist is supposedly cursed because during one scene it cost too much to make fake skeletons and instead they used real ones dug up from actual graves. Between the first and third films, several members of the cast and others associated with the film died strange and/or violent deaths. Well, if you let monetary considerations overshadow your respect for the dead, you have to expect some sort of karmic backlash. Too bad it came down on the ones who didn’t deserve it.

A while back I said I was going to try and catch some more Korean horror films after seeing one that wasn’t too bad. Well, I just saw another one. And it sucked. So I’m sharing my thoughts on it here, partly because I feel like I should tell people in case they want to see it, and partly because I need to exorcise my thoughts on it or they’ll stew in my head for a while (never a good thing).

Cinderella is only very tenuously connected to the story we all grew up with. This movie follows Hyeon-su, a very pretty teenager who lives with her talented plastic surgeon mother Yoonhee. After one of her friends suffers a gruesome death after getting plastic surgery from Yoonhee, Hyeon-su starts to wonder about things her mother has kept from her. As more of her friends are attacked after getting surgery and as Hyeon-su’s mother starts to lose her mind, Hyeon-su must find the answers, all while being stalked by a blue-eyed ghost with a preoccupation for pretty faces.

While I give that the premise is good and the story told in the movie is very interesting as well, I have a lot of problems with Cinderella. I found myself having a lot of trouble understanding what was going on, the filmmakers didn’t do a very good job of emphasizing the supernatural elements so that you knew they were supernatural, and they didn’t do a good job explaining the mother’s dark secret very well either, making it so that the final twist loses its punch (if you actually find yourself not having to look up the Wikipedia article so you can have the final twist explained to you). Not only that, but the flashbacks are often forced on us so rapidly we have trouble figuring out whether we’re in the past or the present. Add in only a few real scares and that just shows how bad this movie is.

For what it’s worth though, the scares, when they do happen, are spectacular and frightening. And they do chronicle Yoonhee’s deterioration into madness quite well. And like I said, the premise is good, and the story they were telling would’ve been more impactful if they’d done a better job making the movie.

All in all, I’m giving Cinderella a 2.4 out of 5. Not great, but it was a good attempt, and if it had been done right, Cinderella might’ve been a great horror movie with an underlying theme of how some people, especially some South Koreans, are obsessed with beauty and achieving it through plastic surgery. I’d suggest a North American remake, but I have a feeling that that would just be another House at the End of the Street: great potential but poor execution.

My next review will probably be the Poltergeist remake coming out later this week. I’m a fan of the original and I’d like to see what they change in this adaptation (besides the little girl being a brunette and the medium being a forty-something Brit) and how scary it is. Judging by the previews, it should be plenty scary.