The Haunting of Hill House, and The Best Haunted House Tales For A Creepy October



By AARON SAGERS


With the new horror series The Haunting of Hill House, viewers settling for some “Netflix and Chill” time may instead be in for “Netflix and chilled to the bone.”

The 10-episode series, which hit the streaming service last Friday, begins 26 years with the Crain family who encounter supernatural threats in an old mansion. As the story switches between 1992 and 2018, the show follows the Crain father and his five adult children (including the skeptical paranormal author son), and their younger selves. Over the course of the show, they dig up the past, face down specters, and their own personal ghosts.

Based on the 1959 classic of the same name by Shirley Jackson, the updated Haunting of Hill House varies quite a bit from the original, but is nonetheless a faithful adaptation in spirit. It is a downright scary longform horror show that puts character drama at the forefront. 

As much as you should check out the decidedly creepy show, the source material is a must-read, and remains the best haunted house stories of all time.

But it is certainly not the only good story for a literary adventure to catch your breath, and tingle your spine. 

With that in mind, read ahead for the best haunted house tales to keep you creeped out for the rest of October. 

The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
By Shirley Jackson

The old manse Hill House has a bad habit of killing off inhabitants – so, of course it seems like a good idea (very bad idea) for occultist and paranormal investigator Dr. Montague to bring some folks along for a stay. Although phenomena begin as merely unsettling occurrences, the house is feeding off Eleanor, the sensitive waif, and getting stronger. As much as I love The Shining, I think even Mr. King would allow me to say Hill House is better, and a work of genius. The Haunting, the 1963 film based on Jackson’s story, is also pretty great, but not near as exceptional as the novel.

The ghost of aviator Elsie Mackay, and a night spent at Scotland's Glenapp Castle

BY AARON SAGERS
[NOTE: You can listen along to the story on SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/aaronsagers/the-ghost-of-elsie-mackay-scotlands-haunted-glenapp-castle]

It is 1 a.m., and despite the fact that I am exhausted, and feeling heavy due to copious gin cocktails, I am determined to draw a bath and listen to some period music. After all, I am staying in a majestic suite in a Scottish castle, and I happen to be sleeping in “the haunted room.”

The Castle is Glenapp in Ballantrae, Scotland, just off the Ayrshire coast. And the haunted room is the Earl of Orkney suite. The supposed ghost? Elsie Mackay.

'Conjuring' spinoff director Corin Hardy reports hauntings on 'The Nun' set

Hauntings associated with movie productions is nothing new. The Exorcist, Poltergeist, and The Omen are among the most oft-cited examples of sets allegedly plagued by paranormal activity. But even a more recent production such as The Conjuring supposedly dealt with strange happenings.

Which makes it all the more fitting The Nun, the upcoming horror spinoff to The Conjuring, has also had some spooky visitors on its Romanian set, according to director Corin Hardy (The Hallow).

In an interview with Cinema Blend at last month's San Diego Comic-Con, Hardy said he encountered two shadowy figures who hung out as he directed a scene in an old fortress.

Bigfoot erotica: In the news, but nothing new

When Bigfoot was trending on Twitter this week, it wasn't because anyone had discovered new evidence -- just some evidence of Bigfoot erotica.

Sasquatch's appearance in the news, and on social media, was due to him being brought up in the Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District race between Bigfoot believer Denver Riggleman (R) and Leslie Cockburn (D).

Riggleman is the co-author of the book Bigfoot Exterminators, Inc.: The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006, as well as "Mating Habits of Bigfoot, and Why Women Want Him."

And yes, Riggleman also posts about Sasquatch's junk on his own social media. He also talks running for office to allow good, smart people to believe "in whatever Bigfoot they want" (including gluten-intolerant ones).

Regardless of your particular stance on the cryptid's existence, you cannot blame Democrat Cockburn for utilizing this obvious fodder for campaign advertisements against Riggleman. Let's face it: Talking about 'squatchy balls does is low-hanging fruit for some mudslinging.

Still, Riggleman's posts do not really fit under the Bigfoot Erotica genre. But it does exist -- and both author Anne Rice and cryptozoologist Nick Redfern have agreed it is, well, something else.

The Ghostbusters theme song has roots in Victorian England

Ray Parker, Jr.: Singer, songwriter ... fan of Victorian era literature?

Parker's hit 1984 song "Ghostbusters" for the film of the same name (which held the top slot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart for three weeks) is of course famous for its hook "I ain't afraid of no ghosts."

But the line actually has roots 96 years before "Ghostbusters."

In Ellen Price Wood's posthumous 1888 novel The Case of Charles Strange (also published in the Argosy magazine she owned), the ghost of Mr. Brightman just might be wreaking some havoc. Then again, it could be a hoax.

But one thing was for sure, the bold character of Hatch declared: "I'm not afraid of no ghostesses, not I."

The line, which almost seems handpicked and adapted by Parker, comes courtesy Price, known for the novel East Lynn, who was an international bestselling and wrote quite a bit of supernatural fiction (The Ghost (1862) Reality or Delusion? (1868)).

But wait, there's more.

Historian Craig Conley dug up this illustration from a 1892 issue of Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, the one-penny per issue magazine filled with -- you guessed it, "thrilling" -- pulpy stories.

The illo. features the caption "'I'm not afraid of no old ghostesses,' said Harold."

Conley doesn't list which issue of Thrilling Life Stories this comes from, and I wasn't able to find it in the digital volume I own. Therefore I cannot speak to the plot and plight of young Harold, but I like to think his last name is Spengler.

So, here's the question: When did Ray Parker, Jr. get into Victorian lit? And does he owe any royalties to long-dead Victorian authors for borrowing the line? (Huey Lewis may have an opinion on this one.)

Finally, where else has this particular line emerged? I suspect two examples could be a coincidence, but it could have appeared elsewhere as a common phrase. If you see it in other Victorian examples, let me know!

And since you're here, you might as well watch the amazing Ghostbusters theme song video.

-Aaron Sagers