Thursday, 27 October 2011

Day 27: Monster of the Week: The Ghost

Spirits. Poltergeists. Apparitions. These are some of the many terms used to describe a creature that literally haunts our lives as ghosts. They are a type of creature caught between the living and the dead. Be they vengeful or sorrowful, they strike terror into our hearts.

We fear them living beside us. We fear them possessing our things, and literally our selves. They invade, they take control. They are undefinable and hard to reason with. Because they can do so many things, be so many of our fears, they are the prefect creature for any horror story. Before the vampire, before the werewolf and even long before the zombie ever struck fear into our psyches, we had stories of ghosts.

Why are they so potent? Why do their tales still get told even to this day? Why is it they strike such fear and fascination? Perhaps because of the questions they make us face. Sure, vampires and zombies are of the undead class, and they make us face the grisly face of death, but spirits take a different angle on this question. They make us ponder life after death, but unlike the shambling hordes or the blood drinkers, more people than not can actually believe more readily in ghost stories. Those of us tied to the idea of having a soul, believe after death it goes somewhere. Or that it should. The idea that it could be trapped here and that there is no peace, especially if something terrible trapped you on this plane, is a horrible concept to a lot of people. Especially those of us who are spiritual. The very word spiritual relates to spirit, and to be a spirit, you must have a soul.

Most horror stories told about ghosts involve such things as possession of an object, such as a house. Then there are the possession of a person tales. Usually some unruly poltergeist is tired of tossing around plates and decides he wants to get "in" on the action. Ghost stories are so versatile they can be done a million different ways. Ghosts speak to a primal part of us that fears what will become of us when we die. They also speak to the parts of us that fear being trapped. Ghosts are usually unwelcomed guests, party crashers and bad reminders of the past. They are the incarnation of our shadows. The best ghost story plays on things such as the trauma of being trapped in a terrible event in time, reliving it over and over, and never finding rest. To be held within a never-ending state of rage, pain, sorrow or fear. The best ghost stories weave those emotions into the tale, making them live again.

And now, on with my selection of a few of my favourite ghostly goodies in the horrorverse...

This book and all it's predecessors were my first taste of well told ghost stories when I was a kid. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark was an amazing young adult series, that still holds up to this day. The artwork alone in these books was chilling. I highly recommend them, if you can get your hands on a copy.

Now I know the image above is from the American remake (which I will add I thought was okay) but the original Japanese version is better of the The Ring. I just think Asian ghost stories are friggen scary as hell. Their ghosts are so vengeful, and so unforgiving. As they should be. I mean, they are usually horribly created through terrible murders, so why wouldn't the spirits be angry and want to drive people mad? And the imagery in Asian ghost stories is creepy shit. I think I wet myself the first time I saw the Japanese version of The Ring.

This lovely lady is from the movie Event Horizon, one of my favourite haunted object stories. Ghost ships can make awesome stories when done right. I'm real picky about my sci-fi, so when sci-fi blends with horror I am all over it. This is one freaky movie. I mean just looking at the picture of this bitch makes me wanna crawl under the covers until she goes away.

It admit it, I liked this movie. I don't love it, but the premise was so neat I just tried to ignore things like the terrible acting on the parts of the living cast and such things. 13 Ghosts was almost an excellent movie. I mean look at the art! I love shit like that. And the house was kinda neat. Some of the ghosts even made me crawl inside my skin for comfort.

And of course I can't forget the original Poltergeist. If we are gonna talk about things that made me stay up all night as a kid, this movie is on that list. I LOVE this movie. It is creepy, and it made me afraid of my TV for days. I got over it eventually when I started getting bored. TV pretty much raised me.

Ghost stories are always going to be around to haunt our lives. They are reminders that emotions have the power to trap us, that the past doesn't stay dead, and that we all fear being stuck on this plane after death. I suppose another round on this rotating ball isn't everyone's idea of a good time. Especially without a body.

Though you could always just steal someone's body...


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