A Haunted Generation
I recently read an article in the Fortean Times ( great magazine BTW) entitled the 'Haunted Generation' and it set me thinking to when we actually got to be so very frightened of ghosts?
Where we always so aware that the other side was evil, demonic, out to get us?
Or has this been conjured up with the help of some spooky literature and Hollywood movies.
Catherine Crowe, a woman who chose to put herself out there and write a book and have it published in the 1800's, wrote about experiences with what she called the 'night side' which was a term coined by the Germans (ofcourse) for that part of life that the sun did not shine on, the other side of the world, the dark side of the moon if you wish.
Her book was a great hit to the chagrin of all the male authors of the time and they ended up making a mockery of her.
I dont think that the hallucinogenic drugs she was taking at parties helped at all either.
But she wanted to spread the word of horror and ghosts and the idea that this was something people were terribly interested in.
This was taken up very quickly by her friends, all male writers, who jumped on the horror and supernatural bandwagon and elbowed her out of the way as a crazy woman.
They couldn't have that sort of competition!
Mr. Crowe was an enigma of the times she lived in.
You see, she broke all the rules of polite society at the time.
She left her husband. ( a divorcee should stay at home and weep in a corner or her bedroom)
She dared write a book (a few actually)
She mingled with other men in public. (how very uncultured of her)
She began her career rather late in life (in her 50s)
And she knew what she was talking about. (a woman! Good heavens - unheard of!!)
I love her.
If you find her book its worth a read. A lot of it is a study of what the Germans thought of ghosts at the time. Remember that the word 'poltergeist' is a German term for noisy ghost.
Our love of ghostly tales only grew over the years - first in print form and then to stories told on the silver screen in movies (and silent movies to begin with)
The first horror/ghostly type of movie kind of changes depending on where you look for information but there is a short black and white clip on You Tube on this link if you copy and paste -
called "The Devil's Castle' dated 1896.
We seemed to have a huge resurgence of spooky movies in the 1970's (my era when I can say that I went to see these at the movies when they first came out)
and some of the titles were:
The Wicker Man
These movies still bring back goosebumps when I think about them and memories of me watching them with the noise levels turned right down or through my fingers which were covering my eyes.
Except...for the Exorcist which saw me at the Drive In (get your mothers to explain that one) literally under the dash board of the car hiding throughout most of the movie.
Did we get so terrified then?
Were we the first truly haunted generation?
Did we get collectively spooked by tales of unreal experiences too super natural to be true?
Too astounding too emotionally unreal - or real for our minds to accept?
But - wow, they were great stories and they staying in the mythos of society for years beyond their screen times.
We have been spooked alright - by imaginative and great story telling that has stood the test of time.
Yet the stories and movies we hear now don't last as long - no longer leaving their mark upon our psyches.
What is the last real freaky movie that you saw that you remember?
There are now so many - they attack us at such speed that we watch and we forget.
They no longer have the impact that a movie such as the Exorcist did back in the 1970's.
But the Exorcist and it's genre have left a mark on the way many of us, and our children, see the interaction of the living with the dead.
They see it as terrifying - as opening up the caverns of Hell.
The visual images like the one above with the priest silhouetted
again the street light on his way up to the possessed girl is carved into our irises never to be removed. Our 70's generation remembers it well.
As if it was yesterday.
Have those movies spawned a generation of haunted individuals?
Of a million sleepless nights
Of terrifying dreams
of Old Hags beating down upon the chests of men and women?
I reckon it certainly did!
What about you?
What is your favourite ghostly movie - is it a classic or something new?