The Haunting 

Today horror is equated with gore and photogenic stumps interacting with CGI. If the ‘entity’ isn’t shown readers, viewers are disappointed. This resulted in endless bad creature costumes (how hilarious is Mothra as a creature). All too often the ‘entity’ was more important than the actual story & dialogue. In so many horror films all that changed were the actors & the entity. The story & dialogue were basically the same.

A fact I didn’t realize until I was an adult. Some of those films, books, hold up, others well, haven’t dated so well. The original Frankenstein film hasn’t been improved upon with better effects, better monster make up. None of text have added any real depth to the film. The actual Shelly novel is as much a philosophical treatise as it is a thriller. The creature is more intellectual than allowed in most of the film variations.

I recently watched The Haunting – based on Shirley Jackson novel. I have seen this film several time but each time I see different elements. Also I watched it with a friend who has never seen it before. I also should add that I have read the novel more than once, read other work by Jackson & back in 1991 I directed a stage version – so I am familiar with it.

Horror, the supernatural, & to a degree gore, have been inspirations for me since I was a child. Having a cemetery, managed by my father, as a playground growing up certainly added to that interest. Oddly I never did become a goth. But I certainly loved monsters the Mummy, Wolfman, Dracula – these were the supernatural creatures. Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them, Godzilla – where environmental monsters thanks to toxic chemical, nuclear radiation.

The horror of The Haunting maybe man made: something that manifests from our personal inner turmoil, or from another’s inner turmoil seeking revenge, release, completion or to teach us a lesson as in A Christmas Carol. The Haunting sets the bar high & very few films have succeeded as it has. Jackson’s novel sketches in vague scientific speculation but leaves the rest up to us.

Later versions of movie parapsychology have added more equipment, better fx but no increase in the spook factor. I also find even Jackson relies too much on psychology to semi-explain things. Eleanor arrives already emotionally unbalance. The ambiguity of whether she looses touch with reality or has intact been absorbed by the spirits of the house is the spooky thrust of the story.

Without this film & this novel, we’d wouldn’t have an endless parade of novels about parapsychological investigators suffering for their research, or an endless parade of reality TV shows about parapsychologic investigators with bad hand-held cameras, whispering ‘did you hear that?’ in night vision lighting.
I would highly recommend both seeing the original The Haunting & reading Jackson’s novel ‘The Haunting Of Hill House.’ They complement each other. They also show how eerie chills can be created without monsters, cgi or dismemberment.

Maple Ridge Road

people told us

the abandoned Macintosh mansion

at the end of Maple Ridge Road

was haunted

but we didn’t believe them

so on the last full moon of October

Davey, Martin and me

we snuck into the house

and were never seen again

every Tuesday 2019


15 – Stratford Festival – The Crucible

Thursday 7 – Hot Damn It’s Queer Slam! – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre – 7 pm – featuring Wes Ryan.


The Secret Handshake Gallery – feature – date TBA


23 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies andBbad Times Theatre

June  – Capturing Fire 2020 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2020’s – sweet, eh?

Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson may not have invented the paranormal investigation genre but her novel ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ certainly made it an economically viable film genre. There is a history of pulp fiction psychic detectives which is worth searching out but they all involve solving & debunking in a crime context. Some treat the paranormal as real other as fraud. In The Haunting there is no crime & Jackson allows the reader to draw their own conclusions but one feels she was on the side of ‘ghosts’ being real.


Her life was a nightmare in & of itself. A domineering, womanizing husband who controlled her earnings, because as a fragile woman she couldn’t be trusted with money. I simplify but much like other female writers (i.e. Grace Metalious) she was confined by success rather than liberated by it. Much like the investigators of the house who are trapped by psychology and the unknown.

I’ve read some of her novels & enjoyed them, as well as her wonderful short stories. She writes about the paranormal in such a casual way it becomes believable. Her female characters are vivid without being over-the-top. Her plotting is satisfying without explaining every detail. She allows the reader to fill in some blanks.

I’ve talked with people about The Haunting & some say they don’t get the ending – they want something clear cut – is Eleanor delusional? Or has she really made contact with the spirit of the house? They find the horror elements of the book too subtle – no slasher just cold air, noises, door knocking & that chilly hand holding moment.

What inspires me about her writing is how powerful plain language can be; how one can create mood & tension without blood & gore. One doesn’t need literary CGI to give readers goosebumps. 

An Empty House

the smell of cooking

warm meals on the table

a pork chop with a bite out of it

kettle boiling

a shower running upstairs

steamy vanilla body wash

a damp towel on the sink

a change of clothes on the bed

an email ready to send

a cd on repeat

the same song over and over and over

a cellphone ringing

unattended lawn mower growling on the lawn

echoes in an empty house

October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto

every Tuesday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s – sweet,eh?

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