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The Legend Of Hell House (1973)

This classic British haunted-house-and-horror movie has a lot in common with The Haunting, which preceded it by a decade. Both movies feature groups of paranormal investigators who take up quarters in an old mansion where disturbing deaths have occurred, and ghosts are reputed to roam. In addition, both feature protagonists who are haunted at least as much by sexual frustration as they are by the spirits of the dead.

However, in Hell House, many of the the supernatural manifestations are more theatrical than in the earlier movie, which largely avoided explicitness in favor of reproducing the dark psychological ambiguities of the Shirley Jackson novel (The Haunting Of Hill House) on which it was based. For instance, in the Hell House scene excerpted here, poltergeists completely trash a dining room after two of the ghost hunters get into an argument. [click to continue…]


Ghost Cat. Photo: OliBac

Ghost Cat. Photo: OliBac

The Ghosts Of Pets And Other Animals

Acording to scientific surveys of people who have experienced ghosts, more than four fifths of all apparitions are of men, women, and children who have died. However, somewhere between 10 and 20 percent of disembodied spirits reported to British researchers were manifestations of animals.

The ghosts of pets are the non-human spirits that most frequently make themselves known to people. In fact, visits by dead pets to their former owners seem to be a fairly common occurrence. People who responded to two surveys taken by Britain’s Institute of Psychophysical Research reported more apparitions of cats than of any other animal. Ghost dogs were next, followed by the spirits of horses.

Other ghost animals that popped up either in the British survey or in other types of reports including the media include bears, pigs, poultry, hares, deer, and birds. In his 2012 book, Ghosts—A Natural History: 500 Years of Searching for Proof, author Roger Clarke mentions “a couple of phantom bears in London,” a 17th century preacher in Cornwall, England, who supposedly returned in the form of a “demonic black rooster,” and a white bird that purportedly appears to the inhabitants of Arundel Castle in Sussex, England, when one of them is about to die. Clarke adds that headless dogs and horses were a frequent theme of 19th century ghost stories. [click to continue…]


Hounds Howl At A Ghost. Illustration: Henryk Weyssenhoff 1893

Hounds Howl At A Ghost. Illustration: Henryk Weyssenhoff 1893

People Who Sense Ghosts Don’t Always See Them

Although most people who have had a paranormal experience report visual contact with one or more disembodied spirits, a significant minority say they sensed a ghost with faculties other than their eyes.

Out of 1,800 people who told British researchers they had encountered ghosts, 84 percent said they had seen the ghost or ghosts. However, 34 percent said they had heard a ghost speak or make some other sound—and of these, only 14 percent said they’d seen it at the same time. [click to continue…]


A Portrait Of The Poet, Charles Baudelaire  (1821-1867) Surrounded By Ghosts. 1917 Illustration By Georges Rochegrosse

A Portrait Of The Poet, Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) Surrounded By Ghosts. 1917 Illustration By Georges Rochegrosse

Can A Ghost Talk? And If So, What Do They Say?

In their book, Apparitions, Celia Green and Charles McCreery conclude that it is rare for a ghost to say anything during a manifestation. Of the 1,800 people who in two British surveys reported that they had experienced a ghost, only 14 percent claimed to have heard it talk as well as seen it. Another 14 percent said they had heard a ghost make some sort of sound—though not usually speech—without actually seeing the ghost. (In only 36 percent of the cases in which ghosts were heard but not seen did they actually speak.)

Rarer still is it for a ghost to speak at length.

Nonetheless, some respondents told researchers that they had held lengthy conversations with ghosts. A handful even said they had talked at length with a ghost while not even realizing it was a ghost until later learning that the person they’d spoken to had died days or weeks before the conversation took place. [click to continue…]