Ghosts & EVP: Can The Dead Talk To The Living?

Even though I didn’t love the ending of White Noise, I admit that I got caught up in the plot about ghosts and possibly making contact.

White Noise

We all miss those who pass on to the other side. And I’d venture to say that we all harbor that tiny seed of hope that we could, one day, speak to those beloved friends and family members who have passed on.

But does electric voice phenomena really occur?

EVP – IS IT REAL?

I’m sure we’ve all watched those ghost hunting shows at least once in our lives. Electronic recordings are one of the staples of those shows. But amidst the static, is it possible those scratchy sounds equate to words from the beyond?

Haunted History Trail of New York StateI was looking at the Haunted History Trail of New York State recently for fun fall road trips and came upon a tour offered to learn about spiritualists The Fox Sisters.

The Fox Sisters

http://www.hydesvillefoxsisters.com/

Made famous for their purported communications with the dead, the sisters didn’t use recordings to contact the ghosts of those who have passed on to the other side. Rather, they became famous for their seances where mysterious ‘rappings’ could be heard.

Edison's Spirit Machine

http://www.atlasobscura.com

Then there’s Edison’s spirit machine, which he is said to have described thus:

“I have been at work for some time, building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities which have left this earth to communicate with us.”

Even though no prototype was ever found, rumors and speculation over the years seems to point to Edison’s desire to use science to explain (or perhaps verify) the ability to talk to ghosts.

EXPLAINING THE VOICES

So, taking away the romanticism of being able to speak to those dearly departed loved ones one last time, is there a logical explanation for those voices?

There’s actually a scientific term for the phenomena called pareidolia, but it isn’t reserved only for auditory hallucinations. Shapes or images, sounds and even the Rorschach inkblot test are versions of experience.

In terms of auditory pareidolia, one of the most well-known cases involves a Swedish film producer named Frederick Jurgenson. After recording birds singing, he purportedly heard voices of deceased spirits in the recordings. One of his students, wanting to recreate the phenomena, ran blank tapes through a tape recorder in a quiet setting. He also recorded a radio tuned between stations, and claims to have heard voices in the static, including that of his deceased mother.

Critics tend to brush off any reports as wishful thinking of the recently bereaved, or as one inadvertently picking up voices from faraway radio broadcasts.

Similar to other pareidolia, most people believe that in looking for messages in random places, or listening for voices, that the mind places meaning where it might not otherwise exist.

WOULDN’T IT BE NICE?

I for one would love to be able to talk to my dad or my grandparents or friends who have passed. Yeah, it makes a cool horror movie, but it would also be kind of comforting just to have that one last chat, even if it’s just a word or two.

DO YOU BELIEVE IN GHOSTS?

So, what do you think? Do you believe in ghosts? And do you think they can contact the living?

Can the dead really talk to us from beyond the grave? If so, is it like White Noise or maybe like the ghosts in The Others?

Have you ever tried to record voices of those who have passed?

Check out this page at The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, where they have a number of recordings for your perusal

 

SOURCES:

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Today Was a Really Good Day at CT HorrorFest

I tried to think of a clever title for this post, but I’m exhausted, and honestly, that title pretty much sums it up. See, i spent the day at CT HorrorFest, which is my favorite show of the year. Not only is it a fantastic celebration of horror, but the show is put together by my friends at the Horror News Network, who are some of the nicest and most genuine people I am lucky enough to know. Each year I go to their show and hang out all day talking about horror and music with anyone that passes my table. Occasionally I will sell some books as well, but I’ve never been really good at promoting my own stuff, and I usually forget to mention my books as I’m excitedly talking about favorite movies and albums. Anyway, the show is a blast and I look forward to it every year.

This year, I was even more exited than usual, as two of my all-time favorite actors were going to be there–Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Atkins. I adore Adrienne Barbeau, as she was in two of my favorite movies of all time, The Fog and Escape From New York, as well as Creepshow, Swamp Thing and the awesome TV show Maude. My favorite role of hers was Stevie Wayne, the local radio DJ in The Fog, though I’ve loved her in everything she’s been in.

Tom Atkins is a horror legend to me. He’s a Carpenter veteran, having done Escape From New York, The Fog and Halloween III for my favorite director. He was also in Creepshow, Maniac Cop, Two Evil Eyes, My Bloody Valentine 3D, and the amazing Night of the Creeps. In fact, the character Tom played in Night of the Creeps–Detective Ray Cameron–is the inspiration for one of the main characters in the book Jolene and I wrote–Harrowed. Our Detective Ray Atkins is a love letter to Tom’s character.

And today I got to tell him that.

My morning began with meeting Tom and giving him my print proof of Harrowed after explaining how he inspired one of the main characters. He was amazingly gracious and said he couldn’t wait to read it, even asking me when we were going to make a movie out of it. I was so happy I almost cried.

But it gets better.

I went back later in the day and bought a Night of the Creeps poster from Tom, which he signed to Jolene and I. And then he took a picture with me as he held our book:

I don’t even have words for how happy this made me. When I stumbled away in a daze, he called me back to his table to make sure he had my email address so he could tell me what he thought of the book. And he also asked me to say hi to Jolene for him. I was almost in tears. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have imagined any of that. He was amazing and I am an even bigger fan of his than I was before. What an awesome guy.

I then has the good fortune to meet Adrienne Barbeau and get a picture with her as well. Just being able to tell her how much I’ve loved her work and how I’ve grown up with her was so great. And she was absolutely lovely. Here’s us with the Crate Beast from Creepshow:

All in all, it was one of the best days ever. And now I’m going to bed.

Let’s Talk #Horror Movies… IT

We, here at The Midnight Society, are big Stephen King fans. When we heard IT was being made into a movie…we freaked out a little.

Okay, a lot.

The book is a monster, published in 1986 it stands at 1138 pages. The story flips between the late 1950s and the mid 1980s…27 years in-between. A great look at life as a kid versus life as an adult, how our fears change, but never leave us. I’ve read the book twice. Scared the crud out of me, infected my brain with ideas that creatures in the drains were going to kill me.

1986 Stephen King’s IT book cover

Then the mini-series aired in the fall of 1990…I own the DVD, so I’ve seen it a few times. They tweaked this a bit the past taking place in 1960 and the present being 1990. But we still have the kids, we still have the fight, we still have the fear.

Poster for the 1990 mini-series IT

Now we have another version to add. Another version. A movie inspired by/ based on the book. Different than the book. Different than the mini-series.

Poster for 2017 movie IT

My fellow Midnighter Amy posted her thoughts on the new movie. You can go read…or reread…here.

I decided to add my own thoughts to hers. Cause what she said was fabulous! I also loved this movie! The images are creepy, I will never forget the end fight in the sewer…down that damn well…*shudders*. They do all float.

Dude.

I actually measure how much I like a horror movie by the number of times I sit up straighter and whisper “dude”. I muttered that magic word quite a few times.

Then I listen to people say…

It wasn’t scary.

And I ponder this because it has many meanings. Maybe they are trying to sound cool, like nothing can scare them. Maybe the type of scare they want wasn’t there…too many predictable jump scares and not enough creepy, or not enough gore, or not enough action. Maybe we have expectations that just weren’t met.

Whichever it is, we go to horror movies to be scared.

Maybe we want to scream, cover our eyes, jump, and throw popcorn. Maybe we want to feel the tingles up our spine. Maybe we want our minds to twist from disturbing images that change the way we think, change who we are. Maybe we want our emotions knotted into a giant mess.

Horror is different for everyone. And we need to take each horror movie for what it is.

IT.

Did I run up the stairs that night? No. For me it wasn’t that type of scary.

But it was scary.

There’s a monster, one that can take different forms, be anywhere. One not everyone can see. A creature back from a sleep, back to feed from the fear…and the fear of kids tastes best. A fear that never leaves when you grow-up.

A fear we have to face. Not once, but throughout our lives.

Because that is what IT is about. Fear. A terrifying encounter, but not just with a creepy crawlie in the sewer.

With a bully who has no problems carving his name in a kid’s skin.

With an over-protective mom, who will lie to keep control.

With guilt over a little brother’s disappearance, and the fading hope that he will return.

With an abusive dad, who is certain his teen daughter is a whore.

With adults who ignore terrible events, who choose to turn their backs on the pain of others, especially kids.

Real life can be horrifying, disturbing, life-changing.

I loved this movie because the stories, the kids were real.

I had a little trouble with the time period. The kids’ live in the late 80s…a decade I grew up in. Through the whole movie, I still had it set in the late 50s. I couldn’t place it in the 80s. Did that ruin it for me…obviously not.

I have a different opinion of Bev being taken. This, to me, was NOT a damsel in distress, must save the girl move. Never as she faced the monster in the sewer did she portray someone waiting to be saved. She fought. Why did IT take the only girl? Because she was the strongest, because without her the boys might fall apart, but in reality she was the glue that held the Losers together and the one person they would unite to save. That’s how that worked for me.

Plenty of great images in this movie. The creepy old house. The crumbling well. Pennywise the dancing clown…his eyes, the curl of his lip, his home where everyone floats…forever.

Plenty of humor. These kids have some great lines.

I love these kids. I love their stories. I can’t wait to see them as adults. IT will return.

And I will be there to watch.

IT- My Review

I FINALLY SAW THE MOVIE I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!

Whew. *wipes brow from all of the excitement*

I know that there are some mixed reviews out there on Facebook and Twitter, but you won’t get that here. I LOVED IT!

Yes, there are parts that could have been closer to the book.

Yes, Beverly is treated like a damsel in distress.

Yes, the character development could have been stronger.

But…a book that is over 1,100 pages long is quite difficult to reproduce–for goodness sakes, the 1990 TV miniseries couldn’t even do it in over 3 hours of time! So instead of focusing on what’s NOT there, I want to tell you what’s good.

  1. Beverly is a kick ass chick in this movie. She doesn’t apologize for herself or her actions. My favorite scene with her is the one in the bathroom. The. Best.
  2. Bill Skarsgård was a scary freaking clown. Seriously. Just the drool dripping from his pointy teeth was gross and creepy. I don’t think anyone could have done this better.
  3. The friendship between the kids. The Losers made the movie. The question now is, will there be a part II?
  4. IT was scary. Not as scary for me as it would have been had I been younger, but still got me a little. Only one of the jump scares got me though. Truly. I knew they were coming. I did enjoy watching my boyfriend jump though! Lol.

So, if you’re looking for an entertaining movie that’s scary…go see IT. You’ll float too.

 

Ghosts & The Others

This is a reprint of an article I wrote in 2010. Hope you enjoy it!

Post Mortem Photography: Sentimental Keepsake or Creepy Reminder?

How many of us have rifled through shoeboxes and envelopes of dusty old family photos?

Imagine coming across a lavish scene of your ancestors decked out in their Sunday best, only to realize upon scrutiny that in the photo they are, in fact, deceased.

Such a discovery is made in Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others, and it becomes a major plot point that carries the story through to its electrifying ending.

Photo by http://www.victorian-era.org/

About The Others

In The Others, Grace Stewart lives with her two children who are awaiting word of the whereabouts of patriarch Charles, who is MIA in World War II.

The children, Anne and Nicholas, suffer from a strange affliction – they are allergic to light – so that heavy linens are draped over every window, and when moving about the house, no door must be opened without the previous one being closed first.

Immediately, viewers are immersed in the epitome of the creepy, fog-enshrouded English manor house which becomes even more foreboding when the family is forced to live by candlelight even in the daylight hours.

With the tone of the movie set, the tale begins, taking on an uneasy tone immediately when the help arrives.

Mrs. Mills, played by the always striking Fionnula Flanagan (whom I thoroughly enjoyed in this, as well as her turn as Eloise Hawking in LOST or matriarch Rose Caffee in Brotherhood), Mr. Tuttle and the mute maid Lydia arrive, and there is something decidedly different about them.

When Nicole Kidman discovers a photo album (or Book of the Dead) in the attic, the true nature of the tale is revealed, whether Grace knows it or not.

As Mrs. Mills says matter-of-factly, “Sometimes the world of the dead gets mixed up with the world of the living” – and later on we find out just how right she is.

Memento Mori: Remember Your Mortality

The Victorian Era already had an air of the macabre before the advent of post mortem photography.

But what may seem as a grim practice to us was, back then, one of the only ways families were able to preserve memories of their loved ones, especially babies, for whom this may be the only photo families would have due to high infant mortality rates throughout the early nineteenth century.

Memento Mori, or post mortem photographs, were just that: photos taken of the deceased. Grace’s discovery is a display of three different styles which were used in this arcane practice, and they illustrate how families not only captured when their loved ones died but also a reminder of how they lived.

“The Eternal Sleep” sees the subject of the photo laid out to look as though they are peacefully sleeping.

Other photos show relatives of the deceased posed alongside the deceased themselves, making for particularly solemn photographs especially when young children are sitting (and often holding) their dead siblings.

Photos can also be found of deceased propped up in special frames and sitting up in chairs.

These are not images that capture whispy orbs that may or may not be spirits, depending on one’s believability in such.

There is no question about these photos. They are unflinching, abrupt and bring one face to face with his or her own mortality, and in The Others, they serve an important purpose.

Soul Stealers

Ancient tribes have long held the idea that photographs steal the soul. Maybe that is why Mrs. Mills, Mr. Tuttle and Lydia have a difficult time leaving the house.

A thought posed by Mrs. Mills herself when Grace comments on how she finds the practice of post mortem photography particularly macabre, Mrs. Mills offers, “In the last century, I believe they took photographs of the dead in the hopes that their souls would go on living through the portraits.”

In this case, that very thing happens. Granted, the three are buried on the land and they also died in the house, but perhaps the fact that these post mortem photos exist are like a beacon keeping them tethered to this world instead of passing on.

Otherwise, why would they want to remain in a place where a mother would take a pillow and smother her two children in the middle of the night?

Not Just A Dream

I liked that the big reveal (that Grace and her two kids were ghosts, too) didn’t just seem tacked on the end of the film in an “it was all a dream” kind of way.

When the tables are turned and Nicholas’ “ghost” Victor is revealed as the “real boy” and the Stewart family are, in fact, the true ghosts haunting this house, one feels for them and their desperate attempt to stay together in this place that contains them.

However, why, if the family is dead, were they not depicted in a post mortem photo in the album?

My thought? It is enough that Grace eventually remembers what she did to her children;  when Anne and Nicholas remember that  “Mummy went mad” (even if they do not remember why until the very end of the film).

There were subtle clues before that – the gravestones (first cleverly hidden by piles of leaves before Mr. Tuttle “brings them to light” later). The missing curtains, which force Grace to realize that her children are not photosensitive. But for all of these gestures used to make Grace understand, the catalyst comes when she discovers the photo of her servants, each dressed in black, their eyes sealed shut, and Grace is forced to finally accept (and in her case – remember) that she is no longer of this earth.

So, while post mortem photos may seem like a macabre way to remember one’s relatives long after they are gone, and Mrs. Tuttle’s comments that “Grief over the death of loved ones can cause people to do the strangest things”, the photos can also remind us that, as Lord Byron wrote, we have lived, we have loved, and have done so not in vain. That something within us shall go on after we retire.

In The Others, it is more than just the simple lilting of voices claiming, “This house is ours.” Their souls, with the help of these mementos (which can be considered either creepy or sentimental depending on the individual viewer), do go on living.

NOTES:

Linkage that might pique your interest:

* The Thanatos Archive – Post Mortem Photography

* Post Mortem photo from WikiCommons

* The Others trailers

* The Lord Byron poem I mentioned (in brief) at the end

Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

CXXXVII.

But I have lived, and have not lived in vain:

My mind may lose its force, my blood its fire,

And my frame perish even in conquering pain,

But there is that within me which shall tire

Torture and Time, and breathe when I expire:

Something unearthly, which they deem not of,

Like the remembered tone of a mute lyre,

Shall on their softened spirits sink, and move

In hearts all rocky now the late remorse of love.

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The Summer of Screams Is Ending, But the Frightening Fall Has Just Begun!

We here at the Midnight Society had a blast celebrating the Summer of Screams. Not only was there an amazing writing and art showcase hosted by our amazing founder Jolene Haley (which you can check out here), but my fellow Midnighter Kathy Palm and I live-tweeted three flicks from my favorite franchise ever, Friday the 13th!

In fact, we had so much fun that we can’t stop just because summer is over. So, welcome to the Frightening Fall.

We’ll be live-tweeting more Friday the 13ths, as well as some of our favorite ’80s horror flicks, throughout the next few months. In September, we’re got two classics for you:

We’ll be live-tweeting the original Nightmare on Elm Street on 9/13 at 9pm EST

And we’ll be live-tweeting Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood on 9/27 at 9pm EST

And that’s not all–we’ve got plenty of other cool stuff planned as well, including an entire month of Halloween-themed insanity. From the first day of September, right through your turkey dinner on Thanksgiving day, we’ll be using the hashtag #FrighteningFall on Twitter for all of the horror-related activities the Midnight Society is getting up to. And if you haven’t followed the Midnight Society on twitter yet, now would be a great time to do so. You can also follow my fellow midnighter Kathy Palm and I to make sure you’re keep up with our horror movie live-tweets.

So pull on your favorite wool sweater, brew up a fresh pot of coffee, and join the Midnight Society for Frightening Fall. Something wicked this way comes–and it’s us.

Summer of Screams–Join Us for JASON LIVES on 8/30!!

The Summer of Screams concludes this week, and we’re going out with a bang. Actually, it’s more like a slice, or a  slash, or–well, you get it.

For those who haven’t been keeping up, the Summer of Screams is the writing and art showcase our fearless leader Jolene Haley has been running all month over on her site. To celebrate the cam-themed horror stories that have been going up all month, my fellow midnighter Kathy Palm and I have been live-tweeting some of our favorite Friday the 13th movies. We’ve done the original, we’ve done The Final Chapter, and we’re going to finish out the month with what might be my favorite–Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.

We’ll be live-tweeting this awesome installment of the series Wednesday 8/30 at 9pm EST, using the hashtags #SummerofScreams and #F13JasonLives. So, join Kathy and I for some blood-soaked fun as we finish out the month in style.

And if you haven’t read all of the stories in the Summer of Screams showcase, get on it! Both Kathy and I have a story featured in the showcase, along with a bunch of other fantastic tales from super talented writers. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Jenna!

We have a very special birthday today.

Jenna, writer extraordinaire, amazing mother, creative genius, lover of Dr. Strand (here here!), concoction brewer, and one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met has a birthday today! And lucky for us, the whole graveyard turned out to celebrate! Feel free to wish her Happy Birthday on Twitter!

Happy Birthday Jenna!

 

 

Jenna, you wonder woman, I so adore you. The spirits in the graveyard said it best when I asked then what they thought of you. They did a lot of swaying and said, “Wooooooooooooo!” and I agree. You are so woo! You are woo-nderful. And fun. And I’m so glad we’re friends.

Let’s cheers to that!

Here’s a Witch’s brew cocktail, perfectly mysterious for our dear soul.

Recipe:

Bacardi Dragon berry rum

Blue Curacao

Creme de banana

Fresh squeezed lime juice

Method
Mix ingredients and serve up in a martini glass rimmed with black sugar. Recipe found here.
You know me, I’m not satisfied until they bring out the appetizers. I hope you like the graveyard. I hope it’s not too…cheesy.
Found here.
<3 Jolene
JENNA!
This calls for cake!
You can blow out your candles…or we can gather around and have a party…
Try a few spells…
Be a bit daring and call for the gift of birthday power…
Hopefully we don’t cause anything too terrible to happen…
Oh well… scary is fun.
Have a fabulous demon-free day! I hope it is full of good creepy books and movies and all the fun!
Love,
Kathy
Dearest Jenna your face is nice
I want to eat it with an ice
cream. You touch my heart with your talons
I want to hold you by the gallons.
Love & birthday smooches!
The Davis Girl
Jenna! What would a birthday party be without some music and movies? I have brought you the finest in suynth-based horror soundtracks from the master himself, John Carpenter.

And when everyone’s done eating cake, we can pop in a movie! I’ve brought you a choice pick from 1986–Chopping Mall.

Happy birthday!–Brian

Have a creeptastic birthday!
Everyone wants to see you. Nothing can stop them. Not even death…
To give you a birthday hug.
To maybe sing you a birthday song.
To offer you a fun birthday surprise!
Thanks for being fabulous you and have a great day!
Love,
Mary
Happy Birthday Jenna! Have a wonderful day!
Love, your biggest fans at

The Final Girl

How lucky are we over here at the Midnight Society that we get to celebrate two birthdays in a row?!! Today, we rented out a haunted library so we could throw a party for Amy Giuffrida! Amy is a superhero, and one of her powers is that she is always on top of what’s happening with all the members of the Midnight Society. If one of us puts out a new story, releases a book, or just has news to share, she is always among the first to congratulate and cheerlead for us. She is a constant source of support for all.

So Amy, we’ve all brought some terrifyingly awesome gifts to share with you on your birthday.

Happy Birthday Amy!

 

Amy, since we are the morning crew of the #MidnightSocietyWritersClub, I wanted to bring you some birthday gifts to start your days with.

Up first–some good, strong coffee to get the creative mind percolating:

And of course, you need a good notebook to write down any amazing ideas

And for inspiration, I brought you some Buffy DVDs to play in the background while you write:

Happy birthday!

–Brian

 

Amy!

Although we are new friends, I feel a kinship only fellow horror writers can understand. We love the creepy things, we get excited about the creepy things, then we write about the creepy things! And then giggle about them together!

Thank you for welcoming me to the group, Looking forward to more creepy tales & getting to know you better this coming year!

~Mary~

 

AMY!!!!! My favorite Buffy-loving, monster hunter! Remembering how much fun we had in Vegas always makes me smile.

Happy happy birthday to…

Everyone is so excited about your day!

We’ll have some cake! Hopefully it doesn’t eat us first…

I sure do wish we could go see IT together!

I found you the perfect present! I thought you could use a new pen holder.

 

Oooh…who let them in? Better get the weapons. We’re not going down without a fight. Perhaps Violet can help? This day will be epic.

Love you!

Kathy

 

If you want to give Amy an awesome birthday present, go buy her book The Bleeding Heart right here!

Some say that she has a collection of doll heads in her basement (true!).

Some also say that she can time travel and has successfully gone back to the Victorian gothic era on more than one occasion (also true!).

Rumors are that she’s a vampire who inspired the movie Interview With a Vampire (definitely true!).

But no matter the history, one thing is true… you deserve the best birthday ever! (Feel free to wish her happy birthday on Twitter, here!)

Amy, let’s not forget some fashionable attire–get you nice a gussied up for the midnight seance at the cemetery.

Yes, I think this 1950’s blue beaded silk evening gown will do the trick nicely for our sacrifice…Erm, I mean our celebration.

And let’s get you a Walker Blood Sangria in your hands here.

You can find the recipe here. But now that I’m staring at it, doesn’t it pair perfectly with Amy’s first book The Bleeding Heart?

I’ll certainly cheers to that! (And in case you’re wondering, yes her book is awesome and you can get it here and it seriously doesn’t have anything below 4 and 5 stars on Amazon).

Amy, you are lovely, kind, and intelligent. I admire your love for blood and story-telling and I look forward to all the words and the love you share with the world. Have a lovely day, you deserve it! <3 Jolene

Happy Happy Birthday Amy! Have the best day!

Sincerely,

your creepy fam

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