Investigating the Psychological Phenomenon of the Haunted House

Nashville Haunted HouseJust about all kids recall a haunted house somewhere in the neighborhood where they grew up. Maybe it was the Old Widow Mason’s house with its overgrown vines and weeds and its stories about how she murdered her husband. Children have such vivid imaginations that they can’t help but concoct tales like this and the spookier the better.Did you know that over 40% of Americans do believe that a house can be haunted? Literature throughout the ages has been filled with spooky stories of haunted houses. Over the centuries many authors have specialized in this area adding to this eerie phenomenon. Edgar Allen Poe is one of our major authors who wrote many stories and poems about the dead and the undead. His book, “The Fall of the House of Usher” remains quite popular today though it was written in 1845.

The Amityville Horror is a favorite haunted house movie from the 70’s and most of us still tune in if we see it on the program schedule. People still talk about and make references to “The Shining” by Stephen King. This author is our modern day Edgar Allen Poe and he has given us dozens of great stories about haunted houses and spooky creatures, many of which were made into movies that we all probably own.

Though most of us don’t understand the psychology of the haunted house, we love to sit around campfires and share stories of this one house we used to walk past after school and how there were always strange sounds emanating from it and eerie figures appearing in the windows. People around the globe believe in a paranormal world inhabited by ghosts, goblins and madmen with hatchets.

Alfred Hitchcock was one of our best known 20th century story tellers who believed in the strange world we cannot see. He created madmen like Norman Bates and places like the Bates Motel in his movie, “Psycho” which still ranks as one of the best scary movies of all time. The scene where Lila carefully moves through the Bates home and into the cellar only to find the dead and decaying body of Bates’ mother, is one of the scariest moments in film history.

The idea of stealthily moving through an old haunted mansion with its creaking floors, cobwebs and ghostly figures in the shadows will get the hair on your arm standing up quickly. A chill will run through your bones. Your senses heighten. Suddenly, you become aware that there might really be such things as ghosts, werewolves, madmen and Frankenstein monsters. Who knows? One of these ghoulish creatures could live right next door to you. Perhaps he’ll slip through an open window tonight bringing his hatchet, searching for new victims. He could be in your closet waiting even now….

What To Do When Encountering a Zombie

Nashville Haunted House

The word “zombie” comes from Haitian Creole. A zombie is a corpse raised from the dead using black magic. Though tales involving zombies have been popular since the 19th century, George A. Romero’s film, Night of the Living Dead released in 1968, truly brought the legend to the forefront of modern culture. Though the movie only cost $114,000 to make, it grossed $18 million dollars in total and inspired countless remakes.

This classic horror film depicted dead people coming to life and stalking the living. Ben and Barbara are trapped inside a spooky old farmhouse with menacing zombies swarming outside, intent on breaking in to devour the couple. Perhaps the most terrifying idea placed in the heads of movie-goers was that of a monster

which could not be killed. After all, zombies are already dead so how can you kill one? Terrifying thought, right?

Since 1968, other horror filmmakers have utilized that same concept to create monsters like the Terminator, Jaws and Michael Myers of the Halloween movie franchise. These are scary monsters that can’t be killed. They just keep coming at you, making those horrible sounds, and there’s nothing you can do about it. That concept is what fascinated movie-goes all over the world both then and now: Evil that cannot be exterminated!

So what should you do if you encounter a Zombie? Well, some of the Zombie experts we interviewed said that in order to kill one you had to destroy their brain. Apparently, though they are thoroughly dead … dead as a doornail … completely and utterly kaput … their brain is somehow still functioning. (What madness!) Once the brain is destroyed, they’re pretty much history.

Below, are the Top Ten ways to destroy the brain of a Zombie:

  1. Take a clue from the Roadrunner and drop an anvil on its head.
  2. Light the Zombie on fire. After all, those old pieces of cloth it is wrapped in are probably highly flammable.
  3. Three words: Chain saw massacre.
  4. Run over it with a semi-truck.
  5. Stuff it into a wood chipper. This one has been known to backfire and create hundreds of tiny zombies.
  6. Shotgun blast to the head (in slow motion of course).
  7. Loose the Terminator on it and stand back.
  8. Somehow get it on board the next rocket ship and send it into outer space. Though this probably won’t kill the zombie, it will make it someone else’s problem.
  9. Have your Aunt Gertrude sit on it.
  10. If all else fails, feed the Zombie Twinkies, candy bars, and soft drinks until it croaks from a heart attack.
What Would You Do When Encountering a Zombie?

Horror Films: The Love Hate Relationship

Haunted House NashvilleEvery generation has its favorite horror films. If you grew up in the 50’s then you no doubt remember Godzilla. This film has become a classic and is still re-played over and over even in this modern age. In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock took horror films to a new level with Psycho. This film has been viewed millions of times all over the world and many filmmakers have attempted to copy its stark terror and bizarre storyline.

It’s hard to say what makes a good horror film. Some people say that it’s good scripting and the right cast while others believe it’s all about creating a freakish world where all kinds of terrible things can pop out of the darkness and scare the life out of you. The Blair Witch Project film proved that you don’t necessarily need a big budget. You can start with a scary idea and a good understanding with what is truly frightening to people.

Some of the horror films of the past 20 years have gone to great lengths to be especially graphic in the gore. This seems to appeal more to young audiences who are looking for a big thrill. Seasoned horror film aficionados spurn this type of gratuitous violence saying that it’s just a way of avoiding making a great horror film, but still selling tickets.

Whichever side of the fence you’re on, you can’t deny the appeal of horror films. They take us into a strange world only limited by our imagination. They make us believe in the eerie underworld and mad creatures from beyond.

Over the years, many filmmakers have attempted to make an all-new, never before seen horror film that would shock and stun audiences. This has resulted in some pretty unusual movies being made like I Know What You Did Last Summer. This American-made slasher film really brought slasher films to the forefront of the industry and made Jennifer Love Hewitt a big name star. Though it received mixed reviews, it earned over $125 million at the box office and won a few awards. Sometimes the public knows better than the critics when a horror film works well.

What often happens when a film is successful is that it is copied again and again by others and we wind up with a whole new genre. This is how the horror film industry has evolved over the years. Whether we hate the graphic violence or love the villain’s ability to keep coming at us, we all watch horror films. They make us stretch our imagination and believe in things that go bump in the night. They make us look under our beds before going to sleep at night. They give us strange and unusual things to think about.

Horror Films: A Brief History

Nashville Haunted HouseAficionados of Horror Films will never forget Boris Karloff’s emotional portrayal of Frankenstein in Bride of Frankenstein released in 1935. He made this character come to life. He took a character that we should have hated and transformed him into a monster that we could all relate to and care about.

This is part of the thrill of horror films. They take a group of actors, a script, some settings and develop a whole new world … a world of fear, of dread, of darkness and mix that with our nightmares to give us a frightening trip into the Dark Nether Regions of the Unknown.

Why We Like To Watch

As the film industry has progressed over the last 75 years, it has spawned whole new genres of terror, like Freddy Krueger and Dracula. The last 10 years have been especially prominent for the success of vampire movies such as, The Twilight Saga, four vampire films that have taken the Dracula legend to new heights.

As in the original Dracula movie filmed in 1931 and starring Bela Lugosi, the filmmakers give us complex characters that we should hate but who have a few redeeming qualities that endear us. This is one of the major features of a great horror film. It not only scares the Bejesus out of us, but it introduces us to complicated monsters that we can relate to.

Even before moving pictures, stories of strange events occurring in haunted castles have always attracted and entertained people. Some storytellers simply have a knack for transforming a boy meets girl story into a Friday the 13th flick where boy meets girl and they both get murdered by a mad slasher.

Audiences seem drawn to these types of stories, whether they be urban myths, ancient legends of headless horsemen, or adrenalin-pumping tales of a cannibalistic genius on the loose. Stories like this not only get our heart racing they reveal our deepest fears and anxieties. From Alfred Hitchcock’s story of birds gone crazy to tales of giant anacondas or spiders wreaking havoc on a peaceful village, we humans enjoy watching and imagining that it could happen in our little town.

Each generation has its favorite horror films filled with ghosts, zombies, vampires and madmen. They startle up, gross us out, invade our dreams and play to our worst fears. And yet we keep watching. George Lucas gave the world an all new way to create these types of films when he founded Industrial Light and Magic. His studio uses animation to create special effects that were never before possible.

Since that time, movie makers have been able to transcend the normal boundaries and give us out-of-this-world monsters like those from James Cameron’s Aliens or the Terminator movies.  Perhaps one of the most famous present day story tellers in this genre is Stephen King. He has written numerous books that have kept us awake at night worried about some strange mist that would envelop us. Many of his stories have been made into movies that remain popular today like The Shining, Misery, Bag of Bones, and Carrie.

He says it best in this quote:

“If movies are the dreams of the mass culture… horror movies are the nightmares.”
— Stephen King, Danse Macabre