Horror Cinema: Our House

Ghost stories are my favorite, and I was excited to discover Our House, a full-on supernatural, ghost-story movie. While I love ghost stories, a good one is difficult to find, and I was impressed by this one. The incorporation of the ghosts into the narrative was natural and sympathetic at first, and their slow growth into sinister forces was suspenseful and interesting. A solid take on a ghost story and a good movie!

Scott Burns, Anthony. Our House, IFC Midnight / Elevation Pictures, 2018.

Horror Cinema Trivia: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

The original idea for George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was for an alien comedy.

In early 1967, Romero, along with writer John A. Russo and actor Rudy Ricci, were working together at the Latent Image, their Pittsburgh-based commercial film company, when they decided it was time to try their hand at making a feature film. Though the effort eventually produced Night of the Living Dead, early concepts were very different. Russo initially thought of making a horror comedy about “hot-rodding” alien teens who would visit Earth, meet up with human teenagers, and generally cause mischief with the help of a cosmic pet called “The Mess.” The group’s budgetary constraints made this concept impossible, so Russo instead dreamed up an idea about a boy who runs away from home, only to discover a field of corpses under glass, which were rotting to the liking of alien creatures who would eventually consume them. Russo presented this idea to Romero, who latched on to the flesh-eating angle.

Find more insights on Romero’s zombie classic at 10 Facts About George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead on Mental Floss.

Horror Cinema: There’s Something Wrong With the Children / The Ruins

There’s Something Wrong With the Children succeeds in creepy, unsettling moments. The story, however, fails to satisfy, and I left the movie with more questions than answers. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking about a much better film that had what felt like a similar premise of nature as the villain, The Ruins (2008). I’m not sure, though, if nature was the villain in There’s Something Wrong With the Children, or if it was supernatural. If the story had provided more background on the mysteries it introduced, I think the whole would have been better.

Benjamin, Roxanne. There’s Something Wrong With the Children, Paramount Home Entertainment, 2023.

If you have not yet seen The Ruins, I highly recommend it. The horror is a slow build, but, once it hits its peak, you will be in for a gore show that you could never imagine.

Smith, Carter. The Ruins, Dreamworks / Paramount Distribution, 2008.

Ghastly Appearance of a Headless Woman

Many popular Victorian newspapers regularly printed reports of spectral sightings and ghostly visitations, and one British publication that did this with particular gusto was the Illustrated Police News.

In January 1898, it was reported that a mysterious figure with
“the ghastly appearance of a headless woman” was haunting an isolated crossroad outside of Buckingham. The phantom was first witnessed by a well-known local farmer and his companion who had the misfortune of encountering the wraith while driving his “horse and trap.” “The night was well advanced and dark,” when suddenly the farmer saw standing a few yards in front of him a black object near a weather beaten hand-post at the corner of the cross-roads. He called out as the figure was blocking his path but there was no answer and the figure remained motionless.

As he got closer, he noticed the other worldly appearance of the woman and his horse began to “tremble like a leaf.” In shock, he called out again, “What do you do there? Move on, please.” Again, he was met with no response. The horse panicked and backed into a ditch, forcing the farmer’s companion to jump down to seize the reigns. Suddenly, “the queer visitant disappeared,” but, as the pair got back in the trap to flee, the “black sombre figure” appeared again “in the same motionless position as before.”

“Their situation was now getting positively serious. The farmer whose presence of mind had stood him in good stead, now finding his nerve on the point of giving way, asked the apparition in the name of God to speak. Then it was that the spectra slowly drifted away, and appeared to float through the thick set bordered hedge.”

Numerous others later claimed to witness the ghost and the reporter commented that it was “not a little surprising that the spot referred to has been less frequented of late.”

Read other Victorian reports of ghosts at Ghosts of the Past: Historic News Reports of Victorian Hauntings