Haunted House

Typically by this time we have already made our way to AZ for our fall trip at which time we open up the house and prepare it for our winter arrival on Christmas Day. This year, because of a doctor’s appointment related to Bill’s participation in the clinical research study, we have postponed our trip until November 6, the day after his appointment, at which time we will fly to AZ rather than drive, and return to Denver about a week-and-a-half later. I’m happy to say that our AZ house has already been opened up by my niece Maggie and her family, who are using it as a stop-off between selling their house and moving into their new home. It makes me happy to think about our little house in Mesa being lived in by Austin and Lilly (and their parents, of course). The patter of little feet and all that jazz.

We are, in fact, having to remain pretty flexible this year as a result of the research study. Part of the requirement is that Bill meets monthly with the doctor in Denver, which means that he, at least, will have to fly back once a month. I reckon as his care partner, I will be accompanying him. It will be a chance to give the grands a hug and kiss.

Anyhoo, it has been years since we have been in Denver for Halloween. We always get photos, but it will be fun this year to see the grands dressed up for trick-or-treating in person. We will have to make do with photos for the Vermonters.

As much as I like to read a good thriller, I’m frankly not much for watching scary movies. I really never have liked them, though I was more amenable to them when I was younger. I’m pretty sure the last horror movie I saw was The Sixth Sense, a film that scared the devil out of me. There is a scene in that movie where the little boy who “sees dead people” glimpses a dead woman with half of her head shot off walk from one room in his house across the hall to another room. For the next six months, every time I stayed up later than Bill, I would come upstairs, stop at the top of the stairs, and then run like hell down the hall to our bedroom. Hand to God. If Court had come out of his room about that time, I am certain I would have had a heart attack.

So I ask myself why-oh-why did I think watching a scary movie Saturday night when Bill was not home was a good idea. Some time ago, I read (and reviewed) the book The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I found the book sufficiently spooky, but readable. Netflix recently began streaming an original version of the story, not in one film but in a series of eight or so episodes. As a tribute to Halloween, I decided to watch the first episode. At home by myself. I seriously wasn’t more than six or seven minutes into the first episode when I heard a gigantic crash somewhere in the house. You’ve got to be kidding me, right? I nearly jumped out of my chair. I paused the program and carefully began searching the house for a ghost, or perhaps a serial murderer. I went to the top of the stairs, but the woman with half a head was no where to be seen. I even managed to gather up all of my nerve and creep carefully down to our basement, but there was no ghost there either.

I managed to convince myself that the noise came from outside, perhaps someone throwing a pumpkin into the street. But I wasn’t able to bring myself back to the movie. I removed The Haunting of Hill House from my Netflix list, and I watched The Princess Diaries instead. How scary can Julie Andrews be?

Yesterday morning, I went into our guest room to look for something in the closet. I noticed that the piece of art that I had hung up after our painter was finished with his work was on the floor, the frame broken into pieces. I’m unwilling to admit that I just did a bad job of hanging the picture. I’m pretty sure the woman with no head was in our house Saturday night.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Haunting of Hill House

searchWhen I was a little girl, my mother would occasionally let me stay up on Saturday night and watch the weekly scary movie. One such Saturday, I saw the movie The House on Haunted Hill for the first time. Seriously, can anyone be scarier than Vincent Price? Wua hahahaha.

I have watched this movie a couple of times as an adult, and while the special effects are considerably less than special in comparison to movies made now, it is just a scary movie.

Because I liked The House on Haunted Hill, when the book The Haunting of Hill House came to my attention (Amazon? Goodreads? Pinterest?), I looked into it. While the story is not exactly the same, the movie clearly took its lead from Shirley Jackson’s creepy story.

Dr. Montague studies the phenomenon of ghosts. As part of his studies, he brings together a group of three – his assistant Theodora; Luke, who will eventually inherit the house; and Eleanor, who has had experiences with ghosts in the past. His idea is to bring the ghosts out into the open so that he can study them.

The book is creepy, there is no question about it. Written in 1959, it reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous Psycho, considered by many to be one of the scariest movies of all time. There is no blood and gore, no one gets slashed, there are not even any actual appearances by ghosts. There are only noises in the old mansion, and cold spots and drafts that indicate the ghosts’ presence. More than just a ghost story, this is the story of a vulnerable woman going mad.

Despite the lack of blood and gore, the book KEPT ME AWAKE AT NIGHT, ladies and gentlemen. It was creepy beyond belief.

I LOVED it.

The book was actually made into a movie, though not The House on Haunted Hill. Two movies, in fact. The original was released in 1963 and starred Julie Christie as Eleanor. It is apparently much better than the movie re-released in 1999.

Having read the book, I think I will pass on the movie, thank you very much. I can only lose so much sleep.

Here is link to the book.

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