Ghosts: The Beloved and Ignored Monster

Library Ghost from Ghostbusters

Library Ghost from Ghostbusters

First, I don’t think they ever busted this one.  The Ghostbusters never went back to the library, so I assume she’s still there.

Anyway, I was commenting with Jack Flacco (buy his book Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse) and he brought up how the economy effects the interest in vampires and zombies.  I could explain, but check out his post on the subject.  I had asked about the non-undead monsters like werewolf, The Monster, black lagoon creature, and ghosts . . . then I realized ghosts are undead.  In fact, ghosts are always around and we never seem to give them credit for their longevity.

When was the last year a ghost or haunted house movie never came out or there wasn’t anything on the television that had ghosts involved.  Supernatural began with ghosts and always returns to these.  The ghost plots tend to be similar too, but they are always entertaining.  Something about this monster draws a person in and really chills our blood.  I would say more than the others.  The physical monsters will tear you apart and devour you.  A ghost will fling you around, impale you with objects, make walls bleed, and all around screw with you.  This isn’t even counting possession.  What can you do if you’re faced with it?  Jack shit if you lack salt, an exorcist, iron, or whatever the ghosts of the world are ‘hurt’ by.  That’s the thing too.  If you go by Supernatural then using most of this things only dispels the ghost.  The bastard comes back a few minutes later and undoes whatever you did the first time.  Even the exorcist isn’t a sure thing because the enraged ghost always materializes and tries a final attack.  Unless you have a proton pack or a flamethrower trained on their body, you’re proper fucked.

Now, I’ve said why I find ghosts awesome and you can gauge how to use them in a story from this.  It isn’t about the straight on attack with a ghost.  It’s a build up of rage and an escalation of aggression.  Ghosts typically start with ‘get out’ tactics and then comes the ‘I warned you’ stuff.  Writings in the steamed mirror and nightly voices turn into pianos crashing through walls and shrieks of the damned.  That’s the trick with a ghost.  You don’t start with a bang, but a whisper and build it up until it is a cacophony of screams.  I think this is why the ghost is a solid monster that stays under the radar.  People love to be scared, but the modern version is gore and violence.  The ghost is better suited to the slow build and suspense unlike its zombie brethren.  Sure the zombie is slow, but you still see it while the ghost has that moment of not being sure it’s there.  Many characters don’t even believe until something big happens.

So, let’s hear it for the ghosts during this time of year.  Sing along, everyone!

(Tomorrow I’m posting the last of my three favorite Halloween songs.  They haven’t been in order and I’m sure people know what’s coming.)

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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46 Responses to Ghosts: The Beloved and Ignored Monster

  1. sknicholls says:

    I love ghosts because they can appear from nowhere and wreck havoc on everything. On a spiritual note. I believe they can be very real. Not totally released from our mortal world.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    Ah Ghostbusters. A true classic. When I think of ghosts, I can’t help thinking of The Shining’s malevolent ghosts. I wrote a ghost short story ages ago. I have no idea where I put it. Probably on a long defunct floppy disk.

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  3. treyzguy says:

    Something brushes across your face in a dark hallway that you know is empty. A breath on the back of your neck when you know you’re the only one in the bathroom.
    A porn site on your lap top when you’re wife find’s it and you know….wait….that’s not right!
    Great stuff bro…You know I’m a believer….

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  4. This makes me think of a Doctor Who episode where people think ghosts are visiting the world in large numbers, and the Doctor comes up from the Tardis singing the Ghostbuster’s theme…. “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts!”

    Really sad because it’s the start of Rose Tyler’s last arc as the Doctor’s companion 😦

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  5. Jack Flacco says:

    Firstly, thanks for the honorable mention, Charles, much appreciated! Secondly, I remember that conversation we had, lots of discoveries there. We should give more credit to ghosts. The Sixth Sense and The Others are my top ghost movie pics. Can we forget that movie Ghost ever happened? And Ghostbusters is the funnies ghost movie of them all–utter hilarity!

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    • Those are great movies. A movie that was bad, but I liked the ghost mechanics was Thirteen Ghosts. At least, they made the ghosts scary if not over the top. I’ve been on a big Supernatural kick and their ghosts are great. One thing that I’m realizing about ghosts is that they are combined with the Haunted House tales. I guess you can consider it a subgenre of ghosts. The Messengers was pretty creepy too.

      I nearly forgot about Ghost. I guess we need one to keep the romance lovers at bay.

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  6. I for one am a big fan of the ghost, mostly due to their unlimited flexibility. They are just awesome in my opinion.

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  7. ioniamartin says:

    I anin’t afraid’a no ghost:)

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  8. MishaBurnett says:

    Best ghost movie, in my opinion, was the original “Poltergeist”. To me, that typified what is frightening about ghosts–they don’t attack you directly, they change the world around you into something hostile and strange. That’s why I think that ghosts are so closely tied to haunted houses, they take the place where you should be most able to let your guard down and use it to attack you when you are the most vulnerable.

    That’s also why I think ghost stories work best when they are long and build slowly. It’s not any one thing that gets you, it’s that you can never relax.

    Best ghost novel, in my opinion, was “The Haunting Of Hill House”. Again, it wasn’t one particular thing, it was the constant escalation, one thing after another, and you never knew what was coming next or when.

    But “Thir13en Ghosts” was pretty darn fun. I love the Dark castle films.

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    • Can’t believe I forgot Poltergeist. That is the movie that answers the ghost/haunted house connection. Since they can’t physically interact with people, they have to use all those tricks. I like how ghosts seem to go for a bit of driving their victims insane and not just killing too.

      The build is great and is probably the best way to scare people. You have the shock version, but once you see that, it’s over the next viewing. With a good, steady build, you can scare people every time.

      Excellent points.

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  9. I love ghosts – and I love getting completely creeped out by ghost stories. The best and creepiest one I ever saw was The Changeling with Walter C. Scott. It doesn’t scare me as much any more, but it does leave me a little unsettled. Part of it was growing up with seances and the like – our house was haunted, but by nice ghosts who only liked to tease 13 year old girls through the Ouija board!

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    • So cool that you lived in a haunted house. My son used to say there’s a ghost in our house, but I’ve never met it and this is where I grew up.

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      • Little ones see them a lot better than we do – and sometimes they’re just stopping by on their way to the next ‘place.’ It isn’t always a house/place-bound spirit we see.
        As a side note, Tom and I finally started watching Supernatural, and we’ve developed this rather bad habit of critiquing it as though we were Ghost Hunters, and deciding if the phenomena was real according to their criteria!

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      • There are a few episodes that make fun of the Ghost Hunters. Not every episode is ghosts though, so what do you do for those?

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      • Awesome – can’t wait to see those. I love Ghost Hunters, but sometimes . . ..

        When it’s not ghosts (and we only do that a little – we try not to be obnoxious all the time), we huddle the blanket and eat popcorn. Although, I suppose we could try to emulate that guy who goes all over the world looking for random monsters. He’s fun (the island of the dolls . . . creepy!)

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      • I’m curious what the critiques are. Note: I’m writing this while watching Season 8 episodes. Just stumbled onto them.

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      • Oh, just the “so, do you think this is a haunting?” I don’t know, those seem like they may have been personal experiences.” “But what about the voice?” “Oh yeah, and being grabbed by a ghost (demon, etc) and pulled into hell?!?!” That last is shouted with popcorn thrown into the air, and I may or may not be the one doing it. Really, I think we just shouldn’t watch Ghost Hunters where there is obviously a ghost but no “haunting” verdict right before we watch Supernatural. It might save some popcorn, let alone the couch and floor.

        And we’re only on season 1 – it’s been a busy few weeks and we don’t actually get to watch a whole lot of tv. We’re enjoying it, though.

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      • I’m trying to think of the episodes where those would be yelled. The demons become a lot bigger in Season 3 though. Totally different from ghosts too, which gives them more to work with.

        One thing I liked about the Supernatural ghosts is that some of them have developed unique abilities beyond regular ghosts. I saw them more as malevolent spirits whose anger has grown beyond the abilities of the ghosts we’re used to here.

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      • I think we first did it at the very first episode – the white lady. I was trying not to be scared and failing so I asked Tom if he thought it was a ghost, which it obviously was. Back-and-forth and thrown popcorn ensued (which may have just been a cover for me totally freaking out when the ghost attacked). Thus, a schitck was born. It’s done with love for both sets of shows, really. I enjoy the way they cast the ghosts and other monsters and employ a realistic (all things considered) mythos.
        I’m not sure I can handle the demons getting bigger – the whole lady on the ceiling engulfed in fire thing is pretty creepy. At the same time, I’m looking forward to where it goes!

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      • It gets very interesting. The demons all take human hosts though, so it isn’t that bad. It does get rather violent and bloody in a few episodes.

        One of the things that got me hooked during the first episode is that I looked up ‘the white lady’ on a whim. It’s a real ghost myth, which made me give major respect to the writings.

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      • Exactly – buffy had some creepy monsters, but these having more grounding in the human psyche/fear makes it even better.

        Although I’d really prefer it if they stayed out of Wisconsin. There’s already been one episode, and I think there’s at least one more. I may have to skip those. 🙂

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      • They run around Middle American for most of the series. I think the avoidance of the more common cities like NYC and LA make it even better. Wondering how often they show up in Wisconsin actually.

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      • It is fun to see road signs for your city in an episode and it could make a fun road trip with the kid – supposed ‘supernatural’ sightings or some such. It also makes the show a lot more accessible (scary) to the viewer.

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      • I do wish they’d come to Long Island. The episode ‘Provenance’ takes place in New Paltz where one of my best friends went to college.

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  10. Papi Z says:

    Poltergeist scared the heck out of me when I watched it. GhostBusters is my favorite, though The Ghost and Mr. Chicken with Don Knotts holds a special place for me. Loved that one.

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  11. Pingback: In my world, it’s Halloween daily ♥ | ℤoε ℍαs a ℂu†ε Bloℊ♕

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