Stories For Ghosts

Horror Through a Literary Lens

Category: folklore (page 2 of 3)

Creep Yourself Out – 10 of the Best Scary Podcasts

One of the regrets I have about growing up is that I no longer experience “Story Time.” It sounds silly, and maybe it is, but I really loved sitting quietly and listening to a teacher or parent tell me a story. Who didn’t love Story Time as a kid? Especially around Halloween, when the teacher might bust out a worn, cherished copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? Even as a teenager, when I attended summer camp, we regularly stayed up to tell creepy stories. We took turns telling ghost stories around a literal campfire.

Such stories, told with the human voice, possess their own kind of magic. There’s something genuine and compelling about a lone voice weaving a story in the night, while others listen in complete silence. There is the gravitas of ritual, the authenticity of an intimate story, and the hard-to-deny possibility that maybe it’s real after all. Without the spectacle of movies or the artful words of a book, you’re left with the truth, right? Possibly?

These days, I can satisfy my love for stories with movies, television shows, novels, short stories, and comics whenever I want. But they don’t approximate that shivery joy of listening to a person tell you a spooky story.

That’s why I love podcasts. With the right podcast, I can find that same thrill combined with wonderfully complex, creepy stories that fold and unfold, drawing in threads and characters and events that transport me to an entirely different world. Using only the power of the human voice.

In honor of Halloween, I want to share some of my favorite scary podcasts with you. These podcasts vary from graphic true crime, to macabre accounts of historical events, to fictional audio plays. They’re all compelling in their own ways, keeping readers, including myself, coming back for more week after week.

Enjoy!

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My Favorite Creepypastas to Keep You Awake Tonight

I have this really bad habit where, when I’m home by myself, I hop on the internet and venture into dark corners to find scary stories. Sometimes I go to Wikipedia and fall into a black hole of unsolved mystery pages, emerging hours later. Sometimes I go to true crime sites and then I have to get up and double check to make sure all the doors and windows in my house are locked. If there’s a spooky story on the internet, I’ll probably read it and freak myself out. But, my favorite internet scary stories, hands down, are Creepypastas.

I don’t know why I do it–maybe I get bored, maybe I have an overwhelming case of morbid curiosity. I don’t know why, but I love Creepypastas.

Part ghost story, part urban legend, part cursed email chain, these tales thrive for the same reasons folklore thrives. We love to hear outlandish, frightening, gruesome stories, and even the tiniest kernel of truth puts us under a spell. Creepypastas (so named for its original term of “copypasta” which refers to copy-and-pasted text that has gone viral) are user generated, meaning any random person on the internet has the power to contribute a creepy story.

The internet can be a nasty place, but Creepypastas are one of the nice (albeit weird and terrifying) parts about the internet. People from anywhere in the world can read a person’s strange story and have an immediate reaction. Indeed, Creepypastas are shared everywhere. People who have nothing else in common might bond over the chills they felt after reading a particularly good Creepypasta. Authors have gone on to write whole novels out of their Creepypastas, and Creepypastas have been adapted into short films on Youtube. There are whole communities devoted them writing and sharing them. They spread and grow and develop their own gravitas, their own lore.

In a way, Creepypastas are the 21st century equivalent of ghost stories told around campfire.

So come, gather round and let me share with you some of my absolute favorite awesome Creepypastas. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments!

 

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Visiting The “Haunted” Winchester Mystery House

This visit to the Winchester Mystery House is the latest entry in Project: Haunted House, a series of posts where I visit purportedly “haunted” places and write about my experiences. Read more here!

The crazy, reclusive woman is a well-worn archetype in literature and film. Emotionally and psychologically unstable, she is damaged goods, unable to escape from a painful past. She is isolated from others. Those around her define her by sorrow, anger, and “insanity.” Her behavior is misinterpreted and her motivations are ignored. She might start off as a psychologically stable character, but cruel psychological manipulation breaks her down. Sometimes, she really is insane, but her mental illness is far more complex than portrayed and we’re never given her full story. These portrayals twist her into something both delicate and dangerous

You know this archetype. The most famous example is Bertha Rochester in Jane Eyre, but she shows up in different versions as the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca, and Jennet Humfrye in The Woman in Black. She also appears in films like Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, Gothika, and The Ring. Some of these works are my all-time favorites. I’ve always been intrigued by these characters, probably because I’ve always seen them as very misunderstood.

The Crazy Lady also shows up in tons of myths legends, and ghost stories. One of the most famous examples of a weird, reclusive, possibly bat-shit lady is Sarah Winchester, mistress of the infamous Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.

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March Horror Reading List – Texas Ghost Stories

I’ve only hinted at it before, but you should know that I’m a Texas Girl, through and through. While I may not agree with everything my state has done, I love living here.

I’ve lived in Texas my whole life, having been born and raised in San Antonio before moving on to attend college in Austin and eventually settling in Houston. To me, “barbecue” means brisket and a “cookout” means the event where you eat barbecue. I say “y’all” and I don’t care if you think it’s cute or not. I’ll take Whataburger over any other fast food joint any day of the week. I think winter is two or three weeks in January where the temperature may dip below 40 degrees. There’s nothing I love more than a Texas thunderstorm. I love to go camping under the Texas night sky with plenty of food, beer, and ghost stories.

But of course you already know how much I love ghost stories. Especially Texas ghost stories.

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March 2016 Horror Releases

We’ve still got a long way to go until the spooky, bloody, and glorious horror films that dominate the release schedule in the summer. January and February can be really uneven when it comes to horror movies, giving us movies that run the gamut from inspired and well-crafted to lazy and cliché. But March 2016 serves up some really interesting horror releases.

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It Is Always Christmas Eve, In A Ghost Story

It’s Christmas Eve, a few hours before midnight. Presents are wrapped. Stockings are hung. If you went to a Christmas Eve party, you’re probably home by now. Any children in the house are tucked snuggly into bed. Before you go off to bed yourself, you and your family might enjoy the fire as it slowly goes out. You might reminisce about past Christmases or tell stories about the meaning of each ornament on the tree. Or you could tell each other ghost stories. Christmas ghost stories.

It’s not as weird as you might think and, in fact, Christmas ghost stories are a time-honored tradition that has been somewhat forgotten as of late. The tradition started in Britain and quickly spread to the U.S. Every Christmas Eve, whole families gathered around the fire and scared each other silly with ghost stories.

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December 2015 Horror Movies

I didn’t think of December as a good month for horror movies, but I gotta say, December 2015 has changed my mind. There aren’t many December horror movies, since the release calendar this month is pretty much dominated by family-friendly holiday movies and Oscar-bait. However, the movies below all seem like solid efforts (at least based on their trailers) with dynamic concepts. It seems to more than make up for the scarce horror release calendar.

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Fantasy Horror: A Horror Subgenre to Watch For

The genre of horror tends to go through phases where certain subgenres experiencing a sort of “renaissance”, where writers and filmmakers explore all limits of the subgenre, where audiences become temporarily obsessed with the subgenre. It’s happened with creature features, psychological horror, slasher films, haunted houses, demonic possession, and the hyper-realistic gore of the “torture porn” subgenre. I guess that, currently, supernatural “found-footage” horror is the big, mainstream deal, what with the Paranormal Activity series, the V/H/S/ series, and July’s upcoming The Gallows.

However, a wholly different type of horror is bubbling up from underneath. Movies and television are gradually starting to explore the intersection between the sinister and the fantastic, while books have long intertwined the two.

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Project Haunted House: The Cemetery of the Nameless

In a remote corner of Austria, not too far from the Danube River, lies a small cemetery known as Friedhof der Namenlosen, the Cemetery of the Nameless. If you’ve seen the film Before Sunrise, you know this place–Celine and Jesse visit it during their romantic tour of Vienna. And you may have heard that it’s supposed to be haunted.

The cemetery was established by the locals over one hundred years ago so that there would be a proper burial site for those who had drowned in the Danube. Oftentimes the identities of the deceased were unknown, as were the reasons behind the deaths. Nevertheless, the locals did their best to honor the dead, laying out gravestones without names, tending the graves, and even bringing water and bread for the restless spirits who dwell there.

Today, the cemetery is said to be one of the most haunted places in Austria.  Some of the buried have been identified, but of the 101 people buried there, 61 are still nameless. There are no more burials and no one to tend to the graves. There are no candles, no fresh flowers. The cemetery is overgrown and shadowy, like some eerie scene straight out of a gothic novel.

And yet, people are drawn to this place.

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You need to know about the Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark Documentary

Almost anyone I’ve ever asked has fond memories of the classic children’s series Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark. Even now as adults, most people I’ve talked to excitedly remember the vivid tales and the terrifying illustrations. Remember those?

Back in October, I wrote a blog post about Scary Stories. In that post, I reminisced about how much I loved those books—how they creeped me out, how I felt compelled to read them despite their scariness. Those books struck the perfect balance between whimsy, horror, and folklore, creating a darkly inviting world.

Sometimes I’d read the story with one hand covering the picture until I had worked up the nerve to look at! Even now, I feel like a little kid reading these, scaring myself silly.

 

IT’S LOOKING AT ME

I’ve always thought that these books held a power far strong than nostalgia alone. As this blog demonstrates, I’m fascinated by the way in which Scary Stories resonate with us and teach us about ourselves.

So imagine my utter joy and excitement when I heard that a team of filmmakers is producing a documentary about the history of this series! You read that right! Director and Producer Cody Meirick and his team are currently working to explore everything from the publication history of the Scary Stories, the legacy of the iconic illustrations, the importance the books lend to children’s literature, and efforts by some to restrict access to the books, among other subjects. The team has already begun production on the film, having already conducted a handful of interviews, with plans for many more.

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