Back in late November, I made the following excited post to my personal Facebook page:
I found the haunted room here at the new hotel!!!
Yes, there were three exclamation points. You’d think I would have immediately come here to the blog to share the story, but I was otherwise monopolized. At the time, I was deeply embroiled in my quest to complete 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. When that was done, I was ensnared by my life – or rather the lives of my menfolk. I’ve been helping my husband get pysched up for starting his new job (which he begins tomorrow – praise all the saints) and helping my son get calmed down for his first *college-level finals (and his first real date – oh-my-God, how old am I?)
* Remember, he’s only just turned 17, I’ve still got some mothering to do.
For the last two days, I’ve been concentrating on preparing myself for the next phase of this new life we’re creating. I’ve organized & disciplined the HELL out of my calendar and my planner. (When I listen carefully, I can hear them still whimpering faintly.) I’ve set new goals and recommitted to old ones. I’ve tidied up some of the pages around the blog.
I’m feeling organized, confident and hopeful. I know what I need to do next, and what I need to do after that. Soon I’m going to go get cozy, on this wintry night, with a horror movie. (We’re having the first snow storm of the season here in Minnesota.) There’s a little time now, though, to tell you my mini-ghost story.
In room 566:
Deep in the night, on a mid-week shift at the new hotel, I realized a particular room – which had never before been available – was marked as rent-able. I had noted it on the list before, because it is labeled as a king suite. As far as I knew at the time, the hotel did not have any suites. When I had asked about it, I was told that I didn’t have to worry about it because a long term guest was in residence there.
Curious now that it was unoccupied, I set the back-in-five-minutes sign on the counter and went to have a look. I took the elevator to the top floor, then walked about half-way along the hall until I came to the correct door. I knocked – like I always do – waited, then let myself into the room. I located a single switch to my left, and flipped it on. A dim light from one wall-mounted lamp oozed out to fill the room, but it was weak, and it left soft shadows in the corners. Directly in front of me there was a living area furnished with a slightly shabby sofa, two matching side chairs, a scarred coffee table and a large television encased in an open armoire that stood against the right hand wall. In the middle of the big room, a writing desk pressed up to the back of the sofa. Beyond that, against the far left wall, a low king sized bed crouched between two night stands.
I stepped into the space and let the door shut behind me. To my left there was a small kitchenette, separated from the rest of the room by a wall of its own and narrow breakfast bar. I ran my fingers along the bar top as I crossed toward the desk. I was wondering where the bathroom was, and if it was any larger or grander than those in our regular rooms. I stood next to the desk’s bench for a moment, until I figured out that the bathroom was next to the kitchenette, and that it didn’t look like it could be very spacious.
It was then, when I was standing in the middle of the room, facing the bed, that the television behind me came to life.
I spun around, thinking someone had followed me into the the room and turned it on. There was no one near the television, except for the white-haired news anchor displayed on the screen. For a few seconds, I stood frozen, then I turned in a slow circle, scanning the room for any possible spot that could conceal a person. (I have a fear of letting myself into an occupied room. It’s been haunting me ever since the unexpected occupant in room 217 spooked me badly.) Finally, I thought to check the bathroom. It, too, was empty. Even though, by then, I was convinced that I was truly alone in the suite, I looked for the room’s remote control. It was resting on one of the night stands.
One part of my mind was scrambling for a rational explanation, but it was having some trouble because another part was busy screaming, “Appliances that turn themselves on and off are classic signs of a haunting!”
At last my rational brain deduced a plausible answer: the television had to be plugged into a socket that was powered by the switch I had flipped upon entering the room. Without realizing it, I’d provided power to a television that had been left on. There had been a delay simply because some TVs take a little time to warm up. (Later, of course, I realized that some TVs from the 70’s required warm-up time, but I wasn’t thinking about how old or new the set was in that moment.)
Since I had figured out the probable explanation, one thing remained to do: I went back and turned off the only switch I had touched since entering the room.
The room instantly went dark … except for the flickering, bluish light the television continued to pour out. I had to cross the suite to fetch the remote in order to kill it.
So what do you think? Faulty wiring maybe? Or some kind of reverse sleep timer?
Hi gang! I’ve had a day that came off the rails. I thought I’d be spending this Monday catching up on NaNoWriMo but, instead, I ended up helping my son register for too many credits at the community college, then going to work, even though it was supposed to be a day off. It wasn’t a bad day … just not what I expected. Consequently – and somewhat surprisingly – I’m now drinking my third beer, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little squirrely. That’s your warning that I’m feeling informal and chatty. Stay or go as you desire.
First, let me share a couple of personal pictures. (Because I just posted them on my real-life FB, and they are cute.)
This is my husband. In the last 18 months or so, he’s lost a LOT of weight (because he decided it was time to do so.) Now he looks pretty much the way he did when I married him. I sometimes wonder if he’s not secretly some kind of immortal. Otherwise, how could he still look so young? I haven’t yet decided if he’s vampire or were.
This is my son, who let me make him up as a version of my hypnotist clown for Halloween. He’s REALLY didn’t like me messing with his eyes – and he was kinda squirmy in general – so I couldn’t get the clean lines I wanted, but it didn’t turn out too bad.
There. With that out of the way, I can settle in and share the bits ‘o news I have.
WriMoProg / NaNoWriMo
A couple of nights ago, I updated my home-grown writing challenge / tracker page (WriMoProg) with this month’s goals which – for this one month only – pretty much equate to NaNoWriMo. I detailed my plans there, but the gist is that I’m joining in on the insanity for the first time. I’m behind at the moment, but I have 3000 words done. The intention is to catch up tomorrow (now that I’ve thrown my hands up for this one evening and commenced to screwing around.)
We had a pretty good holiday, though not nearly enough trick or treaters came to our elaborately decorated apartment door.
Do you see those brown paper boxes stacked up behind the treat-filled book? Those were filled with a set of construction cards that my son had outgrown. Our intention was to give this special prize to the first witch or wizard who came to the door. My boy was pretty excited about the whole handing out treats thing … he had never had the chance to do it before, because we lived so far out in the country.
We got a basketball player, a firefly, a girl in an orange shirt, a generic super-hero, an Arabian princess and a bug. Then there were no more.
Once we thought the festivities were over, my son and I decided to tour the building to see if anyone else had gone all out. (Nope.) When we were returning to the apartment, however, we were delighted to hear “I can’t believe I got the special prize!” We rounded the corner and saw a 12-13 year old girl, in full Hogwart’s regalia, showing the boxes to her mom. My beloved had awarded her the cards. She was thrilled. And so were we.
On his Facebook page, my son later posted, “Getting trick or treaters might be the best thing ever.”
By 10p, we had disassembled all of our decorations and packed them away. I carved two more Jack-o-lanterns, just because I could.
Then Halloween was over.
Except, it’s never really over, is it?
The must-see horror movie list
I’ve been making some progress on my required viewing. Thanks to a tip from Hunter, I settled in with The Cabin in the Woods a few nights ago. It will absolutely go onto a list of the best, I just haven’t yet figured out which one. I’ve also seen The Mist (which was pretty good, then pretty awful, then mind-blowingly amazing) and Repulsion (which was a challenging but rewarding slog, and destined to go onto the psychosexual horror list that I STILL don’t have enough entries for.) I’ll be puttering and updating the lists when I’m done here.
Sometimes I think I should make a whole new blog just for detailing the goings on at the hotel. Right now I’ll settle for one quick update, for those who are following along. Remember the guy that told me cleaning elevators wasn’t my strong suit? Yeah. He completely lost it. Within a couple of days of my post (on October 17th) he had alienated every resident and staff member at the hotel. He checked out. Then he came back and claimed that he’d left valuables in his room: a pair of shoes and a box full of winning scratch off tickets – hundreds of dollars worth of scratch off tickets. He was convinced the housekeeping staff had rejoiced at their good fortune and absconded with his property. Then he made some racial slurs to back up his theory. He wanted to call the police into the situation.
It came to a head on a day I didn’t work. My boss acquiesced and phoned the cops. The officer, I was told, attempted to make peace by suggesting that the guest (Joe) be given one free night’s lodging, in exchange for refraining from haranguing hotel staff while other guests waited. After that, we thought it was over.
Except, it wasn’t.
He showed up a few night’s later, while I was working. He seemed to be back to his old self. Calm. Competent. Sane. He rented a room for just one night, at full price, with no argument. I should have known that wasn’t a good sign.
Several hours later, I was approached by a set of three parents who wanted me to help find their underage children, whom them knew were in the hotel somewhere. They were sure there was drinking, and possible drug use, going on. While they were talking to me, one young boy made the mistake of visiting the snack machine. He was recognized by the parents and questioned about the room in which the party was taking place. He lied repeatedly, offering up a variety of random room numbers (which did not actually exist in the hotel.) When he’d rattle off a room number, I would subtly shake my head, and the questioning would continue. When he said they were in the room Joe had rented earlier, I shook my head again. Tired, worn down, he insisted that was really the correct room. The father in the group of parents went up with him as the boy proved his claim.
Even after the father returned, it didn’t work in my head. I had to go up there myself. Four girls – by appearance, none of them older than 15 – were still in the room. I gently questioned them about the adult that had rented the room for them. They described Joe to the smallest detail. Apparently, they had approached an “old man who was hanging out in the parking lot.” He’d agreed to rent the room for them.
Epilogue: Two days later – when I was working again – Joe strolled into the lobby, bold as brass. He came to the desk, greeted me, then asked, “Is it true that I’m no longer allowed to rent a room here?”
With some satisfaction – because I don’t like to be told I am not good at cleaning anything – I said, “Yes. That’s true. I’m not to rent to you again.”
He was outraged. He wanted to know why we had harassed his guests.
I looked at him for a few seconds, then said, ” Because they were underage maybe?”
He insisted I call the police. Which I did, happily. He sat in the lobby for about ten minutes. Eventually he stood up and exclaimed, “I don’t have time to wait around for the useless cops to show up. I’ll be back. With my lawyer.”
I haven’t seen him since.
Plans for the blog
Now that I’m dedicating most of my time to generating fiction, I expect to update here a couple of times a week. Currently, I’m drafting the telling of what I saw in room 217 of the old hotel, and its companion ghost story movie list.
And that’s it, a long, rambling post on a Monday night. Please forgive me and try to remember that this is about as close to a weekend as I get.
As I create these Courting Creepy lists, I repeatedly discover gaps in my viewed-films list. My knowledge of zombie movies, for example, was so thin that I had to ask a guest blogger to construct a 13 crucial zombie films list for me. Each time I write a supposedly definitive list, I receive suggestions from readers for additions and replacements. Though I stand by my choices, I must also admit that I haven’t seen everything and, consequently, I could be missing a great film. I’ve been trying to keep the list of must-see movies in my head, and/or on random scraps of paper. It just occurred to me, that this is a better way to keep track. Duh.
[Last updated July 21st, 2014.]
As with all the lists, feel free (even compelled) to make suggestions and recommendations!
13 creepy movies I most want to see next:
I. Byzantium (2012) – DVD – vampires
II. Silent House (2011) – Netflix – ghosts
III. Absence (2013) – Netflix – recommended by Monster Men – aliens
IV. The Conspiracy (2012) – Netflix – secret society
V. House of Voices (2004) – Netflix – ghosts
VI. Munger Road (2011) – Netflix – ?
VII. A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013) – Netflix – ghosts
VIII. Stoker (2013) – DVD – strange
IX. Grave Encounters (2011) – Netflix – ghosts
X. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012) – Netflix – recommended by Scholar – ghosts
XI. Don’t Look Now (1973) – Netflix – ghosts? psychics?
XII. Case 39 (2009) – DVD – strange
XIII. One Missed Call (2003 Japanese version) – DVD – recommended by Craft Fear – time-slip? ghosts?
Films to be moved up, as needed:
Recommendations by The Horror Online follow:
Paranormal Activity (2007) with DIRECTORS COMMENTARY – ghosts
Alone with Her (2006) – DVD – stalker
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) – saved on Netflix – serial killer
Home Movie (2008) – DVD – looks gruesome maybe? – strange
The Last Exorcism (2010) – DVD – demons
Troll Hunter (2010) – Netflix – monster
The Woman Who Came Back (1945) – DVD – ghosts?
Warlock (1989) – DVD – witches
The Witches (1990) – DVD – children, witches
To The Devil A Daughter (1976) – saved on Netflix – demons, writers
Witchfinder General (1968) – DVD – witches
The Devil Rides Out (1968) – saved on Netflix – witches
The City of the Dead (Horror Hotel) (1960) – saved on Netflix – witches
La Maschera Del Demonio aka Black Sunday (1960) – Netflix – witches
Communion (1989) – DVD – aliens
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973) – DVD – recommended by Hunter Shea – zombies
The Screaming Skull (1958) – DVD, very long wait – recommended by Parlor of Horror – psycho?
The New Daughter (2009) – DVD – recommended by Jimmy Smith – possession?
The Deaths of Ian Stone (2007) – DVD – recommended by parlorofhorror – time-slip? psycho?
The Echo (2008) – DVD – recommended by Scholar – ghosts?
The Bay (2012) – Netflix – recommended by Monster Men – monsters?
God Told Me (1976) – DVD – recommended by Wed’s Child – psycho? demons?
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (1971) – DVD – classic, recommended by Daryll – ghosts
The Woman in Black (1989) – TV movie, also recommended by Daryll – ghosts
Prince Of Darkness (1987) – DVD – recommended by Hunter Shea – demons?
Candyman (1992) – Netflix – urban legend
The Howling (1981) – DVD – classic, think I’ve seen it, don’t remember well, werewolves
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003) – DVD – recommended by pilgrim52 – ghosts
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) -DVD – ?
The Exorcist III (1990) – DVD – Saw it at the drive-in, needs a rewatch – demons
The Skull (1965) – DVD – recommended by Parlor of Horror – strange, possession
The Stone Tape (1972) – recommended by Mark Hill (obscure made for British TV – hard to find?) – ghosts
Peeping Tom (1959) – DVD – rough going, I’ve heard (caught part of it on TV) – psycho? serial killer?
Obsession (1976) – saved on Netflix – stalker
The Spiral Staircase (1946) – DVD – stalker
Final Destination (2000) – DVD – psychic? time-slip?
Wolfen (1981) – DVD – werewolves
The Company of Wolves (1984) – DVD – werewolves
The Desperate Hours (1955) – saved on Netflix – psycho? stalker?
They Live (1988) – DVD – aliens
A Clockwork Orange (1971) – DVD – strange, psycho
Darkness (2002) – DVD – ghosts
Shutter (2004) – DVD – ghosts
Al Final del Espectro aka At the End of the Spectra (2006) – psycho
Cronos (1993) – DVD – strange, time-slip?
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) – DVD – read an intriguing review at IPC – strange
Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965) – tarot stories
The Eclipse (2009) – DVD – Irish – ghosts
The Hearse (1980) – saved on Netflix – ghosts?
The Awakening (1980) – Charlton Heston! – ghosts
The Girl in the Swing (1988) – saved on Netflix – ghosts
Deadly Presence (2012) – saved on Netflix – ghosts
Haunter (2013) – Netflix -ghosts
6 Souls (2010) – Netflix – psycho, ghosts
Apartment 1303 (2012) – Netflix – ghosts
The Quiet Ones (2014) – saved on Netflix -ghosts
Horns (2014) – saved on Netflix – strange
The Battery (2012) – zombies & BASEBALL :)
The ones I’ve bagged:
Under the Skin (2013)
We Are What We Are (2013)
Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
House at the End of the Street (2012)
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
The Innkeepers (2011)
Dark Skies (2013)
Europa Report (2013)
Labor Day (2013) (not horror but certain creepy & sexy elements)
Gravity (2013) (sci-fi)
The Haunting of Julia (1977)
The Awakening (2011) – recommended by Tim Prasil
Twixt (2011) – writer list candidate
The Gift (2000)
Silver Bullet (1985)
The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)
Drive Angry (2011)
The Conjuring (2013)
AUGUST 2013 ^
The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Lady in White (1988)
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Descent (2005)
BETWEEN DEC 2012 & JULY 2013 ^
The Pact (2012)
The Sentinel (1977)
DECEMBER 2012 ^
Kill Baby, Kill [Operazione paura] (Italy, 1966)
Burnt Offerings (1986)
The Skeleton Key (2005)
Ju-on: The Grudge (2002)
NOVEMBER 2012 ^
The Mist (2007)
The Cabin in the Woods (2011)
Wake Wood (2011)
OCTOBER 2012 ^
A while back, I decided that I should use my Thursdays as personal time. (I don’t work Thurdays.) The plan is to use the day to go on an artist date (ala Julia Cameron) and the evening to relax and pamper myself a little. I’m about to slip into a bubble bath, so I’m definitely on track. Later there will be some great old movie.
I like having a day that is about visual and physical things rather than words on the page and screen. (And certainly rather than treating pissy linens.)
This week’s game is simple, can you guess what all I did with my afternoon? Where I went? What adventures I had? The background of the collage below depicts the most exciting destination of the day. Here’s the clue: I used part of my time (and some borrowed youth and courage from my son) to go someplace I’ve been afraid to go.
Courting Creepy: 13 not-too-spooky movies – for girls’ night in (or a solo spa night) – at Halloween (or anytime.)Posted: October 7, 2012
Let me be clear, some of the most hard-core fans of gruesome horror movies that I know are women. Some of those women can, and do, happily watch movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre while enjoying their morning corn flakes. There is nothing intrinsic to being female that bars one from enjoying a gory decapitation or a high-intensity chase through a zombie filled graveyard.
My own taste runs to minimally graphic films, with lots of slow-builiding tension – preferably those with plots centered on witches and/or ghosts. Consequently, most of the themed recommendations at Courting Creepy lean toward “the Gothic, the darkly beautiful, the subtle and the not-too-gory.” When I’m on my own, or cuddling with my husband, those are the films I seek out.
Still, there are certain, traditionally female-only occasions that call for something even lighter, something a little closer to a chick-flick. The following list features some films that pair well with mani-pedi parties, stitch and bitch sessions, and cookie baking marathons. Others are geared toward an evening alone with a pot of tea, a box of fancy chocolates, and a few hours to devote to a hobby, like knitting, or some self-indulgence, like a hot oil treatment.
The standard fare on such occasions is usually pulled from the rom-com genre, which really doesn’t lend itself to the season of Halloween. (Or to any season, for certain women, who can’t stand the romantic comedies made after 1949 … at least not the mainstream ones.)
In self-defense, and to bring a little creepiness to girls’ night, I’ve curated a collection of movies that are unlikely to freak anyone out, but which will still provide a bit of a thrill, set a slightly eerie tone, or at least bring a touch of the paranormal to the evening.
NOTE: When I finished reading synopses and composed the list, I realized there’s another theme running through the collection – for the most part, these movies showcase strong female characters, many of whom are not teenagers.
As always, please let me know if I’m hitting my target squarely, and feel free (even compelled) to share your suggestions for substitutions. (Remember – a list can run no longer than 13 movies. If a new one appears, another must be banished,)
13 not-too-spooky movies – for girls’ night in (or a solo spa night) – at Halloween (or anytime.)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
– Romantic, old-fashioned, and surprisingly creepy.
Harold & Maude (USA, 1971)
– Not even remotely a horror movie, but its themes are tailor-made for horror fans. This is also the movie I’d recommend to anyone who can’t tolerate chick-flicks. Great dialog:
Psychiatrist: Tell me, Harold, how many of these, eh, *suicides* have you performed?
Harold: An accurate number would be difficult to gauge.
Psychiatrist: Well, just give me a rough estimate.
Harold: A rough estimate? I’d say
[savoring the thought]
Harold: That’s a rough estimate.
Psychiatrist: Were they all done for your mother’s benefit?
Harold: No. No, I would not say “benefit.”
Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
– What’s girls’ night without a musical?
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
– The first half of this film is an unapologetic celebration of women and the friendships they have with each other.
Sleeping With the Enemy (1991)
– Special acknowledgement for most perfectly beautiful town: Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Single White Female (1992)
– Special acknowlewdgement for best shoes: black stilettos with silver heels.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (USA, 1992)
– I dismissed this movie when it came out, because I thought it would be a disrespectful parody of my favorite genre. Years later, when I caught part of it on cable, I was surprised by how funny and sharp it was. I sought out an uncut copy. Now I understand why Buffy was developed into the popular TV series … which I haven’t seen, because I fear it will devolve into a disrespectful parody of one of my favorite movies. Hmmm.
Hocus Pocus (1993)
– Special acknowledgement for the most memorable mini-scene: every person I’ve talked to about this movie immediately chants, “Amok, amok, amok, amok!”
Delores Claiborne (1995)
– There’s some beautifully subtle work done in this film to clearly differentiate between scenes set in the present and flashbacks.
The Craft (1996)
– Probably best if you are under 20 … or if you happened to have seen it, at an appropriate age, when it came out. Otherwise, it’s a little angsty. Some lovely depictions of magick early on though.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
– This movie is about immersing yourself (for 2 1/2 hours) in a southern gothic. Kevin Spacey, by all accounts, does a devestatingly effective portrayal of Jim Williams – the man upon whom this story centers. If you’ve read the book, be prepared for deviations from the story. FYI: I want to be Lady Chablis, as she is in the film.
Practical Magic (1998)
– When I am an old woman, I want to live in that house, and indulge in midnight margaritas every Wednesday.
– Special acknowledgement for most beautiful woman in any of these films: TIE Sandra Bullock, Stockard Channing, Nicole Kidman and Diane Wiest.
– It is absolutely essential that you equip yourself with the finest chocolates you can afford before you settle in to watch this film.