Written By: Socialpaws
The Horror genre is a very subjective thing when it comes to a reader’s personal taste. Could it be howling wolves, bloodthirsty vampires, or demonic forces that make your knees shake with fear?
Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ was a book which particularly haunted me. As a teenager I was horrified by the thought that if my dog passed on, it might actually dig itself out of the ground and return to my house as a demonic creature, whereas some of my school-friends thought the book was quite ‘funny.’
Hence, to ask a person what their favourite type of horror story is, would be inviting all sorts of replies.
One comforting element of most horror stories is that you know they are fictional. (Well, the majority are anyway.) But what about the ones that centre around evil spirits, poltergeists or real life haunting events?
Since there is particularly strong evidence, worldwide, that evil spirits do exist, surely this type of horror story might be a tad more disturbing than your average ‘moaning zombies’ in the cellar?
Here I explore three of the best books (subsequently made into popular movies) which have scared millions of people around the world, in the last thirty years.
The Amityville Horror - Jay Anson (First Published 1975)
On November 13, 1974, police discovered six members of the DeFeo family — father, mother, and four of their five children — shot and killed execution style in the own beds whilst sleeping, at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. (Yep the one with the creepy eye-like windows.)
The eldest son Ronald De Feo claimed the devil told him to do it. Ronald was given six concurrent life sentences, although his true motives remain open to debate.
Amityville Horror was published in the mid-seventies by Jay Anson and is based on the paranormal activity surrounding Kathy and George Lutz’ family after moving in to the property. (Seriously, who buys a house where six people were brutally shot in their beds?)
Still the Lutz family, ignoring that fact, found a bargain in the $80,000 family home complete with pool and boathouse. When blessing the house upon arrival, Father Mancuso was told by a masculine voice from nowhere to ‘GET OUT,’ and if that didn’t make them all run for the hills, then what would?
The Lutz’ family stayed to witness all manner of frightening events such as swarms of flies, cold spots and excrement appearing in various areas of the house, as well as deep cloven footprints in the snow. Red eyes appeared at one of the girl’s bedroom windows, slime oozed from the walls and a crucifix hanging on the wall gave out a putrid stench.
One evening Kathy Lutz (mother) became transformed into an old woman and levitated off the bed, whilst the young girls began to sleep in the exact same position as the slain De Feo children were discovered.
After deciding there was something wrong with house (you don’t say?) the Lutz’s left all their possessions behind and scarpered less than three months after moving in.
Jay Anson’s famous novel received huge critical acclaim on publication, as well as becoming the subject of fiery sceptical debate over the authenticity of the Lutz’ haunting claims.
Nonetheless the book sold an estimated 10 million copies worldwide as well as spawning a series of movies based on the chilling event. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Amityville_Horror
The Bell Witch: An American Haunting – Brent Monahan (First Published 1997)
This extraordinary book recounts the only documented case in U.S. history when a spirit actually caused a man’s death. John Bell Snr and his family were troubled by a sinister force when he moved to a new settlement in Tenessee in the early 1800’s.
Strange animals and noises were often heard in the area and soon his young daughter, Betsy Bell, became assaulted by a sinister entity which pulled her hair, slapped her and left hand prints across her face. The entity was believed to be the spirit of a witch.
As recorded by several witnesses, The Bell Witch responded ‘ I am all that lives’ when asked ‘Who are you?’
The local schoolteacher, Richard Powell, witnessed the strange events and recorded them for his daughter. His astonishing manuscript fell into the hands of novelist Brent Monahan, who prepared the book for publication.
Members of the Bell family have previously provided information on this fascinating case, but this book recounts the tale with novelistic vigor and verve.
It is truly chilling as the story is substantiated by old eyewitness accounts, affidavits, and manuscripts penned by those who experienced the haunting first hand.
The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty (First Published 1971)
Saving the very best for last, who can’t shudder at the memory of the movie, ‘The Exorcist’ which, according to one report, caused a man to jump off a roof top after leaving a cinema.
Based on the true story of an eleven year old girl’s demonic possession in the 1940’s the story was criticised for its candid x-rated scenes and blesphemic content. Just about everybody can recall Regan’s spinning head (thereafter used as a spoof in many comedies) and her rather profound language and actions.
I might be the only person who couldn’t actually get through the movie in one piece. Admittedly, I crumbled with fear about half way through, where the very sight of a crucifix for a while afterward sent me into girly hysteria, (not to mention how my electricity bill went through the roof after weeks of leaving the lights on throughout the night!) Scaredy-cat? Yes sir!
Though many who watched the film firmly believe that the book is just as petrifying. With the narrative version you have the description and scenes fully explored and laid out in the open. The words somehow get right into your skin.
One reviewer commented after reading:
“I had to throw the book out. I wanted to give it to my local library, but the freak-factor of the existence of this book being somewhere within the spatial vicinity of my mind was too much aggravation to bear. I had to throw it out – bring it outside to the trash – and then four or five or six buildings down and throw it out in the alley trash.”
The concept of this book is deeply disturbing and far removed from the common ‘horror story.’ It is nothing less than an entire experience of soul-searching, and conscious human/religious and spiritual exploration. It makes you think that possessions and the like just can’t happen to real people, can they?
Well, if you aren’t swallowing holy water by the litre after reading this book, you’ll be at least catching the greatest bits that a movie can’t fully develop. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exorcist