Review of Haunted-3D


I’m going to take a little break from the American and English traditions of haunted house fiction. For now it’s “Goodbye Hollywood and Hello Bollywood!”  But let me be frank. I’m not very familiar with Bollywood films. Just to prove my ignorance, I’m not even sure if Haunted – 3D by Vikram Bhatt is a “Bollywood” film. I had once assumed all Hindi Language films from India were part of the Bollywood scene, but this is not so. According to wikipedia, Bollywood is one of many film production companies in India. Bollywood or no Bollywood, Haunted – 3D is part of a genre known as the Indian ghost movie.

Popular not only in India, Indian ghost movies are well liked in the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia. How about the U.S?  Well, wikipedia doesn’t list the United States as being a treasure trove for such films. I’m only going by what the friendly folks of this online encyclopedia say.  If true, maybe all that will change once my fellow Americans discover this article.  Millions of Americans will see this blog post and decide “Hey! Maybe I should give these films a chance!”  Ha! I can only wish for that many page hits. I found this film on youtube. I’m guessing that if there were to be a place on the Internet capable of making Indian ghost stories available to Americans, it would be

A common theme in Indian ghost stories is that of a modern person who unwittingly encounters ghostly happenings that link to events that have happened a long time ago. Such is the case in Haunted -3D.  A young man named Rehan is asked by his realtor father Hindi haunted-3d4to investigate a house that is on the market. Little does Rehan know that the house is haunted. But he soon finds out soon enough. As he settles in to stay and sleep at this house, he witnesses many things. Doors are slamming, books are falling off the shelf, a piano begins to play on its own accord, and ghostly handprints appear on the windows. Then there is the crying and screaming that occurs in the middle of the night. This is what disturbs Rehan the most. Disturbs and…intrigues him. For it is a female voice that cries out in the dark of night. He makes it his job to de-haunt the house.  In doing so, he will travel back to the past to make things right. He will help the beautiful Meera deal with the tragic events that took place in her life and in her time – seventy-five years in the past.

When I think of Indian films, I think of music. I think of dancing. Singing and dancing is what I would always see when I would flip through the TV channels on a Saturday afternoon and stop on a Hindi language program. Should it then be surprising to encounter singing and dancing in a horror movie?  There is plenty of music in Haunted-3D. These are love songs – pop songs.  There is one dancing scene as well but it is done in humor.  See, this film is as much of a love story as it is a ghost story.  This fusion is not uncommon in Indian ghost stories. In fact, romance is at the heart of the gothic tradition, especially the stories written in the 18th century.

Haunted-3D is many things at once. It’s a love story that’s both sat and uplifting. It’s funny and quirky. Some scenes are action packed. Some scenes are brutal to watch. Other scenes are downright campy. It has ghosts, evil spirits and time travel.  I am still trying to figure out if this mish-mash of styles worked for me or not. At times I felt as if I was receiving a well-rounded education in the genre arts. Other times, I felt as if I was watching a film with an identity crisis; a film that was trying to be too many things. I HindiTonguecannot say which scene or set of scenes made me feel one way or another. This ambivalence seems only to exist as a whole and cannot be broken down to the sum of the film’s parts. Despite this ambivalence, I did enjoy the film. It is worth watching but at the same time it is a little long at two hours and twenty minutes. Since I saw this film on the computer screen, I did see it in 3D. There were parts of the film that were crying out for 3D glasses. Alas, I had none.  The dialogue is spoken in Hindi, but there are English subtitles. However, the characters speak in English from time to time.

I’d like to close this review on a good note. The special effects in this film are awesome. They’re done with style; they didn’t over do it.  Ghosts materialize; evil spirits possess the body – kudos to these creepy scenes.  The best is when an evil spirit chases a couple through a forest. The spirit runs in midair! It’s as if there was an invisible platform far above the couple’s heads.  This did not look cheesy.  Instead, the chase appears so damn real!  Bizarre I’ll grant you, but nevertheless – real.



The House Sitter – The Story of a Man Who Haunts Houses

HouseSitterCoverForHHGroupHello readers!

Are any of you in need of a house sitter? If so, I happen to know just the guy.  His name is Brad Johnson. He is an author.  He likes to be left alone in a roomy house for long periods of time.  Burglars beware, for he will rarely leave the premises. He will look after your possessions. Even though he confines himself to the house, he won’t get bored – don’t worry about that!  He will use his solitary time wisely. He will do a lot of thinking and self-reflecting. He’ll do a great deal of writing.  And that’s about it!

Oh, there is one more thing he might do. He might haunt your house. But you’re ghost lovers, so this should be an extra bonus for you!  See, Brad gets his inspiration from certain household objects that strike his fancy. If he likes what he sees in your antique clock, he might write a ghost story about it. After this, maybe the clock will stop and restart at seemingly random times. Maybe, when the lighting is right, the reflective glare on the glass panel will morph into a specter. Whatever happens, you can count on this: your clock will never be the same again!  Neither will your house.  After returning home, there might be bats in the pantry, footsteps in the attic, howling inside the chimney flue; the possibilities are endless!

Click on the picture above and take your first step into Brad Johnson’s world. Then, if you dare, take the next steps and order yourselves a copy of “The House Sitter: The Brad Johnson Haunting Series Book 1.”  Consider this book as his resume. Read about his previous job as a house sitter. Discover how he haunted a house by turning a laundry chute into a maze of monsters.  Learn how he brought “life” to a corpse that was stashed away on an attic balcony.  Read how he fixed it so that a music box would summons spirits.  All this he did with the almighty pen!

Or did he? Brad Johnson’s stories are filled with metaphors for his life’s struggles.  Is it possible that his overstressed mind caused him to take these vivid story themes far too literally? The neighbor seemed to think that there was something very strange going on in the house. Something unbelievable, yet real.

Now, how about you? Maybe you don’t believe in this house haunting hokum.  Still, you might be wondering what the hell is going on in Brad Johnson’s mind.  Read the book and HOuseSitterUSediscover for yourself what kind of demons lurk in his psyche. And then you can decide if he is truly able to expunge these demons from his brain and onto the canvas that is the house. No matter the outcome, one thing is for sure – this guy can never be accused of being a ho-hum kind of homemaker!

Review of The Shining (Novel, Movie, Mini-series)

The time “to shine” has arrived! I’ve been promising this review for quite a while now. Finally it has come. …Heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Johnny!


** Warning: there are spoilers lurking about! They are hiding everywhere. You may encounter a seemingly innocent sentence and then suddenly, out of nowhere – BOO! One will grab you. You have been warned. **


ShiningnovelThe Book

Let me begin was a story refresher. The Shining is about a five year old boy named Danny Torrance that has special powers which the book calls “The Shining”. He has precognition and extra sensory perception to name a few. His father, Jack Torrance, is an unemployed writer. Formerly a school teacher, he lost his teaching when he pummeled one of his students for taking a knife to his car tires. Jack has anger issues. He is an alcoholic as well. After a heavy night of drinking, he witnesses Danny making a mess out of his papers on his desk. He breaks his arm when pulling him away from the desk. Many of Jack’s issues stem from the abuse he had suffered from his father. Nevertheless, his wife Wendy stays by his side, on the condition that gives up the booze and cleans up his act. Jack complies. Not only does he give up drinking, but he lands himself a job as a caretaker for the swanky yet empty Overlook Hotel for the winter when the Hotel shuts down.. It is up high in the Colorado Mountains. He and his family move in. Soon they will be snowbound. The Overlook Hotel is haunted. It too shines, just like Danny. Jack and Danny will unintentionally awaken the Hotel’s ghosts. Danny does so on account of his ability to shine and Jack on account of his unstable personality; ghosts just love to munch down on disturbed psyches.

In the “spirit” of the book (and the film) (and the television mini-series), I think it’s time to call forth some ghosts as well. These will be the ghosts of reviews past.

Several months ago, I wrote about house divided, brother against sister, and family tensions with the end result being the physical destruction of their house. This occurs in The Fall of The House of Usher.   A few weeks later, I presented a house that preys on the psychic abilities of a fragile young woman. You can learn more about this story by visiting Hill House at The Haunting of Hill House/The Haunting: Book Vs. Movie. Months later I introduced a family that rented a big old house for the summer. The wife/mother fell in love with it, so much so that longed to be a part of it. And the house was more than willing to possess her! This is what happens in Burnt Offerings. Then, only about a week or two ago, I informed you of a certain masquerade party. But this party was not all fun and games, was it? In fact it was quite deadly. You can revisit The Masque of Red Death anytime you wish.

Now, how was that trip down the haunting memory lane? It is a nice collection of “ghosts” if I do say so myself. But why resuscitate them at this time? Just for the hell of it? No. I called upon them for a reason. And the reason is: all of these stories influenced Stephen King when it came to writing The Shining.  From Wikipedia:

The Shining was also heavily influenced by Shirley Jackson‘s The Haunting of Hill House,[15]Edgar Allan Poe‘s The Masque of the Red Death and The Fall of the House of Usher,[13] and Robert Marasco‘s Burnt Offerings.[10] The story has been often compared to Guy de Maupassant‘s story “The Inn”.[16]

(I have not yet read “The Inn” Maybe it’s time to do so.)

I do believe the descriptions as I have written them point to the themes that King borrowed. Just like with The Fall of the House of Usher, The Shining is an account of a dysfunctional family that resides in a building that meets its destruction at the story’s end. As with The Haunting of Hill House, The Overlook Hotel feeds off of the psychic abilities of one of its inhabitants. In the first story, Hill House claims a vulnerable young woman named Elenaor Vance. Not only does the story hint that the house comes into power on account of her special abilities, but the house takes advantage of her emotional instability as well. In The Shining, the Overlook Hotel uses five-year-old Danny Torrance as a battery; siphoning power from his psychic nature in order to bring on a haunting. However, the unstable one of the family is his father, Jack Torrance. As an alcoholic with anger issues, the Hotel takes advantage of his personal demons as it slowly possesses him. Jack ends up being a willing servant of the Hotel; a Hotel that conjures up alcohol, gets him drunk and pressures him to kill his family – all under the guise of caring for The Hotel. Likewise with The_Shining_by_Stephen_King_Covermother in Burnt Offerings that looks after the house obsessively; a mother who gives in to the possessive demands of the house. Finally, the ghosts of The Overlook reenact a hedonistic masquerade party that took place on the property decades beforehand. At midnight on the night of their ghostly appearance, tragedy will be waiting in the same way that Death ready to pounce in The Masque of Red Death.

Yes, Stephen King borrowed from many sources. But this is not a criticism. The final product which he assembled from the various themes was indeed a masterpiece. He is like a chef that uses only the finest ingredients to concoct his stew. One does not bitch that the chef stole from the line cooks that prepped the meat, potatoes and carrots. Rather, one enjoys all the makings of this tasty treat.

I must confess. I like The Shining more than the books that influenced it. But don’t get me wrong – I love all of the preceding works. It’s just that King’s work has that extra “shine” that lures me to his story over the others. It might be the depth of the characters. Maybe it’s because all the story elements fall perfectly into place. Perhaps it’s the trip itself; the scenic drive across the story arc that makes for the best reading experience. Or maybe I just happen to have a special gene that predisposes my taste buds for the flavor of “The King!” I don’t know.

In addition to the aforementioned haunted house literature, there were other factors that influenced King’s “shining” ideas. Real life experience was one such factor. The story goes that King and his family were staying at mountain top hotel. They were the only guests! The hotel was going to shut down for the winter the very next day. It was an empty, spooky experience to be the only occupants in such a grand sized place. At night, he was plagued with nightmares. He dreamed of the corridor’s firehouse. It turned into a snake and chased his three year old son. Drawing on this experience, King began to formulate the ideas that would eventually become The Shining.

Located in Estes Park, Colorado, the name of the Hotel that inspired King’s story is named The Stanley Hotel attracts visitors to this day. Writing workshops are held there annually. (See also my blog post about Scott Nicholson’s Creative Spirit. It is a horror story about a artistic retreat and I refer to The Stanly Hotel. Supposedly, the Hotel has a haunted history in real life. They sponsor ghost tours. However, I cannot find any stories of such hauntings that take place before The Shining was published. Are these tours merely publicity stunts? I wouldn’t know.


The_Shining-movie_poster-03The Movie

Now, what about the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall? Stephen King is not a fan. Not one bit. In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, he complains that the portrayal of Wendy Torrance (played by Shelley Duvall) was nothing short than an exercise in misogyny.

“Wendy Torrance is just presented as this sort of screaming dishrag”

On Jack Torrance (played by Nicholson), he notes that the character was sort of crazy from the onset, contrary to the Jack Torrance of the book.

“In the book, there’s an actual arc where you see this guy, Jack Torrance, trying to be good, and little by little he moves over to this place where he’s crazy. And as far as I was concerned, when I saw the movie, Jack was crazy from the first scene.”

To these ends I agree. Shelley Duvall is annoying in her fragility. Jack Nicholson does seem crazy from the very beginning. One of the first scenes shows Jack interviewing for the position of the Hotel caretaker. During the interview, he smiles and laughs in a way that only Jack Nicholson can. It’s what he does. He’s creepy no matter what. To quote Mad Magazine, “Jack Nicholson doesn’t mean to make horror films. His romantic comedies just turn out that way.” Nevertheless, if I were the Interviewer (Mr. Ullman), I would steer clear of this man.

In general, Stephen King finds fault with the overall lack of character development. mentions a quote he gave to BBC.

“We’re looking at the people, but they’re like ants on an anthill, aren’t they doing interesting things, these little insects”

I too have the same impression. But I must say, this “ants on an anthill” perspective is both the weakness as well as the strength of the film. Yes you read that right. Let me explain. What viewers lose in terms of character development they gain in atmosphere.   The film has fostered an air of detachment. Quite often, viewers are far away from the happenings, only to slowly zoom in with the camera as it creeps upon scene after scene.   This helps to create a larger-than-life environment; The Overlook Hotel is so much larger than life that it includes death in its equation as well. The brilliance of Stanley Kubrick is evident in the jagged angles of his aerial shots of the mountain road that lead to the hotel. From a corridor on the other side of the room, we see the characters walk the length of a corridor further away in the eye the camera; another trick of atmospheric cinematography to create a feeling that is the opposite of intimacy. It is one of remoteness; of being led into a situation that is beyond anyone’s control. One of the film’s famous scenes is of little Danny Torrance riding his big wheel through the lounges and down the corridors. When he rides across the tile floor, the rumbling of his plastic tires is heard echoing against the corners of these chambers, wherever they might be. Every now and then he rides across carpeting. The noise stops – for a few seconds. These are somewhat unsettling seconds, for we know the echoing rumbling will return. And it does. The vastness of the Hotel is juxtaposed with one if the “ants” that resides on its premises – one if its little toys on wheels.

Let me be clear, the book is definitely better than the film. If I was Stephen King and some filmmaker changed key parts to my story, or flattened out my characters, I might be upset at the final result as well. But since this is not my book, I can enjoy Kurbick’s vision of King’s novel, and enjoy it I do. Of course I’m not alone. It seems to make every top ten list of haunted house films (For example, Time and MovieWeb).Kubrick does not fully explore the depth of the characters. It is obvious that his favorite character is the Overlook Hotel itself. But he certainly raises the hotel to frightening heights.


Book Vs. The Movie

Here is a list of some of the differences between the film and the book.

Jack Torrance

  •  Book – A writer and school teach who struggles with alcoholism and anger issues. His shamed history includes beating up a student, breaking his son’s arm and almost getting into a deadly car accident with his friend at the wheel. Takes job at the overlook to build up his resume and write a play. His character constantly struggles to curb his anger and do the right thing.
  •  Film – Jack’s history is downplayed. He seems quite unbalanced from the very beginning



  • Book – Little Danny’s imaginary friend. Tony is the one who “reveals things” to the boy, i.e. the past, the future, the thoughts of his parents. Turns out that Tony is a product of the boy’s deepest caverns of the subconscious
  •  Film – Mostly the same, except toward the end, Tony seems to take possession of Danny. This doesn’t happen in the book.


Mr. Ullman

  • Book – The manager of the Overlook. He can’t stand Jack Torrance. He does not want him as the caretaker but his hands are tied. The board of directors (one of which is Jack’s friend) has guaranteed Jack the job. He treats Jack condescendingly. Later in the story, Jack unearths scandal on the hotel. As revenge, Jack phones Ullman and threatens to write a book on all the wrong doings that have occurred at the Overlook.
  •  Film – The manager takes a liking to Jack from the very start. Even with his rather unsettling posture in the interview. Go figure!


The History of The Overlook Hotel

  •  Book – There is a lot of history presented in the book. A former caretaker named Grady killed his family then himself. In room 217 (237 in the film), an older woman kills herself. Going back further in years, a mob execution takes place in the presidential suite. The hotel had changed hands often, operating as dummy corporations under the helm of the shady Horace M Derwent. He held a masquerade back in 1945 to celebrate a grand reopening of the hotel. Later in the story, the masquerade returns to life, with every occupant that has died on the premises over the years. The book goes on to describe the party as  “a long and nightmarish masquerade party went on here and had gone on for years”  and “The parties that were all one went on and on, populated by generations of guests”
  •  Film – Very little history. The Grady tragedy is mentioned. Also, the film has it that the Hotel was build over an Indian burial ground. This is not so in the book. Here’s something to note: the two twin daughters of Mr. Grady, their ghosts appear to Danny, inviting him to play in with them forever and ever. This doesn’t occur in the book.


The Boiler

  •  Book – One of Jack’s duties as the caretaker is to depressurize the boiler in the basement. “It creeps” is what the caretaker of the regular season tells Jack. This boiler is what ends up being Jack’s, and the Hotel’s undoing. The Overlooks blows up with Jack inside. His family escapes safely.
  •  Film – This plot is left out of the film. Jack meets his demise freezing to death in a ShiningMovieFrozenJackmaze of hedges. Too bad this was left out; it was also symbolic of Jack’s sanity.

Dick Halloran

  •  Book – Cook at the Hotel, meets with family before all employees vacate the premises for the winter. Shares the gift of “The Shining” with Danny. Tells Danny to call him telepathically if anything goes awry during their stay. In the end, Danny calls him and Dick comes and rescues them
  •  Film – Much the same. More description of his character in the book. However, in the film, he dies. Jack axes him to death. Halloran is played by Scatman Crothers  This is the second time Jack Nicholson bests poor Crothers. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nicholson gets him fired as the night watchman at the insane asylum. But I guess that’s better then dying.


  • Book – The hedges are cut so that they resemble animals; horses, tigers, lions. They come to life at various points. A lion ends up chasing Halloran’s snow mobile.
  •  Film – Instead of hedge animals, there is a maze of hedges. Jack chases Danny in there. Danny finds his way out ant escapes but Jack doesn’t.


Also of note, Jack does not write “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” over and over again obsessively in the book, nor does he say “Heeeere’s Johnny!” He does not chase his family with an axe. Rather, he uses a mallet. And those creepy twins – the little girl ghosts – they are not in the book.

ShiningMovieTwins             The_Shining_by_Stephen_King_Jack_Coming_up_the_Stairs











The Television Mini-series.


ShiningTV2I knew a guy, big Marvel comics fan, and whenever you asked him about a recent marvel superhero movie, he would say something to the tune of “I liked it! It stuck to the original story of the comics” or “I didn’t like it, it strayed from the original story”. To him, the quality of a film adapted from previous material seems to be solely based upon how well it regurgitates the plot of its predecessor. How well a story re-translates itself from book to film doesn’t seem to be an important factor in his analysis. I mean, if a film based on a book totally sucks, but it sticks to the original story, then by his standards the film isn’t allowed to suck.

Let’s apply his standards to The Shining movie and to The Shining television mini-series.The movie sucked because it strayed heavily from the original plot and the mini-series was fucking awesome because it, for the most part, told the story as per the book. Okay, let us be done with this application, shall we? Because it is this application that sucks. It is this guy’s standards that blows chunks.

The movie strays heavily from the original plot. It is not as good the book but it is still a good film. The television mini-series, on the other hand, closely resembles the book. Does this make it good? No, but it is not terrible either. Well not all of it is terrible.


Here’s what is terrible – the acting. It was typical made-for-TV acting. The man and woman who play Jack and Wendy Torrance seem better suited for a shampoo commercial. The boy that plays Danny has too many lines. He talks way too much and actually makes me cry out for little Jake Lloyd from Star Wars The Phantom Menace.

Elliot Gould plays Ullman and he does so robotically. Seriously, listen to him when he speaks – he sounds like a low-toned Speak n Spell.

Nevertheless, the series has its enjoyable moments. It is scary and it does give viewers more background information than the film.   But I still prefer the film. In fact, sometimes ShiningTVthe series tries to imitate the film. When Jack smashes his way into the bathroom, in the book he says nothing. In the film he says “Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” Which will the series choose to emulate, the book, which it had been kept true to all along, or the movie? For some reason, it chose the movie, but instead of the calling out to The Tonight Show host of the 60’s and 70s, Jack says “booo!” followed by “here come’s papa bear!” Corny! The series should have had him remain silent.


The Shining, as a whole, is a magnificent piece of work. Beginning with King to be retold by Kubrick, it is a story that invokes one of my favorites haunted house themes – a house that is an entity in and of itself – a house that is more than the sum of its ghosts. I love the Shining and may it shine on forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and…..




Review of The Masque of the Red Death

RedDeathThis is the second time I am reviewing a piece from the great horror master Edgar Allan Poe. The first was The Fall of the House of Usher.  That review was so much fun to write! After all, it was one of my favorite horror stories when I was growing up. On the other hand, I had just learned of the existence of The Masque of the Red Death the other day. Let’s face it, as noteworthy as Poe is, I am just not an expert on his library of works. I received a vague description of the story’s themes from a colleague. It seemed interesting and so I went ahead and read this short story. I was not disappointed.

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to put forth a plot summary and then an analysis.

Sound good? But of course it does!

[Spoilers below – oh no, oh no! Spoilers below – oh no, oh no! ]

The Masque of the Red Death takes place in the Middle Ages.  A plague is afoot.  Countrymen are being struck down by the “Red Death”.  This contagious disease is quite nasty. Blood spills out of the pores, decorating the skin with streaks of foul red; hence the term “Red Death”.  Prince Prospero will have none of this.  He decides that he will not fall prey to this disease, nor will about a thousand of his favorite citizens.  To protect himself and his favored parties, he fortifies them in his castle. A rather bizarre castle it is!

There are seven apartments and the only thing that lights up these rooms comes from outside the suites. There are corridors running alongside these rooms. Each corridor/room wall has a window made of stained glass of varying colors. Lit candles sit beside the window glass on the corridor side. The candlelight shines through these colored filters and fills the room with the hue of the corresponding stained glass.  Some rooms are warmly blue, others are magnetically purple. Some are a grand ol’ green.

What are the guests to do in these rooms? Party on down, of course! There are jesters and musicians. There is plenty of food and drink.  The guests are having a “gay old time” (WILMA!!!!!!!!) They dress in fine costumes. After all, this is a masquerade party!

Oops-a-daisy! I forgot to mention the oddest room of all. The candle shines through a stained glass of red. A velvet hue smothers the room with a frightening reminder of the “Red Death” that lurks outside these castle walls. (“Far beyond these castle walls….”) Black tapestries hang down from the ceiling. In front of them stands a large ebony clock that for reasons to be explained later is quite unsettling. Suffice it to say, this is not a popular room. The partygoers stay away from the room; it is forebodingly empty.

It’s a happening party! Most of the time. The key word in the previous sentence is “time.”  The ebony clock chimes loudly on the hour, every hour. When this happens, the music stops and the party people chill out. A contemplative set of moments overtakes them. How bizarre!  When the clock goes silent, the party resumes and the frolicking continues.

It is nearing midnight when people take notice of a cloaked figure. This strange character wears a mask that mimics a deceased victim of The Red Death.  The face is corpse-like. It has streaks of blood dripping out of its eyes.  Prince Prospero is incensed. How dare someone make a mockery of the dreadful disease and its plight of terror!  The figure traipses though all the rooms; blue, purple, green, on and on until finally it reaches the red room.  The Prince follows.  He corners the phantom.

The midnight chimes fill the chamber. The cloaked figure turns to face Prince Prospero. The Prince drops dead. Members of his court rush the red room. They unmask the figure. There is no one inside the costume.  Then, everyone dies. All of them! The fortification of the castle could not save them. The Red Death is the victor.




It took me thirty odd years to arrive at a satisfactory understanding of The Fall of the House of Usher.  I had only read the “children’s” version when I was young and didn’t tackle the original story until 2015.  Even after reading it, I had to refer to certain websites ( and in order to obtain a comprehensive comprehension. (“comprehensive comprehension” – those two words together, don’t they sound funny?) Let’s see if I can do better the second time around.  Instead of taking thirty + years to arrive at position where I am able to submit an analysis,  I think this time I will only need a day or two. Two nights ago I read the story and today I will analyze it. Furthermore, I will not use the aid of “poedecoder”, at least not beforehand. This time I will seek out an alternative source – my own mind.  Afterwards, I will check with  and Sparknotes and see if our analyses are similar.

Let me take a deep breath….Done! Okay, here I go –

The cloaked figure is death itself. The party is a microcosm of humanity in general.  Many people see life as a mechanism to fulfill their casual whims . They are fortified in their falsehoods of security; rarely realizing the ultimate fragility of their existence.  Only now and then do they stop and contemplate their own mortal nature. But these contemplative sessions are brief and the people go on with their amusements.  However, it’s a rigged game. Soon or later they will meet death.  Death finds us all.

~ Me

That’s about the gist of it. Let’s see what others have to say, like Martha Womack at poedecoder:

“The prince’s name suggests happiness and good fortune, and the prince, just like all beings uses happiness to wall out the threat of death.”

~ Martha Womack

I agree. I sort of mentioned this, not in the same words but the general meaning is the same. Let’s see what else Womack has for us:

“Poe’s story takes place in seven connected but carefully separated rooms. This reminds the reader of the past significance of the number seven. (The history of the world was thought to consist of seven ages, just as an individual’s life had seven stages. The ancient world had seven wonders; universities divided learning into seven subjects; there were seven deadly sins with seven corresponding cardinal virtues, and the number seven is important in mysticism.”

~ Martha Womack

Well I didn’t get into any of that!   Interesting. Anything else, Martha?

“We hear the echoes of the “ebony clocks” that we carry within.”

In other words, it’s our own biological clock that is ticking away. Time is running out on us.  There is also a nice bit of analysis going on within

What wisdom to these folks have for us?

“The clock that presides over that room also reminds the guests of death’s final judgment. The hourly ringing of the bells is a reminder of the passing of time, inexorable and ultimately personal.”


Agreed. That’s similar to what I wrote about how the clock chimes to the pause and bewilderment of the guests. The recurring but temporary reflections upon death that come at different life stages – these life events remind us all of the inevitability of death and give us reason to pause. But I don’t think either source, poedecoder or Sparknotes,  specifically made reference to how the people of the party would casually RedDeath2resume their partying once the “death reminder” ceased to hold them hostage. We think of death and then we go on and put it out of our minds. Rarely are we ever fully prepared when death makes its final calling. At the same time, both sources have analyses that I did not mention, nor had I thought out.  They are excellent reference pages.

Well, that’s all I got. Except perhaps for one more mental note. Should The Masque of the Red Death be considered a haunted house story?  I think it qualifies. The whole story takes place in the strange castle that harbors mysterious rooms of mood-enhancing color, a scary clock that chimes to the somber attention of the guests, and a masked phantom of ethereal substance the brings forth death. That all seems pretty haunted to me. What do you think?




Review of The Haunting of Gillespie House

Haunting of Gillespie HouseThere are occasions when a novel helplessly succumbs to the tropes of its stated genre. Page after page is littered with overused themes.  They reach out from these pages and smack the reader across the face.   “Look at me! Look at me!” they shout from in between the lines, “Look at me and let me lock you inside every literary device that I the author I can conjure up from the catalog!”  Conversely the opposite is also true.  Like a summer wind that blows across an ocean beach, the familiar and expected can be refreshing.  If a story is imaginative and well written, then the proverbial themes within will wrap the reader in nestling comfort as s/he settles on in to the story.  Such is the case with Darcy Coates’s The Haunting of Gillespie House


This beautifully written piece features a large house in the countryside. Protagonist Elle agrees to stay and watch over this house while the elderly owners (Mr. and Mrs. Gillespie) go away on a trip. The house is shrouded with mystery and intrigue.  There are locked rooms with hints of activity occurring behind the doors. Peculiar scratching-noises are heard within various walls.  The third floor contains rooms with beautiful antique furniture strangely hidden away. Certain revelations lead to the conclusion that there is a secret passage somewhere in the house. But where is it?

The grounds surrounding the house have their share of intrigue as well. There is a hidden cemetery with gravestones of Gillespie family members dating back to the 1800s. All of them have the same year of death inscribed into the stone, which alludes to the fact that some kind of horrible tragedy was responsible for these deaths.  Fast forwarding to current times, Elle discovers that deadly misfortune has also plagued the surviving members of the Gillespie clan – poor Mr. And Mrs. Gillespie have recently suffered through a sad set of circumstances.

As I made my way through this creepy and enjoyable journey that is the book, I was reminded of the thrills I experience when I play graphic adventure video games. These games are usually non-linear and there are plenty of puzzles to be solved along the way. (See MystShivers, and Amnesia: The Dark Descent . The last two are Haunted House themed games.)

For those not into gaming, I hope that I have not cheapened The Haunting of Gillespie House by making this comparison. But for me, the association is appropriate because both platforms inspire suspense as I travel though the various mediums anxiously wondering, “what is behind door # 6?”

The Haunting of Gillespie House – the tone is inviting, the descriptions are colorful, and the writing is superb.  Do I have any complaints?  Minor ones, mostly concerning the length of the story.  This is a long novella.  I wanted more – I wanted a novel.  The ending is somewhat abrupt.  I felt there were seeds to more story planted here and there. With just a little more nurturing they could have developed into something great.  However, it turns out that The Haunting of Gillespie House had already outgrown its original intent. Darcy Coates states in her after word that this tale was supposed to be a short story.  It ended up being much too long to fit within the boundaries of the short story format as unintended themes manifested and grew. This happens quite often when writing a story.  So she had to let the story grow into its preferred outcome. I think there could have been more, but who am I?

As a bonus, Coates includes a short story entitled The Crawlspace for readers that purchase her ebook. This story is what was left behind when The Haunting of Gillespie House grew to big for its bridges. When I say, “left behind”, I do not mean to imply that this story is a collection of discarded material. Rather, it is the youngling that The Haunting of Gillespie House was destined to spawn from. Keep in mind though, that it is a different story altogether.   It’s a good story too.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. This well-written piece is a page-turner.  While The Haunting of Gillespie House does put readers in a somewhat uncomfortable state of wanting more, it also leaves behind a desire to explore more works from Darcy Coates.


What’s new – 2/2/2016

NewsHello ghosts! Yes that’s you – the readers of my haunted house pieces. That’s how I refer to the people of my haunted house Facebook page so I might as well extend the same courtesy to the readers of my blog.  I thought it might be nice to post a news piece every once in a while with updates on who’s haunting what house, which ghosts are floating around these days – things like that. In other words, it will be a piece on what’s coming around the bend in my world of haunted houses within film and literature.

That said, let’s get to it!


First of all, I have written a haunted house book that will soon be available for purchase. It’s called The House Sitter. Here’s a picture of the cover:

It’s a story about Brad Johnson, a writer who is tortured with a dark and demented mind. He envisions things that threaten his sanity. In order to dispel these visions, he haunts “things”. He writes horror stories centered on household objects. Although the terrible visions are then expunged from his mind, they end up clinging to the targeted objects and haunting them for real.

Brad Johnson agrees to house sit for a friend. While under his care, the house becomes haunted.

The story will be told from three different perspectives. First there’s the third person narrative which moves the overall action of the story. Second, there are the journals Brad keeps. There are written in the first person.Third, there are the stories that Brad writes. One is about a boy who falls down his grandparents’ laundry chute, only to discover a maze filled with monsters and demons. The second concerns a disturbed young man that rents an attic bedroom. He invites a woman to his room, only to murder her. He locks the body out on the balcony. But his date is not content with being dead. Her animated corpse tries to break in and return to the attic. Finally, there is a wicked old man with a house full of mysterious antiques. One such item is a music box that summons ghosts.

These perspectives often intertwine. What happens in the narrative effects what Brad write’s about in his journal. The sentiments expressed in his journal find their way into his stories. What happens in the stories can, from time to time, spill over into the objective reality of the third person narrative.

This book should be available in the next couple of weeks. I am currently giving updates on its status at my Facebook author page:


Still with me, ghosts? How’s it ‘Shining’? That cheesy pun is my way of calling attention to a project I am currently working on. I will be reviewing Stephen King’s groundbreaking novel The Shining along with Stanley Kubrick’s film version of the same story. The television mini-series will be included in the review as well. I have read Stephen King’s TheShiningnovel a couple of years ago but I am skimming through it once again. I own the Kubrick film and have seen it several times. But hey, what’s one more viewing? Once more in preparation for this review!   So far I have watched 2/3 of the series. I will certainly finish it up and get to work writing! The piece will include quotes from Stephen King and other interesting tidbits that are directly or indirectly related to the story.





I am currently reading two haunted house novels: Clive Barker’s Coldheart Canyon and Darcy Coates’s The Haunting of Gillespie House. I am really enjoying both books. Expect reviews in the near future!


Soon it will be my birthday! It’s about a month away. I am going to ask my loving wife to buy a special present – a leather bound illustrated haunted house novella by William Meikle – The House on the Moor


Check it out here!



Another author has joined my Facebook page. Welcome C.M Saunders! He has an impressive library of books for sale. His next book, due out March 1st, is a haunted house novel. Yay for that! It’s called Sker House and you can check it out here:




And here again is a link to my Facebook page:


Hope the year so far has been treating everyone well! Bye for now!


~ Daniel W Cheely