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Tag Archives: Ghosts

Care of a Boston Globe Article

Most Bermudians who claim to share their antique cottages with ghosts simply accept them, Cann says. Of houses built a century or more ago, ”nearly all have ghost stories.” He suggests reading the locally published paperback ”Bermuda’s Favourite Haunts” (1991) by Bermudians John Cox, Mac Musson, and Joan Skinner.

The book admittedly contains only tales of what the authors call ”cheerful ghosts” as revealed in interviews with householders who have encountered them. Many ghosts seem to be little more than transparent houseguests who create cold drafts.

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If you live in West Virginia long enough, you end up hearing lore and bits of history.  For example, one widely circulated tidbit suggests that the term “red neck” has Appallachian roots.   Striking miners during the many coal strikes wore red handerchiefs around their necks.  There’s one more thing West Virginia, though.  You live there long enough, and the you’ll eventually hear the bloody history of coal, too.  Strikes, at the end of the 19th Century consisted of more than just picket lines. Quite often, they were violent confrontations between the miners themselves and the thugs mine owners hired.  Simply put, the right to unionize and collectively bargain was a struggle that has gone on for more than a hundred years, and labor rights were paid for the lives of agitators.   And the coal miners went on strike for good reasons.  Mine conditions were hardly favorable.

It’s important to keep this in mind when watching a film like Wicked Little Things.   Sure, it’s a lower budget horror dvd, but the premise of the story builds off of the types of legends you’d hear in Appallachia.  Basically, Wicked Little Things is a movie about ghoulish, monster children.  The come out at night, and they eat people.   Their origin, however, comes straight from the earlier days of Apallachan coal mining.  Basically, before there were laws against child labor, kids worked in more than just sweatshops in cities like New York.  In the mountains, they were often working in the mines, going places in the rock where full grown adults couldn’t possibly squeeze into.  Due to the callous nature of the mine operators, many of those children died, becoming malevolent entities.

In the mean time, a widow and her daughters moves into the haunted hills, partly because they have no where else to go, and they think they’ved inherited property.  Slowly, but surely, the family comes face to face with these ghostly children — who now have a taste for human flesh.

All in all, not a bad film.  There are plenty of horror movies out there that trade in the same tropes, and for a change, it’s interesting to see that character and mystery play more of a fole in the film than mere gore and people eating.

–Rich Ristow

Michael Knost has put together a superb anthology of ghost stories, and reading through Legends of the Mountain State reminds me of one of the main reasons why I love West Virginia.  There’s something about the Appalachian Mountains and the thick woodlands.  To say it’s primal might be a cliche, but inherently mysterious and dark about sloping forests.  Perhaps, as a kid, I’ve read too much Brothers Grimm.  Fair enough.  Being a kid in Germany can do that to a guy.

The contributors represent a vast spectrum, from proven writers within the horror genre to the relatively unknown carving out names for themselves.  There’s the legendary Thomas Monteleone, Kealan Patrick Burke, Tim Waggoner, and many, many more.   Each of these authors takes known urban legends and oral traditions from West Virginia and puts their own personal spin on them.  So, that means appearances by the Braxton County Monster, haunted coal mines, and headless people.  Knost recently has closed his submission window for a sequel, and it’s bound to be as good.  It’s going to be great to see, over the years, this develop into a strong anthology series.