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I was lying in bed, not yet asleep, when I felt my cat Indy jump onto the bed and cuddle beside my legs. Of course when I looked she wasn’t there; Indy had died two days earlier. But I knew I’d felt her presence that night, and still do from time to time.
So do animals have spirits? Souls? Can they come back to their beloved humans as ghosts, or haunt their former abode?
The idea that animals have immortal souls is not new. The ancient Egyptians mummified their pets to have them with them in the afterlife. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras (c. 582 – 496 B.C.E.) believed that animals and humans had the same kind of soul and could, after death, be reincarnated into another animal or human body. In the Middle Ages, an animal could be held responsible for its actions, taken to court, and sentenced for its crimes.
The legend of a spectral black dog with eyes that glow red, yellow, or green is well-known in British folklore. It haunts graveyards, lonely country roads, moors, and coastlines, and may have been the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Many historical sites are said to be haunted by the ghosts of animals that lived or perished there. Tour guides and tourists alike have reported hearing the roar of lions and tigers in the Colosseum of Rome. Carew Castle on England’s Pembrokeshire coast is reportedly haunted by a small pet ape belonging to a 17th century tenant who was murdered on the grounds.
The Hollenberg Pony Express station in Kansas was only in operation from 1860 – 61, but some claim they have heard ghostly horse hooves galloping by. The misty apparition of a horse and rider sometimes appears on the Gettysburg, Pennsylvania battlefield, and the sound of dying horses can be heard amidst other ghostly sounds. Also in Gettysburg, a bull terrier named Sallie, who was a Union Army mascot, is said to be heard growling as she watches over fallen soldiers.
The Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park, founded in 1928, is the final resting place for over 40,000 animals. Like many cemeteries, it is said to be haunted. For example, actor Rudolph Valentino’s Great Dane, Kabar, who was buried there in 1929 has since been heard barking and panting, and even been felt licking visitors’ hands.
Several horses and riders have been killed over the years while trying to cross the intersection of 95th Street and Kean Avenue in the Chicago, Illinois suburb of Hickory Hills. Drivers and passersby have reported seeing horses and riders crossing the road late at night, only to disappear a moment later. Some claim to have seen a horse being dragged as though a car had hit it and dragged it before coming to a stop. There have also been reports of a ghostly dog warning riders of danger around the road. It is believed the dog may be the ghost of a local fire department mascot named Felix, who while on active duty was credited with saving a number of lives. Upon his death he was honored with a stone and buried at the intersection.
Animal spirits have appeared as a wisp of mist, an orb, a shadow, a warm presence, an indentation on a bed, a disembodied bark, purr, or whicker, and even a full apparition that can actually be photographed.
Entire books have been written containing anecdotal accounts of pets – especially dogs, cats, and horses – coming home to comfort their grieving human.
Just like my Indy.
At this “Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” such crooners as Andy Williams promise “scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago”. Certainly, Charles Dickens in the Victorian era put his pen to good use, writing fictions including his beloved “A Christmas Carol” peopled with ghosts and spirits, but he followed ancestral examples in so doing.
Washington Irving mentioned listening to tales of “popular superstitions and legends” in his 1819 “Sketchbook.” William Shakespeare incorporated the supernatural into his theatricals. In his “Winter’s Tale,” it is said, “…a sad tale’s best for winter; I have one of sprites and goblins…” (Winter’s tales are sometimes synonymous with ‘old wives’ tales.’) Christopher Marlow’s Barnabus in his “Jew of Malta” from 1589 said, “Now I remember those old women’s words, who in my wealth would tell me winter tales and speak of spirits and ghosts that glide by night.”
Some scholars point to telling such supernatural stories as echoes from ancient times, when rituals and rites shaped the activities of the midwinter. Ancient Celts and Northmen set fires and scared one another with their mystical adventures.
Perhaps something in the deeper and longer periods of darkness of the season inspires writers toward Gothic sensibilities and Romantic inclinations. H.P. Lovecraft wrote an account of Yule horror called “The Festival.” In 1904, “Ghost Stories of an Antiquary” was published by M.R. James. The impeccable “Turn of the Screw” by Henry James begins with a recollection at a holiday gathering. “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You,” “A School Story,” and “Number 13” all have aspects of the festive season involved as well.
I’ve recently heard of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, with its religious recitations and occult rituals. Richard Darby edited “Ghosts for Christmas” in 1988, Peter Haining “Christmas Spirits” in 1983, and Horrified Press just released “One Hell of a Christmas” in 2014.
“There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas, something about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts…” rightly said Jerome K. Jerome in his preface to “Told After Supper.”
So perhaps is behooves us to pull a chair close to the hearth, snuggle together with a hot cuppa, and nod to our ancestors with a spooky remembrance. Thus I wish you Happy holidays to all, and to all a good fright!
Born today in 1946, Thomas Vincent “Tom” Savini is known throughout Hollywood and the horror world for his outstanding special effects makeup. Called “The Sultan of Splatter” and the “Godfather of Gore,” Tom’s interest in FX makeup began as a child. Lon Chaney inspired him, and he experimented on himself and any friends willing to serve as test subjects.
After graduating from Central Catholic High School in Oakland, Pennsylvania, Savini attended Point Park College in downtown Pittsburgh for three years before enlisting in the Army. He served in Vietnam as a combat photographer. In a 2002 interview with the Pgh Post, he described the haunting images. He said, “To cope with it (the hideous reality of war), I guess I tried to think of it as special effects.” When he returned from his tour of duty, Tom Savini attended Carnegie Mellon University.
Tom Savini acted and served as a stunt man in many films, including “Martin (1977),” “Dawn of the Dead (1978),” “Knightrider (1981),” “Creepshow (1982),” “Monkeyshines (1988),” “From Dusk Til Dawn (1996),” “Planet Terror (2007),” “Machete (2010),” “Django Unchained (2012),” and “Machete Kills (2013).” He also produced makeup effects for many of these films. Additionally, Jason Vorhees from “Friday the 13th I and IV” and Leatherface from “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” are his creations. He directed the remake “Night of the Living Dead (1990)” and three episodes of “Tales from the Darkside.”
He’s written two books, “Grand Illusion” and “Bizarro” (the second with George A. Romero and Stephen King) on special makeup effects, and he heads a school for FX Makeup outside of Pittsburgh. Additionally, Tom Savini is an accomplished fencer and gymnast.
October has been a big month for American writer and producer RL Stine. October 8, 1943 was the birthday for this “Stephen King of children’s literature,” and 16 October this year saw the release of his “Goosebumps” film starring Jack Black as a fictionalized Stine. Robert Lawrence (RL) himself cameos within the film as well.
Stine started writing at the age of nine in his Ohio home. In 1965, he graduated from Ohio State University where he wrote for and edited their humor magazine. He moved to New York to begin his writing career. His first written works were compilations of jokes, not the signature children’s thrills with which his name is associated. He wrote under the pen name Jovial Bob Stine. Another pseudonym is Eric Affabee. He wrote for and edited “Bananas,” a kids’ comedy magazine for ten years.
He published his first novel, “Blind Date,” in 1986. Three years later, he published his Fear Street series. Goosebumps, his best-known and award-winning series of kids’ horror, launched in 1992 with the release of “Welcome to Dead House.” Hollywood adapted several of his books for TV and film. Three video games feature Goosebumps themes, as do movie attractions at Sea World and Busch Gardens. The award-winning series was translated into 32 languages and earned acclaim for Stine. Over 200 novels later, RL Stine made the Forbes list of the 40 best-paid entertainers of 1996-1997. USA Today named him America’s #1 bestselling author, and People Weekly added him to their Most Intriguing list. In 2003, Guiness recorded him as the bestselling children’s author of all time. Over 400 million of his books sold as of 2008. He named his first adult novel “Superstitious,” and to his credit are numerous joke books, the Space Cadets trilogy, and game books.
Despite a busy appearance schedule and thriving film adaptations of his works, RL Stine continues to produce stories and work on projects peopled with murderous ventriloquist dummies, blood-thirsty pirates, and creepy clowns. Surprisingly, Stine claims his dreams are dull and provide no inspiration for his tales. Still, his prolific works continue to give his audiences nightmares of their own.
He leads us through “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006) and along “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001) with “Hellboy” (2004 and 2008) as a guide, depositing us in “Pacific Rim” (2013). This talented Mexican director, producer, and writer discovered special effects when he was eight years old. Guillermo del Toro Gomez broke into the American film market by directing Blade II in 2002.
Guillermo del Toro’s distinctive work laces a lush beauty throughout, incorporating the fairy realm and the Christian underworld. He expressed, “Much like fairy tales, there are two facets of horror. One is pro-institution, which is the most reprehensible type of fairy tale: Don’t wander into the woods, and always obey your parents. The other type of fairy tale is completely anarchic and anti-establishment.”
Many of the heroes in his films are children. He feels their non-judgmental acceptance make them the best witnesses of the supernatural. In fact, he reports as a child he began wetting the crib because of a fear of the monsters hiding about his room, be it in the green shag carpet or the shadows of the closet. His mother grew angry, and Guillermo made a deal with the creatures. “If you let me go pee, I’ll be your friend forever.” The monsters stopped terrifying him, and Guillermo keeps his promises. He grew up watching Universal’s monster films and knew he wanted to be a horror film creator. Frankenstein’s monster is a particular favorite of his.
Guillermo Del Toro studied under famed makeup artist Dick Smith (The Exorcist.) He puts to excellent use his studies of special effects and make up. After 10 years working in the field, he formed his own company, Necropia. He also heads his own production company, The Tequila Gang, and co-founded the Guadalajara International Film Festival.
In 1997, Kidnappers held the Del Toro family’s patriarch, automotive entrepreneur Federico. After paying for his release, Guillermo Del Toro moved with his wife and daughters to California. Incredibly, Federico remained behind. Said Guillermo to Time Magazine of the incident, “Every Day, every week, something happens that reminds me that I am in involuntary exile.”
He often uses lavish, illustrated notebooks. He published his debut novel, The Strain, with Chuck Hogan in 2009. This awarded film maker keeps with him a registry of the world’s haunted hotels and stays at them whenever he has a chance. His latest film release is this month’s gothic ghost story, Crimson Peak. He expresses a keen interest in visually stunning video games and collaborates with many filmmakers. Guillermo proudly proclaims he’s arrested at childhood. “No one has the right to demand from you to grow up.”
Enjoy your day, Guillermo del Toro, and thank you for sharing your vision!
We are pleased to announce that our second wave of horror wax warmers have arrived and can be ordered for immediate shipment from our website! They will be showing up on other sites, but you can get a jump by ordering directly from us. And to encourage you to order direct from us: we are currently offering the new warmers for $25.95 (discounted from $29.95) and this sale will be good through Halloween 2015! Here are our new models, again, ready to ship NOW:
The Scent of Cthulhu: This wax warmer was inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos. Warm your favorite wax scent on top of this slumbering behemoth of doom. But be careful not to awaken him. For if you call, he will come!
Zombie Apocalypse: Waiting on that Zombie Apocalypse that we all know is coming? Tide yourself over with this great zombie wax warmer. Want to know why our zombie is the perfect warmer? He always has wax on his brain!
Mummy Dearest: Mummy lovers will come completely unraveled with this mummy design wax warmer! Melt your favorite wax in your own petrified pharaoh without the hassle of an Egyptian curse!
And don’t forget that we also have our own line of scented wax cubes to feed your monsters:
Monster Melts Series 1: The Graveyard Gang: Haunt your favorite wax warmer with these monstrous melts. Create a spine chilling aura of pleasing fragrance at the witch’s hour or any time of day. Store in a cool place. Halloween Forevermore recommends storing the pack in the refrigerator about 30 min to 1 hour prior to use. Under these conditions, wax shapes will firm so that breakage and disfigurement will be avoided when they are popped out of the pack for use.
With millennia of rich history, it’s no surprise that Europe comprises some seriously haunted places. These are generally locations where violent crime, great suffering, or traumatic death has occurred.
Ancient Ram Inn in Wotton-Under-Edge, Gloucestershire, England, was built in 1145 over ancient pagan burial grounds. Now a bed-and-breakfast, tales from its past are rife with evil spirits, child sacrifices, and devil worship. The current owner has found two children’s skeletons and broken daggers on the premises. Guests report being touched by unseen hands or pulled out of bed, hearing disembodied voices and screams, and seeing the apparitions of two monks, a high priestess, a young murdered girl named Rosie, and a shepherd and his dog. The ghost of a 16th century accused witch who had taken refuge in a room before being burned at the stake is also said to haunt the inn. Some guests have been so terrified, they jumped out the window to get away!
The 11th century Chateau de Brissac in Maine-et-Loire, France, was rebuilt in the 15th century by Pierre de Brézé, Chief Minister to King Charles VII. De Brézé’s son Jacques, inherited the castle. One night in 1477, Jacques found his wife, Charlotte, in bed with another man. Jacques stabbed Charlotte and her lover some 100 times with his sword. He went to prison; Charlotte still roams the premises wearing a green dress and known as ‘La Dame Verte’ (‘the Green Lady’). Her moans and cries are often heard echoing throughout the castle. Her frightening apparition is most often seen in the tower room of the chapel. Her face has gaping holes where her eyes and nose should be, and she is sometimes seen trying to pull a sword from her body.
With a history of imprisonment, bloody battles, torture, and entombment of plague victims, Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the world. Visitors report seeing shadowy figures and strange lights, and experiencing sudden drops in temperature, unexplained mists, and feelings of being watched. Known ghosts include an old man in an apron, a now headless drummer boy who was killed after warning the Scots of an English attack in 1296, and a 17th century piper who lost his life in tunnels below the castle. In 1537 the Lady of Glamis, Janet Douglas, was accused of using witchcraft in an attempt to murder King James V of Scotland. Like hundreds of others, she was burned at the stake on the esplanade below the castle. Her screams and weeping can be heard today, and she is sometimes seen writhing in the flames or searching the grounds for her son.
Poveglia Island in the Venice, Italy lagoon was deserted by the 14th century, when it was used as a quarantine colony for victims of Bubonic plague. By the mid-17th century, over 160,000 bodies had been thrown into mass graves or incinerated in bonfires. 50% of the island’s soil today is thought to be human ash. In 1922 the island’s buildings were converted for use as a mental asylum. Rumours of ill treatment and inhumane experiments were not proved, but in the 1930’s a doctor (who may have been driven mad by guilt or ghosts) committed suicide by throwing himself from the bell tower. It is said he survived the fall, but was suffocated by a ghostly mist that rose from the ground. The asylum closed in 1968. The Italian government recently sold a 99 year lease of the abandoned, overgrown island to an Italian businessman for the bargain price of about $621,000 U.S. He doesn’t yet know what he will do with the haunted island, but wants it to have some form of public use.
Today, Stephen King, horror expert extraordinaire, celebrates. With over 50 novels and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction works to his credit, Stephen King holds such a special place in the literary world that he’s a household name. On 10 September, 2014, President Obama presented him with the NEA’s National Medal of Arts. Not a bad birthday gift, eh? Born in 1947 in Scarborough, Maine and raised by a self-sufficient mother, Stephen King credits his wife, Tabitha, for the completion of his first novel, Carrie. (He had thrown the beginning into the trash. Tabitha retrieved it and encouraged her husband to complete it.) His works have seen adaptions for big and little screen. He’s even acted within some of the adaptations. He published several works under the pen name Richard Bachman. Stephen King’s garnered prestigious awards and encouraged new writers. He said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
“Nothing leads so straight to futility as literary ambitions without systematic knowledge,” said another literary great. Also born on this day in 1866 was H.G. Wells, the Father of Futurism and Science Fiction. Herbert George Wells published such brilliant works as The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds. Hundreds of essays, articles, nonfiction works joined this Londoner’s expansive body of fiction works. His writing explored issues of social class and economic disparity and predicted the rise of major cities and development of suburbs, economic globalization, and military conflict. Many of his tales inspired theatrical and silver screen productions. Most famous was the 1938 presentation of War of the Worlds by Orson Welles that inspired panic throughout America. HG Wells died 13 August, 1946.
Also born today were Chuck Jones of Bug Bunny fame (The Warner Brothers Halloween specials bring macabre glee to many) and Ghost buster Bill Murray.
Not only is Stephen King a prolific writer with fifty novels and hundreds of short stories to his credit. His non-fiction, columns, essays, poetry, and comics garner praise, and he additionally writes screenplays. He’s even made cameos in some of the adaptations of his stories and books.
His first published novel, “Carrie,” also became his first to be adapted to a film in 1976. Stanley Kubrick famously changed “The Shining” in 1980. “Stand By Me,” “Misery,” “Shawshank Redemption,” and “The Green Mile” became major motion pictures, while “Salem’s Lot” (twice), “It,” “The Tommyknockers,” “The Stand,” “The Langoliers,” “Storm of the Century,” “Rose Red,” and “Bag of Bones” became made for television miniseries. Stephen King created television series, too, including “Golden Years” (1991), “The Dead Zone” (2002-2007), “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” (2004), “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” (2006), “Haven” (2010), and “Under the Dome” (2013).
Of the over twenty adaptations of his works for film or television, Stephen King appeared in many. Also, he acted in a couple of established tv show episodes. Follows is a list of his appearances on silver and small screen:
Creep Show (1982 movie) starred in “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill”
Maximum Overdrive (1986 movie) uncredited appearance as man at cash point
Creep Show 2 (1987 movie) played a truck driver in “The Hitchhiker”
Pet Semetary (1989 movie) played a minister
The Golden Years (1991 tv) played a bus driver
Sleepwalkers (1992 movie) played a cemetery caretaker
The Stand (1994 tv miniseries) played Teddy Weizak
The Langoliers (1995 tv miniseries) played Tom Holby
Thinner (1996 movie) played Dr. Bangor
The Shining (1997 tv miniseries) played the band leader
Storm of the Century (1999 tv miniseries) appeared as lawyer in ad and a reporter on a broken tv
Frazier (2000 tv series episode “Mary Christmas”) played Brian
The Simpsons (2000 tv series episode titled “Insane Clown Poppy”) “played” himself
Rose Red (2002 tv miniseries) uncredited appearance as pizza delivery guy
Kingdom Hospital (2004 tv episode finale) played Johnny B. Goode
Fever Pitch (2005 movie) himself throwing out first pitch at a Red Sox Game
Gotham Café (2005 movie) Mr. Ring
Diary of the Dead (2007 movie voiceover) news reader
Sons of Anarchy (2010 tv episode “Caregiver”) played Richard Bachman
Stephen King is scheduled to appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert on 11 September, 2015. He and his wife Tabitha also acted in George Romero’s 1981 “Knight Riders,” portraying Hoagieman and his wife.
Said Mr. King, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King lives by this motto. His considerable talent is supplemented by dedication to his craft and a desire to experience life in his own creative way, be it through participating in the band “Rock Bottom Remainders,” acting, writing, or private pursuits.