Haunted Houses: A History
Welcome to the Monsters and Mayhem dungeon, my friends. That growling you hear behind you? Oh, it’s nothing, nothing. Now, how about a little tour?
It’s Haunted House week on Monsters and Mayhem. No, don’t mind the cold breeze that just touched your neck. It’s…just a drafty window. Yes, a draft. Anyway, haunted houses have been mentioned in literature since Roman times. Ghosts, ghouls, spirits, poltergeists–humans have believed were aren’t alone for all the ages of the world.
So let me tell a little story on myself. The year is 1982, and my parents have taken my sister and me on our first epic trip to Disney World. Of course we had to visit The Haunted Mansion! After trying to scare each other in line for thirty minutes, my sister and I were ushered into a large, square room inside the foyer of the mansion. A regal, austere black man, in tails, gloves and top hat, caught us staring and never broke eye-contact with me while he slowly pulled the door closed behind him.
My sister and I jumped three feet off the floor when he slammed that door, screeching like a pair of frightened mice. All the adults cracked up, but as the walls began to grow right before my eyes, I knew I was in for a really creepy ride.
Okay, I know The Haunted Mansion is like the least creepy haunted house on planet earth, but I rode it as an adult–alone, at night–a few years ago, and I walked off that thing looking behind my shoulder. I’m a weenie. Seriously. The few “slasher” haunted houses I went through scared me so badly, I pleaded with the monsters (even though I knew they were college students in bad makeup) to let me go. And they usually did. I don’t know if it was the sheer terror in my eyes, or the loudly spoken threat of, “I’m gonna throw up, I swear!”
Funny, since I love monsters, that it’s the ghosts I’m scared of. Those whispers of breath that tease the nape of your neck when you come down the hall while alone in the house. Wondering who left that closet light on…even though you swore you turned it off. Doors that randomly slam–or open–by themselves. Seeing something ethereal from the corner of your eye, but it’s gone when you really look? Yeah…that’s what terrifies me. Ghosts. Things that pop out and go, “boo.” Send me a big, hairy beast any day.
How about you? What gives you the creepy-crawlies?