In case you missed the connection to my deeply rooted ’80s identity, the “I Ain’t ‘Fraid of No” series is inspired by the Ray Parker Jr. theme song to Ghostbusters . “I Ain’t ‘Fraid of No Ghost” has gone on to inspire this hard-hitting, Pulitzer Prize-worthy column on how to obliterate multiple forms of the undead.
And while the installment on ghosts won’t be published until June (something to do with Casper being an ass and getting a laywer), this week we examine an oft-overlooked member of Clan Undead, the haunted house.
First, do haunted houses get their undead respect? No, not really. Probably because they can’t chase you. They’re a friggin’ house, man. You know, foundations and stuff? A werewolf can hunt you, a vamp can fly after you, a zombie can shamble along and wait for you to step into a convenient, ankle-deep hole, but once you’re out of the haunted house, you’re good to go. Hence, these evil abodes don’t draw a lot of focus when it comes to slaughtering the spirits. You don’t have to kill a haunted house, not when you can just say your mortgage went up and you’re leaving it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, AIG.
So for any haunted house movie plot, the first step is to find a way to overcome common sense and make the dinguses stay in the damn thing long enough to cull 90 minutes of film time. This technique, which I call “Make Them Stay in the House Fu” is mandatory in overcoming the simple logic of characters just saying, “hey, I think this house is haunted, and you know what? Screw this. I’m going to Denny’s for a Grand Slam instead.”
Since just burning the damn things down never seems to occur to anyone facing a haunted house, I’ll look at simple strategies for how you can avoid this pesky Fu.
Abandon Your Child
This is a vastly overlooked method for dealing with a haunted house. Poltergeist (1982) is a classic. Written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper, Poltergeist achieves “We Must Stay In the House” Fu by sucking a child (Heather O’ Rourke) into a haunted TV. With the marketing-ready tagline “They’re Here,” the movie was a tour-de-force for special effects at the time. The family, however, forgot one simple strategy — just take Eddie Murphy’s advice and bail on the child. Hell, Craig T. Nelson, you’ve still got two more kids. A 2-1 record ain’t bad. While a .666 winning percentage in this situation might be a slightly disturbing omen, that’s still good enough to get you in the playoffs. Do the Vegas thing, cut your losses, and let her live free amidst her new peeps in the Cartoon Network.
Get a Snowmobile
The Shining achieves its Fu thanks to Colorado mountains, deep isolation and being surrounded by more snow than Tony Montana on vacation in the alps. That hotel has some seriously haunted action, with bloated bathtub debutantes, twitchy twin girls and a party that — literally — goes on forever. But come on, Torrances, can’t you get a snowmobile out of the shed? How about you find some snowshoes, throw a few Twinkies in a nap-sack and head on down the road? For crying out loud, you’re on the side of a mountain — just toboggan down. Don’t have a toboggan? Then go ghettosledding as my friends and I did in Northern Michigan back in the day — one Hefty trash bag and several bruises later, you can hit 20, maybe 30 mph. Sure, breaking bones on rocks and digging pine splinters out of your posterior is bad, hmm-kay?, but it’s far better than dealing with all that “Here’s Johnny” crap.
Take out a Loan
If some dude named Frederick Loren offers you $10,000 to say over night in a House on Haunted Hill , maybe you should think about visiting the bank instead. I mean sure, it’s fiction, but in movies or real life anyone who looks like Vincent Price is clearly bad news. Now keep in mind that ten Gs in 1959, when the movie was made, is about $80k today. Still, let’s use some common sense — if someone has to pay you to stay in a house overnight, that’s a bad sign. That should set off the same red flags as someone paying you to let them hit you in the head with a hammer, or someone paying you to see how long you can go without screaming when their rabid chihuahua Mr. Sprinkles bites on your jumblies. All of these things are bad, and they are not worth the money. Go see a loan officer if you need the dough.
Find a New Line of Research
I appreciate the fact that you are a scientist. I respect the fact that you want to make the world a better place and disprove the existence of ghosts. I do, honest. But if the focal point of your anti-superstitions ire is a place called “Hell House,” maybe you should reconsider. The Legend of Hell House (1973) sees a team consisting of a physicist, his wife, a female psychic and the only survivor of the previous visit to Hell House (hint: “only survivor,” please take a note of these words, or at least first stop at the rabid chihuahua listed above), try to survive a full week in isolation. No, not one night, a full week. Listen, bro, there is some dude in Maine netting $100k for doing research on lobsters as we speak. Don’t you think your doctoral dissertation could involve something other than taking your wife to Hell House? Get with the pork spending, pal, and start ripping off the taxpayers like everyone else.
Do Not Hang Around With Liberal Ghost-Lovers
Thir13en Ghosts is an interesting flick. Aside from an epic fail of a “hey, let’s show how clever we are by spelling it funny!” strategy, this movie has an interesting premise. When Uncle Cyrus dies, he leaves his glass house (that has trapped twelve ghosts) to Arthur and his two children. Now, of course, they have to check the place out, accompanied by an attorney, a ghost hunter (nice choice of friends in this instance) and a “ghost rights activist” who is out to set the ghosts free. No, I’m not making fun of the movie, it really does have a ghost rights’ activist. I’ll tell you what, Greenpeace Gary, how about you go save a baby seal instead? Maybe chain yourself to a sycamore and live your own filth for a week or two? I think that’s preferable to respecting the rights of ghosts and setting them free. Didn’t you watch Ghostbusters? Turning off the containment grid is not a wise choice.
Avoid the Fu
OK, Dear Reader, I think we’ve covered the basics. What haunted houses am I missing? And what strategies do you suggest. And no, you can’t burn it down. That would just be too damn simple, now wouldn’t it?
New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler writes tales of hard-science horror, then gives them away as free audiobooks at www.scottsigler.com. His latest hardcover, CONTAGIOUS,
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