“Monty” James & The Ghost Story—There’s Nothing More Frightening Than Reading “the Master”…

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I watched a BBC documentary today on YouTube (link below), narrated by the brilliant Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), about 19th-century ghost story writer Montague Rhodes James, aka. M. R. James—or, if you knew him well: just plain ol’ “Monty” James. I’m not sure whether “knowing him well” would have been a plus or a minus after having watched the documentary, entitled M. R. James: Ghost Writer, which focused on James’ keen ability to write terrifying ghost stories.

It was uncanny. What the heck went on in that antiquarian head of his? Do we even want to know? I mean—the man could scare the trousers off a college boy.

(A little inside joke— no offense, Monty.) 😏

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Robert Lloyd Parry as M. R. James in the 2013 BBC documentary “M. R. James: Ghost Writer” (YouTube below).


James is known the world over as the undisputed master of the “English” ghost story—although, why we need to qualify these stories as “English” is beyond me…slow your roll, Liz—your fanny may be on the throne, but that doesn’t mean you have the power to run the rest of us! 👑🤚

We are all collectively “human” in the end, aren’t we?

Monty James was, and still is, the master of the “human” ghost story.

If you haven’t read the ghost stories of M. R. James, you should.

You can own the complete stories in a book that fits in the palm of your hand (see my photo below)—or a larger, illustrated edition; or a collectible first edition—whatever suits your ghostly fancy.

Just be warned. These stories aren’t for the night time—well, I mean they are—but they aren’t—it’s all about the resolve of your nerve. (I was going to say “it’s all about the size of your balls”…but Liz is listening.🍒)

The story that caught my attention—“Lost Hearts”—is one I’ve not yet had the pleasure of reading. In the documentary today, Monty—brilliantly acted by Robert Lloyd Parry, a man who not only resembles M. R. James, but has a little snarl to his smile that sorta makes you wonder—is reading “Lost Hearts” to a group of 19th-century Oxford boys, at night, with nothing but the golden glow of a candle…quivering.

He reaches the point in the tale where the spectre of a young boy appears to Stephen Elliott—anoher young boy, this one very much alive—and Stephen notices the spectre’s clawlike fingernails—which have left scratch marks on the bedroom door, and tears in Stephen’s nightshirts—over the chest area…

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What’s on the Tube?—Sacrifice, a Creepy Thriller Set in the Shetland Islands, Starring Rhada Mitchell & Rupert Graves ☠️☠️☠️☠️!

I loved this film. It’s based on a novel by UK author S. j. Bolton I read about 10 years ago. It was a great story them; and it’s still a great story.

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The 2016 film is based on the 2008 novel by award-winning author S. J. Bolton.

AN IFC MIDNIGHT RELEASE | IRELAND | APR 29TH, 2016 | 91 MINS | NR

Disturbing secrets lie buried in the bogs of a remote island in this spellbinding thriller. Shortly after surgeon Tora Hamilton (Radha Mitchell) moves with her husband (Rupert Graves) to the Shetland Islands—100 miles off the coast of Scotland—she makes an unnerving discovery: the body of a young woman with strange symbols carved into her flesh and her heart ripped out. When what at first appears to be the remains of a victim of an ancient ritual turns out to be a fresh corpse, Tora is plunged into a dangerous mystery that may be connected to the dark folklore that haunts the island’s past.

DIRECTOR: Peter A. Dowling
PRODUCERS: Peter Lewis, Tristan Lynch, Aoife O’Sullivan, Arnold Rifkin
SCREENWRITER: Peter A. Dowling (based on Sacrifice, a novel by S. j. Bolton)


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(IFC)

The Ouija Board Bigfoot—A True Story by Nick Redfern w/Links…

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Charles Ford Photography.

Laura Carter was thirty-six, lived in New York, and was employed by the Post Office when I interviewed her in 2007. She related to me the details of a distinctly odd and unsettling series of occurrences that took place back in mid-1985. On one particularly warm summer’s night, Laura said, three of her friends had come over to visit. Her parents were out of town, and so the girls planned to have an evening hanging out, playing music, drinking, and and generally having a fun time.

At some point during the night, the discussion turned to horror-movies, ghosts, spooks and specters, and the four girls decided to experiment with an old Ouija Board. As Laura admitted to me, none of them were seriously frightened by the board or the possible implications of what might transpire – in fact, they had no real idea at all how to even use the board, apart from “what we had seen in horror movies,” added Laura. But, like teenagers everywhere, they found the idea of “playing with the Ouija Board while my mom and dad were out” to be great fun and immensely exciting. However, what initially started out as nothing more than a bit of late-night joking around quickly changed into something far darker and much more disturbing.

Largely improvising, as a result of their lack of any real knowledge of how to use a Ouija Board, the four did their best: relying on familiar Hollywood imagery, they pulled a wine-glass from a kitchen-cupboard, placed the index-fingers of their right hands atop it, and were soon immersed in their planned bit of fun. Questions about boys, when they would marry, and attempts to contact dead relatives followed – all to no avail, perhaps inevitably. However, said Laura, something decidedly odd did occur: on two occasions, the electricity went off – which scared the living daylights out of the four friends. Not surprisingly, one might argue, taking into consideration their actions with the Ouija Board.

Laura explained further that everyone got a weird vibe when the power failed. And even though nothing else of an untoward nature occurred that night, it was all too late, the damage was done, and a doorway was unwittingly, and ominously, opened. For reasons that, Laura admits, to this day she cannot really explain nor understand, a feeling of fear and apprehension came over as the next day progressed, and afternoon became early evening – and after her friends had all returned to their respective homes. Once again the electricity failed – around 6.00 p.m. – and the dark, foreboding feelings began to take an ever-stronger hold on Laura’s mind. And so, after eating a hastily-made sandwich, she decided to retire to the comfort and (so she thought, at least) safety of her bedroom.

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Sasquatch Ouija Board.

Later that night, however, Laura was woken from a deep sleep in the early hours, and heard what sounded very much like a loud, yet disturbing, animal-like “scream” emanating from the vicinity of a small, but densely-packed, area of woodland that was situated at the rear of the family home.

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Is Sasquatch for Real? “The Hairy Giants of British Columbia” Just Might Convince You…

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“Frame 352” from the famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film footage that captured what appears to be a female Sasquatch walking briskly away from the camera across a dry riverbed, and off into the woods of Northern California. Despite many attempts over the years to debunk the film, experts still believe it to be authentic and “non-tampered with”. Read more, here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterson–Gimlin_film

The Hairy Giants of British Columbia

Told by J. W. Burns (Government Indian Agent-teacher, Chehalis Indian Reserve, British Columbia, Canada) and Set Down by Mr. C.V. Tench

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An original version of this article appeared under a slightly different name in the April 1, 1929 issue of MacLean’s Magazine. It later appeared in Wide World, The Magazine for Men, Vol. 84 No. 502, in January 1940.

“Presently there came the sound of a heavy body forcing its way through the brush. Darkness had not yet set and peering through a crack, Peter Williams took a good look at the monster. It was undoubtedly a sasquatch—one of the well nigh fabulous ‘hairy giants,’ which according to Indian belief still inhabit the unexplored wilds of interior British Columbia.”


This challenging article will undoubtedly arouse the derision of skeptics both in Canada and elsewhere. After many years of patient investigation, Mr. Burns, a responsible Government official shares the firm belief of his Indian charges that deep in the unexplored mountain wilds of British Columbia, there still lurk a few scattered survivors of the mysterious “Sasquatch” – primitive creatures of huge stature, covered from head to foot with coarse hair who have figured in Redskin legends for centuries. Mr. Burns recounts a number of seemingly well-authenticated stories of encounters with these uncanny “wild men” who carefully avoid all contact with civilization. Scientific expeditions had sought them in vain and it is generally supposed that—if they ever existed—the giants have long since become extinct – but the Indians remain unconvinced.


Before setting forth Mr. Burns’s narrative, I should like to make it clear that he not only holds a highly responsible Government position as an Indian Agent, but is keenly interested in the subject of the “hairy giants,” which he has studied for a number of years. He is confident that his charges are perfectly sincere in their beliefs; they are not in contact with tourists and have no reason whatever to “cook up” fables for the benefit of the unsophisticated. Moreover, the Indians are reluctant to talk about the “Sasquatch” even to him a friend of long standing, and absolutely refuse to discuss the matter at all with white strangers. They are simple minded, unimaginative folk; the invention of so many different stories of encounters with the wild men would be quite beyond their powers.

“I am convinced,” said Mr. Burns, “that survivors of the Sasquatch do still inhabit the inaccessible interior of British Columbia. Only by sheer luck however, is a white man likely to sight one of them because like wild animals, they instinctively avoid all contact with civilization and in that rocky country it is impossible to track them down. I still live in hope however, of some day surprising a sasquatch and when that happens I trust to have a camera handy. And now for my story!”

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This 1990 Canadian Stamp featured Sasquatch.

Utterly terrified, the Indian raced madly toward the Chehalis River where his dugout canoe was moored. In pursuit lunged a giant of a man at least eight feet in height and broad in proportion. He was stark naked and covered from head to toe by a thick growth of black woolly hair.

In his fright, the Chehalis Indian Peter Williams completely forgot the rifle he clutched; he did not attempt to stop and fight it out. When he suddenly caught sight of the monster standing on the summit of a huge boulder, all reason fled, to be instantly supplanted by sheer panic as the giant growled and sprang toward him.

Heedless of the tangled undergrowth, the Indian plunged wildly on – occasionally jerking his head around to gaze affrightedly at the horror behind. Reaching the riverside he gave a frantic heave and the dugout canoe shot out into the turbulent stream. The water, however did not daunt the giant, he plunged forward in hot pursuit.

The instant the bow of the dugout scraped the opposite bank, Peter Williams leaped ashore. The giant was now almost in midstream swimming strongly. Once more the Red man took to his heels. Well-nigh dazed from exhaustion he finally reached the frame shack that was his home. Frenziedly he herded his wife and children inside, bolted the door and barricaded it with ever article he could lay hands on. Then with his rifle at the ready, he tremblingly awaited the giant’s arrival.


The January 1940 article by J. W. Burns, “The Hairy Giants of British Columbia”—which was published in The Wide World Magazine Vol. 84, No. 502–was actually a revised version of an earlier article Burns had published in the April 1, 1929 issue of Maclean’s Magazine. The 1929 article is included below in its entirety. Click thumbnails to enlarge…


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The Exorcist—Behind the Scenes, 1977

 

Building Our Museums…

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(Pinterest)

A dear friend emailed this to me today. It’s so beautiful…and insightful, I wanted to share it:

“If you live long enough your home will eventually become much like a museum. There are collections of things visitors will observe with puzzlement and wonder. Others may not know the purpose or value of what you have amassed and have surrounded yourself with. Your walls and mantels are filled with an evolving gallery of loved ones, living and dead. We build our own exhibit, vacate the premises when we depart this earth and hope there are those who remember our smiles, our embraces, our handshakes, the brush of our kisses and the love we shared from the depths of our hearts. All that will remain of us is the love we share.”

– Curt Jarrell

“Pickman’s Other Model (1929)”—A Tale of Lovecraftian Horror by Caitlín R. Kiernan

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Artwork inspired by both H. P. Lovecraft’s story “Pickman’s Model” and Kiernan’s “sequel”, “Pickman’s Other Model.” Artist unknown. (Goodreads forum).

Pickman’s Other Model (1929)

Caitlín R. Kiernan*, 2011

***

First published in Paula Guran’s 2011 Lovecraft Mythos anthology, New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird*, “Pickman’s Other Model” is a masterful continuation of H. P. Lovecraft’s original story “Pickman’s Model” that was first published in Weird Tales magazine in October 1927. [Read about the original here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickman%27s_Model
Read the original Lovecraft story here: https://thesanguinewoods.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/pickmans-model-a-story-by-h-p-lovecraft-1927/]


I have never been much for movies, preferring, instead, to take my entertainment in the theater, always favoring living actors over those flickering, garish ghosts magnified and splashed across the walls of dark and smoky rooms at twenty-four frames per second. I’ve never seemed able to get past the knowledge that the apparent motion is merely an optical illusion, a clever procession of still images streaming past my eye at such a rate of speed that I only perceive motion where none actually exists. But in the months before I finally met Vera Endecott, I found myself drawn with increasing regularity to the Boston movie houses, despite this long-standing reservation.

I had been shocked to my core by Thurber’s suicide, though, with the unavailing curse of hindsight, it’s something I should certainly have had the presence of mind to have seen coming. Thurber was an infantryman during the war—La Guerre pour la Civilisation, as he so often called it. He was at the Battle of Saint Mihiel when Pershing failed in his campaign to seize Metz from the Germans, and he survived only to see the atrocities at the Battle of the Argonne Forest less than two weeks later. When he returned home from France early in 1919, Thurber was hardly more than a fading, nervous echo of the man I’d first met during our college years at the Rhode Island School of Design, and, on those increasingly rare occasions when we met and spoke, more often than not our conversations turned from painting and sculpture and matters of aesthetics to the things he’d seen in the muddy trenches and ruined cities of Europe.

And then there was his dogged fascination with that sick bastard Richard Upton Pickman, an obsession that would lead quickly to what I took to be no less than a sort of psychoneurotic fixation on the man and the blasphemies he committed to canvas. When, two years ago, Pickman vanished from the squalor of his North End “studio,” never to be seen again, this fixation only worsened, until Thurber finally came to me with an incredible, nightmarish tale which, at the time, I could only dismiss as the ravings of a mind left unhinged by the bloodshed and madness and countless wartime horrors he’d witnessed along the banks of the Meuse River and then in the wilds of the Argonne Forest.

But I am not the man I was then, that evening we sat together in a dingy tavern near Faneuil Hall (I don’t recall the name of the place, as it wasn’t one of my usual haunts). Even as William Thurber was changed by the war and by whatever it is he may have experienced in the company of Pickman, so too have I been changed, and changed utterly, first by Thurber’s sudden death at his own hands and then by a film actress named Vera Endecott. I do not believe that I have yet lost possession of my mental faculties, and if asked, I would attest before a judge of law that my mind remains sound, if quite shaken. But I cannot now see the world around me the way I once did, for having beheld certain things there can be no return to the unprofaned state of innocence or grace that prevailed before those sights. There can be no return to the sacred cradle of Eden, for the gates are guarded by the flaming swords of cherubim, and the mind may not—excepting in merciful cases of shock and hysterical amnesia—simply forget the weird and dismaying revelations visited upon men and women who choose to ask forbidden questions. And I would be lying if I were to claim that I failed to comprehend, to suspect, that the path I was setting myself upon when I began my investigations following Thurber’s inquest and funeral would lead me where they have. I knew, or I knew well enough. I am not yet so degraded that I am beyond taking responsibility for my own actions and the consequences of those actions.

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