Haunted Houses: Kathleen O’Brien Guest Blog

~Today’s blog comes from Kathleen O’Brien!~

In the classic horror movie “The Haunting,” we learn that “some houses are born bad.”

Do you believe that?

Probably not—or you wouldn’t admit it in front of your boss, anyhow.  But there is something about a house that really gets under our skin.  Think about the literary houses that haunt our dreams.  Hill HouseThe House of UsherThe Amityville HorrorThe Overlook Hotel. (Okay, that’s not technically a house, but it’s still a structure that scares the bejeepers out of me.)

And it’s not just fiction.  Real-life houses, too, seem to take on almost mystical powers.  For instance, it’s apparently difficult to sell a house where a terrible murder has occurred.  Sometimes the owners have to raze the house and sell the bare land instead.

That made me wonder…why just the house?  Why aren’t we scared of the land, too?

Here are some of the reasons that occurred to me.

1)     Ghosts. For this reason to hold water, though, we’d have to believe that ghosts don’t know how to open doors.  If we’re afraid of the spiritual afterleavings of the murdered people, why would we believe they’re gone just because the house is gone? Were they stuck inside the structure itself?  Why?  Even if they can’t pass through the walls, why can’t they just turn the knob and float out?

2)     The house did it.  Maybe we’re afraid that, like Hill House, the boards and bricks themselves are evil.  The house is a breathing, thinking, scheming Bad Thing, and it drew the trouble into itself.  If we leave it standing, and we dare to live there, it’ll suck some more bad stuff into our lives.

3)     There’s something icky left behind.   Like blood, or chunks of brain.  Are we afraid that, if we live in a murder house, we might one night stumble across a nasty bit of body goo?  Or maybe the murderer’s drool, which might still hold some hyper-contagious psycho germs?

4)     OCD. If we can still see the closet where the bodies were stuffed, or the wall where the blood was splattered, we won’t be able to stop picturing it, replaying it in our minds, thinking about it, imagining what it was like.  Eventually we’ll go nuts and lose our jobs.  Or kill our families.

5)     No privacy.  Maybe we’re afraid we’ll be put on some haunted house tour, so that buses full of sweaty people will drive by at all hours of the day and night and stare.  Or take pictures of us in our robes as we go out to get the paper.

What other reasons can you think of?

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7 responses to “Haunted Houses: Kathleen O’Brien Guest Blog

  1. The manager was murdered at the Burger King the next town over. It closed down and they can’t sell the store. So it remains vacant (4th year in a row). Wild, right? People have a thing about murder houses/buildings.
    Me, I love real life ghost stories. fun stuff… 🙂

  2. Thanks for the guest blog, Kathleen; and for posting it, Irene.

    I wouldn’t mind living in a house where someone got killed, but I’d sure hate to have to sell it. Stigmatized property can be a real economic burden.

    However, I bet there are cases in which a murder or an alleged ghost can add value to a property. I bet that in the UK and Ireland, this applies to virtually every stately home, and lots of not-so-stately ones.

    They’ve all got their resident ghosts and stories of blood-curdling crimes committed there. Such tales add to their historical value and increase the curiosity factor in prospective buyers and renters.

    This is especially applicable if they’re Americans who are into that sort of thing, and can’t find anywhere near enough of it back home. I can just picture it, a real estate agent who must sell some centuries-old castle, mansion, manor house, or landmark home. He finds a couple of Yanks who lap up stories of murder most foul, treason, love gone bad, and ghosts. The agent shows them the property and tells them all the creepy stories associated with the place. He might embroider some for more effect.

    Come to think of it, this might be how some of these tall tales got started!

  3. Nancy, that’s interesting! Even a Burger King can’t sell after a murder? Wow.

    I love ghost stories, too. I live in hope that someday I’ll find a truly haunted house and get to explore it!

  4. Mary Anne, you’re so right that a ghost story can actually add value–especially if it’s a long, long ago ghost, or one who seems to act as the kindly protector of the structure. In my research for this blog, I came across several stories like that.

    And lol about the Yanks lapping up the stories of haunted castles! I’d be one of them, for sure!

  5. Nancy — how interesting! Was it an unsolved murder? I wonder if there are certain kinds that creep people out more.

    Mary Anne — I love the idea of a real estate agent who amps up the ghostiness of a place just to get better sales. lol!

  6. Fun topic! This made me think of all the Edgar Cayce books we read on reincarnation with my dad! In the last few years, I have found several old empty houses to photograph. I’m sure they are haunted! My imagination just goes wild. I just creep around quietly so as not to disturb the apparitions there. 🙂
    I love your blog, Irene! Your dog is precious!!
    Kathy, you must be so proud! Another great writer in the family!!
    Mary Lou

  7. Mary Lou, you MUST tell me all about those houses! I remember all those sleepovers with the Ouija board and…didn’t we try some swinging crystal hypnosis stuff? LOL. What fun it is to be young and credulous! We’re long overdue for a nostalgia night!

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