Greetings ghouls! Earlier this week we were lucky enough to be over at our friends Fangirlish for the cover reveal of our next book THE AWESOME by Eva Darrows, and what a cover it is. But just one dose of Eva hasn’t been enough and to prove her AWESOME credentials we’ve set her a special Halloween challenge to pick her favorite ghost…
Tis the season for ghosts, goblins, and ghoulies, and in the Halloween spirit, I'm going to talk about my favorite of the aforementioned trio: ghosts.
I love them, enough that my debut novel MARY: THE SUMMONING (released under my OTHER name Hillary Monahan) tackles the Americanized version of the Bloody Mary ghost.
I've always been afraid of spirits and likely always will be. Think about it—a werewolf you can kill with a silver bullet. A vampire, a stake and a beheading. A zombie's brains splatter nicely with a gun. But a ghost? What do you do? Pants him? Mock him? Throw stuff through him? STEAL HIS LUNCH MONEY?
Answer: Hope really hard you find the thing tying the ghost to this plane and burn it. That's . . . about it. And if that doesn’t work? Well. Sorry.
So without further ado, here is a list of Eva’s favorite ghosts from popular media.
5) The School Bus Children, TRICK 'R TREAT
I have a love of all things creepy and funny. As such, Trick 'R Treat is RIGHT up my alley. Campy, lots of good scares plus some legitimately funny moments? Yes, please. The best part of the movie is undoubtedly the sack boy, Sam, but as the viewer is never told what Sam is (though I'd venture a guess that he's the spirit of Halloween), the School Bus Children come in a close second.
A special needs bus crashes into a ravine on Halloween, the poor, costumed children all drowning to death. But all is not as it seems. Some say the driver of the bus was drunk. Others say he was paid to drive the children into the water. All the viewer knows is that going near that ravine on Halloween night is a terrible idea. When the local kids convince Rhonda, an outcast, to go trick or treating with them and visit the tragic site, we get to meet the school bus children years after their demise.
It's not pretty.
4) Kakayo, THE GRUDGE
Kakayo falls in love with another man. For her betrayal, her husband murders her, the family cat, and their son Toshio. Kakayo rises from her death as an onryo, or vengeful spirit. Anyone who enters the house where she died is cursed to see her and—eventually—die.
There are a few things that make Kakayo so spectacularly creepy. The first is her appearance. Typical Japanese ghost with the white skin and the long black hair, Kakayo is often seen covered in blood. Sometimes it's hers, sometimes it's not, it's cool. She's fashionable in her blood-splattered frock. She also tends to crawl across the floor, pulling her lower half and twitching all the while. That's less cool, but okay, I'm with you Kakayo.
Then there is the noise she makes. The clicky, growling death rattle that will almost always get the hair prickling on the back of my neck and make me weep for my mommy.
Here. Have a nightmare or forty.
3) The Woman in Black, THE WOMAN IN BLACK
THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a novel from the early eighties written by Susan Hill. Gothic, moody, and wonderfully eerie, it's been turned into a movie not once but twice, the most recent version starring Harry Potter. I mean the dude that plays Harry Potter but who will always be known as Harry Potter so whatever.
A woman, Jennet, gives birth to an illegitimate child back when such things were big no-nos. Her sister adopts the boy and raises him as her own, insisting Jennet never reveal to Nathaniel his parentage. Jennet agrees and moves into her sister's house, relegated to Nathaniel's aunt instead of his mother. There's a terrible carriage accident in the marshes surrounding the house and Jennet watches helplessly as Nathaniel drowns. After Jennet's death, her ghost will only appear when a child is about to die. Sometimes, she makes a child dies. Jennet's not great people.
While I haven't seen the eighties version of the movie, I will say the 2012 version was splendidly scary with just enough jump scares and oppressive ambiance to keep me enthralled. Jennet is as terrible in the book as she is in the film, and well-earns her place on this list.
2) Tate, American Horror Story
The first season of American Horror Story remains my favorite and that's all because of Tate. The viewer knows early on that Tate Langdon is dead. Tate Langdon knows Tate Langdon is dead. The people living in Tate's house? Clueless. Ben Harmon is even seeing Tate as a therapy patient after Tate's living mother hires him on. Violet Harmon makes out with Tate because apparently that's a thing people do with ghosts when they're bored.
While Tate can be charming (especially in Violet's company) and somewhat tragic, he's also manipulative and damaged. He vacillates wildly between sweet and psychotic. He's responsible for at least a few of the deaths that have occurred in the Harmon house, and when he's angered, proves utterly ruthless. Conniving, angry, broken, and lonely, Tate is so divinely flesh out and terrifying, I can't help but put him on my list.
1) Sadako/Samara, THE RING
There is one ghost that, no matter how many times I see her on film or the page, will send me flying through the roof. Here she is. I've listed both Sadako and Samara because the Japanese and American versions of Koji Suzuki's ghost terrify me in equal measure. White dress, black hair, and hands hanging limply from the wrists, she is one mean spirit. You can't stop her. Just when you think you've won, you haven't, the cycle of the ring never ends.
I saw the American film before I saw the Japanese film. The book came later. Samara terrified me because she was one of the few monsters that was mean JUST BECAUSE and it was done well enough I actually bought into it. There's no rhyme or reason for her atrocities beyond she was born bad. Horses kill themselves, the girl is able to project terrible visions onto X-Ray paper, she drives her mother mad with her twisted version of love.
If you explore RING backstory beyond the American film, the character is more fully fleshed out. The Japanese prequel (Ring 0) gives you a tragic backstory that, frankly, diminishes Samara's scares instead of enhances it, in my opinion. Still. I love this ghost. I will likely carry her with me through my horror career. She is the stuff of my nightmares.