Sunday, 11 April 2010


I'll kick this blog off with a piece I wrote for an essay competition at Micah Hanks' excellent Gralien Report. I took second prize with this, which I was pretty chuffed with:

For my money, the best film to deal with a Fortean topic was the BBC’s Ghostwatch. Briefly, it was a feature length drama broadcast on Halloween 1992 that purported to be a live broadcast from a poltergeist infested house on a London council estate. It starred a number of celebrities playing themselves, which confused many viewers into believing they were watching a real live broadcast. The line between fact and fiction was also blurred by it referencing various real life cases (it borrowed to an extent from the infamous Enfield poltergeist case). Even knowing it was a drama, I kept forgetting myself as the events escalated, especially with the fleeting appearances of the ghost in the background of a number of scenes and the gradual exposition of extremely unpleasant nature of the history of the house, though the OTT ending where the TV studio was taken over by the polt and the host possessed kind of blew the believability.
Thetricksterish aspect to it is a delight-the makers of this were genuinely bemused by the outrage caused by viewers being duped. It had been conceived, filmed and advertised as a drama and they’d no intention of fooling people. But yet it was one of the BBC‘s most complained about programs, and has never been repeated. A suicide has been laid at it’s door, and allegedly two cases of post traumatic stress disorder in children who viewed it.
Reaction to films can often depend on the context you see them in, and I first saw Ghostwatch in a house where someone had died six months previously, and I knew I’d have to walk home through a dark wood that local rumour held to be haunted and where I’d an odd experience a few years earlier that I’d interpreted as a ghost! That combined with the juxtaposition of the supernatural in a mundane setting was a heady mix for my 17 year old mind, giving a genuine chill I’ve not experienced again since.
Oddly, this seems to be the fictionalised blueprint that most ghost hunting programs now follow- but don’t let that put you off!
I'd gone way over the 100 words suggested for entry, so I left a few points out. To add a bit of context, I was watching it in my sister's recently acquired council house while baby sitting my nephews.The previous tenant had died in the room above barely six months before, in the room where my nephews were fast asleep. At one point, one of them got out of bed and ran across the room, the sound of which made me practically jump out of my chair.
I'll save the tale of my odd experience in the wood I'd to walk home through for a later post, but suffice to say, I made it back home in record time!
I've netted copies of Wm Michael Mott's Caverns, Cauldron & Concealed Creatures and This Tragic Earth and also a copy of Micah's Magic, Mysticism & The Molecule, reviews of which shall follow in due course.

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