When You Admit Ghosts Haunt Your Home

DATELINE:  Not Exactly Living Here

I don’t see dead people.  But, my home is indeed haunted, and I hear them moving about all the time.

Friends begged me not to reveal to the public that I live in a house with four ghosts (or technically three ghosts and one spirit).

They told me repeatedly that a tell-all book about paranormal will open me up to ridicule and charges of being more than just another eccentric author.

They claimed it would damage my “serious” nonfiction about Hollywood history and biographies (now will be considered another form of channeling).

Since publishing my true story about learning how the spirit world has fingered me, I hear repeatedly the chorus: “Have you had a stroke?”  or “Are you off your meds?”

Some accuse me of demeaning the victims of the Titanic for suggesting that, just because my ghosts used to own my neighborhood (literally, the whole street), as they were rich.

Yet, I have become protective of my friendly ghosts: they include the former housekeeper of the White family for 50 years, named Addie; a 55 year-old well-to-do-businessman, likely another Titanic victim; a young man who was apparently murdered in the neighborhood some time ago; and my main contact, Richard, who went down on the Titanic when he was 21-years old, on a vacation trip after graduating from Bowdoin.

Why me?

As a retired college professor (literally true), I try to tell the reasons in the book, but it may become lost in the sensations of revealing too much. However, I will continue to resist the numerous requests from those who want to visit me to see ghosts.

No, my home will not be an open house on Halloween, and I do not try to contact Houdini by séance regularly.

William Russo is the author of Ghosts of Mill Circle, now available on Amazon in both ebook and paper format. He also wrote Tales of a Titanic Family, Audie Murphy in Vietnam, and numerous other nonfiction biographies.

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Unwell in a Kafka World: A Cure for Wellness

DATELINE:  Not exactly Obamacare

Dane DeHaan

You have to admit that actor Dane DeHaan usually chooses the most peculiar films and roles available to young stars.

In this movie, A Cure for Wellness, he manages to look rather unwell, doughy, and pooped out. That surely goes against the grain of buff, health-addicted, superheroes among his generation of leading men.

Director Gore Verbinski’s Kafkaesque tale is creepy enough for horror, surreality, and German expressionism, rolled into one hyper-barbaric chamber for eels.

A young executive of a billion-dollar corporation is sent to retrieve its CEO from this strange Swiss clinic where clients go to take “the waters,” a cure for what ails you. It’s either that or go to jail for white-collar crime.

Like clockwork, DeHaan’s Lockhart arrives at a Swiss mountaintop roach motel where people check in, but never apparently check out.  Instead, they are put through a health regimen worthy of Tom Brady’s personal trainer.

Jason Isaacs as Volmer runs the place like the reincarnation of a mad Teutonic baron two centuries ago. He will kill you with kindness.

The cure is worse than the illness—but DeHaan seems more than willing to stick around. We’d be suspicious the moment they kept insisting you drink the water. And, alas, your cell phone won’t work in this altitude.

The hydrotherapy seems a bit on the extreme side, but sado-masochism never had it so healthy.

The atmosphere is suitably Germanic, if not germ-free. We are told that Adolph Hitler was at the spa location, Castle Hohenzollern, for a cure during World War I. How fitting, indeed. It makes Last Year at Marienbad a pleasant stroll.

The film is not for dummies, and one of the attendants is reading a Thomas Mann novel about a health spa where people are convinced they need treatment, whether true or not.

If there is a drawback to this movie, it can be found in the length of the film. We have grown unaccustomed to movies pushing two & a half hours, which is a sure sign they are considered “important” by the makers. There is apparently no cure for this.

Peter O’Toole on TV in 1986

DATELINE:  Rare Appearance

Banshee

In one of his rare acting performances on the small screen, legendary Peter O’Toole took a role on a Ray Bradbury Theatre production of a short story called “Banshee.”

This anthology series ran for several years and featured notable stars in a thirty-minute Twilight Zone-style show.

Most of the summaries of the episode with O’Toole are oddly incorrect on various websites.

The man who was Lord Jim, Lawrence of Arabia, and Henry II (twice), plays an eccentric film director living in Ireland on his remote estate. He plays John Hampton, which clearly is a play on the real eccentric legendary director who lived in Ireland on his estate.

That was, of course, John Huston. The dialogue even has that lilt of Huston’s—and O’Toole wears jodhpurs and boots with swagger, to suggest Huston.

He is visited by a nebbish writer played by Charles Martin Smith who comes for a spooky interview with a script that O’Toole shreds to pieces.

Greeting the writer in the dead of night, the flamboyant director is more than a little unsettled by the cry of a banshee, an Irish female ghost, out in the dark, forboding woods around his estate. While he urges the writer to go out to find this creature who cries for death, Smith locates an ethereal beauty near a graveyard who wants O’Toole to come out.

The story was written by Ray Bradbury and seems a trifle, though highly moody and atmospheric. The show falls short of Twilight Zone quality, but who can complain when Peter O’Toole enlivens every scene.

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Night: North to Vampires

DATELINE: Beautiful Josh Hartnett Alert!

 Josh Hartnett

Director David Slade gave us the pretty vampire of Robert Pattinson in that sugar-pop vampire series, but has turned in an uglier version with 30 Days of Night. Here in Barrow, Alaska, when the sun sets, the vampires have a long winter’s feast.

It’s a claustrophobic experience to be cut off from the rest of the world with an army of hungry vampires.

Josh Hartnett has never looked prettier in this 2007 movie, but he seems to fall apart, as the film proceeds, thanks to makeup effects. He’s the sheriff of a cold, little town in the northern most latitudes of the United States. He goes from clean-shaven to scraggy, to—well, we won’t say.

Most of the residents don’t have a clue what the plague is that is attacking them as night must fall.

These are Nosferatu Nasty vampires, led by black-eyed Danny Huston speaking some weird language of vampires, in sub-titles no less. Huston wins the creepy award.

As one of those pick’em off one by one movies, you watch the little town of 150 or so dwindle to a precious few.

Ben Foster starts things off in one of his patented creepy roles, but once those superhuman vamps start flying like flakes in a blizzard, you figure that the movie will be over in thirty minutes.

Humans are resilient—and fight back, rather hopelessly.

The film is a little different than you might come to expect from the genre, and that makes it highly watchable, despite the blood-letting.

This didn’t win any Oscars, but it might have entertained a few people over the years. We have discovered it later than it deserved. But, better late than never. Go north, vampire hunters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Aaron Hernandez Mansion Haunted?

DATELINE:  Ghosts at Home

armlessinattleboro  Police Remove Hernandez from N. Attleboro Home in 2013.

Realtors hate to answer this question because it puts a damper on buying possibilities.

Shortly after he was taken away on murder charges, his common law wife moved out. The house owned by the convicted killer of Odin Lloyd has basically been empty and on the market since then. This week the house listing price was dropped over $200,000 to the price Hernandez originally paid:  $1.3 million.

The North Attleboro house may indeed be haunted, not only by Hernandez, but by one of his victims who spent time there: Mr. Lloyd, the murder victim.

Having lived in a haunted house, we know something about the likelihood. Unlike the Hernandez case, our realtors did not know that our home was part of the estate of two victims who died on the Titanic. We quickly learned the house was not exactly empty—and investigation showed who might be here exactly.

Our spirits are friendly, probably loved the street they lived on—but true ghosts are bound to a location from their lives. They are likely trapped on Earth, refusing to move on to another astral plane.

Apart from prospective buyers, the only people who have spent time at the Hernandez house in North Attleboro were jurors, judge, and lawyers from the first murder trial. No one wants to give the house an overnight stay. We wonder what could be there to prevent visitors from making a permanent home in the mansion.

Even in our house, there was initial resistance from the spirits who knocked down hanging pictures and made bizarre noises. They still take umbrage at unexpected company. We have had overnight guests who heard footsteps coming to their bed—checking them out before moving away to another part of the house.

Is Aaron Hernandez still stalking the rooms of his North Attleboro manse?  We wait for the brave souls who choose to live there to give us the answer.

 

Author William Russo has written two books on the subject:  The Strange Case of Aaron Hernandez and Haunting Near Virtuous Spring, about ghosts from the Titanic at his own home.

Life Begins Again for Alien Blob

DATELINE Nice Guys Finish Last

Meeting the Enemy--It's US! Pods Unite!

LIFE should never be confused with L I F E. The two movies are like night and day. Each film had some bright leading men. The first had Dane DeHaan and Robert Pattinson, a couple of actors you always play dubious characters.

The other film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds, a couple of actors who are completely nice guys, all the time. The second L I F E is a science-fiction movie and the bad guy is a pipsqueak space alien who feeds on humans.  This allows the leading men to play like vanilla ice cream, melting slowly. Fear not: the second L I F E film is far better than the first, blank space not withstanding.

Daniel Espinosa who gave us the chlllingly depressing tale of a Russian child molester, Child 44, directs this intense combo of the Blob Meets Alien. And, it’s a doozy all right.

Because the science nerds in this film are so serious and the science is so accurate, this tale becomes more horrifying and realistic as a group of bland astronauts finds a one-cell lifeform from Mars that rapidly grows into a threat to the human race—while still on the space station.

It’s all familiar, yet fresh in a more disturbing way in the hands of Espinosa. You have your vanilla ice-cream ethnically-diverse heroes looking to follow protocol. It didn’t work in the Thing from Outer Space in 1950, and it won’t work for these guys.

If you enjoy a good squirm in your seat movie, you have one here. However, there is a considerable amount of weeping among the crew—and gnashing of teeth, rather than decisive action.

If you want to bemoan the state of today’s film plots, you need only wonder how much different this picture would have been if John Wayne had been among the crew.

Night Must Fall, or at Least Trip Lightly

wacky mcavoy

DATELINE:  Shyamalan’s Latest

Producers continue to give M. Night Shyamalan money to make movies of his choice, despite commercial and critical disparaging words.

The latest is called Split, about a man (if you can call him that in a supernatural thriller) with 24 personalities.  That’s a personality disorder with capital letters. It is about as overwrought as hyperbole can make it.

Shyamalan wrote this as well as directed. In terms of his writing, this film obviously came together after he saw William Wyler’s The Collector from 1965. That film is about a disturbed young man who kidnaps a beautiful girl and keeps her prisoner in hopes of making her fall in love with him.

This time, the man with the identity disorder kidnaps three women and keeps them prisoner in an elaborate underground prison. At least the John Fowler story of The Collector explained how he won the lottery which financed his mad caprices.

That’s not enough here. Shyamalan adds a touch of Hannibal Lecter and Psycho to the mix. That should pile-on adequately.

Don’t misjudge: this film has a rather wild performance by James McAvoy who limns about six personalities. He is highly watchable. Betty Buckley plays his therapist who is a classic enabler.

Shyamalan has all his usual Hitchcockian pretenses at hand: he makes a cameo again, sets all his films in Philadelphia, and loves to hear echoes of other movies. If you think this is his best since Sixth Sense, he will agree with you—as the sequel is already on the books, Mr. Glass.

Indeed, Bruce Willis makes a cameo at the end to promote the sequel. Nothing like trying to microwave your stew to guarantee an audience smells the aroma.

The film reaches the outer limits by the end credits, trying to sell us that psychosis is actually a means to reach the supernatural. Our grandmother used to say, “Balderdash,” and it still fits.

Case of Bird House Ghost Town

DATELINE:  Excerpt from CASEBOOK FOR OLD MILL CIRCLE

BH1     BH 5

PROVIDED FOR READERS, here is a sample from Ossurworld’s book:

At one time, the plethora of various birdhouses must have been teeming with aviary lifestyles on Mill Circle.

BH2

Perhaps there was a baby boom of starlings, blue jays, hummingbirds and robins, but that time has passed. Nowadays, the stylishly hewn bird houses are vacant. You couldn’t let them if you banned cats from prowling the neighborhood. Only woodpeckers make homes in the trees, eschewing hand-made homes by humans. Their hollow tree holes are far more rustic.

BH 4      BH 6

What happened that the birds have chosen not to return here where berries, bugs, and flowers, hopelessly beckon. Was the address not as desirable as Capistrano?

Was there a murder in the neighborhood decades ago, as happened as the old Yellow Spring? After that, people avoided Mill Circle no matter how favorable the healing waters.

A catastrophe must have befallen the birds on the wing that there is no hospitality to be found among the few houses still remaining on the Circle. So, highly placed birdhouses remain empty, becoming shells of their former existence.

We have a ghost town of birdhouses on the street.

BH 3

Bird feeding has fallen out of fashion. If you are not overrun by the clever squirrels finding new ways to break into the bird feeders and adjoining houses, you have the larger, more frightening notion that black bears will enter the neighborhood.

Warnings about feeding the bears, even inadvertently, has reached an audience that now stops putting seeds out for the migratory visitors.  And, the denizens such as Canadian geese are not suitable for small houses. They need a large nest with three or four bedrooms for all their goslings.

And, so the birdhouse with the white picket fence nearby, and the house with the thatched roof, as well as the two-story replica of the Old Haunted Mansion, are ghostly reminders of a past when song birds would awaken the residents.

If ghost birds haunt the circle, they are keeping the human ghosts company and maintaining the charm of the old haunt.

Beetlejuice, Then and Now

DATELINE:  Still No Sequel

Beetlejuice

After nearly 30 years, we took another look at Beetlejuice. It had been a seminal film of its era, popular and launching careers. We expected to see Tim Burton and Michael Keaton in a series of sequels to the ghostly ghoul.

The film featured a bureaucratic hereafter with endless waiting rooms and hideous looking victims of death. It was a winning formula.

Instead, several times projects were announced and fell through. Keaton worked with Burton again, but never could they come together for another Beetlejuice extravaganza. The latest one was rumored for 2014, but no one put film in the cameras.

As with any 30-year old movie, you may be struck by how timeless it remains. It seems fairly fresh with reviewing, but most unsettling is how youthful the cast appears. They are all so fresh-faced. It was a long time ago.

Gena Davis plays the dead young wife and is delightful, and the man who plays her husband Alec Baldwin may be the one with the biggest career in the past decades, though Keaton has had flashier roles, he has been inconsistent.

Winona Ryder was a slip of a morbid girl in this one, dressed in black, mourning her life, the only one who can see the specters. We thought Glenn Shadix as the rotund villain would have had a greater career, but this was his highlight. When he died in 2010, he wanted the “Day-O” song played at his funeral.

Others in the cast were Robert Goulet, Catherine O’Hara, and Dick Cavett. Two out of three have survived. Goulet is now on the other side. Jeffrey Jones was once everywhere, but has been less visible since an unseemly brush with the law a few years back.

If a remake were to occur, Keaton in his heavy makeup could still play it in timeless fashion—but the others, as ghosts, would hardly be able to play.

Tom Brady’s Secret Plan to Play Ten More Years

DATELINE: I’ve Got a Secret or To Tell the Truth?

Featured image

Will the Real Tom Please Stand Up?

Tom Brady has consulted a great oracle of fame and immortality this week. He did it by communing with the dead author of “The Canterbury Ghost,” a short ditty written by his new mentor: Oscar Wilde.

And, Oscar Wilde told him he can play for ten more years. Not even Josef Stalin went for ten years; he always stuck with five year plans.

However, Brady must keep that courtroom sketch from the Deflategate controversy hidden in his attic. All the ills of his life, aging, and negative feelings will transfer to the picture. While it grows more monstrous in his vault of shame, Tom will continue to look the picture of health and beauty.

That New York artist and Jets fan Jane Rosenberg will probably be at the Meadowlands, trying to sell him another vision of the future.

Tom Brady may not be young enough to know everything, but he has started to become wiser with his fortieth birthday around the corner.

If he plays for ten more years, as he himself wished on Wednesday, he may morph into a Thriller style zombie on the lines of George Blanda—or at least Brett Favre.

Years ago novelist Tom Tryon (a former movie star) wrote his famous book called Fedora in which a stunning movie queen kept her looks and talents for forty years on the silver screen. Her beauty secret could be the one Tom has in the works for ten years from now. At that point, his youth and vigor will be astonishing, renewed, and a bizarre scandal if ever discovered.

We know the secret of Tom’s ten-year plan—and we aren’t talking, lest he put a curse on us.