Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 21: Halloween Bucket List

As Halloween draws ever nearer, it’s pretty clear that this year we aren’t going to have a regular spooky season. This got me thinking about what I would put on my Halloween bucket list. Most of these are for future Halloweens when hopefully things are safer but there are also a few ideas on how to make the most of the the spookiest time of year from home.

  1. Spend a Halloween in Derry – So, this one alone is mostly the reason for this post. I am determined to visit Derry in Northern Ireland to revel in their amazing-looking spooky celebrations.
  2. Go to a pumpkin patch and carve a pumpkin – Ok, look I know there’s nothing really stopping me from doing this in 2020 but I want to make the most of a visit to a pumpkin patch one year and carve a pumpkin that I can actually use to decorate the outside of the house for trick-or-treaters. I do have a mini pumpkin I’ve bought to carve this year though and I’m stupidly excited about it.
  3. Do a 24hr horror movie marathon – Again, I know there isn’t really anything stopping me from this one this year but I want to make a proper event of this. I love the idea of fully immersing myself in spooky season with a themed movie marathon although maybe they’ll have to be a few non-scary ones in there too to avoid too many nightmares!
  4. Do a London Underground tour – This one is inspired by my Spooky History Facts post and I’ve been obsessed with the idea of doing a tour of the London Underground’s deserted tube stations since.
  5. Go on an actual ghost hunt – I’ve done plenty of ghost walking tours (and even a bus tour!) but I’ve never taken part in an actual ghost hunt. I want to really see how ghost hunting equipment works and I want to spend the darkest part of the night in a haunted location to see what would happen. One day when I’m feeling brave enough, maybe.
  6. Make my own Halloween costume – COVID’s put a stop to Halloween parties this year but I would love to attempt to make a proper costume from scratch at some point. I’ve bought costumes and improvised with the clothes I’ve got at the last minute before but I’ve never set out to make a full costume myself and it looks like a really fun challenge.
  7. Write a spooky story – Yes, yet again I could attempt this in 2020 and believe me, I’ve tried my hand at writing a good ghost story several times but I have yet to create something I feel really captures the spooky vibe I’m going for.
  8. Go to a scream park – Ok, I’ve done this one before but a 2020 Halloween means that isn’t really an option this year so maybe next year I’ll head to a scream park again.
  9. Spend Halloween somewhere else in the world – This links back into the first one on this list but I’ve never been away from England on Halloween and I would love to see how it’s celebrated elsewhere.
  10. Bake something for Halloween – With all the extra time at home I’ve started spending a lot more time cooking and baking and maybe by this time next year I’ll be ready to create my own spooky bake – maybe I’ll create a haunted gingerbread house and combine my two favourite holidays!

Let me know what your future plans are for Halloween and how you’re planning to spend your 2020 spooky season in the comments.

Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 20: Five More Spooky History Facts

To follow up on my last post featuring spooky facts from history, here are five more to put chills up your spine…

  1. In 1898, Futility by Morgan Robertson was published. Part of the plot involves a ship called Titan which sinks in April after hitting an iceberg whilst on a voyage through the Atlantic. Majority of the passengers on board die due to the lack of lifeboats. Fourteen years later, in the April of 1912, the real-life Titanic struck an iceberg whilst crossing the Atlantic and there was a great loss of life due to an insufficient number of lifeboats. The uncanny similarities between fiction and fact have led to conspiracy theories about the real event and claims that Robertson might have even been psychic, which he denied.
  2. Starting about a century after the death of Edgar Allan Poe, a mysterious unidentified figure, known as the “Poe Toaster”, would visit Poe’s grave in the yearly hours of his birthday each year to leave three roses and a bottle of cognac by the headstone. It became an annual event in Baltimore for people to gather at night to catch a glimpse of the Toe Toaster making his annual tribute. In 1999, the tradition was passed on, likely to the original Toaster’s son, but the Toaster stopped making his graveside visits in 2009. The Maryland Historical Society hosted a competition in 2015 to chose a new Poe Toaster to reinstate the yearly honour to one of literature’s best-loved Gothic writers.
  3. In the very first iteration of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at California’s Disneyland park, real skeletons, provided by UCLA, were used as part of the ride’s set. Over time, as fake skeletons got more realistic, these were replaced. However, there is a rumour that one real skull still remains as part of the ride to this day.
  4. Scottish psychic Helen Duncan was the last person to be imprisoned under the 1735 Witchcraft Act in Britain. During World War Two, Duncan led seances where she would produce a substance that she called ectoplasm from her mouth. She alleged that she had spoken with the dead, including a sailor from the HMS Barham. The ship had been sunk by German forces but this was not public information at the time. Duncan was then arrested after a police raid during one of her seances in 1944. Some attest that the authorities were concerned about her using her psychic abilities to discover the forthcoming D-Day plans which was highly confidential and secret intel. Duncan was released after a nine-month stint in prison and the Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951.
  5. It’s considered unlucky to say “Macbeth” and quote from the witches’ passages in a theatre though no one knows exactly why. One of the most common theories is that Shakespeare used real witches’ spells when writing the play. Another possibility comes from the various deaths and unfortunate mishaps, both on-and-off stage, associated with the play’s long performance history. The first unlucky incident goes all the way back to the play’s first ever performance. After the actor playing Lady Macbeth died suddenly, Shakespeare himself allegedly stepped in to play the role.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found these facts interesting. Bye for now!

Posted in Blogtober, TV

Blogtober Day 19: Thoughts on Ghost Hunting TV Shows

In today’s instalment of my Halloween Blogtober series I wanted to talk about ghost hunting TV shows. Usually they’re all over the TV at this time of year and I have to admit they are a guilty pleasure watch for me.

I grew up watching Most Haunted. It was the same format each episode, Yvette Fielding, her husband Karl Beattie, a psychic medium and a production crew would investigate a supposedly haunted building at night and attempt to catch footage of a ghost in the flesh… well, in the ectoplasm, I guess. Since the show began back in 2002, it took fifteen years for a potential ghost to be caught on film by the team. Whether it really is a ghost is, of course, up for debate but the footage clearly shows a figure walking down some steps. But, if it took all that time to finally catch a ghost on camera, what has kept the show going so long? Until 2018, the show was mostly filled with odd phenomena, ranging from tapping to objects being moved, EVP recordings to spooky assessments from mediums and even the odd Ouija Board session. And honestly, it was entertaining. It was good spooky viewing, especially at Halloween and it was up to the audience whether they wanted to believe the show was genuine or not.

The thing is, you can’t really speak about Most Haunted without mentioning its controversies. Most notably this came in 2005 when an investigation into Bodmin Jail (Bodmin’s third mention this Blogtober!) saw the show’s resident psychic medium, Derek Acorah, caught lying about being possessed by the spirit of a man called Kreed Kafer. What he didn’t know was that the show’s skeptic at the time, Ciarán O’Keeffe, suspected not all Acorah’s possessions were real so he made up a fake entity, whose name is an anagram of ‘Derek faker’… ouch, and fed this information to the medium. Acorah then claimed to be possessed by this particular spook on the show. O’Keeffe came forward after the show aired and Acorah was subsequently replaced for future series.

Although the evidence is pretty damning against Acorah, I do have sympathy for the situation. When you’re making a show that thrives on the audience expecting to see some paranormal activity, there is pressure to give that to them, whether it’s real or not.

Ghost hunting shows are presented on TV as entertainment shows, they aren’t scientific documentaries. However, there is a question to be asked as to whether it is ethically ok to create shows using potentially faked evidence of the paranormal. Here’s how I see it, theres’ a fine line when it comes to ethics and the paranormal. I don’t think it’s ok to knowingly deceive an individual into thinking that you have access to a dead loved one of theirs or to ask for money for something intentionally faked. But, what’s harmful about a ghost show? It’s not picking on individuals and the only ones paying for it are the TV networks who get the viewing figures as their reward for the broadcasts. As it doesn’t really hurt individuals and, for the most part, people aren’t paying their TV licenses just to watch ghost hunting shows, I don’t think there’s any malice in them.

I should also say I’m not accusing every ghost hunting show of fakery. I feel like I can say with confidence that a lot of potentially paranormal activity captured on TV has perfectly reasonable explanations. There are some moments though that aren’t so easy to explain away. There are clips from ghost hunting shows that are truly spooky and I don’t believe are faked. That brings me back to the Most Haunted footage of the figure walking up the stairs. A big part of me wants to believe it’s real and I actually think it could be.

Whether they’re fake or not though, as I said at the start I love a good ghost hunting show and they’ll always be one of my spooky guilty pleasures. What do you think of ghost hunting shows? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 18: It’s All in the Origins: Zombies

After previously exploring the history and origins of vampires and werewolves, I thought it was time to give zombies their moment in the spotlight…

Haiti, Vodou and Slavery

Zombie folklore dates way back to the 1600s in Haiti, then known as Saint-Domingue and part of the French colonies. Black slaves were brought into Haiti from West Africa to work on the sugar and coffee plantations. Soon enough, Haiti came to be biggest moneymaker of the French colonies and the slave population grew exponentially. This was despite many slaves dying only a few years after being brought to the island from the back-breaking work and brutal treatment.

The sheer number of Africans brought into Haiti meant that African religions and cultures could be sustained in the slave populations even when some French Catholic elements were adopted into their belief system. It is thought that through a combination of traditional African Vodou beliefs and the harsh oppression faced by the slaves, the idea of the zombie was born. The Africans believed that in death their souls would be released back to Guinea and freed from slavery. However, the souls that didn’t make it to Africa would remain where they were, trapped on the plantations even in death. One of the biggest reasons souls were said to become zombies was if the death was caused by suicide. Slave drivers themselves used this idea to frighten slaves into not attempting suicide as many saw it as the only means of freedom from slavery.

The idea evolved over time and with the successful Haitian Revolution of 1804 abolishing slavery in the region, the concept of the zombie changed. Today, witches practicing black magic in Haitian Vodou, known as bokors, are said to be able to kill a person then reanimate them as a zombie and make them do their bidding.

There is just one thing I want to touch on here before we move on to what I’m going to call the ‘Anglo-American Zombie’ (to distinguish from the Haitian version). Firstly, although zombification is a real belief in Haitian Vodou, it is an aspect of the religion that has been highly sensationalised and is only one of many different beliefs and facets of the religion. I mention it here because it is relevant to the origin story of the zombie as a monster of fiction we know and recognise so often today, not to reduce what is already an often misunderstood and misrepresented religion to its most sensationalised qualities.

The ‘Anglo-American Zombie’

One of the first real zombies of Anglo-American literature could, arguably, be the creature in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The creature has many traits we associate with zombies today, he’s a reanimated corpse and he goes on a killing spree like most zombies in modern horror movies. Although, some would say the creature has more in common with vampire lore than zombie lore and he is presented as much more intelligent and empathetic than his future counterparts.

Jumping forward over a hundred years, we get to the first feature-length zombie movie, White Zombie, released in 1932. The storyline concerns a young woman who goes to Haiti to marry her fiancee but a Vodou master plots to turn her into a zombie instead. The film, though now only really known and watched in film critic circles, saw many other filmmakers do their own take on a zombie movie over the next few decades. None have had as much of an enduring impact on zombie fiction as Night of the Living Dead in 1968. It’s important to note though that the film doesn’t include the word ‘zombie’ in its script and the director and writer, George A. Rumero, has said that he believes the undead in the movie have enough differences to distinguish them from the Haitian Zombie, though he may have been unconsciously influenced by it. Despite this, Rumero is credited with creating the idea of the Anglo-American Zombie as an undead cannibal that we know today.

Since then, zombies have cropped up in many works of fiction, most notably on-screen in the likes of Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead and Warm Bodies. I personally think that zombies are one of the most flexible and ever-evolving supernatural figures. Vampire lore has barely changed since Dracula and our modern understanding of werewolves is pretty much as what it was in folklore from centuries ago. Zombies, in their most recognisable form for us today, only really go back as far as 1968. Even then, they have crossed over from horror to comedy, apocalyptic, action and even romance genres far easier than the other creatures I’ve written about so far. They may not always be portrayed as the smartest but they’re certainly the most durable and even if there’s a lull in zombie fiction every now and then, they really don’t seem to stay dead for long.

Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 17: Spooky History Facts

Something I’m finding really fun about Blogtober is all the historical research I’m getting to do when looking into the origins of Halloween and everything associated with it. I thought it would be interesting to share five weird and spooky Halloween-related facts from history that aren’t long enough for a post of their own today.

  1. During the Reformation, many Catholic churches were looted, especially in Germany, where the Protestant Revolution began. To make up for the lost treasures of the Catholic churches, skeletons of old Christian martyrs were retrieved from the Roman Catacombs. They were decorated with gold, jewels and lavish clothing and given the name ‘Catacomb Saints’, many can still be found in German Catholic churches to this day.
  2. During the Middle Ages, a bizarre pandemic occurred known as the ‘Medieval Dancing Mania’. This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, someone would start dancing uncontrollably and others would end up getting the urge to join them. Some cases were so severe that some who caught the bug would literally dance until they died. Speaking of bugs though, a similar affliction caught on in Italy, specifically in the town of Taranto, where the bite of a wolf spider was said to cause a state of frenzy known as Tarantism. A strange cure was devised for this condition, a dance called the Tarantella which is still a popular style of dance now.
  3. Speaking of strange and spooky Italian history, I have to mention the particularly ferocious King Ferdinand I of Naples, also known as Ferrante. This ruler had an unusual and pretty brutal way of dealing with his enemies. After they would be tortured and executed, he would have them embalmed and mummified so he could keep them forevermore.
  4. There are a lot of spooky stories connected to the London Underground, from rumours around the lines curving around known plague pits to ghosts that are said to haunt the many stations. What is for certain is that, according to TFL, there are at least 40 disused Overground and Underground stations, many sitting empty deep deep under the streets of the city.
  5. Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, is probably one of the most well-known spiritualists in history but did you know that he was also a member of The Ghost Club? This group aimed to investigate reported ghostly activity as the rise of Spiritualism (which could do with its own post!) also saw a huge amount of opportunists faking hauntings for cash. The Ghost Club is still running to this day and notable former members include Charles Dickens, Charles Babbage, W. B. Yeats, Siegfried Sassoon and Peter Cushing.

I have more spooky history facts to share but I’ll leave it here for now. Check back for another post of creepy facts from history on my blog soon. Thanks for reading!

Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 16: My Greatest Fears

For today’s Halloween-themed Blogtober post I thought I’d share a few of the things that truly make me scared. I like to think some of these are very normal fears but some of them are definitely completely ridiculous and irrational!

Blood and Needles

I’ve had a problem with blood and needles pretty much all my life. I can watch gory movies because I know it’s not real but the second I see someone with an open cut near me I get all squeamish.

Mannequins

On the slightly more irrational side we have my fear of mannequins. I just don’t like them. I’m definitely an example for the uncanny valley at work because anything that looks human but isn’t really freaks me out.

Cactuses

Look, I don’t get why anyone would deliberately put a dangerous plant in their home. I know this one seems irrational but I think it just comes back to my general fear of needles and pain. I don’t being near a cactus on the off-chance I’ll somehow do some big slapstick fall into it. I just think I prefer nice, normal, non-painful plants, you know?

Heights

Back on the more rational train, I really do have a fairly severe fear of heights. It’s always been there but it has definitely got more pronounced as I’ve got older. I now even get a bit shaky on ladders. That point leads me on quite nicely to…

Spiral staircases

This is quite a recent fear of mine and one I didn’t realise I had until I basically got trapped on one. I was in an old castle and the staircase was very narrow and since it was spiralled you couldn’t see if there was someone coming the other way. This meant that every few steps we were having to back right up against the wall to let people past and it gave me such an intense feeling of claustrophobia. Erghhh never again please.

Mummies

Right, ok, yep, you might have thought cactuses and mannequins would be the silliest ones on this list but you would be wrong. What happened is that I watched the film The Mummy way too young and developed a full-blown phobia of mummies for most of my childhood. And, honestly, it was bad. My sister used to collect Goosebumps books and I could barely look at the ones with mummies on the covers. This is the one fear on this list that I’m pleased to say I’ve now pretty much gotten over. A relief really because you come across so many ancient Egyptian living mummies on the streets of suburban England.

This was more of a silly post but I find it fascinating finding out people’s fears, rational or irrational alike. Let me know if you have any weird fears in the comments!

Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 15: Is Tutankhamun’s Tomb Really Cursed?

One of the biggest discoveries of the twentieth century also turned into one of its biggest mysteries. Did Tutankhamun’s tomb really curse all who entered it? Let’s explore this bizarre history, starting with the life story of the boy king himself.

The Story of King Tut

Tutankhamun was born around 1342 BC and thought to be the son of King Akhenaten, a controversial leader. Akhenaten made radical, and mostly unpopular, religious changes. Stepping away from polytheism, Akhenaten instead made Egypt’s official religion Atenism, which centred solely on the cult of Aten. The records are foggy when it comes to the exact identity of Akhenaten’s successor but what is certain is that Tutankhamun became king not long after his father.

Tutankhamun was a pharaoh of Egypt from 1334 – 1325 BC, taking the throne when he was only eight or nine years old. He had a short reign but sought to restore the land to polytheism. Ultimately he died young at the age of roughly eighteen. Scientists believe he may have had several ailments and illnesses, including possible malaria, bone necrosis, scoliosis and epilepsy. Despite this, there is no confirmed cause of death and his passing seems to have been quite sudden to ancient Egyptians. Theories about his death vary widely, from murder by a blow to the head to a chariot accident to his ill health.

During antiquity, Tutankhamun’s tomb was robbed twice. Nearly all the tombs in the Valley of the Kings are thought to have been ransacked in the Twentieth Dynasty but what makes Tutankhamun’s tomb unique is the scale of what was left behind. Even though a lot of riches were taken away nearly 3,000 years before Howard Carter’s excavation, there was still so much for Carter and his team to discover. The reason for this is because King Tut was almost completely removed from historic records. Fury over Akhenaten’s religious reform led to those after him aiming to destroy any reference or monument to him or those associated with him, including any mention of his son. Tutankhamun’s anonymity may have protected his tomb from further damage before the 1900s because the robbers simply didn’t know it was there.

That Infamous Excavation

So, speeding ahead 3,000 years we get to 1914 when George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon financed a project exploring the Valley of Kings. He put Howard Carter in charge of the excavations and waited to hear for news. Years went by with few interesting discoveries and he decided that 1922 would be the last year he would provide funding for a project that was reaping little of what he sowed. It was in November of that very year that Carter’s water boy accidentally discovered the top of a staircase leading to a doorway. Word was sent to Carnarvon and Carter, the Earl and his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, were the first to enter the tomb.

Upon realising just what they had discovered, help was drafted in to begin cataloguing the many artifacts. On the 16th February 1923, Carter entered the burial chamber of King Tut. Just seven weeks later, Canarvon died of blood poisoning. He is thought to be the first victim of the King Tut’s curse.

The Curse?

Ok, so context aside, here is where the spooky bit comes in… as if talk of tombs and ancient mummies wasn’t spooky enough as it is. There are a lot of (probably fabricated) details when it comes to the supposed curse and considering the excavation and the curse itself became big news stories back in England, it’s not hard to imagine the most extreme were probably made up by the media.

But, here we go, these are just a few of the people related to Tutankhamun’s tomb who died in mysterious circumstances or had strange things happen to them:

  • Sir Bruce Ingham – Carter gave Ingham a mummified hand to use as a paperweight (main question here being why?) then Ingham’s house burnt down.
  • Financier George Jay Gould – died of pneumonia after visiting the tomb.
  • Hugh Evelyn-White – took his own life two years after working on the excavation.
  • Carter’s secretary Richard Bethell – found dead in his bed in Mayfair after being smothered.

The list goes on a bit however one key person in all this who got off scot-free is Howard Carter himself. Carter lived a full life, as did many people who worked on the excavation. There is definitely something spooky about the idea of a mummy’s curse but there is no evidence of it aside from some strange coincidences. No curses have been found written on the walls of the tomb itself and neither have archaeologists or scientists found any substance in the tomb that would cause death to those who enter. This is a bit of a non-point considering the variety in causes of death anyway.

I personally think the idea of a curse and the reason the story flooded the media is because there is something just wrong about the idea of exploring a burial site. Even when that tomb is thousands of years old and definitely a place a historical interest, there’s still this feeling that where someone is put to rest is where they should stay. King Tut might have been young but he was a king and there was a reason he was given the lavish burial he was. I’m not saying I think excavations themselves are wrong. If that excavation had never happened, Tutankhamun may have ended up being a name lost to history. Disturbing the final resting place of the dead is incredibly spooky and maybe the ultimate risk you take isn’t a curse, it’s learning to live with your decision to explore that grave in the first place.

Hmm… that got a bit deep. Anyway, point is I don’t think the curse is real but it’s an excuse to chat about some Ancient Egyptian history. Bye for now!

Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 14: 40 Songs for Your Halloween Playlist

Nothing gets me in the mood for Halloween like some good spooky songs and if you’re still putting your favourite ghoulish hits together, these are just a few songs every Halloween 2020 playlist needs.

A Nightmare On My Street – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Bad Blood – Bastille

bad guy – Billie Eilish

Black Magic – Little Mix

Bad Moon Rising – Creedance Clearwater Revivial

Better the Devil You Know – Kylie Minogue

Can’t Fight the Moonlight – LeAnn Rimes

Cirque Dans La Rue – Plain White T’s

Disturbia – Rihanna

E.T. – Katy Perry

Genie in a Bottle – Christina Aguilera

Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr.

Ghost – Ella Henderson

Haunted – Beyonce

Haunted – Taylor Swift

Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Highway to Hell – AC/DC

Howl – Florence & The Machine

Hungry Like the Wolf – Duran Duran

I Put a Spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

I Want Candy – Row Wow Wow

Living Dead – Marina

Livin’ la Vida Loca – Ricky Martin

Love Potion No. 9 – The Searchers

Maneater – Daryl Hall & John Oates

Maneater – Nelly Furtado

Men In Black – Will Smith

Monster Mash – Bobby “Boris” Pickett

Radioactive – Imagine Dragons

She Wolf – Shakira

The Addams Family Theme

Things That Go Bump in the Night – allSTARS

Thriller – Michael Jackson

Time Warp – The Rocky Horror Show

Toxic – Britney Spears

What’s New, Scooby-Doo? – Octopus Montage

Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon

Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer

(You’re The) Devil In Disguise – Elvis Presley

Zombie – The Cranberries

Let me know if there are any songs I’ve missed in the comments!

Posted in Blogtober, TV

Blogtober Day 13: The Haunting of Bly Manor Review and Discussion ***Spoilers***

I’ve just finished watching The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix and I have thoughts. Having watched The Haunting of Hill House about a year and a half ago I thought I knew what to expect with Bly Manor but it had a very different feel. Ultimately, I really enjoyed Bly Manor, partially because I was surprised about how different it was from Hill House.

The ending summarises the core difference between the two shows quite nicely. Whereas Hill House is a ghost story, Bly Manor is a love story. And a pretty damn sad one at that. Whereas Hill House preys on your fear by filling each episode with jump scares, Bly Manor takes a very different approach in its storytelling. Yes, there are still ghosts. Yes, there’s still a creepy old house. But, the characters that populate the show take centre stage over the ghosts in this story.

Despite the dream hopping which made all episodes from 5 onwards a bit twisted, I found Bly Manor easier to follow than Hill House. I think it had the right amount of characters, even if there were a couple of missed opportunities. For me, Uncle Henry was a character that I wanted to learn more about, his Mr Hyde figure was a fascinating edition to the story but felt a bit disconnected to everything else going on. I wish we got to understand a little more about where, when and how his split self came into his world.

Speaking of the characters though, I really enjoyed getting to know this group of people. I found each of their stories compelling and linked in seamlessly with the show’s central themes, from Owen dealing with watching his mother slip further into her dementia to Hannah’s big secret. Also, I can’t write a review of this show without saying how amazing the cast is, especially the young cast. Flora and Miles are genuinely likeable kids and it’s heartbreaking when you see how far Peter is willing to go to manipulate them into letting him and Rebecca possess them.

It’s the possession and the idea of being tucked away into memories that was really interesting for me as a viewer. There’s something unsettling about that idea of being lost in your own head and seeing both Hannah and Peter get stuck in the same memories repeatedly was the kind of psychological torment that creates a whole new level of fear. It’s not jump scares but it’s that claustrophobic feeling of not being able to leave your own mind. It’s such an fascinating concept to explore under the umbrella of horror and I thought the show did a great job with it.

Another thing I really enjoyed about this show was the throwback episode where we got a full backstory of the principle ghost of Bly Manor, Viola, and got an understanding of why she haunts in the way she does. There is true tragedy in her story and, dodgy English accent aside, I thought it was handled brilliantly. It’s not easy to pull off kind of that stepping-away-from-the-central-action-for-an-entire-episode thing but something about Viola’s story and how it filled in the mysteries still left wide open in the story was captivating for me.

The last thing I want to talk about with this show was the ending. I have to say, the ending wasn’t my favourite thing about the show. Although I liked how we discovered that Jamie was telling an adult Flora the story of how Dani saved her life without her realising it, I did think there was going to be a bigger twist. I found myself feeling really sad for Jamie and Dani’s ending even though it seemed as though there wasn’t any other conclusion left for Dani. I guess that’s just what the show is though, a much more emotional watch than Hill House because these shows, to me, are more like cousins than siblings. Trying to replicate the success of Hill House by following the same format wouldn’t have been nearly as original as Bly Manor turned out to be and I’m glad the team behind it took this approach.

What did you think of The Haunting of Bly Manor? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Blogtober

Blogtober Day 12: Top 5 Cryptids

Stepping outside of the realm of ghosts, ghouls, vampires and werewolves for a second, let’s talk about some monsters today. I’m sharing five of the best-known cryptids with you. If you don’t know what that means, allow me to borrow a definition from my copy of Cryptozoology A to Z (yes, I do really own a copy of this tome). Cryptozoology is formed of three Greek words: “kryptos” meaning “hidden”, “zoon” meaning “animal” and “logia” meaning “study”. So, essentially this means that cryptozoology is the study of hidden or unconfirmed animals, these are called cryptids and here are a few examples.

1. Bigfoot and Yeti

Bigfoot or Sasquatch seems to be North America’s favourite cryptid. The name comes from a plaster cast of one… well… big foot found in the 1950s, this was eventually discovered to be a hoax but the name stuck. Similarities have been drawn between Bigfoot and snow-dwelling but equally hairy Yeti. There hasn’t been any conclusive evidence for the existence of either of these creatures but that doesn’t stop Bigfoot and Yeti enthusiasts from searching.

2. Loch Ness Monster

On the more aquatic side of cryptozoology, we find the Loch Ness Monster, named after one of the largest and deepest lochs in Scotland where it has been allegedly spotted. There have been countless photos of the monster, nearly all of which have been hoaxes. However, something surprising about this story is that the ever mention of a monster in the Ness River goes back to 565 AD as The Life of Saint Columba includes the tale of a swimmer who was dragged below the water’s surface by a sea monster. Could it be Nessie?

3. ABCs

Who’d have thought that the town of Bodmin would get two shout-outs in Blogtober but here we go again. Alien Big Cats, or ABCs, are big cats that have been spotted in places they don’t usually belong. One of the best-known ABCs is the Beast of Bodmin Moor, often thought to be a leopard or puma and believed to have been prowling around in Cornwall in the 1990s. The story became so big that the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food stepped in and investigated the possibility of a big cat being the cause of recently killed livestock. Ultimately, the Ministry concluded that the deaths could have been caused by animals native to the UK but that they couldn’t absolutely rule out the existence of the Beast either… so there.

4. Mothman

We’re heading back to the USA to discuss one of the weirdest cryptids on this list, the Mothman. There were multiple reported sightings of this winged humanoid with glowing red eyes in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1966-7. Scientists, however, have come up with various explanations for the creature, from large birds known in the region to car headlights reflected on eyes causing the glowing red effect. This hasn’t stopped speculation about the validity of the Mothman though and there’s even 2002 a movie about the creature starring Richard Gere.

5. Kraken

Lastly we have the Kraken, the gigantic sea monster of Nordic folklore. The Kraken was thought to be an octopus or squid-type creature that would attack ships. In the 1800s, a friend and correspondent of Charles Darwin, the Danish zoologist Japetus Steenstrup, seemed to finally put the mystery surrounding this mythological figure to (sea)bed after formally identifying the giant squid species. However, after the discovery of colossal squids in 1925, it well may be that the Kraken is part of a family of squids that can reach up to 14m in length and 700kg in weight.

Aside from the Kraken just being a really big squid, I don’t hold much faith in any of these creatures being real but it’s still fascinating to read about them. Bye for now!