Grimm Grinning Ghosts
by: Tristan Risk "Little Miss Risk"
With most of these shows that are focused around haunted houses, there are a few tried and true steps and progressions that occur.
Step 1: People move in, unaware of the horror that awaits.
Step 2: Shit happens, and introduction of strange events begins.
Step 3: People think they are crazy and begin to question their sanity. They occasionally will lash out at family members and partners.
Step 4: Tipping point occurs and whether it’s growls, howls, or something worse, that’s when the occupants acknowledge that there’s a problem.
Step 5: Explore the options of hauntings/possessions/gateways to hell. Potentially do research and find some fucked up history on the property.
Step 6: The solution: Exorcisms, blessings, discovery of history and setting spirits ‘free’ or just saying, ‘Fuck it,’ and moving.
It’s the latter that is of interest to me the most, the stigmatized property. Stigmatized properties, as they are called in real estate, are terms used to describe a property that buyers or sellers may shun. For example, American Horror’s Story’s ‘Murder House’ would be considered a prime example of a stigmatized property. But if that property is a haunted one, then It’s not really as simple as a seller needing to tell a buyer that the house might have bleeding walls, versus way they would if say the foundation needed repairs or the wiring was chewed by an army of squirrels. This can vary from state to state, and all boils down to wording, which can be something of a literary chimera.
States such as California have a caveat in place for this, but it’s not as cut-and-dried as asking if you can expect any poltergeist activity. While the CA Civil Code states that a death on the property in the last three years needs to be disclosed prior to the sale, but anything older than that, you’d had better remember to ask first, otherwise there is no legal obligation to mention that suicide cult that expired in the family room back in the 70s. Virgina legally is only obligated to disclose potential hauntings if there is a haunting that physically affects the property. Which means you have to have a pretty sever issues before it becomes a legal one…
There is a well known court case documenting that if your home is haunted, you must disclose the facts (Stambovsky vs Ackey) which set this precedent for these cases. While the judge originally ruled in favour of the seller, the case was appealed, and the buyers were given their money back, and the owners were then required by law to mention the ghosts to prospective buyers.
However, given that where I live in the world, Vancouver, the rental rate is grimmer than some these ghosts. Most people my age who live in this city work multiple jobs and many of us live in shared accommodation. This is frustrating, as many of us would like more space, or our own, and many of the houses in Vancouver are real estate investments for absentee homeowners. Given that it’s a water-locked city as well and real estate is something of a premium due to geography already, the chance for home ownership here, in my life time, is slim like a Slenderman. Then I begin watching these shows, where people wind up fleeing their property when it becomes too much to handle. Meanwhile, I’m looking at $1200 for a ‘micro-loft’ which in other real estate terms has been referred to, prior to renovations as a Single-Occupancy Hotel or an SOR, usually reserved for society’s most unloved before they are sleeping on asphalt. I start to think that living in a large, though haunted, house with my friends would be not only useful for our living situation, ghosts or otherwise for a few reasons.1. Poltergeist activity: Not a problem. I have lived with cats my whole life, and after time, you get very used to hearing things being smacked around in the dark as your cat hunts that moth, or else pushes things off of counters, tables and an assortment of flat surfaces a distance from the floor. Nice try, ghosts.
Strange noises: Again, I live in the city, and with roommates and neighbours. There is not a time when I am not hearing unidentifiable noises at all hours. If any ghosts, demons or night visitors think that some weird noises will adversely affect my living situation, then clearly they have yet to live above my former downstairs neighbour who was young, gay, a raver, and into trance. Keep trying, ghosts.
Strange smells: Please see above and add ‘male roommates’ to the list of smells I am unable to identify. Not as scary and confronting the jar of salsa that was here two roommates ago and that the soft furry thing at the back of the fridge is a forgotten smoothie, and not an apparition
Things disappearing/ lights turned off and on/ electrical items randomly turning on and off: The DOPlr Effect as it’s called (Disappearing Objects Phenomenon) and all of these can be chalked up to roommates, lovers, and aggressive raccoons.
So my thoughts on this are as follows: my mandate is to find a beautiful house that is unlovable due to spiritual activity. Move as many of my artistic friends into it as is comfortable and start up a living art space for us all. Because short of all these ghostly issues, I can safely say that if there is a awesome living space on the line, I will not be denied by hauntings. I daresay I’d put that little apparition or demon to work for me. I’d have webcams set up all over the house with live streaming pay-per=view for paranormal enthusiasts. Because I’ll take that guff from the living who pay rent, but no free-loading ghost is going to pull a free ride with me.
Because if you can’t get an exorcism, then get entrepreneurial
I will attest that I am unrepentant when it comes to my love of shitty paranormal documentaries. I won’t lie, growing up spooky stories and ghostly tales were my favourite thing to share with other children. It had a longer stay time that candy did, and if I was lucky, it got given to someone else and shared. Like a scary psychological chickenpox that would burn through a third grade elementary school class like the Black Plague. Of course, I grew up but didn’t grow out of horror, which brings me to my guilty pleasure.
Rescue Mediums, Most Haunted, A Haunting, Monster Quest, Mountain Monsters, and a number of other titles, all fall prey to these type of formulaic stand-alone prototype. I suspect that the stand-alone format gives it it’s own self-contained ghost story quality and because other than myself and hung over goths no one is likely to sit there and marathon watch them. Mostly found on the channel Destination America, which seems to offer little else other than these types of shows, they are a source of comfort to me. When I find myself always from home, I usually have the bonus of cable that I don’t have a home and these shows become my friend many a lonely night. Ghosts and spectres have a good way of filling the void that home and hearth usually occupy when I’m away.