Podcast 7: HOLLYWOOD GHOST STORIES

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Like a good ghost story?  Who doesn’t, right?  Certainly Hollywood does, especially if it’s (air quotes) “based on a true story.”  Yes, there’s nothing more cliche in the entertainment business than to use this trite phrase to separate fools – er, audiences – from their money.

But hey, that doesn’t mean they’re all entirely false either.  Sometimes… yes, sometimes there is a little truth to the story.  And often, that little bit of truth is what makes the story so compelling.  Such is the case with the stories recounted in Hollywood Ghost Stories.

Released in 1986, and hosted by the late character actor John Carradine, Hollywood Ghost Stories tells the story behind the story of some of Hollywood’s most successful horror films like, The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, The Entity, and Poltergeist.

The film also delves into some of the more well-known hauntings around Hollyweird, interviewing a few of the witnesses, as well as the parapsychologists who’ve investigated them.

It’s gained a minor cult following over the years and, based on people’s comments, pretty evenly split between those who like it and those who don’t.

Join us as we discuss some of these cases, as well as our own experiences with the paranormal.

An investigation into the reports of houses in Hollywood that are supposedly haunted by the ghosts of dead movie stars.

WHAT DID WE THINK?

Credit: Warner Home Movies

Credit: Warner Home Movies

Tales from the Crypt meets semi-serious documentary meets the 80’s.  Well, maybe that’s not the best description, but it does give you an idea of the tone and feel of the piece.

John Carradine hosts, acting as a sort of real-life Crypt Keeper, as the film jumps from stories of real life hauntings to behind the scenes accounts that inspired certain blockbuster horror movies.  Clips from classic movies are interspersed throughout to emphasize that… yes, Hollywood likes a good ghost story.

To be honest, we only used this film as an excuse to do a podcast on ghosts because, quite frankly, we couldn’t find any really good ghost documentaries in which to do so.  There just aren’t any.  And we’ve looked.  Oh, and don’t even get us started on all those Ghost Hunter-like TV shows out there.  If we see another so-called paranormal TV show using night-vision, EM meters, and that overused Blair Witch style camera bullshit…

Ah, but we digress.

Actually, if you strip away all the cheesy haunted house stuff (oh God, the music… make it stop!), then this little film ain’t half bad.  In fact, it’s kind of endearing in a way.

Many of the interviews and behind-the-scenes stories are quite interesting and, whether true or not, did inspire some of the best films in the genre.  In fact, one of those films, The Entity (which is often over-looked except by those die-hard fans), is a genuinely scary movie.  And one where the “based on a true story” trope might be a valid claim.

Of course, the same could be said for The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror.  Unfortunately, the latter is so mired in controversy that any claims of being based on a true story becomes highly suspect. Besides, the actual story of what happened in the Amityville house before the alleged hauntings was far more horrific than anything the movie depicted (for more on this, go here).

The bottom line is, if you grew up in the 80’s as a teenager watching basic cable for the first time, this will be a kind of blast from the past.  It’s one of those shows that you watched really late on a Saturday night, because of course you were grounded and couldn’t go out.  But it was cool and spooky and silly, and now that you’ve reached middle age, you can look back on those good ol’ days and appreciate the fact that you’re not a teenager today.

Now that would be truly terrifying.

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