Grave Encounters: Busting Ghosts

Grave EncountersThe abandoned Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital is alleged to be the most haunted building in the world. While I would argue that liquor stores are, as they’re loaded with spirits (sorry – sometimes I just can’t help myself), a team of amateur ghost hunters set up shop in the mental care facility to document actual proof of its hauntings. Their weapons: night vision cameras, some flashlights, a few other things that need to be plugged in, although I don’t know where as the building has been abandoned for years and there’s no electricity to be found.

Grave Encounters, a ghost movie rushed into production to blatantly capitalize on the Paranormal Activity (2007/2010) craze and that abundantly ridiculous Ghost Hunters reality show on TV, takes a little from both and attempts to come up with some scares. If the movie trailer [click HERE] is any indication, they might wanna go back and bump up the bumps in the night.

Grave Encounters

Not to say its bad, but it seems like there’s a heckuva lot of “been there, haunted that” stuff goin’ down. That, and the hand-held camera/found footage shtick is really played out. The twist here, though, is that the building itself may actually be alive, with possessed wall paper and demonic brooms around every dark corner. (I’m really not trying to yawn right now. I could manage a fart or two, however.)

Maybe I’m just getting cynical in my old age, but all of this has been done before – and better – by the ORIGINAL ghost hunter, Luther Heggs (aka, Don Knotts). In the terrifying spook thriller The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (Universal/1966), Luther, a budding news reporter and all around nervous Nellie, has to spend the night in the Simmons mansion, the site of a murder/suicide that left an indelible poltergeist imprint on the exceedingly haunted house. Legend has it, the ghost of Mr. Simmons, who murdered his wife and did a half-gainer from the mansion tower to the not soft ground below, plays the organ in the tower at midnight. And there’s bloodstains on the keys! Just thinking about it is making my bladder lose its tenuous grip.

The Ghost and Mr. ChickenFor the prospect of a sensational news story, on the 20th anniversary of the murder, Luther stays the night in the mansion and encounters said organ stroking itself at the stroke of midnight, and gardening shears stuck into the painting of Mrs. Simmons, with blood gooshing out of her artistically depicted neck. Yes, gooshing. Luther barely escapes with anything remotely dry under his clothes. In the end, Luther solves the horror mystery and gets himself a ghost groupie trophy wife. He deserved it.

The Ghost and Mr. ChickenToday’s Ghost Hunters and Grave Encounters owe a debt to Luther, whose pioneering ghost-busting methods raised the bar for every spook thriller that ever followed. And he did it with nothing more than a sleeping bag, flashlight and 115 facial expressions, proving that real ghost busters don’t need fancy pants night vision cameras or expensive plug-in equipment. All you need is a Silly Putty™ face that can be stretched and reconformed to 115 different expressions of fear.

God bless you, Luther Heggs.

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