Monday, February 01, 2010

Old VHS Find

Last night I was going through some old VHS tapes. For whatever reason, I wouldn’t label anything after taping it. Alternately, I would label it, and then tape over it, and not change the label. I’ve taped some really weird things over the years—I even had about 30 Betamax tapes, but I’ve lost the ability to play those, so they went into the trash. I ultimately want to separate my VHS stuff into “worth keeping”, “worth tossing”, and “worth sending to Found Footage Festival”. You never know.

Anyway, I came across this documentary film made in 1976 called “The Amazing World of Psychic Phenomena”, hosted by Raymond Burr. It wasn’t half bad all things considered. The portion of the show dedicated to taping EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena) was a hoot. I think the EVPs they played were probably a hoax—it sounds like someone whispering into a microphone, and there’s no way you would get sound quality like that with an old Panasonic tape recorder—especially if you’re taping in a cemetery.

But what really got me about this episode was the one haunted house clip they showed. It’s debatable whether or not the house was really “haunted” in the traditional sense of the term. A woman, named as Mrs. Linda Clark, re-enacts a scary thing that happened in her home, while she was home playing board games with her son, and her husband was working late. While they sat playing in the living room, they suddenly heard a strange growl from the basement. Their dog stood up and started barking furiously at the door. She was a little freaked out, but tried to ignore it. Then the sound came again. She got up the nerve to go to the basement door and open it. Seeing nothing, she quickly shut it and went back to the living room. Suddenly it came back again, louder, and it was as though the door was breathing—there was a loud growling and straining against the door. The lights suddenly go out in the house, and she rushes to the phone to call...someone (911? Her husband?). We don’t know who. And that’s it. You can see the clip in this segment of the documentary here:

I found a review of this documentary online where the reviewer expresses the same frustration that I had with that scene. So what happened? Did the door ever open? Did they ever find out what made that sound? Did it ever happen again? I can tell you if I’d been in that house, I’d have grabbed the kid and the dog and fled. It was extremely creepy. But there is no follow-up info whatsoever; it’s as though the director expected us to be satisfied with that.

I tried to find out some more follow-up info on the data in this documentary, but I’ve turned up nothing so far. Pretty much everything in the documentary was a famous case documented elsewhere, so I figure something HAS to be out there somewhere, but I don’t have enough information to find it. I’m just surprised that’s the ONLY clip they had of what is labeled haunted house phenomena, and that they couldn’t document it better than that in a DOCUMENTARY, for chrissakes.

So, if you’re one of my librarian friends, and happen to be reading this post, I would not be troubled at all if you had a slow day on the reference desk and did some research on this one. All the info I know about it is posted above. Seriously. I will give you a prize if you figure this out.

Speaking of creepy and disturbing, I found a couple of weird spider-related things on the web (no pun intended) recently, so I’ll share them with you. Don’t watch the first one if you have a spider phobia. Pleasant dreams.

1 comment:

Daniel Hanley said...

The segment with the woman reminds me of the famous "bending door" scene in the 1963 version of "The Haunting". I've also heard old heating pipes make noises very much like the ones in the scene. Interestingly, the woman claimed the noises came from her basement, where the furnace was likely to be! As for the EVP at the beginning of the segment, it does sound unusually distinct in my opinion. Of course, my own suspicion about most ghostly phenomena (involving the possibility of interference from parallel universes) is probably no less outlandish than the idea that dead souls just like to hang out in certain places!