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And the Winner Is....
Context carries the day
Peter, you had me at “Zillow” …
The winner of the Casket of Secrets is Peter Derk. He presented his provenance of the box in the form of a real estate-listing disclosure. Consider how many of our nightmares begin as the promise of a lovely new home. Think of the reclusive mother in Burnt Offerings or the reoccurring red ball in The Changeling. Whether it’s a person or an object, the resident curse is always effective.
Here’s a lesson in how to ground the incredible in the mundane. Books like The Sentinel and Rosemary’s Baby begin with real estate agents and the scut work of house hunting. And I’ve always loved how The Hunger ends with a realtor showing the now-deserted townhouse to prospective new buyers. Horror depends on us constantly forgetting history.1
Place - History = Disaster
Once you find a nonfiction form — a real estate listing, a recipe, a letter in a bottle—you’re free to hang even the most ludicrous details on it, yet still keep stuff believable. Context is so much.
For now, Peter, please email Dennis your snail mail address. I’ll get the box out to you asap. Well done.
Recently I’ve been fascinated by the New England vampire craze of the late 19th century. It seems that as people died of tuberculosis, and as their immediate relatives also began to sicken and waste away, people jumped to the conclusion that the recently deceased were returning as vampires to suck the blood the the living. It’s no doubt where Stephen King found inspiration for ‘Salem’s Lot.
I’ve always held that the success of television’s American Horror Story was because Season One, in a lavish, haunted house, mirrored how so many people found themselves trapped and fiscally underwater in what had been their McMansion dream homes.
You have to wonder how Covid will be reinvented in mythos. Whoever cracks that code will make bank big time. Maybe you?