Shirley Jackson and the Haunting of Facebook
by Art Taylor, Ellen Byron, Bruce Cantwell and Gay Degani
It all began with an innocent post by newsie Art Taylor.
Art Taylor "Writing in the hours between morning kindergarten and lunch, while a baby napped, or after the children had gone to bed demanded a discipline that came to suit Jackson. She was constantly thinking of stories while cooking, cleaning, or doing just about anything else. 'All the time that I am making beds and doing dishes and driving to town for dancing shoes, I am telling myself stories,' she said in one of her lectures. Many of her stories were already virtually finished by the time she managed to sit down at the typewriter." (Great piece here adapted from the new biography of Jackson—and a h/t to Paula Benson for sharing it!)
And then the comments began.
Ellen Byron The Haunting is the best supernatural movie EVER made.
Bruce Cantwell That part when the door starts breathing and when Nel says Theo's holding her hand too tight. OMG!
Ellen Byron I KNOW!!!!!!!! "Then whose hand was I holding?" I went by myself to a 50th anniversary showing of the movie a year or two ago, where Russ Tamblyn spoke. I was in heaven. (Especially since he was in another fave movie of mine, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." I had parents who insisted I watch the classics.)
Bruce Cantwell Wonder if that movie inspired the Lumberjack song.
Gay Degani I adored that book and the movie sucked balls.
Bruce Cantwell Wow, I think you're talking about the book vs. the movie of The Haunting. However, if you are talking about the book The Haunting and the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, your comment would take on a whole new meaning.
Gay Degani I'm talking about The Haunting of Hill House (the book) vs. The Haunting (the movie with Julie Harris snd Claire Bloom). Not interested in seeing Clint Eastwood sing though the theme of that movie seems to be inspired by the rape of the Sabine Women. Per Mary Beard.
Bruce Cantwell Clint Eastwood sang "I Talk to the Trees" in Paint Your Wagon. If you watched that, you'd also get to see Lee Marvin sing "I was born under a wanderin' star." Highly unrecommended but my mom made us see it because it was Lerner & Loewe. My memories of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers are less unpleasant but foggy. Wikipedia confirms the rape of the Sabine Women connection, don't know if that's a good structure for a musical or not. Sorry you didn't enjoy Robert Wise's The Haunting, though. It differs from the book, true, but I'm in the awesome camp with Ellen Byron. I'm certainly willing to say Paint Your Wagon sucks balls. We tore that book to shreds in my musical theater writing workshop. The structure was abysmal. What's your go-to scary movie?
Not much of a Broadway musical fan except for My Fair Lady.￼
Ellen Byron I can't stand Ghostbusters. And think The Haunting was amazing. Robert Wise shot every scene from a slight angle. We're in different camps, Gay! And agree, Bruce Cantwell, that Paint Your Wagon sucks. Seven Brides is thematically dated, although Jane Powell gives Howard Keel total shit for pulling the Sabine women move and he has to leave. The other brothers end up regretting it, too. But come on - the dancing!!! That barn raising sequence!! It's heaven!!
Bruce Cantwell Gay Degani Okay, The Uninvited isn't scary but boy, does it ever have that gothic vibe down. The setting is wonderful and the way "Stella by Starlight" haunts the movie, that just adds to it. Rosemary's Baby transcends genre. It's one of my favorite movies PERIOD. Love the psychological angst of the pregnant woman. You might like The Babadook if you haven't seen that. I'm with Ellen Byron on Ghostbusters. My favorite ghost PLAY is Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit. As far as Broadway musicals go, I'm Lerner & Loewe school too, which is one of the reasons Paint Your Wagon is even suckier, written by the same dudes. I actually started with Camelot but, yeah, no denying My Fair Lady is just about perfect.
Gay Degani Ellen Byron, always okay to be in different camps. Keeps us curious and emgaged. I just fell in love with the humor if most 80s movies and Ghostbusters for some reason just sticks to me like sweet slime! Bruce I can't believe you know The Uninvited !!!! What about Suspicion? Rebecca? Shadow of a Doubt? Not ghost stories but great films in my book. 0k another fave ghost story was the dead- end kids going into a haunted house oh and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein . Can you tell i watched a lot of tv as a kid?
Bruce Cantwell Gay Degani Suspicion, check. Rebecca, check, Shadow of a Doubt (Uncle Charlie is a psychopath after my own heart), Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall, check. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein double check. Yes, they used to show old movies on WGN TV in Chicago. I'll concede Bill Murray in Ghostbusters. Where do you stand on Ghost Breakers and The Ghost and Mr. Chicken?
Gay Degani Never heard of Ghost Breakers, and wasn't Don Knotts in Mr. Chicken. Actually one of my favorite ghost stories had Michael J. Fox in it, set, I think in a hospital. Didn't do well at the box office but it was surprisingly good. Weird title I can't remember. Hey I think I'll create a Facebook pages for Halloween movies just for the fun of it.
Ellen Byron Love all those other movies you mention, Gay. My mom turned me onto them when I was a kid.
Bruce Cantwell Gay Degani This is great! The Spooktober edition of Mysterious News is almost covered in this post and I haven't even started yet. Anybody see that John Frankenheimer Faust legend Seconds with Rock Hudson. Intense. Was the Michael J. Fox movie The Frighteners?
Gay Degani Bruce, LOL. I started to make a new FB page then remembered all the other shit I have to do and backed out.
Editor's note: I just remembered all the other shit I had to do. Doh!
Cast in Order of Appearance:
Art Taylor is the author of On the Road with Del & Louise: A Novel in Stories, winner of the Agatha Award for Best First Novel and a finalist for both the Anthony Award and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. He edited the Anthony Award winning Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015. He has also won two Agatha Awards, an Anthony Award, a Macavity Award, and three consecutive Derringer Awards for his short fiction. He is an associate professor of English at George Mason University, and he contributes frequently to the Washington Post, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Mystery Scene Magazine.
Bruce Cantwell is editor of Mysterious News and author of the Walter Forbes P.I. noir serial Last Heartthrob and Watch for the Walter Forbes/Jane Greer P.I. sexy political thriller serial The Catalonian Candidate Nov. 1.
Ellen Byron's debut novel, Plantation Shudders: A Cajun Country Mystery, made the USA Today Bestsellers list, and has been nominated for Agatha, Lefty, and Daphne awards. The second book in the series, Body on the Bayou, launched September 13th. Ellen is also a recipient of a William F. Deeck-Malice Domestic Grant from the Malice Domestic Convention.
Gay Degani has published fiction online and in print including her literary suspense novel WHAT CAME BEFORE, a short collection, POMEGRANATE STORIES, and her newly-released longer collection, RATTLE OF WANT, from Pure Slush Press.
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