"It’s just the house settling, sweetheart!"
October 30, 2019 9:40 AM   Subscribe

"Elise, I think it’s a little hypocritical that you want to check into a hotel. Weren’t you the one who wanted to spend more time together as a family? That means you, me, Harper, Harper’s new invisible friend, and the swarms of flies that periodically pour from our open mouths. Do you really want to ruin Taco Night?"

We’re the Husbands from Every Haunted House Movie, and We Think You’re Just Not Giving Our New Home a Chance [Amanda Lehr, McSweeney's]
posted by Atom Eyes (55 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I read all of these with Christian Bale's "American Psycho" voice applied in my head, not quite sure what to make of that.
posted by Quindar Beep at 10:02 AM on October 30 [5 favorites]


For all the quibbles I might have had with Stranger Things, they absolutely nailed this bloody-mindedly oblivious-to-everything father character with Mike Wheeler's dad.
posted by Maaik at 10:02 AM on October 30 [12 favorites]


Glennifer
posted by RobertFrost at 10:08 AM on October 30 [17 favorites]


You know, housing prices being what they are, the haunted house genre is becoming increasingly plausible. I mean, which would you rather face? The demon in the basement, or another co-op board?
posted by panama joe at 10:13 AM on October 30 [28 favorites]


Reminds me of Eddie Murphy on white people and haunted houses. [CW: NSFW language; 1980s Eddie Murphy]
posted by chavenet at 10:14 AM on October 30 [10 favorites]


Sherrilynne, I’m sorry to hear that you feel “on edge.” And “trapped.” And “like the wallpaper of your psyche is peeling back in ribbons.” That’s heavy. It sounds like you could use some more self-care, darling. Like when I go to the basement in the middle of the night and stare at the furnace with no expression. That’s my “me time.”

lmao
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:14 AM on October 30 [14 favorites]


Blertrude!

I wish the editor had ordered them so the wife's names get crazier down the list.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:24 AM on October 30 [15 favorites]


One of the many clever things about Miyazaki's movie My Neighbor Totoro was when the little girls told their father their house was haunted and he did the opposite of what parents usually do in these movies.. he believed them the first time and became as curious as them. I always wondered why more films don't break the cliche like that.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:24 AM on October 30 [32 favorites]


I always wondered why more films don't break the cliche like that.
Because the ghost messes with dad's mind first to keep the family there of course!

Or because the story is about this particular family where dad was too stubborn to move.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:26 AM on October 30


I always felt someone could make feminist theory hay out of how it's always the father/husband who insists nothing is wrong, and then is either the first or second to fall victim (second only if there's a sufficiently creepy child around to go first)
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 10:42 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


I always felt someone could make feminist theory hay out of how it's always the father/husband who insists nothing is wrong, and then is either the first or second to fall victim (second only if there's a sufficiently creepy child around to go first)
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 10:42 AM on October 30 [+] [!]


It always seems like to me, that the Father/Husband ends up being the perpetrator of the violence - overriding the Wife/Mom's legitimate fears for herself and her children. Which rings depressingly true. I would like to see a movie where Momma Bears takes care of business like they know they should, including knocking out Poppa Bear if they get in the way. Now that would be a satisfying movie.
posted by helmutdog at 10:50 AM on October 30 [7 favorites]


I mean, I haven't done any massive survey of the genre or anything, but isn't the husband/father usually the first to fall victim to the house's hauntedness? Like yes, he brushes off the wife/mother's concerns, but isn't that because he's already been possessed by whatever's haunting the house?
posted by panama joe at 10:57 AM on October 30


Believe women, especially when the chandelier is bleeding.
posted by roger ackroyd at 11:11 AM on October 30 [51 favorites]


So I may have done the whitest thing imaginable today. I never thought I would be this white woman.

Twitter thread in which a woman attempts to move into a house that is clearly haunted. Either inspired by or coincidentally mining the same comedy vein as the Eddie Murphy bit linked above.
posted by stet at 11:22 AM on October 30 [11 favorites]


Momma Bears takes care of business like they know they should, including knocking out Poppa Bear if they get in the way. Now that would be a satisfying movie.

The Shining takes the trope of the know it all overconfident father to its logical conclusion.
posted by benzenedream at 11:28 AM on October 30 [6 favorites]


The supernatural-denying man goes back to the nineteenth century, at least--there's a whole Victorian/Edwardian subgenre of professional men who face Horrors of various sorts and take Far Too Long To Deal. (M. R. James' "'Oh, Whistle, And I'll Come to You, My Lad'" manages to be both a parody and a straight example of the form, which takes talent. I have my students itemize every single thing the protagonist does wrong.)

Also, moving to a new house is absolutely the worst thing you can do in the Gothic/horror tradition, with renting and taking a vacation tying for a close second.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:36 AM on October 30 [15 favorites]


It doesn’t have the crown molding you wanted.

A haunted house without crown molding? The very idea!
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:40 AM on October 30 [3 favorites]


Staring into the furnace is so in this year.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:42 AM on October 30 [1 favorite]


This trope was the first thing that sprang to mind when I heard this story, but it does seem that they had the good sense to get the fuck out.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:00 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


It's funny (and scary) because it's true.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:03 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


It always seems like to me, that the Father/Husband ends up being the perpetrator of the violence
There was actually a 'real' accounts of haunted houses tv show (on A&E maybe?) where it was often very obvious that they were suffering real abuse, often at the hands of the father/husband, that they had turned into ghost stories.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:03 PM on October 30 [4 favorites]


What about those of us with wood heat? How can I stare creepily into the woodstove in the living room with cats flopped all over the rugs and cups of hot toddy at hand? It's just not the same.
posted by bonehead at 12:04 PM on October 30 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of a thing I posted elsewhere about the first episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke:
"Honey, I know we heard otherwordly howling noises in the night and a trashcan got thrown at the house from further away than a human could possibly throw it, and also there was a RAIN OF HUMAN TEETH, but y'know...you go ahead and go out of town on business for a few days and leave me alone in the house.

If you need me, I'll be out on the deck in the hot tub with the one creepy light bulb over it in the middle of the night, drinking wine while there are vengeful hillbillies circling out there in the ten acres of wilderness around our house. Love ya bye!"

...I don't like to use the phrase "asking for it", but in a horror setting? This kind of thing goes beyond simply asking into submitting a notarized government form in triplicate requesting an industrial quantity of It to be delivered right into your face.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:09 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


How can I stare creepily into the woodstove in the living room with cats flopped all over the rugs and cups of hot toddy at hand?

Do you ever find yourself chopping wood a bit too aggressively?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:09 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


The Shining takes the trope of the know it all overconfident father to its logical conclusion.

Yeah, take the remaining supernatural elements out of Kubrick's The Shining, and it's similar enough to my childhood (even visually, dammit) to be even more unsettling than a supernatural horror movie. It's about the banality of the horrors we all live with just under the surface, that we never know when they're going to emerge or what's going to bring them out, and that we'd all just rather turn a blind eye to until ignoring them ceases to become an option.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:10 PM on October 30 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter: It's about the banality of the horrors we all live with just under the surface, that we never know when they're going to emerge or what's going to bring them out, and that we'd all just rather turn a blind eye to until ignoring them ceases to become an option.
posted by Fizz at 12:39 PM on October 30 [10 favorites]


We live in an old house. For clarity: crown molding. It has a full attic that we started using for storage as soon as we moved in, so I'd been up and down the stairs dozens if not a hundred times by the time Christmas rolled around. I went up to get the Christmas decorations and came down to find my wife in the kitchen.

"I don't want to alarm you," I said (this was a mistake, because telling someone that you don't want to alarm them is the first step to causing alarm), "but I just found something in the attic."

"Oh god, mice? Raccoons?"

"No, no. No vermin. But at the top of the stairs, right where you'd have to see it every time you go up, it says 'FRED' in giant letters. I've never seen it before."

"Are you sure?"

"Red letters. Probably paint. Maybe blood. But probably paint."

"Why are you telling me this," she said, visibly panicked.

"Again, I don't want to alarm you. But I thought you should know that we might be haunted."

We have experienced no further signs of haunting, and I will swear to this day that Fred's name wasn't there when we moved in. I, too, am a husband from a haunted house story.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:51 PM on October 30 [25 favorites]


Yeah, take the remaining supernatural elements out of Kubrick's The Shining, and it's similar enough to my childhood (even visually, dammit) to be even more unsettling than a supernatural horror movie.

Went to see the 4K restoration of The Shining a few weeks ago with my partner. Hadn't seen it in ages, and really only remembered the scenes you think of with the movie - blood from the elevators, the twins, that sort of thing.

Holy Hell. I saw the film in a really, really different light this time around and it was disturbing. Don't think I really ever need to see it again, though I give props to the restoration - you could practically count the threads on the hotel carpets. But ... I think I prefer machete-wielding, hockey-mask wearing terrors to a an abusive husband with a few supernatural touches.
posted by jzb at 12:51 PM on October 30 [2 favorites]


Once, we rented a room in a suburb to Lisbon, and on the way there after a dinner in a restaurant, a sweet black dog followed us home. I told my not very literate and not very animal-friendly husband about the poodle in Goethe's Faust. Hilarity ensued. Well for me at least. He was not very literate, not very animal friendly and also paranoid and superstitious.
Eventually, we divorced.
He was also abusive and generally not a nice person. Don't marry someone who is scared of good dogs.
posted by mumimor at 12:56 PM on October 30 [10 favorites]


I always felt someone could make feminist theory hay out of how it's always the father/husband who insists nothing is wrong

HAVE I GOT THE BOOK FOR YOU.

House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films
posted by schadenfrau at 12:58 PM on October 30 [18 favorites]


The_Vegetables: There was actually a 'real' accounts of haunted houses tv show (on A&E maybe?) where it was often very obvious that they were suffering real abuse, often at the hands of the father/husband, that they had turned into ghost stories.

Ghostlighting.
posted by clawsoon at 12:58 PM on October 30 [7 favorites]




Short comedy bit on the other side of this topic: Moms in Horror Movies
posted by Captain_Science at 1:03 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


I feel obliged to share the following Man Stroke Woman comedy sketch about a young couple getting a house tour from a real estate agent who is trying very hard to downplay some of the house's significant flaws: "Unspeakable Evil".
Wife: "It's big isn't it? I looove this room..."
Real Estate Agent: "It's very open plan, isn't it?
Husband: "Is it just me or is it cold in here?"
Real Estate Agent: "The cold. Yes. The house is actually permeated by an Unspeakable Evil. It feels nothing but hatred towards anyone who wishes to make it their home... [turning back to the wife] And as you can see, the windows let in an awful lot of light..."

and so on...
posted by Secret Sparrow at 1:09 PM on October 30 [5 favorites]


uncleozzy: "I don't want to alarm you," I said (this was a mistake, because telling someone that you don't want to alarm them is the first step to causing alarm)

I was walking in a transit tunnel the other day when I heard someone slightly agitated behind me say, "Calm down. Calm down. Calm down! Calm. Down."

It was not at all calming.

(Dear reader, he was talking to his dog.)
posted by clawsoon at 1:19 PM on October 30 [4 favorites]


Short comedy bit on the other side of this topic: Moms in Horror Movies

I immediately thought of the Mom in Poltergeist
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:20 PM on October 30




Just finished Lovecraft Country that has an excellent story about a woman buying a haunted house and how she toughs it out and refuses to leave because dealing with a ghost is no worse (or maybe even easier) than dealing with racists outside.

At this point I'd take a haunted house: cheap rent and a live-in friend sounds pretty good.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:04 PM on October 30 [8 favorites]


True story. Many years ago, Mrs. A's grand-parents retired and were looking for a place to live on Delmarva peninsula. Found a gorgeous Victorian brick place, un-lived in for some time, offered at a bargain price. The couple and Mrs A's mother go inside. He is thrilled. "Just look at that crown molding, and the fireplace, marvelous work, these floorboards are original I'm sure of it, oh, and look here, built in bookcase in the study...." And so on and so forth.

Meanwhile, the ladies are getting more and more creeped out and just want out of the place.

They didn't buy the house. Sure enough, turned out that decades earlier, a child bride had been murdered on her wedding night.
posted by BWA at 2:16 PM on October 30 [9 favorites]


"The condescension is coming from inside the house!!"
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:30 PM on October 30 [9 favorites]


slimepuppy: Just finished Lovecraft Country that has an excellent story

What's the name of the story?
posted by clawsoon at 2:35 PM on October 30


Bob.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:52 PM on October 30 [1 favorite]


clawsoon, it's "Dreams of the Which House" - the second chapter of the book. All the stories are interconnected and share characters so you'll lose some detail if you read it in isolation but I think it'll hold up.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:08 PM on October 30 [3 favorites]


Fizz, I believe you're referring to Metatalk there - not Metafilter.
posted by Pinback at 4:15 PM on October 30


Fred spelled backwards is..... "Derf".
posted by acrasis at 5:16 PM on October 30


Fred spelled backwards is..... "Derf"

FRED-FRUH
FRED-FRUH
FRED-FRUH
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:02 PM on October 30 [13 favorites]


I grew up in a house with all sorts of weird things happening all the time. I remember noticing a what looked like a little kid who was always trying to hide out in cupboards or under the bed when family fights would start (which was often). He was never in the same place twice - just little glimpses and then he was gone.

This went on all summer one year, until the kid and I got to know each other a little more (only way I can describe it - I just would see him around the house in weird little places more often).

One night there was all this yelling and noise, and so I walked out to the backyard and saw the kid's eyes all super-freaked out from behind a neighbor's fence. So I went back inside and did what I always do to calm everyone down.

The kid stays here with me now, and others have seen him and left, but it's the only house I've ever known and we like it quiet, he and I.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:06 PM on October 30 [10 favorites]


I am dying to know what Fred's deal is with the attic
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 7:07 PM on October 30


BOXES OF PORN UP HERE

FRED
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 7:09 PM on October 30 [7 favorites]


The supernatural-denying man goes back to the nineteenth century, at least--there's a whole Victorian/Edwardian subgenre of professional men who face Horrors of various sorts and take Far Too Long To Deal...

Also, moving to a new house is absolutely the worst thing you can do in the Gothic/horror tradition, with renting and taking a vacation tying for a close second.


More stories than not involve Mr. A, who definitely does not believe in this supernatural nonsense, moving into a new house.

There needs to be a category of supertrope.
posted by bongo_x at 8:00 PM on October 30


I going to disagree, the worst thing anyone can do in the Gothic/horror tradition is to deny what is right in front of your face. Apparitions, floating object, cold spots, the first weird death, just leave go do your research somewhere before you think of coming back and at least have a sense of proportion. My spouse is creeped out, my kid is freaking, and the dog has lost its mind. Time to leave. Get counseling, get your house inspected for hazardous materials, salt the Earth but be proactive and listen to your family. Even if you think they are not firing on all cylinders show them the support and love you promised by marrying them or choosing to raise them. And write off the exorcism as an research expense for your true haunting book.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 2:45 AM on October 31 [1 favorite]


FWIW, when my wife and I, while living alone in an old house in the woods, just before falling asleep around midnight heard the sound of a music box coming from the ground floor of our EMPTY HOUSE, we looked at each other and saw the same thought peering out of our terrified eyes: the hatchet is on top of the kitchen cabinet, the one on which the music box stands.
(There was no murderous music-loving maniac downstairs, the music box was in the lid of a vintage cereal tin and got jammed with cereal crumbs, then I guess a poltergeist unjammed it to prank us.)
posted by hat_eater at 7:38 AM on October 31 [5 favorites]


I've never had a paranormal experience that couldn't be explained by sleepwalking or the existence of cats.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:42 AM on October 31 [5 favorites]


When I moved into this house I found it a bit spooky that for at least the first year or two I kept finding stray coins in unusual places where I would never have put coins and often where I felt fairly confident that coins had not been a short time previously. I never did figure that one out but the penny ghost either got tired of trying to send me a message or simply ran out of spare change. Nowadays, though, if I spy a black beast haunting the property or hear something outside go bump in the middle of the night, I can be pretty sure that it's bears (the normal kind, not spectral ghost bears.) I'm not sure whether that's better or worse.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:26 AM on October 31


"You know, housing prices being what they are, the haunted house genre is becoming increasingly plausible." - Panama Joe

"because dealing with a ghost is no worse (or maybe even easier) than dealing with racists outside. " - slimepuppy

Ctrl-F "Danse Macabre"

"All of which brings us around to the real watchspring of The Amityville Horror, and the reason it works as well as it does: the picture's subtext is one of economic unease, and this is a theme that director Stuart Rosenberg plays on constantly. … Everything which the movie does well is summed up in that scene [with the caterer]. Its implications touch on everything about the Bad House's most obvious effect - and also the only one which seems empirically undeniable: little by little, it is ruining the Lutz family financially. The movie might as well have ben subtitled The Horror of the Shrinking Bank Account."
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 3:20 PM on November 2


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