Movies/Television

A Ghostly Love Story: Revisiting ‘Ghost’.

With Valentine’s Day almost upon us (just let that sink in), I thought it was a suitable time to revisit the movie Ghost. And if you’ve never seen it, this comes with a spoiler alert!

What might start off as a romantic movie soon turns to tragedy when Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is shot and killed. Finding himself between worlds, his only hope is ‘medium’ Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg).

Spirits are said to inhabit our world if they have some unfinished business to attend to, and following this assumption, Sam wants to see justice done. By doing so, he also wishes to ensure the safety of his girlfriend, Molly (Demi Moore).

Watching the scene of them both working on a slab of clay will never be the same again, I think, after all the humourous send-ups that have been done to it over the years.

Who could forget this version?

The movie gets a bit weird when Sam inhabits Oda Mae Brown’s body in order to touch Molly again, but the audience gets it – it’s Sam’s last and only chance of physically being with Molly.

The movie introduced to a whole new audience at the time (myself included) Unchained Melody from the Righteous Brothers. Released in 1965, even listening to the song today, it has stood the test of time. As for the movie, itself, it was released in 1990, so the special effects have become a bit dated over the years as has, of course, the computers and the fashion. It’s times like these when I really start to feel my age! 😉

I have nothing against the other actors, and I really miss Patrick Swayze, but personally, I believe that Whoopi really steals the show in this one. Her comedic skills helped lighten the subject matter and it looked like she and Patrick had fun working together.

If not for Oda Mae Brown, Sam would be stuck between worlds and Molly could have ended up with the guy who betrayed Sam (eek). Thank heavens for Whoopi!

Do you have a special Valentine’s Day movie? Is there a ‘ghostly’ romance that you recommend? Do you think Whoopi stole the show in Ghost?

Ghosts & The Paranormal

Monte Cristo: A Spirit Caught on Film?

Imagine the scene: you are walking through Monte Cristo, Australia’s Most Haunted House, taking photos at every opportunity.  There are moments when your camera decides to play up, but on the whole, it still works. You and your family are the last of a group going through the house and the guide is no longer around.  Your family move outside onto the balcony on a warm, sunny day.  You may now well be the only person inside the house. You stand alone in the upstairs drawing room, your camera plays up a little bit, but eventually you manage to get some shots.

After spending the weekend away, you arrive home eager to look at all the pictures you have taken, but there is one photo in particular that catches your attention.  It is the one from the upstairs drawing room inside Monte Cristo, which appears to look nothing out of the ordinary.

The upstairs drawing room at Monte Cristo. ©Debbie Johansson

You think about it for some weeks, analysing the picture, comparing it with all the others, but still it bothers you.  Stumped, you ask for the opinion of your logical, scientific husband, and it even has him bewildered.  You ask some friends their thoughts, and still there is nothing concrete.  In the end, you follow your husband’s advice and contact the owners of Monte Cristo.  Shortly afterwards via email, this is what the owner has to say:-

‘The Drawing room was a room that Mrs Crawley spent a lot of time in. She has been seen on several occasions. Mirrors are the best place to pick up spirits’.

Close up of mirror. ©Debbie Johansson

What are your thoughts? Could this be the spirit of Mrs Crawley, or even Mr Crawley – one of the original owners of Monte Cristo? Have you been alone in a haunted house? Have you ever caught a spirit on camera?

All images ©Debbie Johansson.

Ghosts & The Paranormal

Surrounded by Ghosts – A Visit to Australia’s Most Haunted House.

Ghost at Monte CristoLast month, I gave you some background and showed some photos of what it looks like inside Monte Cristo – Australia’s Most Haunted House.  This month I will tell you of my experiences while I was there. Coincidence? Or did something really happen? I’ll let you be the judge.

Issues with the Camera

Before entering the house, naturally I wanted to take some shots of the outside.  I had taken a photo of a garden statue without any problems, yet when I turned around to take a photo of the house my camera decided to play up.  Now I have had this camera since 2009 (a Canon EOS 100D) and have never had any problems with it. It had remained flawless, until this particular day. In my frustration, I jokingly told the ‘spooks’ to quit mucking around and behave – I was only just getting started.  The camera then worked without any problems for a little while, however, every now and again my camera refused to work in taking a shot. This would happen in the house and where the coaches were kept.  A couple of times while in the ballroom, the cap of my camera came off, one time even rolling down the floor. This is also something that has never happened before as I’m very careful with the lens cap. By now my son who kept picking it up was frustrated with me, but I told him it must be the ‘spooks’.

Just a Feeling

No I did not feel the presence of any ghosts while I was there, however I felt I did experience ‘something’. I was alone in the dining room at the front of the house, the second room I went into and took a photo. Shortly afterwards, I felt a pressure upon my head and a feeling suddenly come over me. It was more an emotion than anything else; I was suddenly depressed, like a great sadness and it weighed heavily upon me. I wondered why this feeling came upon me as I wasn’t upset – I was quite happy to be there.  As I moved further into the room, the feeling gradually went away. It is certainly something I can’t explain.

Similarly, whilst in the original homestead, there was one room in particular I did not want to go near.  I stood at the doorframe with my camera undecided on whether to take a photo or not – I did not like the feel of that room at all.  I had a quick look, took a photo and turned my back on it before eventually leaving the house.

The owner’s son happened to mention to some other guests that the ghosts slept during the day after scaring everyone at night. Or do they?

Be sure to stop by again next month when I’ll be discussing a possible spirit caught on film.

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever visited a haunted house and had problems with your camera or have a feeling suddenly come over you? Do you think I may have experienced ‘something’ or was it all just a coincidence? Have you ever had your own ghostly encounter?

Image ©Debbie Johansson.

Australia's Historical Places · Ghosts & The Paranormal

Monte Cristo – Inside Australia’s Most Haunted House.

Side view of Monte Cristo. ©Debbie Johansson

Looks can often be deceiving; belying its exterior as a beautifully renovated Victorian mansion, Monte Cristo has become well known as Australia’s Most Haunted House. Many who have visited here have experienced disturbing phenomena, and in April of this year I visited it for the first time. It has been on my ‘must see’ list for some time now and I was even more enthusiastic to make the visit when I discovered it was only about a three hour drive from where I live.

Built in 1876 by owner, Christopher Crawley, he became one of Australia’s richest men.  His wife, Elizabeth, was believed to have ruled the household with an iron fist.  When the house was newly built, it was already showing evidence of ghosts.  A photo taken during the time reveals a figure standing in a position where nobody can possibly stand.  It is believed that the ghosts of both Mr and Mrs Crawley, staff members and other unidentified personalities haunt the premises.

After the deaths of the original owners, the furniture was sold at auction in 1952.  It eventually stood abandoned, vandalised and in ruins, until the current owners bought it in 1963.  The owners have lovingly restored it and furnished the interior with antique and Victorian furniture representative of the periods up to the 1880s. The coach house and stables contains one of the finest collections of horse drawn vehicles within Australia.

At the top of the stairs is a bedroom known as ‘the boys’ room’, where my husband and I were amazed at the heavy wooden furniture. They were big, solid antiques and when questioned, the guide told us that they had to be lifted by crane over the balcony.  A guest had apparently once put in quite a substantial offer for the bedroom suite – none other than Russell Crowe!

Here is just a glimpse of some of the photos I took inside the house and around the grounds of Monte Cristo.

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Monte Cristo has been visited by journalists and film crews, as well as investigators from around the world.  The house is now open for daily visits and ghost tours. To find out more about this fascinating house and its many hauntings, visit their website.

Be sure to stop by again next month when I’ll be discussing my experiences within Australia’s Most Haunted House.

Have you ever visited or lived in a haunted house? Do you collect antiques? Would you fancy having to say ‘no’ to Russell Crowe?

All images ©Debbie Johansson.

Books · Movies/Television

Ghostly Love Stories: Three of the Best.

Love is such a powerful emotion and can transcend even time itself. There are stories of spirits visiting loved ones on their wedding day; even the ghosts of beloved pets have been known come back to visit their owners.

As February concentrates on the language of love, what better way than to celebrate with three of the best ghostly love stories?

Ghostmovie

Ghost

What might start off as a romantic movie soon turns to tragedy when Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) is shot and killed.  Finding himself between worlds, his only hope is ‘medium’ Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg). Spirits are said to inhabit our world because they have some unfinished business to attend to, and following this assumption, Sam wants to see justice done. By doing so, he also wishes to ensure the safety of his girlfriend, Molly (Demi Moore).  The movie gets a bit weird and creepy when Sam inhabits Oda Mae Brown’s body in order to touch Molly again, but the audience gets it – it’s Sam’s last and only chance of physically being with Molly.

If not for Oda Mae Brown, Sam would be stuck between worlds and Molly could have been stuck being with Sam’s murderer.  Thank heavens for Whoopi!

The Ghost and Mrs Muir

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Young widow, Lucy Muir rents a house near the beach only to discover it is haunted by the ghost of Captain Daniel Gregg.  He and Lucy soon strike up a relationship, and he allows her to write up his memoir. The memoir is published and helps Lucy out of her financial difficulties.  She then meets a writer of children’s books, who she then begins dating.  It is during this point that Captain Daniel Gregg sees the futility of his relationship with Lucy.  In a completely selfless act, he tells Lucy as she sleeps that he was nothing but a dream.  He wants Lucy to find happiness with a ‘real’ man, however, this leaves nothing but heartache for Lucy.

Certainly, we need to suspend our disbelief in the idea of falling in love with a ghost, but this story demonstrates that ghosts are not always ‘evil’ spirits.

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

I think we all know this story; the passionate love between childhood sweethearts Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff.  At my book club some years ago, it was a unanimous decision that we disliked Catherine for her selfishness and the way she treated Heathcliff.  Together with her brother, her treatment of him helped bring out his dark side.  When she dies, her ghost torments him.  Some critics believe that her ghostly actions were not meant out of love, but of rage.  This is certainly an opinion that is in the minority, as over the years, the idea of Catherine and Heathcliff being eternally in love proves to be the popular choice.

In the book, at her deathbed, Heathcliff asks Catherine if she would like to live with her soul in the grave.  ‘Wild, spirited Cathy’ clearly does not.

What is your favourite ‘ghostly romance’? Could you love a ghost? Do you believe Catherine haunted Heathcliff out of revenge or for love? Do you think Whoopi saved Ghost?

Images copyright Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox & United Artists.

Up Close & Personal

A Friendly Ghost?

Although I have never actually seen one, I have always believed in ghosts.  I remember my father telling us a story of his own personal encounter with a ghost while he was growing up in Scotland.  When he was a child he had ‘crossed over’ and came back, having to learn to speak all over again.  I was brought up to believe there are many things that happen in this world that can not be explained.

My father died after a long number of illnesses a few years ago.  I went to visit him in the hospital during his last days.  I knew his time had arrived and I felt worried and afraid.  He would stare at me as I sat in the chair opposite his bed, feeling that there was somebody there next to me.  As I watched him getting wheeled away down the corridor he was tightly wrapped up.  ‘I feel like a mummy’ he said; he did not seem worried as he had died before and was happy to go.

One night after his funeral, as I lay asleep in my bed, I felt something cold upon my hand.  To say it was ‘icy cold’ sounds like a cliche, but it was.  Not only that, but it felt like a breeze passing my hand, which I thought most peculiar.  I instantly opened my eyes, sat upright in the bed and called out to my dad.  I believed it was him saying his final goodbye.

Some time later, when I told my mother this story, she told me of something similar.  Co-incidentally, around the same time, my sister was sitting alone in her house, when she felt the presence of our dad behind her.  Interestingly enough, neither one of us had experienced this situation before or since.  Was this really a ghostly visit from our dead father, saying his final goodbyes, or was it just our imaginations?  Our imaginations that happened to be on a similar wavelength at the same time?  (Now cue the music from The Twilight Zone :))

Do you believe in ghosts?  Have you experienced your own ghostly encounter?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Free image by Simon Howden courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com