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Thread: An American Haunting

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    An American Haunting

    Has anyone seen it yet? What did you think?

    My wife and I watched it tonight, and it was pretty engrossing and "on your seat" scary movie till the end.

    The last 15 minutes left us looking at each other and wondering what this movie was about. It left us "hanging" and scratching our heads wondering "OK, what was the cause of these strange occurrances?"

    I understand what the movie was about....

    Recorded events in Tennessee in the early 1800's, and only documented case of an "entity" causing the death of a man, and the so-called legend of the Bell witch.

    I finally had to get on the 'net and look up more on this movie.

    I guess, in a roundabout way, it's all about child abuse and incest that was being blamed on a fabricated poltergeist.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Warning: If you haven't watched the movie and don't want it explained, don't read this post!


    I look at the ghost of the girl at the end of the movie as her innocence so to speak, if that helps you understand the movie any better. Actually the poltergeist was created by the little girl's mind. If you read the definition of poltergeist at the end of the movie, it describes it as being created by a stressed mind, or something to that effect. Self-delusion. The poltergeist was created by her mind because of what her father did to her. I thought the movie was decent. Not one of my favorites, but it had its moments.

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: An American Haunting

    Wow...I didn't get this movie at all until just now. Thanks GAC and SeeinRed.
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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by SeeinRed View Post
    Warning: If you haven't watched the movie and don't want it explained, don't read this post!


    I look at the ghost of the girl at the end of the movie as her innocence so to speak, if that helps you understand the movie any better. Actually the poltergeist was created by the little girl's mind. If you read the definition of poltergeist at the end of the movie, it describes it as being created by a stressed mind, or something to that effect. Self-delusion. The poltergeist was created by her mind because of what her father did to her. I thought the movie was decent. Not one of my favorites, but it had its moments.
    Good points. So in the movie, the "entity" was real. What was throwing us was that it couldn't have simply been "in her mind" because everyone else was witnessing the outward, physical manifestations.

    Could the "entity", because of the inner, emotional turmoil of her father's abuse/incest, actually have been the little girl's immaterial self, willed by her subconscious into existence?

    The purpose of the letter, written by the school teacher, which the Mom in the present day was reading, was to reveal the true source of the little girl's trials - her Father's incest. And that Mother basically put "two and two together", and it was why she went running out of the house as her ex-husband was driving away with their daughter AND her daughter was looking back at her with that empty, blank stare. Her daughter's sufferings were the same as the other girl's, and causing these manifestations.

    She was "releasing" all this through her subconscious.

    See.... this psychiatry stuff ain't that hard!
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Re: An American Haunting

    I thought this was a thread about the Cardinals winning the WS.
    I miss Adam Dunn.

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by OnBaseMachine View Post
    I thought this was a thread about the Cardinals winning the WS.
    Wow! You're still with us! I figured you had jumped off that bridge after last night.
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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by GAC View Post
    Good points. So in the movie, the "entity" was real. What was throwing us was that it couldn't have simply been "in her mind" because everyone else was witnessing the outward, physical manifestations.

    Could the "entity", because of the inner, emotional turmoil of her father's abuse/incest, actually have been the little girl's immaterial self, willed by her subconscious into existence?

    The purpose of the letter, written by the school teacher, which the Mom in the present day was reading, was to reveal the true source of the little girl's trials - her Father's incest. And that Mother basically put "two and two together", and it was why she went running out of the house as her ex-husband was driving away with their daughter AND her daughter was looking back at her with that empty, blank stare. Her daughter's sufferings were the same as the other girl's, and causing these manifestations.

    She was "releasing" all this through her subconscious.

    See.... this psychiatry stuff ain't that hard!

    Bingo! At least that is pretty much how I look at it. That doesn't mean its the right way though. One of my friends who saw it argued that it was a ghost, but that doesn't make any sense to me. Thats just me. If it was simply a ghost, why would the mother kill the father to stop the poltergiest? The biggest thing is the explaination of what a poltergiest is at the end of the movie. It doesn't explain what it has to do with the little girl at the end of the movie either. If you look at it like the entity was real, but exists because of what the girl has been going through, everything seems to fall into place, unless I'm missing something.

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Anyone know how this compares with the "real" Bell Witch legend?

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    Re: An American Haunting

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Witch

    The Bell Witch is a folk legend that is identified as the cause of the Bell Witch Haunting — a series of supposedly inexplicable real events said to have been experienced by the family of Red River, Tennessee (Robertson County) settler John Bell, between 1817 and 1821.

    It is commonly claimed that many of these events were witnessed and documented by hundreds of people — among them future President of the United States Andrew Jackson — and that consequently the episode represents one of the most famous and heavily documented instances of a haunting in history. However, a 2004 skeptical analysis concluded that there is in fact only one primary source for the legend, calling such claims into question.

    The legend of the Bell Witch is thought to have been an influence on the film The Blair Witch Project

    Legend

    The best known contemporary version of the Bell witch legend is that related by paranormal researcher Pat Fitzhugh, author of The Bell Witch: the Full Account.

    According to Fitzhugh, the first manifestation of the haunting occurred in 1817, when John Bell encountered a strange animal in a cornfield on his property. The animal is described as having the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit, and is said to have “vanished” when shot at.

    This incident was allegedly quickly followed by a series of strange “beating” and “gnawing” noises manifesting themselves around — and eventually inside — the Bell residence. After this the Bell children then allegedly began to report that their bedclothes were being regularly pulled off and tossed onto the floor by an “invisible force.”

    The family then reported hearing a faint voice that sounded like a “feeble old woman crying or singing hymns.” Betsy Bell, the family's youngest daughter, was later violently assaulted, her hair pulled and her face slapped.

    These events are reported by Fitzhugh as continuing for over a year before John Bell reported them to his neighbour, James Johnston, who is reported as also subsequently witnessing them, along with his wife. At this point the strange events experienced by the Bell family are said to have become well known in the Red River community, especially reports of a voice conversing loudly and clearly, singing, quoting from the Bible and accurately describing events taking place miles away.

    The next major development in the story, as related by Fitzhugh, is the alleged involvement of future US President Andrew Jackson, who is said to have heard of the “disturbances” and decided to observe them in person, in 1819.

    On approaching the Bell property, Jackson’s entourage is reported as having encountered an invisible presence that stopped his wagon in its tracks, until he acknowledged that the “witch” was responsible, upon which the wagon was able to proceed unhindered.

    One of the men in Jackson’s entourage is alleged to have declared himself to be a “witch tamer” who intended to “kill the spirit.” The man is said to have begun screaming and contorting his body immediately after making these statements. Jackson and his entourage are reported to have left the Bell property by midday the following day, and Jackson, in response to his experiences with the Bells, is quoted as later saying “I’d rather fight the entire British Army than to deal with the Bell Witch.”

    Betsy Bell’s engagement to a neighbour named Joshua Gardner is reported as the next focus of the invisible entity’s displeasure, and it is alleged to have followed and taunted them whenever they were alone together, leading Betsy to break off the relationship on Easter Monday in 1821.

    It is reported that the encounters with the “spirit” became less frequent, although the disembodied voice continued to communicate its dislike of Jack Bell – and its intention to kill him. Bell was by then suffering frequent seizures.

    John Bell died on December 20, 1820. A small vial containing an unidentified liquid apparently ingested by him was found near the body. The legend relates that when the remaining contents were fed to the family cat, the animal died immediately – at which point the voice of the “spirit” was heard to say "I gave Ol' Jack a big dose of that last night, and that fixed him." Later, at Bell’s burial, the “spirit” is reported to have laughed and sung loudly and cheerfully.

    Bell’s death is reported to have signaled the end of the “haunting”, but before its departure the “spirit” is said to have told Lucy Bell that it would return in 1828. It is claimed that this visit did in fact come to pass — and that during a three-week visit the entity communicated mainly with John Bell Jr, predicting such events as the American Civil War, the Great Depression and both World Wars.

    According to legend, after the entity last appeared in 1828, it said it would return 107 years hence, in 1935.

    Fitzhugh's relation of the Bell Witch legend concludes with a statement to the effect that many people believe that the spirit returned in 1935, took up residence on the former Bell property, and remains there to the present day. He notes that “the faint sounds of people talking and children playing can sometimes be heard in the area,” and asserts that it is “very difficult to take a good picture there.”

    [edit] Analysis

    The Bell Witch is, according to legend, Kate Batts, an old neighbor of Bell's who was involved with him in a dispute of the sale of a slave or piece of land (story variations tend to differ slightly).[citation needed] She swore on her deathbed to get even and, after she died, the events upon which the legend is based began. Rumor has it that the spirit once referred to itself as "Kate Batts' witch." There is no documentation of this, however. The stories of a piece-of-land or slave-sale conflict involving John Bell do have documentation, although in neither case is there any connection to Kate Batts.

    The FAQ states that Kate Batts lived 22 years longer than John Bell, and thus couldn’t have haunted him, as well as the fact that her family was too poor to have had any dispute over a slave.

    The witch reportedly manifested herself as an invisible presence at first, gnawing on the bedposts, scratching at the walls, and jerking the blankets off of sleeping family members and guests. Two of those guests were one of Bell’s closest friends and his wife. Later, those in the house heard noises similar to that of someone strangling or choking, lips smacking, and loud gulping. They then heard faint whispering, eventually rising in volume to a speaking voice. There were also reports of slapping or pinching sensations out of thin air. According to the book Our Family Trouble — Story of the Bell Witch, guests at the Bell farm reported being verbally attacked by a strange voice, which would also divulge the most secret events of their lives to onlookers

    Bell’s wife later said that, when she became gravely ill with pleurisy, she would hear a voice singing hymns and any requested song to her. She also said that once, when she was especially ill and others feared for her life, she heard the voice pleading with her to eat something, even offering to get her some walnuts from the nearby forest. According to the legend, a shower of walnuts appeared in her hands moments later.

    The Bell Witch is said to have stopped Betsy from marrying a neighbor boy named Joshua Gardner, but for reasons unknown, allowed her to marry her schoolteacher Richard Powell.

    When John Bell died on December 20, 1820, the Bell Witch was rumored to have replaced his medicine with poison. When this ‘medicine’ was tested on a house cat, the animal went into convulsions and died. Locals reported hearing a voice saying “I’ve got Old Jack this time” and “He’ll never get up from that bed again” at Bell’s funeral.

    According to local legend, the Bell Witch still resides in Adams, Tennessee and haunts the area around the property once owned by the Bells. A cave in the area has since become known as the Bell Witch Cave. Guided tours are available to the public at certain times of the year.

    [edit] Published accounts

    The earliest written account is in the Goodspeed History of Tennessee published in 1886 by Goodspeed Publishing. No author is given. Page 833 reads:

    The Bell Witch
    A remarkable occurrence, which attracted widespread interest, was connected with the family of John Bell, who settled near what is now Adams Station about 1804. So great was the excitement that people came from hundreds of miles around to witness the manifestations of what was popularly known as the ‘Bell Witch.’ This witch was supposed to be some spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to the eye, yet it would hold conversation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The freaks it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take the sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children, and then laugh at the discomfiture of its victims. At first it was supposed to be a good spirit, but its subsequent acts, together with the curses with which it supplemented its remarks, proved the contrary. A volume might be written concerning the performance of this wonderful being, as they are now described by contemporaries and their descendants. That all this actually occurred will not be disputed, nor will a rational explanation be attempted. It is merely introduced as an example of superstition, strong in the minds of all but a few in those times, and yet not wholly extinct.

    The Bell Witch

    The most famous account is recorded in the Red Book, the 1894 An Authenticated History of the Bell Witch of Tennessee by Martin Van Buren Ingram (said to be based on the earlier Richard William Bell's Diary: Our Family Trouble) who lists the following people as witnesses:

    * General Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the US
    * Joel Thomas Bell, son of John Bell, Jr.
    * Rev. Joshua Featheton
    * Dr. J.T. Mathews
    * Mr. E. Newton
    * R.H. Pickering
    * J. Gunn
    * D. T. Porter
    * J.I Holman
    * Wm Wall
    * W.H. Gardner

    The Black Book was written much later, and published in 1934 by Dr. Charles Bailey Bell great-grandson of John Bell.

    Thirteen Tennessee Ghosts and Jeffrey by Kathryn Tucker Windham includes the story of the Bell Witch.

    The Guidebook for Tennessee, published by the Works Project Administration in 1939, also contains an account that differs from Ingram's on pages 392–393.

    [edit] In folklore

    In folklore, it is said that one can make the Bell Witch appear in a mirror by summoning it. One of the more common ways participants attempt to make her appear is to stand before a mirror in the dark at midnight and repeat the phrase "I don't believe in the Old Bell Witch" three times, though there are some variations. It is said once one has "summoned" The Bell Witch, one will awake the next morning with fingernail scratches on the cheek.

    [edit] Skeptical analysis

    A 2004 investigation by the Middle Tennessee Skeptics concluded that the tale of the Bell Witch is a fabrication founded entirely on later elaborations of the diary of Richard William Bell. Bell's diary was written some 30 years after the events they purport to describe, which took place when the author was 5–10 years old. The investigation turned up no evidence that any of the other alleged participants in the events ever recorded anything of their supposed experiences. In particular, there is no record in Jackson's journals of his ever having visited the Bells, or of any encounter by him with a supernatural being. This analysis directly conflicts with claims of Bell Witch supporters that the story is the most documented haunting in history.

    The version of the Bell Witch legend published online by Pat Fitzhugh states that the invisible entity plaguing the Bell family continued to threaten to kill John Bell after Easter 1821 — yet also reports John Bell's death as having occurred in December 1820. The interpretation of this apparent anachronistic assertion remains unclear.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Below is the link to the actual Bell Witch website. It's very interesting and scary. President Andrew Jackson actually experienced this ghost. I have not seen the movie but read about it. What I remember reading is that the movie is very inaccurate. The portrayal of the father as sexually abusing his daughter is totally wrong. There is no evidence at all that anything like this was going on. The movie producers may have felt they needed to give a reason for these happenings and brought this into it to make it seem real.


    http://www.bellwitch.org/home.htm
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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by SeeinRed View Post
    Bingo! At least that is pretty much how I look at it. That doesn't mean its the right way though. One of my friends who saw it argued that it was a ghost, but that doesn't make any sense to me. Thats just me. If it was simply a ghost, why would the mother kill the father to stop the poltergiest? The biggest thing is the explaination of what a poltergiest is at the end of the movie. It doesn't explain what it has to do with the little girl at the end of the movie either. If you look at it like the entity was real, but exists because of what the girl has been going through, everything seems to fall into place, unless I'm missing something.
    That the mother, after reading the past account, had the "light turned on", and it helped her understand as to what was going on with her daughter and the current "manifestations". And it was why she reacted like she did at the end of the movie.

    And that goes back to the opening scene of the movie where her daughter was running away from (and being taunted by) this "entity"... and then her Mom wakes her up.
    Last edited by GAC; 10-30-2006 at 08:59 PM.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by tixe View Post
    Anyone know how this compares with the "real" Bell Witch legend?
    Some say the witch was invented, and promoted by the family members, to cover up the father's abuse/incest, and to protect the father from church discipline, which at that time carried strong community influence.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by GAC View Post
    That the mother, after reading the past account, had the "light turned on", and it helped her understand as to what was going on with her daughter and the current "manifestations". And it was why she reacted like she did at the end of the movie.

    And that goes back to the opening scene of the movie where her daughter was running away from (and being taunted by) this "entity"... and then her Mom wakes her up.
    Yeah, I understand that. I was saying that if my friend says the ghost is real and not created by the girl and doesn't see the whole rape thing. If you look at it that way, then it doesn't make any sense.

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by SeeinRed View Post
    Yeah, I understand that. I was saying that if my friend says the ghost is real and not created by the girl and doesn't see the whole rape thing. If you look at it that way, then it doesn't make any sense.
    Oh, I agree. I thought the same thing while watching it. My wife thought it was simply all in her mind. And I told her that was what the school teacher was trying to say, yet the manifestations were being witnessed by others, so it couldn't be.

    What was throwing me off while watching it was the Father holding those bloodied clothes and wanting to burn them, yet he was told it would make it worse. What worse? Anger the entity? At the time, I kept asking "Whose clothes are those?", because at that stage of the movie they hadn't given any clues to the father's incest/abuse.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Re: An American Haunting

    Quote Originally Posted by GAC View Post
    Oh, I agree. I thought the same thing while watching it. My wife thought it was simply all in her mind. And I told her that was what the school teacher was trying to say, yet the manifestations were being witnessed by others, so it couldn't be.

    What was throwing me off while watching it was the Father holding those bloodied clothes and wanting to burn them, yet he was told it would make it worse. What worse? Anger the entity? At the time, I kept asking "Whose clothes are those?", because at that stage of the movie they hadn't given any clues to the father's incest/abuse.
    You know, I'd forgotten about that scene. Didn't that have to do with that woman who said she would put a curse on him and his family after the trial. I really need to watch that movie again. I haven't seen it since it was in theaters. I can't remember half of it.


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