Ghost Stories

As I get older I realise that I probably fall into the category of those with a nervous disposition. I think the mathematical formulae for being this way is:

Control Freak + Over Active Imagination = Easily Terrified

A prime example of this being a few months back when I was living alone in the flat for 3 months and spent the majority of nights sleeping curled on the sofa clutching a kitchen knife, yknow, just in case. But just because I am naturally twitchy and squirmy around all things scary, doesn’t mean I don’t love it. [As demonstrated when I went Ghost Hunting recently!] Obviously I don’t love being awake at 4am because I think I can hear a ghost baby crying in my wardrobe (!) but safer, controlled scary things like movies, books and tv shows I am all for. I think fear is an itch that everyone loves to scratch, but then starts to regret when you’re later laying in bed replaying scary moments and cold sweating.

I’ve actually always been a fan of all things scary from a really young age. I think it’s because both my maternal and paternal grandparents had a collection of phenomenal ghost stories, and out of every story they would regale me with – it was the ones that made goosebumps cover my arms and my spine tingle that I’d beg for over and over. I supposed that as influencers and carers, they should have been reassuring me that ghosts and things that go bump in the night are aload of guff… but I’m grateful they didn’t as those stories are the ones I repeat again to family and friends even now. My sister is three years older than me, and while other girls our age were reading Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High we were building up the worlds largest collection of Point Horror books and counting down the hours to Michael Aspels Strange But True (oh god! the credits!)

Can you remember the first time you felt real fear? I can remember mine. There was an independent  video shop (the type of which I imagine are almost completely extinct now) that my mum would take us to on a Saturday after swimming, to get a film for that evening. The video shop was called 2001 Videos – HOW scary that ‘2001’ seemed so far in the distant future and as if when it eventually was 2001 we’d be living in space and driving hover cars. Anyway, tangent ahoy, at 2001 Videos we religiously stuck to the kids and cartoons section, occasionally browsing the general releases. At the back by the counter there was the Horror aisle and my sister would always dare me to walk up it. I think I was about 6 when I finally took the bait and waited for my mum to be distracted before taking a deep breath and stepping hesitantly towards the word HORROR. There were two video boxes in particular that were SO frightening, so horrifying and so unlike anything I’d ever seen that they shook me to the core. They were Childs Play and Hellraiser

No matter that we eventually left the shop (with something nice like Care Bears) and that I was back in the comfort of my family home, the fact that I had those terrifying images burnt into my retinas meant I just couldn’t relax and I had nightmares for weeks. From a bloody VHS box! Not even watching the film!

Anyway this is all a bit of a build up to the fact that last week I went to see the INCREDIBLE Ghost Stories at the Duke of York Theatre. The play is written by Andy Nyman – co-creator and director of Derren Brown’s television and stage shows and Jeremy Dyson – League Of Gentleman genius. Their aim in creating Ghost Stories was to bring back some of the classic Victoriana theatre going experience; something creepy, haunting and that could raise a blood curdling scream.

Before going to see Ghost Stories I had avoided reading or googling anything about it (and you should too! Which is also why I promise I wont go into any depth about the content) and so really had no idea what to expect. Approaching the theatre absolutely covered in goading signs saying “Just keep telling yourself its only a show”, “Pant-Wettingly Scary” and “NOT suitable for those with a nervous disposition” (Oh, hi!) I was starting to feel the churn of fear in my belly before I’d even entered. Everything about the theatre experience is designed to put you at un-ease from the second you walk in; from the decor, the darkness of the circle as you find your seat and the well to hell sound effects playing as you sit waiting for it to begin.

I think that Ghost Stories is possibly one of the best pieces of theatre I have seen in my entire life. I just cannot beg you hard enough that you have to go and see it while it’s still running. It will certainly make you scream, question everything and immediately want to book tickets to see it again. (I did, sad!) The acting, set and intricate story are just mindblowing. Just when you think you know what is going on, you realise you have no idea! You are constantly lulled in false senses of security before embarrassing yourself by jumping ten feet in the air and screaming in the face of the person next to you.

Five stars, go see it, go book it now.

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  1. Adele’s avatar

    OMG!!! proper LOLLING at the strange but true credits::: i used to shut my eyes at them!!!

    Reply

    1. likeaskeletonkey’s avatar

      Totally! Had no idea you could watch episodes on Youtube, that’s definitely how I’ll be spending the rest of my weekend (from behind my hands!) x

      Reply

    2. Blair’s avatar

      Love this whole post!! So many things I want to say in response –
      1. omg I had totally forgotten Strange But True even existed!!
      2. Point Horror! The Nightmare Hall books were my favourites. The covers were so brilliant as well, aah.
      3. I totally remember seeing the cover of Hellraiser in a video shop and being scared. The first time I can remember feeling real fear was watching Crimewatch, I think my babysitter fell asleep and I watched this whole thing about a woman and her daughter being murdered in their house, it was the first time I realised your parents couldn’t protect you from everything and your own home wasn’t necessarily safe. Terrifying : (
      4. Ghost Stories sounds great – Jeremy Dyson co-wrote Funland, I can’t remember if you’ve seen that but it’s one of my favourite series ever, so dark and brilliant, so I’m sure I would enjoy it. Did you watch Crooked House a couple of years back? http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1305108 Very spooky, think you might like it
      xx

      Reply

      1. likeaskeletonkey’s avatar

        Thanks B! I absolutely adored Strange But True (and think I had a bit of crush on Michael Aspel which is err strange and creppy in itself). I actually think between us my sister and I owned every Point Horror ever created. How my parents weren’t slightly concerned about us turning into serial killers I don’t know, as reading them back now they are pretty grizzly! My favourites were the Babysitter stories and definitely Nightmare Hall. I remember thinking Nightmare Hall were for real dedicated (classier) Point Horror fans. Ah 12 year old logic!

        Yes I do love Funland, but haven’t ever heard of Crooked House so thanks for the tip, its zoomed right to the top of my lovefilm list so I’ll keep you posted on what I think x

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      2. Meg’s avatar

        I have the exact same memories of freaking myself out with the box-covers in the horror section of 2001 videos! Looks like that was happening for over a decade. Particularly I remember when the very first Nightmare on Elm Street came out and seeing the cover of that and hearing various urban legends that kids had killed themselves after seeing the movie, etc.

        Ghost stories sounds awesome – I’ll have to see it. In the same vein if you haven’t seen the Woman in Black yet you should. Darren and I got completely freaked out walking home from that when we saw it years back.

        xxx

        Reply

      3. likeaskeletonkey’s avatar

        Ah, 2001 Videos has alot to answer for! I didn’t realise there were urban legends around Nightmare On Elm Street so that will give me something to wikipedia this afternoon, as that type of thing really fascinates me!

        You are the fifth person to tell me to go see Woman in Black so I think I should put tickets to that as top of my Christmas list x

        Reply

      4. Jen’s avatar

        By some bizarre coincidence, I was walking past that theatre last week , looked up and saw in one of the windows on the opposite side, an Agent Cooper cat! I think I alarmed my boyfriend and a lady passing by suddenly pointing and shrieking ‘Agent Cooper!’ in a girly voice. You see what havoc you are causing, missy?!

        Reply

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