Yesterday I went, along with a bunch of other teacher friends, including Mrs. Reading, Mrs. Math and Mrs. Language, to go see the movie, An American Haunting.
If you haven't seen the movie, and plan on it, and don't want to know something vital about it, stop reading this right now and go do something else.
For those of you who may not have heard, the movie is based (very loosely as we shall see) on a true haunting of the Bell family from Robertson County, Tennessee. And around here, folks take the Bell Witch (or Kate as she's more familiarly known) quite seriously. After all, the true incidents didn't take place too far from here and it's still a big deal to go see the Bell Witch cave and nearly everyone has a family story about Kate and her haunting of John Bell's family in the early 1800's.
So the idea we had was to go see the movie, then head on down to Mrs. Chicken's house, to see some of the Bell Witch sites. Mrs. Chicken, after all, is a life-long resident of the area and has stories beyond stories about local lore. After all, it's not often that Hollywood makes a movie about a local legend.
But Hollywood did make a movie about a local legend.
And then proceeded to totally blow it.
On the surface, the movie is okay. It's dark, it's creepy, and it's pretty scary. However, if you know a lot about the actual Bell Witch story you're going to be very, very disappointed. And we all knew a lot about the actual story.
And none of us had ever heard that the reason the Bell family was haunted was because John Bell raped his daughter Betsey and he was killed by his wife when the ghost told her this.
Or, as Mrs. Chicken said at the end of the movie, "Good Lord, I've lived here all my life and I've never, ever heard such garbage as this."
So Hollywood had to add incest and sex to "jazz up" what is, on its own, a pretty fantastic story. The silly thing is, if they'd actually included a bit more of the real legend that has been recorded in book after book and article after article, they would have had a better movie. After all, this haunting was known to talk and talk and talk (which it doesn't do in the movie outside of a few stray whispers) to anyone and everyone who would come to the Bell House to hear her - including, of all people, Andrew Jackson. Hundreds of people came to hear her and she never disappointed them.
Unlike Hollywood who seems to always disappoint.