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creature feature: The Witch-Ghosts Who Haunt Salem

Nicholas Harsin and Shoshanna Chagall
A lot of the time, I'm winging these Creature Features; most of it is just speculation and hyperbole. But this time, for this feature, I know exactly what I'm talking about, because I came up with the creatures in question. That's right, I'm talking about the ghoulish and grotesque witch-ghosts haunting the Corwin House and the Downs family in The Asylum's most-recent horror flick, A Haunting in Salem, directed by Shane Van Dyke from a script I penned.

See, for me it's all about the double threat: you take witches - already bad enough - but then you kill 'em, give 'em a few hundred years to get nice and vengeful, and what you end up with are ghost-witches, which are, like, 100 times worse. They can do ghost stuff like walking through walls, disappearing, making scary-ass whispers, and they can also do witchy demon stuff like rot your teeth or make you puke or steal your bat or possess your family, turn your bathwater to blood, all sorts of extra shit.

Point of truth: the poor unfortunates killed in the Salem Witch Trials weren't actually witches. Okay, that's fair, but think about this: maybe they weren't witches when they were alive, but maybe after they died, real witches took pity on them and came up with a spell or a broth or something like that to turn their ghosts into witches. Or Satan, what about Satan? He can do that stuff. Either way, witch-ghosts or ghost-witches, it's all the same in the end.

Regardless of how they came to be, there's no question as to what they want: to enact revenge on all the subsequent sheriffs of Salem for the torture and murders they suffered at the hands of Corwin. And they want you to feel what they felt, quite literally: harassment, condemnation, boiling water and blades as torture implements, and eventually foul death, by hanging if the situation allows, but they got no qualms about throwing your ass out an upper-story window or shivving you with a piece of glass or some garden shears, if they're handy. They're witch-ghosts (or ghost-witches), they truly don't give a fuck: revenge is revenge.

So then what are one's possible recourses against a platoon of undead bitches (not a typo)? Maybe I didn't make myself as clear as I could have on this issue in the film, because a few bloggers and reviewers seemed confused by certain actions. In the Salem Witch Trials, each of the unfortunates sentenced to death were executed by hanging. This is not a traditional witch-killing method. You got yourself a witch problem*, the only thing you can do is burn 'em out. That's what Corwin got wrong (if they had been witches, hanging woulda just pissed them off) and that's what the Sheriff in the film's opening sequence was intending to do, knowing, as Wayne did when he got the gas can, that things in the house had escalated past a point of return. Both men were taking a more traditional route to the situation, and both were willing to sacrifice themselves as, with their families gone, they had no further reason to live. The witches were the house, so the house had to go to get rid of them; sometimes you gotta cut off the hand to save the arm.

And there you have it, whether you wanted it or not, an insider's look at the creatures central to A Haunting in Salem, those doing the titular haunting. I think, armed with this knowledge as you now are, you should go right now and watch the film again, see if our discussion adds any layers to your enjoyment. Tell a friend, while you're at it, or all of them.

*I am, of course, talking ONLY about fictional witches, not any person or persons who might actually practice witchcraft, and certainly not the Wiccan religion as a whole. Don't be silly. My witches are creatures, not people; I don't advocate killing sharks, either, if that had to be said. 

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