3An Ancient Roman Writer Was Haunted by Chain-Rattling Poltergeists
In the final act of Poltergeist (you know, the part with all the panty shots and skeletons), the Freeling family finally discovers the horrifying secret behind their haunted house -- the builders had relocated a cemetery on the land, but only moved the headstones. They left the bodies behind, and so the angry dead took vengeance on the living.
The moral of this story is to never play musical chairs with dead people. They were there first.
Poltergeist isn't the only movie where you can find this scenario: The Amityville Horror, The Shining and dozens of other stories feature it, too. Typically, it's an ancient Native American burial ground, specifically, so you wouldn't think that this storytelling device is much older than the New World ...
... except it totally is. A letter written in the first century by Roman magistrate Pliny the Younger has this and a lot of other haunted house tropes as well. In his letter, Pliny told of a philosopher who moved to town, needed a place to stay and saw how cheap a particular house was. He was informed of its purported haunting, but, you know ... a cheap house is a cheap house, and if you throw your toga parties in the public square, you might get arrested.
What's the worst that could happen?
That night, to prove that he wasn't some pansy, the philosopher sent his servants away and stayed up all night writing. Before long, he heard the clanking of chains and ghostly wailing. He ignored it right up until the noise was in his room. Then, the ghost of an old man with a long beard and chains appeared and beckoned with a skeletal finger for him to follow.
"Togas are stupid. Stuuuuuuupid! Why will no one listen?"
The philosopher followed the ghost into his yard and marked the spot where it stopped. The next morning, he had his servants dig up the spot and found the body of a man bound in chains. They gave the corpse a proper burial, and according to Pliny, the haunting ceased.
We lost count somewhere along the way, but that story has approximately every single feature of every haunted house story ever, and it was written nearly 2,000 years ago.
Pliny's ghost is suing the shit out of Charles Dickens' ghost right now.
2There Was a Song That Supposedly Made People Commit Suicide in the 1930s
Suicide Club is a Japanese horror movie about an inexplicable wave of suicides that hits Tokyo. A group of detectives (from Tokyo's Paranormal Suicide Investigation Unit, apparently) eventually figure out that the deaths are connected to a pop group that likes to include subliminal messages encouraging suicide in their songs.
Kind of like LMFAO, but intentional.
A similar premise was explored in another Japanese movie called The Suicide Song, about an infectious tune that drives people to kill themselves. So, which one of these movies ripped off the other? Neither: They both ripped off reality.
Shockingly, this particular premise doesn't come from Asia, but from Europe. In the 1930s, the Hungarian song "Gloomy Sunday" gained worldwide notoriety due to its alleged connection to 18 suicides in Budapest according to some sources, and "more than one hundred" according to others. Here it is:
The depressing song became known all over the world for supposedly causing the death of anyone who listened to it ... so, naturally, music companies started telling their artists to record English versions of it in the States, where rumors continued linking it to suicides. The New York Times blamed the song for the death of a university student who, according to classmates, had recently been trying to memorize the lyrics.
But is there any truth to this? Well, the suicide rate in Hungary has historically been one of the highest in the world, so you could probably find a dozen suicide victims who were listening to any given popular song of the era every week. Perhaps "Gloomy Sunday" simply gained more publicity because the lyrics themselves were about suicide.
"I really, really, really, really, really, really, really want to kill myself! Come on! Uh, uh, yeah!"
However, there's one suicide victim whose connection to the song can't be disputed: the guy who wrote it. In 1968, and with a song about suicide as his only hit, Rezso Seress killed himself by jumping out of his window. Even if his decision had nothing to do with the song, he had to know that everyone would totally assume it did, right?