From Legends to Movies…

A few of these “legends” gained enough popluarity that some of them became movies. Some of which ended badly…and mysteriously for the people involved in the films.

 The Bell Witch

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The Bell Witch legend has been around for nearly 200 years. It is one of the most well-known hauntings in Americas history. There are historical truths to this story and something very strange and scary happened to the Bell family in 1817. But with the passing of generations, I believe the story may have been distorted or sensationalized. But the Bell Witch legend is one of the few stories that has a factual background and there is the possibility that there was some type of anomalous phenomena involved.According to the Bell Witch legend, the first reports of the haunting occurred in 1817, when John William Bell encountered a small animal in a cornfield on his large farm in Roberts County, on the Red River, near Adams, Tennessee. The animal had the body of a dog and the head of a rabbit, then vanished when Bell shot at it. The incident was followed by a series of strange beating and gnawing noises manifesting outside the family residence. Betsy Bell, the families youngest and only daughter who was still living at the family home (Her older sister Esther had married in July 14, 1817) claimed to have been assaulted by an invisible force. John William Bell, later in life suffered facial seizures, often rendering him speechless, he died on December 20 1820. A small vial of unidentified liquid he allegedly ingested was found near his body. When some of the contents were force fed to the family cat, the animal died. The vial was the deposed of in the fireplace.
Pat Fitzhughs retelling of the Bell Witch Legend concludes with a statement to the effect that some people believe the spirit returned in 1935, the year when the witch claimed it would return (170 years past 1828) and took up residence on the former Bell property. Others sources say that 1935 brought nothing out of the ordinary to the Bell Property.

A early account was written 1887 by historian Albert Virgil Goodspeed in his “History of Tennessee” about the the Bell Witch haunting (Page 833).
He wrote:
A remarkable occurrence, which attracted wide spread 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 type of spiritual being having the voice and attributes of a woman. It was invisible to eye, yet it would hold conservation and even shake hands with certain individuals. The feats it performed were wonderful and seemingly designed to annoy the family. It would take sugar from the bowls, spill the milk, take the quilts from the beds, slap and pinch the children and then laugh at the discomfort 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.

Who or what was the Bell Witch? Like most stories, details can vary from version to version. But the most common and prevailing account is that it was the spirit of Kate Batts, a mean old neighbour of John Bell who believed that she was cheated by him in a land purchase. On her deathbed, she swore that she would haunt John Bell and his descendents. The story is picked up by the “Guidebook for Tennessee”, published in 1933 by the Federal Government’s Work Project Administration.

 THE CURSED VIDEO TAPE

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The video tape urban legend  has come into popular culture over the last 20-30 years. Here is a story that I found that fits in with the cursed video tape legend.There is a video tape that will kill the observer within 48 hours after watching it. The story may sound like this. A group of college girls were having a slumber party and one of the girls goes to rent a video. The girl can’t agree on a video, she asks for help, the person at the desks states that she has just what she wants, and heads to the back room. Meanwhile the girl sees a video with out a cover laying on the counter. As the girl reaches out to grab the video, the lady returns with the other video and tells the girl not to touch the video on the counter as she hands the other tape to her. While the lady is not looking, the girl swipes the “home movie tape”.

Back at the house, the girl tells the others about the video tape she swiped, the others laugh, finding it amusing that the girl stole a home video tape. The girls put the tape in the recorder and the power goes out but the video keeps on playing. The video starts playing and shows a woman being burnt at the stake for practicing witchcraft and voodoo. She utters a curse that all who witness her death will face the same fate in two days time. The VCR then turns off. As promised, the girls died 48 hours after watching the video tape. They all died in unrealistic places such as the pool, ice-rink etc.

Popular Culture:
Movie: “Ringu” made in 1998 was considered to the most frightening horror film to come out of Japan, there
was a sequel in 1999.
Movie: “Ring 1” & “Ring 2”. Movie from the USA based on the Japanese horror film “Ringu” in 2002 the sequel
was released in 2005. Movie plot involves a cursed video tape, when watched by the viewer dies
after a week.

  CURSED MOVIES

Poltergeist

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There are a number of films that people believe are cursed. Strangely, they are mainly horror films that have affected cast and crew. It is rumored that cast members and crew died because of the curse. These stories are now becoming urban legends but the deaths are all true, I suppose it is how the deaths are interpreted, just coincidence or a real curse. I will let you be the judge.The Spielberg films “Poltergeist I, II, III” was reported to be cursed with the deaths of several cast members. An unusual amount of deaths occurred around the three Poltergeist films including three of the stars. Some believe it was cursed because of its content.
Two of the stars from the first film have died at young ages. Dominique Dunn aged 22, who played the older daughter Dana Freeling, died in 1982 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, California. She had been choked into a coma by her boyfriend. Heather O’Rourke who played Carol Anne Freeling died at the age of 12 years in early 1988 at the Children’s Hospital in San Diego. What was thought to be a bout of flu launched her into cardiac arrest during the drive to the hospital as bacterial toxins, set loose by a bowel obstruction, made their way into her bloodstream. Her heart was successfully restarted and she was flown by helicopter to a larger children’s hospital. The toxins caused too much damage and she died on the operating table. She had been in all three Poltergeist movies, dying just before the release of Poltergeist III.

Also, two seasoned actors died during this time, 53 year old Wil Sampson, who played Taylor in the Poltergeist II died in June 3rd 1987, in a Houston Texas Hospital after receiving a heart / lung transplant six weeks earlier. The cause of death was attributed to several pre-operative malnutrition and post-operative kidney failure, along with a fugal infection. Also to die was Julian Beck, aged 60 years, who played the evil preacher Cane in the second film died from Stomach cancer on September 14th 1985 at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Like Heather O’Rourke he died during the period between filming and release, but in his case the film in question was Poltergeist II, O’Rourke died before the release of Poltergeist III.
There is also rumors of strange things happening on the set but there is very little information on these happenings.

The Exorcist

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“The Exorcist”, released in 1973 was considered the scariest movie of all time and won three Academy Awards after its release. Most people think the Exorcist was a fictional story but it was based on a similar incident that occurred to a 13 year old boy in New England.
Many strange things happened during the filming, including accidental deaths, a fire on the stage and even the rumored mental breakdown of the young Linda Blair (Regan). Some people said that there was an actual demon was trying to stop the filming. It was rumored that between four and nine people died during the filming of the movie. Jack McGowen had just wrapped up filming a small part for the film when he died from a heart attack. Another rumor states that a man that Regan said would die was killed during the filming. There was also the rumor that Max Von Sydow’s brother and Linda Blair’s grandfather died. A night watchman for the set, a crew member that refrigerated the bedroom for the exorcism scenes and a camera man’s newly born baby were also apart of the unexplained deaths.
There were also reports of strange behavior and panic by the cast and crew during the filming. It was also said that the set caught fire one night when there was no one there. It still remains a mystery what caused the fire.
There were also rumors of strange happening at the screening for the film. It is said that people vomited, fainted and were breaking into hysterics. It is said that the Exorcist has had some of the strangest audience reactions of all time. Although there were no incidents on the films sequels, the original director for the prequel Exorcist “The Beginning”, John Frankenheimer, died before the filming began

The Crow

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“The Crow” was released in 1994 and became a cult favorite, based on the comic book, starring Brandon Lee. The film is about a fiancee, name Eric Draven who is brutally murdered on night, a year later, the crow brings back his soul to seek vengeance and earn his eternal peace.
During the filming rumors that the film was cursed started to appear. A carpenter was severely burned after the crane in which he was riding struck a high voltage lines, then a disgruntled sculptor who had worked on the set drove his vehicle through the studios plaster shop, causing extensive damage. Later another crew member drove a screwdriver through his hand and a truck full of equipment mysteriously caught fire.
Then there was the mysterious death of Brendon Lee (Erick Dravon). They were filming a flash-back scene to show how he actually died. He was going to be shot with a 44 magnum which was not a prop but a fully functioning firearm. The gun was loaded with blanks, they are as loud a real bullets but when fired only the harmless cardboard wadding which they are packed is ejected from the barrel. But when the gun was fired, Brandon Lee fell to the ground with a large wound in the abdomen. Apparently the metal tip of one of the dummy bullets had somehow pulled loose from its casing and killed Brandon Lee.Even the television series “The Crow; Stairway to Heaven” could not escape the so-called curse. A veteran stunt co-coordinator Marc Akerstream was killed while working on an explosive stunt involving a rowboat near the shore. All was going to plan but when the stunt exploded a piece of debris shot up into the air, cleared the trees and struck Akerstream on the head. He was taken to a nearby hospital but died later.

The Omen

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“The Omen” was released in 1976 and became a world wide hit. It follows the story of an American ambassador who learns that his son is the anti-Christ.
This is another film that many believed had been cursed. On the first day of filming, a crew member was in a car accident, which destroyed a company vehicle. Harvey Bernhard was driving Richard Donner to his apartment, as Donner was getting out of his car, another vehicle came around the corner, ripped the car door off trapping Donner between the vehicles. The film crew shot a scene at the Windsor Safari Park that involved lions. The day they had finished filming the lions, a guard was killed by two of the lions.
A flight from L.A to London with Gregory Peck on it was stuck by lighting and an engine was knocked out. Eight hours later, a jet with the screenwriter, David Seltzer on board was also hit be lighting. The film crew had hired a private jet which they were going to use for some ground scenes but was canceled when the charter had booked the plane for another purpose and the Omen’s crew flight was cancelled. The Jet took off with a group of business men aboard. The jet crashed onto a road hitting a car, which then hit another car. killing all concerned including the jet pilot’s wife and child who were in the second car.
After the filming of “The Omen”, the special effects director, John Richardson, went to Holland to make “Bridge Too Far”, with his girlfriend. He was involved in a car crash and his girlfriend was beheaded just like David Warner was in “The Omen”.
During the filming of “Damien Omen II”, the best friend of William Holden was stabbed while they were on holiday. Also, the entire cast came down with a very rare form of influenza, even though there was no outbreaks reported.
     DOPPELGANGERS

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On of the creepiest and intriguing legends is the doppelganger. The doppelganger is the German word for “Double Walker”. It is the identical version of oneself that is thought to accompany every person. This particular phantom symbolizes bad luck and even death. In Norse Mythology, a “vardoger” is a ghostly double who precedes a living person and is seen preforming their actions. There are many theories of what a doppelganger is. One theories is that everyone has a double body, one good and one evil. Assuming you are the good one, the other would be the evil one. Another explanation is that the other “self” is trapped in another time & dimension. I will let you judge whether the doppelganger is just an urban legend or some type of scary paranormal phenomena.EMILIE SAGEE’S EXPERIENCE:
One of the most famous and documented cases involving a Doppelganger was a series of incidents that happened to a woman named Emilie Sagee. It was documented by Author Dale Owen. The story was told to him first hand by Julie Von Guldenstubbe, the second daughter of Baron Von Guldenstubbe. Julie was 13 years old at the time and was a student at a school in Germany in 1845.  The French Headmistress at the school said that Emilie Sagee was known for her kindness and charm. She was well liked by her student body as well as regarded as a honest and trustworthy person. In the middle of the class one day, while Emilie was witting an assignment on the blackboard, what appeared to be an apparition appeared right next to her. The students were in the room and stared in amazement. As quickly as the apparition appeared, she disappeared.
Another incident that occurred during the same year was witnessed by the entire student body of 42 students. The students were assembled in their classroom as they were preparing for their sewing and embroidery class. Emilie was outside of the class window attending a small garden that the students had planted. The supervising teacher was called away into the hallway after another headmistress called to ask her a question. Very slowly, Emilie’s doppelganger appeared in her chair that she normally sat in. All 42 students witnessed it and some ran to the window and clearly saw Ms Sagee still picking flowers from the garden. One of the students was so curious that she was brave enough to go up to the phantom double and attempted to touch it. It was documented that she felt an odd resistance in the air surrounding it. Emile Sagee claimed to never have seen her doppleganger herself.

QUEEN ELIZABETH I:
The Queen of England, Elizabeth I was shocked to see herself (doppleganger) laid out on her bed, she died shortly after.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY (poet):
Percy Shelley is considered one of the great poets of the English language is said to have encountered his own doppleganger in Italy. It silently pointed towards the Mediterranean Sea as it approached him one clear day. He told relatives and friends what he had witnessed. Not long after the incident, just before his 30th birthday in 1822, Shelley died in a sailing accident. He drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN:
Abraham Lincoln saw what he thought was an illusion of sorts after his election. He saw his reflection in a mirror and also saw the phantom twin standing next to him. The twin looked a lot paler and weaker compared to the real Lincoln. It bothered him so much he mentioned it to his wife the same night. She said that she believed the paleness of the other face was an omen that he wouldn’t live through his second term. This was adapted from Washington in Lincoln’s times (1895) by Noah Brooks, who claimed that he had heard it from Lincoln himself in 1864 at the time of the re-election and claimed that the story was confirmed by Mary Todd Lincoln.

THE CHINA DOLL: (This story is not suitable for children to read)
A woman’s husband had sent her a china doll while he was traveling in the Orient, which she put in a glass case in her bedroom. The doll had lovely black hair, real human hair, and was dressed in a red silk kimono. When the husband came home, the woman got pregnant, but she didn’t love her husband and didn’t want the baby (she only stayed for her husband’s money). So she made herself have a miscarriage, and hide the evidence (fetus) inside the hollow china doll. The blood of the fetus, combined with the china doll’s human hair and innate Eastern mystical properties, caused the china doll to come to life. No one noticed the china doll’s hair was starting to grow down the silk kimono, that the dolls cheeks were rosier and the finger nails were growing and getting sharper behind the folds of the kimono. No one noticed that the doll’s eyes followed the woman as she moved around the room and they glowed at night when the lights were turned off.
The woman did sense something out of the ordinary, finally deciding to move the doll down stairs out of the bedroom. After a few weeks, the woman was finding it hard to sleep, imagining that she could hear scratching, rustling, whispering noises coming from downstairs, that seemed to be calling “Momma..Momma!”. She noticed scratches on the wooden chairs, which her husband said must have been mice but the exterminator he called said there were no signs of rodents. The woman tried to lock the doll in a closet but her husband protested as it was so expensive and a piece of art and wanted it out on display. Every day there were a few more scratches on the stairs and every day they got deeper… and reached one step higher.
One night as she was trying to get asleep, she imagined she heard scratching and rustling outside her bedroom door. She screamed for her husband to turn on the light, but by the time he turned the light on there was nothing there…except for some long scratches at the bottom of the door and the faintest whispers from downstairs.
The next night the woman took a couple sleeping pills and went back to bed with the door shut tight and locked for good measure. She finally got some sleep – and as she slept, the china doll stirred. Opening the glass case quietly, the china doll moved to the bottom of the stairs. Using her long sharp finger nails, pulled herself up the stairs until she was at the top of the landing. She whispered… “Momma…I’m coming!” and made her way to the bedroom door. She used her talon-like claws again to climb up the door, inserted one nail in to the door lock and jiggled it open and then slipped around to woman’s side of the bed. The china doll climbed on to the bed and pulled back the bed covers exposing the sleeping woman’s body. The dolls eyes started to glow red as she raised her hands and with her finger nails clawed open the woman’s stomach. Near paralyzed by drugs, pain and terror, the woman screamed and screamed as the doll climbed back into her belly whispering…”Momma I’m home!”.
  THE HELL HOUNDS

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The “hell hound” is a demonic dog found in mythology, folklore and fiction but there have been a number of modern encounters with the hell hound that some say are very real, so again I will let you be the judge.The hell hound has been described as unnaturally large, black in colour, glowing eyes, super strength and speed, ghostly characteristics and some times even has the ability to speak. They are said to guard the entrance to the world of the dead or undertake other duties that are related to the afterlife or the supernatural such as finding lost souls or guarding supernatural treasures.
The most famous hell hound is Cerberus, the hound of Hades from Greek Mythology. They also appear in Celtic mythology and British Mythology but have also been reported in modern times of phantom black dogs.

Here are a few examples of modern sighting of this mysterious black dog:

HELL HOUND OF THE MONS:
A common legend from World War One is the story of Angels and Mons. In August 1914, during the retreat of the British Expeditionary Force from the Belgian city of Mons, it seemed impossible to break through the German army which out numbered the British soldiers two to one. Arthur Machen, a writer of supernatural tales, published a report of an eye witness in a newspaper. He said Saint George was seen fighting of Germans, together with a band of 15th century bowmen. It was then found out it was all made up. But during those dark days, Mons was made famous by another much darker and sinister legend. In November 1914, Captain Yeskes and four of his London Fusilliers went on patrol in No-Man-Land. Several days later, their bodies were found with bite marks at their throats. And in the British trenches, a weird blood-curdling howl was heard…the howl of the Hell hound of the Mons.

PHANTOM BLACK DOGS:
On the 19th April 1972, in Gorleston Norfolk, at 4.45am, coast guard Graham Grant saw a very large black dog-like animal running along the beach. He stood watching it for a few minutes until it suddenly disappeared.

Mark Chester, a 16 year old from Atlanta, Georgia and his friend, Jeff, were driving one evening in 1979 when he saw a black labrador Retriever in front of him. As he watched it, it trotted out in front of him. When it was about three-quarters of the way across the road, it suddenly vanished. His friend saw it too. Fifteen years later, Mark could still recall the sighting was adamant that what he had seen was real.

In 1981, Irene Cole and her husband were driving along the Stanner Road in Herefordshire. They were approximately a mile (1.6 kms) or so along when they saw a huge black dog sitting in the middle of the road. Her husband swerved to avoid it, and the dog simply vanished from view.

 THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

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My prediction is that the film “The Blair Witch Project” will become a urban legend, if it isn’t already. I have talked to a number of people and I was surprised how many people believed it to be true. I believe the Blair Witch Project was based on the “Bell Witch” (first story on this page).The Blair Witch Project is an American horror film that was released in 1999. The story is presented as a documentary pieced together from amateur footage, filmed in real time. The film was produced by Haxan Films Production Company. The film was the first film to be marketed primarily on the internet and had a budget between $500,000 – $700,000 and grossed a massive $248, 639,099 world wide, making it the second highest grossing independent film. Not bad for a low budget horror flick.

The Blair Witch Project is not a movie about ghosts, witches or has any special effects – this film captured the genuinely creepy fears, raw emotions and bone chilling terror of three individuals being lost in a unfamiliar environment.

The Plot: In 1994 film students Heather Donohue, Michael C. Williams and Joshua Leonard set out to produce a documentary about the fabled Blair Witch. They travelled to Burkittsville, Maryland, formerly Blair, and interviewed the locals about the legend of the Blair Witch. The locals told them about a hermit named Rustin Parr who kidnapped seven children and brought them to his house in the forest and took them two at a time into his basement. He felt as if their eyes were staring at his soul, so he would kill one child while the other face a corner. He would then kill the child in the corner. He eventually turned himself into the police, later pleading insanity, saying the spirit of a witch killed in the 18th century had convinced him to kill the seven children. The three young documentary makers also interviewed an eccentric older woman who told them that she encountered the Blair Witch as a young girl.

On the second day, the students began to explore the woods in North Burkittsville to look for evidence of the Blair Witch. A fisherman warns them that the woods are haunted. The students hike to Coffin Rock, where five men were found ritualistically murdered in the 19th century, and camp for the night. On day three, they walk deeper into the forest, despite being uncertain of their exact location on the map. They locate an old cemetery with seven small cairns. They set up camp nearby and then return to the cemetery after dark. One student accidentally disturbs a cairn and Heather attempts to repair it. A bit later, they hear mysterious cracking sounds in the darkness but they are unable to locate the source. They assume it must have animals or even someone following them.

Day four, they attempt to return to their vehicle but fail to find it before dark and are forced to set up camp again. That night, they again hear the cracking noises but can’t see anything. The next morning, they find three small cairns have been built around their tent during the night. As they try to find their way out of the forest, Heather realizes that her map is missing and later Mike reveals that he kicked it into the creek, out of frustration, the previous day. The other two attack Mike in a fit of intense rage. They then all realise that they are totally lost and decide to head south. They soon discover a multitude of humanoid stick figures made of woven sticks and branches suspended from trees (Viewers at that stage would not have known by Heather had cut one of the figures down before they had left). That night, they hear more strange noises, including sounds of children and other unknown entities brushing against the side of the tent. They flee the tent in panic and hide in the dark woods until dawn. Upon returning to the tent, they find their possessions have been rifled through and Josh’s equipment is discovered covered in slime, causing him to panic. As the day passes by, they mysteriously pass a log that was identified as a log they had passed earlier, despite travelling south all day. Again, they set up camp completely demoralized at having wasted the entire day. The next morning, Josh had disappeared. After trying to find him in vain to find him, Mike and Heather eventually break camp and moved on. That night, they hear Josh’s screams in the darkness, but are unable to find him. The next morning, Heather finds a bundle of sticks and fabric outside the tent. On inspection, it is revealed to contain blood-soaked scraps of clothing and what appeared to be Josh’s bloody human hair, teeth and (what looks like) a tongue, but Heather does not mention to Mike.

That night Heather makes a tape of herself apologizing to the others and her family and breaks down crying…while saying: “We’re going to die out here.”. Later, they hear Josh’s cries for help again and follow them to an abandoned house in the woods. Mike runs throughout the house while Heather attempts to follow. Mike believes he can hear Jose in the basement. He follows the sound – after what seems to be a struggle, he then goes silent and drops the video camera to the floor. Heather catches up and notices Mike is not answering her calls. She enters the basement looking for both men, and her camera sees a glimpse of Mike facing the corner. Heather drops the camera and her screams finally fall silent…

  PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK

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The story of Picnic at Hanging Rock is getting urban legend status, there is much confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the story by the general public.The plot: The story begins in a English girls’ school in the Australian bush. The school is headed by Mrs Appleyard and unbending figure head of authority. Her staff included the mathematics mistress Miss Greta McCraw ,who disappears on the rock with three pupils, Masculine de Portier, who teaches French and deportment, and Miss Lumley who is always trying to please Miss Appleyard. The central character is Miranda, a student – her circle of friends included Irma, Marion, Rosamund and Sara. Edith hovers around the edge of this group looking for acceptance. Sara, an orphan, who is a kind of charity pupil and is disliked by Mrs Appleyard. She is not allowed to the join the outing at the rock because she has not memorized an assigned poem.

The girls ride to Hanging Rock, 500-foot tall volcanic rock formation about 11km northeast of the college. Miss de Portier and Miss McCraw are the supervisors. Mr Hussey drives the girls in his wagon to the rock. For some reason everyone’s time piece and wrist-watches all stop at noon when they arrive. Miranda cuts a cake to honour St. Valentine’s Day. In mid-afternoon, four of the girls, Miranda, Irma, Marion and Edith, decide to go and explore the rock, in defiance of Mrs Appleyard’s specific instructions. After a brief nap on a plateau, they get up and seemly appear to be under a spell. Three of them move towards an inner recess. Edith cries out to them not to go. She screams and runs downwards. One of the teachers, Miss McCraw, left the picnic unnoticed and begins to climb the rock.

Although due back at 8.00pm, it wasn’t until 10.30pm when Mr Hussey’s wagon arrives back at the school – they then tell Mrs Appleyard about the mysterious disappearance. Edith remains hysterical and unable to explain what had happened…only that she saw Miss McCraw heading up towards the plateau without her skirt. The police investigation was led by Sgt Bumpher and Constable Jones lead them to a young Englishman Michael Fitzhubert, who was having lunch at the rock with his family, his uncle Colonel Fitzhubert and Mrs Fitzhubert. Michael and Albert, the Fitzhubert party’s young valet, spent part of the lunch watching the picnic. But they offered no clues to the investigation.

The nearby town of Woodend become restless as news spreads about the disappearance. The town folk are angry and want answers. Michael became obsessed with finding Miranda, after getting Albert to accompany him back to the rock for another search but finds nothing. The next morning, Albert returns to the rock and finds a delirious Michael, whom he helps back to the ground. Albert follows Michael’s trail and discovers Irma, unconscious but unharmed. At the Fitzhubert home, where Erma is being treated for dehydration and exposure, she tells the police that she has no memory of what happened on the rock or the fate of the others. The servants note to themselves that her corset has gone missing, a clue that is never solved in the original book or the movie but is discussed in the 1987 update with the extra chapter “The Secret of Hanging Rock”.

Michael and Albert began to have terrible nightmares about a great evil that is lurking around Hanging Rock. The school ran as usual but soon parents started to notify Mrs Appleyard they would be withdrawing their daughters from the school. One day, during gym class, Irma turns up to tell the girls that her parents are taking her to Europe. The girls at first greet her with silence , then begin screaming at her that she must tell them what happened and attack her. Miss de Portier has to pull them off and Irma runs away.

Mrs Appleyard starts to drink in excess and becomes more abusive than ever towards Sara, telling her that her guardian has not paid her tuition and she will be sent back to the institution. She then lies to the rest of the staff that Sara’s guardian has taken her away overnight. The next day, Sara’s body is found in the greenhouse by the school gardener. It was thought she had either jumped or was pushed from the second floor window. When the gardener rushes to Mrs Appleyard’s office, he finds her fully dressed with all her things packed. Albert told Michael that he had a dream that his orphan sister came to him in his dreams. Sara is then revealed to be Albert’s sister.

After Sara’s body is discovered, Mrs Appleyard disappears before the police could interview her about the circumstances surrounding Sara’s death. A few days later, Mrs Appleyard is found dead beneath Hanging Rock. She jumped off the rock to her death.
What a spin tingling story – I suggest get the book and watch the film.

The novel “Picnic at Hanging Rock” by Joan Lindsay was first published in Australia in 1967. It tells the story of the mysterious disappearance of three school girls and their teacher during a picnic at geological formation known as Hanging Rock in Australia on Valentines Day in 1900. The reason for their disappearance whether it was human, natural or supernatural is never discovered but their disappearance has a profound effect on their community. Picnic at Hanging Rock (the film) was directed by Peter Wier, adapted from the novel of the same name in 1975. It became one of the first Australian films to reach an international audience, receiving international acclaim and commercial success.

It is interesting that the original conclusion to the novel remained unpublished until 1987 when the final chapter was released, this was the wishes of Joan Lindsay’s and the publishers made the a wise decision to pull out the last chapter in 1967. This was done to give the reader the sense of mystery and to give the idea that the story could be true and unsolved. Joan Lindsay asked the the final chapter only be released three years after her death. The last chapter was titled “The Secret of Hanging Rock”. This chapter solves the mystery of what happened to the three student and their teacher. It indicated that the girls met a supernatural ending. Find the book and enjoy the ending.

There is much debate whether “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is fact or fiction. The truth is that it is a fictional story that is so well written that it gives the impression that it must be fact. Hanging Rock is a true site in Victoria, Australia. The author does give the impression that the story is fact, by mentioning a newspaper report of 1914 at the end of the book, giving the impression there are actual articles on the disappearances. The reality is that these articles do not exist. There have been many searches for articles, police records and any other information relating to the story. Again no records exist. All the characters are created for the novel. The places are childhood memories of Joan Lindsay. The college is fiction, based on a school from Lindsay’s childhood. The novel was set on Valentines Day, Saturday February 14th 1900. The actual day was a Wednesday. The characters in the story never existed, there are no records of their births or deaths or any information to say any of these people existed.  Although there is a exhibit to the story of Picnic at Hanging Rock located at the site itself that gives the impression that it is a true story. It does not mention anywhere that the story is a very well written fictional story published in the 1960s.


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