The Haunting, Season 3? Three Prospective Source Texts

In a recent conversation with Entertainment Weekly to promote his new Netflix series Midnight Mass, Mike Flanagan reiterated that (alas) there are no current plans for a third season of The Haunting. The EW piece, though, did shed some insight onto Flanagan’s criteria for selecting a ghost-centric literary property to bring to the small screen. If a third season of The Haunting ever is considered, here are three books that I think would make excellent candidates for adaptation.

 

Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

Flanagan has proven himself a master of the Stephen King adaptation, so Simmons’s IT-inspired horror epic would be right up his dark alley. This novel about a haunted school spreading evil throughout the town of Elm Haven, Illinois, features both quiet dread (other-worldly voices intoning on a radio) and spectacular ghoulishness (you thought you had some awful teachers growing up!). Simmons’s sequel A Winter Haunting (which centers on the ghostly encounters of one of the protagonists from Summer of Night, who returns to Elm Haven as an adult) would also furnish material for a terrific coda to a stretch of episodes. A big-screen version has been long-rumored, but in the absence of such a film, Netflix could provide an ideal home for Summer of Night.

 

Coldheart Canyon: A Hollywood Ghost Story by Clive Barker

This ambitious and arguably under-appreciated novel mixes dark fantasy (the Wild Hunt is brought to California) and supernatural horror (the predations by a former film vamp) into a biting satire of the modern movie industry. The secluded Old Hollywood mansion where much of the action takes place can loom sinisterly right alongside Shirley Jackson’s Hill House (Season 1 of The Haunting) and Henry James’s Bly Manor (Season 2). Barker’s specters here have a particularly carnal bent, which would bring a much edgier element and more carnivalesque air to the typical ghostly proceedings on The Haunting.

 

Haunted: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk’s unabashedly macabre novel/linked-collection riffs on (and references) the famous spook-story-telling sessions of Mary Shelley, her husband Percy, Lord Byron, and John Polidori at the Villa Diodati in 1816.  Here a group of aspiring modern-day artists discover that their writers’ retreat is actually a site of nightmarish entrapment (inside an abandoned theater). The book’s structure–characters’ recited works interpolated within the ongoing, ever-darkening captivity narrative–would lend itself perfectly to episodic televisual format. Yes, the ghosts that Palahniuk scares up might not be of the traditional variety, but as the novel’s title portends, there is plenty of haunting experience in store.

Lore Report: “Confidence” (Episode 179)

 

For as long as humans have been around, there have been people gullible enough to believe anything, and others who are willing to take advantage of that.  And while modern con artists tend to focus on fraud of some kind, their predecessors sometimes leaned heavily into a different world altogether.  A world where anything was possible, and an understanding of what made people tick included understanding what made them feel fear: the world of folklore.

The game’s afoot in the latest episode of the Lore podcast, as host Aaron Mahnke travels the crossroads of con artistry and folklore. The bulk of the narrative is devoted to the story of Joseph Brown, a savvy, superstition-exploiting scammer in early 19th Century England who could have inspired countless Scooby-Doo villains. Mahnke also details Brown’s orchestration of schemes involving the practices of porch watching and fortune telling, but the tale steadily veers away from the folkloric into base criminality and legal-system machination. Matters pick up again in the closing segment, concerning the so-called “Yorkshire Witch” Mary Bateman, an opportunistic thief and fraud whose hoaxes included “The Prophet Hen of Leeds” (wait until you get a load of what this allegedly magic chicken lays). Mary’s eventual execution brings the narrative full circle, and ties the episode together nicely. While relatively light on folklore, “Confidence” is a bold foray into the sordid world of dark crime.

“Statuesque” (original poem)

A sword-and-sorcery fantasy poem (sporting an allegorical base):

 

Statuesque

By Joe Nazare

 

The barbarian’s regimen borders on the religious
In its tireless devotion to hypertrophy.
From morn to moonglow Arod tests his physical limits,
Adrenalized by an unrelenting hatred.

His muscles drawn taut as the towing rope,
Arod hauls uphill a massive marble pillar–
A scavenged memento from the sacked civilization of his people,
Who’d refused to be taxed by an avaricious despot.

Next he seizes and envelops the thick, yellowed skull
Once shouldered by notorious brawler Durrell the Obdurate,
Squeezing until his own cranium seems apt to shatter from the strain,
All the while imagining it’s King Giles subjected to such crushing grip.

He cuts wide crescents in the riverside silt with his broadsword,
A training maneuver that eventually manages to stir up a dragling.
Always ready to intensify, Arod impales the vermicular scourge,
Lofts and swings its writhing form in torso-scorching arcs.

Lining up before the stoutest tanium tree he can find,
He launches determined, alternating blows with his spiked club,
Chopping, chopping away, swelling the muscles of his arms
As well as the mound of woodchips at his feet.

With the audacity of a madman, he tracks down a ‘warebear
And baits the behemoth into hand-to-paw battle.
A gory victory over his grisly opponent achieved,
Arod feasts on its roasted, protein-rich flesh as reward.

His daily labors earn him a fantastic physique,
Make him the envy of every underdeveloped man,
Cause him to impurify the thoughts of the chastest maiden,
Yet incredibly, he deems his own gains insufficient.

In Arod’s embittered mind, such growth is still
Not enough to embody his prodigious wrath.
So he locates the cave of the banished court-sorcerer Anabola
And solicits the concoction of a special enhancement elixir.

When questioned about the results that can be expected,
Anabola promises the barbarian that he’ll become rock-hardened.
Though no doubt misleading, the wizard’s claim proves true:
Overnight, Arod turns absolutely–not positively–granitic.

A dozen guardsmen are then summoned to deliver his sculpted bulk
To Giles’s stronghold, to serve as a cautionary figure,
A stony trophy unceremoniously entered into
The king’s ever-growing Hall of Thwarted Warriors.