One of my most indelible cinema memories is attending an afternoon showing of Larry Clark's snapshot of teenage wasteland, Kids, with my friend David Krasner. We were in college and we both loved films and Kids had gotten a lot of buzz, not only because of its subversive subject matter but also because its wunderkind screenwriter, Harmony Korine, was exactly our age.
The movie centers on Telly, a repulsive charismatic HIV-positive wastrel; one of Telly's buds is a particularly stump-brained ne'er-do-nothing named Casper, who likes to refer to himself, in perfect singsong, as "Casper the Dopest Ghost." And he may very well be the dopest ghost, but he is not my favorite.
While I'm at it, here are some other indelible silver screen grim grinning ghosts: Joe Gillis from Billy Wilder's vitriolic ode to Hollywood, Sunset Boulevard; the Overlook Hotel from the Kubrick adaptation of The Shining; the title character(s) from one of my absolute favorite films, Poltergeist; Bruce Willis's kind-hearted shrink Malcolm Crowe from The Sixth Sense; and, at the other end of the spectrum, the ohmygodsoevil Samara Morgan from The Ring.
Like Samara, Susie Salmon, the central character in Alice Sebold's exquisite novel The Lovely Bones, is a child ghost. Over the course of the story, poor Susie leads us from the circumstances of her premature demise to the emotional toll her death has on her family. Through this tragedy, her only confidant is the reader. We know who murdered her. We know what secrets her sister has begun to keep. But we're as helpless as Susie and can only watch and wait and hope. Yes, oh yes, Susie Salmon is my favorite ghost, if only because, of all the spectral entities on this list, she more than the rest deserves a hug.
And while I'm on the subject, isn't there something inherently optimistic about the notion of a ghost story? After all, if ghosts exist, then, logically, there must be an afterlife, and thus every ghost story, even Peter Straub's nihilistic Ghost Story, carries with it a kernel of promise. That said, one of my shallow imagination's nascent concoctions is an atheistic ghost story, one in which the ghosts are not the restless remnants of the dead but instead are the...
Oh, never mind. I do go off on tangents, don't I.
From the spooky crew here at 7 Criminal Minds to all of our readers, we hope you had a delicious Halloween. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some candy aisles to pillage.