In 1920, esteemed invention powerhouse Thomas Edison shocked and titillated the public by announcing to American Magazine that for some time he’d been working with his team on a very special invention: a machine that could contact the dead. This was quite a surprise for a man of science, and some believe he was trolling everyone, but Edison claimed that searching for communication with spirits might not be in opposition of science at all.

Jeannette Walls wrote The Glass Castle to conquer shame about her hardscrabble past, but the metaphor of the Glass Castle is almost universally relatable. It represents the impossible dreams for the future that most of weave for ourselves, the glittering dreams instilled in childhood, a fantastic goal to reach for that we can never quite touch.

The tin foil hat (misnomer for aluminum foil, which is the product actually sold in stores) is a pervasive metaphor for paranoia and conspiracy theorists, but there’s no record of any real life conspiracy theorist ever seriously fashioning some Reynold’s wrap into headwear. How, then, did this bit of absurd fashion come to be associated with paranoia and mind control prevention?

Peter Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures takes its audience on a voyage through the twisted fantasy world woven by of a pair of adolescent girl murderers. The movie ends with a scene that stabs an icy stake through the heart of innocence: the gruesome slaying of one of the girls’ mothers. The movie’s dreamlike atmosphere feels like a dark, warped fairytale, but it was based on a crime committed by two real girls in 1950s New Zealand: Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme. The motive? Juliet was leaving for America, and Pauline’s mother was against Pauline going with her.

TThe breakneck revenge-fueled turns in Park Chan-Wook The Handmaiden‘s astonishing plot are owed directly to their source material: Sarah Waters’ The Fingersmith. Although The Fingersmith is set in Victorian era England and The Handmaiden is set in Korea under Japanese rule in the early 20th century, they’re both tales of class and desire mixed up with twisty, double-sided plots.

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is a Netflix original ghost story that haunts more with its quiet beauty than with fear. It’s a love letter to the lyrically chilling Shirley Jackson and a study on the lonely emptiness of ghosts unable to move past the shock of death. We use ghosts to scare ourselves, to play on what we fear may be lurking in the shadows, to explain the memories of the dead that weave… Read more »

Clowns have never been wholly innocent. They were born of a a need for mischevious, boundary-pushing humor in the face of power. But now, seemingly more than ever, clowns are the face of utter horror and terror, literally embodying fear much like Pennywise in Stephen King’s It. Is there really an epidemic of predatory, “killer” clowns roving the United States?