I'm sorry to report that I don't have a new local ghost story for this Halloween. You could revisit my old ones at Haunted Pocahontas County, if you're disappointed. However, I do have a couple of additions for my collection of "scare the tourists away" horror movies set in or around West Virginia. I hope to bundle these and make them available at Snowshoe Resort someday.
A few weeks ago, I caught Wicked Little Things on television. (The occasion was Zombie Day on the SciFi channel.) According to the IMDb synopsis, In 1913, in Carlton Mine, Addytown, Pennsylvania, the cruel owner of a mine uses poor children in the exploration and after an explosion, a group of children is buried alive. These zombified waifs haunt the woods and eat hapless teenagers who foolishly sneak off for illicit teenage fun. Of course, some unsuspecting city folk move to the woods, screams and bloodshed ensue, and a wise old woodsman explains that the zombie children will never rest until they eat the mine owner's grandson, who wants to open a ski resort.
Wicked Little Things has several bright spots--Ben Cross is the wise old woodsman, and the sets, costumes, and makeup produce some haunting effects. The little zombie waifs move through the woods like a pack of feral dogs, and the stylized sets recall spooky silent films.
Pocahontas Countians are bound to love a movie where the zombie waifs hunger for the flesh of a ski resort developer, and I think the coal fields of Pennsylvania qualify this movie for the Appalachian backcountry genre. At least one other viewer connected Wicked Little Things With Pick Axes to West Virginia.
There are five movies in the Pumpkinhead series, and the fifth one is called Pumpkinhead 4 - Blood Feud. (Don't ask me about the math.) Until this latest installment, the fictional locale has been unspecified, although the characters have generic "Southern accents," and the setting is vaguely rural. The presence of a sinister granny woman who will conjure a vengeance-exacting creature from her pumpkin patch on request has sent me looking for an Appalachian connection, but Blood Feud settles this question for me. The titular feud is between the Hatfields and McCoys, placing the whole series on the Kentucky--West Virginia border.
These gory, formulaic movies contain some things that interest me. One is Lance Henriksen, whose character dies in the original movie, but subsequently returns as a helpful ghost and plot explicator. Another is the moral message--that revenge is corrosive to everyone involved. In a genre that usually teaches us that teenage fun is deadly and girls trip whenever they run away from monsters, this is surprising sophistication.
If you wish to review, here are some other movies from my "scare the tourists" collection: