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William Castle Blog - Part 4

The Legend of Saint Sarah: May 24, 2011

The Catholic Church explains the legend about Sarah this way…

Among the first followers of Jesus were three women: Mary Jacob, Mary Salome (the mothers of the Apostles John and James) and Mary Magdalene! After the crucifixion, the Romans exiled the three Mary’s from the Holy Land along with their Egyptian servant, Sarah.  They were put on a ship with neither sail nor oar and set adrift in the Mediterranean Sea.

Guided by Providence, the Mary’s ship miraculously found its way safely to the shores of the French Camargue at the town that would become known as Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, The Saint Marys of the Sea.  Here, the three Mary’s began preaching the word of Christ throughout Europe.

But there is another version of the legend, as well.  The Gypsies of France, or Romas as they prefer to be called, have their own secret version which they tell around their caravan campfires.

The Gypsies describe Sarah as a Provencal Gypsy. After a vision of the coming of the Marys’ ship, Sarah waded out into the tumultuous sea and saved them when their boat capsized in a violent storm off the Camargue coast.   She was later converted to Christianity and spread the word of Christ among members of her own tribe.

To the Roman Catholic Church, Sarah remains unrecognized. To the Gypsies, however, the true story is clear.  Sarah is their patron saint.

So, on the 24th of May each year, for as long as anyone can remember, Gypsies from throughout Europe descend upon Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to venerate their Saint Sarah in prayer and in music.  Thousands of Gypsy caravans fill this small town at the end of the road in France that has become a crossroads of wild Gypsy music, mixing traditional Tziganes music, flamenco and jazz.  And the prayers and dancing, the celebration and singing go on throughout the night… but the music stays in your heart forever.

May 24th

Saint-Maries-de-la-Mer, France

I walked  purposefully along a long set of well-worn stone steps leading to the fortified Church of Saint-Maries-de-la-Mer.  The caravans, thousands of them, which have been arriving all week, are settling in to Camargue. I entered the church and headed directly to the basement crypt.  For a moment, the statue of Black Sarah, the Patron Saint of the Gypsies, stood alone on her altar in the dark surrounded by hundreds of tall white candles.  Most of them were lit.

I stood at the altar and wrote a note of intention–my wish, my hope, my prayer.  After lighting a candle, I placed my note on the altar like so many others have done before me.  I turned suddenly and walked out into the warm morning sun.

The faraway strumming of a flamenco guitar caused me to pause for a moment.

I was unaware of the dark-skinned man lurking in the shadows.

In one week from this very day, I would die at my home in Beverly Hills, California.


Is That Me In That Glass?

I seem to be popping up everywhere.  Are you sick of me yet?


Monster Kids and Horror Fans!!!

I must say I love horror fans.  They rock, as my new friend Drew Tinnin would say!  And, Drew, I must say you rock!

From Monster kids from long ago to the horror fans of today, a few things have stayed constant, your loyalty, your compassion and your freaky obsession with things that go bump in the night.

I always heard you, was one of you, but now I want to reach out to you again.  And it’s so much more difficult now.

I hope my voice still resinates with you because I am forever yours.  I owe you a million thank yous.  You made my life rich and gave me a guiding light.

That light still shines from where I stand, behind the veil, hoping to connect  to each one of you again.

Thanks for suspending your disbelief, thanks for screaming in all the right places and laughing, too.  Thanks for going along with this lonely, misunderstood kid who grew up only wanting one thing…to scare the pants off of you.

On this first day of March, this dead Castle holds up a glass of red wine, and with a song in his heart toasts you.

The horror fan, the monster kids–I couldn’t have done it without you.

If you have a moment could you just send me one adjective that describes you–the horror fan.

The word that describes me is afraid. How about you?

Also, for writer extraordinaire, Dan Dillard, who else wants to have another go at a brand new Scare It Forward?


A Ghost’s Reflection…Can You See It?

In life, I always wondered if ghosts could see themselves in the mirror.  Legend has it that Vampires can’t see their reflection.  There has been much debate on whether phantoms can see theirs.

Here is the interesting thing.  I know I can see myself in a mirror…I just don’t know if anybody else can.

So I did a little experiment.  I took my old camera (not the new one in my new iPhone) and stuck it on a tripod.  I walked past the gilded mirror I have mounted in the living room of my home.  I clicked the shutter using a remote control device.

And you can see the evidence for yourself.

Interesting that I appear in strange shades of black and white.

I see my image.  The question is, do you?

Please let me know so we can settle this debate once and for all.


iPhones and Facetime!

This is the view near my home in Gordes, France.  I snapped it with my iPhone.

I remember visiting Disneyland and enjoying the displays at World of Tomorrow.  Did you ever go?  They had rotary phones that let you imagine a time when you could talk to someone on the phone and see them.  It seemed impossible.

I can do this now.  Want to have “facetime” with a corpse?  I bet you do.

Let’s see if I can make that happen.  I bet I can.  But then I might have to insure you against death by fright.

I love your toys.  I’m over the moon with your toys.

This post puts you on notice.  You never know when you might get a call from me.


Meine Liebschen!

I know what you are thinking.   How did a man like me get a girl like that?   And you would be right.  I fell in love with her the first moment I laid eyes on her.  She was too good for me.  I knew that then, I know that now.  But for some reason, she fell in love with me.  I couldn’t have made the films I made or had the life I enjoyed without her.  She was by my side every step of the way, making sure I had a healthy perspective, feet solidly planted on the ground, even if my head was in the stars.

And her feet were always firmly planted in the ground.  Salt of the earth, my Ellen.  That’s why the earth doesn’t want to give her up.

Today she turns 89!  I will be next to her, holding her hand, telling her I love her.  I will caress her chiseled bones, look in her clear blue eyes. My beauty. She will hear me because our love is forever.  FOREVER.

She was brave and strong and kind and compassionate.  Her touch was light but solid. Her words loving but firm. Her eyes danced, but were focused.  My Ellen.

Too shy to be in the pictures.  Happy just to hold my hand.  My Ellen.

Our love will last forever.  FOREVER.  I am yours.

How did you put up with me?  My anxiety? My ridiculous ideas? My yearning need to be accepted?

All I needed was you.  I know that know.  And you were heaven sent.

The moment I met you I knew there was such a thing as fate.  A ship brought you to a harbor where you were greeted by a lady with a torch.  You drove across country in your Buick.  You survived a war, with a father wearing the star of David.  You worked tirelessly for the Dutch resistance.

I made horror films.  You were the one to celebrate. I always knew that.  And I celebrate you everyday.  I know you know I’m here.  Right around the corner, when the moon is full, I’ll be waiting.  But you’re too good, the earth won’t let you leave.

On this, your 89th birthday, I sit by your side, loving you, as I always will.

Your Billy boy.


The City of the Dead in Cairo, Egypt..

There exists a City of the Dead in Cairo, Egypt. With all the turmoil surrounding this ancient city right now, I couldn’t help but write about this city’s dedication to the dead and the unspeakable poverty that plaques this historic country.

Qarafa, or the City of the Dead, is actually two old cemeteries. Traditionally, every family in Cairo maintains some sort of mausoleum where family members are buried. To this day, the cemeteries are still in use.

But it’s not just the dead that live in these cemeteries. Since the 1960’s, the cemeteries provide homes for the living as well. Living families now live within the mausoleums. Some have been there for generations, and look after the tombs for their owners.

When you enter the cemetery you can see a bustling grid of tombs and mausoleums where people live and work amongst their dead and ancestors. Some residents live here to be near recent and older ancestors, others because they were forced from more crowded areas in central Cairo.

The northern cemetery of the City of the Dead is where most of the people live. There is a sense of peace in this part of the cemetery although to witness the extreme poverty is quite astonishing. Despite the oddity of the situation there are even a handful of shops and cafes, and many of the inhabitants live quite normal lives. The northern cemetery is home to some of Cairo’s most beautiful monuments, such as the Mausoleums of Sultan Qaitbey and Sultan Barquq.

I’ve heard that tourists shouldn’t stray too far from the main paths, and it’s best not to linger long past sunset.

I don’t think it is the dead that one has to fear.

For the poor people living with the dead, they don’t have much of a choice.

The dead are sometimes better companions than the corrupt, the hostile or the power hungry.


What I Left Has Not Been Found!

The Catacombs in Paris and National Geographic

I am not the only one exploring the catacombs of Paris. See Finding My Voice In The Catacombs of Paris It seems that National Geographic descended into the bowels of Paris and managed to capture what others don’t often get the chance to see. What is so interesting are the artists who find this space inspiring.

I hid something in these catacombs 33-years-ago.  And then I died.  All of this will come crystal clear in the year to come.

See my photos below or go to: See Finding My Voice In The Catacombs of Paris


And The Oscar Goes To… William Castle

Sounds great. Doesn’t it?  Has a nice ring to it.  Too bad I never got to hear those words.

I dreamt about getting an Oscar.  I really have.  If I’m honest, I still dream about it.  Cold, bone aching dreams.  Dreams that leave me breathless, heart pounding and I’m dead.

I even used to practice my acceptance speech.  “First, I would like to thank the Academy…” and then I would have some gimmick up my sleeve that would scare the living daylights out of all the filmmakers in the audience. It would have been so very sweet.

But can you imagine any of my films being nominated for an Academy award?  “Rosemary’s Baby” was nominated for best screenplay and Ruth Gordon won for best supporting actress.

I was thrilled for them.  I watched them from my living room.  I didn’t feel well enough to attend that Oscar’s party. But “Rosemary’s Baby” didn’t even come close to being nominated for best picture.  It was a horror film.  And back then, horror films never got nominated.

I would be lying if I did not tell you I was desperate for recognition by my contemporaries.  I wanted “their” approval.  Of course, I seldom received it.  I was known as a “B” horror director and I never was able to step out of that role.  They would have laughed at me, but my films made money.  But “they” still didn’t take me seriously.

I’m fine with this now.  Age and death gives you perspective.  I have a far more rewarding accomplishment.  I mean this sincerely.  I have you.  And you still remember me.  And most of you remember me fondly.

I am delighted to know this.  Surprised.  But thrilled.

Nothing is more important to me than the audiences I made films for.  And to think that that audience has continued to grow.

I have received more than an Oscar.  I have received your trust, your love, your loyalty.

So, “I would like to thank you, my fans.  For being so incredibly loyal.  For screaming in all the right places.  For laughing at some of the right places.  I would also like to thank you for laughing at some of the wrong places.  Hell, it’s a horror film.  If we can’t have fun with them, we are a sorry bunch.  But not you.  You are true blue.  And over the last fifty years, I have loved to hear your pounding hearts, feel your sweaty palms, listen for your unbridles screams.  So, dear Academy of Motion Pictures, go screw yourself.  I accept this award on behalf of my fans. This one’s for you!”