A great little article on the Indian Burial Ground Trope of the late 1970’s-1980’s, published in Atlas Obscura. I thought this was fascinating, as the article makes it pretty clear that Stephen King was the major creator in horror to use this trope seriously in stories about ghosts and/or the undead.
I definitely see the author’s point about guilt. A lot of horror associated with ghosts embodies our fear of the people we’ve abused. Very often the energy behind a haunting is the hidden guilt and shame of Privilege; people have a natural fear of those that they know they have wronged. What could be worse than a victim empowered to violate YOUR boundaries, or repay you in kind for your abuse?
The victims of a haunting like the classic family of the Amityville Horror are wonderful icons of blithe privilege. Their wounded faith in their own innocence really strikes a chord, and reminds me over and over of the responses I see in modern children of privilege, including myself, when we are confronted with the fact that we’re benefiting from injustice and murder.
“But we didn’t do anything wrong!” they wail. “We’re not racists, we just bought a house!”
True enough, folks. But payback is still a bitch.