When the lights went out

Growing up in West Yorkshire in the early 1970s, Pat Holden would often hear his mum talk about her encounters with an infamous poltergeist. Now a film director, Holden has put those stories onto lớn the big screen.

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Rene Holden used lớn read tea leaves & tarot cards & was known among muốn friends for her psychic abilities. "She was interested in anything spooky or supernatural or weird, basically," her son says.

When Rene's sister-in-law's sister Jean told her about the supernatural happenings in her otherwise unremarkable Pontefract council house, Rene became a regular visitor to lớn watch the supposed paranormal activities.

"It did everything a poltergeist does normally," Pat Holden recalls. "I say normally. Throwing things around, freezing rooms down, creating water puddles và making noises. And he did a lot of unique things as well."

According to a book published in 1981, the visitor had a mischievous sense of humour. It ate the family's sandwiches, leaving giant teeth marks, & smeared door handles with jam.

It even put on gloves belonging lớn the visiting Aunt Maude & proceeded to lớn "conduct" the family as they sang Onward Christian Soldiers.

One night, Jean Pritchard decided khổng lồ carry out an experiment inlớn its powers. "They put some eggs in a wooden box and sat on the box," Pat Holden says.


"And these eggs started flying in from the kitchen inlớn the living room where they were & smashing on the floor. Each time that happened, they looked in the box and there was another egg missing."

The Pontefract poltergeist, also known as the Blaông chồng Monk, became a cause celebre aao ước poltergeist chasers.

Pat was never allowed lớn see for himself - he was deemed too young - but instead stayed at trang chủ watching Hammer Horror films & spooky TV shows.

Forty years later he has made his name as a film-maker & has returned to lớn the spooky tales of his childhood for his latest film, When the Lights Went Out.

"I'm sceptical myself, but my mum & my auntie were very down to earth, working-class people," Holden says. "They were very ethical và moral & they were quite religious.

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"The idea of them making something lượt thích this up, I just can't imagine that happening. Also it's not just their word for it - there were so many people who saw it first h&.

"The mayor went round, the police, they had psychic investigators, friends và family - so many people saw it. It makes you think there's a good chance that it must have sầu happened. They can't all be lying."

The goings on are well recorded in paranormal circles, but there is no first-h& evidence và the family vì chưng not want lớn speak to lớn the truyền thông media now.

Diane, the daughter who was 12 at the time of the first haunting, was at the centre of the most dramatic episode, when she was supposedly dragged upstairs by her nechồng.

When Holden took Diane back khổng lồ the house while researching the film, he says she was still too scared khổng lồ go inkhổng lồ the living room.

"I think it really affected her quite deeply at the time. There was never really any physical harm done - the ghost never really hurt them - but it was terrifying."

After a while the Pritchards came khổng lồ tolerate their supernatural lodger - or as much as you can when something is tipping up plant pots and smearing marmalade & mustard down the stairs.

"I think her main woe from the ghost was having lớn clean up after it," Holden says. "It would turn the house upside down và she'd have sầu to clean it up. She was fiercely houseproud."


Whether it was all an elaborate practical joke or something more spooky, Holden has embellished the story to lớn make it fit it into lớn a horror movie template.

He suggests the setting of a semi-detached suburban council house sets it apart from other horror films. Indeed, the result resembles what 1982 film Poltergeist would look like if remade by Mike Leigh.

"It's very much a haunted house story and it's got a lot of those genre conventions in there but it's a quality setting," Holden says.

The house itself has now been bought by the film's producer Bil Butức thì. So has the poltergeist been reawakened by the renewed attention?

"There was a reporter went round và she thought she heard something, and apparently there were some guys working there who thought they heard something, so maybe it hasn't gone away," Holden says.

Perhaps Fred is unhappy with the way he has been portrayed or wants a fee? "I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe he's got an agent & he'll be onkhổng lồ us."

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