- Original series
- Books Released In 1995
- Covers by Tim Jacobus
- Classic Goosebumps
- Covers by Brandon Dorman
- Books with Video Game Monsters
- Video games (topic)
- Red Herrings
The Headless Ghost
- View history
The original 1995 cover illustration shows a headless ghost walking down the stairs, while carrying his severed head.
The 2018 Classic Goosebumps reprint in 2018 involves him sliding down a stair railing.
- 3 Reprints and rereleases
- 4 Differences
- 5.1 Differences
- 6 Merchandise
- 7 Television adaptation
- 8 Advertisement
- 9.1 Conceptual
- 10.1 References in other Goosebumps media
THEY'VE GOT A REAL HEAD START...
Everyone knows about Hill House. It's the biggest tourist attraction in town. That's because it's haunted. Haunted by the ghost of a thirteen-year-old boy. A boy with no head! Duane and Stephanie love Hill House. It's dark. And creepy. And totally scary. Still, they've never actually seen the ghost. Until the night they decide to go on a search. A search for his head...
Duane Comack and his friend, Stephanie Alpert , live in the relatively uninteresting town of Wheeler Falls . Although, they liven it by terrorizing the neighborhood. The two kids love pulling pranks — like looking into windows while wearing masks and making scary noises in the bushes. The only other thing scary about Wheeler Falls is Hill House , a building rumored to be haunted. Being that Hill House is the only real tourist attraction in Wheeler Falls, regular tours are held there, which Duane and Stephanie attend often. Their favorite guide is an elderly man named Otto . During a tour, Otto recounts the story of how Hill House became haunted.
According to legend, the house was built by a sea captain for his wife, Annabel. When it was finally finished, the captain was called to sea, and his wife was forced to spend her time alone in the house, waiting for her husband to return. However, the captain never came back, so the wife fled the house. As time passed, town residents began reporting ghost sightings of a man holding a lantern and calling for his wife. Regardless of its past, the Craw Family moved into the house. Their son, Andrew, was a nasty child; he pulled pranks on others and generally caused trouble. One night, Andrew discovered a room in the house. Inside, waiting for him, was the ghost of the sea captain. The ghost told Andrew that — since they'd seen each other — Andrew could not leave. The ghostly captain grabbed onto Andrew and pulled his head off, reportedly hiding it somewhere in the house later. After this ordeal, the captain vanished, leaving Andrew as the new ghost of Hill House — forever searching for his lost head.
After their tour, Duane and Stephanie go terrorize a local boy by throwing fake spiders in his window. Stephanie tells Duane that she's grown bored of pulling the same pranks, and she has a better idea; Stephanie tells Duane that they should hunt for Andrew's head during the next tour. Duane is reluctant, but eventually agrees.
The two go back for another tour, and Otto reveals more about the spirits of Hill House. The man tells the guests that — after Andrew's death — his little sister, Hannah, was driven mad. She stayed in her room and collecting dolls endlessly. Andrew's mother died by falling down the stairs, and his father seemingly burned in the house's fireplace. While on the tour, Duane notices a boy looking at him oddly. Stephanie tells him to ignore the unknown boy. The two friends break off from the group to search for Andrew's head. The kids go upstairs, where the tour never goes. They hear voices and want to investigate, but Otto catches them and sends them out of the house.
After leaving, the two are confronted by the boy from the tour. He says his name is Seth and that he can help them see a real ghost in the house. According to Seth, the ghosts never reveal themselves on the tour. They only come out at night. The three kids enter the house through the back, and they begin searching the building. Seth tells them another ghost story; this one is about a boy who was killed in the house's dumbwaiter. Eventually, Duane and Stephanie step inside of a pantry, and Seth locks them in. Seth claims that he is Andrew, the ghost.
Andrew explains that the head he's using is borrowed, and he has to return it. Andrew now wants Duane's head. Andrew attempts to attack Duane, but the group accidentally stumbles across a hidden tunnel behind the house's walls. Inside, there is a ladder leading to another secret room below. In that room, the trio finds Andrew Craw's missing head. Suddenly, the real spirit of Andrew appears, startling the boy who had claimed to be him. The real ghost grabs ahold of his head. The apparition thanks the group before vanishing inside the walls, now free to go into the afterlife.
Otto finds the trio, and he scolds them for sneaking into the house. Seth is revealed to be Otto's nephew, and he's scolded for telling ghost stories. Duane and Stephanie swear they saw a real ghost, but Otto doesn't believe them.
After several weeks pass, Duane and Stephanie have given up on scaring the neighborhood. However, during the winter, the friends decide to take one final tour of Hill House. Otto, and another guide, Edna are pleased to see them again. The kids are given a tour, and they leave. As they exit they house, Duane and Stephanie are stopped by a police car. The officer in the patrol car questions the kids why they were in Hill House. The friends explain that they were taking a tour. The officers believe this to be impossible — because Hill House went out of business three months ago. The officers laugh, saying that the kids received tours from ghosts. Duane and Stephanie glance back at the Hill House. Peering down at them from a window are the ghostly forms of Otto and Edna.
Reprints and rereleases [ ]
Differences [ ].
- The Classic Goosebumps reprint changes the line "I read a book and listened to a tape on my Walkman" to "I read a book and listened to music".
International releases [ ]
- Duane is gender swapped and is a girl named "Diane" instead.
- Hill House is called "Perched Manor."
- In Portugal, this is the thirteenth book in the original series, and it was released as a special edition.
- Duane Commack and Stephanie Alpert are called "Duarte Coelho and Estefânia Liberato."
- Andrew Craw is called "André."
- Seth is called "Lázaro."
- Otto and Edna are called "Olavo and Elvira."
- In Israel, this is the twenty-ninth book in the original series.
Merchandise [ ]
Television adaptation [ ]
The Headless Ghost was adapted into an episode of the Goosebumps TV series . It is the fifth episode of season two , and the twenty-fourth episode overall.
Advertisement [ ]
Artwork [ ]
Conceptual [ ]
- The ending of the book implies multiple things: Otto and Edna were always ghosts, just waiting for Andrew's head to be found. Or that as the house has been closed for three months, they were killed after that evening Stephanie and Duane had been there. However, the ending leaves it uncertain if Seth died as well.
- Hill House is a possible reference to the novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson .
- This book shares its title with the 1959 British comedy horror movie The Headless Ghost .
- This book references Mickey Mouse and The Wizard of Oz .
- This is the first non-reprinted book in the series to use the ® trademark on the cover.
References in other Goosebumps media [ ]
- Andrew Craw appears as the main villain in the 1995 board game, Terror in the Graveyard .
- This book is referenced in " Goosebumps: The Game ". A portrait of Andrew Craw appears on a staircase wall inside Dead House.
- Andrew Craw appears in Goosebumps HorrorTown . Additionally, Annabel's house is mentioned earlier in the game.
- 1 List of Goosebumps books
- 2 Slappy the Dummy
- 3 Say Cheese and Die!
- Children's Books
- Science Fiction & Fantasy
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Goosebumps: The Headless Ghost Paperback – August 1, 2005
- Library Binding $19.99 9 Used from $4.02 1 New from $19.99
- Paperback $6.66 13 Used from $2.95
- Reading age 4 - 12 years
- Print length 144 pages
- Language English
- Grade level 4 - 6
- Dimensions 7.91 x 6.3 x 0.39 inches
- Publisher Scholastic Paperbacks
- Publication date August 1, 2005
- ISBN-10 0439796342
- ISBN-13 978-0439796347
- See all details
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- Publisher : Scholastic Paperbacks (August 1, 2005)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 144 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0439796342
- ISBN-13 : 978-0439796347
- Reading age : 4 - 12 years
- Grade level : 4 - 6
- Item Weight : 4 ounces
- Dimensions : 7.91 x 6.3 x 0.39 inches
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About the authors
R. l. stine.
Why is Tim Jacobus R.L. Stine's favorite illustrator? Maybe because they've done so many scary books together. Tim did the cover paintings for more than 80 Goosebumps books, as well as the six amazing Amazon books. Recently, the two of them got together and asked the questions they've always wanted to ask each other...
TIM (the illustrator) asks R.L. STINE (the author):
TIM: When I illustrate, I can "see" the image in my head before I start to draw. Do you "hear" a story when you write?
R.L.: I hear kids when I write. I try to hear the voice of the boy or girl who is telling the story. I visit schools a lot and talk with kids so I can keep up with what they are saying these days and what real kids sound like. Then I try to hear their voices tell the story as I write it.
TIM: You've written so many books I can't do the math, but I bet you've used millions of words. What's you favorite word?
R.L.: Someone once got in an elevator with a very witty author named Noel Coward and said, "Say something funny." And Coward said, "Kangaroo." Kangaroo has been a favorite word of mine ever since I heard that story. But as a horror writer, I guess my favorite word is SCREAM!
TIM: Where is the strangest place you have come up with an idea for a story?
R.L.: An empty movie theater. My wife and I went to see a scary movie in a big, old movie house-- and we were the only ones in the theater. It was kind of creepy. Then about halfway through the movie, I turned around and saw that the back row was filled with people sitting straight and still. Suddenly, I thought-- They are zombies! I'm trapped in a dark zombie theater! And that's where the idea for the book Zombie Town came from.
TIM: If you couldn't write-- and you possessed all skills-- what would you like to do for a living?
R.L.: I drew comic strips from the time I was in 4th grade, and I always dreamed of being a cartoonist. You can imagine my shock when the other kids told me how bad my art was. They were right. I stunk! I got over my extreme disappointment by starting to write. But if I had the skill, I would love to do what you do, Tim.
R.L. STINE (the author)asks TIM (the illustrator):
R.L.: If you couldn't be an artist what would you like to be?
TIM: I would like to be a "Snowmaker" at one of the big ski resorts, out west, like Mammoth Mountain in California. You work at night when everyone goes home. Set up the snow guns, cover the slopes, and groom them with the Sno-Cat track machine. It's kinda like a snow tank! Then, you get to ski for free! I love that snow!
R.L.: When we were kids, my brother and I used to go to a horror movie every Saturday. We loved them all. The covers on our six Amazon books look like movie posters to me. Were you also influenced by horror movies? If so, which ones?
TIM: I was a complete "chicken" as a kid. I couldn't sit through any horror movie. The first scary movie I saw was on TV. It isn't really a horror movie. It was the Hunchback of Notre Dame-- the black-and-white version with Charles Laughton. That movie freaked me out! The mutant, Quasimodo, was something that REALLY could exist. Black-and-white movies, black-and-white photos—they all seem more "real" than full color to me.
R.L.: You have painted so many great covers. I think your scariest Goosebumps cover was for The Barking Ghost. And the black cat on The 13th Warning is really creepy. Do you have a favorite cover? Is it a scary one or a funny one?
TIM: It's hard to pick a favorite. But you gotta love the blue bathroom blobs in Monster Blood IV. That one is a little creepy and WAY funny. For just outright scary, I love the ticket taker in Zombie Town!
R.L.: What was the weirdest thing someone ever asked you to draw?
TIM: Oh, I have drawn a lot of weird stuff. One time, I had to paint a pimple! You know... acne! It was a medical illustration. Gross. When I first started illustrating, I painted pictures of food. My food illustrations were used in the Sunday newspaper for the local supermarket. I painted every food you can imagine. I can draw a pretty mean potato!
Discover more of the author’s books, see similar authors, read author blogs and more
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The headless ghost.
113 pages, Paperback
First published November 1, 1995
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Home > Research Centers and Institutes > FOLKLIFE > SONGSTORYSAMPLER > SONGSTORYSAMPLERCOLLECTION > 46
Maine Song and Story Sampler
Song or Story
The Headless Ghost
Download Full Text (773 KB)
Glenwood, New Brunswick
Rights and Access Note
Rights assessment remains the responsibility of the researcher. No known restrictions on publication. For information about the process and fees for obtaining higher resolution scans or another file format, contact Special Collections.
E281 (ghosts haunt house), E291 (Ghosts protect hidden treasure), E422.1.1 (Headless revenant), & H1411 (Fear test: staying in haunted house). Type: 326 (The youth who wanted to learn what fear is)
“The Headless Ghost” is a common story told with too many variations to count.
“The Headless Ghost” is a common story told with too many variations to count. Wilmot MacDonald himself told this story at least two different ways, one to Helen Creighton and another to Sandy Ives. Who knows how many more he might have told if other folklorists showed up at his door asking about this story? The version not heard here was told as a true, firsthand experience. He followed a common motif in which the ghost reveals the hiding place of a treasure; in this case he used it to woo his wife. On the other hand, the version heard here was told as a joke. The context fits into what may have been a true story (Wilmot’s hitch-hiking trip), but ultimately he was not pretending to have actually encountered this ghost. Moreover, in this version Wilmot made no claim of receiving a treasure. There is not much more to say about this story, there is only but to enjoy it!
A few notes on the transcript below: certain words and phrases were added in brackets for clarification; notes that help clarify the story are marked with italics in brackets.
Well, the way that story goes, you know, it’s when I went on a hitch-hiking trip. In the first place of that story I went on a hitch-hiking trip. That was in the thirties when things were awful poor, see. Well, anyway I traveled down through the states, and I come to a place and I didn’t have no money. I was just bumming, you know, hitch-hiking through, so I wanted a place to stay all night, see.
So this fella said to me, “Well, there’s a house right across the road there, and you can stay in that house. It won’t cost you nothing, but remember: if you happen to hear anything in it…”
“Well,” I said, “Well, what’s the cause of it?”
“Well,” he said, “I was told this house was haunted, see.”
“Well,” I said, “I figure I can stay about as long in that house as a ghost can, for I don’t believe in that stuff.”
“Well,” he said, “Go ahead.”
So I went over and I stayed all night in the house, and he come over the next morning, and he asked me how I put the night, and I said, “Fine.”
And he says, “You’d better stay around for a few days.” So he gave me a job. I done a little work in the garden and stuff like that, and I thought to myself, “Well.”
“If you’re looking for a job,” he said, “Maybe in a couple of weeks time I can pick you up a job. You can stay around here for your board.” So I done little jobs around his place [for] my board, anyway, and I stayed in this house every night.
So they was two young fellas [ the man’s sons ] come back one night and I got acquainted with them. They was the MacKinnon boys. So anyway they asked me how do I like to stay there.
“Oh,” I says, “Great. I likes it fine,” I said. “I wonder why didn’t your father ever stay in this house? You take a nice property like this, a beautiful house like this, well, why didn’t he stay in this house? Why did he go way across the road and out in front of the place there and build, and leave a home like this locked up when I come here?”
He says, “Why? Did you hear anything here?”
I said, “No, I didn’t, but the other night, – ‘course I don’t put no [pass] on this – but the other night, the other guy [ referring to another hired hand ] wanted to stay with me here in the house, and he went out to town, over to town. In fact, he was going out to the show. Well, there was no one around and I didn’t know too many around here, so I just went upstairs and I lay down on the bed.”
Well, one fella said to the other, he says, “Let’s go home, Bill.”
“Oh,” I says, “Boys, don’t be scared, I’m going to tell you what I seen and what I heard. But [there’s] nothing here to harm you. So I was laying in the bed, and the first thing I heard, the other fella come in – Crump! Crump! Crump! – downstairs, and he takes off his boots – Clump! – on the floor, his big boot fell. I said, ‘That’s the other guy now. He’s back from town, maybe half-drunk, for all we know.’ So I was laying in the bed and he come right upstairs and come in, and I wondered [why] he’d gone back downstairs again. [The] old stairs [went] creep, creep, creep, so I looked and there’s a man going down the stairs, but he’s got no head. The head’s right off from the shoulders. And I said to myself, ‘Am I seeing things?’”
And he said, “Let’s go home, Bill!”
“Oh,” I said, “Boys, never mind. Wait ‘til I finish this story [of] what I seen. He walked around stairs, down in the old kitchen – Crumpty! Crumpty! Crumpty! By-and-by he comes upstairs, and when it come to the top of the stairs, what slid by my bed but a great big, black casket.”
And he says, “What did you do?’
I said, “What would you have done? This lid just slowly opened like that [ demonstrates ] and it come right back and up sat the man. No head. So I said to him…”
He says, “What did you do?”
“Well, now,” I said, “I’ll just tell you now, boys, what I done. I said to him, ‘In the name of God, what do you want with the like of me?’ He says, ‘I don’t want nothing of you, but eleven years ago I was murdered here for my money and I’ll tell you where it is, and who murdered me.’ ‘Well,’ I said, ‘Go ahead.’ He kept stalling me, and I’d a sooner for him to have went than tell me, for I was pretty scared then. So he just kept on telling me, ‘I will tell you who murdered me and what they murdered me for and where my money is.’”
So I got them foolish enough to ask me the question. He says, “Who murdered him?”
Now, I says, “Look, boys, now I want to tell you right here who it was, but don’t you tell.”
He said, “No.”
“He told me your father murdered him here for his money, and he never got the money.”
So Bill said, “GOD HELP US,” he said, “DADDY NEVER MURDERED A MAN IN HIS LIFE!”
So I had to take the two boys, which were seventeen year old, one in each hand, and walk them home. They were pretty scared lads.
Wilmot MacDonald, Sandy Ives, The Headless Ghost, ghost story, Glenwood, New Brunswick, joke, hitch-hiking, haunted house, hidden treasure, Helen Creighton, murder
Ives, Edward D. “Eight Folktales from Miramichi,” Northeast Folklore, 4 (1962), 61-67; & Ives, Edward D. “Wilmot MacDonald at the Miramichi Folksong Festival,” Northeast Folklore, 36 (2002).
Folklore | Oral History
MacDonald, Wilmot. 1961. “The Headless Ghost.” NA1.113, CD147.9. Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History, Raymond H. Fogler Special Collections Department, University of Maine.
Since October 22, 2012
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Headless women and stuffed bodies. Ghost stories to get you ready for Halloween
One of Halloween's most notorious ghosts is the Headless Horseman. The iconic figure on a black horse with a jack-o'-lantern in place of a face can be found in books, movies, decor and more.
But there is another headless ghost that haunts the western regions of our nation. And her tragic tale has been passed down by the tribe that lives near where she died.
Then we'll hear a second, different tale. One of stuffed heads collected inside a professor's home and a question posed. How far would you go for success?
It's week three of spooky season on Valley 101. Pluck up your courage and dive into these next harrowing tales of horror.
Listen to Valley 101 on your favorite podcast app or stream the full episode below.
Have a ghost story to share?
Click here to submit your ghost tales or questions about metro Phoenix for a chance to be chosen for the podcast.
Follow Valley 101 and all azcentral podcasts on Twitter and Instagram .
Contact the producer at k aely.monah[email protected] . Follow her on Twitter @ KaelyMonahan .
- CONTESTS: THE GHOST STORY AWARDS
Anne Boleyn, The Headless Horseman, And Roland: A Long Tradition Of Decapitated Phantoms
I n 1978, when the late singer-songwriter, Warren Zevon, penned the lyrics to his haunting (and haunted) musical ballad, “Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner,” he was adding the most recent strand to a braid of literature and folklore that Western storytellers first began weaving hundreds of years ago.
The Roland character in Zevon’s song is a Norwegian mercenary soldier fighting in Africa who, at the behest of the CIA, is betrayed and murdered by his comrades. Post-death he returns as a revenant —a headless one, due to his having been decapitated by a burst of automatic gunfire—and he wanders the earth seeking revenge.
Of course, the most well-known headless ghost—also a revenant—is Washington Irving’s Headless Horseman, who appears in the 1820 story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by American author Washington Irving.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow takes place in and around a rural village in upstate New York. But according to British author and academic Owen Davies, in his book, The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), not only can Europe boast a number of its own headless horseman tales, but the entire theme of “acephalous” ghosts got its start on that continent, and has always been especially popular in Britain. A small part of the explanation is that for centuries, British persons of noble birth convicted of serious crimes were executed by beheading (while low-born criminals were hanged). The most famous example is that of Anne Boleyn, the English queen unjustly beheaded on the orders of her husband, Henry VIII; her headless sprit is said to haunt the Tower of London, where her execution was carried out.
However, Davies tells us that the preoccupation with headless ghosts can also be explained at least partially by questions and anxieties among christians concerning the day of resurrection, and the ultimate fate in the afterlife of souls whose physical bodies were dismembered in life or whose remains were scattered after death.
Davies also touches on a a couple of psychological theories, including one claiming that, because in the living human body the head is thought to serve as a house for the soul, headlessness in a ghost symbolizes the fact that spirit and body have been forever separated. Ultimately, however, he finds none of these explanations to be fully satisfactory, and he concludes his passage on headless ghosts by calling them “. . . an enigmatic recurring motif.”
Davies also tells us that in Britain tales and legends of the acephalous ghosts of animals abound, including accounts of headless bears, horses, dogs, and pigs. He adds that the literatures of ancient Greece and Rome make almost no mention at all of ghosts who have no heads.
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V olume II of our print anthology, “21st Century Ghost Stories,” has just been published. It contains all of our Summer 2018 to Summer 2021 winning and honorable mention stories from The Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award contest and The Screw Turn Flash Fiction Competition—30 fine supernatural short stories in all!
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