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The Belasco Seance Challenge


[Playing off an old gramophone… the voice of Emeric Belasco:]

Welcome to my house. I'm delighted you could come.
I'm certain you will find your stay here most illuminating.
Think of me as your unseen host, and believe that during your stay here I shall be with you in spirit. May you find the answer that you seek.
It is here, I promise you.
And now, auf Wiedersehen.

The next Carcosa Collection Competition involves creating mystery performances that involve the “Mount Everest of Haunted Houses…” the Belasco House…. HELL HOUSE.

If you haven’t read the novel… DO SO NOW.

If you haven’t seen the film… DO SO NOW.

If you can get the tribute book to Richard Matheson… get it and read “Return to Hell House” and enjoy…

Please also visit our Belasco Bequest display in the permanent exhibits of the Carcosa Collection galleries.


Ben Fischer: What's to tell? The house tried to kill me. It almost succeeded.


Four brave souls enter the foreboding, windowless Belasco house, nicknamed "Hell House," to conduct an experiment determining the existence of survival after death. The lone survivor from the disastrous previous investigation, a physical medium named Ben Fisher, reluctantly agrees to spend a few days in the house along with mental medium Florence Tanner and physicist Lionel Barrett and his wife, Ann (Edith in the novel). Their first two psychic sitting sessions prove to be hostile and violent, leading Lionel to suspect that Florence may be either causing the manifestations or is being used by some force in the house - perhaps its debauched owner, Belasco, who vanished under mysterious circumstances years ago. Florence claims to receive nightly visits from Belasco's previously unknown son, who had died in the house, and the mystery gradually deepens as each day becomes more perilous to the investigator's lives. Of course, there is the perverted presence in the steam room…. The caveman with boils… the twin sisters with a penchant for sadomasochistic play… the poltergeists… and a legion of other horrors lurking in the shadows of the accursed edifice.

During the investigation, various influences begin to affect the investigators’ personal weaknesses. Hell House's potency comes from its apparent ability to corrupt those who enter its walls, before bringing about their destruction, both mental and physical.

The Legend of Hell House was one of the original ghost films to inject overt sexuality as a necessary part of its storyline. Significantly, even after the film is over the audience is not certain that Ann's memorable "sleepwalking" episode and Florence's seduction were in fact caused by the supernatural. Furthermore, both men are depicted as stodgy and repressed, which could explain why both women respond in such a carnal fashion to the influence of ghosts. Written by legendary Richard Matheson from his novel Hell House, this unnerving combination of psychic versus science investigation into a “haunted” house is something no self-respecting mystery performer should overlook for performance inspirations!


NOTE: Based on the nature of the book, its themes, and the prize, this particular contest is open only for 21+ year olds.

Ann Barrett: What did he do to make this house so evil, Mr. Fischer?
Ben Fischer: Drug addiction, alcoholism, sadism, beastiality, mutilation, murder, vampirism, necrophilia, cannibalism, not to mention a gamut of sexual goodies. Shall I go on?
Ann Barrett: How did it end?
Ben Fischer: If it had ended, we wouldn't be here.

The challenge is this: create a routine that is a tribute to HELL HOUSE.  The setting does not have to be in HELL HOUSE, as you can claim you have artifacts from that damned mansion… and that the dark influences live on in them… see below…

Criteria for the judging are as follows:

Ethos matches the Richard Matheson themes of the tale (science versus psychic with dark hidden drives of people all mixed about)…
Séance > Spook show
Use of the items listed below
Suggested new items not listed below
Balanced restraint and taste within the context of these issues



The Belasco Curios Case

  • A hollow old book, with the smell of Absinthe (really) – can also be used ala Koran Medallion
  • A collection of old photographs of some of the guests of Hell House… clothed… and other… vintage photos (OOTW and other effects)
  • Absinthe spoon (Pendulum – a KOTAH idea)
  • Florence Tanner’s broken cross (Pendulum)
  • Ben Fisher’s Psychic Secret
  • Lionel Barrett’s plans for the Reversor (Buddha)
  • Daniel’s Ring (PK)
  • Rolf Randolph Deutsch memento
  • A menu of a typical dinner (as found in the kitchen) Menu – can be used for a prediction effect
  • A sample of ectoplasm (glows in the dark too)
  • A black cat tribute bead
  • The haunted keys to Hell House
  • The Shining (ooops wrong story... eh, close enough) old coin - compliments of Bill Montana
  • Spooky looking little statuette... for whispering effects and so on
  • E-files “Belasco’s Welcome” and “The Drive”

… Maybe more… who knows for sure?

Runner ups: Depends on the entries…. The Carcosian Tribunal will determine if anything is worth some recognition and rewards.


As we know from our mystery websites, psychic versus science, sexuality issues… often devolve into debates which often lead to regression and bad behaviours.  If you enter this competition, you must try to keep to the concept of respect for humanity… the reason Belasco is destroyed in the end is that he never learned these concepts… but I won’t ruin the story if you haven’t read it yet.


If you win, Castaigne will need to verify your age and identity.


Fischer: I know the score: you do not fight this house! Look, Hell House doesn't mind a guest or two. What it doesn't like are people who attack it. Belasco doesn't like it, his people don't like it, and they will fight back and they will kill you. So listen to me. You just leave that damn machine alone and you spend the rest of the week resting, doing nothing. When Sunday comes, you tell old Deutsch anything he wants to hear and bank the money. If you try anything else, you will be a dead man, with a dead wife at your side!

Competition Submissions Deadline: April 1st 2011 Midnight PST
Winners announced April 3rd 2011


Fischer: I was the only one to make it out of here alive and sane in 1953, and I will be the only one to make it out of here alive and sane this time.


Tome Tribute

"They say foul beings of Old Times still lurk in dark forgotten corners of the world, And Gates stll gape to loose, on certain nights, Shapes pent in Hell."

From Unaussprechlichen Kulten

Credits and Copyrights

Carcosa Collection and Website Bruce Ballon © 2010-2015 , Web Design Luke Shield and Bruce Ballon, Art / Graphics / Photos by Steve Lines and Bruce Ballon, music clip by Ennio Morricone

The Book

Thought of the Eon

There is a concept that is the corrupter and destroyer of all others. I speak not of Evil, whose limited empire is that of ethics; I speak of the infinite.

-Jorge Luis Borges