If you've been paying attention to the hallowed house of learning that is Hollywood cinema, you know The Conjuring offers a scholarly methodology for examining haunted houses. In that spirit, we present these research guidelines for identifying a haunted house before it consumes you and your family.

A haunting often starts with "cold spots," "stink spots," or very dirty toilet bowls. In the Amityville Horror book, the residents reported that they couldn't get black spots out of their toilets — this is a really clear sign of Satan. But that doesn't mean you should ignore it when your kitchen turns into a refrigerator and the chairs start dancing.

Another clear sign of haunting is when blood drips out of your ceiling. Sometimes, this blood will ooze down the walls. Other viscous liquids may be involved too, such as pus or strangely gooey water. Unless you've moved into a former peep show venue, what you're seeing is ectoplasm. Don't clean it up. Move out.

I shouldn't have to say this, but if you find yourself vomiting up strangely symbolic objects that are connected to an unsolved murder case in your area, you may be in danger. And it's not your house — it's you.


If you find anything in your basement (or attic), a haunting is probably already in progress. I mean anything. Especially if what you find emits any form of music, or involves outdated media formats.

Have your children been kidnapped by a toy or other inanimate object? As ordinary as such events might seem, this is probably a haunting. As a corollary, dolls whose eyes glow and tambourine monkeys who become activated for no reason are also a potential issue.

Invisible hands should not be stroking your legs and feet while you sleep, nor should they be stealing your covers, causing you to levitate, occupying your body, or having sex with you. If you notice any of these things happening, it may seem like a great idea to set up a surveillance camera to see what's happening while you sleep. Just don't.

When you look in the mirror, you should see a reflection. If you see a distorted version of your own face, covered in maggots or with glass sticking out of your eyeballs, you probably have ghosts. Same goes for mirrors that show you strange, cold vista full of people in old-fashioned dresses who are fighting in the Civil War. A similar rule applies to strange faces that appear to float outside your third-floor windows or that make grunting noises.

An addendum to the previous assertion involves twitchyblurfaces. If you see somebody outside your house, or even at the subway station, whose face does a twitchyblur — often accompanied by the sound of crackling dead skin — it's time to call your local medium. The same goes for alarmingly hooded figures. Sacrificing your kitten won't work at this point. That kitty carcass will only give the demons something to barf up on your head later. Seriously, just call in a pro.

It should probably go without saying that you're in danger if things have reached the point where giant skulls protrude screaming from your walls at inopportune moments. Sometimes you'll just see skeletal hands zooming around under your wallpaper, or you'll see a face emerging from the floorboards. Don't be fooled — these are still examples of extreme haunting. Unfortunately, at that point, you're probably doomed. So you might as well just murder your family, drink their blood, and enjoy the ghost party.