Does anyone out there remember a movie called "The Legend of Hell House"? The movie was released in 1973 and starred Roddy McDowell and Pamela Franklin, and was a pretty decent haunted house story. The premise was that a group of investigators, led by a physicist of all things, were going to explore a known haunted house and they invited Roddy McDowell along as their "ringer." Roddy McDowell's character, Benjamin Fischer, was the only living survivor of the group that had tried exploring the house earlier. How they got him to agree to go back in was explained in the story, but I remember that while I watched the movie, I was thinking that he must have been of his mind.
That said, (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) the analysis of the house arrived at by Florence Tanner, the medium played by Pamela Franklin, is that the dark forces running rampant in the place are actually being controlled by one particular entity. There. That doesn't give everything away, but it might ruin a few moments in the film, if you choose to watch it.
The point of bringing all of this up some forty-two years after I first saw the film is that my paranormal reality shows support the idea that one dark entity can enslave/control/manipulate other entities or ghosts and hold power over them, forbidding them from crossing over into the light, and making their lives? their deads? what would you call it? a living hell, literally. In two separate episodes of one of my favorites shows, the psychic medium explains that there is one powerful entity controlling all of the others present onsite -be it home, hotel, or what-have-you- and that is forcing these hapless dead folk to do its bidding, punishing them somehow if they do not, and actually keeping them from moving on as they should. Following this idea to its natural conclusion, the medium then proceeds to tell the client that in order to achieve peace within the house, the goal is to get rid of that one powerful dark presence. It that happens, then the rest of the dead people will leave of their own accord, most of them happily.
Before I started watching all of these shows and reading all of these books, I had thought of hauntings as basically straight-line things. Someone dies -unhappily or unexpectedly or both- in a particular location, and a ghost is born. The idea of having something on the other side that is evil enough and powerful enough to bend other dead folks to its bidding is amazingly unsettling to me. As a former Catholic, I understood the afterlife in fairly simplistic terms: there was heaven, there was hell, there was purgatory (the waiting room for heaven), and then there were those who got lost between death and the eternal placement (ghosts). Now I've learned about entities who actually function in that space between and are up to nothing good, at the expense of others, both dead and living. That certainly adds to the complexity of a problem haunting, and it also sure explains a lot.
I'm not certain how or when, but I imagine the concept of a dead and evil mastermind will turn up in one of my books at some point.
I'm just not in a hurry to see what then turns up in my house when I start writing that kind of story...