The Fangirl Life: The Ghost and Mr. Chicken


Credit to Brayton Larson

By Michal Basford

Luther Heggs (played by Don Knotts) is a man that dreams of being a journalist from the basement of the Rachel Courier Express where he works as a typesetter (preparing the newspaper for printing). When The Ghost and Mr. Chicken begins, he is driving back into Rachel, KS. A woman screams and cries for help (crying, “Murder! Help!”), so he stops his car and turns back to get the story. After getting pictures with his camera, he hurries to the police station to speak with the chief. As he’s explaining the story, the man that was assumed to be dead shows up with a woman who wants him put in jail for the night – he was drunk, and it was likely her that hit him over the head with a board.

The other reporters at the Courier call Luther “Scoop” and other nicknames which make him feel bad after the failures he experiences. The next morning, he and the janitor (former gardener at the Simmons’ mansion, known as Mr. Kelsey) talk, and Mr. Kelsey encourages him to write the filler requested instead of choosing from the file as he normally does. So Luther writes about the Simmons’ mansion as the 20 year anniversary of the murder/suicide of Mr. and Mrs. Simmons approaches. The town takes quite a liking to the story, and the two other reporters decide a follow up story is necessary. Luther is asked and eventually takes up the task, which involves spending the night alone in the Simmons’ mansion (a house thought to be haunted,  frequently called a “murder house”). He pretends he doesn’t care in an attempt to impress Alma, his crush who is dating Ollie Weaver (a reporter at the Courier).

That night at the mansion, he’s easily spooked by the smallest things. Things seem normal at first, but things turn creepy really quick. Luther happens upon a secret hallway and follows the stairs up to the organ chamber. There, he finds blood on the organ true to the legend in the town. Then it begins to play. Luther freaks out and runs back downstairs only to happen upon the painting of Mrs. Simmons he saw earlier but with gardening shears in and blood running down her throat.

The two other reporters help a shaken Luther write the story which enrages Nicholas Simmons. Nick sues Luther and the Rachel Courier Express for libel. Luther finds out after his seemingly disastrous speech at a Chamber of Commerce picnic in his honor. Luther denies that he made the story up, so Nick takes him to court. Luther is torn apart in court, so the judge decides to have the jury, defendant, plaintiff and some of the press go with him to the Simmons’ mansion that night. Others follow and waited outside Nothing goes as it did the night Luther was there alone. Disappointed, everyone leaves.

Then the plot twist comes, and the reason behind the impatience to bulldoze the Simmons’ mansion becomes apparent.

The course of events moves very quickly, seeming to happen over the course of less than a full week, which makes it seem unrealistic. Court cases normally take more than a matter of hours. But the plot is interesting.

The characters really develop over the course of the approximately hour and a half movie. Luther tries and fails to prove himself, pinned a hero then a loser once more, but he stays true to what he believes and said which is an admirable trait. Ollie becomes more and more of a jerk, being rude to Luther primarily at first then also being rude to Alma. Alma becomes more important to the story and that fact becomes evident over the course of events. She’s Luther’s motivation to write this story and spend the night in the “haunted” Simmons’ mansion. She’s his reason for stopping the true murderer of Mr. and Mrs. Simmons.

Things are not what they seem in this small town. With a supposedly haunted mansion and a 20-year-old murder on hand, this movie is great for Halloween.