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Old 13th May 2017, 02:19 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Newcastle, England

Originally Posted by Frankenhooker View Post
There was nothing I didn't 'get', I just have a couple of different theories. I'm unsure as to whether to take the film literally or not. As soon as I saw the contaminated corn, something just twigged. When I was at university I read a bit about mass hysteria, one chapter I read was about the Salem Witch Trials, specifically about Ergot poisoning and its effects. I can't remember reading anything about discolouration of hands, but I suppose it's possible.

Personally I think the film works either way, I'm watching it again soon, I'll probably think differently. It's a fantastic film though.
There's a great AMA with Katherine Howe, a witchcraft historian, and she addresses the ergot theory. I thought about that myself after because I'd seen Wisconsin Death Trip (I think?) where bad crops or some such thing sent everyone mental. She says the ergot theory doesn't hold much weight when it comes to witchcraft, however.

"I'm asked [about ergot poisoning] very often. In the 1970s a theory was promulgated that the strange behavior of the afflicted girls at Salem could have been caused by ergotism, a hallucinogenic effect from eating moldy rye bread. That theory was set aside almost as soon as it was advanced, but it has stuck around in popular culture, and I almost never give a talk without getting a question about it. In short - the afflicted people ranged widely in age (including grown adults), lived in several different houses, and ergotism also causes your feet to rot off. So, no. Not ergot. But it's an appealing theory in part because it's so tidy, so simple, and so easy to consign to the past. We're often uncomfortable with complex truths, and the complex truth of Salem is that a perfect storm of circumstances caused the Salem crisis, and many elements of that storm included issues of class, race, and economic scarcity. I explore some of this stuff in my 2014 novel CONVERSION, if you're curious."

She's promoting the film directly and I found this through the film's official Twitter, so I'm guessing the filmmakers were aware of this theory. Maybe they left the rotten corn in as a nod to that theory, though, on top of it worsening the situation for the family. The AMA has loads of other good stuff if you're interested. Anyway, amazing film! I thought it was fascinating, with the setting and the period and the family dynamic, even before any of the spookiness started. I think we need to start a kitty so the same team can make The VVerewolf!
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