A significant portion of horror writers, both book and film, are Catholic. If I recall correctly more than 3/4. I think it's our belief in the Communion of Saints - the dead with us always - that leads many of us into fascination with their physical appearance. For me, I've been seeing them since I was a kid.
I recently visited Alcatraz. Not many folks know Alcatraz is a mispronunciation of it's true Spanish title "alcatraces." Alcatraces are a type of sea bird commonly called a boobie.
This poor man's soul is not trapped in that cell. He moved on long ago. But the memory of his passing is in the very fabric of the cell itself.
The WB Network has a new series out called "Supernatural." Thus far, the series has dealt entirely with souls (people!) who've met with violent ends and somehow become empowered enough to wreak havoc in our physical world.
Someone needs to have a long talk with the series writers about compassion, as well as the truth about all things non-physical. First off, lost souls - that is those who don't attain Heaven - need prayers. Second, they very rarely have the power to make much of a difference in the physical world. When they do, it's usually because they're either A) in the presense of a physical medium (think human battery) or B) demonic, using the form of a human. Now, item A, the human battery, has a limited charge. Pun intended. Hence poltergeist activity is usually sporatic. Energy comes and goes. Item B is your long term power. Prolonged and violent "hauntings." I put hauntings in quotes because prolonged demonic activity is properly called oppression.
"Supernatural" portrays two brothers who call themselves "hunters." They hunt what most people don't believe in. In the first episode we have one brother discharging his pistol into the "head" of a ghost. Yeah, it looks and sounds cool on screen. But what good does it do? It's the presense of a second person that sends the ghost off. Not the pistol. In the end, they get their ghost to her "home" where she is left in the hands of her own to children - whom she murdered in a fit of dispair. All three souls are left in torment. But the brothers pat themselves on the back and say job well done.
Therein lies my problem with most "paranormal investigators" as well as WB's fictional "hunters." Who prays for the lost souls? Who discerns the demonic? No one. They want to go in - see fantastic phenomenon - then walk out patting themselves on the back for their cool recordings and photos. Some victims have suffered violent hauntings for years because they had no religious background and the paranormal investigators were so interested in documentation they would never recommend calling a priest to end the trauma.