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The Dire Mother is the ghost of Margaret Shelburne and the ninth ghost to be featured in The Black Zodiac.


Margaret grew up to be a mere three feet in height, and even her own mother would sometimes dress her up like a doll. She could never stand up for herself because of her pint size, and was constantly stared at and picked on as a result of it. Seeking acceptance, Margaret joined Jimbo's carnival, but found this life as an attraction for people to goggle at just as horrible.

While Margaret was sweeping up a donkey pen one night, another carnival freak called the Tall Man attacked and raped her, causing her to become pregnant and give birth to her son, Harold. Margaret never stopped spoiling Harold as he grew, causing him to remain in diapers his entire life and retain his infant mindset, but Margaret didn't care.

One day, the circus workers kidnapped Margaret as part of a cruel joke on her and her son and kept her in a sack, where she suffocated.

Dire Mother

The symbol of the Dire Mother.

After Death[]

Following their deaths, Harold and Margaret's spirits remained bound to earth, and were captured by Cyrus Kriticos to become The Great Child and The Dire Mother. The two were then moved to the basement of Basileus's Machine with the other ten ghosts.

Dennis encounters The Great Child and The Dire Mother in their containment cube in the basement. The two ghosts are presumably either the seventh and eighth, or eighth and ninth ghosts to be released.

They appear before Dennis and Maggie in the halls of the house, scaring them off. Later, a Latin chant causes The Great Child and The Dire Mother, along with the other ten ghosts, to go to the center of the machine and power it up.

When The Great Child, The Dire Mother and the other ghosts are freed from the trance, they throw Cyrus into a rotating crest of rings. The house then explodes, destroying its walls, and freeing The Great Child, The Dire Mother and the other eleven ghosts.


08 Dire Mother 02

The Artifact of The Dire Mother

  • Originally, Margaret died when Harold choked on his vomit, and fell on and suffocated her. However, the producers changed this as they felt it was too weak a backstory.
  • She is considered by some to be one of the most evil characters, as she helped make her son mentally handicapped, however others view her as a well intentioned extremist.
  • It was shown in Thirteen Ghosts that Margaret was blind in one (the left) eye. But it's unknown if this occurred before or after death.
  • Strangely, the Latin inscription beneath the symbol for The Great Child and the Dire Mother in The Arcanum, "Mures", is the Latin word for "mice"...
  • She is the fifth and last female ghost in the zodiac.
  • Her ghost file is represented by a small shoe.
  • She is the last of three ghosts in the zodiac with a known relation.
  • She is the only known ghost in the film to have been a rape victim.