Archive for the News Category

Season 9 Finale Guests

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2014 by Emerian Rich

My dark children, I am so sorry to say goodnight to you this weekend for 2014, but I am excited to introduce you to our Season Finale Guests!

MUSICIANS: Midnight SyndicateMidnight Syndicate

For almost two decades, composers Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka have been known as Midnight Syndicate, creating symphonic soundtracks to imaginary films that facilitate a transcendental and adventurous escape into the secret dimensions of the mind’s eye. To many of their fans, they are Gothic music pioneers brewing a signature blend of orchestral horror music and movie-style sound effects. To others, they remain the first “haunted house band” that forever changed the Halloween music genre and became a staple of the October holiday season. And some know them as the duo that created the first official soundtrack to the legendary Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Their critically-acclaimed works are reminiscent of sweeping, complex masterpieces by artists such as James Horner, Danny Elfman, Black Sabbath and King Diamond and have been featured as a part of groundbreaking films, television shows, video games and at haunted attractions, amusement parks and live performances worldwide.

AUTHOR: Emily Goodwin

emilygood

Emily Goodwin is the international best-selling author of the stand-alone novel STAY, The Guardian Legacies Series: UNBOUND, REAPER, MOONLIGHT (releasing 2014), The Beyond the Sea Series: BEYOND THE SEA, RED SKIES AT NIGHT (releasing 2015) and the award winning Contagium Series: CONTAGIOUS, DEATHLY CONTAGIOUS, CONTAGIOUS CHAOS, THE TRUTH IS CONTAGIOUS (Permuted Press)

“I wasn’t afraid of death. If I died, it would be over. My worst fear wasn’t of dying, it was of living. Living while everyone around me had their flesh savagely torn from their bodies to be shoved into the festering and ever-hungry mouths of zombies. It terrified me, right down to my very core, to be alive while the rest of the world was dead.”

contagiousThe award winning Contagium Series is a four book saga, published by Permuted Press, that follows Orissa Penwell on her journey through a post-apocalyptic world killing the dead, saving the living, and deciding if love is worth the risk.

Contagious was the winner of the 2014 best horror book, voted at the Contagious Reads Horror Con. Contagious was also recognized for having the best  gore, best zombies, best bad-ass female lead, best team/couple in a horror book, and best overall series.

HORROR HOST: Miss Miserymm5

Press has dubbed Horror Hostess Miss Misery as the Queen of horror in the bay area. She is hostess of The Last Doorway Show, a show dedicated to promoting the independent horror artist. She also hosts those late night bad horror films on Movie Massacre; which will be coming to your television set very soon.  So get ready for a two hour delight of terror!

She also has a segment on Creepy Kofy Movie Time called Web of Insanity. Where she hosts 3 minute and under short horror films! You can even catch her at the end of the show dancing with Balrok, No name, and the hot Cave girls.

Miss Misery hosts several events around the San Francisco, Sacramento area including Zombie Proms, Shadow casts, and Film Festivals.

If you think that wasn’t enough Miss Misery will soon be coming out with her own line of comic books which she hosts tales of death of revenge called “Forgotten Tales” not only does she host these awesome stories but she also writes them. Get inside her head with these up coming comic books from Comic Book Divas.

Sometimes you can catch her having Bloody Mary’s with her gal pal Ms. Vampy!!

BEST IN BLOOD:

We will be revealing the winner of Best in Blood for last season, season 8. This is a good one, you won’t want to miss!

SEASON 9 FINALE / HALLOWEEN SPECIAL

Don’t miss the ghouls, the goblins, and the gals as we ring in the Halloween season with the best special yet! Costume talk, Halloween jokes, and your favorite drinking word, all packed in to a show you won’t forget!

Join us for episode #110, airing October 18th.

Puzzleman

Posted in News with tags , , , , on October 16, 2014 by David Watson

PUZZ.3Puzzleman by Christopher Alan Broadstone is one ambitious novel. When you first start reading it you think its going to be a gruesome horror novel meant to shock people. That’s exactly what it is, but as you start reading you find there is a lot of depth to the story and characters. The story begins with a woman named Amanda buying an earring that looks like a ball of metal wires. Amanda is recently divorced and her infant child has died leaving her bitter and wondering where her life went wrong.

Little does she know that the earring will soon lead her to some answers she doesn’t want. Amanda isn’t the only one searching for answers in Puzzleman. We soon meet a legless heroin addict named Erik who wants vengeance, a professor named John who feels his life has passed him by, a French vintner named Jeannette who wants to revisit a lost love and a former detective named Ben who wants to get back into the game. All of the characters are searching for something and all of their destinies are intertwined in the Puzzleman’s maze like pipeworld.

The pipeworld is a place where life is eternal but is also a place of suffering. It’s a place of living nightmares crawling with grumemonsters but also a place where the five people in the story can find what they are missing. The Pipeworld is like a giant macabre puzzle with the puzzleman as the master and the people as the pieces. The question is, can the pieces find the answers they seek and escape with their sanity?

My Favorite character in Puzzleman was Amanda, this is a woman who has questioned god and everything else around her since she was a child. It almost seems like god is punishing her for her questions with the death of her young child and her abusive husband. She shows how tough she is in the pipeworld though by not giving up even when things are at their worst. I loved how towards the end she makes a comment to the Puzzleman that shows that her viewpoints on god have not changed and I enjoyed the Puzzleman’s reaction to the comment. Another thing I liked in the story was finding out why her husband was the way he was.  My only problem with the story was that there was a long section on the mythology behind the Puzzleman.  I felt the section was to long and took the reader out of the story and would have been better if it was divided  into segments within the story and not just one big chunk.

There is a lot going on in this book, it starts as a horror novel then turns into a text-book on world mythology and then goes back to being a horror novel. This isn’t just any horror novel though, it asks some important questions such as What are you willing to do for the ones you love? What would you do for eternal life? and Why does god allow so much misery? This is a thinking man’s horror novel. It delivers the scares and the gore but it also makes you think. In fact you might have to read it twice to understand everything that Christopher Alan Broadstone is trying to say. Puzzleman is Mr. Broadstone’s first novel and it will be interesting to see what he has in store for future novels.

 

Morbid Meals – Halloween & Dia de Los Muertos treats for kids and adults

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2014 by Dan Shaurette

For Halloween I wanted to come up with some fun recipes for everyone’s holiday parties, whether they be Halloween or Dia de Los Muertos celebrations. However, I wanted to find new recipes beyond the old standards. So, here is my take on three new tricks to treat your guests.

Graveyard Guacamole Chips and Dip

Graveyard Guacamole

EXAMINATION

It’s the Great Guacamole Graveyard, Charlie Brown! Nah, that just doesn’t have the same ring to it. It does, however, taste really, really good.

ANALYSIS

Ingredients

16oz can refried beans
16oz can chili with beans
1/2 cup salsa
1 1/2 cups shredded chicken and/or pork
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
3 Haas avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 lime, juiced
1 cup pepper jack cheese
1/4 head of lettuce, shredded
bag of tortilla strip chips (the long rectangular ones)
side of sour cream (optional)

Apparatus

  • 3-quart rectangular casserole dish
  • 3 small mixing bowls

Procedure

  1. In first mixing bowl, combine the refried beans, chili, and salsa.
  2. In second mixing bowl, combine shredded meat and buffalo wing sauce.
  3. In third mixing bowl, make fresh guacamole by mashing the avocados, then combining with lime juice and salsa.
  4. Layer the ingredients as follows into your casserole dish.
    a. First, the beans mixture, then a sprinkling of cheese.
    b. Next, the buffalo-sauced meat, then a sprinkling of cheese.
    c. Finally, the guacamole, and generously sprinkle on the shredded lettuce.
  5. Stick some tortilla chips into the dip to resemble headstones
  6. Serve with remaining tortilla chips and a side of sour cream, for the gringos who can’t stand the heat.

DISSECTION

If you want to add a little extra spookiness to this, find some Halloween-shape cookie cutters, and make your own creepy chips. Use the cookie cutters to cut corn or flour tortillas into spooky shapes. Bake in a 350°F oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until you have crispy critters. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

POST-MORTEM

This of course makes a great appetizer for a macabre Cinco de Mayo, or anytime you want to spice up a dead (man’s) party. Furthermore, this quite frankly is a balanced meal in of itself, worthy of any gruesome occasion.


White Chocolate “Sugar Skulls”

White Chocolate Sugar Skulls

EXAMINATION

Celebrations for Dia de Los Muertos just wouldn’t be the same without sugar skulls. A new tradition of making skulls, and even coffins, from chocolate is also emerging. Regular sugar skulls take special molds and years of practice (or maybe some meringue powder to help out). They also aren’t eaten when complete — licked maybe, but never eaten.

For our party needs, we’re going to make something a little more edible using white chocolate.

ANALYSIS

Ingredients

12 oz bag white chocolate chips (roughly 2 cups)

Royal icing, in many vibrant colors, fine tip
Or if you can find them “Candy Writers” which are tipped tubes of pre-colored white chocolate candy.

Candy Writers

Apparatus

Procedure

  1. Heat water in the saucepan over high heat until it begins to simmer, then turn off the stove and place the top pan (or bowl) over the water.
  2. Pour your white chocolate chips into the top pan (or bowl). It will take about 5 minutes for all of the chips to melt.
  3. Spoon your melted candy into your skull molds. Allow the candy to harden in the molds, at least an hour. You can refrigerate it to speed this up but your candy will melt faster later. Wait it out naturally if you have the time.
  4. Carefully remove your candy from the molds. If there are any side bits to break off, use a sharp knife to carve them off.
  5. Decorate with the icing or Candy Writers and allow the your decoration to completely dry. If you are able to use Candy Writers, they need to be warmed up in hot water, but they are the smoothest way to decorate these. Since they are chocolate on chocolate, the decorations will stay longer than royal icing will on chocolate.

DISSECTION

You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave, but do this in small batches at 50% power.

Try to smooth the backs of the candy as best you can and don’t let any spread outside of the molds. You’ll have to break off any of these bits and it is hard to do that cleanly.

If your chocolate gets hard on you again as you work with it, it will become less and less easy to melt. The sugars reform bonds that get stronger each time. Turn the heat up on your boiler but only a little bit. If it gets too hot it could burn or seize up.

Also, like Gremlins, do not let your chocolate get wet. This will mess with the fats in the chocolate and then you’ll have nasty little blobs instead of smooth, silky candy. Never cover your melting chocolate with a lid, and do not let your water boil or you could get steam in your chocolate.

If the chocolate does seize up on you or get wet, here’s some tips that can help.

POST-MORTEM

Decorating these skulls with your kids is part of the fun. If they are old enough, they could help you with melting the chocolate. That is if you can keep them from licking the spoon.

You can find chocolate molds in almost every craft store these days, like Jo-Ann’s, Michael’s, etc. There’s also Amazon and eBay if you don’t have a local store with a large selection. For folks like me in Phoenix, ABC Cake Decorating Supplies has a HUGE selection of molds, and you can even buy them online. This is also where I found the Candy Writers which were perfect for the job.

If you want to try your hand at making real sugar skulls, the awesome folks at MexicanSugarSkull.com sell molds and provide recipes that make this traditional labor of love a little more accessible to the rest of us.


Blood Orange Sangría

Blood Orange Sangría

EXAMINATION

I never drink… wine. Ahem. By itself, that is. I do love a good sangría. This is my personal favorite version that I have made for years, for many an occasion. What makes it a special treat for Halloween? Why the blood oranges, of course. Blood oranges from Florida can be found in stores in October making it the perfect season for Blood Orange Sangría.

ANALYSIS

Ingredients

1 cup blood orange juice (from 4 medium or 6 small fruit)
1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
1 bottle red wine (like pinot noir or merlot)
1 cup brandy
2 small red delicious apples
1 can cold lemon-lime soda (optional)

Apparatus

  • citrus juicer
  • large pot
  • large pitcher or punch bowl

Procedure

  1. Peel and core the apples and chop into small pieces about 1/2 inch to an inch in size. Or if you have one of those wicked spiral slicers, those peel, slice, and core an apple quickly and beautifully. Add these to your pitcher/bowl.
  2. Cut your blood oranges in half and then slice one thin ring from each half. Add these to your pitcher/bowl.
  3. Juice the blood oranges, getting every last little drop. I find electric juicers work best, but there’s nothing wrong with using an old school juicer and some elbow grease.
  4. In the large pot, over medium heat, combine the blood orange juice and the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  5. To the juice, add the wine and brandy. Stir to incorporate everything well.
  6. Pour into the pitcher/bowl and refrigerate until well chilled, about an hour.
  7. Remove from the refrigerator and add the soda. Stir well.

DISSECTION

You can make a virgin version with pomegranate juice or your favorite fruit punch instead of the alcohol.

If you want to make this when blood oranges are out of season, try to find Cara Cara navel oranges. They have a ruby pink fruit like grapefruit but they are remarkably sweet.

POST-MORTEM

Pour this sparkling Spanish drink into your favorite glass, with or without ice, and enjoy the best of an autumn harvest. ¡Salud, dinero y amor, y el tiempo para gozarlos!

Kbatz: Apparitions

Posted in News with tags , , , on October 14, 2014 by kbattz

Apparitions is a Fine Spiritual Thriller

By Kristin Battestella

apparitionsWhat if Mother Teresa was possessed and died during an exorcism? So begins Apparitions, a 2008 6-part British tale chronicling a modern day exorcist caught between the bureaucracy of Rome and the demons running amok in London. Who knew?

Father Jacob (Martin Shaw) tries to help a young family in fear of demonic possession, despite Cardinal Bukovak’s (John Shrapnel) insistence that Father Jacob is over stepping the bounds of his archaic exorcism office. Sister Ruth (Siobhan Finneran) is placed as Father Jacob’s secretary to keep an eye on him, but she begins to question the strange goings on around their parish – and their mysterious patient Michael (Rick Warden), himself a victim of possession in Satan’s master plan to birth new and powerful evil on earth. Can Father Jacob unravel these demonic intentions and save the lives and souls of those around him, or will his own institution and the non-believers inside and out inadvertently allow evil to triumph?

Blasphemous suggestions, debates on canonization, and behind the scenes church happenings are immediately intriguing to start Episode 1 of Apparitions. However, series writer and director Joe Ahearne (Ultraviolet, Doctor Who) and co-creator Nick Collins (Murder in Suburbia) also smartly endear the cast and plots with quickly relatable young girls with possessed dads and seemingly inspired Leprosy healings. There’s a pleasing attention to detail as well through battle of wits dialogue, historical dates, and specific examinations. Are the saints as active in earthly work as demons – even in prisons and with rapists seeking repentance? Perfumes versus foul scents, appearing and disappearing eerie figures, and more devilish implications create a paranormal but religious CSI design with no need to resort to nasty priesthood innuendo. The flaws of the church, however, are certainly acknowledged; exorcisms are recognized as medieval hokey, and the misbelieving even make some Hammer Horror jokes. Are such non-believers all possessed by evil? Of course not, but are all men of the cloth touched by grace? Nope. Apparitions confronts the whole lot of grey in between thanks to multiple storylines and layers of legion; the longer serial format gives room for deeper demonology dimensions, legal issues, social services, church hierarchy, government battles, and family debates by Episode 2. A film would have one monstrosity excised with the confrontation against evil resolved in several hours, but Apparitions offers a possession infrastructure to mirror the church’s chain of command. Who knew being a priest was such dangerous work? Apparitions remains self aware with quips – “Don’t make many enemies in your line of work?” “Only Satan.” – and provides fantastical but honest discussion on humanity being the battleground between good and evil where our flaws, temptations, and those to which we would or would not do harm are used against us. Casualties and sacrifices happen in this spiritual warfare, and Episode 3 raises the stakes as Apparitions uses its individual hours or multi part arcs to tie its larger plot together. It was probably tough to watch Apparitions from week to week thanks to the somewhat rolling cast and changing righteous or evil affiliations, but binging several episodes at a time keeps the soulful character dilemmas in focus.

Demonic pregnancies and abortions gone awry push the exorcism twists further in Episode 4, but these upsetting, controversial themes remain delicate and compelling. Where is the line between deformity or evil showing upon one’s person, disability, mental illness, and possession? Do we encounter demons daily but remain unaware as we argue the fine line between medical rights, patient privacy, and religious need? No one wants a priest interfering with healthcare, but interesting commentary on how medicine was once thought of as superstition helps plead the spiritual case. Demons, of course, thrive on perversion and seek to be born in emulation of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Even people who think they believe are shocked when they encounter the possessed on Apparitions. Episode 5 mixes Islam and supposed visions of the Blessed Mother with hopeful, miraculous moments, and this good standing tall balance keeps Apparitions from being too somber or serious. Can we recognize these good or ills among us? Do we invite the devil in while supposedly differing religions recognize our common evil enemy? Apparitions poses a lot of questions and can be lofty at times in hypothesizing whether humanity is inherently bad or good, and some secondary people or plots end up forgotten and unresolved by the Episode 6 finale. Several excellent supporting players don’t have any follow up time, and this one series could have perhaps been 8 or 10 hours instead of 6. Fortunately, great guest stars and core characters facing their own demons provide more thought provoking muster. Could you work for evil just once to save millions? The needs of the masses certainly outweigh the cost of one’s own life – or soul. The finale pieces together all the significant dates, anniversaries, and births to up Apparitions’ ante, testing its faithless by having them perform exorcisms and face their own catastrophes. Once you open the door to hell, can it be closed? Does God let evil in only to prove good’s triumph? For all its doom and gloom on evil and possession, Apparitions is a powerful spiritual show about the underlining good needed for the job, cloth or no cloth.

Apparitions producer and star Martin Shaw (Judge John Deed, Inspector George Gently, The Professionals) looks the mature, priestly part as Father Jacob and is certainly up to the credible, experienced, and soft spoken but kick ass task. His rapport with young Romy Irving (Public Enemies) overcomes her fear and ours as Father Jacob puts pressure on and pursues his investigation for the true cause – there’s no time to pussyfoot around when souls are at stake! Father Jacob firmly believes Satan is amidst our daily lives but must continually defend his exorcism office even to fellow church members who think he is relic of the past. Father Jacob embodies an interesting debate – he doesn’t want people to suffer to prove his point, but the possessed are the exact people he must excise. How much pain is saving the world going to take? You don’t need to believe to enjoy Apparitions thanks to Shaw’s everyman alone style and the doubts cast upon him by others. Why do so many immediately resist the opportunity for his help or take extremes to spit in his face? Is it easier for people to run from faith when they should fight evil or help good to happen? Father Jacob is an anchor for his office, yet Shaw also provides excellent internal conflict and silent reflection. His line of work always leads to death, but Father Jacob must continue to fight the good fight. A very strong script also helps Shaw take it to the next level – he always has a good comeback or the right thing to say to the possessed, the believer, or the church that is both for and against him. Father Jacob has to break the rules and does what he has to do, and Apparitions is a worthy ride because we want to see Father Jacob succeed against all this dang earthly red tape just as much as we root for his quest against supernatural evil.

Are these miracles on Apparitions done for good or ill? Guest priest Elyes Gabel (Game of Thrones) adds more conflict and temptation while addressing homosexual ideologies within the Catholic Church. Are the ones concerned with what is thought to be the unclean or questioning their faith and role in the church the ones closest to God that the demons seek to trick and enter in? David Gyasi (Interstellar) as prison chaplain Father Daniel wants to take action and is a resourceful ally for Father Jacob, but doubts what he witnesses during exorcisms. Wouldn’t you? Shaun Dooley (Red Riding) also represents a realistic father trying to handle divorce and parenting before possession becomes a factor. Why does he have to justify his family to the church, indeed? Rounding out the ensemble is Rick Warden (Band of Brothers) as the perfectly disturbing, demonic, and desperate Michael. His Holocaust parallels and waxing on why God allows evil to happen are sickly good television. The devil is, after all, a master wordsmith and persuasive little fellow who exploits our fears and weaknesses. Michael’s struggles with his possession are eerily correct in many aspects – cast out one demon on Apparitions, and another takes his place. Ultimately, Satan wants your soul, or better yet, the best soul he can find. The higher evil can climb, all the better. Thus is the battle on Apparitions.

 

Some of the female characters on Apparitions, however, are somewhat under written as either helpful, bitchy, or obstacles as needed and could have stayed around much, much longer. Sassy nun Michelle Joseph (Eastenders) feels under utilized as the good counterbalance to numerous cliché non-believing beotches, but detective Stephanie Street (20 Things to Do before You’re 30) does better as a strong sensible lady seeking answers to these crimes. Can justice be served legally and spiritually or does one office trump the other? Likewise, abortion clinic doctor Claudia Harrison (Murphy’s Law) is willing to consider Father Jacob’s theories whilst also seeing to her patients needs, and psychologist Claire Price (Rebus) seems objective but her atheist stance and evaluations for the church clash just a bit. Cherie Lunghi (Excalibur) also provides a very interesting debate on the devil as seduction, and it is such a loss that Apparitions didn’t continue for a second season. Just seeing Lunghi and Shaw go toe to toe in this ongoing good versus evil war would have been delightful enough! Thankfully, Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey) is a strict but fun Sister Ruth with worthy wit to match Shaw as Father Jacob. She starts out an unofficial spy for the suspicious, jerky but juicy, and career advancement seeking John Shrapnel (Gladiator) as Cardinal Bukovak, but Sister Ruth is wise enough to make up her own mind in whether she is for or against what’s happening. She certainly plays with that vow of obedience as needed! Again, this evil fighting priest and nun tag team antagonism would have been fun to see in a Series Two. Pity.

The look and feel of Apparitions is appropriately foreign and ecclesiastical, too, with plenty of priestly robes, aged buildings, and inspiring or brooding locales from London to Rome. Smart uses of Latin prayers and Italian dialogue also accent the drama, which doesn’t go for shocking full on horror in its solid 55-minute shows. Of course, there are disconcerting touches of gore, blood, and skin – and not as in nudity skin, either – and subtitles will be necessary for these soft-spoken accents and multiple languages during the tense moments of exorcism, violence, and surprises. Despite old world candles, chapels, and rituals, the medieval rite in the modern realm also makes amusing appearances. Oh, a second priest isn’t handy for an exorcism? Let’s just call him up and put on the speakerphone! Excellent intercutting, uses of light and dark photography, colored lighting, and zooms up the intensity, and music, prayers, and near chanting rhythms heighten simultaneous action. People do shout or talk over each other, but this works when the languages or prayers are being translated – or when taunting demons are causing mayhem while those unseeing speak on, unaware. Fiery fantastics and walking on water spectacles do have their moments in the final two episodes, but most of Apparitions relies on the cast in action or reaction before special effects. Sometimes the imagery of the possessed tapping on the church gates waiting to enter in is really all you need to send your demonic tale home.

 

Some audiences may be put off by the totally steeped in religion setting of Apparitions, and the variously heavy subject matter is obviously polarizing. This is however an intelligent presentation of a frightening implication, a word of warning on the dilemmas both internal and external akin to the classic “The Howling Man” episode of The Twilight Zone. Despite sensational topics and a dabble in the supernatural realm, Apparitions does not go for the scandalous or shocking but remains a mature analysis on body, mind, and soul – you won’t find everything wrapped in a pretty bow here like other exorcism films that declare all is well. The plots remain personal with small people amid the institutional framework solving mysteries and using clues in this tormenting game against evil – a game evil wants to play with you. Mainstream sophisticated viewers, casual horror fans, and even the non uber religious can enjoy the good versus evil drama of Apparitions.

Kbatz: Ghostly Viewings!

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2014 by kbattz

Ghostly Viewing Pleasures

By Kristin Battestella

‘Tis the season for a bevy of haunted house scares, poltergeists run amok, and eerie apparitions! Young and old, recent or classic – stay in with these ghosts galore if you dare!

Burnt OfferingsFor only $900, Karen Black (Five Easy Pieces, The Day of the Locust), Oliver Reed (Oliver!, Gladiator), and their aunt Bette Davis (Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte, All About Eve) rent a spooky California mansion for the entire summer from kooky Burgess Meredith (Rocky, Grumpy Old Men) and his sister Eileen Heckart (Butterflies Are Free). You know this is too good to be true! Director Dan Curtis (Dark Shadows) takes his time with Robert Marasco’s source novel, developing the happy characters in the first half hour then building the mystery and haunted house disturbia towards the sinister changes to come. Although the 1976 design is quite dated- ascots, station wagons- the period flair is now cool and backwater scary style. The Dunsmuir House filming location is so, so sweet, too- and oh, that chauffeur! Yes, it’s merely PG and has obvious similarities to Phantasm, but there are still plenty of scares, innuendo, and twists to delight here.

The Conjuring –Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air) and Patrick Wilson (Insidious) lead this 2013 possession thriller along with Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Lili Taylor (Six Feet Under). Although some of the cast may seem a bit too modern and it’s tough to tell the kids apart at times, the 1968 beginning has the fashions, feeling, and creepy dolls for immediate atmosphere. No attempted cool opening credits waste time – the opening crawl explaining the true story basis and Warren demonology casework does just fine before the 1971 station wagons, old TV static, home movie reels, and ominous music accent the main Perron tale. Granted, there is always a hardened dad, nobody pays attention to the dog’s warnings, the clocks all stop at the same time, and they go into the previously boarded up basement! The Warrens also seem fake and over confident to start, withholding information amid a slightly uneven back and forth establishment of the Perron haunted house period Poltergeist meets Ghost Hunters Warren family relationships. Fortunately, the plots and sympathies come together amid foggy lakes, eerie wide camera lens perspectives, uneasy upside down pans, creaking doors, and sleepwalking kids – that’s a creepy blindfolded and clapping game they play! The editing on the jump moments from director James Wan (Saw) is surprisingly subtle, startling the simmering audience at different times with different things and allowing for a personal build instead of in your face, all the time unfulfillment. Kids in peril, bodily bruises, excellent silence and darkness, heavy breathing, and over the shoulder fearful reveals keep the phenomenon intimate despite the old time research montage and cliché centuries old history. Most visual tricks happen in camera; the pacing focuses on fear and personal reaction even as complex, multiple occurrences mount thanks to an off kilter contrast, stillness, or action movement. Horror fans accustomed to recent under 90 minute standards may find the near two hours here long or too similar to classic supernatural fair, but the tension follows through from start to finish, progressing to a wild exorcism finale.

The Haunting- It might be fun to make a marathon with the 1999 redo, but for serious chills, stick with this 1963 classic. You don’t see one damn thing in this picture, and that’s what makes it so terrifying. Horror students and film teachers take note of how mere lighting, sound, and visual tricks keep us on the edge of our seats. Psychology, parapsychology, haunted mansions, and a genuinely fearful looking cast. You don’t need anything else, except to continue the sinister vibes with the source novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.

Poltergeist- Maybe in our rapidly changing television technologies, this one will loose some of its luster someday. For old school folks like me, however, who remember big old console sets full of static, Poltergeist never gets old. The warnings of technology being conduits for angry spirits, beasts in the closet, and demonic toys combined with adorable child victims and sassy little psychics remind us to respect the dead and appreciate the line between life and death. Naturally, there are sub par sequels, but behind the scenes documentaries detailing the tragedies surround this film are far more interesting. And the blu-ray is smashing!

 The Woman in BlackHarry Potter star Danielle Radcliffe does well in this 2012 nuHammer creepy haunted house ghost story adapted by Jane Goldman (Stardust, X-Men: First Class) from Susan Hill’s source novel. There’s a very nice gothic spirit at work thanks to the moody history, ghostly atmosphere, and mostly silent, one-man scares. Suspicious townsfolk and freaky kid deaths add to the sudden effects and camera tricks, and candlelight and darkness up the sinister for an overall, quite effective spooky. Though the period settings are perfectly decrepit in addition to the smart, darker photography, there is just a little too much drab unnecessarily weighing down the film’s look. Perhaps there was an intentional kinship to something black and white or a depressing palette meant to mirror Radcliffe’s widower Arthur Kipps and his desperate state of mind. However, this devoid, colorless, overly digital, saturated dreary feels amiss –we have the spooky and disturbing elsewhere in set decorations, story, and character. There’s no need to add this layer of off putting heavy – in fact, some rich late Victorian color and flair would have gone a long way in the household fears, local smarmy, and child scary simply because the viewer would have found something pleasing, if creepy, for the eye. This doesn’t look fun to watch, and some horror audiences expecting more action or panache may be disappointed by this style. There’s also a few plot holes and missed opportunities or speculation with Ciaran Hinds (There Will Be Blood) as the upstanding, decidedly not superstitious Sam Daily. Were there townsfolk involved in the ghost causing history? Did Kipps really bring the titular vengeance as the bereaved claim or was something else at work? What the F happened to the dog? There’s room for some debate in the tale as it isn’t all explained in one big reveal, but a few clarifications would have been nice – especially since this budding sequel talk sounds kind of crappy. Despite a few questions and visual flaws, the 90-plus minutes here keep things ominous – the shocks and suspense happen without resorting to the crassness, gore, or nudity we so often find today. Bravo!

Free Fiction Friday: J. T. Evans

Posted in News with tags , , , on October 10, 2014 by Emerian Rich

Broken Violence

by J. T. Evans

“I’m going to kill her,” Mickey said in a dead-pan voice.

Joseph opened his mouth to speak as a tear escaped over his quivering eyelid. He found his voice, but only a whisper. “Not her.”

“You know I have to.”

Joseph’s voice cracked as he tried to sound stronger. “Anyone but her.”

“You haven’t given me a choice.”

“There’s always a choice.” He hoped the other man wouldn’t hear the quiver in his voice.
Mickey’s voice dropped to a low growl. “She makes you distracted and weak. You might have a choice. I don’t.”

Joseph scrubbed his hands through his messy, brown hair and looked down at the dirty toilet in the bathroom they shared. “Something else. Anyone else.” He wanted to add “please” to his statement, but didn’t have the strength.

“There are no other options. Her death is the only thing that can make you strong again.”
Snapping his eyes back up, Joseph stared at the visage before him. “Someone else can be the sacrifice.”

“Someone else? Like the time when you were eight? Who else could have burned in Mom’s and Larry’s place when I saved you?”

Joseph shook his head. “How about me? What if I die?” He kept his shaking hands at his side to keep the other man from seeing them.

Mickey threw his head back and laughed. When his mirth subsided, he said, “You know better than that.”

The young man narrowed his eyes. “There’s no need to kill again. She’s not a threat.”

“She was a threat from the first time you saw her.” Mickey glared back.

Joseph raised a fist and tried to sound stern. “No, she wasn’t. I have-“

Mickey roared. “You have nothing! Without me you are nothing but a weakling! I had to save you back then. I will save you now.”

Joseph cowered back from the sudden outburst and whimpered deep in his throat. “You can’t. I love her.”

With a raised eyebrow, Mickey asked, “Do you love her more than me?”

With a slight bit more force, Joseph whispered, “No.”

“Does she love you?”

More whispers. “I’m not sure.”

“That’s what I thought. Quit wasting my time.”

Joseph sighed.

“See? You’re weak when it comes to her. She has to die. Tonight.”

Something inside Joseph snapped. He growled back at the leering man. “I won’t let you.” He raised his hand again, and slowly curled his fingers closed.

“You wouldn’t dare. I give you strength. I give you power. I protect-“

Joseph closed his eyes and slammed his fist into Mickey’s shocked face.

Mickey broke into dozens of pieces as the bathroom mirror in front of Joseph shattered under the force of the blow.

Joseph smiled as he squeeze his fist tighter over the sink. Blood dripped on the shards and washed Mickey away.

**************

J.T. Evans arrived on this planet and developed into an adult in the desolate, desert-dominated oil fields of West Texas. After a year in San Antonio, he spent a year in the northern tundra of Montana. This year-long stint prepared him for the cold (yet mild compared to Montana) climate of the Front Range of Colorado. He has thrived in The Centennial State since 1998 with his lovely Montana-native wife and newly created son. He primarily pays the bills by performing software engineering and other technocentric duties. To find out more, go to: http://jtevans.net/

Cheap Reads: Disease

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2014 by David Watson

Cover_SmallI have only one selection for Cheap reads this time around and that is Disease by M.F. Wahl. This is a six part serial that takes a look at life after the zombie apocalypse. When I first started reading this it reminded me of The Walking Dead because its main focus is on how human survivors change as they deal with the fall of civilization. It didn’t take long though to realize that the story for Disease is much better then The Walking Dead and I think this is how people would act when zombies take over the world.

Disease begins after society has collapsed. The first characters we meet are a young woman named Casey and a boy named Alex who are on the run. You see how desperate they are as they explore a house that’s crawling with zombies. They battle the undead and get excited as they find an unopened can of dog food.  Casey and Alex are slowly starving to death and a can of dog food is like a godsend, if there is a god in the zombie apocalypse.

Things aren’t bad for everyone though, we also meet a woman named Lot who has started a new society in a hotel. Lot and her followers have everything they need and they started trading with other survivors that have set up their own communities. Lot’s hotel looks like a little utopia in this world where zombies rule, but not everything is as it seems.

Meanwhile Casey and Alex meet up with a group of Lot’s followers led by Danny and it looks like they have finally gotten the help they need. The hotel for them is a blessing and a curse and they soon realize they may have been better off with the zombies.  Because some people are bigger monsters than the zombies outside.

If you’re a zombie fan, Disease is a must read. M.F. Wahl describes her zombies in gruesome vivid detail. All the zombie scenes are so well described that reading it is like watching a zombie movie. One of my favorite scenes was towards the end as a freshly turned zombie rises out of a shallow grave but the scariest parts of this book don’t include the zombies, the people are scarier. One character in particular in this story is the physical embodiment of evil and the way the author shows how evil she is by using innuendo was brilliant. Only one person sees past the facade of the villain in the story but he has his own agenda. I would love to talk more about the story but I don’t want to give away any of the surprises.

Disease is a fresh look at the zombie genre. I liked how the book had both fast and slow zombies and how some zombies were smarter than others. Most of all I enjoyed the characters and how each one of them is a shade of grey.  They all have a sense of right and wrong but when it comes to staying alive, what is right goes out the window. Another thing I liked about this book is how unpredictable it was. There were four times while reading this book that I was shocked because something happened that I didn’t see coming and that’s what I like to see in a great horror story. Disease is the kind of book that I would show to someone when they ask why I like to read horror and I can’t wait to see what M.F. Wahl comes up with next.

 

 

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