Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor:Lavender

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kinds her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it is so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

The Website

The Fanpage

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Live Action Review! by Crystal Connor: All Girls Weekend

All Girls Weekend Facebook

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those ‘ kinds her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it is so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Siren

Susanne L. Lambdin

Noel Saabye

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

WordsmithCrystalConnor

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

@notesfromtheauthor

@Fromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

And They All Lived Happily Ever After!

 

Guest Blog: Archer’s Review of The Blair Witch

I am taking a departure this week and reviewing a movie that is still in theaters.

First, a brief recap for those who haven’t seen the original. The first Blair Witch Project came out in 1999 and launched an entirely new genre of “found footage” films, which makes use of hand-held cameras, cell-phone videos, and other portable media to bring the action down to ground level and more fully immerse the audience in a first person point-of-view experience. The use of this medium tends to convey a grittier, shakier, and (presumably) more genuine feel to the film.

The original Blair Witch Project contained only three characters who become lost in the woods of Burkitsville, Maryland as they searched for clues to the existence of the Blair Witch, the ghost of a former town resident who had been murdered in the late 1700s for practicing witchcraft. The movie deftly played on our fears of the occult and the unknown without needing to travel much beyond our own imagination because even though we didn’t ever see the Witch, we were definitely privy to its supernatural presence and the havoc it could wreak. 

The Blair Witch Project was really a love-it-or-hate-it film. The novelty of having the entire movie made from stitching together footage found after the fact was a refreshing change of pace for many, though for some the shaky cinematography, frequent cutaway scenes, and often grainy imagery was a turn off for many. Personally, I really liked it. I especially liked what was missing from the movie: a sound track. Without a musical score to complement or set up the scenes, the viewer lacked an emotional compass and was left to process the movie in real-time alongside the characters, which I felt made the story more compelling (if not exhausting). 

Blair Witch (2016) picks up 22 years after the original film. It stars James Allen McCune as the brother of Heather Donahue (the shrill, teary-eyed, snot-dripping girl who got everyone in trouble in the first Blair Witch). James receives a previously unreleased video clip of the Burkitsville Woods from an anonymous source in which catches a fleeting glimpse of what he believes is his sister. Filled with a renewed sense of hope that his sister may still be alive, he enlists the help of three friends to help him track down the source and search for clues to his sister’s disappearance.

James McCune “James”

Callie Hernandez “Lisa”

The “anonymous source” turns out to be two trailer park redneck nerds who insist on coming along though their motives are not entirely clear. And I kinda felt like I needed them to have a plausible reason because, well really, why the hell would you want to accompany a group of college students into supposedly haunted woods? But whatever, I’m not a screenwriter or casting director and neither is anyone in the group of four so the trailer park kids end up being added to the potential victim pool ostensibly as guides and we’re off to the woods.

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corbin-reid

BW16 follows the same general formula as the original but with notably less success. Whereas the original Blair Witch relied on a couple of hand-held cameras of marginal quality, BW16 has at its disposal a dizzying array of video and electronic devices including earbud cameras (picture), walkie talkies, GPS positioning devices, and even a camera-mounted drone that can be operated by cell phone. 

All of this advanced technology seemed to have been included in an attempt to have the best of both worlds: the point-of-view perspective that are the hallmark of found footage films and the ubiquitous third-person omnipresence of mainstream productions. Unfortunately, this approach did not ever pan out. 

For one thing, the movie drifted away from what makes 1st-person films unique. Namely, the sense of helplessness that comes from being restricted to a very brief range of visual vantage points as the viewer navigates the story with little more than the landscape directly in front of the characters. Another shortcoming of the arsenal of devices in the beginning of the movie was that hardly any them were included in any meaningful way. I mean, these kids were equipped better than most SEAL teams. Certainly, the writers could have found a way to make use of at least some of that gear. I think including the aerial perspective of the forest from a drone could have opened up a world of possibilities. And are at least two dozen ways I can think of off the top of my head to incorporate GPS tracking in the movie (e.g., tracking any character – or part of a character – that goes missing). I mean what’s the point of teasing the viewer with all of this cool equipment if you’re not going to use it? 

But if the prospect of advanced technology was an attempt to drive the film in a new direction, a veritable minefield of horror movie clichés fought equally hard to anchor it in more familiar themes. So in addition to irritating characters squandering state-of-the-art equipment and making poor decisions in questionable circumstances, the writers decided to revert to some tried and true horror logic-defying flaws including but not limited to:

Cliché, faulty logic, or obvious plot device                                                                                               

  Frequency

Pulling on a door handle instead of turning the knob                                                        

 4

Flashlight winking out for no reason                                                                                      

13

Someone jumping unexpectedly into the scene out of ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOWHERE                      

8

Character running off in a random direction searching for some other dipshit who got separated from the group                                                                                                                                                                              

  24

Some idiot screaming at the top of their lungs to locate their friends with no success                                  

  9

Let me take a moment to address this last point.

If you’re lost at night in woods that are purportedly haunted and you lose track of your friends, the one thing you absolutely DO NOT DO is fucking yell for them at the top of your lungs. That’s not going to help anyone and it’s probably going to end up getting you and everyone else in your group killed. Here’s why:

Scenario #1 – They can’t hear you. In this case yelling louder will only give your position away. If they’re hurt or helpless, there’s not much you can do for them anyway. Better to save yourself (to quote Darwin: “fuck ’em”). 

Scenario #2 – They can but are deliberately not responding because they fear doing so would give away their position. This usually means they are vulnerable and have likely either seen what it is that is trying to kill them or have witnessed what it is capable of (e.g., eviscerating other campers, skull-fucking a bear, etc.). The more you yell, the more likely it is this thing will find you and eviscerate and/or skull-fuck you.

Scenario #3 – They hear you but rather than being motivated by self-preservation, they actively want this hell-beast to kill you instead, which means that your “friend” is a selfish asshole who’s only looking out for him/herself and doesn’t give a shit about your well-being. In either scenario 2 or 3, your best course of action as the searching party should be to question the value of having such a friend in the first place and ultimately decide that you’re better off without them. 

In the end, there were just too many competing priorities by everyone involved in the making of the film but there was no unifying vision of what the end product was supposed to be, which left Blair Witch feeling heavy on ambition but light on substance. Perhaps if they had just stayed true to their roots, it would have been a much better experience.

Get it? Roots? Because the movie takes place in a forest with trees that have…aw, forget it.  

Darling Movie Review by Archer

Darling (2016)

Synopsis: A lonely girl finds work caring for an old mansion, but the shadow of suicide and a mysterious locked door drag her into a whirlpool of darkness.

Anyway, the movie opens with our heroin greeted by the Madame (Sean Young of Blade Runnerfame) and given a curt overview of the mansion. The Madame hints at a sinister past. Well, maybe “hints” isn’t the right word. She shares that her predecessor met her own gruesome demise right there on the property, though she stops short of providing too many grisly details lest it creep out the help before she’s even started.

And that’s the end of Sean Young’s physical appearance in the film. Although she shares top credits with Carter, Young quite literally phoned in the majority of her lines by calling in periodically to check on the meek but increasingly bold (disturbed? disturbing?) Darling.

Meandering the hallways of the estate she comes across a mysterious locked room on the top floor (which the Madame, in one of her limited AT&T-sponsored audio scenes, both reassures Darling is nothing to worry about and gravely warns her to keep locked). Now I don’t know about you, but there’s no way in Hell I’d be wandering around a creepy-ass place like this without some sort of weapon or at least decent lighting. I mean look at that picture to the left. Does that hallway look anything other than sketchy as all get-out? Anyway, she – of course – tries to open the door and although she doesn’t get in she shortly thereafter starts to have violent visions both inside the house and out. Whether they are communications from the house, recollections from her past, or premonitions of something that will happen in the future is not clear. Yet.

There is a vaguely voyeuristic aura to the movie, an eerie ambiance that is amplified by the fact that Darling is filmed in black-and-white. I probably should have mentioned that before, as I’m sure some people might consider the style overly artsy if not outright pretentious. But the absence of color keeps the focus on our heroine and blurs the line between her and the mansion itself.

It also adds to the underlying uneasiness of the atmosphere, which is accomplished as much by what is shown and told to the viewer as what is not. The way Darling describes her previous employment kinda gives you the sense that she may not have actually ever worked for anyone else at all; that maybe that is more of a fantasy of her own. And there’s something decidedly worrisome to me about her evasiveness. Also, although the mansion is clean and well-kept, it’s sketch-as-fuck in how clean and well-kept it is. Seriously. It’s decidedly Spartan with seemingly zero unnecessary items in any given room. It’s as if the set director went through each scene and plucked out anything that could possibly distract from it: “What is that? A poinsettia? What the fuck is a poinsettia doing in this room? It’s not Christmas. The owner isn’t a goddamn gardener! She isn’t, is she? No? Well then take it out! I don’t care if you think it ‘adds character to the room’ you dizzy ingrate. The focus is on Darling and the creepy ass fucking mansion, get it? That’s why the movie is called ‘Darling’ and it’s filmed in black-and-white! ‘Cause it makes it creepier than fuck. Now get that fucking plant out of here!!”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow replay of the movie. Sufficed to say her discovery of an upside-down cross necklace and some frantically scrawled Latin on the side of a dresser (presumably by the previous caretaker) help push the story further down the spiral.

Though the majority of the story takes place within the residence itself, there is one pivotal scene in which Darling ventures to the outside world and finds herself in an upscale lounge where she is approached by a stereotypical Wall Street yuppie whose lame pickup attempts are rather transparent. Surprisingly, Darling doesn’t seem all that put off. In large part this is because her previously passive disposition has become tainted and quietly dark, her character approaching a mix between Ursa (the hottie villain from Superman 2) and Tiffany from Bride of Chucky.

She reminded me of the kind of vaguely menacing harpy you typically come across on OK Cupid with whom you have an 87% match with despite her having a severed foot fetish, limited command of the English language, and being a man. At least, that’s been my experience with OK Cupid.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the guy she picks up at the lounge. She reluctantly engages in meaningless small talk with him in a way that suggests she learned about human conversation and sexual attraction from an Asperger’s convention. She seems both out of her element and chillingly disconnected as she pinballs through the conversation like a brain injured hamster experimenting with ecstasy. If it were me she was trying to pick up, this presentation would have had me slipping away to the bathroom, climbing out the window, and fleeing the establishment on foot. But the clouded judgment of lust-induced brain freeze and several shots of gin are all it takes to set the hook on this poor sap and lure him back to the house.

Back at the mansion, he tells her about how someone tried to conjure the devil there “They have got to tell you this sort of thing before you move in, right??” and her actions become decidedly less subtle and rather shockingly violent. Perhaps she learned some tricks from her previous tryst with the pharmaceutical CEO (see paragraph 2 above). Oh, and if I may offer a word of advice: Don’t go provoking seemingly docile autistic spinsters who live in reputedly haunted/demon-conjuring mansions if you want to maintain the structural integrity of your anatomy (asshole – serves you right).

Anyway, she enlists his help in a little impromptu redecorating of the bathroom and although Baskin (2016) would have won the Academy Award for Most Hauntingly Creative Use of Trash Bags In A Subtitled Movie Or Horror Film, the bathroom scene in Chapter 4 (“Demon”) warranted at least a nod in that category.

Darling makes smart use of elements that are reminiscent of a number of horror and suspense movies without overtly borrowing from them. There are subtle echoes of Angel Heart, Jacob’s Ladder, and The Shining scattered throughout and the pace of the movie is defined by the discord between the predictable ticking of a grandfather clock and the frenetic convulsions of screeching violins as we are privy to ever more frequent glimpses of Darling’s descent into madness and violence.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Never Tear Us Apart

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! audiobook from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

pic 3 poster