Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall is upon us!

As my favorite time of the year approaches, I find myself tuning in to some spooky tunes via Live365.com. There is nothing like passing the day with some music that puts me into the "All Hallows Groove". Live365.com has a plethora of stations featuring modern soundtracks from horror films, novelty songs and some great spook inspired swing and jazz from the 1920's and 30's. I thought I would take a moment and share a few presets that I have set when I log in.

Bindlegrim Halloween

Halloween Radio: KDOA

Musique Macabre

Also be sure to drop by NeverEndingWonder.com and check out their Weirdsville page. Lots o novelty songs and stuff to get you in the spirit of Halloween!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Happy Friday the 13th!!

Sounds like a fun time!
I just cannot let the day go by without wishing everyone a happy Friday the 13th. It is that special day when we all think about our favorite hockey masked undead serial killer. Whenever this day rears its head on the calendar I always wonder which film am I going to watch this year? Will I make it a double feature? It always seems like it comes down to my favorite installment of the slice n dice franchise, Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981).

Part 2 was my first real F13 experience. I believe, if memory serves correct, that I saw the first one on television in all it's edited for t.v. glory. It's possible that I did before seeing part 2 on HBO at a friends house when it debuted. I could be mistaken BUT I do know that I was very excited to see it! I was actually nervous about watching it. I mean here was a movie that was going to feature people being slaughtered by some guy with a pillowcase on his head and a pitchfork (basically what I saw from the trailer on t.v.). Would I be able to stomach the gory exploits? I soon myself at ease as the movie began and I relived the ending to the first film. BAM! There goes Pamela Voorhees's head flying and blood is spurting out and I'm spellbound.....that....was.....SOOOO COOL!!

I was hooked! I was in it until the end credits rolled. From the ice pick to the head of Alice (Adrienne King), to the skinny dip scene with Terry (Kirsten Baker), to the big POW ending with Jason busting through the window to get Ginny (Amy Steel), I was in like Flint! The movie had a huge impact on me and truly started me on my path of slasher filmology (is that even a word?).
At the age of 11, this was my favorite scene.....still is!

Friday the 13th Part 2 features my favorite incarnation of Jason Voorhees. "Sackhead Jason", as he would become known, is the definitive back woods killer. The old sack with one hole cut out for vision, the dirty coveralls, the makeshift shack in the woods...c'mon he has it all. Even a toilet in the shack! Those woods were his domain and you didn't dare walk into them....unless you were some brain dead horny teenager looking for kicks who didn't know about the legend. Well Part 2 had plenty of them which meant Jason had plenty to do!
Avon calling!

Part 2 also has some of my favorite kill scenes. Undoubtedly the best is probably the fate of wheelchair bound Mark (Tom McBride). Would Jason really deliver a machete to the face of paraplegic?  That answer is yes, yes he would. If you are about to partake in some kind of sexual activity, Jason was going to be there to make sure you didn't get to enjoy it. Just ask Jeff (Bill Randolph) and Sandra (Marta Kober) who get double impalement with a spear right at the climax of their love making (a scene borrowed from Mario Bava's "Bay of Blood" [1971]).
Poor Mark....not quite the face time he wanted.

Mario Bava would have been proud.
The character of Ginny is also one of my favorite "final girl" characters in the franchise. She is smart, resourceful and tough. She plays in some mind games with Jason in the final moments of the film where she dresses herself in Mrs. Voorhees old sweater (the one in which she died) and almost lures Jason into what might have been only a two part series of films. Of course Jason doesn't fall for it at the last minute.....I think we have all seen this one.

The look of Jason sans the sack is also one of my favorite. The makeup done by Carl Fullerton is an incredible update to Tom Savini's deformed child makeup from the first film. It really shows a very accurate aging process to what Jason should look like five years after his mother sliced n diced her way through Camp Crystal Lake.
Ginny takes no sh*t!

To make my love for this movie even better, I had the opportunity to meet Alice, Ginny and Jason a few years ago at a local convention. All three were great to talk to and seemed to really enjoy the fact that they were in this film and that fans appreciated their characters and their contribution to the horror genre.

So happy Friday the 13th to you all! Enjoy the day
and remember do not go into the woods.....it's got a
death curse!!
Adrienne King and myself.
Amy Steel and her uber cool hockey mask pendant.

The "Real Jason" Mr. Steve Dash!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Possesion (2012)

When I first heard the story of the “Dybbuk Box”, I have to admit I thought it was a pretty cool and creepy story. When I heard that Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert where going to produce a movie based on the story I thought, “oh great another crappy effort from Raimi”. Ya know after Evil Dead, Raimi’s films have been extremely hit and miss. For me, and this may sound very odd, my favorite film of his post Evil Dead is For the Love of the Game (1999). I have never been a big fan of Evil Dead 2(1987), Army of Darkness (1992) or Drag Me To Hell (2009) just to name a few. I did enjoy Darkman (1990) though. So going into the Possession I had my doubts. Those doubts however were soon put to rest after viewing this tale of demon possession….and that might be because Raimi only helped to produce it instead of direct.

The movie opens with an elderly woman trying to take a hammer to old wooden box but an unseen force attacks her. So right off the bat we know something just aint right with this thing. Enter in the Brenek family who are going through a divorce. Clyde (Jeffery Dean Morgan), the father, takes his two daughters, Em (Natasha Calis) and Hannah (Madison Davenport) to a yard sale where Em discovers the box for sale. Em cannot seem to figure out how to open the box at first but that night she hears a voice whisper from inside. She finds a hidden latch and opens the box in which she finds a dead moth, a tooth and an old ring. She places the ring on her finger and thus begins her trip down nightmare lane.

The box....a place to stash yer weeeeed.
Em begins to become very possessive over the box and her demeanor begins to change drastically. Her appearance even begins to change and she does indeed look like evil young girl. Odd occurrences begin to happen at the house as well including a swarm of moths in Em’s room. When Em tells her father about the person who lives in the box, he begins to worry and decides to get rid of the box. Em becomes frantic and an unseen force attacks her and she flees the house in search of the box. When she finds the box it opens by itself and a swarm of mouths emit from the box and into Em’s mouth. A very effectively shot scene and very well acted by Calis. This event seems to signal the total possession of Em’s body by the Dybbuk. 
I feel pretty...oh so pretty...

Clyde is able to take the box to a professor at the university that he coaches at. Here he discovers just what the box is and what it was used for. The box is used to contain a spirit that may be dislocated or to house an ancient evil or demon. Clyde decides to perform his own form of spiritual cleansing by sneaking into Em’s room at his ex wife’s house. He reads from a Torah and as Em stares at him blankly and the unseen Dybbuk lashes out, sending the Torah flying across the room. Knowing he has not the knowledge to combat whatever is inside his daughter, Clyde takes the box to a Jewish community and seeks out a Holy Man, Tzadok (Matisyahu) for help. Tzadok tells Clyde that a holy ritual is needed to be performed to force the Dybbuk out of his daughter and back into the box. The Dybbuk only wants one thing, that which it does not have, life. 

Axl Rose impression?
Em’s mother Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) takes Em to the hospital after she has a seizure at the house. The doctors perform an MRI to discover what might be causing her seizure. During the MRI, Stephanie notices something strange in the live images of the inside of her daughter. It soon becomes clear to her that there is something inside Em’s body. In what is probably the most chilling part of the film, the skeletal image of another being is seen inside Em, it turns it’s head and locks eyes with Stephanie. She knows her daughter is possessed by something.

Clyde and Tzadok come to the hospital and take Em to an empty rehabilitation room so that the ritual can be performed. While the ritual is performed the Dybbuk takes total control over Em’s body and fights viciously. Clyde continues to tell the spirit to come into him. When the ritual seems to be over, Em is back to normal. Tzadok knows something isn’t quite right and begins to call out the demon’s name. The spirit had left Em but entered Clyde and now in a weakened state begins to psychically crawl out of Clyde’s body through his mouth and back into the box. 
OOUCH!! Clip yer toenails!!

As the movie closes Tzadok has possession of the box and is taking to somewhere safe but his car is struck by a tractor trailer and the box is hurled from the car. The final shot is of the wreckage and the box sitting by itself…..waiting to be picked up by someone.

I have to give credit to director Ole Bornedal for delivering a very serious toned film. His use of sound is what really drives it. The soundtrack is very simplistic but so effective. Nothing is
played for laughs in this film unlike Sam Raimi’s possession type film Drag Me To Hell which teetered on the edge of seriousness and slapstick. I think this is why the film works. Bornedal gives us some characters to like, to identify with. We see the pain and difficulty Clyde’s daughters have to deal with as their parents enter into a new era of their lives being a divorced couple. I would have liked to have seen a little more on the subject of Jewish mysticism though. I like the fact that the film didn’t rely heavily on special effects. The moth swarm I can understand using CGI and it was well done. The short glimpse of the Dybbuk itself were well done as well and you see enough to get creeped out. Sometimes these types of films have too many shots of CGI demons and the like which ruins the creepiness. Less that is seen, the more impact to be made on the viewer. I also think the acting was top notch especially from the two young stars Calis and Davenport. They both conveyed their emotions realistically and in ways that you can identify with. Calis’s switch between Em and the Dybbuk are simply incredible and realistic.

Of course after viewing the movie one has to look up via the web, the Dybbuk box. I whole heartedly encourage you do so. It’s a great little story whether it is true or not. And for some laughs go to ebay and type it in. Did you know that there are plenty of these boxes to be had? Some upwards to $200 in price! If you buy one let me know what happens after you open it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Grave Encounters (2011)

If there is one thing I do like to indulge in when I’m watching the boob tube, it’s paranormal television programming. I like to sit back and watch shows like Ghost Hunters or Discovery Channel’s “A Haunting”. The paranormal researching programming has gotten pretty popular and to be honest most of them are pretty hokey (i.e. Ghost Adventures) but they are entertaining nonetheless. 

I saw the trailer for this a few years back when it came out and figured I would catch it at some point and well thanks to Netflix, in which I am newly subscribed to, I took the time to sit down and see if this “found footage” horror film was any good.
Welcome to the last day of my life!

Grave Encounters is about a paranormal television program whose five person crew are locked up for the night inside a supposedly haunted abandoned mental hospital. A good portion of the film is spent presenting the characters doing what they do and that is filming footage just like you would see on any paranormal reality show. They interview a couple of “eye witnesses” who claim to have seen and/or heard some pretty mysterious things on the premises. To really make this episode special the host, Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) has himself and the crew locked in for the night. The caretaker, who recounts his own strange encounters at the site, chains the door shut so they cannot exit until morning when he comes to unlock the doors. These doors by the way have been graphitized with the words “Death Awaits”. Certainly a bad omen!
The mental hospital has it’s own background which is revealed in the early stages of the film. Apparently the hospital was run by a Dr. Arthur Friedken (a nod to The Exorcist perhaps?) who performed lobotomies and some rather nasty experiments on the patients. He was eventually killed by some of the patients who escaped their confines. With this bit of history the crew is locked in for the night. They set up several static cameras to catch any paranormal activity and four of the team members set out into the hospital. The team is led by Lance and fleshed out with “Occult Specialist” Sasha, Tech Expert Matt, Camera Operator T.C. and a guest star Houston Grey who is a “Psychic Medium”. 
Gwar would be proud!

The team winds its way through the corridors and empty rooms and have a couple of odd encounters. They decide it is enough to make the next episode and return to the front lobby to wait for the caretaker. They begin to pack things up and Matt is sent to retrieve cameras and equipment. He soon goes missing and the team goes looking for him. Soon they begin to experience more powerful hauntings and return to the lobby to break out of the place. The front doors turn out to not lead to the outside world but to another series of corridors.  Lance takes notice that it is still dark outside and realizes that his cell phone read 1PM. They find their food is rotten as well as if they have been trapped inside the hospital for quite a long time.
Open mouth kiss?....no thanks.
The spirits make themselves known for violently as the night/day wears on. Objects begin to move by themselves and Sasha is attacked while sleeping, her back becoming a grisly welcome sign from beyond. One by one the team members are picked off by the unseen forces within the confines of the hospital. Several spirits manifest psychically and one looking like an eyeless and tongue less demon. By the end of the film only Lance is left and he finds the source of the evil within the walls of the hospital in the dark recesses of the basement. Here he finds the operating room of Friedkin which still has plenty of surgical tools and an operating theater. He also discovers black magical ritual markings on the floor. Lance is then confronted by the apparitions of Friedkin and his lab assistances and becomes one of Friedkin’s “experiments”.

Grave Encounters as you can tell by the trailer is set up like “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) which runs off of the “found footage” motif. This type of film making is actually pulled off pretty well but of course with any low budget film the acting isn’t so great. The footage is good though. It is really done like something you would see Ghost Hunters or something. There are one on one interview shots because this is all raw footage that the producer supposedly “found”. Still though the action is filmed well and there were actually some pretty creepy moments. There was even one “jump scare” that made me flinch. 
After a hard day of ghost hunting....snuggle time.

Overall not bad at all and worth a look see especially if you can access it easily through Netflix or some other streaming application. The film did well enough in rentals and selected theater release to garner a sequel, Grave Encounters 2.