Sunday, February 25, 2018

Top 5 best haunted house movies part 2!

 Top 5 best haunted house movies part 2!
 Here are my next five top favorite haunted house movies! Films that honestly make the real-estate market an actual living HELL!

1) Amityville 1992 It's About Time
"It's about time, that's what."
- This is on the top of my list. Not only is it a really decent 90's straight to video horror movie, it's a strong 6th entry in a dying film series that needed some life breathed into it. If you know me, or follow this blog, you understand how much I love this movie. It's seriously one of my all time favorite films despite it's cheesy moments and at times low budget mistakes. This movie actually has a lot going for it, KNB effects, a really strong cast, and it switches up things. With part 4 (The Evil Escapes) it took the smart direction in using cursed objects from the original house, and showed the terror they brought wherever they went. First a lamp, in this a clock, and in the next entry a mirror. It switched the setting to a track housing community on the West Coast, where a land developer comes home with an antique clock from a house that was just torn down (the original house), he places it on the mantle, and in just days the clock begins to possess both him and his teenage daughter. Time begins to either slow down or speed up, a friendly neighborhood dog goes wild, freak accidents occur, and unexplained fires. It's up to the man's ex-girlfriend, and his teenage son to solve the mystery behind the clock before it's too late. This movie really is a prime example of why 90's horror actually wasn't that bad. I would like to think of myself as the world's biggest Amityville 1992 fan. I have an original poster from this framed at the top of my stairs so it's the first thing you see when you enter my house, a signed laserdisc from half the cast, a promotional video store button, VHS tapes, and original artwork from this movie. One of my favorite thing about this film is the twist ending, as well as clever filmed scenes, such as a tracking shot all done in one take that shows hours pass for a character when they enter another room, when it seemed just like seconds. Am I planning on getting a Amytville 92 tattoo someday? Maybe...

2) Amityville II The Possession
"You know my name, you very well know my name..."
- Whenever I talk to people who haven't seen the Amityville movies, I tell them I really do love the original, but it's pretty tame for newer audiences, even though I think it's a great slow-burn horror movie based off a frightening novel. If they are looking for scary, to go check out the sequel...or prequel as I like to call it. Loosely based off the actual murders that occurred in the 1970's, this tells the disturbing tale of a family, sadly living in terror by their abusive father, and how everything quickly falls apart as the house's evil spirits possesses their eldest son. We get incest, strange occurrences, and finally the son going on a rampage murdering his entire family (mother, father, sisters, and brother) one stormy night. The following morning, the boy claimed he had no idea what happened and is put on trial. Here the family priest does everything in his power to prove the boy was innocent, and that it was the house that caused him to commit these terrible crimes. Without going into major spoilers, clearly 90% of this really didn't happen. The murders tho, did. It's very disturbing when that fateful night happens. We watch as the teenage daughter is trapped inside her home, watching as her parents, and young siblings are killed before her very own eyes. This is a really decent possession movie. I feel The Exorcist raised the bar for these types of stories, and with this one it actually almost met the mark. We get a tale of possession as well as a haunted house film. The music is beautiful, the storylines disturbing, and of course the amazing makeup in the final act. Great stuff all around and one of the strongest entries in the entire series.

3) The Hearse 
"Who are you?!"
- The Hearse is another slow-burn decent horror movie with great atmosphere, that I've always really liked watching around spring/summer time. It tells the tale of a schoolteacher who's basically suffered a nervous breakdown after her mother passed away, and she got divorced by her husband. Needing a break from the city and everyday life, she goes out to the country to go live in her great aunt's house I believe, for the summer as a nice way to escape and relax. Once she moves in and starts getting settled, she notices everybody from town treats her strangely. They ignore her, are rude, and call her names, calling her a ghost. Trying to fix up her property, she hires a young man from the local hardware store to help her, before she meets a mysterious handsome man from town. As she starts dating him, she finds her great aunt's diary and reads an entry every night before bed. This is when things start getting strange. First she starts having strange nightmares, over and over again of seeing her own body laying in a casket at her funeral. Then she starts getting followed by a dark hearse at night, which even follows her to her house several times and vanishes as soon as she calls the police. Thinking she's going crazy, she tries to figure out who's driving this hearse, and what they want with her. I guess this movie just recently got the blu-ray treatment. I for one need an upgrade from my old VHS copy, but it's worth checking out 100%

4) Don't Go To Sleep
"Big slices for daddy, little slices for you and me!"
- This is another huge favorite of mine on the list. About 2 years ago my friend Jody and I were at work talking about creepy horror movies we remembered watching growing up. I told her how much I LOVE made for TV horror movies from the 70's and 80's. She instantly asked me if I had seen this movie and urged me to check it out ASAP. I found it on Youtube, and instantly I loved it. The house on the west coast, and creepy "accidents" Valerie Harper as the helpless poor mother, the little brother who played the son in Poltergeist, the scene where the daughter rolls under the bed to find the spirit of her sister waiting underneath smiling at her, the score, the pizza slicer scene, and yes in my eyes one of the scariest ending shots to a movie e-v-e-r. This will always be on the top of my list whenever I need to recommend a horror movie to someone. This is a favorite of mine, and I even own a bootleg copy of this. One of my new summer traditions is to pop some popcorn, and watch this movie. It's about a family who suffered a terrible tragedy the year before when their darling eldest daughter died in a car accident. A year later the father got a new job, and they move to a new house with their chain smoking old mother in-law, and two children. Right off the bat their surviving daughter clearly has some issues. She starts hearing noises at night, thinking something is after her. One night there's even an unexplained fire that happens nearly destroying her bedroom. Time passes, and suddenly she starts seeing her dead sister who claims she returned to play with her. Here she starts to convince her that her grandmother, brother, and other family members think she's crazy, and will lock her away. Here she needs to "take" care of them. Has the spirit of the sister returned for revenge? Or is it something worse. One of the best made for TV horror movies ever made hands down! 5 stars all around!

5) House
"I bet you! You Goddamn house!"
- These movies are so much fun. We have Fred Dekker and Steve Miner teaming up making a really cool movie. What I like is originally it was supposed to be a much more serious movie. Instead they went for a creepy, but fun movie with a little comedy, slapstick, and over the top moments. This is a film I remember watching ever since I was a little kid and absolutely loving. What makes it even better is that these films (all 4 of them that I love) are getting the blu-ray treatment, posters, pins, ect. They are finally getting the respect they deserve. All films are silly, scary, and a good time, but nothing beats the original. I LOVE this house (my dream is to someday find that massive video store display of the house that was given to rental stores back in the 80's.) I love the practical effects (Big Ben, the puppets, the giant ghouls and monsters) Seriously it's like a never ending list of amazing creatures all brought to life. We also have some killer scenes (the mirror that opens down to an endless abyss, the pool, the fish coming to life, ect) It's like an amusement park ride. We follow a writer who's moved into his late aunt's house after she hung herself in her bedroom. Here he decides to focus on his next novel (He's written all highly successful horror novels and now wants to switch gears and writes about his time in the war nearly 10 years ago) Here he tries to focus, but we see all isn't what it seems. A year ago his young son vanished in the backyard of this house without so much as a trace. This resulted in his marriage to his beautiful actress wife to end, and him trying to breathe life into his career. Here he starts to understand that maybe his aunt wasn't crazy, and maybe this house had something to do with his son's disappearance. This is a lighter haunted house movie, but if you want darker, check out part III the horror show!

So there you have it! My favorite haunted house movies! Great for any marathon!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Cracking open 8 year old My Bloody Valentine candy.

Cracking open 8 year old My Bloody Valentine candy.

I originally meant to do post this article last night in honor of February 14th. But hey, better late than never right? So basically our story begins eight years ago in Kittanning Pennsylvania. I was going to school in PA and one very cold late January weekend, me and my friend Melissa were bored stiff. Deciding to go on a road trip, we found out that the filming location for the 2009 slasher My Bloody Valentine 3D (which was a stellar remake to the 1981 holiday slasher) was less than an hour away from where we were living. In fact Kittanning PA is the location for several other films and TV series. Wanting to do something interesting, we took a brief road trip to this adorable small town, and began looking at all of the filming locations. 

We ended up stopping by the supermarket that's featured in several scenes, owned by the character of Sarah, where a pretty intense scene takes place with the killer later on in the film. What was so cool was that it was so close to Valentine's Day that there were decorations seriously everywhere like in the film. We wandered down the aisles, geeking out before I went through the same register that Tom (Jensen Ackles) goes to say hello to Sarah for the first time in years. Needing something to remember this epic trip by, I grabbed a box of those tasteless candy hearts that you can get around Valentine's Day. 

I originally planned on eating them...but somehow forgot about them. I ended up packing them when I moved back, and there they sat in my office. Years passed, and I even joked about someday having Jensen Ackles sign them (I have met the man before, but I knew my chances of meeting him again were slim to none) So, I just held onto them as a funny little rare piece of horror merch. Then I got an idea. In 10 years I would crack them open and try them.

Well, I lasted eight years. Long enough right?

I decided to say YOLO and try them as sorta an experiment. OH. MY. GOD. What was I thinking?

At first glance they didn't look bad. In fact they still carried that stale chalk like smell that those shitty candies always have. I shrugged, and popped one in my mouth.

Well, to say it was a little hard will be the understatement of the year. I would say it was like biting into a rock hard piece of stone, or steel...or a diamond. Whatever is really hard and tastes like shit.

Like really tasted like shit...

8 year old shit.

So in closing, I learned 8 year old candy tastes terrible, and I'll be sending out these little babies as mini paperweights for the remainder of the year!

Happy 14th everyone!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

My Bloody Valentine cocktails!!!

My Bloody Valentine cocktails!!!

What better way to celebrate February 14th than knocking back a couple of tasty cocktails?! Here are some awesome drinks inspired by the 1981 and 2009 slasher films!!!

The Miner
1 oz. Spiced rum
1/2 oz. Fernet Branca
1 1/2 oz. Creme de cacao
1/8 teaspoon squid ink (optional, but you know you wanna add it!)
1/2 oz. chocolate stout

The My Bloody Valentine 81
2 oz. Rye
3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. Blood orange juice
1/2 oz. lemon juice
2 teaspoon of rosewater
Blood orange peel for garnish 

The My Bloody Valentine 3D
2-3 large blood oranges juiced. 
1 oz. Campari
4-5 oz. Chilled sparking wine or champagne 
Blood orange peel or blood orange slice. 

The Valentine's Bluff
1.5 oz Vodka
7 oz. Blood orange liqueur
1.5 oz. Blood orange juice.
1 splash of lemon juice
5 Chopped rasberries
5 Chopped strawberries
1 tsp. Sugar
1/2 can of lemon lime soda (like Sprite)
1 sprinkle of shaved chocolate for garnish. 

Remember, don't drink and head down to the mine!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Doctor Sleep dream cast.

Doctor Sleep dream cast.
“Life was a wheel, its only job was to turn, and it always came back to where it started.” 

If someone was to ask me what are my top five all time favorite novels by Stephen King, hands down without even thinking twice I would list Doctor Sleep to be placed within the top three. One of his more recent works, I first read Doctor Sleep when a co-worker and friend brought me a hardcover version of this when they got my name as secret Santa. I remember being fascinated by the beautiful cover, and how the moment I opened it up less than a month later to pass the time durning my lunch break one afternoon, I was hooked. It had been years a King novel had done that to me. Honestly not since Needful Things was I unable to put a book of his down. I finished the novel in less than a month, and instantly let my sister borrow my copy who equally loved it. Stephen King was a huge part of our lives due to the fact our late mother was a massive fan so we were constantly hearing about his latest works, reading his books, and watching his mini-series and films. What's odd about this is the fact I read The Shinning twice, and just couldn't seem to really get into it. I know it's strange to enjoy the sequel more than the original, but I did. I like both the movie and mini-series, but just couldn't get into the book. I knew it was only a matter of time before they tried to tackle a film version of this. Of course this would be tricky since Stanley Kubrick's film was vastly different than the novel, and often overshadows anything that's compared or connected to it. Doctor Sleep is a sequel to The Shinning, but I don't think we should underestimate our audiences. This is honestly a heartbreaking, beautiful tale of a man who's haunted by not just spirits, but his struggle and guilt with addiction. It's really a tale of survival, and how everything truly comes full circle to a person who has nothing to lose. With the success of IT, it seems as though this would be the perfect time to prove just again that King is truly the master of horror.

This fall, as much as I did enjoy this re-telling of IT, it was a Netflix original movie...another adaption of King's that finally found the perfect director to tell what people claimed would be impossible to ever be made.

This is Mike Flanagan's Gerard's Game.

Mike Falanagan was making quite the name for himself by such films as Oculus, Hush, and Ouija Origin Of Evil. Here he was able to tell a haunting story of a woman's fight for survival in more ways than one. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, and was left speechless by the beauty of this tale. When they said he was now attached to making Doctor Sleep, I let out a sigh of relief. This truly would be the only director I feel that could do this story to justice. So here comes to fun part, starting to guess who will star in it. I'm sure we're a good year or so off from production even starting (Pet Sematary is starting filming later this spring) In the past I've talked about a dream cast as well as things that I would want to see when it gets are my updated thoughts on who I believe should star in Falanagan's new film.

Rose The Hat - Kate Siegel
- Not only is she Mike Falanagan's wife, but she's also a pretty awesome actress. Always having roles or cameos in his films, what really makes me see her now playing the main villain is her powerhouse performance in the movie Hush. Kate plays a deaf writer who fights for survival as a psychopath taunts her from outside her isolated cabin. Not only does she have the dark hair, but she's beautiful, and can play crazy very well. You really have to read the novel to understand about The True Knot. A group of people who travel via RVs as a large group, going from place to place. They have special powerful, and don't age or long as they breath in "steam" which is released when they butcher young children who told "the shinning" or special psychic gifts and talents. They travel across America finding death, and tragedy to prey, and gather steam to stay immortal. It isn't until a deadly illness begins to spread through the group, speeding up their sickness, and killing them off. Seeing her family die, she knows they need to find a child who's very powerful to restore their health and stop this plague right in it's tracks. That's where she sets her sights on a young girl by the name of Abra. I really, really, really hope Kate gets this role. Sure I could see other women in this part, but I think Siegel would nail it 100%

Danny Torrance - Jensen Ackles 
- I know, I know. The handsome guy from Supernatural?! I see him as the guy who stole the show in the My Bloody Valentine remake. I think Jensen would not only be the perfect age, but truly be able to capture the loner man struggling with his haunted past as well as his fight against addiction. There are other men who could do this, but I think career wise, this would be a good move for Mr. Ackles. Supernatural can't be going on forever, and even if it does this would be a wise project to do in-between filming. This could show he isn't just a good looking guy, but a really decent actor who actually has emotional range. Danny Torrance is the adult version of the little boy who had the special gift of "The shinning" in the original film/novel. In Doctor Sleep we learn that him and his mother relocated to Florida after the hotel explosion, and that Dick (who survives in the book) teaches him how to deal with his gift of seeing the undead. To lock them in a metal box right in the back of his mind. Well many years pass. Wendy, his mother has died from cancer, and Danny has followed in his father's footsteps and struggles with being an alcoholic. One morning he officially hits rock bottom when he goes on a bender with a girl he met at a bar. He wakes up the next day completely trashed, and sees that the girl he partied with had a young baby who is trying to reach across the table at some spilled coke the two of them were doing the night before believing it was candy. This forever stuck in his mind, as we watch that his struggles with drinking have cost him everything, even resorting to being homeless. Finally he somewhat gets his act together when he moves to NH and finds a decent job at a hospice where he's an orderly who cares for the elderly and is nicknamed Doctor Sleep since when someone is close to dying, Danny helps them pass peacefully in their sleep using his special gifts. Danny is able to get sober by the help of his new friends, and slowly starts to get his act together when suddenly his past starts to haunt him. Children are disappearing, and Danny is asked to help. Without going into too many spoilers, this is truly Danny's story. We watch a man struggling with his demons, fighting not just The True Knot, but addiction as well. There's a very moving scene at the end of the book involving him re-telling the story of the baby reaching for the coke, where he feels he hit rock bottom. Danny in this book is a tragic, moving character, who I feel Ackles could tackle perfectly. 

Barry The Chink - Joseph Gordon Levitt. 
- Barry "The chink" is another member of The True Knot. The reason why he's called "The chink" is because despite the fact he's white, he has slanted eyes. So racist, but Barry is the main reason why the entire clan gets sick to begin with. Barry is a member of The True Knot, and I feel for Joseph Gordon Levitt, this is the surge in his otherwise pretty dry spell in his career needs. I know the man is having kids, and has sorta stepped away from acting, but I think we can all agree around Inception everyone loved him. I mean I remembered him back from his 3rd Rock From The Sun days, but when this guy was cranking out hit after hit (500 Days Of Summer, Dark Knight Rises, Looper, ect) he was a likable actor who showed lots of promise. I think a Stephen King role would be a perfect comeback for Levitt, playing one of the many villains from this film.

Crow Daddy - Kyle Maclachlan
- Oh Kyle...not only is he one of my all time favorite actors, he's just screaming to be featured in a Stephen King film. Crow Daddy is yet another member of The True Knot, and Rose The Hat's lover and long-term boyfriend. He's a tough mean bastard, and I think after we all witnessed Kyle as Mr. C in Twin Peaks The Return, we know for a fact he could pull this off perfectly. Also is it just me or does Kyle totally need to have that long hair again in this part? What? Just me? 

Snakebite Andi - Chloe Sevigny
- One of the newest members in The True Knot. Snakebite Andi holds special powers, and is shown in the novel as cycing which is the way The True Knot becomes immortal. I'm not sure if age will be a factor here, but I feel a strong actress like Chloe would rule. The more talented actors and actresses, the better! 

Abra - Chiara Aurelia 
- She was AMAZING in Gerald's Game, and even though she's a little older, I think she would really be a strong enough actress to play Abra. The young girl who's connected to Danny, and is the target to The True Knot. Since birth she's held special powers, and accidentally reveals her powers to Rose who sets after her to save her family. Abra is a spit-fire, but very very powerful, and helps Danny fight against them. Even if she is too old, I know a lot of this movie working will be getting the casting right for this role.

So what are your choices? Let me know!

Until then, let's keep our fingers crossed for Eamon Farren as Victor Passcow in the Pet Sematary remake!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Top 5 best haunted house movies! part 1!

 Top 5 best haunted house movies! part 1!
- Today we're digging into some of the scariest best of the best haunted house movies that involve spirits, ghosts, demons, and moving furniture! 

The Entity (1982)
"All right. All right, bastard. I've finished running. So do what you want. Take your time - buddy. Take your time. Really, I'm thankful for the, uh... rest. I'm so... tired of being scared. So it's all right, it really is, it's all right. You can, uh, do anything you want to me, you can, uh, torture me, kill me, anything. But you can't have me. You cannot touch me...that's mine."
- Based off the true accounts of a single working mother of three who lived on the West Coast, and how for years she was endlessly attacked and raped by an unseen spirit. Here we watch the terrifying story of a woman's fight for survival, as she fights to protect her children, and whatever is left of her dignity. The true two MVPs of this film is the terrifying score (the guitar that strikes up whenever the attacks happen always send shivers down my spine), and of course the stunning Barbra Hershey. Whenever people ask me what's one of my favorite female performances in a horror movie, Ms. Hershey in this film always comes to mind. Note exactly a haunted house movie, but still in my eyes counts. Sure plenty of people saw it as a cheap movie about rape, and the exposure of a woman's body...but I saw it as so much more. In fact, this film even inspired Poltergeist to get made (via the scientist coming to a house to investigate what's happened.) One of my favorite scenes is when Carla visits her friend and the spirit comes, breaking all the windows and for the first time ever, somebody actually believes her. It's moving, as well as powerful. This film always features one of the most bone tingling moments in a film when we finally hear the spirit talk to Carla. Complete nightmare fuel. 

Rose Red (2002)
"How beautiful you are Rose Red."
- I love the story behind this mini-series getting made. Basically Steven Spielberg contacted Stephen King and told him to write the most terrifying grand scale haunted house story. Well, as most things happen, King wrote a treatment for Rose Red, and as time passed the project fell through. In the end, King decided to write up a screenplay, and instead of making a novel, turn it into a mini-series that would air in the spring of 2002. With the same team who brought the epic mini-series Storm Of The Century in 1998, an all star cast, amazing special effects, and grand breathtaking sets that made the massive house of Rose Red become a character within itself, this hands down is one of King's most impressive TV movies to date. It tells the story, vaguely based off the Winchester mystery house, where  a wealthy oil man's bride receives a gorgeous mansion as a wedding present, but right from the start of the house being built, the land appeared to be cursed. Unexplained deaths, and accidents occurred over the years, as the young woman received news from a psychic that as long as she continued to build onto the house, she would never die. Here she hired construction crews to work 24/7 to build additions, upon additions onto her house, transforming it into a labyrinth of endless rooms, towers, and hallways. The house became famous for all of the disappearances, and well as mysterious deaths. Becoming closed off to the public and on the verge of being destroyed to make way for condos, the great grandson of the family allows a professor, who's hired several psychics to spend Memorial Day weekend to stay at the mansion, and try to prove that it is indeed haunted. Sadly, this team gets much more than they asked for, when one of the psychics, a powerful young girl begins to wake up the revengeful and angry spirts trapped inside. This movie is one of my favorites. Between the sets, the cast, the score, it's a comforting creepy movie with one of the most beautiful houses that appear on this list. I honestly wish this house existed!

Poltergeist (1982)
"What's happening?!"
- It was the early 80's. Mr. Steven Spielberg was at the height of his popularity. Deciding to try his hand at horror, he yet again crafted an all American middle class family, and spun them on their heads with the help from director Tobe Hooper. Sadly everyone knows that Spielberg didn't just serve as producer, he basically took over filming himself. I feel this sells Hooper short, since the man really was a decent director, and has endless amazing credits up until his passing this past autumn. Still, despite the confusion on who exactly directed this movie still remains unseen, this is one of the greatest haunted house movies from the 1980's. In fact, the image of the little girl with the long white blond hair, touching the television screen, uttering the words "They're here!" will be forever immortalized in pop culture history. The film tells the story of a family with their three children who live on the West Coast in a track housing community. The father works for the company that makes these as a restate agent, the wife is a stay at home mom, and they have a teenage daughter, a young son, and an adorable five year old daughter named Carol Ann. One night the family awakes to find their daughter speaking to the TV. It appears she hears voices coming from the set. A day or so later she does it again, and an unexplained earthquake plagues the neighborhood. Slowly the family begins to notice furniture moving by itself, their dog barking at walls, and a spot in the kitchen that will push you across the floor by some unseen force. Everything reaches a head when a storm hits the house, and their little girl vanishes into thin air. Here's the catch though...she's still in the house, well at least her spirit is. Her voice becomes through the TV, and she can't seem to find her way back. Running out of answers, the horrified family hires several scientist who study paranormal activity who set up camp at their house, trying to figure out what is causing the hauntings, as well as how to get Carol Ann back before it's too late. 

Winchester (2018)
"Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me..."
- The most recent movie on this list grabs my vote. I have always been highly interested and curious over the tale of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle company. Based loosely on true events that occurred durning the great 1906 earthquake that damaged the massive mansion, and the legends that surrounded what exactly happened at that time. Sarah Winchester suffered many great losses durning the course of her life. First her newborn daughter, then her husband a little over a decade later. Devastated, she visited a psychic in Boston who informed her that her family was cursed. That the spirits of the souls who lost their life's due to her family's invention, would forever haunt her and her remaining family members. That the only way out of this was to continue building onto her house. Much like Rose Red, she was told if she kept building onto the house, it would confuse the spirits, and actually be a comfort for the souls who have found peace and crossed over. For years, she remained unseen besides her staff. She hired construction crews to work around the clock, building constantly. Doors opened to nowhere, stairs went up the ceilings, windows in floors, rooms upon rooms. The house was stunning, very ahead of it's time, as well displaying no rhythm nor reason. The film tells the story of a doctor with a haunted past, diving into an endless abyss of drugs to block out the grief he's currently suffering from. Hired by the Winchester company, he's set to stay at the famous mansion to see if Sarah Winchester is of sound mind. Here he stays, and instantly begins to notice not all is what it seems. He hears crying at night, notices rooms are sealed off, and explained visions start to plague him. Sarah confides in him that she's afraid that a new spirit, one of the angriest she's ever encountered is terrorizing her family, and will stop at nothing for revenge. I might be alone here, but I loved Winchester. I found it a creepy slow-burn haunted house film that reminded me of old 1960's Hammer horror movies. Besides one silly line deliveries, this is an actual decent horror movie that proves you can still become unsettled, even without all the blood and gore.

Burnt Offerings (1976)
"There are centuries in this room, Mrs. Rolf... there are years, years in this house."
- The true MVP of haunted house movies is this classic right here. In fact, whenever I'm asked what's one of my all time favorite haunted house movies, or favorite 1970's horror movies...Burnt Offerings always comes to mind. With an all star cast Karen Black, Oliver Reed, and Betty Davis, this film not only is beautifully filmed, it's a perfect example of a very creepy, and unsettling way of storytelling. The film was recommend to me by my uncle years ago. He basically summed up this film by saying "It's a haunted house movie, where the house repairs itself. You see it's roof changing, the walls, the shingles. It's creepy as Hell!" Well for 12 year old Stacy, that's all I needed. I found this movie, and instantly loved it. I mean the people behind this film were responsible for such films like Night and House of Dark Shadows, Dark Shadows, Trilogy Of Terror, and Dead Of Night. It's about a couple, their young son, and great aunt who rent out this beautiful falling apart mansion by an elderly set of siblings who let them have the house for the summer for a steal, as long as they agree to let their eighty year old mother remain in her home. She has a room upstairs in the attic. All they need to do is bring a tray of food and leave it in her parlor three times a day, that's it. The wife agrees, excited to spend the summer fixing up the house, while the husband isn't too sure. Slowly he begins to notice how much the house, which was basically falling apart at the time they first moved in, has been slowly transforming into a beautiful breathtaking home. Everything appears to be new. He's also noticed how the house seems to have the power to possess him. He blacks out in anger, his aunt appears to be getting weaker, and weaker, while his wife becomes distant, and spends all her time upstairs with the mystery woman who he's never seen. Does this house have unseen terrifying power? Will it allow them to leave? Truly one of my favorites. I can't brag about it enough.

Stay tuned for part 2 where we might take a stop in the Amityville neighborhood! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Winchester (2018)

Winchester (2018)

PLOT - Loosely based off the story of Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester rifle company, and the massive mansion she built up until her death in 1922. In 1906, a doctor with a tainted past has been hired to investigate Mrs. Winchester, who legend has it suffered a mental breakdown after the loss of her infant daughter, and husband years before. Finding aid in a psychic, she was informed that her family was cursed by the haunted spirits of  those killed by the Winchester rifle have returned to haunt her, seeking revenge. Being told that she would live as long as she continued to build onto her massive mansion on the West Coast, Mrs. Winchester hired construction crews to work 24/7 building rooms upon rooms. Here the doctor visits, to test her sanity, and seek the truth if Mrs. Winchester is indeed insane, or telling the frightening truth.

"He's coming..."

LOWDOWN - I have always been fascinated by haunted house movies. Legend Of Hell House, Burnt Offerings, The Haunting, Poltergeist, House, The Conjuring, and The Amityville Horror films. These types of movies have been around for decades, and still every once in awhile have the ability to surprise us all with still staying frightening. I downright adore slow-burn 1960's and 70's horror movies, mostly Hammer. I think of such films as Night Of Dark Shadows, or House Of Dark Shadows. Movies with these gothic characters, stunning structures where the house itself is a character of it's own, and the frighting story showing that sometimes Hell can indeed be a place on Earth. One of my favorite haunted house movies is Burnt Offerings. I really can't explain it, but I love this stylish beautiful unsettling story of a house that has a life of it's own. It's been years since I've found a haunted house movie this visually stunning.

Until I saw Winchester.

I have always heard the legend of Sarah Winchester, and the mansion in San Jose. I've watched countless documentaries over this unusual house, where the woman who owned it constantly had it under construction. Doors opened to nowhere, stairways to nothing, windows in the middle of the floors, countless rooms, endless hallways, and rooms that certainly appeared to speak a lifetime. In fact, Winchester inspired Stephen King to write one of my all time favorite miniseries Rose Red. Basically it tells the same story. A woman heard from a psychic that she would love forever if she continued building onto her home. What's interesting about Winchester, is that this actually happened. Sarah Winchester was convinced her family was cursed by the rifle that brought so much fortune. Becoming a hermit to her huge West Coast house. Suffering great loses such as her infant daughter, and husband, she went back to her original 8 room farmhouse, and decided to spend the rest of her time constantly building, trying to trick the spirits she thought were haunting her, as well as supplying a friendly, comforting location for the harmless ghosts that she claimed surrounded her. Designing tools, rooms, and inventions decades before their own time, Winchester was certainly a very interesting and curious woman. She was smart, strong willed, and with unlimited money continued to build onto her house which had 100+ rooms by the time of her death in the 1920's. All ready you have the perfect set up for a great horror movie. King did it with Rose Red with psychics, with Winchester they used the great Earthquake of 1906 as a foundation. 

We follow a doctor who certainly has a haunted past of his own. Without going into spoilers, he himself has suffered great loss, which has resulted in him spiraling down into a dark abyss of whores, drugs, and avoiding the horrible trauma that he suffered many years ago. Characters like this are always very interesting. I love a checkered flawed leading man. Jason Clarke does a decent job, but I've never warmed up to him as an actor. He did a fine job but I honestly think the casting was a little off with him. 

Helen Mirren seemed a little lost here as well. Trust me, I LOVE her, but having such a massive star in this film, she seemed a little lost as well. Some lines she delivered were a little cringe worthy and cheesy. I think she looked the part perfectly, but her chemistry with Clarke were a complete loss. It's a shame, but movies like this really do rely on great performances. Sadly this film lacked them.

The real highlight, at least in my eyes was the performance of Eamon Farren. I'll be the first to admit, he's the main reason I went to go check out this movie. I adored him in such projects as Chained, and Twin Peaks The Return. I was highly interested to see he was appearing in a feature length film released in the states. Yet again, I'm not going into detail on Farren's part, but it was much larger than I expected, and as always he really brought one hell of a frightening performance. In fact, I would go so far to say he's one of the highlights in the entire film. Farren is cetrinaly finding his legs in Hollywood, and his sharp facial features, and ability to legit do any accent ever really shows that he was born to appear in a movie like this.

The last half of the movie really picks up as the film is a slow-burn. It goes to show horror doesn't need to be all blood and guts. Sure it's PG-13, but doesn't feel it. Even the opening titles screams classic 1960's Hammer horror. The house is a character of it's own, and the breathtaking outside shots of it goes to show what a true marvel the structure is. It truly makes you feel as an audience member that you're exploring the place yourself!

Besides some lame CGI and a few cheap jump scares, this is a very unsettling creepy movie. There are some great twists, a few heartbreaking scenes, and a great showdown. Not the best movie, but a fine reminder that shows that these types of movies still pack a punch. I'll be seeing it again for sure! So in closing, Winchester is a fun take on a really cool piece of history (love the connection to the earthquake!) It's even inspired me to hopefully someday soon visit the actual house and check it out. So if you are a fan of history, and slow-burn scares, this is one haunted house movie worth checking out ASAP!

4 Stars!