Jul 31, 2013


For the 35th Anniversary Edition release, Anchor Bay and Trancas went back to the vaults to present the film as never before, creating an all-new HD transfer personally supervised by the film's original cinematographer, Academy Award-nominee Dean Cundey (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Apollo 13, the Back to the Future trilogy), a new 7.1 audio mix (as well as the original mono audio), a brand-new feature length audio commentary by writer/director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis, an all-new bonus feature with Ms. Curtis, and select legacy bonus features from previous ABE releases. The new release is being made available in collectible limited-edition DigiBook packaging (only for the first printing), with 20 pages of archival photos, an essay by Halloween historian Stef Hutchinson and specially commissioned cover art by Jay Shaw.
"Anchor Bay Entertainment has been home to Halloween for almost 20 years," noted Malek Akkad, President of Trancas International Films and son of Moustapha Akkad. "I'm so happy that we're partnering with them to present the definitive edition of what is widely acknowledged as one of the seminal horror films of the 20th century."

Halloween: 35th Anniversary Edition features 1080p video, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and Original Mono audio tracks, and the following extras:

  • All-new commentary track with writer/director John Carpenter and star Jamie Lee Curtis
  • "The Night She Came Home" new featurette with Jamie Lee Curtis (HD)
  • On Location
  • Trailers
  • TV & Radio Spots
  • Additional Scenes from TV Version

This sucker streets September 24. While I am glad we're finally getting an approved transfer from Dean Cundey, I remain cautiously optimistic about which older extras they'll be porting over. That feature-length doc from previous releases better be in place. Still iffy on the artwork, but it's growing on me.

And bring on that new commentary. Criterion's old one was good, but I hate that spliced-together approach. Put 'em in the same room, I say.

Jul 30, 2013


About six years ago my brother lived in a house in North Miami, Oklahoma. He would sit in his living room and watch TV at night and occasionally feel a presence in the hallway.

His six-month-old daughter slept in the room to the right side of the hallway. Weeks went by and he felt more disturbed by this presence. He would walk into his daughter's room (she would wake up crying in the middle of the night for no reason) and feel unnaturally cold.

So he told my mother, her friend, and I about what was happening. We came over one night when everyone was gone and brought two baby monitors. We put one in my niece's room and one in the living room with us.

After some time the flame of the candle we had lit began to sway. No wind was in the house. We talked to the monitor, hoping to get a response. After some time we heard old-style music and a voice say, "You don't know what hell is like."

It freaked us out and we ran out of the house frantically. We only went back after my uncle (a former priest) blessed the house. We later found out that an elderly man had lived in the house. He had also died in this house. 

He hung himself in my niece's room.

Story source.

Jul 27, 2013


BURRILLVILLE – Norma Sutcliffe does not believe in ghosts or haunted houses, but she says The Conjuring, last week’s Number 1 box office cinema megahit, has put her in a horror movie of her own. 
The Conjuring boasts of being “based on a true story” that happened in the 1730s-era house in Harrisville where Sutcliffe and her husband have lived for 25 years. Previous owners of the home, the Perron family, are the subjects of the movie. Sutcliffe said she had conversations with Andrea Perron, who wrote a trilogy of books about the supposed haunting she and her family endured before the movie went into production. She regrets even doing that now.

“We haven’t slept in days,” Sutcliffe told
The Call. “Because we wake up at 2 in the morning [and] there are people with flashlights in our yard.” People call on the phone and ask, “Is this The Conjuring house?” They have received other harassing phone calls as well, she said.

While the majority of the horror fans are probably just curious or harmless thrill-seekers, Sutcliffe worries that, “All it takes is one crazy to do something. There are already threats on the Internet that ‘wouldn’t it be fun to break into that house?’ Our barn is very vulnerable and there is a big story connected to the barn about supposed hangings. Can you see kids breaking in and doing a séance with candles and having it burn down?”

 She said they are not connected with the movie in any way and have received no compensation at all. “All we get is the consequences. It is not our story but we are the ones who are suffering.” She said she has considered buying a gun. “I’m up in the middle of the night screaming at people to get off the property.”
Sutcliffe said she has seen the movie. “I just laughed at the whole thing. I thought it was so ironically ridiculous. I thought it was an insult to the Perrons."

Jul 26, 2013


Based on true events, The Conjuring is an upcoming horror flick about a Rhode Island family terrorized by evil spirits. A trailer for the film offers plenty of scares, but it seems the movie’s cast and crew experienced plenty of frights themselves. Production notes from Warner Bros. describe a number of the strange events that occurred during the making of The Conjuring.

The Conjuring is told from their perspective of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. Screenwriters Chad and Carey Hayes often called Lorraine to discuss the case, though static frequently interrupted their conversations and the line had a habit of going dead. Though the Hayes were puzzled, Lorraine wasn’t surprised.

“We’re about to expose the dark side of the dark side, and it doesn’t want good to win,” Warren told the brothers. “I’m surprised there isn’t a lot more interference.”

Claw Marks
Actress Vera Farmiga, who plays Lorraine Warren in the film, was fascinated by the events in The Conjuring, but felt uneasy reading the script. Farmiga admits she wouldn’t read the script at home or at night and could only review the story in “fits and spurts,” lest she be overwhelmed by fear. One day, Farmiga opened her laptop and saw five claw marks slashed across the screen.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” the actress said. “I do know I hadn’t dropped the computer, and my children hadn’t stepped on it. So I gingerly closed it, put it away, and then my brain just went berserk.”

More at Ghosts 'N Ghouls.

Jul 25, 2013


The blinking cursor. It's been on the screen for a long time. Because I have no idea what to write. Because I have no idea what it is I've just watched. Part black-and-white art film, part David Lynch-esque eccentricity, part circa Night of the Hunter and The Innocents golden-age cinema, Exhumed is nearly beyond proper description. What it is, is certainly an examination of damaged psyche. 

Debbie Rochon, the hardest working actress in all of horror showbiz, plays the Governess - the matriarchal head of a demented household populated by a band of eccentrics and misfits. When a "room" in their house opens up, a notice is placed at the local college advertising space for rent. When Chris (Michael Reed...of The Disco Exorcist!) responds to the ad, one of the household's occupants, Laura (Sarah Nicklin), becomes smitten with him. This doesn't sit well with the Governess, so she utilizes her own brand of "rules" in order to keep control. 

Meanwhile, you've got Matthew (Nathaniel Sylva), the father (?), whose favorite past time has him down in the cellar with his mannequins, finding the right positions so they all perfectly encapsulate their household occupant's counterpart - right down to Chris' mysterious black eye, or his extended wine glass. When you add Rocki, a smart-ass siren who walks around in a slinky silk robe, and Lance, a seeming man child, you've got the dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families.

Except for Chris, every character in Exhumed is some level of insane. And though they all accept their familial roles, they aren't a "family" per se - more like a group of deranged individuals who somehow found each other and have managed to make a home. You've got the quibbling husband and wife dynamic, as well as the older and younger sister relationship, in which the former encourages the younger to exit her shell and experience more of the "adult" aspects of life. Only they're all out of their fucking minds, so, these dynamics are pushed to nearly merciless limits.

The most interesting parts of the film find Laura lost in her own made-up world where Chris wears a fine tuxedo and speaks to her as if he were Cary Grant. Really, her mind creates a world for her plucked from a film right out of the 1930s - even down to the antiquated (perhaps library) musical choices. Cigarette smoke smolders and the two share a rather beautiful bond; this is the world in which Laura wants to exist, not the "real" one, in which Chris lies - quite dead - in her bed.

Shot beautifully and confidently in black and white (utilizing color only for flashback sequences, of which there are many), director Richard Griffin (The Disco Exorcist again!) never hesitates to put forth his vision for how this film should look and how its characters should convey their own unique brands of psychosis. The Governess, for instance, isn't afraid to brandish a knife or a hammer to dispatch any unwanted guests, and Laura isn't afraid of a little... necrophilia...

Exhumed is just odd - there's no getting around that. It's flawed, but impulsively watchable. Even as the acting teeters between weak and just fine, and even as the film threatens to get lost in its own style as it occasionally becomes a bit heavy-handed, you do want to keep watching. It's the most fucked-up family you'll have cared about since your own.

A filmmaker's strength can shine through the lowest of budgets, regardless of whether his or her film is a success. Confidence and a steady hand are always obvious, and Richard Griffin has both. It is a decidedly far more subtle approach for the filmmaker than some of his previous efforts, and it's one I wish had been provided with just a bit more funding. The cast here is mostly fine, but a better one could have propelled this to the next level.

Still, check it out if you're in the mood for something dark and a little bleak. It's the stuff of fever nightmares.

Jul 24, 2013


A historian has been arrested in central Russia after police found the corpses of 29 women, dressed as dolls, in his apartment, authorities said this week.

The 45-year-old man, who police did not identify, has been charged with desecrating bodies and graves, officials said.

Video released by police showed an eerie collection of what looks like life-sized dolls, outfitted in shabby dresses and headscarves, their hands and faces wrapped in fabric. Authorities say the man also stole clothes from the graves when he took the bodies.

Even seasoned investigators and forensic experts were shocked when their investigation led them to the historian and the contents of his apartment, where the women’s mummified bodies were found. The corpses were those of women who died between the ages of 15 to 25, officials said.

Gribakin also said during the search the police found “photographs and plaques from gravestones, doll-making manuals as well as maps of local cemeteries.”

Story source.

Jul 22, 2013


These images record the last remaining sighting of 11-year-old Maisle Deacon. They were taken by her sister, Isabelle, on the morning of October 23rd. According to Isabelle, Maisle had been talking to an unseen person in the afternoon. When Isabelle, an amateur photographer, went outside to investigate, Maisle began to struggle as if somebody was holding her against her will. Amused by Maisle's seemingly innocuous antics, Isabelle photographed her sister, only to be knocked unconscious by what she described as a blunt gust. Isabelle was found against a tree, cradling the very same skull depicted in the photographs. Later dental record analysis confirmed that the skull belonged to none other than Maisle Deacon herself. The cloaked figure has never been identified.

Jul 20, 2013


Received this fun little message the other day from the folks behind the upcoming video release of Frances Ford Coppola's Twixt:
We just launched an aggregation of the creepiest, most twisted images on the web, offering horror fans a disturbing place to come and see anything and everything to give them nightmares at TwixtNightmares.com

Users will just need to hashtag #nightmare from their Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr account for their pics and posts to be a part of the site. I’m reaching out because I think your audience would have fun looking through the site and trying to top the pictures on there by looking for something even creepier.
 I'll play!

Jul 19, 2013


Do any of you remember those Mickey Mouse cartoons from the 1930s? The ones that were just put out on DVD a few years ago? Well, I hear there is one that was unreleased to even the most avid classic Disney fans. According to sources, it's nothing special. It's just a continuous loop (like "The Flinstones") of Mickey walking past 6 buildings that goes on for two or three minutes before fading out. Unlike the cutesy tunes put in, though, the song on this cartoon was not a song at all, just a constant banging on piano keys for a minute and a half before going to white noise for the remainder of the film. It wasn't the jolly old Mickey we've come to love, either - Mickey wasn't dancing, not even smiling, just kind of walking, as if you or I were walking, with a normal facial expression, but for some reason his head tilted side to side as he kept this dismal look. Up until a year or two ago, everyone believed that, after it cut to black, that was it. When Leonard Maltin was reviewing the cartoon to be put in the complete series, he decided it was too junky to be on the DVD, but wanted to have a digital copy due to the fact that it was a creation of Walt. When he had a digitized version up on his computer to look at the file, he noticed something: The cartoon was actually 9 minutes and 4 seconds long. This is what my source emailed to me, in full. (He is a personal assistant to one of the higher executives at Disney, and an acquaintance of Mr. Maltin himself):
After it cut to black, it stayed like that until the 6th minute, before going back into Mickey walking. The sound was different this time. It was a murmur. It wasn't a language, but more like a gurgled cry. As the noise got more indistinguishable and loud over the next minute, the picture began to get weird. The sidewalk started to go in directions that seemed impossible based on the physics of Mickey's walking. And the dismal face of the mouse was slowly curling into a smirk. On the 7th minute, the murmur turned into a bloodcurdling scream (the kind of scream painful to hear) and the picture was getting more obscure. Colors were happening that shouldn't have been possible at the time. Mickey's face began to fall apart. His eyes rolled on the bottom of his chin like two marbles in a fishbowl, and his curled smile was pointing upward on the left side of his face. The buildings became rubble floating in midair and the sidewalk was still impossibly navigating in warped directions. Mr. Maltin got disturbed and left the room, sending an employee to finish the video and take notes of everything happening up until the last second, and afterward, immediately stored the disc of the cartoon into the vault. This distorted screaming lasted until 8 minutes and a few seconds in, and then it abruptly cuts to the Mickey Mouse face at the credits of the end of every video with what sounded like a broken music box playing in the background. This happened for about 30 seconds, and whatever was in that remaining 30 seconds I haven't been able to get a sliver of information. From a security guard working under me who was making rounds outside of that room, I was told that after the last frame, the employee stumbled out of the room with pale skin saying, "Real suffering is not known," 7 times before speedily taking the guard's pistol and offing himself on the spot. The only thing I could get out of Leonard Maltin was that the last frame was a piece of Russian text that roughly said, "The sights of hell bring its viewers back in." As far as I know, no one else has seen it, but there have been dozens of attempts at getting the file on Rapidshare by employees inside the studios, all of whom have been promptly terminated of their jobs. Whether it got online or not is up for debate, but if rumors serve me right, it's online somewhere under "suicidemouse.avi." If you ever find a copy of the film, I want you to never view it, and to contact me by phone immediately, regardless of the time. When a Disney death is covered up as well as this, it means this has to be something huge. 

Jul 18, 2013


Of the­ 189 people who have died in their attempts [to climb Mount Everest], an estimated 120 of them remain there. This is a gruesome reminder to those who attempt to reach the summit of just how perilous it can be. The simple reason that the bodies of dead climbers are scattered about Mount Everest is that it's too dangerous and difficult to try to remove them. Reaching the summit of Everest is a physical challenge unlike any other on Earth. To attempt to bring a dead body or a stranded climber down would take too long and likely leave the climbing team stranded overnight. This makes rescue attempts virtually suicidal.

Most of the bodies are located in the "Death Zone," the area above the final base camp at 26,000 feet (8,000 meters). No one has ever studied the cause of death, but fatigue and the elements certainly play a large part. Many of the bodies are frozen in time, the corpses in tact with climbing rope still around their waists. Other bodies lie in various states of decay. Some bodies are given names and are landmarks, such as "Green Boots," who has been there since 1996.

Jul 17, 2013


Every once in a while, a genuinely great horror movie—one that would rightfully be considered a classic, had it gotten more exposure and love at the box office—makes an appearance. It comes, no one notices, and it goes. But movies like this are important. They need to be treasured and remembered. If intelligent, original horror is supported, then that's what we'll begin to receive, in droves. We need to make these movies a part of the legendary genre we hold so dear. Because these are the unsung horrors. These are the movies that should have been successful, but were instead ignored. They should be rightfully praised for the freshness and intelligence and craft that they have contributed to our genre.

So, better late than never, we’re going to celebrate them now… one at a time.

Dir. Paul W.S. Anderson
Paramount Pictures
United States

“I created the Event Horizon to reach the stars, but she's gone much, much farther than that. She tore a hole in our universe, a gateway to another dimension—a dimension of pure chaos. Pure... evil. When she crossed over, she was just a ship. But when she came back... she was alive. Look at her, Miller. Isn't she beautiful?”

Event Horizon is a very interesting film, and not just as far as its story goes. Coming from the director of the Resident Evil franchise, the remake of Death Race, and a poorly modernized (and 3D) adaptation of The Three Musketeers, it is one of Paul (W.) (S.) Anderson’s rare features of which the material was original. Event Horizon was not based on any kind of pre-existing material (influences notwithstanding). It was not a video game, a comic, a 1950s TV series. It was birthed entirely from an original screenplay. (Back in 1997, this actually happened from time to time, if you can believe it.)

But that’s not the only reason this is interesting. It’s also interesting because this is the kind of film a director makes after having made the remakes, the adaptations, the video game romps (if we’re allowed to ignore Mortal Kombat, which is still cited as perhaps the best video game adaption to date…which ain’t sayin’ much). This is a film that filmmakers with an insane, jump-cutting, speed-ramping style make after they’ve calmed down, aged, and matured. It’s more intimate than anything he’s ever done, features the best actors of his talent pool, and, perhaps while not quite subtle, is restrained in every way a genuinely good genre film should be.

It just so happens that it was made very early on Anderson’s career – his third feature, if we’re counting, and the second people actually saw. Some filmmakers start off calm and eventually lose their minds (Tony Scott, for example); other filmmakers start off insane and eventually cool with age (David Cronenberg, perhaps). Paul Anderson belongs in that first group, which is a sad thing. If we could turn back time, I would have walked out of Event Horizon and been tremendously excited to see what else this unknown filmmaker might bring us in the future of horror. I’d only be left consistently underwhelmed, and even befuddled.

The year is 2047. Captain Miller of the Lewis and Clark (Laurence Fishburne) has been given a very unexpected assignment. He and his crew are to transport Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) on a find-and-rescue mission to locate the Event Horizon—a ship that had vanished without a trace years prior. Naturally Miller and his crew find the assignment to be a nonsense fool’s errand. The Event Horizon was a research ship that was gone—plain and simple—and if were to be found, it would’ve been already.

But then Dr. Weir tells them the truth: The Event Horizon was actually a secret government project out to create a vessel that could travel faster than the speed of light—specifically, it had the power to fold space-time and create gateways, through which the ship could traverse at a rapid rate. The hook for Miller and his crew came when Weir tells them a transmission believed to be coming from the Event Horizon was received. Naturally, the crew becomes instantly intrigued. They track the source of those transmissions and nearly crash right into her; the Event Horizon looms seemingly out of nowhere. She is a gigantic cube-shaped vessel connected by long corridors and intricate designs.

The crew boards the ship and find a massacre—literally. Dead bodies, long frozen over, float throughout the ship. Droplets of blood hang in the gravityless air. “This place is a tomb,” Captain Miller laments.

And then they find the video: the final transmission from the crew of the Event Horizon before they vanished for decades. Based on the monstrous and animalistic beings to which the crew devolves, it’s clear something horrible has happened on board the Event Horizon. As a man holds out his own ripped-out eyeballs and offers them to the camera, it’s clear there’s more than just a case of cabin fever going on. And it would seem the crew of the Lewis & Clark are the next unfortunate individuals to find out just what happened.

Space movies have never really been my thing. I couldn’t say why. You’d think a place that’s constantly nighttime would be pretty awesome to a weirdo like me, but I just never found it an interesting place to set a story. This is probably why I was never into any of the Star sagas – Wars, Trek, or Mummy. I like the Alien series, and Spaceballs. That’s about it.

Yet I love Event Horizon. Essentially a combination of The Shining, Flatliners, Hellraiser, and a little bit of 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown in for good measure, Event Horizon features (for once) an adult cast filled with known and respected actors, psychological terror, gory set pieces, and a very “fucked” ship. The emphasis here is entirely on story. It wears its influences with great pride (Sam Neill is clearly channeling Jack Torrance), but it’s so unique and removed enough from other space-set films that it becomes its own beast. Our characters are actually fleshed out and given back-stories. Weir, Miller, and Peters (Kathleen Quinlan) are saddled with emotional baggage that the Event Horizon is quick to exploit: Weir is haunted by his wife’s suicide; Miller feels remorse for a man under his command that died while they were stationed on another ship; Peters has a disabled son waiting for her to come home, and it’s killing her that she can’t.

This kind of character care isn’t all entirely moody stuff, either. There’s a wonderful scene in the beginning where our entire cast is gathered around listening to Weir’s explanation about the Event Horizon, and each crew member of the Lewis & Clark introduces him/herself, offering their names and their role on the ship. Fantastic character actor Jason Isaacs introduces himself with an overly dramatic, yet simple, “D.J. … Trauma,” and the entire crew laughs at him—not because it’s particularly funny, but because we can easily ascertain from their response that they know him. They’ve been working with him for years, and have grown used to his theatricality and moodiness. They wouldn’t have expected him to respond in any other kind of way. And they must realize how odd and and dark he must seem to people who haven’t already been well familiar with him. Nor are they surprised by fellow crew member Justin answering Weir’s question of “What’s the shortest distance between two points?” with “A straight line.” Of course they expected this kind of answer—because they have been hearing these kinds of silly answers from him for years. Or when Cooper (Richard T. Jones) offers Lieutenant Starck (Joely Fisher) a cup of coffee and asks, “Do you want something hot and black inside you?” she disregards him with an eye-roll; she knows not to take offense because this is how Cooper rolls.

This is the easiest way to establish a genuine sense of camaraderie—or at least intimacy—in films, and so many writers/directors simply don’t get that. If you want your audience to buy your characters as real people, they need to seem like real people. Focus on the mundane everyday things. Because that’s what life is, and that’s when people seem the most real. And the crew of Event Horizon do.

The cast turns in great work. Fishburne is more bad-ass here than he ever was as Morpheus. His Captain Miller makes the expression “no-nonsense” look foolhardy. He’s a man who doesn’t just demand authority, but exudes it. When he speaks, you listen—which is exactly how a captain should sound. He’s level headed enough to call bullshit when he hears it, but he’s also grounded enough to know when even the most outlandish of claims might have an undercurrent of reality. He’s hard, but paternal—but also vulnerable to his guilt-ridden mind. Seeing such vulnerability in an otherwise tough-as-nails character allows you to realize the magnitude of the threat surrounding our characters. If Captain Miller is scared, then everyone’s fucked.

As great as Fishburne is—in Event Horizon, and in general—it’s Sam Neill who brings legitimacy to the film. His presence in nearly any film guarantees that, at the very least, it’s going to be interesting. In Event Horizon, he is having a great time, even under all the heavy prosthetics he eventually undergoes. He plays boring just as handily as he does operatic and out of his mind. I must say it’s pretty delightful watching him slowly lose his mind, dabble in madness, but then briefly come out of it, not knowing just how far off the deep end he’s gone. The Event Horizon, his creation, is calling him from the very first frame—even before he sets foot on the Lewis & Clark.

Paul Anderson shows immense faith in the material and it shows in his direction. The subtle side of his techniques easily bests his post-Resident Evil eye candy approach, but he also knows when to go for the throat. Famously, much of Event Horizon’s violence had to be cut down in order to avoid the kiss-of-death NC-17 rating—something ridiculous like 20 minutes were excised from the final film; sadly, his desire to release a director’s cut reinstating this footage will never come to pass, as its believed the footage has become unusable over the years. If Event Horizon as it stands represents the neutered version, it makes me curious to see an uncut version even more. Because Event Horizon is pretty gruesome. People are filleted, dissected, and mutilated. And in the lost footage of the Event Horizon’s previous crew, there are allusions to further bouts of hell-fueled bodily dismemberment, orgiastic madness, and a whole lot of Latin. (Images of the excised scenes can be found in the below embedded album.)

Event Horizon
is pulp at its finest and most legitimized. It’s unnerving and entertaining, and extremely rewarding. It’s a snapshot of the dying ‘90s, where decent horror was allegedly seldom seen. Paul Anderson proved one thing: he can do horror, and do it well—without leather, slow motion, bullet time, and everything else the MTV generation demands. Plus, you know your film hails from another time when you smash cut to credits and a Prodigy song.

“Wasn’t that fun?” Paul Anderson is asking us.

Yes, it was. But now I’ve got a question for you, Paul. Where the fuck did you go?

Jul 14, 2013


A single mother lived alone with her newborn baby. She was not able to work and she had no living relatives and no friends to help her, so she found it very difficult to cope on her own.

One day, the mother went out shopping for groceries and left her baby at home alone. On the way home, she met with an accident and was killed. She was not carrying any identification at the time and the police were unable to figure out who she was. Nobody came forward to claim her body, so she was buried in an unmarked grave. She had no living relatives, which meant that nobody noticed her disappearance.

Two months later, the dead mother’s landlord noticed that he hadn’t received any rent from her. He visited her house and knocked on the door. When nobody answered, he opened the front door using his duplicate key. He went inside and found the house was in complete darkness. The electricity had been cut off.

He walked around in the dark, going from room to room. All of the woman’s furniture and clothing was still there. In the bedroom, he found a black doll lying in the middle of the floor. 

“She must have left in a hurry,” he said to himself. “She didn’t take anything with her.”

Then he heard a rustling noise. It was coming from the black doll. He bent down to pick it up, but the moment he touched it, the doll crumbled apart in his hands. Hundreds of cockroaches scurried away. All that was left was the skeleton of a baby.

Jul 13, 2013



It has taken something like nine or ten films with the word 'Amityville' in its title before we finally have something that is actually worth watching. Figures it should be a documentary approach to the alleged events that occurred in 112 Ocean Avenue in upstate New York, instead of a series of films whose events became increasingly overblown with each successive entry. Real life is always more terrifying than fiction, after all. (If you're somehow unaware of Amityville, catch up before reading on.)

My Amityville Horror is Daniel Lutz's story. The eldest child of Kathy Lutz (deceased) and step-son to George Lutz (also deceased), Daniel is still clearly haunted by the events that plagued his family for the 28 days in which they lived in the infamous house. And the scars are still certainly with him. Daniel bares his soul in more ways than one. He answers - open and honestly - every question lobbed at him, regardless of how ridiculous and unbelievable he knows his answers are going to sound. Not only that, but he allows cameras in on a session in which he discusses his childhood and the events of the house with his psychologist. At no point does he say "I won't talk about that;" likewise, he even snarls at the camera and says "I can't believe you're making me talk about this shit," before he goes on to answer whatever question it was that provoked such a response. It is an extremely intimate and unyielding look at the son of a horror.

Regardless of where your beliefs lie in terms of the Amityville house, My Amityville Horror proves to be incredibly interesting. Even if it were a work of utter fiction, Daniel is a compelling lead character. In a completely emotionally removed sort of way, there's a bastardized feeling of nostalgia one feels when hearing the eldest child reiterate some of the same stories the Lutz couple told all those years ago - in Jay Anson's book, and in all the subsequent newspaper articles and television specials that would follow. If you've followed the Amityville case in any capacity, you're aware of the fly-infested sewing room, the red-eyed pig demon, and the phantom marching band. But hearing all of these instances retold by a man who claims to have lived it as a child, and delivered in a no-holds-barred way, forces the viewer to reevaluate how he or she may feel about the claims. 

As to the legitimacy of the ghostly and demonic events themselves, I can't speculate, because I wasn't there. Neither were you. People being picked up and thrown across the room, or people becoming possessed by outside evil forces...instances like these are pretty unlikely, but not altogether impossible. Hence, that's the reason why I call Daniel Lutz a compelling lead. On the level or not, perhaps even deluded or not, Daniel's words carry weight. He does not present this information like an actor reading lines from a script. His anger, frustration, and tears make his stories of possession and telekinesis a little easier to swallow. But it is because of this anger that can sometimes make My Amityville Horror difficult to sit through. Daniel is oftentimes impatient with his interviewer. To watch his outbursts can be extremely uncomfortable, even while viewing the film with a thousand-mile buffer zone; I can only imagine the tension present between director Eric Walter and his subject during some of these moments. But because Daniel Lutz is a "real guy" and the documentary is exploring "real events," it would seem disposable to mention that at times Daniel's demeanor can make him unsympathetic. And that's kind of dangerous, considering he deserves your sympathy. This, however, is a slippery slope, because this is being presented as a true and unHollywood approach to telling the story of what "really" happened. As such, it's not like saying A-List Star's character in Such-a-Such movie comes across as unlikable, since that would have been an artistic choice. Daniel is who Daniel is. So while it may be unfair to claim he sometimes comes across as unsympathetic, it cannot go on unmentioned; plus, it does make him a more dynamic "character." (He's also really fond of offering Jim-from-The-Office-like amused glances directly into the camera.)

Those who previously delved into the so-called non-fiction aspects of the Amityville case won't find a whole lot of new information. As previously mentioned, you will hear a lot of the same old stories and become reacquainted with some old faces (I was anticipating seeing an appearance by Lorraine Warren and was not disappointed). But My Amityville Horror isn't about that - it's not about the hell the Lutz family went through then; it's about the hell Daniel is going through now, including a loss of identity and the feeling of being consistently disregarded and written off as the son continuing the farce began by his parents all those years ago.

Smartly, the doc takes an objective approach and allows the possibility that Daniel is simply fabricating his story - and these theories range from him being a pathological liar to having married his unhappy childhood with the claims his parents were weaving and, after a while, having no choice but to believe them.

The take-away theme of My Amityville Horror is two-fold: One - Daniel wanted to finally tell his own version of the story, because he feels he never got that chance; and two - he wants people to believe him. One of those was most certainly satisfied. Daniel's version of the story cuts through all of the baggage and reputation of the house and reveals what such events can do to a person. Not to speak ill of the dead, but in all of the vintage interviews featuring George and Kathy Lutz, even when they talked about leaving behind all their possessions and taking a huge financial hit in abandoning the house and living through the hell that they did, they never appeared broken. Granted, they never seemed ecstatic, but they did seem...okay.

Daniel Lutz does not. Whether the events at 112 Ocean Avenue happened or were a byproduct of an incredibly unhappy family situation, Daniel seems broken. Even when he seems to be okay, or even when someone asks him on camera how he is doing and he answers "fine," you know that's just simply not true. In fact, it may very well be the only purposeful lie Daniel tells in all of My Amityville Horror.

On DVD and VOD August 6.

Jul 12, 2013


"...But those who toiled knew nothing of the dreams of those who planned. And the minds that planned the Tower of Babel cared nothing for the workers who built it..."

Jul 10, 2013


“It was just after my election in 1860, when the news had been coming in thick and fast all day and there had been a great “hurrah, boys,” so that I was well tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself down on a lounge in my chamber. Opposite where I lay was a bureau with a swinging glass upon it (and here he got up and placed furniture to illustrate the position), and looking in that glass I saw myself reflected nearly at full length; but my face, I noticed had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and got up and looked in the glass, but the illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw it a second time, plainer, if possible, than before; and then I noticed that one of the faces was a little paler — say five shades — than the other. I got up, and the thing melted away, and I went off, and in the excitement of the hour forgot all about it — nearly, but not quite, for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a little pang as if something uncomfortable had happened. When I went home again that night I told my wife about it, and a few days afterward I made the experiment again, when (with a laugh), sure enough! the thing came back again; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who was somewhat worried about it. She thought it was a “sign” that I was to be elected to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen that I should not see life through the last term.”
— Abraham Lincoln

Jul 9, 2013


It's a tall order to successfully adapt a book of photographs and small passages of non-narrative text. To do so requires creating a visual representation of the strange assortment of photographs found in Michael Lesy's infamous book, Wisconsin Death Trip.

Part documentary, part art film, James Marsh (Man on Wire) successfully transports the odd and terrible beauty of the 1973 book, which chronicles genuine news stories taken from a ten-year period in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. This strange decade between 1890-1900 contains stories of murder, mysterious disappearances, as well as the completely indefinable profile of Mary Sweeney, who suffered from an unexplainable condition that compelled her to smash windows.

There are even re-occurring "characters" - not just Mary, but an opera singer who goes to great lengths to deny her irrelevance, and a young boy who steals his father's rifle, murders a man for no real reason, and lives in his house by himself for the winter.

There are spurned husbands and wives, unrequited love, and more than one botched suicide. There's also a little levity thrown in from time to time just to lighten things up.

Mary Sweeney: Hair-whipper, window-smasher.

All the still photographs that appear are lifted directly from Lesy's text, and re-enactments (thankfully dialogue-free) bring to life the photograph's origins. Captured in striking back-and-white photography, like the original photographs, Marsh's adaptation manages to paint a portrait of middle-America that's disturbing, horrifying, saddening, bleak, and yet still beautiful.

According to Marsh (via the film's website):
“The title immediately intrigued me. And it certainly lived up to its promise - the book is a catalogue of strange, disturbing, and darkly humorous vignettes of real life tragedy, from a forgotten place and a forgotten time. As you read it, the photographs begin to resemble these weird apparitions from the past, staring right into your eyes. I wanted to convey in the film the real pathos contained in a four-line newspaper report that simultaneously records and dismisses the end of someone’s life. I also sifted through hundreds of newspapers from the town as well. Certain themes began to emerge, which the film was structured around - the anxieties of the time focus on suicide and madness. That is what the people of the town seem most afraid of...”
Images of 1890s Wisconsin are randomly juxtaposed with its modern day counterpart, showing that in some ways an awful lot has changed, but in others, not much at all. A nearly unrecognizable Ian Holm (Alien, The Lord of the Rings) provides narration culled directly from the pages of Lesy's text.

Wisconsin Death Trip has proven to be a very polarizing experience for audiences since its debut on BBC's Arena series. This can be chalked up to any number of reasons, such as the possible misunderstanding as to the origins of the adaptation (a film based on photographs); others seem to find the content itself shocking, though one would think the film's title would have been a dead giveaway. 

The first time I watched Wisconsin Death Trip, I thought, "That was beautiful, but it's something I never have to watch again."

I've watched it three times so far, and I'm sure there will be more viewings in the future.

The DVD is out of print, but it's been known to show up from time to time on Netflix's streaming service. Here's hoping with the explosion of blu-ray that the film will receive another lease on life.

Jul 8, 2013


Soccer Referee Killed And Quartered By Fans In Brazil After Fatally Stabbing Player 
SAO PAULO -- Police say enraged spectators invaded a football field, stoned the referee to death and quartered his body after he stabbed a player to death. 
The Public Safety Department of the state of Maranhao says in a statement that it all started when referee Otavio da Silva expelled player Josenir Abreu from a game last weekend. The two got into a fist fight, then Silva took out a knife and stabbed Abreu, who died on his way to the hospital. 
The statement issued this week says Abreu's friends and relatives immediately "rushed into the field, stoned the referee to death and quartered his body." 
Local news media say the spectators also decapitated Silva and stuck his head on a stake in the middle of the field. 
Police have arrested one suspect.

Story source.

Image source.

Jul 5, 2013


If you catch up on my earlier post here, you’ll gain a little background on the idiosyncrasy of Lonesome Wyatt (of L.W. & the Holy Spooks as well as Those Poor Bastards). If I had to describe him to someone curious but unaware, I'd perhaps compare him to Rob Zombie, only I'd clarify he's a little more subtle, soulful, and genuine. This comparison isn’t just based on the oogy-boogy style that pervades their music, but also on their legitimate appreciation of the genre we all hold so dear in our little black hearts.

After having devoured all of Lonesome Wyatt’s albums, I’m not surprised at all that he can write the hell out of one wicked little novel. The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switch Blade, a tale of a knife-wielding, cloven-hoofed, cannibalistic miscreant who tears through the night striking down “werewolves, ghosts, and other strange creatures,” works as a companion piece to the album Behold the Abyss by Those Poor Bastards; themes introduced in the book are explored lyrically in the album.

Terrible Tale is told in the first person by our titular anti-hero. He does, indeed, tear across the landscape with his only companion in the world—a horse named Red—keeping an eye out for threats of the supernatural. During his misadventures, diary entries from a Ulysses S. Levitcus, his adoptive father of sorts, provide some background on Edgar’s rearing, and proves to be perhaps the most interesting part of the novel.

The story moves at a rapid race and doesn’t get lost in masturbatory details. It’s a simple story and simply told, but not without flair. Wyatt pulls no punches with what he’s willing to have his creation do—like eat his departed foster mother, for example—and I suppose it’s this kind of content that forgives the brevity of the novel itself. It's short to be sure—150 pages—but the story is never not engaging or entertaining. Besides, sometimes such subject matter works better in smaller doses.

Wyatt’s style reminds me a lot of Donald Ray Pollock (The Devil All the Time), in that what he is willing to write about is unflinching and unquestionably horrific. Pollock at times dares you to read him, whereas Wyatt knows his fan base quite well and he’s confident he is delivering just what they have come to expect from him. To be blunt, Terrible Tale is fucked up, but in a fun, EC-Comics-turned-up-to-eleven kind of way.

The design of this little novel is killer; great paints were taken to make it look like a pulpy dime-store novel you would have found in a pharmacy in the 1950s…perhaps on the highest shelf away from children’s hands. The cover, while not graphic, is certainly questionable in its depiction of Edgar threatening a prostitute with his knife as she lays sprawled across a forest ground. The cover itself looks bent and tattered, enforcing its so-called age; the edges of the pages are even colored red. It’s a remarkable little creation.

I hope Terrible Tale’s association with its companion album Behold the Abyss doesn’t prevent the possibility of Wyatt writing more novels in the future—either featuring Edgar Switchblade, or a new morbid creation. If he can tie it into a past or future album, great, but here's hoping he can go hog wild with a new story, even if it's not related to his music.

The Terrible Tale of Edgar Switchblade is available in multiple formats, and you can find them all on the Those Poor Bastards site.

Jul 4, 2013


In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. "Mankind." That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it's fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom... Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution... but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!" Today we celebrate our Independence Day!


But seriously, read more about the 1952 Washington D.C. UFO incident

Jul 3, 2013


Your typical cheesy-bad 1960s educational video...except it stars mutant monkey kids who die one by one...