Posts Tagged ‘paranormal’

When I read today’s topic from The Daily Post, countless ideas flooded my mind. If I could be any celebrity for one day, who would it be?

My first thought was whatever supermodel was fortunate enough to be currently dating Leonardo DiCaprio. No, that would be a waste of the day. (I’ll come back for you, Leo.)

After that notion faded, my mind came to a few of my favorite directors. Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Green Mile), Christopher Nolan (Inception, The Dark Knight), or Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist). I can’t imagine what fifteen minutes inside the mind of any one of these men would be like. Maybe it would inspire a new way of thinking that would skyrocket me to fame, my name mentioned with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino. I kind of envision me just walking around in their minds as if they were museums. I would see all the fantastic ideas they had already claimed as their own, without thinking of any for myself.

Okay, maybe I’ll be an actress. Working under the direction of one of the greatest directors to ever life has to be inspiring, right? My favorite actress is definitely Kathy Bates. If you haven’t seen the movie Misery, watch it and tell me she isn’t the most incredible actress to ever walk the earth. Or maybe I could play a Victorian era goddess compliments of Keira Knightley. Can I go back in time to be Christian Bale in American Psycho? I have the Huey Lewis & The News scene memorized, I would blow everyone away. Then again, I feel like there is never a day that being Bruce Willis is a bad idea. That could work. I can do Die Hard. Maggie Gyllenhaal, Will Smith, Sandra Bullock and Emma Watson are also among my favorites. Or I could be Bethenny Frankel from The Real Housewives of New York. (The last one is a joke.)

Then the answer came to me.

The most brilliant writer to ever put pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Horror maven, Mr. Stephen King. The man responsible for The Shining, It, Carrie, The Mist, Misery, The Green Mile.. Shall I continue? Clearly this man’s imagination is a gold mine. If I could think like Stephen King, there was nothing I couldn’t do. Although, I wouldn’t just want to inhabit his body and live as him for a day. Can I just sit in a dark corner of his flourishing mind and see how his imagination works?

Come to think of it, Stephen King’s mind is a celebrity in itself. That is who I would be. A fly on the wall in the mind of the Master of the Macabre, himself.

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Being home for summer, you have to get creative to keep yourself entertained. And I figured a good way to keep busy would be to start putting a dent in the infinite stack of books I have purchased but not read.

I decided on Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. I bought this book a while back. It was on sale for $5 at Barnes and Noble in honor of the upcoming release of the final book in the series. The book had a really interesting cover and a great sale price. The synopsis written on the back cover was interesting enough for me to seal the deal.

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So here’s the plot, in a nutshell: Awkward high school girl, Nora Grey, is assigned a new lab partner in biology. He is elusive, uncooperative, and refuses to answer any of her questions. She figures out that his name is Patch, but that’s about all she learns. He’s tall, dark and handsome, and despite being endlessly frustrating, she finds herself strangely attracted to him. He begins showing up at the same places she is, claiming it was coincidence. She later finds out that he is something more than what he seems. Their romance plays out in a gloomy, rainy locale (for example: Maine or Washington.)

Does this sound familiar to anyone? Nora Grey is basically a reinvented Bella Swan. Nora is more annoying than the book version of Bella, but less annoying than the movie version of Bella. Patch and Nora meet in biology class, just like Edward and Bella. Patch descends into frustratingly mysterious behavior, also just like Edward. Nora’s friend Vee Sky is seemingly intended to be the comedic relief, but just comes off as kind of annoying, not unlike Jessica Stanley in Twilight. Nora gets into trouble when she travels to a nearby town, Portland, only to be rescued by her elusive love interest. Maybe it’s just me but that sounds strikingly similar to when Bella gets scared in the alley while on a trip to Port Angeles, only to have Edward come to her rescue in the nick of time. There was no secret in beginning Twilight or Hush, Hush that the male leads were superhuman.

I don’t know about you, but when I read Twilight, I knew Edward was a vampire from the beginning. I read the book before all the hype began to generate from the movie, so there weren’t endless spoilers everywhere I turned. It just wasn’t that hard to figure out. As for Hush, Hush, all you had to do to realize that Patch was a fallen angel, was look at the cover of the novel. If there was any doubt left in your mind, the summary on the back would surely clear it up for you.

There were some good things about this book, and some bad things. I think Becca Fitzpatrick does a good job of creating this Hush, Hush world that readers just fall into. Some may disagree, but this book was a page turner for me. I finished it in just a couple hours. While it was easy to read, that doesn’t mean the story was great. It most definitely doesn’t mean that the story was original. I am certain I would’ve appreciated this book if it was the first of its kind. I read Twilight when I was about 12 years old, and I was completely enamored by it. I had never read anything like it. Now, 7 years later, Barnes & Noble has a section dedicated solely to “paranormal romance.” Hush, Hush just seems stale. It was entertaining and I enjoyed reading it, but books like that are a dime a dozen. There wasn’t really anything special about it. I intend to read the rest of the books in the series (Crescendo, Silence, and Finale.)

This is the summary from the back of the novel, if you want a better idea of what the story is about:
When Nora and Patch are forced together as lab partners, Nora would rather fall to her death than put up with his elusive answers to her questions, his teasing, and his infuriatingly handsome face and hypnotizing eyes. It seems Patch was put on earth just to drive her crazy. But before long, Nora’s defenses start to break down as her curiosity about Patch heats up. Why does he always seem to be wherever she is and know exactly what she’s thinking? How does he know what to say to both attract and repulse her? And what is up with those V-shaped scars on his chiseled back? As their connection grows stronger, Nora’s own life becomes increasingly fragile. Nora needs to decide: Is Patch the one who wants to do her harm or the one who will keep her safe? Has she fallen for one of the fallen?

Upon doing a little research for this post, I learned a film adaptation of Hush, Hush is in the very early stages of production (fingers crossed for Thomas Dekker to play Patch.) Patrick Sean Smith, writer behind ABC Family’s Greek, has been commissioned to write the script for the film. If you want to get ahead of the movie hype, now is your chance.

If you enjoyed Twilight, and are just looking for a quick, easy read, Hush, Hush isn’t a bad choice. If you’re looking for groundbreaking literature, I don’t think I need to tell you to look elsewhere.

Let The Right One In, released in 2008, is a Swedish horror film starring Kare Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson. You can watch the trailer for the film here, or watch it in its entirety on Netflix. The film is based off of a novel of the same name by John Adjvide Lindqvist. If there’s one thing about Let The Right One In, it’s that it cannot be easily categorized. While it is considered both a horror film, and a vampire film, it really doesn’t seem right to categorize it as either.

Kare Hedebrant plays 12-year-old Oskar. He is the quiet, socially awkward target of school bullies. He notices a girl around his age and her father moving into the apartment next to his family’s. He later finds out that the girl’s name is Eli, and the man with her is not, in fact, her father. His job is to get blood for Eli. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Eli is a vampire. After letting her borrow his Rubik’s cube, which she returns solved, she and Oskar begin to form a friendship.

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I had heard countless rave reviews about this film, claiming that it was much better than the U.S. version, Let Me In (starring Chloe Grace Moretz, also available to stream on Netflix). Reviews said not to be put off by the fact that this is a “vampire movie.” It’s more of just a movie, that happens to have a vampire in it. That’s mostly true; it’s unlike any other vampire film I’ve ever seen. There are definitely no sparkling Edward Cullens in this film. While there are still age old vampire tropes included (aversion to sunlight, being unable to cross a threshold without being invited in) it is still quite unique. It sounds pretty generic in the summary I provided above, but I kept it short to avoid major spoilers.

Here’s where I’m probably going to upset some fans. I didn’t think this movie was all it’s cracked up to be. After reading 100 positive reviews for every 1 negative review, I was convinced I was about to see something profound. I enjoyed watching this movie, but I was quite disappointed. The story didn’t waste time getting started, but nothing exceptionally eventful really happened until the first hour had passed. Going in to the film, I was thinking that I would like Eli because she was a “good” vampire; a misunderstood, tortured soul. I found myself pretty indifferent to her. Oskar elicited more emotion from me. I was rooting for him to fight back and stop letting the bullies get the better of him. I think the only reason I really like Eli at all was because she seemed to be the only thing that made Oskar happy.

To be completely honest, and this is just my opinion that 99% of people will disagree with: I found Twilight more entertaining than Let The Right One In. I’m not saying that Twilight has a better story, but I didn’t find myself bored at times, like I did while watching Let The Right One In. (Yes, I enjoyed watching Twilight. Judge me.)

The story, as I said, is very unique. I can appreciate that. It’s not at all a bad film, in fact, it’s a pretty good one as far as story quality goes. I just didn’t enjoy watching it as much as I had anticipated. It’s possible I would have felt different if I had watched the film without hearing all the hype, but as it stands, it was really just okay for me.

If any have you have seen this film (or the American version, which I haven’t seen) let me know what you thought! I would love to hear your opinions (aside from bashing me for saying I liked Twilight.) Thanks for reading!

So this will be my first post after my unannounced (and unintentional) hiatus. Fortunately for you all, my hiatus was filled with tons of movies to review, after binge watching for the better part of a week.

Directed by Frank Darabont, based off the novella by Stephen King, The Mist was my favorite of the horror films I gorged on this week. You can read the NY Times review here.

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To be completely honest, the premise of this film may sound kind of stupid. A small town is plagued by a mysterious mist that holds a horrible, tentacled monster that preys on townsfolk. The majority of the film is set in the supermarket, where many people are scurrying to stock up on groceries before a storm arrives. Not surprisingly, the mist arrives, leaving them trapped in the store. The movie examines the interactions between the people in the supermarket as their situation grows exponentially bleak. The group is divided and turned against one another as the story progresses.

There is quite an interesting cast chosen in this movie. The hero of the story is David Drayton, played by Thomas Jane. David is accompanied by Amanda (Laurie Holden), his son Billy (Nathan Gamble), Dan (Jeffrey DeMunn), Irene (Frances Sternhagen), Private Jessup (Sam Witwer), Ollie (Toby Jones), and a few other less notable followers.

The loathsome Mrs. Carmody (Marcia Gay Harden) goes head to head against David and his “team.” Mrs. Carmody believes that the mist is God’s wrath against the less wholesome people in the store, claiming that they deserve it. (“Those of you who aren’t local should know that Mrs. Carmody is known in town for being unstable.” “No shit. What was your first clue?”) Mrs. Carmody drones on and on about the second coming and tries to stage a coup d’état against David, and the more likable characters. Due to the obnoxious nature of Harden’s character, a shining moment of the film was when Irene, a badass grandma, throws a can of peas at Mrs. Carmody (“Shut up you miserable buzzard! Stoning people who piss you off is perfectly okay. They do it in the bible, don’t they? And I’ve got lots of peas!”)

For those of you who didn’t notice above, this film features Laurie Holden and Jeffrey DeMunn, both of which starred in AMC’s The Walking Dead, as Andrea and Dale, respectively. Though she doesn’t have a large role in this film, Melissa McBride, known to TWD fans as Carol, also appears in The Mist.

This could just be me reading too far into what is meant to only be 2 hours of mindless entertainment, but I think there’s more to this movie than the characters trying to defeat a giant tentacled monster. It is always interesting to me to see the way different movies portray characters when they are thrown into a dangerous fight for survival. Each instance spurs a different reaction from the characters. You get to see who is loyal to the group, who would betray the group for their own benefit, the relationships that form, and who will emerge as a leader. It seems like this movie does a pretty good job depicting a group of people put into a dangerous situation and seeing how they react. As their fear becomes more intense, their relationships are strained and they begin to make more questionable decisions.

I’m not sure how many of you have seen, or are even familiar with this movie, but I recommend it. If you are a Stephen King fan like me, you should definitely see it. Any of you who have already seen this film, leave a comment and let me know what you thought. Thanks for reading.

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“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” -Thomas Mann

To anyone reading this blog who is a writer (more than college essays, less than Ernest Hemingway) I know you’ve been in the same boat. Sure, it’s comforting to know that even the most renowned authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling struggle with writer’s block, but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant as you sit in front of a blank page waiting anxiously for something to happen. All the how-to articles tell you to “just write.” They claim that all writing is good writing (*scoffs*) and that it doesn’t matter what you write. Just begin to get the ball rolling. It’s not always that easy when you absolutely can’t think of anything. Every writer has their own technique for writing; some are highly ritualized – same time, same place on the third Wednesday of every month, while some write best in a spontaneous decision to jot down some ideas while you’re drinking a macchiato at Starbucks. Once I get going, I will be glued to my laptop for (literally) hours on end. Other days, when I just can’t muster up anything interesting, I give up after about 30 minutes (if we’re being honest, the last 20 minutes were probably spent browsing Pinterest).

It’s hard, for me anyway, to create a fool-proof formula for success with writing. I would venture to call it impossible, in fact. There isn’t a technique that will magically turn me into Charles Dickens every time I sit down at my computer. So, I come to you all for advice. What is your technique? What is the process that you go through when you have a successful (or unsuccessful) writing session? Do you have any tips that you find helpful in either busting writer’s block, or keeping you focused on your writing.

One technique that I really think helps break writer’s block is to go online and find “story starters.” You can Google it, and find them for any and all genres. They are either prompts for you to write about, or a basic thought for you to elaborate on and build your story from. (Like I said, you can find them for any genre, but here are some horror story starters.) Even if these prompts don’t serve as the premise for your next New York Times best seller, they can help you brainstorm. The prompt will inspire a new thought, and you can build and build, and before you know it you will have the premise for your next New York Times best seller.

Please don’t hesitate to post a comment telling me about your writing techniques, and tips on how you overcome the dreaded writer’s block. I’d love to hear it, so let me know! Thanks everyone!

“You just have to trust your own madness.” – Clive Barker

What makes a horror movie? Is it a charismatic protagonist that everyone is rooting for? Is it an iconic villain like Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers? Is it the suspenseful music that floods the speakers as the villain approaches? (I know you’re humming the theme for Jaws as you read this.) Are the reality based horror films that are the most frightening? Or are the supernatural monster movies the most horrifying? Is it the film’s ability to produce genuine fear in the audience? (Do you guys agree with this list? Top 50 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time.)

In my opinion, horror movies are typically a hit or miss. I usually don’t feel neutral toward horror films; I either really enjoy them or really hate them. I have a hard time identifying what it is that makes a horror movie worth watching. Obviously an interesting, well-executed plot is important. Horror movies have a reputation for being predictable and repetitive. There are only so many times we can watch a group of obnoxious teenagers get hacked up one by one, while on an overnight camping trip. However, when you get a horror movie with a never-before-seen storyline and an exciting ending, it really works. Acting is important in all films, but I think it’s somewhat difficult to give a convincing performance in a horror movie. Conveying genuine fear in a staged situation often comes off as fake and off-putting. Playing a deranged, psychotic killer can either come off as unconvincing or too exaggerated.

As horror films developed throughout the 20th century, viewers were given a bounty of horror films that have achieved status as cult classics. Films like Tod Browning‘s Dracula (1931), Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho (1960), Tobe Hooper‘s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead (1964) are all milestones in the evolution of the the horror film.

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Most often, it takes time before movies are considered classics. Looking back, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, at the time of its release, was probably not iconic. However, after countless remakes and global recognition of the film’s antagonist, Leatherface (a name given to the character by fans of the franchise), I think it’s safe to say that this film is a classic. While we’re only in 2014, it seems like 21st century horror does not provide us with as many films that have the potential to be, one day, considered classics. It sincerely saddens me that Sharknado (2013) is as widely recognized as it is, however I find solace in the fact that its claim to fame is just how truly terrible the film is.

There have been a few films released this century that are either well on their way to reaching the status of cult classic, or have the potential to do so. The Paranormal Activity film series has been wildly popular since its release, prompting 4 sequels (most recently Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones). From filmmaker Oren Peli, the first film in the series was made on a budget of next to nothing. Filmed with handheld cameras giving the appearance of home footage, the film was released into select theaters after generating some buzz at film festivals. Having five films with a continuing storyline in the horror genre is fairly uncommon. These films are also pretty exceptional with the fact that none of these sequels have been largely disappointing for fans.

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Another horror film that I am particularly fond of is Insidious. Starring Patrick Wilson (I am mildly obsessed with him) and Rose Byrne, Insidious was released in 2010, and the second installment of the series, Insidious: Chapter 2, was released in 2013. The expected release of the 3rd film is April 2015. This film definitely had an original storyline (you can watch the trailer here) . There were just enough moments of comic relief, and I have nothing but positive things to say about the actors. The convincing performances of the actors in Insidious were precisely why I was very excited to see that Patrick Wilson had signed on to play Ed Warren, alongside Vera Farmiga (another one of my favorite actresses) in The Conjuring. This film is also one of the best that I’ve seen in a while. Here’s the trailer for it. Anyone else who also enjoyed The Conjuring will be happy to know that Wilson and Farmiga have signed on for a second installment of the film.

So I have, in this post and a few others, told you guys a few of the horror films that I really enjoy. My point for this post is that I really want to know what you all think makes a horror movie? What is it about the film that makes people want to watch it? What makes a horror cult classic? Please leave some of your insight in a comment below!

I added a poll with just a couple answers, but feel free to add your own. I want to know what you think!

Nothing Left To Fear is the first movie we’ve seen from Slasher Films – the cleverly named production studio of former Guns n Roses guitarist, Slash. I am an avid horror fan, and an avid rock n roll fan, so needless to say I was pretty excited to see this. I will say that I believe reviews were too tough on this movie. I will also say there was much room for improvement. Before I go any further, one shining element of this film was its fantastic score, composed by Slash himself. (Here is one of the kinder reviews with a synopsis of the plot if you’d like to read it. To be fair, here is a not so kind review of the film as well.)
This film really wasn’t scary in the least, but that’s not to say that I didn’t find it interesting. The film starts out with a pastor and his family relocating to Stull, Kansas (I’ll come back to why this is important). One of the daughters gets a feeling early on that something is strange in this town, a well-kept, dark secret among its inhabitants. Cliche, right? However, this film proved to be fairly unique, in my opinion, as the story continues. I think this film really had some potential with the plot, however I think with a bit more elaboration, they could’ve improved the plot significantly. A pivotal scene near the very end of the movie reveals the dark secret of the town… But you’re left with more questions than answers. The perfect opportunity is presented for the explanation of the strange happenings in the film to be made a bit more clear, but the filmmakers waved as the opportunity passed them by. I suppose it’s still worth the watch. I sort of enjoyed it aside from the negative points I mentioned. Sorry Slash, Rob Zombie is still the king of rock n roll horror.

 

Alone, I wouldn’t have felt this film worthwhile to review. However, I have come across some information that made it a bit more interesting to me. It turns out that the claims of dark secrets in the real town of Stull, Kansas may have some merit. Now I don’t know how many of you guys believe in any sort of paranormal/supernatural happenings, and to what degree, but I find this kind of interesting (does that make me weird?) This rural town in Kansas, according to many legends, is home to one of the gates to Hell. There are many versions of the legend of Stull, as well as countless different stories about passages to Hell, accessible on Earth, and what the repercussions would be to opening these gates. There are claims of portals to Hell in hundreds of locations from Turkmenistan to Belize and back to New Jersey. Some of them have more reputable claims than others. Stull, Kansas is one of the most widely accepted locations. You can read a few accounts about it here. The website itself has urban legends from all over the United States. It’s pretty interesting if you take some time to browse the site. Another gate is allegedly located in Pennsylvania; it is also featured on the website here. I’ve always wanted to travel around the US and see some of the famous haunted locations (if finding a portal to hell interesting didn’t make me weird, I’m sure that wanting to go look for it makes me weird). I don’t want to dabble in the occult, because I personally don’t want to star in my own real-life horror film, but I would (in the interest of science, of course) like to go check out some of these supernatural locales. Many people who have visited haunted sites have reported an overwhelming sense of a dark presence. It seems like an experience you just have to feel for yourself. I’d just like to experience it in some shape or form.

Here in North Carolina, we have our fair share of local legends as well. One of the more well-known legends is the Devil’s Tramping Ground, which is located near Bennett, NC (I’ve never heard of this town and have no idea where its general vicinity is). One extremely close to my hometown is the Hunt House. Everyone around here knows there’s something weird about it (it gives me the creeps every time I ride by it), and everyone has heard a different version of the story. I’m sure that’s how it is with most, if not all, urban legends.
So I’m curious. I’d like to know if any of you have any urban legends from your hometown or state? Or even just a story that you find interesting that’s from a different location. If you feel comfortable, please don’t hesitate to post a comment and share it with me! I’d love to hear about it! Also feel free to share your opinion about the film, or give me some other movie recommendations. Thanks!