Friday, November 11, 2011

Still Waiting in the Shadows: A First Look at Lycanthrope

Last night was a full moon.
Last night, I finished the manuscript of Lycanthrope, book 2 of the ShadowShifter series.

I can't believe that it has only been less than a year since I self-published my first novel (and even attempt at a novel), ShadowShifter. I was too insecure to send it out to any publishers but wanted my story to be heard, just the same. After only one month of sales as an self-published author, I saw the potential the book really had, so I began sending it out as I continued to sell it. After sixteen rejections, a small independent  publishing company out of Indianapolis took interest - Passionate Writer Publishing. I signed the contract and had to take ShadowShifter off sale while they edited accordingly and prepped it for an even bigger released for late winter 2012.
Along with my many edits, I worked on the second book of the series, Lycanthrope. I finished it last night. *insert squeal*

Let me introduce you to my inner-nerd. I always viewed ShadowShifter as the foundation of a bigger story, much like Star Wars: A New Hope. You meet the characters, get pieces of their back story and see how they initially come together. Throw in a conflict here and there and create a resolution. The end.
I am well aware of the unanswered questions in this book. It wasn't by accident. Nothing in my books will ever be by accident; there is always a purpose, even if it's currently unclear. Life is much like this. Everything you think you know, you really don't. And for the questions left unanswered, you press forward to find the answers... unless you suspect that those answers will destroy you and that's one of our main conflicts in Lycanthrope.
Julie Taylor needs to be a strong character that women can look up to - but strong characters aren't born, they are created by circumstance. She must be weak before she gains power of herself and her destiny.

And my heroine must do this independently. Love is great! Everyone should experience it and have someone by their side in life, but dependency is unhealthy. I love Brody just as much as Julie does, but in order for her to be perfect for him, she's going to have to love herself, take care of herself and fight her most fearsome demons - internally and tangibly.
My goal is that Julie and Brody do not become the other's half. They should be two wholes that become a greater one. That is the only way to overcome evil in the end.

To give you a premise, Julie has taken cues from those that doubt her account of The Incident that occurred in book #1 by sweeping it all under the proverbial rug. The truth coming out and being proven can only make matters worse in her eyes, but like an untreated sore, it festers and creates a life of its own.
And we all know that ignoring situations never make them go away.
Her greatest battle is facing her fears and accepting her past before it comes back and bites her in the ass.
This book will not, in any shape or form, be soft. Much like reality, the characters age and grow. The danger increases as does the love between people. Alliances are formed and bonds are broken. Secrets exposed.
Trust is put to the test.

Lycanthrope will be ready for your eyes in 2012. Stay glued here, to my official website, Facebook, or Twitter for continuing updates on a release for the re-publication of ShadowShifter, my book signing dates, and for the ultimate release of Lycanthrope!

This book continually moves, so fasten your seat belt and hold on tight! Horror waits in the shadows, even when you're closing your eyes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Move Over Godzilla...

Day 15 - My Favorite Monster Movie

Godzilla (aka, "Godzira")
Move over Godzilla... there's a new monster on our planet. And though he only has one movie to his name (he doesn't have a name, actually) it doesn't make him any less ferocious or scary.

In 2008, My (then) husband decided to attend a superbowl party. I'm not foolish, I know what happens at a superbowl party - heavy drinking, cussing... My five year old, Aidan, was not going with him. But to make things fair, we split the boys up. Ethan was only 2 1/2, and would basically be unaware of the goings on.
Having Aidan with me that night should have put a chink in my original plans to go to the movies, but I thought, "Hey, it's only PG-13... and basically like Godzilla... right?" In my defense, he handled Transformers beautifully.

I'm a bad mom. (Mother of the year!!!)

Aidan and I loved this movie and it's a shame that I hear a lot of bad reviews about it. I thoroughly enjoyed it!  Just the right soft mix of sci-fi and horror. Add in a dash of that filming craze that makes things appear as though it's really happening - reality TV - and you've got yourself a hit.

Cloverfield. I like it because of the simple facts that it picks up quickly, even with a short back story in the beginning, stays at a pretty consistent pace, you feel as lost in the chaos as the characters do, and the monster is clearly not some dude in a cheap costume. (I imagine Godzilla movies were shot just the way we see it in Pee Wee's Big Adventure at the end when he rides his bike through a similar set.)

In my opinion, it was even better than the American take on Godzilla in 1998 with Matthew Broderick. ("Heeere, lee-zard, lee-zard, lee-zard...")

We see our beloved New York destroyed by something otherworldly. I admit that I was apprehensive seeing this, knowing it occurred in New York. Only being a bit over 6 years since 9-11 at that time, I felt that it may be too much too soon for me to handle. I was fine. For approximately 85 minutes, I forgot all about our real life horrors and was consumed instead with a strange looking monster.

"Gollum" - LOTR trilogy
I can't even begin to describe was it looked like. You never get a clear shot of it, but at different times I have described it as looking like (take note of my scientific genius in naming animals - Adam had nothing on me!): A naked man, the Sin Monster from Final Fantasy X, the Scorpion King, Rancor (for all of you Star Wars buffs out there), a Mizard (part man, part lizard), a Mider (part man, part spider), and Gollum (with a tail).
  Oh it gets better... This thing? It has lice or some sort of parasite living on it by the hundreds. If they attack you, you are infected (apparently) and you will explode. Like I said, in the chaos of the movie, you are just as lost as the characters, so nothing is ever really explained or fully understood. You just know we are up the creek and need to get the heck out of NYC. These parasites resemble a cross between a spider and crabs, much like the "bugs" in Starship Troopers - just a smaller version. So in my wicked, creative intelligence, we will call them Spidercrabs.
"The only good bug is a dead bug!" - Starship Troopers

Basic gist of the story, boy loves girl and girl loves boy. Boy and girl have one incredible day together (on Coney Island!!!) only to drift apart because boy is getting a promotion and moving to Japan. They record that day together on video to remember by. Months later, boy is leaving for Japan the next day and friends throw a surprise going away party for him. Bossy girlfriend orders boy's brother to record "goodbyes" from everyone at the party to remember by, accidentally taping over Coney Island Day. Girl shows up with date & makes boy jealous. They exchange hurtful words and she leaves.

Cloverfield (2008)
Then Gollum and his Spidercrabs wreak havoc on the Statue of Liberty's face. This particular scene/idea was inspired by the movie poster of John Carpenter's Escape From New York, starring Kurt Russell.
Escape from New York (1981)

From this moment on, boy realizes that he truly loves girl and must save her from the city. Hooray for adventures during a tumultuous time in a gigantic city. In this journey, boy and his friends face death (so his group of friends actually dwindle down to friend), a confused and defeated military, riots, broken bridges, more spidercrabs and occasionally, Gollum shows up. And through it all we view it through the camcorder that was used during Coney Island Day and boy's farewell party. (Appropriately coined by Roger Ebert as "La Shakily Queasy-Cam"

The acting is not bad at all in this. In fact, I'd dare to say it's better than most other movies. But what I enjoyed the most was that unlike other "reality" movies, this one never drops the illusion that it's really happening. It's all so fast and frenzied that there's never any time or any way to gather information on what is happening, aside from where is Gollum and how do we get to girl.

Additional fun things happen in this movie. At the end of the credits you hear a voice say in static, "It's still alive." Plus, before the credit roll (because the assumption before then is that this is found footage), the tape returns to happy Coney Island Day and for a quick obscure moment (if you are looking for it), you can see something dropping from the sky and landing far out in the Atlantic Ocean with a big splash. It's bee assumed that this is the monster's drop on Earth.

It's the small things in life, isn't it?

Cloverfield is a great movie. All you haters, go watch "Godzira".

Does the Number 28 Ring a Bell?

"More brains!" - zombie, Return of the Living Dead
Day 13 - My Favorite Zombie Movie

As much as I'd like to claim something like Return of the Living Dead as my favorite, I simply cannot.Though it was full of running zombies (that even talked! haha!) and was reminiscent of the the 1980's, I had to pick something that made me stomp my feet in the theater to help the people on the screen run faster - away from the horde of zombies. And though this horde isn't technically a zombie horde, it carries the same kind of  elements as one.
I'm talking about the 28 Days/Weeks movies.

Can I choose between the two? I can't. They both bring different but powerful elements to the screen.

28 Days Later wasn't a fresh approach to zombies, but the journey through it was. It provided characters that you could grow to care about to some extent and gave a great deal of down time to suffer the anxiety of anticipation, something that movies today rarely do. What was going to happen next? When?

And Cillian Murphy was beautiful in it, I must say!

Jeremy Renner
28 Weeks Later... the opening scene still makes me want to stroke out. It, too, provided characters you can almost sink your teeth into. But the difference in this one is the lack of down time. It moves at a very fast pace and doesn't really even give you a chance to catch your breath from the last attack.

 Jeremy Renner stole my heart in this one. I can't wait to see him as Hawkeye in The Avengers next Spring!

Robert Carlyle (28 Weeks Later, The Full Monty)
And who knew that the guy from The Full Monty was a big enough douchebag to not only leave his wife behind to be attacked in some farmhouse, but to also infect a newly established community living within London. What a jerk!

 And in both movies, you are given a second enemy. Those you entrust to protect you.

I've already blogged on zombies earlier this month (Dawn of the Dead remake), so I'll make this short and sweet. I like fast moving zombies. The "zombies" in the 28 movies are speedy, but they don't feed on flesh. They just want to rip you apart. Rage - true to its name, once exposed, you are infected and the symptoms appear within seconds, so one must act quickly to eliminate the new "zombie".

Out of the two movies, though, one scene comes to mind as the most piercing scene of intensity. Near the end of 28 Days Later, young Hannah decides, while stoned on some sort of muscle relaxer (?), that her best bet to hide from the "zombies" that are loose in the mansion is to hide behind a full length mirror. She's got to be clueless about how close they really are to her. It kills me to watch! Amazing!

For the record, I would not be upset if their was a 28 Months Later.

And while we are on the subject of zombie stories and characters that have girth to them... please tell me that you all are watching The Walking Dead!

Sugar and Spice and Everything NOT Nice...

Day 12 - My Most Disturbing Horror Movie

Sloth victim - Seven
If I wasn't a mom, this movie would be elsewhere on my list. Not here. This spot would be filled with something brutally violent like Hostel or Seven. But I became a mom in 2003 and because of that, this movie belongs right here.

The Exorcist.

No, I haven't been fortunate enough to carry a little girl full term, but I was blessed with two fun little boys. Still, I know - as a mom - that little girls should never be possessed. "Disturbing" doesn't even cover it.

But it's also because of that very thought that makes this movie so effective.

I'm not going to blog on it much because,... well, to be honest... it scares the hell into me. Even more than Paranormal Activity. And you sure as heck won't be seeing many pictures on this blog. I can't even get myself to do a Google search to collect them, afraid of certain images I may come across.

The Exorcist (1973) is a rare gem. It's an academy award winning horror film. Out of ten nominations it won Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was even up for Best Picture, but The Sting conquered that category.

My mom was working as a Municipal Bookkeeper for the city of Hoopeston, Illinois when the movie was re-released in 1979. One of her many tasks was to transport films to the local theater for Warner Brothers. She loved horror movies, so naturally she was going to see this one. Besides, it was free to her since she was the bearer of the movie gift. The Exorcist was widely known for total chaos in the theaters when it released. People would pass out from fear, or literally have conniption fits because they were so freaked out. Some have even said to have a demonic encounter while watching this. Did my mom take heed? Nope. Come hell or high water, she was going to watch it.

She lasted under an hour. And that night she had an unholy encounter. I won't go into details, because it's her story, not mine to tell. And because it scares me to even think about it, let alone relay it to a blog. I'm just not strong enough of a person to do that. Maybe someday I can touch on this issue in a future novel of mine.

Eventually, she finally saw it from beginning to end, claiming that it was the scariest movie she had ever seen.

Approximately 14 years later, there were two movies I was forbidden to watch. Dirty Dancing (I'll never understand that one) and The Exorcist. I was sixteen and driving on my own. My friend, Dawn, and I decided that "come hell or high water" we were going to watch it.

Truly, it was the scariest movie I had ever seen, but it didn't affect me to the fullest until 2003, when I was a few months shy of giving birth to my first born.

There is something extremely wrong with a demonic manifestation in anyone, especially a child. I had horrible visions and nightmares during my pregnancy, and all of them were centered around this movie. It no longer became a scary movie, it became a real threat to me.

Sure, sure. I know some of you are thinking, "Crazy Christan". Fine. I am and far from ashamed of this. Do I believe in possession? Very much so.

I have seen The Exorcist maybe once or twice in the last ten years, but every time I have spent the remainder of those nights on my knees in prayer.

It's very serious and not to be played with. Maybe that's why it's so dangerous to me - because I know how real it is.But i will say... it's the scariest movie I have ever seen.


I would, however, like to visit The Exorcist steps in Georgetown someday.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who's down for a beer at the Slaughtered Lamb?

Day 11 - My Favorite Horror Comedy 
An American Werewolf In London

Everyone should have a dead best friend. It would keep us in check.
Is this movie a horror comedy? Probably not. But do I laugh when I watch it? Yes.

John Belushi "Animal House"
John Landis is known for directing movies such as Blues Brothers, National Lampoon's Animal House, Trading Places and The Three Amigos. Naturally, the guy is in touch with his funny bone. He also enjoys working on horror, though. With his quirky sense of comedy, his horror projects become the perfect marriage - campy, a tad slapstick, dry humor, but still intense and faithful to the horror genre.

Michael Jackson's Thriller
Landis is also the man we can thank for Michael Jackson's classic video, Thriller (1983). As creepy - and absolutely wonderful - as this video is, one can easily feel the comedic elements in it. And Thriller would have probably never happened the way it did, if it weren't for An American Werewolf in London (1981). It was this movie that inspired Jackson's desire to work with Landis on his groundbreaking video.

Landis not only directed American Werewolf in London, but wrote it - first draft was completed in 1969. But enough about Landis, what about the wolf! This movie set the bar for special effects makeup in the 80's because of the transformation scene - thanks to makeup artist, Rick Baker. (Also worked on Thriller.)

l-r: Jack (Griffin Dunne) and David (David Naughton)
American Werewolf in London is commonly quoted between me and my younger sister, Mandy. (She cites this as her favorite horror movie). Throughout the movie "moon themed" songs are placed. It opens with Bobby Vinton's dream-like version of "Blue Moon" as it shows scenes of the English countryside... the moors. We are quickly introduced to two best friends who have decided to backpack their way to Italy - David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne). You grasp a great deal of character and chemistry between the two of them quickly in their witty dialogue. The boys (young men) are genuine, a very appealing attribute for characters in a horror movie.
"The Slaughtered Lamb. Where's the Lamb?"

Another awkward moment (admit it, awkward is funny, when it's not happening to you) is early on when they stop off at the Slaughtered Lamb. Who names a pub the Slaughtered Lamb?! Jack's response to the sign is hilarious as he asks not only where the lamb is, but what kind of marketing they think they're using. Things turn intense as they enter, realizing that the barmaid and the patron all carry a secret about their little village. Shortly before they leave they are warned, "Stick to the roads, stay clear of the moors....beware the moon."

Clearly, some funky stuff is going on here. Does this startle the guys? Heck no! This just means they're going to continue hiking and making jokes about the moors. Upon the first howl, though, the two guys become consumed with fear. But even in their fear, they're still cracking jokes at one another. Maybe it's because it keeps them calm? Doesn't matter. It makes me laugh and it feels very realistic.
Zombie-Ghost Jack (Griffin Dunne)
I believe one of the most realistic scenes I have ever seen is when jack gets attacked by the werewolf and David runs, leaving Jack behind. Sheer fear. Only after a few hundred feet does David realize that he has left his best friend to be eaten by a wolf and he runs back for his friend. I relate to this well. That whole "You're a good friend, but if the zombies start chasing us, I'm tripping you"... I totally get this. Just ask my best friend, Matt. Some of us *cough, cough* are more selfish than others.
Yeah, I can own up.

Decomposing Jack (Dunne) and David (Naughton)
So, our beloved Jack is dead. David has been scratched and will therefore become a werewolf during the next full moon. It turns serious now, right? Not at all. The bloodline of the werewolf will see its victims, completely at unrest. Jack continues to show his decomposing face throughout the entire movie until there is nothing left. And does his demeanor change? Not at all. He complains to David that he hates talking to a corpse because they're so boring. He encourages David to kill himself before he becomes the werewolf and kills. Jack also makes comments about David's new bed-partner, nurse Alex Price (Jenny Agutter) and during their love scene we are grace with another "moon" song - Van Morrison's Moondance.

Even David's nightmares, vivid and violent, are quite goofy.

So we have a very serious situation, scary and with intense effects. This is beautifully mixed in with a matching soundtrack about moons - whether it be a blue moon, a dancing moon, or a rising bad moon - a zombie/ghost friend who continually makes wise cracks, funky dreams about the Muppets and green military monsters, a naked morning after (trapped in a zoo) and to top it all of we have two detectives from Scotland Yard who have that whole British humor down pat. You can't tell me that this is not funny!

The movie does not end on a funny note - unless you count an instant roll of credits accompanied by The Marcel's version of Blue Moon. (There are three different versions of this song in the movie.) The death scenes can be pretty scary. Maybe funny or comedy isn't the word I'm thinking with this.
John Landis - Writer and Director

Clever. That's the word.

Sure, An American Werewolf in Paris may actually be funnier, but it wasn't cleverly funny. the humor was too obvious. This one has it hiding in the cracks of dialogue, soundtrack and character.

Maybe it's the movies quotes that keep me coming back for more.

By the way, for those of you who feel as though you can never accomplish anything by talent and luck alone... John Landis was a high school drop out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Pish-Posh Horror Challenge blog

I refuse to refer to this segment as lazy. These are the answers in this 30 day challenge that I just don't have much to say about. I will gladly add blurbs, but as far as filling an entire blog? It's just not there.

Plus it'll also help me meet this challenge on time for Halloween, since I started this challenge way too late this month.

So here's the quick rundown:

Day #8 - My Favorite Foreign Horror Movie

I'm not a huge fan of foreign horror. For instance, the Japanese are big on ghost stories such as the Japanese turned American movies, The Ring and The Grudge. These don't scare me too much, though I must admit that The Ring freaked me out a bit. Maybe because when I first watched it I had just had a son and named him Aidan (spelled the same way as David Dorfman's young boy character in the film). Of course, they did make up for it with Audition - but man, that movie is brutal! The Italians are more crafty with their visuals. This means gore and I can live without the gore. Plus the dubbing is too comical to stay "in the moment" during a horrific scene. But if you want to try a good, classic Italian horror, I would have to recommend Suspiria. You're not a horror fan till you cover all the basics and this movie is definitely a basic!
The Germans... they're just plain sick as I feel they go more for shock value. Can anyone say Human Centipede? (And no, I do not recommend this movie. *gag!*)

Not your David Bowie's Labyrinth
But recently, I was introduced to the Spanish film Pan's Labyrinth by my best friend one evening as we vegged on the couch. I asked him if he thought I could use it in my horror challenge, seeing as it is more Fantasy than Horror. Our conclusion? It's my blog, I can do whatever I want.
Ophelia/Princess Moanna (Baquero)
First things, first... David Bowie and his cup are nowhere to be found in this movie. There is no Goblin King. Visually captivating, this movie had some very serious and adult situations. It's nothing like the 80's film Labyrinth (which I thought it would be simply because the word Labyrinth was in the title). Furthermore, just because our lead protagonist, Ophelia/Princess Moanna portrayed by the young and beautiful Ivana Baquero, is under the age of twelve does not make this a child's movie. (Yes, I had assumed it was.) Better than your typical horror movie, you become emotionally involved with the characters through their development, not circumstance. Your heart will break and you will feel anger and betrayal... and fear.
Faun - friend or foe?
Pale man
So how do I justify calling this "horror"? Well, the Faun was a bit creepy to me and I didn't feel I could trust him. But what tipped me over the edge was Pale Man!! The Dude wore his eyes on his hands and had the body of an 80 year old man! That is scary! Oh, and apparently he eats children.

This movie is in Spanish, so if you are illiterate, you'll be up the creek. Bring a friend and have them read the subtitles to you! This movie is not to be missed, even if you don't like horror.

Day 10 - A Horror Movie that Everyone Loves, but I Don't

The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Can't stand it. It's stupid. I don't even enjoy the music.
Go ahead, cast your stones. I'll take it as long as I don't have to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show. That would be real torture.

Day 24 - A Horror Movie Character that Describes Me

Halloween's Laurie Strode (Curtis)
I would like to think of myself more like Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) from Halloween. She was the only one of her friends that came across as pure. Am I pure now? No way! I've had two kids, but in high school I was. Does that count? Even if it does count, I was never a responsible teen like she was. My homework was never done. In that sense, I was more like her friend Lynda... totally.
Elm Street's Nancy Thompson (Langenkamp)

But I'm probably more of a Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) of A Nightmare on Elm Street. Feisty and resourceful, even when she's scared - mainly because what has feared her has also hurt her. She's ready to fight, with fear in her eyes.
And what a smart ass.

Day 25 - Favorite Christmas/Holiday Horror Movie

"I killed it..."
I'm not a big fan of Christmas horror movies. There's nothing worse to me than imagining pure terror on the night that baby Jesus was born. That time of year shouldn't be filled with blood and horror; it should be filled with love, wonder,sweetness, and Charlie Brown!
And as far as I'm concerned Valentine's Day is a horror movie. It's not a holiday at all. Blech!
Magueys roasting on an open fire...
But, if I have to choose, I'd definitely go for Gremlins. It's starts out very merry, slowly becomes questionable much like a sci-fi movie (think Alien), and then turns south. Bad. It gave a few laughs and it wasn't really scary, but remember I don't want it to be scary because baby Jesus was born.
And of course, the movie ends bittersweet... much like how some of us feel after Christmas.

My other choice is The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's the perfect combination of Halloween meets Christmas. It's feels light simply because it's an animated film, it's musical, and it's a tad humorous but don't be fooled, there are a few spook scenes. All in one big package that only a twisted and creative mind like Tim Burton can deliver. By the end of the movie, everything is back where it belongs. Christmas is with Christmas and Halloween is with Halloween. Perfect!

Day 26 - A Horror Movie for a Chicken

Well, I would probably suggest the above mentioned, Gremlins or The Nightmare before Christmas. Another option would be one of the horror classics like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, or maybe even Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. *snicker*

Beetlejuice? Maybe Tim Burton is too dark.

Day 28 - A Horror Movie I'd Like to See Remade/Rebooted

None of them (with VERY FEW exceptions to the rule - see Dawn of the Dead).
If it's not broke, don't fix it. Hollywood, you have become stale with your lame and lazy attempts to entertain us - and this no longer just pertains to horror anymore. They are remaking everything! Just stop. If you can't come up with an original idea then don't put anything out. We are all pretty content with what the masterminds did already. We can live without you and your waste of time and money.

Now, I will spend quality time with each and every entry now....

Onto the challenge of this blog series!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Facing the Paranormal - Not cool, mom. Not cool.

Today's challenge asks, "What is your favorite supernatural horror movie?"
Funny, I just saw the third addition to this movie trilogy... like just an hour ago.

I'm talking about Paranormal Activity.

If you haven't seen any of these movies, this is where a normal person tell you that you "just have to see them!" I'm not going to do that. As I told my friend tonight, scary is relative, but these movies take a step beyond scary for those of us who know God and have a fear of demons. As a Christian (born again - no, I am not ashamed of my faith), I know that demons are very real and can come into our lives in any shape or size. What is in my arsenal to battle them? I am God's child and I have 100% faith in that. I have found in recent years that those of us who take demonology and Christianity to heart, we find these movies extremely unsettling. Atheists, Agnostics, and people of little faith tend to find this franchise laughable and claim that The Fourth Kind (a reality-based movie about alien abductions) is the scariest movie of all time. I've seen them both and I gotta say, I'm more apt to believing in demons than I am of E.T. Some of you may not be enjoying this small paragraph, waiting for me to get to the heart of the blog, but I feel that this paragraph about my faith is just as important and makes a wonderful introduction to one of the scariest movies I've ever seen.

These movies are the perfect example as to how a little bit can go a long way. There is no serious plot twist. No super, special effects. Not even top billing actor names in it. It scares us the old-fashioned way - with anticipation and fear of the unknown. Simplicity is genius.

I first saw Paranormal Activity when it came to the big screen in 2007. Married, with a 4 and a 2 year old, my list of friends to go see this with was very short. I went with my mother... who is one of my best friends anyway. We really didn't know what to expect, just watching another reality-based horror movie about a haunting.This whole idea of making the movies look as if they really happened was getting really tired. The Blair Witch Project set this trend off in 1998 and in all honesty, the over all effect hadn't been matched let alone surpassed.

That is, until Paranormal Activity.

I'll admit it, these kind of movies give me a horrible headache and make me nauseous at time with the unstable movements of the camera, but I struggle through them because I know that the end result is always worth it.

In the first movie, you have Katie and Micah living in a very ghostly condition in their house. Micah buys a camera to capture this "ghost" and proof of his presence at the very beginning. Katie's back story is that she's been haunted by this presence on and off her entire life. Early in the movie we learn that she is in fact not being haunted but a demonic presence manifests around her.
My mom and I instantly become tense at the mention of "demon".
Before long, Micah's poking and prodding the manifestation makes things worse at the house and Katie wants them both to just ignore it & hopefully it'll go away.
It never does.

That night, leaving the theater, I was stuck with driving separately to my mom's house. I was freaking out the entire way there - desperate to stay close behind my mother as she drove to her house in front of me. She was kind enough to race home and run into the house, locking the doors behind her so I could have a conniption fit outside as I twisted the knob of the door in desperation.
Not cool, mom. Not cool.

My mom and I insisted that my sisters, Mandy & Jessie, see it as well. They watched it that following weekend and casually walked into our mom's house afterwards to tell us that they thought the movie was "okay." My mom and I were shocked at their lack of response. But as soon as my mom turned her back on them, Mandy and Jessie both gave me a face that declared, "We officially have the willies!"
None of us slept for close to a week.

Paranormal Activity 2 was release in 2010 and this time, we learned that there was safety in numbers. We all four went together.

In the second movie, we meet Dan and Kristi (Katie's sister). This is not fully a sequel and it's not a prequel. It's a side story, really. Same crazy things start happening to their home as it did with Katie and Micah in the first movie. The only difference is that Kristi doesn't remember her childhood being like this and her main focus is protecting her young son, Hunter. Clearly, in this one, the "presence" (I can't use the d-term anymore, It's midnight and I'm a bit freaked out. Sorry. How's that for reality?) is interested in possessing the baby boy. The same sorts of things occur in this one as it did int he first one: doors open, doors shut, shadows movie on the wall, unexplained noises are throughout the house... and people are dragged off by an invisible person.

 We all rode together in mom's car as we left the theater. My dear, sweet mother feels that she wants to take a late night drive through a creepy cemetery on the way home. She rolls down the windows and creeps through at about (what felt like) .0005 miles a minute, and making a strange moaning sound. This makes all three of us girls crouch down (as far away from the rolled down windows) and squealing in fear.
Not cool, mom. Not cool.

And that brings us here, to October 21, 2011. Paranormal Activity 3 opened tonight and this time, we're doing it right. Just me, Mandy, and Jess. Our mom is on a getaway with our dad.

This movie is a prequel, taking us back to 1988 so we can experience was the sisters, Katie & Kristi, have experienced. Same creepy stuff happens, moving objects, shadows, noises, dragging people... and a few extra things that made me want to wet my pants. Just because they all happened in the other two movies does not mean they are any less scary. And this time, we get answers. I thought this movie was awesome.

Thankful that our mom isn't with us to scare the pants off of us, we have a pleasant dinner afterwards, visit and then part ways. Peaceful drive home.... *stops*... wait a minute. I live with mom and dad in lieu of my divorce.... an they are OUT OF TOWN!!!!!
I'm sleeping alone tonight, folks. With all the lights on and one eye open.

Not cool, mom. Not cool. (love you!!!!)

And thank you, Paranormal Activity franchise, for keeping it fresh, simple, and helping me make memories with the three important ladies in my life.... sweeping the disgusting, torture-porn franchise of SAW under the rug... all the while causing me to poop my drawers as an adult. Good stuff.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Before there was Jeepers Creepers...

... There was Clownhouse.

This is a movie that I don't believe many have seen. Day #7 of my 30 Day Horror Movie Challenge.

Clown doll - Poltergeist
Ever since Poltergeist, I have had an immense fear of clowns to the point where I almost want to claim that it is coulrophobia which is defined as an overwhelming fear of clowns. I went to a circus once and sat white knuckled as I held onto the arms of my chair, closely watching  the clowns and one in particular... the bald one with the tiny hat on the side of his head. My kids and friends get a kick out of this fear of mine, because I can basically handle everything else.
Bozo the Clown

At one point in my childhood, my mother thought it would be a nice touch to my bedroom decor to add a small red-framed picture (probably purchased at K-Mart) of 5 or 6 clowns all in a row. The front clown was always so happy looking, a not-as-colorful version of Bozo. Beside him was a version of Emmet Kelly and a few more down from that was a strange similarity to Cookie the clown, Bozo's sidekick.
Cookie the Clown
I hated that picture. And one of the happiest moments of my life was when the glass inside the frame broke. Several times, since becoming an adult, I have looked for the copy of this photo to give as a gag gift for a one of my sisters' baby showers. They are not huge fans of clowns either.

It was one of those rare instances after I had my license, my sisters and I decided to rent a video (Go ahead and laugh. I said video) one night because our mom and dad was going to be out - probably to the annual TAP (dad's job) dinner in September. We probably went to Kroger - remember when they had a video rental station? Being a family of girls who thrived on intense and scary movies, we would always make a bee-line for the Horror section. The hard part in choosing a great video was always finding something that we all would agree on... naturally. Jess always preferred the more babyish horrors & horror comedies like Beetlejuice. Mandy liked more sci-fi sort of horror like Alien or Aliens. I was all about the blood and gore (at the time) like Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street. And depending on the mood, someone would always want to rent something we've already seen... and that someone was usually me. If it's not broke, don't fix it, I always say. However, that night, we saw a cover of a movie that chilled us to the bone. A movie we had never heard of before and had never made it to the big screen (which is usually a bad sign this day and age). Frozen in our positions, we stared at the sinister cover of a clown peeking behind a door. {{shudder}}

Pennywise the Clown - It (Tim Curry)
Clownhouse is a movie written and directed by Victor Salva (Jeepers Creepers, Powder). Like I said, it never made it to the big screen and I have never heard of it before. It was a gamble. Could there actually be a movie with a SCARY clown in it since Poltergeist? It was only a novel at the time, so Tim Curry hadn't put on the funny red nose yet. And Killer Klowns from Outer Space is not in any shape or form, what I would call scary. My intelligence drops a moderate percentage at just the mention of that stupid movie. And for the record, clowns that try to look scary are not scary to me. It's the ones that appear trustworthy and happy. Those are the ones that make my blood turn cold... and little Casey Collins (Nathan Forrest Winters) agrees.
l-r: Randy (Rockwell), Geoffery (McHugh), Casey (Winters)
Casey (Winters) is the youngest of three boys and suffers from extreme Coulrophobia. "You never know what they really are," he claims, referring to hiding behind the make up and smiles. Casey and his two older brothers are left home alone for the weekend - too close to Halloween for my taste. Much like the three of us girls were that night while my parents were at a company dinner. The middle brother, Geoffery (played by Brian McHugh) is like my middle sister, Mandy - the peacemaker. He allows Casey's fear to show and like a good big brother, comforts him while attempting to explain away his fears. Then there's the obnoxious, older brother, Randy - Sam Rockwell's film debut (Charlie's Angels, Cowboys and Aliens). He's a bully, constantly picking on both younger brothers, but especially Casey. Randy makes the plans for the night, and the three of them go to.... (drum roll, please).... the circus. On the way there, they see vehicles with sirens heading toward the "mad house" and they note that there is trouble. So there's the plot-line: 3 lunatics escape from the nut home and disguise themselves as 3 clowns from the local circus. Simple enough. It's been done in a roundabout way over a million times.
Cheezo the Clown - Clownhouse
But this movie is more than just a killing spree. It's a game of cat and mouse.Have you ever found yourself walking along and sense that someone is following? That their evil presence, trailing closely behind you is practically tangible? Your imagination runs wild and without confirming your worst fear, you just run.

Emmett Kelly, Sr
Salva's brilliant use of shadows on the walls and shapes moving in the background of a scene prove the perfect formula for a good scare is anticipation and motivation for using your own imagination. Special effects are overrated and this movie clearly represents that. And though it's no "Halloween Theme" (John Carpenter, composer), the music score (Michael Becker & Thomas Richardson) belongs in a clown circus from hell. The model use of all the right chord progressions and melodic interval jumps. Creeeeeeps. Meeeeee. Oooouuuuut!

My sister Mandy was fortunate enough to find this movie in DVD in the last 5 years and all three of us have passed it around, enjoying the same sort of fear that fell onto us over 15 years ago. Recently she's been unable to find it... but I'm not too concerned that a clown has taken it. I'm watching it before Halloween & it will be returned promptly. *wink, wink*

Director: Victor Salva
And for a bit of background information on Victor Salva: For those of you who don't remember, Salva's movie Powder became a big target for boycotting because of a previous conviction of child molestation that was on Salva. Salva confessed to the allegations in 1988 mainly because he had no way around the videos he taped of the molested kid. Leading this large boycott, was none other than the victim, Nathan Forrest Winters... little Casey Collins. Maybe that's why Winters never went on to do anymore film work and why Clownhouse never hit the big screen in 1989 - to avoid the media coverage.

But to end this blog on a more cheerful note, I leave you with the teaser trailer.