Author Archive

Quick Takes: Amulet, Beach House, The Siren

by on Jul.29, 2020, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

AMULET tells an ominous story of men, good & evil, atonement & a fascinating mythology. Stylishly shot with a languid pace unfolding in two timelines the horror suddenly explodes into an absurd, ethereal yet totally incomprehensible finish that still lingers & haunts the mind.

THE BEACH HOUSE is a steady-burn film that starts in one #horror genre & ends in another. The shift is sly with a wicked, calculated & clever plot that leaves you harrowed by the time you realize what’s truly happening. It’s a very effective, trippy, solid debut film.

In THE SIREN, tragedy begets tragedy and then you throw an innocent man from the church into the mix and see what happens. This mermaid tale is grounded in the most unfanciful fantasy with some beautiful shots on a lake, including some tricky night shots. I really appreciated the unique narrative touches, like the dude is hot but mute, the mermaid is really charming but a monster, and the central conflict told with confusing voiceovers is a gay man’s revenge tale. There’s one pivotal moment involving a near drowning that really lost me, along with a relatively  unsupported love story. It never provides much tension or suspense but perhaps that’s not the point for subgenre of horror romance. It’s also a bit too long but the solid performances keep you invested.

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Quick Takes: Amulet, Beach House, The Siren

by on Jul.29, 2020, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

AMULET tells an ominous story of men, good & evil, atonement & a fascinating mythology. Stylishly shot with a languid pace unfolding in two timelines the horror suddenly explodes into an absurd, ethereal yet totally incomprehensible finish that still lingers & haunts the mind.

THE BEACH HOUSE is a steady-burn film that starts in one #horror genre & ends in another. The shift is sly with a wicked, calculated & clever plot that leaves you harrowed by the time you realize what’s truly happening. It’s a very effective, trippy, solid debut film.

In THE SIREN, tragedy begets tragedy and then you throw an innocent man from the church into the mix and see what happens. This mermaid tale is grounded in the most unfanciful fantasy with some beautiful shots on a lake, including some tricky night shots. I really appreciated the unique narrative touches, like the dude is hot but mute, the mermaid is really charming but a monster, and the central conflict told with confusing voiceovers is a gay man’s revenge tale. There’s one pivotal moment involving a near drowning that really lost me, along with a relatively  unsupported love story. It never provides much tension or suspense but perhaps that’s not the point for subgenre of horror romance. It’s also a bit too long but the solid performances keep you invested.

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Target’s Creepy Plants are Back! …And Already Sold Out

by on Jul.17, 2020, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Last year, Target put out a line of creepy faux Halloween plants. They were WILDLY popular and most stores never received any stock. There’s another chance this year, but we’ll probably not get them this year either. Apparently, there was some undisclosed presale and they’re already sold out. They will be officially “released” on August 27 according to the site so maybe there will be more stock? I chatted with a Target merchandising manager, and she said seasonal items are stocked once and done. But they sometimes will shift stock from store to store if it’s not selling. 
Here’s what they have/had available this year:

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How to Hand Out Candy Safely This Halloween

by on Jul.16, 2020, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

As Covid-19 continues to rage on in our country (wear a mask!) its becoming clear that Halloween will not be saved. With 106 days to go, it’s time to start planning for those kids who do come to our yard haunts and want a treat. I’ve been thinking about how to do this safely since reaching into a bowl or hand-to-hand handling will not be safe for everyone. 

I bought a bag of orange clothespins last fall for no reason other than the color. (Yes, I’m obsessed with the color. Guess the color of my car, home office, work office, and everything else.) I’m thinking that the safest way to give out treats is to hang them from twine and keep them apart from one another. The twine will eventually go through the center hole of the spring to keep it on the line, and the waxy paper used to wrap candy gives enough grip to stay put while also yielding easily with pressure. 
The candy will go from the bag to the clothespin, with my mask on and gloves on, of course. The tots tug the treat off the line without touching anything else, and it will be in the open air instead of coming to the front door. And yes, I’ll be prepared if kids take more than one – because that’s the Halloween spirit!
I’ve been testing this in my office and tomorrow I’ll test in the backyard to see if wind, birds or other elements will knock them off. The sun will melt the chocolate so that also has to be factored into the timing. And I will need to refill the lines often but chances are that many parents won’t let kids trick ‘r treat this year. If they come, I will be ready!
How are you planning to hand out candy safely – or will the porch light be off this year? Message me using the form on the right column, or tweet @senorscaryjerry.
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Relic is Beautiful, Sad, & Sinister

by on Jul.15, 2020, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Relic slow burns through the anguish, regret, and duty of three generations of women facing a haunting deterioration. The effects dementia has on the afflicted and those around them is devastating and sorrowful, and yet there seems to be something much more sinister at work, as inky shadows lurk in every corner. Our footing is never secure on any one answer. 

Filmed in cold, blue light the home itself is an unwelcoming character with walls that practically breathe, and closets that seem like throats to a dark abyss. It seems to talk through constant knocks on the walls, and yet the house itself is also deteriorating as fast as the grandmother, rapidly being infested by black mold, nauseatingly realized in every stain. 
The superb performances are raw and deeply affecting as the characters face trauma from the past, neglect and abandonment. This is one of the best elements that women screenwriters and directors bring to horror. An emotional core as transcendent as any villain that resonates deeply and universally, and isn’t easy to shake. Just as the ambiguous ghost story culminates into a labyrinthian chase of sinister shadows there is a slight-of-hand, and the emotional through-line lands the ending. A beautiful, sad, horror film and one of the best of year. 
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Can Yard Haunting Save Halloween?

by on Jun.22, 2020, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

As more states move towards opening businesses and get some semblance of normality during this pandemic, I wonder about the lingering effects to our collective psyche. There’s a looming threat of a covid-19 resurgence in the fall or winter, and Halloween is smack down in the center of that time period.
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to foretell that our spooky traditions will be altered this fall. For starters, I can’t imagine that parents will encourage their trick ‘r treaters to go door-to-door this year. Haunted attractions may be a little less spooky six-feet apart. And parties may not feature extensive guests lists or allow for much nibbling, with masks likely being required for the foreseeable future. We must remain committed to safety for the sake of our most vulnerable populations. 
So where does that leave the yard haunter, like myself, that decks out the lawn with sinister sights?  In one regard, creating these displays may draw crowds, which is normally a good thing, but not in the age of social distancing. I also wonder if the horror of it all will make the masses (and myself) more anxious at a time when we need to find inner calmness. Or will it provide a needed distraction from the real horrors of the world and give the people an expected thrill in October? My instict is the latter. I personally want to get back to the world B.C. (before covid-19), and imagine that many others want to do so as well. Our neighborhood is very receptive to our efforts, often knocking on our front door to thank us. I want to provide a sense of frightful fun to our community, and on Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare, to quote Dr. Loomis in Halloween (1978).
Planning for my walk-by/drive-by display is underway with the building of new props, sourcing supplies, and creating a manageable schedule. The theme this year is inspired by the film Trick ‘r Treat, which is arguably the best Halloween movie ever made. The film’s sublime production design evokes classic Halloween visuals of jack o’ lanterns, ghosts, and graveyards. I hope to recreate some of that atmospheric charm with Sam as a focal point, and add adding a few nods to other iconic horror movies. I can already hear my haunter friends calling it a “haunt stew,” a term they use to define the lawns littered with an overabundance of Halloween store props mish-mashed together with no rhyme, reason, or story. Personally, I welcome any seasonal decorating – yes, even those obnoxious air-blown monstrosities – over no decorating and applaud the spirit of all yard haunters.  
I’d really like to hear from yard haunters about your plans. (Via social media links below or use the form on the right column.) How big or small will you go this year? Do you fear any backlash (or more than usual)? Are you feeling any stress about building something that few may come out to see? Or do you think it will be scary business as usual? This is going to be one hell of a year for the record books. 
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Quick Takes: Shirley, Blood Machines, House In Between, Defending Jacob

by on Jun.11, 2020, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from Wicked October | Go to Original Post

Shirley is an atmospheric & engrossing study of the creative process & the monsters created in its wake. Moss is brilliantly unhinged as the pioneering #horror writer, Shirley Jackson who wrote The Haunting of Hill House and The Lottery. Her provocative, seething resentment is palpable, and she is often shot in extreme close-ups with handheld cameras that add a shaky, restless energy. The film distills the dizzying madness to a singular, urgent message: “The world is too cruel to girls.”

Blood Machines roars to life in a visionary spectacle that defies sci-fi & horror conventions & boldly goes forward. At a scant 40-45 minutes (& inexplicably split into three episodes by Shudder?), the pulsing synth leaves you breathless & yearning for more despite the frayed optical nerves & itchy brain stem. The perfunctory performances are almost nonessential given the conceptual nature but still its weakest link. More importantly, the gender politics give me pause, as men are ignorant buffoons but the females are all demonic ghosts within the machine – and naked. It’s a French production, so salacious sexual subtext is expected, but is this the point?
The House In Between has balls, and I will admit that I was impressed by them. Beyond that, it’s clear the filmmakers don’t fully grasp the structure needed to sustain a feature documentary. Specifically, this would be a multi-faceted subject, a distinct point of view, some level of education on the subject, and the ability to produce a narrative that has a beginning, middle and end. This felt more like an extended episode of a ghost hunting show without any kind of resolution. The more compelling questions were not asked: Why does this happen in small town America? What is the fascination with ghosts and ghost hunting? Why is this home owner so intent on reaching out to the media and what is her story? Ultimately, it struggles for relevancy, repeats itself, and runs out of ideas.

Defending Jacob is a tightly-paced and somber family tragedy with stellar performances that add gravitas to even the most melodramatic moments. Jaden Martell really shines in an understated performance that is both sadly endearing AND unquestionably insidious. Every moment with him is complex and excruciating. I also couldn’t believe how each episode added at least one significant reveal and yet maintained the overall mystery. This is a solid, remarkable thriller with a bleak, dark heart and at only 8 episodes is still feels a bit too long.
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