Monday, January 13, 2014

Turning Away

I am going to be honest with you. I am pissed off, so I'm going to go on a bit of a rant.
I read an article by Emma Keller in The Guardian, called Forget Funeral Selfies, What Are the Ethics of Tweeting a Terminal Illness,  that seems to criticize a woman who is dying of cancer for tweeting about her experience. Here's the article:
Update: Before I even finished this writing, the article was "removed for investigation." However, her husband also wrote a New York Times piece, called Heroic Measures,  that is  currently still up. Surprisingly, given the backlash that his wife faced for her article, he has written a piece that agrees with her position, although he does it while trying to sound a tad less catty.

And the Twitter page of Lisa Bonchek Adams.

Don't get me wrong- these are op-ed pieces, and the Kellers are entitled to their opinions, offensive as they are, but I can't help but be really infuriated about it. Let me explain why.

A few years ago, my friend went through a horrendous battle with cancer. She had a very rare type, and it occurred in a difficult location- it was hard to operate on, very vascular, and non-responsive to most forms of treatment. After a failed surgery, failed chemo and radiation, she was told she was dying and there was nothing that could be done. However, we got that miracle call everyone hopes for- there was an experimental treatment she could try- no guarantees, but what the heck- when you are in your 30s, and dying, you'll try anything. So she went for it, and to our amazement and extreme delight- it worked. It shrunk the tumor to an operable size. But her surgery recovery went badly. She ended up in a coma for three days, her pain levels were sky-high, and she had to have a trache stoma. So, when she woke up from the coma, her physical and mental status was...tough. But my friend is a heck of a fighter, and she had come this far, so she pulled through it all.

But I saw something else happen when she went through all of this that made my blood boil, and it wasn't until I read Keller's article that I have found the words to articulate what that was.

Some of her family and friends turned away. They couldn't bear to be at the hospital with her. Couldn't bear to see her with tubes everywhere, with a hole in her throat, doped up to the gills on pain meds, crying, vomiting, coughing up mucous and blood, and delirious from the pills and the pain.

When she needed people the most, many people couldn't bear to look at her.

Even after her treatments at the hospital were over and she just had an oxygen tank and a wheelchair...people in public stared at her like she was contagious or like her presence offended their delicate sensibilities somehow. "How dare that sick person leave their house and confront me with her disgusting illness." That was how they seemed to be reacting.
I hoped she wasn't noticing the stares, the turned up noses, the rolled eyes when her wheelchair made people take four steps to move around her and cost them an extra four seconds of time. I hoped she wasn't aware, but I knew she was.

I know that not everyone would even want to deal with their treatments the way my friend dealt with hers. My friend is an extrovert, and she loves to visit with people. She is recharged by outings, and felt cooped up spending months in the hospital. Visits were a relief and a break from the monotony. Once she was well enough to leave the house, she was anxious to get out, be in the world that she almost didn't live to see. She became a very outspoken advocate for the treatment that saved her life, started a Facebook page for people who suffer from the same type of cancer, joined Relay For Life and became a team captain. She turned it into a victory. That was how she coped.

If it had been me- I probably wouldn't have wanted many people seeing me in the hospital. I'm much more of an introvert. I would prefer phone calls, texts, tweets or Facebook messages. I would feel like I still have the support, but the emotional exhaustion that comes with face-to-face visits would be minimized- and I would need that when I am focusing on recovery. But does that mean that my way is right and hers is wrong? Hell no. Neither would I be wrong and my friend right.

You recover in whatever way you can. And if you have a friend or family member in your life reaching out to you for support in any way, this is the time when you need to be there. You need to see their suffering if they are willing to let you see; you need to hear their hurt, if they want to communicate it. It is horrible to go through pain and the fear of death, but it's even worse to think that you have to go through it alone, because your suffering offends. Your pain makes others uncomfortable. If a loved one wants you to be a part of their recovery or of their are privileged. You are important enough to them that they want to offer you a window into something that is very personal and very difficult. They need your support.

But Keller's article shows that she was one of the gawkers. She wanted to stare, not offer compassion and support. She admits as much when she wonders why she was so obsessed. And as she stared, she became more and more disgusted. She started to wonder if this was appropriate. Should this person tweet and blog about her condition, about her death? Should the world be subjected to this? It's no different to me than seeing someone eyeball my friend at the store, and turn away with a sneer. "Go home to die, sick person. I don't want to have to see you." That seems to be the sentiment.

Lisa Adams seems to take some comfort in sharing her experience publicly. She may not want the whole world physically in her hospital room, but she feels that there is some benefit to allowing them to get a glimpse of her treatment- both the day to day details of it, and her emotions about what she is going through. It is clearly therapeutic for her, and as such no one should try to shame her back into the shadows, as Keller seems to be trying to do. 

"Go away, sick person, I can't bear to watch you die." That seems to be the point of the article.
Well, Mrs. Keller, you don't have to. That's the beauty of the internet. You can just quietly turn away. Unfollow her Twitter and her blog. In the online world, you don't even have to make the awkward eye contact with her. She doesn't have to see your disgust. You could have just walked away from it. But instead, you called a woman out for choosing to have a different sort of death than you would choose. So let me make something clear for you. It is NOT about YOU.

From the article:

"Are those of us who've been drawn into her story going to remember a dying woman's courage, or are we hooked on a narrative where the stakes are the highest?
Will our memories be the ones she wants? What is the appeal of watching someone trying to stay alive? Is this the new way of death? You can put a "no visitors sign" on the door of your hospital room, but you welcome the world into your orbit and describe every last Fentanyl patch. Would we, the readers, be more dignified if we turned away? Or is this part of the human experience?"


I think you would be more dignified if you turned away. If you see someone going through an event that disgusts you or offends you or makes you uncomfortable, turn away. If you cannot bring yourself to see this person who is suffering as a human being, regardless of their physical state, and offer them some compassion and some comfort then turn away. Don't give them ugly looks, don't shame them for daring to leave the house that morning or for talking publicly about their pain...just turn away. It is the absolute minimum you can do for someone.

It is hard enough to go through something this difficult. It's harder still to realize that many of the people you hoped would be there to hold your hand, simply cannot bring themselves to take it. Shaming the sufferer for reaching out in the first place just rubs salt in the wound.

Adams reached out to the world, and the world has the choice- each one individually- whether or not they want to reach back.
If they feel so inclined, they can offer words of support. but no one is forcing it on them, so Keller's ethical dilemma is not much of a real problem for anyone.

But, I am hoping that anyone reading this will start to think about how they would react if and (more likely) when someone they care for goes through this. I hope you can see that this is not about you. It is about showing support for the person who is working to survive or dealing with their own mortality. In whatever way they are able to receive comfort, I hope you can find it in yourself to offer it. I hope you won't turn away. I hope you can set aside any revulsion you feel about hospitals and visit your loved one if they are up to it. I hope you can set aside time to call them or write them if they would enjoy that contact. And if you find yourself wondering why they have to talk about their problems or put their ordeal out there where you can see it...if you can't stomach the idea of looking at them when their body is broken and their spirit is low, then at least turn away without judgment.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Internet Wars

If you ever feel like pulling your brains out, placing them on a four-lane highway, and watching fourteen semi-trucks run over them, then scraping up the brain mush, adding some lemon zest and a tiny umbrella, and depositing the whole mess back into your head...then why not read some of the comments on internet articles.


There is more nonsense, vitriol, insanity, hatred and divisiveness there than anywhere else in the galaxy. It's like people lose their minds when they go online. And I am on a mission to find my favorite internet wars and bring them to you. Because I just like to share.
You are SO welcome.

Internet War #1
(A fairy tale in which Goldilocks helps some liberals to understand a thing or two about how Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood made war against everybody.)
Comments come from an NPR article about child marriage.

Guy Makey NoSense:
"The historic record suggests that "Mary the Mother of god" was 15. Under the mother grizzly bear economy we see that the plan to manage global population is based on absence, god and guns. When the absence idea failed for one of the baby bears, we were told,(at half time of course) that humans have a strong desire to reproduce. This was told to us by a religious leader who hates birth control. Mean while US vets where on their 4th tour of duty in a false flag war where Bush2 was placed into power by the multimillionaire evangelicals on TV

"It is important to reflect on the idea that the need of our ancestors do not in themselves necessitate the persistence of Tradition. Mary was a teen bride and mother in an environment where family subsistence was difficult and dowries were common and normal. In that period there was not a concept of love in the same way we consider it, there were really only moments when individuals had a choice.
Beyond that, there is not much more I can parse from your comment other than that Christian organizations that lose their focus on God, and instead choose to focus on worldly aspirations are not good shepherds and do not reap good fruit."

You seem to be of the opinion that we are at war with these places. You are mistaken. Please keep your discussion on topic."

 "I AM on topic, the topic you LIBERALS bring up to distract and deflect from the issue of this thread, child marriages. So if YOU all stay on topic, then maybe the rest of us could.
Now, as far as you saying that "we are not a war with these people" you are partly right. The muslim brotherhood took over ALL of those countries, INCLUDING the U.S.
However, I also believe that Pakistan and other countries under Obama's Drone attacks would consider it "war", as I and most people with the capacity to think for themselves know.
As far as the rest, those wars are over, the muslim brotherhood/al queda, funded, armed and supported by Obama ALREADY have taken over. Just because a war is over, doesn't mean it didn't happen!
Why not say it to >Guy Makey NoSense< to whom I was responding?
Oh, forgot, you won't hold your own (liberals) to the same standards or complaints you hold those who disagree with you and/or put the lie to the rhetoric and propaganda you LIberals push. Can't have that, people might actually learn something and see what is really going on."
I think we've all learned something today. America is like a teenager that can't keep it in his least if war is sex and the pants are foreign countries. Or no...foreign countries are like the cheerleaders we can't stop making out with and then things go to far, Whatever.
But I am missing one, seemingly vital bit of info. If the economy is Mama Bear, and people who can't stop having sex are Baby Bears...does that make the Muslim Brotherhood Papa Bear? Or is that Obama?

Oh, where is Reasonable Lee Saneman when I need him, to clear these things up for me?

Anyway, I'll keep sifting through the insanity, and if I find any particularly delicious crazy nuggets for you, I'll force you to read this crap too share the love.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Horror Movie Marathon, Part 4

Halloween is almost here! Can you taste it? (It tastes like candy corn and fog machine, by the way.)(Which doesn't sound appetizing, but it's an acquired taste.)
Time for my last round of Halloween movie marathon reviews. I hope you've enjoyed them as much as I have enjoyed watching (most) of these movies. As before, these are movies streaming on Netflix and the descriptions are from IMDb unless otherwise indicated.

1. Darkness Falls

"A vengeful spirit has taken the form of the Tooth Fairy to exact vengeance on the town that lynched her 150 years earlier. Her only opposition is the only child, now grown up, who has survived her before."  
I found this only mildly frightening. The ghost is a bit spooky, but there seemed to be some big plot fails- namely the killing seemed rather random for a ghost who supposedly has one goal- to punish the town that murdered her by killing the town's children as they lose their last tooth. But...not all of them, I mean, that would mean the end of the town eventually, right? So we can't do that. And maybe sometimes other people who were just around the kids need to die...because of reasons. Basically, there are a few scary moments, but most of the time I was saying to myself, "Huh? Does this make sense or did I miss something?"

2. Pet Sematary

"Behind a young family's home in Maine is a terrible secret that holds the power of life after death. When tragedy strikes, the threat of that power soon becomes undeniable."
This has been around for a while, and probably a lot of people have seen it, but it really was a good one. If you missed it before, give it a chance now. It came out in 1989, and it still holds its own against modern day horror. Gabe, the little boy who came back from the dead, gave me nightmares for weeks. Ooooh...what a combo of cute kid turned evil little bastard. Yikes.

3. Shrooms
"3 couples go to Ireland woods to collect magic mushrooms and trip out. On their way they meet some strange inhabitants of the woods and it doesn't take long until a creepy story is being told at the campfire which might be more than just a story."
This turned out better than I would have thought. A girl on a trip to Ireland takes the wrong kind of mushroom and nearly dies, but having survived, she gains the power of foresight. Suddenly, she realizes things are about to go very wrong, but at first she has a hard time getting her group to believe her. There's an old boys' school at the edge of the wood that is said to be haunted by the ghosts of its vicious administrators, and it all might be more than just an old legend. I thought some of the acting was mediocre, but the story, the creepy setting and the twist ending make up for it.

4. Muoi: The Legend of a Portrait
"Muoi" charts the path of a Korean writer who travels to Vietnam in search of stories for her second novel. There she learns about a mystery centered around a century-old vengeful spirit"
A Korean writer travels to Vietnam to hunt down a ghost story to write about.  She goes to stay with an old friend and right from the beginning, her whole experience in the country is full of scary encounters and troubled dreams. She is startled to realize that her friend may have re-awakened Muoi, the spirit in search of revenge and a new human form.
This had a really intriguing ghost story, good acting, several scary moments, and a creepy ending. It is in Korean, so there are subtitles, but that never bothers me. This was one of the better horror movies I've seen in a while.

5. Re-Animator
"A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus."
This movie sets Lovecraft's story in modern day. But you won't recognize much of it in between the gore-fest and the full-frontal nudity. It's pretty over the top. One zombie gets killed when Dr. West drills through him with a bone saw...a girl is almost raped by a headless zombie. Um...yeah. So THAT happened. Ew. I don't know what I expected from this movie...but I will say this- it didn't scare me, it didn't satisfy my desire to see a Lovecraft story on screen, and it didn't make me laugh. Basically, it's just pretty gross and then it's like "oh hey, here come naked zombies."

6. 2-Headed Shark Attack
"Survivors escape to a deserted atoll after a Semester at Sea ship is sunk by a mutated two-headed shark. But when the atoll starts flooding, no one is safe from the double jaws of the monster as it eats fresh delicious women and men. "
If you thought Sharknado was just the bee's knees, then you will like this too. This is another ridiculously implausible shark attack movie from SyFy Channel. I wouldn't say it was as funny as Sharknado or Ghost Shark, but it was still pretty chuckle-worthy. Combine bikini-clad teens with a monster shark and no way off an island, and you basically understand the whole plot. A lot of people are going to get eaten.

7. Pontypool
"A psychological thriller in which a deadly virus infects a small Ontario town."
 This is a zombie movie that is truly unique. I loved it. It was incredibly suspenseful...I was literally on the edge of my seat for many portions of this movie. I was cranking up the volume on the TV and listening to the weird sounds come out of the dying kid's breath. (You just have to see it.)
 It's not a super-gory film. There are only a few bloody scenes, but the sense of dread builds throughout and they do a fantastic job of sucking you into this wild story and making you accept a really bizarre premise. Stephen McHattie's performance as Grant Mazzy absolutely makes this movie. He was brilliant. The end, though? Hmmm. It was a little weird, but so is the whole concept.  But as a whole, I loved this strange, creepy movie.

8. Black Sabbath
"A trio of atmospheric horror tales about: A woman terrorized in her apartment by phone calls from an escaped prisoner from her past; a Russian count in the early 1800s who stumbles upon a family in the countryside trying to destroy a particularly vicious line of vampires; and a 1900-era nurse who makes a fateful decision while preparing the corpse of one of her patients - an elderly medium who died during a seance."
This is exactly the sort of thing I want to watch for Halloween. It starts out with Boris Karloff's floating, disembodied head welcoming us to tales of the macabre. Beautiful. I can just close my eyes and listen to him and I feel like I'm in a haunted house. He's the voice of Halloween for me. Anyway, the first story has a great creepy setting- an old mansion full of cats and weird baby dolls is the home of a woman who died while attempting to speak to the dead. The nurse who comes to prep the body for burial steals a ring from the corpse, and well...that may have been her last bad decision. Then we go to a woman being pestered in her home by a pervy caller who appears to be watching her every move. But how? The third tale features Boris Karloff as a vampire, returned home to see his family. And he's sooo hungry.
I don't think this is going to really scare anyone, but it is a great creepy-classic movie to watch to get in the mood for Halloween.

9. Strigoi
"After his search for a new career in Italy goes bust, Vlad (Catalin Paraschiv) returns to the small Romanian village where he was brought up to discover things aren't quite the same. The town drunk has been murdered, and somehow Vlad has been implicated, even though he was out of town, and Constantin Tirescu (Constantin Barbulescu), the former Communist turned abusive Capitalist who owns most of the village, is looking strange and bloated while still making life miserable for those around him. Vlad thinks Tirescu is sick, but it's worse than that -- he's actually dead, but has become a strigoi, a vampire who rises from the grave to settle an old score. Vlad becomes a combination detective and vampire hunter as he tries to track down the truth about who is the killer, how Tirescu came back to semi-life and how to keep the walking dead from preying on the living..."  Source
This is a cute movie. I mean, if vampire movies can be cute. It's kind of funny and definitely a little bizarre, and charming in a way...when they aren't cutting the hearts out of vampires and burning them, that is. What it is not, is scary, so as long as you don't expect frights, but just watch this for the oddball indie-flick that it is, I think you'll like it.

10. The Moth Diaries
"Rebecca is suspicious of Ernessa, the new arrival at her boarding school. But is Rebecca just jealous of Ernessa's bond with Lucie, or does the new girl truly possess a dark secret?"
I enjoyed this one a lot. It is a modern day Gothic horror story, pulling inspiration from Dracula and Carmilla. The acting is brilliant- especially the vampire, Ernessa, who is played by a young woman, who looked sooo familiar to me, and it turns out she played the siren on the episode of Doctor Who, "The Curse of the Black Spot." So, extra geeky points for that. Also, I love the vampire mythos that they create in this movie (and of course, the book that this was based on). It is loneliness that creates this vampire...not the blood or a bite. So, overall, this is an eerie, well written and acted tale, but it is not terribly scary- more suspenseful.

11. Ju-On: The Grudge
 "A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides."
This is the Japanese version, so you do have to read subtitles. I don't have a problem with that, so I like this version just fine. There are small differences between this and the American remake. Namely, Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn't the main character. But seriously, the Japanese movie has more stories about the people who had contact with the house and were murdered. The American movie creates more of a back story for the ghosts. Both are quite scary.  The creepy noise the female ghost makes is just horrifying, no matter which you watch, and the little boy in both movies is spectacularly creepy. I don't have a favorite. I think both are equally scary and worth watching.

12.  Devil
"A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them."
I wasn't sure if a movie about people trapped in an elevator would be interesting or not. I almost just skipped this entirely, but it turns out it was pretty scary. The premise is that sometimes the devil walks on Earth in human form to claim the souls of evil people. Five such people are stuck in an elevator and things are becoming quite horrific inside. One of them is the devil, but which one? It combines claustrophobia with a 5-way Mexican standoff. My only major complaint is that many of the scares rely on that "suddenly it goes dark and you hear a bunch of scary noises and then the lights come back up and boom-someone's dead" kind of thing. And that really a theater. It's less frightening when you watch it at home in the middle of the day. (Like I did.) If I had a do-over I'd wait until night, turn the lights off and then this would probably have had more of an effect on me.

13. Stevie
"After a long and unsuccessful period trying to have a family, Claire and Adrian finally adopt a girl. The coming of Isabel is desired by almost the whole family but making a eight-year-old girl with a past of her own fit into her new life might be something more complicated than they expected. Strange things start to happen from the moment Isabel "and her imaginary friend, Stevie", come to live with them."
This was decent. The scares are all poltergeist-style- objects flying around, messages left in mirrors and the like. The acting was fine, and the characters and the plot kept me interested throughout, but I was able to guess what the ending might be early on. I stuck around because I wanted to see if I was right. They tried to throw you some curve-balls and make you think it might be something else haunting the family, but if you pay attention, you'll get it pretty easily. Still, not a bad film, I say.

14. The Relic
 "A homicide detective and an anthropologist try to destroy a South American lizard-like god, who's on a people eating rampage in a Chicago museum."
I watched this years ago, and just re-watched it. This was pretty good. There's a monster running around, ripping the hypothalamus out of humans and  one cop and a evolutionary biologist are the only ones who are going to be able to figure out how to stop it. The premise might sound a little hokey, but the movie had decent acting, good shock scare moments and special effects that are good for the time when it was filmed. You don't see much of the monster early on- mostly there are lots of gory, mutilated corpses- but when you do see it finally, it's pretty scary looking.

15. John Dies at the End
"A new street drug that sends its users across time and dimensions has one drawback: some people return as no longer human. Can two college dropouts save humankind from this silent, otherworldly invasion?"
So the premise is that a drug called soy sauce can give you abilities like psychic powers, the ability to speak to the dead, and manipulate time. John and David are best friends, but John died after taking soy sauce. But John made a few thousand calls to David and sent them back in time to help David solve his death and save the world. Or is he dead? That's not always a simple answer in this movie. Anyway, David and John need to hop into another plane of existence and stop a giant brain monster with tentacles from coming to our Earth and enslaving our people. And yes, Paul Giamatti is in this too.
Right from the first seconds, this movie sucks you right in. It is WEIRD. But incredibly entertaining. Weird how? You might ask. Here's an example scene: David fights a man in the police station. The man's moustache rips off of his face, becomes a moth-like creature and attacks David while the man is choking him. David gets out of the man's grip by ripping one of his arms off. The arm then tries to strangle David.  Shortly after that, David uses a hot dog as a cell phone. Yep. A hot dog. That's the sort of thing that happens throughout the movie. But seriously- don't ask me what's up with the slugs...I have no idea.

Well, that wraps that up for this year. Thanks for reading, and Happy Halloween!

If you missed my other Halloween marathon reviews, you can check them out here:

Scary Movie Marathon #1 

Scary Movie Marathon #2

Scary Movie Marathon #3

Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Halloween Playlist

I was trying to come up with an awesome playlist of music selections for Halloween night. So, I googled lots of ideas, and there are many lists out there to help you, but...they had a LOT of the same few songs suggested over and over, and I knew that many of them were just not quite what I wanted, so I revved up my OCD and spent an entire afternoon creating my perfect mix. It's spooky and a little funny...and just what I wanted to have playing outside of my spooky abode for the trick-or-treaters. All of these songs were available on I-Tunes. So here's my epic list of 31 Halloween songs.

1. This Is Halloween,  from the Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack

2. Halloween theme from the Halloween movie soundtrack

3. A Gorey Demise, by Creature Feature, album- The Greatest Show Unearthed

4. Ave Satani, from the movie, The Omen

5. Time Warp, from Rocky Horror Picture Show

6. Friday the Thirteenth,  main theme, from the movie. version I have is done by 101 Strings Orchestra

7. The Addams Family song from TV Themes

8. X-Files main theme, also done by 101 Strings Orchestra

9. Jump Rope, from the Nightmare on Elm Street Soundtrack

10. Somebody's Watching Me, by Rockwell, album- 20th century Masters

11.  Ghostbusters, by Ray Parker Jr. from the movie soundtrack

12. Slipping, by Neil Patrick Harris, from the Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog Soundtrack

13. The Twilight Zone theme by Jerry Goldsmith

14. Mommy's Little Monsters, by Creature Feature, album- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

15. End Credits, by Bruno Coulais from Coraline Original Soundtrack

16. Oogie Boogie's Song, from Nightmare Before Christmas Soundtrack

17. Monster Mash, by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers

18. Edward Scissorhands Theme, by Danny Elfman, from movie soundtrack

19. 999 Happy Haunts (also called Grim, Grinning Ghosts on other albums), by The Happy Haunts

20. Tubular Bells, Theme From the Exorcist, by Halloween Sound Machine

21. Halloween, by Heywood Banks, album-Picky, Picky, Picky

22. Beetlejuice Main and End Titles, by Danny Elfman, from movie soundtrack

23. Re: Your Brains, by Jonathan Coulton, album- Thing a Week Two

24. The Walking Dead Theme, by London Music Works

25. Thriller, By Michel Jackson, album- Thriller

26. Goosebumps TV show theme, by The Evolved, album- Halloween Children's Party Fun and Games for Kids

27. You Can Be Mean to Me, by Heywood Banks, album- Big Butter

28. Headless Horseman, by Kay Starr, album- Monster Mash Halloween Party

29. Brand New Day, by Neil Patrick Harris, Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog Soundtrack

30. Boris the Spider, by The Who, album- Greatest Hits

31. The Boogie Monster, by Gnarls Barkley, album- St. Elsewhere

So, if you're looking for ideas for Halloween music, I hope this helped. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Horror Movie Marathon, Part 3

Time for some more horror movies! We are going to start with some more movies currently streaming on Netflix, and then talk about some that are on HBO right now. The descriptions are from So, let's get scary! First, from Netflix:

1. House
"Roger Cobb is a Vietnam vet whose career as a horror novelist has taken a turn for the worse when his son Jimmy mysteriously disappears while visiting his aunt's house. Roger's search for Jimmy destroys his marriage and his writing career. The sudden death of his aunt brings Roger back to the house where his nightmares began. The evil zombies in the house force Roger to endure a harrowing journey into his past."
We're starting off with a blast from the past. Straight from 1985...its one part horror, one part comedy, and chock full of giant puppet monsters. And it has George Wendt and Richard Moll in it!! (aka- Norm from Cheers, and Bull from Night Court) If you're old like me (Ha) or you are one of those young folks that didn't live through the 80s, but likes the decade anyway (like my kid) then this is a must for your Halloween party marathon.

2. Lovely Molly
"Newlywed Molly moves into her deceased father's house in the countryside, where painful memories soon begin to haunt her."
These next two movies have a common theme going for them. A girl goes back to an old family home, and suddenly she remembers things she wish she hadn't, and ghostly occurrences are  taking over her life. Lovely Molly is a really shocking movie, though. It is scary and disturbing on a psychological level. And forewarning-this is a very adult content kind of film. Lots of nudity, many sex scenes, and even ghostly rape scenes. This is one that will stick with you, though. Gretchen Lodge plays Molly beautifully, and the film is legitimately scary. But it will disturb you.

3. Silent House

"A girl is trapped inside her family's lakeside retreat and becomes unable to contact the outside world as supernatural forces haunt the house with mysterious energy and consequences."
This handles a similar theme as the previous movie, but it is far less graphic. I don't think there was any nudity at all in this. The content however, is pretty adult, so its another I wouldn't watch with kids. It was very good and creepy, but of the two movies, Lovely Molly is scarier to me.

4. Nosferatu
"Vampire Count Orlok expresses interest in a new residence and real estate agent Hutter's wife. Silent classic based on the story 'Dracula.'" 
This is a classic. It's black and white, and silent, so don't expect great special was made in 1922. But this is the original Dracula movie, and for its time, this was awesome. If you're in to classic cinema, or you're open-minded enough to give this old film some love, you will not be disappointed. Max Schreck was so good in this, that some people believed he really was a vampire. Well, maybe people were more gullible back then, but anyway- this is a must see for dedicated horror fans.

5. Intruders
"Two children living in different countries are visited nightly by a faceless being who wants to take possession of them."
This was pretty creepy and bizarre. I wasn't sure what in the heck was going on for quite a while, but I knew it was creeping me out. Clive Owen is pretty good in this, and Hollow-Face was a scary monster. The whole thing ends up being very mind-trippy, and surprising. I say watch it.

6. The Prophecy
"The angel Gabriel comes to Earth to collect a soul which will end the stalemated war in Heaven, and only a former priest and a little girl can stop him."
This was a great movie. Christopher Walken and Eric Stoltz are fantastic as the angels- Gabriel and Simon. Viggo Mortenson is Lucifer- what else could you want in a movie? The premise is- Heaven is at war- the angels have been fighting each other since the time when Lucifer first challenged God, and the war has been devastating to both sides. The souls of a few humans could change the course of the war and mean either salvation or devastation to humanity, and both sides have sent soldiers to secure their own interests. This is not a straight horror movie, rather it's a religious-themed thriller with horror elements. Well worth the watch, though.

7. The Frighteners
"After a tragic car accident that killed his wife, a man discovers he can communicate with the dead to con people but when a demonic spirit appears, he may be the only one who can stop it from killing the living and the dead."
This is another blast from the past. Michael J. Fox plays a psychic who has been using his abilities to talk to the dead to run scams. However, he runs into a real evil spirit who was a serial killer in life, and is bent on resuming his work in the after life. Only Fox's character can solve the mystery behind the string of deaths and stop the spirit before he kills again. This is more comedy than horror, but it's a fun watch and perfect for  Halloween party viewing.

8. The Amityville Haunting
"This movie is a 'found-footage' film about the Benson family who move in to the infamous house where the DeFeo family were murdered in the 1970s over 30 years earlier. Things start happening to anyone who visits this house, and whoever lives there. This is the footage retrieved from the camera."
UGH. This film was a waste of time. The "found footage" is so jumpy and awful. They made the middle-school age child the supposed videographer...and it looks like a child actually DID film this. The acting was atrocious as well. It was boring and jumpy and eventually I was so sick of watching it, I turned it off. Did not even finish it.

9. The Skeleton Key
"A hospice nurse working at a spooky New Orleans plantation home finds herself entangled in a mystery involving the house's dark past." 
Ooooh. This creeped me out so bad when I first saw it! There is no real gore, and only a few violent scenes, but they work the suspense of this right up to the end, and it had me hooked. There is voodoo and evil spirits and some twist ending work going on. I loved it, and I've watched it several times. It has become a new favorite of mine.

And now from HBO GO:

10. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
"Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, discovers vampires are planning to take over the United States. He makes it his mission to eliminate them."
I have mixed feelings about this. I think the movie was pretty good, had some scary moments...I think the actor who played Abe Lincoln did a fine job. However, I read the book, and absolutely LOVED the book. This movie just is not as good. They left out LOTS of scenes from the book that made it fantastic, and they reorganized events a bit to fit into a film. I know that movies are never as good as the books, but...I wanted this one to be. I really did. If you have never read it, you'll probably feel more favorable toward this than I do. It really is quite creepy and very unique.

11. Dead Silence
"A widower returns to his hometown to search for answers to his wife's murder, which may be linked to the ghost of a murdered ventriloquist."
This sounded ridiculous, but I watched it anyway, and guess what? I was pleasantly surprised. It's a little bit hokey at times, but not nearly as bad as what I anticipated. And really- ventriloquist dolls ARE scary. And now...they are even more scary to me for having watched this. Plus they had a thing going on with the ghost in this- you can't open your mouth when she is haunting you. If you can just keep it closed you can live. But just TRY not to scream when she is right in front of you. Just try.

12. Dream House
"Soon after moving into their seemingly idyllic new home, a family learns of a brutal crime committed against former residents of the dwelling."
Ok. First of all, Daniel Craig is hot, and I will happily watch anything with him in it, so it gets points for that without even trying. Then, the movie itself- not bad, I say. It is suspenseful more than all-out scary. It is a twist ending movie, but expect more than one twist.

13. Prometheus
"A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race."
This is sort of a prequel to the Aliens movies. It's set in the same universe, and tells part of the story behind the creation of the Xenomorphs, and yes, even humans, and it shows you what the Space Jockeys actually were under those suits. However, you won't get all of the answers and it takes maybe a couple of viewings to pick up every little geeky info nugget. But even if (God forbid) you haven't seen the other movies, this works fine as a stand-alone. It's still scary, gory and you can understand what is happening here without needing to know anything else about the Aliens. Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender were stellar in this, and all of the acting was in fact, pretty awesome. I highly recommend it.

14. Shaun of the Dead
"A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living."
Oh man. This is so much fun. If you love zombies and comedy- this is your movie. Brought to you by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who are always a riot together, this movie examines all of those quintessential zombie movie gags and makes them both horrific and hilarious all at once. There are LOADS of little homages in this movie, so watch it and pay attention for extra giggles.

Alright, kids. That's all for now. Keep checking back for more horror movie reviews all throughout October!

Friday, September 20, 2013

More Horror Marathon Movie Reviews

I'm back with part 2 of my horror movie marathon reviews. Again, I'm looking at movies currently streaming on Netflix, and the movie descriptions (in italics) are provided by So here's what I thought of some of the movies available right now.

1. Session 9
"Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back."
This is a bit more of a psychological thriller than a ghost story. One of the best things about this movie, is that it was filmed on site at the abandoned Danvers Mental Hospital in Massachusetts- a place that is rumored to be haunted in reality. So you can expect the setting to be suitably eerie. In fact, actor David Caruso claimed to have seen something strange while filming. Very spooky. As far as the movie itself- Whew! It was sooo creepy. It begins slow, but as the sense of foreboding builds, the movie becomes intense, and the final scenes are fairly shocking.

2. Bag of Bones
"Bestselling novelist Mike Noonan, unable to cope after his wife's sudden death, returns to the couple's lakeside retreat in Maine, where he becomes involved in a custody battle between a young widow and her child's enormously wealthy grandfather. Mike inexplicably receives mysterious ghostly visitations, escalating nightmares and the realization that his late wife still has something to tell him."
This was a Stephen King novel that I really enjoyed, and they turned it into a fairly good adaptation that, if I recall correctly, was released on television initially. In any event, it's complete here, and it has some pretty good scary moments, some decent characters, and a decades-old murder mystery that needs to be solved. I did think that Pierce Brosnan was an odd choice for the main role, though. Maybe it's just me, but he's not how I pictured the character in the book. He's a bit stiff for me- he never seems very emotionally connected to the other characters. Or maybe I just still can't help seeing him as James Bond?

3. The Caller
"Troubled divorcee Mary Kee is tormented by a series of sinister phone calls from a mysterious woman. When the stranger reveals she's calling from the past, Mary tries to break off contact. But the caller doesn't like being ignored, and looks for revenge in a unique and terrifying way."
I liked this. It was another slow-burner, but it had a few really good creep-out moments. It's more spine-tingling than terrifying. You might recognize Rachelle LeFevre from the recent TV series, Under the Dome. She is a great actress in that series, and  I enjoyed her performance here as well.

4. Rosemary's Baby
"A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life."
This is another classic of horror. Personally, I find most of this movie quite unsettling...up until the end. It seems comical to me. I always kind of giggle at the Adams Family-esque black cradle for the baby, and the ridiculous cultists. But it's one of those movies that you need to see if you haven't. It was filmed in the 1960s, and the underlying themes center around women's issues- think The Yellow Wallpaper. (By the way, if you've never read that, I strongly suggest you do.In fact, read it here, free.) Rosemary is in a similar position, except that the woman in the short story is being convinced something is wrong with her, whereas Rosemary is being told that nothing is wrong.

5. The Corridor
"A group of high school friends reunite years later for a weekend of partying and catching up on old times. Isolated deep in the snow covered forest, they stumble upon a mysterious corridor of light. Like a drug, the corridor's energy consumes them, driving them to the point of madness. One by one, they turn on each other, taking their evil to the next level. Mayhem leads to murder as they race to outlast each other, and the corridor's supernatural powers."
This was a mind-bender, that had some seriously creepy moments.  However, it was incredibly gory for a portion of the movie, and I could barely stand to watch. There is a huge amount of tension in this film, as slowly the campers begin going mad, and then become strangely violent or self-destructive. The ending left me still confused, but I don't think they meant for you to truly understand what the corridor really was. Suffice to say, it's dangerous.

6. The Serpent and the Rainbow
 "An anthropologist goes to Haiti after hearing rumors about a drug used by black magic practitioners to turn people into zombies."
It's a zombie movie that's actually about "real" zombies.  There are people who believe that they can transform others into the walking dead. There's a nice article about it here. In fact, the movie is based on the real account and research of Wade Davis. Based on...mind you. Wes Craven of course, takes the ideas from the book and crafts a horror tale around them. As far as how scary this is- I would say I found it more disturbing because of the basic premise- that anyone can be taken over and forced to become a mindless slave. Some of the scenes are trance-like and bizarre, while others are definitely startling. I think the main draw for this movie is that it is so unique in the genre. It feels more like a psychological action movie with elements of horror, than just pure horror movie.

7. Knife Edge
 "A successful Wall Street trader returns to England with her new husband and five-year-old son, but their new start together turns into a nightmare when they move into a country house which contains a terrible secret."
This was overall bland with small moments of eerie happenings sprinkled throughout. It's a murder mystery with a ghostly element. There are lots of movies like that, and this one isn't impressive in any way. It doesn't stand out. Even so, it's not horrible, and if you're looking for a horror flick and you can't find anything else that interests you, then give this a try.

8. The Dunwich Horror
"Wilbur Whateley pops over to the Arkham Miskatonic University to borrow the legendary Necronomicon and Sandra Dee. But little does anyone know, Whateley isn't quite human."
Oh boy. I am a huge Lovecraft fan, and this is an interpretation of one of his stories. I wouldn't say it's a terribly accurate interpretation, is one.  Honestly, this is pretty hokey. But that's what I like about it. Dean Stockwell is such an intense, weird man. I'll give him this- he does feel like a man who's not really human in this movie. Basically, Wilbur is the son of one of the elder gods, and he's trying to seduce Sandra Dee's character and turn her over to his tentacle-daddy so she can get pregnant with his brother. I am surprised the MST3K crew never did this one. When I watch it, I do my own version. That's why I think this is great- get some friends together, get some popcorn and come up with your own snarky comments as you go along.

9. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
"Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids."
This is hilarious. It takes the typical slasher film and turns it on its ear. For once, the backwoods hillbillies are the nice guys who are just trying to mind their own business, but the college kids make some assumptions about them based on some really funny coincidences. So, the college kids determine to fight back...but they keep getting themselves killed.  I have never laughed so hard at someone being wood-chipped to death. And then cops get involved, and it all goes downhill from there. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are fantastic in this. A MUST-SEE!

10. The Devil Inside
"In Italy, a woman becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms during her mission to discover what happened to her mother, who allegedly murdered three people during her own exorcism."
This is an example of the found footage films that I get tired of. First of all, we've seen SO many exorcism movies in recent years, and SO many found footage, or documentary style movies, and this one just doesn't stand out in either category. The only thing unique about the exorcism aspect was the ideas of multi-being possession and transference. So, basically there were multiple demons in a lady, and the demons could transfer to other people close by- even priests attempting exorcism. That was pretty cool. On the other hand, the rest of the exorcism scenes are just standard fare for the genre- contorting limbs, screaming, speaking in get the picture. And I am so tired of shaky, jumpy camera work. So, it's not horrible...I just didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped.
11. Apartment 143
"A team of parapsychologists try to figure out a strange phenomenon occurring in an apartment building." 
This was ok. It's a found footage style film, and it's not the worst one I've seen. There are quite a few startle-scare moments, and it builds up to a much more aggressive haunting than the Paranormal Activity movies. There were some pretty big flaws, though. The professor-type investigator seems so flat throughout everything that's happening. You would think given the level of insane activity that happens in this house, that he'd be willing to entertain an idea that this is more than just a girl with schizophrenia manifesting some psychokinesis. His determination to stick to science is almost ridiculous, given the happenings in the movie, so he seemed unbelievable as a character. They also never really answer what was going on, and they hint at things to be discovered, so the let-down of not getting to discover them is sort of unforgivable.

12. The Fourth Kind
"A thriller involving an ongoing unsolved mystery in Alaska, where one town has seen an extraordinary number of unexplained disappearances during the past 40 years and there are accusations of a federal cover up."
I was legitimately scared by this movie. I mean, they begin the darn thing with a statement about how they will be using actual footage interspersed with acting. That made me stop and say, "Whoa, really? I'm intrigued now. This might be a real event." As I was watching, it was quite frightening, but about halfway through, I started doubting. I don't want to spoil it for you, it first, google the darn thing after. I think not being sure if it is real or not is part of the fun of this one.

13.  A Haunting in Salem
"In this spine-chilling indie horror flick, a sheriff relocates to Salem, Mass., with his family -- only to discover that the house they've moved into is plagued by an ancient curse and haunted by malicious spirits."
Oh wow. This is a stinker. This is about as well done as Sharknado, but seemingly not on purpose. A sampling of ridiculous things:  A kid is drowned in a bathtub, and for some reason the water is green and smoking when this happens. Why? Was he drowned in a vat of acid? No? Hmm. A girl who has been sick for days pulls a tooth out of her own mouth, and her mother rushes in to put hydrogen peroxide on it. But we're not going to the hospital or anything...this sort of thing just happens, right? Oh and at the same time Mom is applying hydrogen peroxide to daughter's tooth, there's a citizen of the town boiling her own face off in the kitchen. No one seems to notice, not even the cop who is then seen standing on the porch. Later, the sheriff is thrown out a second story window- a fall which killed the first sheriff, but he gets up after a few minutes and doesn't seem to even have broken bones. And then there's the casting. The sheriff is played by a guy who looks like he's in his mid 40s, but he's married to a much more attractive woman who looks mid thirties at best. One of them should have been swapped out. They don't look right together. Apparently, this is a common complaint of movie critics, (Well...sounds like most people were harsher than I am) because the poor guy issued a statement about his involvement in this movie and apologized to movie watchers. Oh my gosh. I say watch this if you want a silly horror movie. Giggle at it. The value in this is the ridiculousness.

14. Scream
 "A killer known as Ghostface begins killing off teenagers, and as the body count begins rising, one girl and her friends find themselves contemplating the "Rules" of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one."
Probably almost everyone has seen this. That's because it really was a good horror flick. I saw it first in a drive-in theater near my home town, and I loved it. It has become a modern classic for me. Everyone knew, when I was a kid, that there were "rules" of slasher films. We talked about them at sleepovers and with our other nerd friends. But this movie cemented what we all joked about, and maybe it was the bit of humor in it that caused it to be so scary. I remember discussing with friends- if you were in a horror movie, would you live or die? This movie took that question seriously.

15. Let the Right One In  (Låt den rätte komma in)
"Oskar, a bullied 12-year old, dreams of revenge. He falls in love with Eli, a peculiar girl. She can't stand the sun or food and to come into a room she needs to be invited. Eli gives Oskar the strength to hit back but when he realizes that Eli needs to drink other people's blood to live he's faced with a choice. How much can love forgive? Set in the Stockholm suburb of Blackeberg in 1982."
This is a great movie. This was the original Swedish version before it was remade into "Let Me In" by an American crew. I find the remake unnecessary. The only thing it improved was maybe removing the need to read the subtitles. Other than that, I prefer this version. Things I love about this: the children who played the two main characters...they were so wonderful in this; the setting- the stark, cold Swedish winter feels like a metaphor for the loneliness of Oskar and Eli; and the balance of Eli's character- you feel a  mixture of sympathy for her and fear of her.  The movie left me unsure of what I wanted the outcome to be, and it's a very intelligent film in that regard. It isn't meant to just shock you or startle you, but to make you feel and think.

So once again, happy horror watching, folks! Hopefully, I'll be able to share some more soon. If you missed my first set of reviews, check them out here: