canada, Fangoria, flash, funny, halloween, haunted attraction, haunted house, headless horseman hayrides, headless horseman hayrides and haunted house review, headless horseman hayrides and haunted houses review, headless horsman, huant world, nightmares, ny, peanuts gallery, PoughKeepsie, pumpkin, rant, reelybored, scary, snoopy, Ulster, ulster county, yoga
After years of putting it off, I finally decided to go to the self-proclaimed Number #1 Haunted Attraction in America! Really? This place was sure to impress, right? These claims were not the main catalyst for my high hopes but, rather, its high ticket price of $33.00 a head! Yeah, that’s a bit steep. Having paid so much, I wanted, NAY, I demanded to be frightened and get my money’s worth!
After arriving to the grounds, which appeared to be some sort of farm (the smell of horse manure corroborated my suspicions immediately), my wife and I were greeted by an endless sea of young adults and college students. This, of course, was to be expected, even on a Sunday night. The moon was full and the mild chill in the air did not detract from the night’s event. We acquired our prepaid tickets and went on to what is perhaps the crappiest part of the attraction – the line (s).
Being horded in like cattle, it took us almost an hour and a half to finally reach the first portion of the attraction – the “Haunted Hayride“.
The hayride featured a vehicle very much like the one pictured on the left. Now, in order to get the good seats, sitting on the ledge of the flatbed, I apparently had to make a dash for ‘em, which I did not. Because I wasn’t the Flash, I had to sit dead center of this very hard and uncomfortable wooden flatbed adorned with loads of semi-wet hay.
Being that this was supposed to be scary and was supposed to provide for some jolting scares, the tractor moved about 5 MPH through a dark path into the woods so that everyone can squirm at costumed actors as they tried to frighten many of the passengers with “Boos!” and “Arghs!” . Thankfully for me, it seemed to last all of 15 minutes (sarcastic)! It was one of those rare instances where I wish I was more flexible and shorter than I actually am so that I could “comfortably” sit in the yoga position. Needless to say, I could not sit in said position and was in excruciating pain for the duration of the ride. Adding to the pain was my wife, who ditched me and is apparently the female Flash! She was able to get a good seat and every time there was some sort of “scare”, she would lunge backward and unto me where I had to exert of all of my energy and strength to keep me from falling back and unto a stranger’s lap. Did I mention this tractor was going up and stopping on hills? OUCH!
The moment I had actually been looking forward to was the arrival of the Headless Horseman himself. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night for him to make his appearance what with the full moon and all. Having already been disappointed with the scares thus far, I had high hopes for the headless horseman. Our guide rambled on and on about some story or another about escaped dead convicts and dead prison guards as we rode through. To be honest, all I heard was Snoopy jargon, “Womp, womp, womp!!” as my attention was elsewhere, pinpointing each scare to myself before they happened.
What I did hear was, “He’s here, the Headless Horseman!” Yes! My excitement grew and like a little child, stood straight up looking over the many heads of those with good seats so that I may catch a glimpse. Then, there he was! The moon shone behind him as he made his way through a large, empty field of grass and towards the wagon. It was the Headless Horseman, but he wasn’t as scary as I had expected.
Branding a clearly visible plastic sword and with the body of a 17-year old boy, the dainty horse galloped towards our vehicle. All the onlookers were silent, not one scream or squirm. It was actually pretty funny as the horseman waived his sword at the faces of unimpressed onlookers as if begging for someone to show some sort of fear – no one did and the dainty horse galloped away into the night. He didn’t even have a pumpkin which I would have preferred to a plastic sword! FAIL!
After the hayride, we reached – wait for it – another line to a series of haunted attractions that included The Lunar Motel, The Blood Inn, The Dark Harvest Cornmaze, and other mini-Haunted Houses. In total, there are seven haunted attractions in one!
I have to admit, however, that despite the lack of scares, at least for me, the Headless Horseman Hayrides & Haunted Houses attraction did feature an impressive array of props, costumes and sets that truly showed me where their ridiculously high ticket prices were going towards so I can see how it can be a truly frightful experience for some. There was also a small custom built town within the grounds that featured small cafes and gift shops.
I mean, just because it wasn’t scary for me, doesn’t mean it’s not scary to someone else, primarily a child. But, I will give credit where credit is due and I tip my hat off for the effort at scaring me and the great sets and animatronics. Still, I will probably never do another haunted house attraction ever again being that they are A.) Extremely overpriced and B.) Have yet to find one that is scary (only one I’ve been to that kind of creeped me out was in a place called Nightmares in Niagara Falls, Canada)
So, is the Headless Horseman the number #1 Haunted Attraction in America? Not according to these other websites:
Haunted House Magazine – 6. Headless Horseman
Haunt World – 5. Headless Horseman
Haunted House Rankings – 6. Headless Horseman
Fangoria – 9. Headless Horseman
OK, so it’s in the top 10! Still, false advertising just pisses me off!
I know I do. Very fond memories of this and always looked forward to all of the movies featured in the month of October, er, I mean Shocktober in NY’s WPIX channel 11 (now the WB, or whatever initials it is now! Seems like features like this are becoming very sparse nowadays
The Hudson Valley’s most electrifying Halloween event, featuring more than 4,000 individually hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns! Stroll through an 18th-century riverside landscape and discover a breathtaking display: slithering snakes, shrunken heads, a giant spider web, an undersea aquarium, super-sized dinosaurs, pirates, ghosts, plus a mammoth exhibition of mummies and a pyramid…straight out of ancient Egypt and all made of jack o’ lanterns!
A wonderful exhibit north of NYC that will have you “OOO’ING!” & “AHHH’ING!” My wife and I walked through the entire exhibit in about 40 minutes but you can stay longer than that if you can muster the cold!
Blair Witch Project, Blair With 2, creepy, demon, ghost, haunting, horror, katie, micah, movie review, oren peli, ouija, paramount pictures, paranormal, paranormal activity 2, paranormal activity 2 movie review, paranormal activity 2 review, paranormal activity sequel, parranormal activity sequel review, possessed, reelybored, review, scare, scary, terror, terrorize, Tod Williams, tweens
Plot – After experiencing what they think are a series of break-ins, a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem.
After watching the first Paranormal Activity last year in the theater, I vowed to never go see a movie on opening night. Not because I hated the movie, on the contrary, I actually really enjoyed it. The reason I made such a vow was because of the countless “tweens” that were present that night that almost ruined the experience for me. This time around I told my wife that we would wait until the middle of next week after the movies’ opening to avoid the crowd, lines and of course the “tweens”. Needless to say, I could not keep my own promise and I went out to catch the midnight showing of Paranormal Activity 2. Oh, how I hoped (and prayed) that there would be no “tweens” present, but, alas, the gods did not hear my pleas.
In this sequel, the demon returns to do what it does best – terrorize. To say that this movie is a sequel would be misleading, rather, it is more of a tie-in to the first film which sheds some light as to why these paranormal occurrences are happening. One of the things that I feared the most was the fact that Hollywood had a goldmine on their hands and that this film was going to suffer the Blair Witch 2 pandemic. Fortunately for all Paranormal Activity fans, it did not. Hollywood execs made the smart decision from straying from the original formula of its predecessor and kept to its indie feel of the film despite it having a larger budget. Forget CGI (Computer Generated Images) as there were none in this film (at least none that I’ve noticed)! Most of the effects were practical and on par with the effects seen in the original film, which is a very good thing!
Director Tod Williams, along with writer and the first film’s director, Oren Peli, certainly know how to build up the suspense and tension. While some (and there were plenty of movie-goers who thought so) believe that the film’s pace can be slow, it is in these moments where the tension is being built as everyone in the theater waits in anticipation for something to happen. The pay-off is well worth the wait and one must have some patience with these movies as something will happen it’s just a matter of when. Many movie-goers could not grasp the concept of tension building and playing on one’s psychology whilst watching the film. It is the younger generation of movie-goers that cannot grasp this concept and simply want to see rather than use their imagination. I say this because I was surrounded by such folk who moaned when their expectations fell short when nothing happened. What they failed to realized was that something did happen in that the filmmakers were able to garnish an emotional response, not to mention have everyone on the edge of their seats with anticipation.
As with the first film, sound played a major part in the scares and there were plenty in this film! This movie is best viewed in a theater with excellent surround sound. The chairs in the theater I was in vibrated as it seemed that the bass was cranked all the way up which sort of made the movie an almost interactive experience. Another thing which I liked very much was the fact that the action took place in many parts of the home and was captured by multiple cameras that are strategically placed throughout to capture what the family thinks are burglars/vandals breaking into their home. This was different than the first film where only one camera was used.
Despite my overall enjoyment and like of the film, I felt that there was one major drawback. The film was pretty much a companion to the first film. Sure there were loads of jump scares and genuinely creepy moments, but there was nothing new added to the formula. As I mentioned before, it is a tie-in to the first film so some new information was included in the film that would probably make you go, “Ooooooh, now I understand why!” But it seemed to me that the filmmakers sole purpose for making this film was to see how many more scares they can provide for the audience. Not saying that this is a bad thing, but did not feel an overall progression in the story. Still, there were scares galore in this movie! Throw a dog, a baby and a family into the mix and the possibilities are endless!
Does Paranormal Activity 2 deliver? Hell yes! If you allow yourself to be a part of the experience, you will be scared or at least feel the tension and anticipation that the movie provides. If not, you will probably not enjoy it. Overall, a well made film and, although it uses the same formula as the first film, it still works and the scares can, arguably, be more frightening than its predecessor. I say go watch it and have a good time!
**** of *****
blacksmith, cross, crucifix, demon, demonic, devil, drunkard, Encyclopedia Britannica, evil, famine, folklore, gates of heaven, gates of hell, ghost, ghosts, halloween, Heaven, Hell, Ireland, Irish, Irish Famine, Irish Potato Famine, Jack, Jack O' Lantern, legend, prankster, pumpkin, pumpkins, satan, soul, spirit, spirits, Stingy Jack, Tale, trickster, turnip, urban legend
Oh, the Jack O’ Lantern! We all know it very well and get overly excited for that time of the year when we can exert all of our frustrations by piercing the sharp end of a knife through the soft flesh of a pumpkin and carving ourselves a good ol’ face. But, who is this Jack? When I was a kid, I remember reading a very brief story concerning the famed Jack who had a hollow pumpkin named after him. Certainly he must have been a very scary person to have been honored with being named after something that makes several appearances on a night of ghouls and goblins, Halloween. The story, according to a child’s version of Encyclopedia Britannica, stated that Jack was an Irish man who once roamed the earth as a prankster and drunkard. When he died, he was refused access through the gates of Heaven for his malice and cunning ways. The Devil did not even allow him to enter Hell for having been himself a victim of Jack’s treachery and pranks. Being denied of both Heaven and Hell, Jack was left to roam the earth in darkness with his lantern so that it may light his path.
It wasn’t until years later with the advent of the personal computer (PC) that I was able to dig a little deeper into the origin of the Jack O’ Lantern. Although there are many variations of the story, the similarities between these tales are pretty common. The term Jack O’ Lantern or “Jack of the Lantern” first appeared in print in 1750 and referred to a night watchman or a man carrying a lantern. Before appearing on print, the term was used to describe a strange light flickering over the swamps of Ireland. Whenever an attempt was made at approaching this light, it seemed to move further away and was always out of reach. The mysterious occurrence is also known as will o’ the wisp and ignis fatuus, Gaelic for foolish fire. A turnip was also used prior to the infamous carved pumpkin. Because of the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-1800′s in Ireland, country-folk immigrated to the Americas where pumpkins were more readily available than turnips as well as easier to carve into. Along with the Irish, came their beliefs, traditions and folklore as well as their use of the Jack O’ Lantern. The renowned term reaches far back into Irish folklore with a story of a drunkard named Stingy Jack.
One Halloween night, Jack, who was an Irish blacksmith, was found where he usually frequented; the local pub. He was known to be a heavy drinker and this night was no exception. Halloween would be the night that Satan would come to collect Jack’s soul. Soon enough, the Devil entered the pub. He engaged in mild conversation with Jack before revealing to him the nature of his visit. Jack asked to finish his drink before taking his life and the Devil agreed. Using this opportunity to stall, Jack used his cleverness and wit and challenged the Devil into proving himself. Jack asked the Devil to prove his powers by turning into a coin to pay for his drinks. The Devil scoffed at the child’s play and turned himself into a shiny, gold coin. Jack grabbed the coin and pocketed it into a bag that contained a silver cross (another story says that Jack had a scar in his hands in the shape of a cross that prevented the Devil from transforming back). Rendering the Devil powerless at the mercy of a cross, Jack bargained with the Devil and made him promise to return after a year (10 years in another account) so that Jack may have enough time to repent for his sins and be allowed into heaven. Again, the Devil agreed and left Jack in the pub where he continued to drink.
Another account states that Jack somehow managed to trick the Devil into climbing an apple tree so that he may enjoy the fresh, juicy apples that were at the top. The Devil climbed and when he was near the top Jack carved a cross into the bark of the tree preventing the Devil from climbing back down. Jack seized the moment to bargain with the Devil and removed the carving only after he made the Devil promise to never return for his soul. A deal was made.
There is even one account that combines both stories where the Devil leaves Jack at the pub and returns 10 years later to claim his soul. It is here where Jack prompts the Devil to climb the tree and upon fooling him makes the Devil promise to never take his soul. Years later Jack would die of his own accord and was rejected from the gates of Heaven and, being true his word, the Devil would not take Jack’s soul thus preventing him entrance into Hell.
“But where will I go?” Asked a fearful Jack. Being that it was dark, Jack pleaded with Satan to grant him some light so that he may find his way through the darkness.
The Devil pulled out a lump of coal and ignited it with flames. “To where you came from,” the Devil responded.
He tossed it to Jack where he placed it inside a turnip he was eating and made the lonely journey away from the gates of Hell and into the darkness.
In the end, it is the Devil who had the last laugh in both accounts. Jack was doomed to roam the earth for all eternity. It is this spirit of Stingy Jack that the people of Ireland have dubbed Jack O’ Lantern. It is believed that spirits were free to roam the Earth on Halloween and the tradition of leaving food and snacks near their doors and windows to appease the spirits and restless souls began. The tradition of carving scary faces into pumpkins also stemmed from those not wanting to be visited by Stingy Jack and other ghosts, hoping that the ghastly faces carved would frighten them away.
So, this Halloween don’t forget to light up your Jack O’ Lantern and place it near your door or window, or else you’ll be getting a late night visitor from your trusty pal Stingy Jack!
baby, bloody mary, closet monster, clown, Comedy, dark road, dead, demon, doll, freddy krueger, funny, halloween, haunted, haunting, hooded figure, humor, jaso, la llorona, michael myers, monster, ouija, ouija board, Pannywise the Clown. IT, Pennywise, possessed, red eyes, scary, scary doll, spooky, Stephen King's It, under the bed, whispers
Here’s a list of some scary shit that will probably NEVER happen but, nonetheless, wouldn’t ever want them to happen to me:
1. When I’m home alone… hear my name whispered!
2. When I’m home alone…the power goes out then hear my name whispered!
3. When I’m home alone… hear footsteps in my apartment! (Shoes should always be off when entering!)
4. When I’m home alone… hear loud bangs on my door/ceiling only to discover no one there!
5. When I’m home alone… hear the cries of la llorona, the weeping woman inside my apartment in the baby’s room!
6. Hearing chuckles/a child crying/movement under my bed!
7. Having my closet door creak open in the middle of the night!
8. Phone rings when it is disconnected or battery dead!
9. Wake up in the middle of the night to see a hooded figure standing at the foot of my bed!
10. Wake up in the middle of the night to find my wife hovering over the bed!
11. Find the Ouija board I threw out a week ago laying on top of my bed when I get home!
12. Say Bloody Mary in the mirror and the bitch actually comes out and pies me!
13. Having the feeling of being watched while walking home on a dark road only to turn around and see someone dressed in black standing in the woods watching me!
14. See a strange man/woman/hooded figure standing over my baby’s crib through the baby monitor!
15. Looking out my window and seeing Pennywise the clown staring back at me in my backyard!
16. If I wake up in the middle of the night and see a porcelain doll sleeping beside me then speak to me!
17. Waking up to the sound of a little girl singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!”
18. Being trapped in a supposed haunted castle with a Twinkie and no flashlight then hearing noises (footsteps, doors opening and closing, voices, whispers, laughter, rats!)
19. Fictional horror characters coming to life! (C’mon, what if Krueger, Myers, Jason and other fictional characters actually did exist?!)
20. My wife getting possessed by a demon and maxing out my credit cards! (Biiiitch!)
Feel free to chime in and add to the list!
asylum, Blair Witch Project, Boogeymen, Drag Me to Hell, Drage me to Hell, Evil Dead, freddy krueger, Friday the 13th, Full Circle, Ghost chil, ghost children, ghost story, ghosts, halloween, halloween movies, haunted, haunted house, hellraiser, horror, horror movies, house, Ils, In the Mouth of Madness, Jason Voorhees, john carpenter, Ju-on, Leatherface, Mia Farrow, michael myers, nightmare on elm street, paranormal, paranormal activity, Picnic at Hanging Rock, pinhead, Prince of Darkness, quarantine, rec, rec 2, ringu, Sam Raimi, scary, scary movies, Session 9, spain, spanish horror, spirits, spooky, spooky movies, supernatural, The Changeling, The Evil Dead, The Exorcist, The Grudge, The Haunting of Julia, The Legend of Hell House, the ring, The Skeptic, The Thing, The Woman in Black, Them, Trick 'r Treat, Trick'r Treat, xombies, zombie
Of course it goes without saying that if you haven’t watched any of perhaps the most recommended scary films then you’re clearly living under a rock. That’s right you’re all familiar with Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Krueger; stars of the infamous horror movies Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series which have a combined total of 34 movies, including remakes and “re-imaginings”, as of this year, 2010. There are other “Boogeymen” that include the likes of Pinhead of Hellraiser and Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises. But, I’m not here to talk about them. If you haven’t seen them, then yes, I’d say you have to watch them to either A.) see what all the hoopla is about, or B.) watch ‘em before they are remade! In many cases, it’s certainly too late for that in which I would say watch the original first!
Here is a list I present to you, in no particular order and if I left a few out, please feel free to chime in on the comments sections below. Again, this is by no means a “Scariest Movies” list but, rather, a small list of just a couple of movies I enjoy and would recommend for your viewing pleasure on Halloween or the days leading up to it. Can’t make any guarantees that you’ll like ‘em all and if you don’t, tough! At least you’ll have gotten it out of your system and are able to scratch off your list. In any case, enjoy!
Trick ‘r Treat (2007)- Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband. This was a little gem that I had waited for about 2 years (slated for release in 2007) before it was finally released in 2009. Why was the release date shelved for 2 years is beyond me. A movie that more than deserved a theatrical release, I settled for getting the Blu-ray and watching it in the comfort of my home. This has to be one of my favorite Halloween themed movies ever.
Drag me to Hell (2009)- A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point. Sam Raimi, director of Evil Dead & Spider-man. Need I say more? Yes, I do. Many people are disappointed in this film, well, because they are not familiar with Sam Raimi. For those of you who know the director will get this film. No, it is not an all-out horror film but, rather, this film is jam-packed with both a little horror and a bit of comedy as well!
Paranormal Activity (2007) – After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence. This one needs no introduction as I’m sure you’ve either seen it already or at least heard about it. Rule of thumb, don’t fall into the hype or this film will be ruined for you. Go in with little or, better yet, no expectations, and your viewing experience will be enhanced. This was another movie that started making the rounds in 2007 at the Slamdance Film Festival where Hollywood big-wigs caught wind of it and purchased the film. There were talks of remaking a bigger budget version of the film but they did something outrageous by releasing the original! Hollywood, really? Of course, they did add their own ending to the theatrical release. Watch this one with surround sound as the audio in this film is fantastic. Oh yeah, and watch it late at night with your own lights turned off.
Blair Witch Project (1999) In October of 1994, three student film makers disappeared in the woods near Burkittesville, Maryland. One year later, their footage was found. Staying in the, “Is this movie real?” category, I have to recommend watching The Blair Witch Project. Why? Well, for starters I like the film. Secondly, it was the film that put these types of movies on the map. It will forever be mentioned whenever a movie as such is released. Also, it plays heavily on your psyche as you never actually see what is in the woods. Sure, the characters are a tad annoying (I know, I’m being kind) but there is no doubt that there are some creepy, some may even say terrifying, moments in this one.
Session 9 (2001) – 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. For some reason, some people tend to say that this one is a bit overrated. I don’t think so. There are no monsters or elaborate creatures in this one but it is very psychological and downright creepy. Plus, it features the magnificent Danvers State Insane Asylum which offers both a sense of foreboding horror and marvel with its intricate architecture!
Ringu (1998) – A mysterious video kills whomever views it, unless that viewer can solve its mystery. No, not the American movie The Ring, but this is the original Japanese version which is chock-fill o’ scares! Its American counterpart was OK, in my opinion, having seen the original Japanese version nearly four years before the American version was released. If you haven’t seen either version yet, I highly suggest you watch the Japanese version first then, if you like it, watch the American one and compare. There are a few Japanese sequels as well as a prequel so you can make it a night of Ring movies during the month of October!
[Rec]/[Rec] 2 (2007/2009) – “REC” turns on a young TV reporter and her cameraman who cover the night shift at the local fire station. Receiving a call from an old lady trapped in her house, they reach her building to hear horrifying screams — which begin a long nightmare and a uniquely dramatic TV report. / The action continues from [Rec], with the medical officer and a SWAT team outfitted with video cameras are sent into the sealed off apartment to control the situation. Great Spanish horror that spawned a remake here in the states entitled Quarantine. Need I say it? Yes, there is a Quarantine 2 in the pipeline.Watch the Spanish versions first! These films feature “zombies”/infected/possessed/crazies/etc – take your pic as I won’t spoil it for you. I had a few problems with the sequel but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Definitely provides lots of tension as it is shot in the same vein as… wait for it… The Blair Witch Project!
Ju-on (The Grudge) (2002) – A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides. Again, the original Grudge film surpasses the American remake which stars Buffy, er, I mean Sarah Michelle Gellar. Creepy film, to say the least! Not saying that the American version was bad, but it wasn’t that good either.
Ils AKA Them (2006) – Lucas and Clementine live peacefully in their isolated country house, but one night they wake up to strange noise… they’re not alone… and a group of hooded assailants begin to terrorize them throughout the night. A different type of horror is presented in this film. If you thought The Strangers (2008) was creepy, you haven’t seen anything yet!
The Woman in Black (1989) – When a friendless old widow dies in the seaside town of Crythin, a young solicitor is sent by his firm to settle the estate. The lawyer finds the townspeople reluctant to talk about or go near the woman’s dreary home and no one will explain or even acknowledge the menacing woman in black he keeps seeing. Ignoring the towns-people’s cryptic warnings, he goes to the house where he discovers its horrible history and becomes ensnared in its even more horrible legacy. Based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Susan Hill, this is a little gem of a film that completely took me off guard; very atmospheric and creepy! I’ll have to admit that you need a little patience with this one as it can be a little slow at times but, believe me, you will not be disappointed in the end. I read that there is a live, stage performance in the form of a play in London which I will give my left testicle to be able to see it! Yeah, it’s that good.
The Skeptic (2009) – A tormented man’s reluctant search for greater meaning in his life. Ok, to elaborate a bit on the plot of the movie, a man inherits his aunt’s house, that looks more like a mansion, only to discover that the house harbors secrets that are soon uncovered, only they aren’t so pleasant! I’ll admit that this is not a great film, however, I found it entertaining being a skeptic myself. Sure, I don’t hope to have the experiences that the protagonist encounters, still doesn’t hurt to watch it happen to someone else. Ending kind of left me scratching my head though!
Halloween (1978) – A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood escapes on a mindless rampage while his doctor chases him through the streets. OK, so I said I wasn’t going to include any of the horror icons in this list, but, I simply had to add John Carpenter’s Halloween. It is, without a doubt, a classic film. Forget the Rob Zombie “re-imaginings”! If you want to see Michael Myers at his stalking best, then you have to check out the first film as it is here where the bar was set.
The Evil Dead (1981) – Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons. The description says it all, plus Sam Raimi! Yes, again! Shot on a shoe string budget , Raimi was able to demonstrate how to make a film with little to no budget and provide for the desired effect. Some may laugh, being used to CGI (Computer Generated Images), but nothing beats using hand made prosthetic effects. That’s right, the old-fashioned way!
The Exorcist (1973) – When a teenager is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter. The reference film that set the bar for all movies that have to do with an exorcism. Don’t go in expecting non-stop chills, action, etc. But, make no mistake that when these moments do occur, they are sure to send a chill up your spine if you can engulf yourself in the film.
The Changeling (1980) - A man staying at a secluded historical mansion, finds his life being haunted by the presence of a specter. No, this is NOT the Angelina Jolie movie! (Although some certainly deserve to be on this list) Yes, it is another movie with a man, a mansion and a ghost! They seem to be popular. This one, however, is a classic film that is sure to deliver the chills. Look out for the red ball!
The Thing (1982) – Scientists in the Antarctic are confronted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of the people that it kills. Picture yourself stranded in the Antarctic with no form of communication and no transportation. Now, add an alien life-form to the mix. Creepy huh? Another of John Carpenter’s classic films that is a remake of the 1951 Sci-fi classic The Thing from Another World. This one is creepy and it’s probably best to check it out now before the prequel, which is in talks, is released.
Prince of Darkness (1987) – A research team finds a mysterious cylinder in a deserted church. If opened, it could mean the end of the world. Great little film that’s very Lovecraftian and apocalyptic. Trapped inside a church, surrounded by the Devil’s puppets? Who are you gonna call? Apparently, no one.
In the Mouth of Madness (1995) - With the disappearance of hack horror writer Sutter Cane, all Hell is breaking loose…literally! Author Cane, it seems, has a knack for description that really brings his evil creepy-crawlies to life. Insurance investigator John Trent is sent to investigate Cane’s mysterious vanishing act and ends up in the sleepy little East Coast town of Hobb’s End. The fact that this town exists as a figment of Cane’s twisted imagination is only the beginning of Trent’s problems…. OK, so apparently this is the John Carpenter block. So I’m a fan, sue me! This was very good and entertaining and one of his last good movies before his downfall.
House (1986) – Roger Cobb is a author who has just separated from his wife. He moves into a new house and tries to work on a novel based on his experiences in the Vietnam War. Strange things start happening around him; little things at first, but as they become more frequent, Cobb becomes aware that the house resents his presence. Fun movie I saw as a kid. There are some scary moments in the movie but nothing you’ll sleep over. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself laughing while watching this one as it is part comedy.
The Legend of Hell House (1973) – A team consisting of a physicist, his wife, a young female psychic and the only survivor of the previous visit are sent to the notorious Hell House to prove/disprove survival after death. Previous visitors have either been killed or gone mad, and it is up to the team to survive a full week in isolation, and solve the mystery of the Hell House. One of the best haunted house movies I have ever seen based on a Richard Matheson novel entitled Hell House (the book is also very well written, of course, scarier than the movie). Very scary movie and I recommend watching this one during the wee hours of the night!
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) – A story about the disappearance of several Appleyard College students, and a teacher, from Hanging Rock. A film from the land of Oz that is not so much scary but still is able to emit a sense of creepiness with the help of its mesmerizing and haunting soundtrack composed by Bruce Smeaton. Gheorghe Zamfir also lends his flute to a couple of tracks on the soundtrack that provides a mystical and fantastical aura to the scenes. I can’t say that this film is for everyone as it can tend to be a little slow and will probably have you scratching your head at its conclusion. But, it will definitely engage in conversation afterward that will be full of speculation and theory.
Haunting of Julia (Full Circle) (1977) – After the death of her daughter, Julia Lofting, a wealthy housewife, moves to London to re-start her life. All seems well until she is haunted by the sadness of losing her own child and the ghosts of other children. I would have to say that this movie was a little hard to come by. Again, the soundtrack is haunting and lends to the atmospheric mood of the film. Would not put this one at the top of my “must-see” movies, but would recommend giving it a watch nonetheless.
Asylum (1972) – A young psychiatrist interviews four inmates in a mental asylum to satisfy a requirement for employment. He hears stories about 1) the revenge of a murdered wife, 2) a tailor who makes a suit with some highly unusual qualities, 3) a woman who questions her sanity when it appears that her brother is conspiring against her, and 4) a man who builds tiny toy robots with lifelike human heads. Good little movie with a “Tales from the Crypt” feel in that it is an anthology of short stories. Some more creepier than others. Still, rather enjoyed this one. The “twist” ending was kind of a surprise but not really.
Well, I think this list provides enough to wet your appetite! Again, this is in no means intended to be a “scariest movies” list, just a couple that I found to be creepy/entertaining. For some of these you will actually have to like film as they are not all your run of the mill big-budgeted Hollywood movie.
There are dozens more but these are the ones that stood out immediately from my mind. Feel free to add some more in the comments field!
This past weekend I was able to attend the first annual Zombie Fest in Rosendale, NY. Despite the fact that I only live a couple of miles away from the small, quaint town, it was the first time I stepped across town boundaries. First thought that came to mind as I drove through this small town with its feel of history and Americana was, “Wow, I can definitely see a Zombie Apocalypse starting here!”
I arrived near the 12:30 PM mark where, according to an advertised magazine clip, the zombie walk was to start. There were only a handful of people and I was worried that not many people were going to show. This had been the first time I had ever heard of such an event happening around my parts so I was truly enthusiastic about the gathering. For no one to show would have been utterly disappointing. But little by little, the dead arrived in horrific fashion! From children to adults to pets, they all came prepared to make those alive aware of their presence among the living. And that, they did!
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abandoned, All Hallow's Eve, asylum, Autumn, candles, costume, costume party, darkness, dead, Fall, Ghost Hunters, ghouls, goblins, Grant Wilson, halloween, haunted, Haunted Hayride, haunted house, headless horseman, Holiday, house, Jason Hawes, Massachusetts, orphanage, ouija, prison, Salem, seance, table-tipping, TAPS, zombie
The temperature is dropping. Leaves are in the early stages of changing colors and falling to the ground. The sun is dropping below the horizon earlier in the day and their is a subtle difference in the way the air smells. Yes, it’s that time of year (my favorite)! Today, midnight, September 23, 2010 marks the first day of Autumn and Halloween is right around the corner!
Along with the approach of the holiday that isn’t a holiday comes a slew of all too familiar questions that I have grown accustomed to answering. The two most frequent questions are: what are you doing for Halloween & what are you dressing up as for Halloween? Both questions usually render the same response of, “I have no idea!”
It is my favorite time of the year with about 500 different things going on! How can I possibly choose one thing to do?? Simple answer, I can’t… or can I? Of course, like all major holidays, it’s not the day that is important but, rather, the eve of the day. But, for the most part, all Halloween activity starts a little over a month prior. So, it’s all about putting together an itinerary and finding those things that interest me the most. First thing that gets scratched off is doing anything that has to do with children. Why? Well, because I don’t have any of my own. I’ll worry about later.
Next, what I do is try and round up the usual “suspects” of things to do which include an array of haunted house attractions. A popular one around my parts is the Headless Horseman Hayride & Haunted Houses which I may be heading out with my wife after putting it off for the past couple of years. Why don’t I go? Because I’m terrified! No, seriously, because haunted house attractions can barely get me to flinch let alone frighten me. So this year I’ll be going simply for the fun of it all!
Another thing that has become popular with my circle, is a four-hour trek to Salem, Massachusetts. Despite the constant talk of making the journey, I’ve only been there once in the last six years and I think that I may be due for another visit. What I miss the most about Salem is the eerie atmosphere and the feel of the small town; the history of the town alone is creepy. I mean, c’mon, women being accused of being witches and burned alive at the stake! Tragic, yes, but also fascinating. Plus, my wife’s never been there and I think she would love it! Place gets a little hectic on Halloween, but well worth the trip!
Then there is the Halloween costume party that everyone just loves to throw! Again, I was never one for partying on a night that is reserved for ghosts, ghouls and the dead. I was more into contacting them/raising them (never worked)! But, this year I hope to sprinkle the fun in with the scary. A little bit of both couldn’t hurt… right? Spirits?
Another thing I always wanted to partake in was a good old fashioned seance. Who wouldn’t want to?? Candle-lit room, surrounded by darkness, table-tipping, possibly unseen forces lurking around you… perfect recipe for Halloween! The mention, even the notion, of doing such a thing frightens those I tell. I can never understand why, but then again, I don’t really believe in things like that. To me, it is mere entertainment and nothing to be afraid of….right? If I can’t find a seance event I guess I may have to resort to the “trusty” OUIJA board that never seems to work anymore! Though it does glow in the dark!
Same thing happens when I tell people that I want to spend a night in a haunted house. No, not an attraction but a real-life, “genuine” place said to be haunted, i.e., any variation of a prison, asylum, orphanage, house, etc. so long as it is abandoned. Spending a night in either of these places would be a treat! Especially if I can replicate the experiences of Jason and Grant on Ghost Hunters! Which seems rather fun than scary!
I have about a month to prepare for that special night that is known as Halloween. So far, I have about two Zombie walks coming up that I will be attending and a possible costume party. Oh, and then there is the Headless Horseman attraction as well. So, things are starting to look up as my itinerary and calendar is in the process of filling up! I just finished decorating my apartment and it certainly sets the tone for things to come. I’ll leave you with just one itty, bitty question. What are you doing for Halloween???
Here are a couple of ghoulies that are up in my apt: