Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Most Famous Haunted Places of the World

Some places are just ripe with paranormal activity and instantly make believers out of skeptics. Some of these locations are more famous than others due to televised documentaries and ghost hunting reality shows. Here are five of these well-known locations that you more than likely heard of at some point.


The Tower of England
London, England

Photo: Haunted Island UK
Who hasn’t heard of the Tower of England? With a 900-year history of imprisonment, torture, and execution, how can this place not be haunted? The landmark was built in 1078 and occupied by William the Conqueror. One of the most famous ghosts that reside in the tower is none other than Anne Boleyn, the wife of King Henry VIII. She was convicted of treason and beheaded. Just as eerie is the sightings of two children ghosts, believed to be the spirits of two princes that were murdered after being deemed illegitimate by Parliament.


Luxor Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada


Luxor Hotel is massive with nearly 4,500 rooms spread over 30 floors. It’s the epicenter of the Las Vegas nightlife, especially with its extensive casino history. During its construction in the early 1990s, at least three construction workers were killed. Two guests also took their own lives by leaping off the elevator walkway onto the casino ground floor. In 2007, there was also an explosion caused by a homemade bomb that claimed the life of one guest. Floors 12 and 14 are especially said to be ripe with paranormal activity, including a female apparition sighting.


Fort George
Nova Scotia, Canada 

Photo: Visit Scotland
Fort George is often said to be Canada’s most haunted location. The star-shaped fort was built in 1749, and numerous ghost sightings have been reported over the generations. This includes the apparition of a soldier who is seen wandering in several of the rooms that was previously a prison area. Another apparition is an old lady who is only seen in the reflection of mirrors. Visitors have also routinely seen the ghost of a small girl that sometimes accompanies guests during group tours.


Lawang Sewu
Semarang, Indonesia 

Lawang Sewu was built in 1917 as the primary headquarters for the Dutch East Indies Railway Company. The facility was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II where it was used as a prison. Many inmates were reportedly harshly interrogated and some executed. Numerous more soldiers were killed when the place was retaken by Dutch forces, causing an ensuing battle. Finally, there have been numerous reports of a female apparition, believed to be that of a woman who took her own life. Her suicide was captured on tape during the filming of a television program.


Poveglia Island
Italy

Photo: Daily Mail
The Poveglia Island served as a quarantine center during the Bubonic Plague outbreak in the 14th-century and again in the 1600s when the Black Plague ravaged Venice. Men, women, and children who exhibited symptoms of the disease were ferried to the island to spend their final moments on Earth. The island and the accompanying facility has been closed since 1975, and many locals dare not step foot on the island due to fears of roaming apparitions and a curse. Local fisherman also dare not fish in the area.


These famous haunted sites continue to draw the interest of anyone fascinated with thrills and chills. These people hope for an experience that would convince them that ghosts truly roam the world of the living.




Ashley Williamson is an architecture student from the U.K. and a lover of the supernatural, who always loves to explore places with spooky histories.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Ring vs. The Grudge!?

What started as an April fool’s joke is now – and inexplicably – a real movie. Straight from Japan is SADAKO VS. KAYAKO where the malevolent ghosts from THE RING and the THE GRUDGE face off for the soul of an unfortunate victim. Sounds incredible, right? Find out tonight during its U.S. premiere, exclusively on Shudder.com.


https://youtu.be/PCwfbzY75vQ



Monday, January 23, 2017

Beware the Slenderman

Premiering tonight on HBO is the documentary BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN about two girls who attempted to murder a friend as an offering the fictional monster. Set the DVR to creepy.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Celebrate Edgar Allan Poe's Birthday

To celebrate Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday this week, I recommend watching Extraordinary Tales, an animated anthology of five stories featuring the voice work of Christopher Lee, Guillermo del Toro, Julian Sands, Roger Corman, and the one and only Bella Lugosi (via a 1940s recording of the story complete with scratches). The drawing style (computer generated, hand drawn, etc.) varies from segment to segment, and was affectionately directed by Raul Garcia, an animator at Disney who worked on The Lion King, Aladdin, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The film was released in 2013 abroad and made it's U.S. debut in October 2015.

Poe’s work is as resonant as ever and animation frees it to capture the dark tones and dreadful atmosphere in a way a live movie would find challenging. Do note this is not an animated story for the kiddies. Beyond the dark and deadly material, one segment fleetingly features nudity and bacchanalia. (Streaming on Netflix.)



Edgar Allan Poe
January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849




Friday, January 20, 2017

Favorite Scary Movies of 2016

Any seasoned horror fan knows exactly what to expect from a horror movie. From the run and stumble to the bathroom cabinet mirror gag to the suddenly malfunctioning flashlight when descending into the basement. Been there, done that. It's so refreshing when horror movies come along that eschew the standard tropes. We are in a horror renaissance, and 2016 brought a slew of movies that feature unique voices, distinct visions, and new cultures to explore. Below are my Favorite Scary Movies of 2016:


Art by Matt Robot
1. The Witch
Nothing this year comes close to the raw, diabolical experience of this film. From the period details to the undecipherable English to the slow, bleak tone, the director makes some seriously bold choices. And just when you think the film has reached a crescendo, there is one of the most chilling and deeply disturbing finales I've seen.

2. Train to Busan
The overdone zombie genre gets a shot in the heart from South Korea. An estranged father and daughter trip is suddenly thrown into chaos when a zombie plague erupts inside a high-speed train. The action is impeccably orchestrated, the characters are fully realized, and most surprising of all, the core of the film is unapologetically and deeply emotional.

3. Under The Shadow
This Iranian film starts like a family drama in a war-torn Tehran but subtly turns a corner into full blow horror. For American audiences the foreign setting and culture will be unfamiliar and fascinating. The dread mounts steadily as the ghostly shenanigans increasingly torment a doubting mother and daughter. The film is bolstered by an intense performance by Narges Rashidi.

Art by Kino Maniac
4. The Conjuring 2
James Wan revisits familiar creepy territory, nifty camera work, impeccable direction, and the genres most beloved couple, The Warrens (the very charismatic Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga). As mainstream films go, Wan continues to forge his own path and delivers nightmare-inducing visuals including an evil nun and what appears to be a retro stop-motion Crooked Man. Most interesting is a break right in the middle with a spot-on Elvis Presley sing-a-long.

5. Don’t Breathe
From the director of the Evil Dead reboot comes this masterful work in suspense, dread and terror with a home invasion gone terribly awry. The twists are surprising (as long as you haven’t seen the previews), performances are spot on, and turkey basters once again reclaim infamous notoriety.

6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
The follow-up the the monster-on-the-loose film reveals a much different monster-in-confinement. John Goodman is so terrific in this you almost don’t mind that most of the running time is spent in an underground bunker. The end does not disappoint and leaves the story open to more installments. Yes, please.

Art by Harry Movie Art
7. Green Room
As one of Anton Yelchin’s final performances, this ode to punk rock and skinheads boils with angst, sweat and the cruelty. With intelligent, brisk, and solid writing one wonders why this didn’t get a wider release. Patrick Stewart in ruthless role makes the proceedings even more wicked.

8. Eyes of My Mother
Out in the quiet, remote country lies a depraved beauty. This is a mesmerizing film shot entirely in black and white with artfully framed shots. It lulls you with a muted, unrelenting dread that you almost don’t notice the horror happening out in the barn. The effect is hypnotic and doleful, and yet it's one of the most elegant horror films.

9. The Monster
There are bad mothers and there are monsters. In this story a young girl must learn the difference and face a grueling night of survival. Soaked in rain and enshrouded in darkness, the film succeeds in atmosphere and harrowing action, but at the core is a story of sorrow and loss. It also features one of the best performances by a young actress, Ella Ballentine.

10. Lights Out
What began as a frightening internet short has expanded to feature-length film under the mentorship of James Wan. The result is a thrilling concept film that is equally scary and dare I say it, original.

Art by Matt Chinn
11. The Neon Demon
Obtuse and undecipherable but always dazzling, this film from the director of Drive pits a naive girl against narcissists in the fashion world. It’s incredibly divisive but if you give yourself over to the pulsing rhythms and color soaked imagery, the ultimate horror of a dog-eat-dog world becomes clear.

12. Rats
Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) has created a nauseating documentary about rodents, edited to feel, sound and look like a horror movie. It’s a brilliant concept and no matter how squeamish, you just can’t turn away. Documentaries are supposed to educate the viewer about a subject and I have now been overeducated about rats. Success!

13. 31
The most surprising thing about Rob Zombie's latest film is how much I didn't completely hate it. It's one of his most accessible and entertaining films (with nods to The Running Man and Hunger Games) albeit super grisly and bloody.  The cast makes this far better than it should be, including a breakout performance by Richard Brake as a great new villain called Doom-Head. Although there's no argument that Zombie should stop casting his wife in lead roles.


Honorable Mentions:

The Autopsy of Jane Doe - A visceral spin on a dead girl with a great reveal.
Baskin - A French fever dream that ends in hell – literally.
Ghostbusters - These ladies are funny and deserved better from fans.
Hush - A clever home invasion yarn pitting assailant versus a deaf woman.
The Invitation - Is it just a weird dinner party or is it a cult?
Midnight Special - This is like a long-lost Stephen King and John Carpenter collaboration.
Ouija: Origin of Evil - It improves upon the original with spooky visuals and solid performances.
The Shallows - The best shark movie since Jaws? Sure.
They Look Like People - A disturbing head trip into psychosis – or alien abduction.
The Wailing - A very long but interesting South Korean ghost fable.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Department 56's Nightmare Before Christmas Village

Fans of Halloween villages or Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas take note: Introduced today are three buildings and figures from Department 56. This is now the third edition of this village (following Disney's retired village and Bradford Exchange's odd blacklight village) but coming from Dpeartment 56, the quality is sure to be superior. Each set of one figure and building is priced at $119 and will be available June 25, 2017. Order early since these kinds of products sell out well ahead of Halloween. Happy Friday the 13th!!




Monday, January 9, 2017

Under The Shadow: Now on Netflix!

One of the best movies of 2016, UNDER THE SHADOW is now available on Netflix streaming – a must watch!




Also on Netflix, Morgan Spurlock's disturbing and "horrified" documentary, RATS – definitely not for the squeamish.


Monday, December 5, 2016

Universal is bringing back it's classic monsters, again, but this time plans to make them dark and "scary" films. First up is THE MUMMY starring Tom Cruise. Here's the just released trailer: