I’ve seen every episode of Supernatural way too many times. It’s not healthy, but I can’t control myself. I can’t even claim I can stop anytime, because that would be a lie.

It seemed wrong not to re-watch at least one ghost-centric episode this month specifically in honor of Ghost Month. (Ghost Month? Is that what I’m calling it? I keep getting confused. I’m tagging everything for 2010 31ghosts, by the way, in case you need to catch up).

I was having trouble deciding which episode to choose, so I let my Tivo, Overlord II, choose for me. The first episode it selected was…the first episode. It’s not bad for a pilot episode. Sam and Dean solve a mystery involving a woman in white, which in the show’s lore is a variation on the Latin American myth of La Llorona.

I was going to embed the opening scene from the episode, which is chock full of Supernatural mythology, but embedding is blocked. Here’s a link, instead.

I’m sure I have more to say about Supernatural and I’m sure there were better ghost episodes than this one, but Husband just walked in and we got distracted obsessing over Escape from Dinosaur Kingdom and I lost my train of thought.

HELLBOUND is a wondrously hilariously terrible movie. How bad? This bad. It’s now available on netflix streaming. Your weekend plans just made themselves.

You’re welcome.

I watched Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining again. I’ve seen this movie a fair number of times but this is the first time I’ve seen a really good HD transfer of it. The richness of the colors was astonishing and the sound in 5.1? Way, way creepier than the terrible mixes I’ve heard in the past. I’ve always found the cinematography and the sound design impressive, but the vibrancy of the movie is stunning and you really should watch it on Blu-ray.

While I was watching the movie in my dimly-lit living room, I thought I saw something move in my peripheral vision. This is when I discovered that our television is now at exactly the right angle to reflect off of the glass doors of the bookcases that line the wall behind the couch. This discovery took several years off my life.

I backed up the movie and managed to get a fairly accurate photo of what I saw when i looked across the room. The demarcation of the television screen wasn’t as sharp in reality as it is in the picture so the effect was much creepier. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

In a word? Yes.

The 1990 mega-hit Ghost starred Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze’s chest, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg. It was so awesome that it’s been reworked and is currently in previews before heading to London’s otherwise theatrically respectable West End as a musical. Of course it is.

I would like points for having the self-restraint not to suggest that “Patrick Swayze’s Nipples” would make a fantastic band name.

You’re welcome.

Ghost is ham-fisted, but it’s not incompetent. Director Jerry Zucker, part of the genius team that created the Airplane movies, knows what he’s doing. That said, I suspect that no one quite knew what to do with this movie. To be fair, it’s not the worst movie ever, it’s just a muddle of too many genres, each given a shallow treatment. It starts out with a spooky title sequence then transitions abruptly to that staple of the late 80s: New York City Real Estate Porn. Goldwyn and Swayze use sledghammers to knock out a huge wall to make the gigantic amazing loft that characters Sam and Molly just moved into super-gigantic. Barechested, natch. Then it’s a lovestory. Then it’s a mystery. Then it’s a wacky slapstick comedy. Then it’s a ghost story. Then it’s Sam running around barechested again. Can someone please give that man a shirt?

Whoopi Goldberg as medium Oda Mae Brown and Vincent Schiavelli as the ghost-mentor who saves Sam’s bacon turn in great performances. It also has Stephen Root in a small role as a cop. Root has been in pretty much everything you’ve ever seen but is probably most famous for playing Milton in Office Space. Root and I were born in the same hospital. I’m running out of things to say about this movie.

Patrick Swayze & his chest (Sam) and Demi Moore (Molly) apparently have no family or friends other than Carl Bruner (Goldwyn). Despite the fact that they work in a huge bank, Sam and Carl seem to only work together. Sam gets killed and the mystery to be solved is: which one of his one colleague is ripping him off? I can overlook the primitive CGI, Demi Moore rocking a serious Moe, and the uneven Acting. But I can’t overlook that the mystery at the core of the movie isn’t mysterious. At all. And that’s just annoying.

I’ve already identified my mistake. This isn’t a morning-coffee sort of movie unless you routinely put kahlua in your coffee. I wanted to start the day with Beetlejuice but netflix streaming wasn’t cooperating so I thought this would be an okay film to jump ahead to.

If memory serves, I saw this movie at The Avalon with EvilAgent not long after we started working together in 1990. The theatre was packed and we couldn’t stop giggling every time one of the bad guys died and the “dark spirits” came for them. Those weren’t supposed to be the funny parts, or so I’ve been told.

And now, just for you: Puppies Parody The Famous Ghost Pottery Scene:

Because we’re super-cool, we’re often way ahead the culture curve and see hip new things long before mere mortals do. Other times, not so much.

Thus it was that Husband and I didn’t watch Paranormal Activity until over a year after it was released. It grossed almost $200 million at the box office, so I’m sure some of you got to it before we did.

It’s not that we hadn’t heard of it, it just kept slipping down the priority list. This being ghost movie/book/tv show/comic book/breakfast cereal month, I decided it was high time I bumped it to the top of the Netflix.

The summary: Katie and Micah live in a house. Katie and Micah keep hearing things go bump in the night. Katie knows not to screw around with whatever it is. Micah is a dick and does it anyway, putting video cameras in strategic locations in their home to try to capture evidence of the ghost or demon. What part of “put the ouija board down,” did you not understand, Micah?

I wasn’t sure how to describe the movie without spoilers, but this so-so trailer shows some of the things I was going to point out, so maybe they aren’t exactly spoilers anyway:

It’s a fairly creepy little movie that gives you a few good jumps. Something creepy happens, we see it, the story moves on. The lack of lingering is really what’s so effective to me – the scenes just pile up as these people are being inexorably marched to their doom. Or at least Micah is, we hope, because Micah, as I may have mentioned, is a dick.

The most effective scares: the bedroom door slamming, the footprints in the flour, and that swinging chandelier. I don’t think knowing they’re in the movie makes them less creepy or ruins the fun, either. Two of the creepiest scenes, to me, involve Katie merely getting out of bed in the middle of the night and standing by the bed for prolonged periods of time. She’s not doing anything, she’s just staring at Micah while he sleeps. It’s unnerving. This movie might not be the best use of 86 minutes, but it’s not the worst either.

Here’s the trailer for the sequel. They provided the embed code, so I shall embed. Plus, while I was capturing the code I accidentally let the trailer play a second time and I found that stopping it or moving it forward or back at a few points reveals creepy images you don’t see at regular speed. It was unnerving to find it accidentally. The end of the trailer is actually an amusingly clever use of Flash.

I haven’t read anything about the second one, but babies are inherently creepy, so there you go.

Happy haunting!

A few weeks ago, I posted about the excellent invitation I received to a new painting exhibit, House – 13 new works by Andrew Wodzianski. Tonight was the opening and the paintings are really great.

I was meeting Veronica for dinner and drinks so I got to the gallery early – allowing me to get the full effect of the nurses standing by in case any audience members should be unable to handle the shock of what they were about to view. It made me giggle gleefully, because I’m a huge b-movie nerd.

Opening night: Flashpoint Gallery hosts House - 13 new works by Andrew Wodziansk

Andrew wasn’t in evidence, although in true William Castle fashion, he was rumored to be laying in the coffin.

Opening night: Flashpoint Gallery hosts House - 13 new works by Andrew Wodziansk

The paintings are quite good, especially if you’re a fan. (Of both Andrew and b-movies). I didn’t think I could do justice to them so I’ll wait til Andrew posts some images and link to them directly.

Opening night: Flashpoint Gallery hosts House - 13 new works by Andrew Wodziansk

Appropriately enough, I arrived home tonight to see that Overlord II, my tivo, had recorded Matinee for me, Joe Dante’s amusing send-up of the genre. At least I think it was amusing, I haven’t seen it since it came out in 1993. Guess I’ll just have to watch it and see…

Haunted houses and other spooky things will be the over-all theme of this year’s Halloween movie marathon.

I was already leaning in that direction when I received a really cool item in the mail yesterday, which I took as a sign.


I thought to myself, “Self, this looks like a little coffin.” Then House on Haunted Hill sprang to mind and I giggled at what a big nerd I am and sliced open the box. Turns out, it was a little coffin, and this was inside:


The intriguing package contained an invitation to Andrew Wodzianski’s upcoming exhibit at Flashpoint.

October 8 – November 7, 2009
Andrew Wodzianski’s paintings lift imagery from William Castle’s b-movie horror flick from 1959, House on Haunted Hill. While a painting exhibition in its own right, House will also incorporate the gimmickry and audience participation for which director Castle was legendary. Visitors to the gallery will be invited to participate in a scavenger hunt and will ultimately have the chance to win a painting from the exhibition. On Friday, October 30, a costume party will be held in conjunction with the exhibition.

You can join in the scavenger hunt by following Andrew (@HouseHuntDC) on Twitter.


How cool is that?

So, Halloween is right around the corner and I need to get to work deciding what, if any, the theme of this year’s Halloween movie marathon will be. Last year it was Frankenstein’s Monster (mostly). Of course other movies worked their way into the mix, thanks to our Tivo, Overlord.

I’m leaning towards werewolves. Or possibly haunted houses. No zombie or vampires – been there, done that.

Maybe I’ll do a movie-a-day for the entire month of October and allow for multiple themes. I’ll be at a conference for a few days, but it’s about the state of the music industry, radio, and telecom & internet policy so it will be rather like watching horror movies every day. Also have a daytrip to DisneyWorld for mom’s birthday. Some would argue that in itself is pretty horrific, but I’m looking forward to it. Plus, I do so love the Haunted Mansion. We went to Disney a lot when I was growing up (got to do something with the parade of visiting relatives) so I pretty much have a photographic mental map of the ride, and yet I still love it. I suppose this would be a good occasion to finally watch The Haunted Mansion, I’ve never gotten around to it.

Well, what do you think? Werewolves? Ghosts? I was going to post an actual poll but everyone one I installed had a glitch of one kind or another and time was slipping away. You can vote in the comments.

First up, was Barack Obama. Then, Bride of Frankenstein. I’d forgotten how wooden the preamble is. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron gather on the proverbial dark and stormy night to babble about Mary’s unpublished novel. Mary is certain it’ll be published one day. Lord Byron rapturously summarizes the major beats of the story while the viewer sees a montage of these very same events. They suspiciously resemble the arc of the film, not the novel. Fortunately, it’s over in mercifully short order and Mary begins to tell a new tale, the story of the creation of the Bride of the Monster. Elsa Lanchester, who had a lengthy and varied career (all those Disney movies!), plays both Mary Shelley and the Bride.

Bride of the Frankenstein features the creepy scene where mad Dr. Pretorious shows Dr. Frankenstein his success growing tiny, Barbie-sized people who he keeps in Bell Jars. What makes the scene particularly disturbing is the whimsical music, it underscores the complete of Pretorius and his complete disconnection with that funny little thing called sanity.

It’s a fine film, once you get through that preamble (it’s only a few minutes long, use it to open a bottle of wine), Director James Whale was truly an artist. The fictionalized film about Whale’s death, Gods and Monsters, takes it’s name from a line in Bride of Frankenstein. Boris Karloff is terrific as the Monster. The pop culture image of the Monster is that of a lumbering, emotionless creature. The Monster of the book, and the first two films, is anything but. The scene with the blind man in the cabin, where the Monster cautiously makes his first friend, is quite moving.

Next up, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, which was on at 10 instead of 8 because of the Obama-thon.

I watched Son of Frankenstein and have already posted about it and about the epic decline in quality the franchise suffered after Bride, so I pushed ahead to 1942’s Ghost of Frankenstein. In Son of Frankenstein, the Doctor’s son, Wolf, inherited the castle, the crazy hunchback, Ygor, and, of course, the monster. (Who is now played by Lon Chaney, Jr).

In Ghost, Wolf’s brother, Ludwig, takes up dear old dad’s work after the villagers capture the monster, who it turns out escaped with Ygor at the end of Son. Wackiness ensues. Or maybe that’s the wine talking.

After an intermission to watch Obama on the Daily Show, I planned to move on to House of Dracula, except I realized it hadn’t arrived yet. I also realized that I don’t really care so I skipped on to House of Frankenstein. I should note that House of Dracula marks the debut of Glenn Strange as the Monster. Lon Chaney, jr remains, but now plays Lawrence Talbet/the Wolf Man. John Carradine plays Dracula. Bela is nowhere to be seen. This cast remains the same for House of Frankenstein, and I should mention that Lionel Atwill gamely continues to play the Inspector.

Three Frankensteins were enough for one night. Plus, I was out of wine, so I watched Rachel Maddow and went to bed.

Not the 1982 remake featuring Nastassja Kinski, the 1942 Val Lewton classic featuring the fabulous Simone Simon and all those gorgeous great cats depressingly contained in small cages with cement floors. (Guess which one is one the Library of Congress United States National Film Registry? Not the 1982 remake featuring Nastassja Kinski).

It’s amusing to listen to film geeks bickering about whether this one is technically Film Noir or Horror, I don’t see why it can’t be both. Regardless, it’s got great sound design – the swimming pool scene! – and it’s still lots of fun.