Every year around the same time, mid-September thru October, I begin to really get into the autumn way of things. I go to pumpkin patches, haunted houses and most importantly, the horror genre dominates the airwaves. ABC Family has “13 days of Halloween,” AMC has a month long horror film celebration with “Fear Fest,” SYFY Channel does “31 days of horror” and many other networks do their own variation of the sort. No matter what channel you watch or what movie you see on Netflix, chances are you are going to come across a film from the Halloween franchise. In lue of the recent 35th anniversary DVD release of the original film, I have decided to go though and review all 10 (YES-10) films in the franchise. So lets kick this baby off with the film that started it all!
Halloween … Read More »
I am a horror story fanatic. Give me a book filled with scares, a thunderstorm outside, and I’m in paradise. There’s something about a plot that can pull you in and make you face your deeper fears. A great story is an exaggeration of life and great horror is the exaggeration of death. Authors have known this since the first time cavemen and women painted on walls.
I’ve decided to split my list into books and categories to offer some alternative suggestions to the ones selected as the top. Feel free to try out any of these and let me know what you think.
It is debatable where to start. I think as good a point as any is the summer of 1816 with the extended vacation of Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Byron’s doctor John Polidori. Legend has … Read More »
Throughout September 2013 the town of Northampton in England was invaded by a mystery clown modelled on Pennywise the creepy character from Stephen King’s bestselling novel It.
Captured in a range of disturbing grainy photographs, frightened residents reported the clandestine clown lurking stony faced in the shadows, sometimes clutching a bunch of balloons and just staring. The clown’s identity or the reason behind these eerie appearances remains unknown but on Friday 13th a Facebook page Spot Northampton’s Clown appeared.
Using the page as a platform some terrified residents pleaded with the clown to stop but to no avail. One of the mysterious messages left by the clown begins with Pennywise’s catchphrase ‘’Beep, Beep! Didn’t think I’d be seen tonight. Extremely quiet but there were a few of you who saw. See you all around”. Some residents claim they suffer … Read More »
Ever since Bram Stoker started his classic novel Dracula, he put the world of the vampire directly in the hands of men. His count was a wealthy aristocrat, one from an exotic location with powers beyond anything society could imagine. The women of Stoker’s world existed at the whim of men and this was most likely a product of his time.
As film embraced the vampire, it followed suit. A stream of quality lead actors portrayed the creatures of the night. Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Gary Oldman, even Leslie Neilson and most recently Jonathan Rhys Meyers have all donned the cape. They have all been paired with sexy supplicants, women they’ve turned into wives to do their bidding and defend them against the Abraham Van Helsing’s of the world.
Finally, as film started yielding to other forms of … Read More »
It’s no surprise to fans that Jack Wallen is about to release the next novel in the I Zombie series, titled Cry Zombie Cry, in the next month. Mr. Wallen was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to discuss with Playwithdeath.com the latest in his beloved zombie series, as well as his journey from actor to author. With a Master’s of Fine Arts in acting, Mr. Wallen has a strong sense of what it takes to drive character development and give storytelling the dramatic “punch” required to lure in an audience. Some may not know that Mr. Wallen spent the first twenty years of his career as an actor, primarily working stage and Broadway shows. Part of the Colorado Shakespeare festival as well as spending a large portion of time as a resident actor in … Read More »
Father Gabriele Amorth, chief exorcist of the Catholic Church and head of the International Association of Exorcists, will be calling for open approval from Pope Francis for all priests to perform exorcisms, ending the need to request special permission based on individual criteria. Amorth’s conviction of the link between growing demonic possessions and an increasingly godless world is calling for the change after seeing the Pontiffs alleged exorcism in St Peters Square on a man known as Angel V.
Angel claims in the Spanish Newspaper El Mundo he was possessed by an energy he sensed whilst on a bus ‘something like a stake pierced my chest and, little by little, I had the sensation that it was opening my ribs’ ever since, he claims, it’s difficult to eat, breathe, sleep and he suffers blasphemous trances that enable him to speak in … Read More »
When word came out in 2011 that FX would be offering a show called American Horror Story, I was excited. When the word continued to say that it would be helmed by Ryan Murphy, my excitement faltered. I mean, how could the guy from Glee turn in a quality show with drama and scares. Now, at the start of the third season, Murphy has lived up to his acclaim and American Horror Story is at the top of the fear market on television.
The show is a mix of great casting, atmospheric effects, and a background of genuine urban legends. It has strong performances and multiple award winners in Jessica Lange, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, Zachary Quinto, Sarah Paulson, and Dylan McDermott. The new season has Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Gabourey Sibide. Let’s take a look at some of the … Read More »
Vampires are some of the oldest monsters we have. It’s no wonder they’ve been a source of fascination for centuries. Especially since Bram Stoker gave us Dracula, the penultimate vampire. With his book The Romance of Dracula Charles E. Butler chronicles the Count’s journey from his inception at Stoker’s hand to the modern day.
There’s a certain way a person talks or writes when they really love something. That’s exactly how Butler’s book reads. From the opening to the final closing notes, this is clearly a book written out of love for the genre and characters.
He guides the reader easily through the decades and shocking number of appearances the Count has had. He covers many of the incarnations and actors—Max Schreck, Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski, Gary Oldman, and Leslie Nielson just to name a few—and offers an in depth … Read More »
From 2001 to 2013, a look at thirteen strange, unique and grisly deaths you may have never heard of.
The absurdity of life can sometimes only be matched by the absurdity of death. Here are 13 odd exits from the land of the living.
2001: The Windshield
Who died and where: Gregory Biggs, age 37, Fort Worth, TX
Chante Jawan Mallard, addled by drugs and alcohol, was driving on a county road near Fort Worth, TX when she struck homeless man Gregory Biggs, lodging him in her windshield. Apparently unfazed, Mallard made her way home, driving down a six-lane highway and through town with Biggs’ body stuck in her windshield, his legs wrapped over and onto the car’s roof.
Mallard was kind enough to return to the garage throughout the night, apologizing repeatedly to Mr Biggs. Sometime in the night, Mallard stopped visiting Biggs, during … Read More »
With the Primetime Emmy nominations set to be announced next week (July 18, 2013), I don’t think anyone is holding their breath for The Walking Dead to be duly recognized in any of the major awards categories. Even though the show has been setting ratings records for AMC and was the most watched cable TV program in 2012, it’s just not likely that the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences is going to get over their bias against horror and sci-fi shows enough to give The Walking Dead the recognition it deserves.
Shows like FX’s American Horror Story, Showtime’s Dexter, and ABC’s Lost have shown that the Academy is somewhat more willing to honor non-traditional dramas with nominations than they were back in the days when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was snubbed year after year, in spite of the fact that … Read More »
Horror movie previews have a tough job to do. They need to capture the essence of a film in 3 minutes or less and give away enough of the film to make you want to see it, but not so much that they spoil the surprises of the film. Audiences don’t want to feel disappointed because all of the scariest stuff was shown in the preview, and since most horror movies will lose a chunk of their potential audience when they get slapped with an R-rating, the pressure is really on for studios to crank out great previews that make even a mediocre movie look like a must-see cinema event. They want to disturb the audience enough to leave them saying, “I have got to see that movie!”
Here are several horror movie previews for some upcoming 2013 films, as well … Read More »
If you spend any amount of time watching scary movies, you know they are packed from beginning to end with stupid people who do stupid things that get themselves killed. You usually can identify these horror movie morons quite easily because they are the ones who make you stand up and start yelling at the screen. Of course, what you should and should not do in a scary, crisis situation always seems so obvious when you’re sitting in the theater and the creepy music starts to play and you suspect something is about to happen. But, without that creepy music to warn you of impending danger, are you still vigilant enough to avoid doing the things that would get you killed if you were in a horror movie?
Here’s a list of 10 stupid things that horror movies teach us we … Read More »
One of the main reasons December 2012 is linked with a number of doomsday predictions is that many people believe the “Mayan calendar” ends in December of 2012 and they think that was the Maya’s way of predicting the end of the world.
By now, most people have probably heard that the Maya didn’t believe the world was going to end in 2012. But, if the Maya didn’t believe doomsday was coming with the end of their calendar, then why do so many people think they did? What is the origin of this doomsday belief?
The origins of this myth read like an academic soap opera and a conspiracy to manipulate the public for profit that has been building up for over 1,000s of years. Several factors throughout history have perpetuated the myth. To understand them, we need to go back to the … Read More »
The terms “Armageddon” and “apocalypse” have become synonymous with the end of the world. They have been used to describe various earth-destroying events brought on by some form of natural disaster, or an interstellar object colliding with the earth, or even a horde of rampaging zombies. The term apocalypse, however, is derived from the Greek word “apokalupsis,” which doesn’t mean global annihilation, but instead means a prophetic disclosure or a “revelation.” The source of the term Armageddon reveals that its intended meaning is tied to a specific set of circumstances that lead not to end of the earth itself, but to the large-scale destruction of mankind.
What is Armageddon?
The concept of Armageddon originated from Christian theology, so the details of its meaning are inseparable from the Christian prophesy that inspired it and must be considered within that context. The term comes … Read More »
People have been killing each other since the beginning of time, some for money, some for land and some for religion.
Other killers kill just for fun, because they feel they have to, or in one case because a dog told him to.
The chart below shows the amount of serial killings from 1960 until now.
Let’s just take a look at some of the highlights of the 1970-80’s
1978-1992: Jeffrey Dahmer was convicted of killing 17 men and young boys mainly in Milwaukee. His killings involved things such as dismemberment, cannibalism, necrophilia, and even rape. He was killed in prison by another inmate during the year of 1994.
1977-1978: Ted Bundy was found guilty of slaying three people in Florida one of whom was a 12-year-old girl. Right before he was executed he admitted to killing more than 30 victims. He was executed by … Read More »
Why are people so afraid of zombies and what would happen if there were really a zombie apocalypse? These questions and more are discussed in a 90-minute documentary special titled “Zombies: A Living History” by the A&E Television Networks’ History.com.
Zombies traces the history of zombie-like creatures in folklore, literature and entertainment to as far back as the Epic of Gilgamesh, and explores their relation to other undead creatures from various legends and mythologies, including the Scandinavian “Drauger,” which was said to be a person who comes back from the dead as an unstoppable, savage zombie with a craving for human flesh.
Also covered is the difference between the traditional Haitian zombie, a person whose mind is controlled by voodoo, and the modern, post-apocalyptic zombie, made famous by George Romero’s 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, that is typically created by … Read More »
The creativity and inventiveness of the human mind is not only evident in the centuries of fine art and music collected throughout history. It’s also evident in the devices and vast number of methods that mankind has created to destroy one another throughout the ages. Whether it’s killing one person accused of committing a crime or of being a witch, or slaughtering people en mass as an act of war or terrorism, humanity has turned killing into a sinister and macabre form of art. In this series, we will look at the kinds of devices created when mankind’s creativity and inventiveness are unleashed in combination with their tendency for insatiable bloodlust.
The Brazen Bull was a particularly unique combination of artistry and bloodlust that dates back to Sicily in the 6th century A.D. The bull sculptures were forged out of bronze … Read More »
If the fans of Dark Shadow were vampires themselves, the recently released trailer for Tim Burton’s upcoming remake of the classic soap opera would have been enough to drive a stake through their hearts.
Prior to the release of the trailer, fans were only treated to still images of a ghostly Johnny Deep in character as Barnabas Collins, the tragic and tortured character credited for making the original soap opera series a cult classic. But with the release of the trailer for Burton’s film, fans realized that Burton had done the unthinkable. He had taken their beloved Gothic tale of love and loss and turned it into a comedy.
While the original series, which ran from 1966-1971 on ABC, is now considered to be campy and melodramatic, creator Dan Curtis’s original take was intended to be dark, mysterious, and rarely ever intentionally … Read More »
Belief of a deceased soul being reborn into that of a new body is nothing new. The concept of reincarnation has been around since before the Middle Ages. Many religions believe the next step after death is to be begin again, to be reborn. It’s a carousel. Although the details of reincarnation vary, the basic idea remains intact.
The 1977 film “Audrey Rose” revolves around an 11 year old adolescent named Ivy Templeton. Ivy’s parents start to notice a strange man hanging around more frequently than considered normal. Ivy’s parents, Janice and Bill, come to discover that the man, Elliot Hoover, believes that Ivy is the reincarnation of his daughter Audrey Rose, who was killed in a fatal car accident along with his wife. Elliot has acquired the information of … Read More »
When you watch a movie like Halloween or Aliens, it becomes perfectly clear how an effective musical score can heighten the emotion of a film. John Carpenter’s simple yet erie piano arrangement in Halloween is probably as synonymous with the film series as Jamie Lee Curtis and Michael Myers themselves. And James Horner’s score for Aliens was so successful at creating a feeling of fear and frenzied military-versus-alien chaos that several other movies used Aliens’ music in their trailers to make their less exciting films seem more interesting.
This underscores how music is a key element that needs to be considered when making a horror film. A well-edited soundtrack can give even a low-budget film some extra production value. It could be the difference between a finished product that looks like a carefully planned and produced labor of love, or a … Read More »
During World War II human experimentation was on the rise. While the Nazi party was busy exterminating the Jews and conducting human experiments on twins, the Japanese Imperial Empire was conducting human experiments contributing to the evolution of Chemical and Biological Warfare. Unit 731, based in Pingfang in the district of Harbin (now Northeast China), was the headquarters to 9 subsidiary units, all of which participated in human experimentation; Unit 516, Unit 543, Unit 773, Unit 100, Unit EI 1644, Unit 1855, Unit 8604, Unit 200, Unit 9420.
While each unit was equally heinous in there procedures, Unit 100 specialized in research dealing with diseases originating from animals. To sum it up they produced disease, which were then spread via animal carriers.
Unit EI 1644 determined human susceptibility to harmful stimuli, for example infectious disease and … Read More »
“This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil-and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define it. I am almost ashamed to own–yes, even in this felon’s cell, I am almost ashamed to own–that the terror and horror with which the animal inspired me, had been heightened by one of the merest chimeras it would be possible to conceive.”
Edgar Allan Poe, “The Black Cat”
The fear of black cats dates back many centuries. During the Middle Ages the superstition of black cats was so rampant that many people engaged in the killing of black cats. This in turn led to an increased rat population which aided in the Bubonic Plague, a.k.a the Black Death. But why? Felines had lived beside humans, and in some countries even held in higher regards, for … Read More »
If you’ve ever watched a horror or adventure movie set in the South American Amazon, it’s likely you’ve seen a moment in the film where the unsuspecting adventurer comes upon an ancient burial site or an abandoned city decorated with shrunken human heads to scare off any who would dare encroach upon the sacred or forbidden areas. It’s become a cinematic cliché representing impending danger from uncivilized, native, Amazon people.
But is there a real-life basis for the cliché? Is it actually possible to shrink a human head, and was the Amazon region populated with cultures that did so on a regular basis?
There was actually only one culture in human history that engaged in the practice of shrinking heads. They were called the Jivaro Indians and they lived in the Ecuadorian and Peruvian regions of the Amazon. The Jivaro Indians were … Read More »
In 1848, 2 young sisters were believed to have contacted the spirit of a peddler with whom they communicated through rapping. Basically, they would ask a question the spirit would answer by knocking on the floor, the wall, wherever. 1 knock for “yes,” 2 knocks for “no.” With this belief they not only started the religious movement of Spiritualism, but initiated the phenomena of what we now call the Ouija Board. The Fox sisters, Kate 12 and Maggie 15, were already living in a supposed haunted house in Hydesville, New York (now Arcadia, NY), when on March 31st the youngest challenged the spirit to imitate the sounds of her snapping fingers. It did. The spirit was then asked to rap out the girls ages. It did again. From there, a rapping code … Read More »
The one commonality among most serial killers is that they suffer from mental illness. The term “mental illness” covers a broad spectrum of maladies. With that said, let’s take a look and see which mental illness makes for the best horror movie.
There is a stigma that serial killers have multiple personalities, clinically known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. The most famous case of this disorder is demonstrated in 1976’s “Sybil”. Sally Field (“you like me, you really like me”) portrays Sybil a mild mannered, quiet woman whose horrific abuse suffered during childhood lead her to house 13 different distinct personalities (11 female, 2 male). Most of whom were not aware of each other. The film is based on a true story, although there are many critics who refute the validity. In any case you would think with 13 different “people” living … Read More »
Robert Plant would like to know “Does anyone remember laughter?” I don’t know about you but I laugh at the most inappropriate moments. I laugh when someone falls, I sometimes laugh in church at the old choir woman singing off key, I laugh when I’m nervous, and I laugh when I’m scared. I was hysterical during the scene in Rest Stop when Joey Lawrence was lying on that grimy bathroom floor as a double amputee and let out a “Whoaaa” from his “Blossom” days. It’s there, watch it. Or how about another moment in “Rest Stop” when Nicole flings open the curtain and there’s Scotty with his Polaroid camera. I laughed at the one scene because it was ridiculously awesome and the other because it was completely unexpected. Another example would be Tangina from “Poltergeist.” As cute of a woman … Read More »
How true are the movies we watch? We see relentless advertisements stating movies are based on a true story, based on actual events, inspired by a true story, so on and so forth. So how accurate are they? How much actually has to match the real life scenario before this statement is valid?
Most of our classics have these statements tagged along with them somewhere, dating all the way back to Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece “Psycho”. Norman Bates’ mother-loving character was inspired by Ed Gein of Wisconsin. Norman, like Ed, was an abused child who liked to dress up as a woman in the latter years of life. Ed, however, chose to wear their skin instead of loose fitting Amish dresses. Both social, quiet mannered outcasts, Norman kept his mother in the basement while Mr. Gein murdered women and robbed corpses … Read More »
“Extra Sensory Perception”, or more commonly referred to as ESP is a phenomena that has been studied, criticized and outright ostracized for decades. You may ask yourself “so what?” Well, this is a horror website so we might as well get some of our basic paranormal facts straight. So lets start with a bit of history, shall we? J.B. Rhine (Joseph Banks Rhine) was a botanist who developed an interest in the paranormal and eventually started the parapsychology department at Duke University. Along with breaking ground on the Blue Devils campus he also helped in founding the Journal of Parapsychology, Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, and the Para psychological Association. Although much due credit is given to Rhine for his work, Frederic Myers is the one who actually coined the term Extra Sensory Perception.
J.B. Rhine and his … Read More »
April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. It’s a tragic story that has been retold countless times. A well-known tale about the largest passenger steam ship of its time and its many famous and wealthy passengers. One of the most often repeated details of the tragedy is how it inspired changes in maritime laws because the ship didn’t have enough lifeboats for all of its passengers. It’s also common knowledge that the voyage ended in disaster when the Titanic stuck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic, killing an estimated 1,500 people.
But one grim detail that is often overlooked in the recounting of the Titanic story is the fate of all those who never made it into a lifeboat. We know that they died. But how? And what happened to their bodies? Of … Read More »
What do you love about horror films? The blood? The gore? The Special Effects? Being able to laugh off that you were so scared you almost pissed yourself? We enjoy all of it. Sometimes what we watch makes for insomnia filled nights and not wanting to eat the next morning. ”A Serbian film”, in its own unique way, provides everything we look for in a good horror flick. It makes your stomach turn, it floats around in your thoughts after the final credits have rolled, it gives you the nightmares we ask of every good flick. So why is the world so upset? Why do certain countries and governments feel the need to ban then re-release it after 49 cuts resulting 4 minutes and 11 seconds of removed footage? Which by the way, is the most … Read More »