100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Twenty-six - "Paranormal Activity!"


Hello to you all, faithful friends and readers.

Today's entry is brief but that's because I am REAL under the weather. Head, chest and throat are all in shitty condition. And the real kicker is a.) I have to meet with some HIV-positive kids tomorrow and shouldn't be feverish when I do. And b.) I'm supposed to go to the beach this weekend, but of course I am sick. I KNEW God would ruin my summer! LOUSY GOD!

So I hope you all can enjoy tonight's feature, the utterly terrifying "Paranormal Activity." All I can say to you is, believe the hype. The movie is so frightening people were walking out during test screenings and the trailers for the upcoming second film were so scary they pulled them from theaters in Texas. It's a quality film and I think you'll find it's closer to "The Blair Witch Project" than it is to "Quarantine" or "Cloverfield." Check The Skinny below!

Tomorrow's movie: B-Movie classic "Lady Frankenstein!"

Paranormal Activity (2009): Directed by Oren Peli. Starring Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston.

The Skinny: A young couple, amused by some strange goings-on in their apartment as they sleep, decide to set up a camera at night to see what they could see. However, as the trouble escalates, it becomes clear that this is no simple haunting or poltergeist – it is a malevolent entity with it’s eyes fixed on the young woman.

What’s Good: Actually, this is a pretty scary movie, if I may say so myself. Taking its cues from the superior “Blair Witch Project,” “Paranormal Activity” is presented as “found footage” of the couple’s videos after the events of the film have concluded. Of course, I won’t give that away here, but let’s just note that it isn’t “Home Alone.” Not only does it take the “found footage” aspect from “Blair Witch” but also the use of actors’ real names in place of character names. I don’t want to give the impression that this is a “Blair Witch” ripoff – many of which are out there, to be sure – but it is in the exact same vein. But where “Blair Witch” was utterly devoid of special effects and shot with mixed video with 8mm and black-and-white film stocks, “Paranormal Activity” is shot all on digital in clear color – even for the night scenes. There are also a few effects shots – such as when one of the main characters is dragged out of bed in the middle of the night. What is brilliant about the piece is the way it chooses to conceal rather than reveal the source of the disturbance – we never see a ghostly figure or hulking demon’s shadow. And although we pretty much know what’s happening by the end, the ultimate reason for the demonic obsession is never revealed.

What’s Bad: There are a few scenes where dialogue drags the piece out a bit too much. Plus, since there is no actual scripted dialogue (another “Blair Witch” feature), the actors come off like they’re in an improv workshop somewhere. Also, the jittery camera work, and the nighttime video, makes for an unpleasant viewing experience for some – particularly if you are sensitive to motion sickness. And while the actors seem to give their all at times, they are just B-Rate talent who do nothing more than react to the things they find on their footage from the night before. Only in the final third of the film do we see some real acting and not just “Okay, you and I are married and there’s a monster in the house!” kind of improvisational stuff. And, depending on how/where you get your copy (Internet, video rental, et cetera), there are THREE different endings, each with their own twisted take. I won’t reveal those endings to you, but trust that they are all very bleak.

Why We Like It: This is a damn scary movie if for just the fact that it actually seems very real … just like the “Blair Witch.” I don’t mean to keep making these comparisons, but they’re there – there are only so many of these “found footage” movies out there that are quality and this is one. My 12-year-old son put it perfectly: “This movie is scary because I believe it could happen to me.” Ergo, while he isn’t terrified of zombies or vampires (glittery or otherwise), he is afraid of the unknown. And aren’t we all?

Memorable Stuff: Much of the movie is the couple sleeping while strange things happen around them, so there isn’t much of a visual repertoire. The things I recall are the girl being dragged out of bed and down the hall by an unseen force and I have to admit – I do not know how the hell did they did that. Just trust me – watch it with a friend with the lights off and you’ll be scared shitless.