THE MADNESS: Darkness – Week 2

Sam of Trick 'R Treat. And lots of Jack O Lanterns

Well, I got several secret bonuses last week for The Madness by being totally OCD and posting right at noon Friday, but lost Saturday and reaping the consequences this week of the lost day and lost momentum. Fortunately I had a lot of time to try to make things up this week or this would have been a lot worse. Plus I didn’t realize how much horror I watch without trying, particularly TV.

Secret Bonuses?

The Shrine – 84 minutes (Secret bonus, mist/fog) – What is with people who insist on doing stupid things that put themselves and others in danger? Some pesky reporter gets her friends to go to Poland looking for a missing person and they stumble upon some unfriendly locals who chase them away. Then they go back and find a dense and very defined fog. That’s where I would say, “Bye!” But no, they enter and right off the bat it’s demon statues that turn and face you when you aren’t looking. BYE, already! Started good but degenerated into shameless Linda Blair ripoff. 2 stars

Pitch Black – 109 minutes (possible secret bonus? Radha Mitchell, Vin Diesel, monsters that attack at night, holed up in cave?) – Great action movie with a new twist on monsters that attack at night, with the unpredictability of a different planet’s solar schedule. So disappointing that Vin and Radha never got to hook up. 4 stars

Dracula: 2000 – 99 minutes (other possible secret bonus from 2000? Wes Craven producer, vampires, destroyed by sunlight) I know it’s kind a cheesy, but I’m a sucker for New Orleans and I love the Judas twist. 3.5 stars

Willow – 125 minutes (Billy Barty, descent into darkness?) I was convinced this was going to be the 20 point bonus, but the descent into darkness element isn’t clear to me. Willow and Meegosh fall through the ground when they encounter the Brownies, so maybe that counts? They all enter Queen Bavmorda’s castle, which is a place of darkness, literally and metaphorically, yet I’m not sure that qualifies? I’m not sure this is the one. There really should have been a Val Kilmer wild card though. This kind of fantasy is not really my thing, but I’ll give it 3.5 stars for having such an unconventional hero.

Madness Viewing party (30 points):

The Darkness – 102 minutes (darkness in title, attacks in dark, secret room, power outage, Anna Paquin, Lena Olin) – Creepy little thriller in Ana’s pre-Sookie days. 4 stars

The creepy clown in The Hole. BURN THE FUCKING HOUSE DOWN ALREADY.

The Hole – 91 minutes (pit) – How many dirty “hole” double entendres can be packed in one film and how many creepy doll attacks before you burn that fucking house down already! 4 stars for creepy doll, even if it did get silly in the end. 3.5 stars

The Ghost and the Darkness – 109 minutes (Darkness in title) – Is it just me or is Val Kilmer popping up a lot? I couldn’t help but think of Cecil through this and it made me sad. 3.5 stars

More Horror Movies

The Company of Wolves – 95 min (Werewolf) This is one of my favorites, directed by Neil Jordan with a twist on the Little Red Riding Hood theme, and some serious sexual tension from the Big Bad Wolf. Dreamy and surreal… 4.5 stars

Ginger Snaps – 109 minutes (Werewolves, Emily Perkins, Mimi Rogers used to be married to Tom Cruise, can that count?) I obviously love weird sisters with the same interests and the photos are amazing in the opening credits, even inspiring me on a photoshoot to make my own poison tea party. Mimi Rogers is hilarious as the clueless mom. 5 stars

Nastasha tea party

Darkness Falls – 85 minutes (darkness in title, attacks in dark, destroyed by light) A sick twist on the tooth fairy legend, which is sort of predictable but I sort of like this one anyway. 3.5 stars

Silent Hill – 125 minutes (attacks during darkness, Radha Mitchell, going down into underground?) I sort of wrote this off when it first came out, not liking the monster in it, but now love the creepy atmosphere and you have to love the skinning scene. 4 stars

The Mist – 126 minutes (mist,) What a cruel, cruel ending. Half the cast of The Walking Dead and yes, Carol is a badass survivor even before zombies. Didn’t love or hate it particularly. 2.5 stars

30 Days of Night – 113 minutes (vampires, killed by daylight, extended darkness) Finally some scary vampires in the age of twinkle toes Edward. That’s how you make a damn vampire movie, and Ben Foster may have had a small role, but was brilliant as always. Am I the only on who thinks Danny Huston sort of reminds you of a vampiric Anthony Bourdain? 4.5 stars

The House that Dripped Blood – 102 minutes (vampires, Christopher Lee) I love these three stories, featuring Lee and Peter Cushing in separate tales. 5 stars

sir christopher lee Oh how we miss you Sir Christopher

Sleepy Hollow – 105 minutes (attack at night, Christopher Lee, horseman and witch buried in tree) Still my favorite Tim Burton film, paying homage to the days of Hammer with Sir Christopher and throwing in Johnny Depp as bonus. Divine. 5 stars

Underworld – 121 minutes (both vampires AND werewolves, subway/underground tunnels, destroyed by sunlight) Vampires vs werewolves. Like vampires could really win. 4.5 stars

The Thing – 106 minutes (Rob Bottin, arctic, hidden tunnel under floor) The winter/arctic movies we did for the warm up were good, but this is the best. When John Carpenter is on he’s really on. 5 stars

Queen of the Damned – 101 minutes (vampires, Lena Olin) I really like this one because I want to live in London and join the Talamasca, so I live vicariously through Jessie. (Yet another use for a degree in demonology) 4 stars

The Ninth Gate – 133 minutes (Lena Olin). Vintage books on the devil. French apartments with massive libraries of aforementioned books on the devil. Johnny Depp. Castles. How can I not love it? 5 stars

The Howling – 91 minutes (Rob Bottin, werewolves) This is still one of the scariest werewolf movies to me, and those smiley face stickers get under my skin. 4.5 stars

Trick ‘R Treat – 83 minutes (werewolves, quarry qualifies as big pit?, Anna Paquin, victim being buried comes to life) This is a modern classic and now a Halloween tradition. Just the right mix of cheeky and creepy. 5 stars

TV Shows

Walking Dead – 90 minutes Season Premiere I wasn’t too impressed with the season premiere, or maybe my expectations are just too high. 3 stars

Fear the Walking Dead X2 “Cobalt” and “The Good Man” – 60 and 60 minutes (power outages) I just didn’t get into this spinoff, and didn’t watch the last two episodes till this week. Pretty strong ending, but the whole season I kept wondering why that girl never did go back and check on her boyfriend. Huge plot issue for me. 3 stars, 3.5 stars

Face Off – 60 minutes The finalists were chosen but none of the makeups really blew my away this episode. Kinda “meh” 2.5 stars

Scream Queens – 60 minutes “Pumpkin Patch” (night vision) More silly, campy fun and sorority hijinks, but the novelty is starting to wear off a little. Need a little more than Chanel being a bitch and Niecy Nash. 3.5 stars

American Horror Story: Hotel – 60 minutes “Chutes and Ladders” (vampires, forcibly walled up, “buried” alive in mattress?, secret game room for vamp kids) Uh-oh, I’m seeing signs of going campy again this season, with Evan Peters’ flashbacks of a serial killer and a fashion show? Oh please, keep it dark and glamorously creepy. 3.5 stars

Supernatural – 60 minutes S11E2 (darkness spreading thoughout world) I love Sam and Dean, but oh, it’s getting really tired. And they are tormenting us with the impending death of Cass, making it look like he’s about to be a goner, then saving him. You are cruel Robert Singer and company. 2.5 stars

Check in to THE MADNESS: DARKNESS Week 1!!!

American Horror Story: Hotel
First things first, this blog has been on hiatus because of some douchebag hackers who felt the need to destroy years of work to post phishing sites and spam people. Thanks fuckheads. So the design still needs work and there are still a lot of graphics that need to be uploaded all over again because even though I had a backup copy of the writing, pretty much everything else was lost. But on the good side, “The Madness” is one of the vehicles helping to light a fire under me to get the blog going again.

For those reading this that aren’t familiar with The Madness, it’s a contest with a different theme each year that runs throughout October, awarding points for watching various horror movies. There are tons of bonus points and extras that can be earned by following along with the theme or doing extra activities, and the theme this year is Descent into Darkness or the fear of the dark. That’s a pretty broad theme with tons of great horror movies and TV shows that fit into it, which begs the question: why the hell have I been binge watching Ghost Adventures? But I’ll get to that a little bit later and have a separate post that addresses that burning question.

So, this is my first year of The Madness, but I’m feeling the pressure of trying to live up to my sister, Emily, who came in second place last year as a rookie. She’s not in the contest this year because she’s completely dropped off of Facebook altogether, but I’m trying to carry the torch for the Price sisters (no relation to Vincent, I’m sorry to say.) I’m sure I’ll fall far short with everything my plate right now, but I gave it my best shot here in the first week of my first year, fully exploiting the rule about counting movie reviews posted during the week, which means tons of new posts going up in the next four weeks. Basically, as soon as I get home to the hotel after work, the Roku goes on and the films and TV shows play till I go to bed. But I guess living in a hotel also minimizes my distractions on weekends, because it is  around-the-clock horror between periods of sleep. Yeah, it’s crazy. But then, that’s why they call it The Madness!

I tried to focus on some of the “secret” bonus movies to try to maximize my points since I’ve fallen behind in the early bird games. Since I have to add a star rating, let’s make it 1 – 5 stars with 5 being the best. Here we go:

Creep 2004 85 min (SECRET BONUS? London Underground, creature that lives in darkness, finale in dark) – FULL REVIEW – I KNOW this has to be one of the secret bonuses, with Franka Potente trapped in the London underground with a pervy creep then a homicidal one. A little hard to believe she fell asleep and missed the last train, but if you go with it, a very scary little film with a particularly gruesome medical scene. Where is Jason Bourne when you need him? 4 stars

Near Dark 94 min (Bonus: Kathryn Bigelow, vampires, monster destroyed by sunlight, 1987 Secret Bonus?) – FULL REVIEW – One of my favorite vampire movies ever, doing a western style take on the genre. Bigelow recruited several of ex-hubby James Cameron’s actors, and used James LeGros in another of her films, Point Break. Moody and gritty, and you simply can’t go wrong with Lance Henrikson. 5 stars

Catacombs 92 min (Bonus: catacombs) – FULL REVIEW – This was the better of the two Paris catacombs films I thought, where Pink plays a jackass-y character who invites her sister to Paris for the sole purpose of terrorizing her and making fun of her it appears. They go to a party in the catacombs and of course mousy, bullied sister gets separated and lost. I am never going down in that shit. NEVER, y’all. 3 stars

As Above, So Below 93 min (Bonus: catacombs, finale in dark) – FULL REVIEW – An entirely loathesome main character I wanted to kill throughout the film because she gives exactly zero fucks about putting anyone in danger for the advancement of her “research.” They throw in some weird supernatural happenings in this one which I would normally like, but I really didn’t get it overall. Another film that claustrophobics like myself have a hard time stomaching. Did I mention I am never going down in those catacombs? Hell to the no. 2.5 stars

Dracula Untold 92 minutes (Bonuses: Vampires, bats, cave) – FULL REVIEW – I’m always skeptical of vampires these days after those damn “T” movies, but this was pretty good. One take on the original legend with an ancient vampire in a CAVE and BATS who can be commanded to create whirlwind tornadoes and storms. 3.5 stars

Event Horizon 96 min (Secret bonus? Sam Neill, Space is an extended period of darkness, Black hole) I always think  of this as “Hellraiser in space,” although I’m not sure exactly why. Maybe it’s the huge puzzle box-like structure. 4 stars

Silence of the Lambs 118 min (1991 Secret Bonus? Pit, Night Vision) This is a great film, winning Oscars for Best Film, Best Actress and Best Actor and a wonderfully disturbing performance by Ted Levine. But it has been forever spoiled by the brilliance of Hannibal on TV on pretty much all counts. But most of all, as fabulous as Sir Anthony Hopkins is, Mads Mikkelsen blows his ass outta the water. 4.5 stars

Blade 110 min (Bonuses: vampires, monster destroyed by sunlight) Traci Lords lures some poor guy to a vampire club and Wesley Snipes kicks vampire ass martial arts style. This was a great new twist back in the day, mixing martial arts with vampires. That first rave scene is still epic with Ms. Lords. Udo Kier should be worth some kind of bonus but I can’t find any. 4 stars

Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 91 min – (Bonuses: Wes Craven, underground boiler room?) Yeah, the acting sucks, but this is one of the few films that truly scared me when I first saw it, and I could not go to sleep. Plus it introduced us to Johnny Depp. Thank you, Wes. We’ll miss you. I don’t care about the bad acting, 5 stars for scaring the shit out of me.

johnny depp a nightmare on elm street
American Werewolf in London
97 min (Bonuses: London underground, werewolf. Can I get a bonus point for being “Nurse Price” like the female lead?) I mean, this is a classic. Great NON CGI werewolf transformation, great dark humor, and some seriously disturbing dream sequences. Werewolves are the scariest of all to me, but it’s so hard to do them right. John Landis did in spades. 5 stars

Face Off S9E11 60 min – This is my favorite reality show and I used to write about it all the time and have done podcasts with Tate Steinsiek and Eric Fox. But I’m having kind of a hard time getting into this season, as I just don’t feel that invested in this batch of contestants. Where are the larger than life personalities? And the over the top designs like Tate and Foxy brought? Laura’s finesse? Give me more! 3.5 stars

Supernatural premiere 60 min (Special Week 1 Bonus) The boys are back and they’ve fucked up again, unleashing The Darkness on us all. Sure, they mean well, but what are you guys thinking? I know this series has gone on way too long, but I admit I love seeing it come back again and again. Although, the plots are getting a little more tired and thin every season, and the whole spiel in the hospital about trying to save everyone and how they have to change… Fail. But hey, I still love the guys and I would seriously love to have been the cop they rescued from crazy, dark cloud infected maniacs. Sam and Dean Winchester can sweep me away any day. 4 stars

American Horror Story: Hotel premiere 60 min (Bonus: vampires) – Well, adding Lady Gaga to the cast was a bit of a strange and unwelcome move to me, but this season is starting out incredibly scary and creepy, and let’s hope it stays that way it doesn’t fall into the cheesy camp of the New Orleans season.

I normally can’t stand Lady Gaga, but I was all about a total homage to The Hunger, replacing Bauhaus’ “Bella Lugosi’s Dead” with She Wants Revenge’s “I Wanna Tear You Apart.” Oh my, how they are pushing the limits of TV censors with that segment and a particularly disturbing and brilliant scene involving a junkie, a crazy monster creature who seems to have borrowed the sadistic dildo from Se7en, and Sarah Paulson, putting in an incredible performance while this dude is getting, um… violated with aforementioned dildo by aforementioned crazy monster creature. I know it’s FX but still, people… this is not premium TV like HBO or Showtime. Holy shit.

And of course, the Lady Gaga and company sex scene which is a direct homage to when Catherine Denevue and David Bowie pick up a couple and take them home for a late-night snack in The Hunger. Instead of the ankh daggers in that film, they share the dazzled gloves with a single, jugular-splitting claw. The whole thing made me squeal with delight. And I want to live in that hotel, for real. 4.5 fucking stars

Scream Queens 60 min each – yet another delightful offering from Ryan Murphy, along with American Horror Story. This one features AHS: Freak Show alumni Emma Roberts in the lead role as mean girl, sorority queen Chanel. That’s the original Chanel, not one of her minions dubbed Chanel #1, Chanel #2, etc. You get the idea. Now here is where Murphy needs to work out all of his campy instincts, and three episodes in, he is doing an amazing job. He even has the original “Scream Queen” Jamie Lee Curtis playing the college dean, and that red devil costume is bound to become as iconic as the Scream ghost face.

“Pilot” 60 min – Sets up the backstory that will come back to haunt them, and Chanel as the queen bitch of the campus. Also, because the dean hates her sorority, she mandates they take anyone who wants to join. Welcome a whole new kind of freaks. Loved the commentary on our obsession with posting everything on FB and texting. 4.5 stars

“Hell Week” 60 min – Niecy Nash steals the show. Seriously. 4.5 stars

“Chainsaw” 60 min – I’m normally good at picking out the killer, but Ryan Murphy is too masterful for me. He’s throwing out and killing suspects right and left. I give up. 5 stars for the EPIC Coney/Devil scene. I won’t spoil it any more if you haven’t seen it yet.

ghost adventures paranormal

Nick, Zak and Aaron of Ghost Adventures, the silliest ghost hunters on TV

Ghost Adventures 60 min each (Bonuses for ALL episodes: ALWAYS night vision and they do lockdowns at night. See individual episode breakdown for further bonuses) – FULL REVIEW – Yeah, I know it’s ridiculous, especially these later seasons, but I went back to Season 2 and found some really cool episodes. So cool I have watched all freakin’ 25 episodes. Yes, I blogged about it.

S2E1 Gettysburg (Bonus: cellar pit bonus) – the Jennie Wade house and an orphanage that threw the kids into a cellar pit as punishments 3 stars

S2E2 Kentucky Slave House (Bonus: ghosts in underground railroad hiding spots in basement) – this was in Maysville KY which is one of the small towns I almost settled down in. Zak gets emotional during a ritual to spirits of slaves fleeing to freedom. 3 stars

S2E3 Tooele Hospital – Really creepy investigation of a building used as a nursing home on one side and a haunted attraction on the other. 4 stars

S2E4 Ashmore Estates – This is a riot, with that really weird guy in the top hat with the cow chained in the front yard. Yes, even the guys think that’s a little weird and react accordingly, which is where I knew the humor was intentional. Hilarious episode, with some people who seem to be really scared of the place from past experiences. 5 stars

S2E5 Lizzie Borden House – another classic, with Zak getting disturbed by the chick hosting them who insists on carrying a hatchet, which he finally takes away from her. 4 stars

S2E6 Shanghai Tunnels (Bonus: underground tunnels of Portland) – Nice historical investigation with Zak trying to tag on some social commentary about the current human trafficking going on in Portland today. 4 stars

S2E7 The Galka Family – This is the episode where they visit the home of one of the men who designs some of their gear. His daughter was killed in a car accident which was what inspired him to start making devices for spirits to communicate. This was where I decided somewhere underneath all the silly drama they were at least partly for real. 5 stars

S2E8 Excalibur Nightclub – The Excalibur Nightclub wasn’t too thrilling for me but the cemetery investigation yielded a strange ghost light and was far more interesting. 4 stars

S2E9 Tor House – LOVED this episode where they visit the stone house of a poet and his wife into seances and the occult, and who wrote a poem about returning as a ghost 50 years after his death, and of course, they visited 50 years after his death. But it had a great sense of this couple’s presence and now I really want to see it firsthand. 5 stars

S2E10 Point Sur Lighthouse – another really strong episode with great evidence and an interesting story. They were really on a roll in this season. 4 stars

S2E11 Crazy Town – This hotel could have inspired AHS this season in some ways, and something about the story of people coming to drink the “crazy water” is really disturbing. They even showed a photo of Judy Garland checking in, as it was a huge spa hotel in the day due to its mineral springs and water. 4.5 stars

S2E12 Snug Harbor – sort of a generic episode that didn’t really catch my attention as much as some others. There was an ABC crew doing a special on them and a spooky theater. 3 stars

S2E13 Glen Tavern Inn – I love seances, and the boys bring in Brit Morgan and Mimi Page as guests. Yeah, I haven’t head of them either. But you can’t exactly expect A List fare on Ghost Adventures, right? 3.5 stars

S2E14 Hellfire Caves (Bonus: CAVES!) I’m quite fascinated with the history of the Hellfire Caves anyway, so this was an awesome episode to me. Aaron gets to dress in a hooded robe and hang out with wax figures, where he claims he “gets it” about this secret society. Zak is very afraid… of Aaron. 4.5 stars

S2E15 Black Swan Inn – Another sort of generic investigation to me, or maybe I’m getting tired of writing brief summaries. Whew… 3 stars

S2E16 Missouri State Penitentiary – Prisons are always creepy, and they get inside the gas chamber at this one, giving a POV of the last thing those who were executed saw as the door closed. Of course, it’s Aaron that gets volunteered for the gas chamber. 4 stars

S2E17 Tuolumne Hospital – the caretaker has named the ghost there “George” and they find out the ghost’s real name is… George. Are you buying this? 3 stars

S2E18 Haunted Victorian Mansion – very cool mansion near Boston, which they investigated one week after the Boston Marathon bomber. The couple who owns it don’t want to live there. I’ll gladly take it. 3.5 stars

S2E19 Alcatraz – another prison, but this one with allegations of red eyes being seen over the years. There is a really creepy story told about a guy in the hole swearing someone was in there with him, then being found dead later. 4 stars

S2E20 Battle of Perryville: Field Hospitals – this is right in my neck of the woods! I wasn’t there when it was filmed, but looking forward to investigating this battlefield and they also visited a house in Harrodsburg, where I was previously employed before fleeing back to travel nursing. I love it for personal reasons. 4.5 stars

S2E21 Romania: Targoviste Castle and Hoia-Baciu forest – the team split up for this one, and I actually found the Hoia-Baciu forest scarier than the castle. It’s this wooded area with a big circle in the center where nothing will grow, and Zak finds a ghost light and some crazy energy thing going on. Where is Mulder when you need him? 4.5 stars

S2E22 Romania: Hunedoara Castle – more Dracula stuff as he was once imprisoned here. Meh. 3 stars

S2E23 The Exorcist House – bonus for speaking with a real phd demonologist on this one, set in the real house where the possession occurred that was the inspiration for the movie. Some cool new tech gear also. 4 stars

S2E24 Dungeons and Demons (Bonus: recap of their underground cave/tunnel investigations) – a look back at the Shanghai Tunnels and Hellfire Caves. 3 stars

S2E25 Passport to Hell – recap of some of their most disturbing investigations to date, not just Season 2. 3.5 stars

I’m not sure if this will count for any points but I wrote a spoiler article for Inquisitr.com for the upcoming premiere of The Walking Dead. I figured it can’t hurt to ask.