What would you sacrifice to have the home of your dreams? That’s the question the Rolf family faces in Burnt Offerings, starring Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Betty Davis and Burgess Meredith.
A family of moderate means rents a huge, Victorian mansion for the summer. Why is the mansion so cheap? Well, the owners explain that their mother lives on the top floor and tenants are required to provide the elderly lady with meals–though they will never see her. That’s a very strange proposition and it raises red flags for the husband (Reed). The wife (Black) is so in love with the mansion, she promises to handle the care and feeding of the mother.
It’s a fantastic property, but things don’t feel quite right. Was that a trick of the light? Could the corridors be haunted? The history of the place is vast – who wouldn’t expect a ghost or two. Yet, as darkness descends on the family, one has to wonder if the house itself is a living, breathing entity.
An old lady in the attic who never leaves the room? Come on people – be smarter than this.
It’s obvious what this movie is about from the poster, right? Let me help…
A woman is an unwitting pawn in a struggle to keep an ancient evil, Sateen, at bay. She already has one child – a daughter – tainted by unholy influence; a second chid would burst the gates of hell wide open. Will the corporate cult who is ready for the ultimate hostile takeover get it’s way or will an unusual visitor (John Huston) thwart their plans?
Let’s Get Barbara Pregnant – that should be the name of this movie. Barbara is out here trying to live her best life. A divorced mother of one, she wants neither another husband nor another kid. Her boyfriend (Lance Henriksen) is ready to take their relationship to the next level and her kid is pestering her for a little brother.
Barbara is a carrier/host of an ancient evil that periodically is reincarnated on Earth. She’s not possessed herself – but any children that she has will be full of wickedness. Unfortunately, she has no clue why her life has suddenly come a series of harrowing events.
The title character is an otherworldly fellow who has tangled with Sateen in the past. He wants to protect both mother and daughter but the little girl isn’t really interested in being saved.
The Visitor has a lot of influences: The Omen, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby, The Birds and probably more. Despite this, it’s a bit of fun with lots of unexpected twists. In fact, there’s so much happening visually, it is easy to lose track of the plot. Recommended but don’t ask any questions; just let it wash over you.
Tip: Beware little girls with pet birds.
The poster pretty much tells the whole story. Anywho…
In Rings, the third movie in the series, people watch a cursed video and get timely visits from Samara. To add a little spice to the plot, our lady of the well has hidden brand new images in the old video. Can Julia, our hero, figure out what they mean before her time runs out?
This movie feels like two or three scripts spliced together. There’s the story of a professor who gets students to watch the video for an unethical/illegal research project. Then, there is the story of Julia – a girl who voluntarily watches the tape to save her boyfriend. The boyfriend is the bridge; he’s a student of the naughty professor.
The intermingling of the stories is very clunky. As a viewer, I had questions about the research project. How many students died on the 7th day? How many are being haunted at any one time? Are there variations in the terrorizing? One will never know. Instead of two parallel tales throughout the film, the professor angle ends abruptly and we are left with Julia’s story.
Unfortunately, the new clues lead to very familiar territory. Julia has interesting eyebrows though; they are trying to tell their own tale. My response to the big reveal at the end: “Oh.”
Tip: Your lover is going away to college and leaving you at home? Save yourself trouble and break up with them.
To aid in her recovery from a nervous breakdown, Jessica and her husband ditch hectic city life for a quiet town. Along with a friend, they move into a big house with a bit of a history. When a beautiful drifter shows up on the property, Jessica invites the woman to stay a while. This is a mistake.
Let’s Scare Jessica To Death is a bit of a slow burn. Weird things and people abound, but they create a atmosphere of creeping danger. Jessica is fighting to keep her sanity and her marriage. As darkness closes in around her, she’ll have to fight for her life.
The interesting thing about Jessica is that when the movie opens, she seems preoccupied with death. The trio is traveling together in a hearse and she’s riding in the back where the coffin would be. Before they arrive at their new home, they stop at a cemetery so she can run out and get a quick grave rubbing. Naturally, when a harbinger of death shows up to entice Jessica—death loses it’s attraction.
If a creaky old house and eerie townspeople appeal to you, grab a hot cocoa and cheer Jessica on.
Tip: Two is company, three is a party…four can be deadly.
In this long running tv show from the UK, a team of paranormal investigators visits haunted places around the world. Every episode begins with Yvette, host and lead investigator, doing a daytime walk through the property while giving viewers a mini history lesson. Then, at night, she and her team stumble around in the dark asking spirits to reveal themselves through knocking/making noise or feats of strength (for example, moving a glass).
The Most Haunted team has gone through several changes, but the core members are Yvette, Karl and Stuart. Depending on the season, they are accompanied by psychics, mediums, demonologists, historians, parapsychologists, etc. It’s a bit like the Scooby Doo gang without a dog.* Even though they may carry cameras everywhere, the ghostly activity that gets them screaming is always just out of view. If it is a particularly nasty entity, our heroes can have stones and pebbles thrown at them or are scratched by unseen hands.
The Most Haunted crew would do live shows** (3 to 4 hours) from time to time. Not only would there be a studio audience camped outside of the haunted place, viewers were invited to call in and give there own psychic impressions (for a fee). Watching them perform live is a bit amazing. If you have a sharp eye, you can see a momentary slip here and there but they push right on ahead. It reminds me of old tv talent shows where people would spin plates; there’s so much going on at the same time that it’s hard to focus.
Currently, Most Haunted is being shown in the UK on Really. You can find many of the earlier seasons on YouTube. I would suggest any of the Most Haunted Live shows or the older programs featuring psychic Derek Acorah.
*There is a dog on the current season – Watson. I think he only appears with Yvette on her daytime walkabout.
**Technically, Most Haunted Live is a separate show but it’s the same cast.
Different universes, I know, but wouldn’t it be great:
If Mrs. Which had visited Eric as a young teen, before his heart was too hardened by life? Or if Mrs Whatsit had taken W’kabi on a grand adventure. What if Mrs. Who talked him into goint to therapy?
Shuri is a young genius who recently lost her father. Her and Meg need to talk. Meg could use a weekend in Wakanda to get away from a world that wants to crush her spirit (and the horrible adults who say she should let it).
What would Nakia do if she learned how to tesser?
General Okoye could give Meg a different prospective about being a warrior. Wouldn’t you like to see her making sense of that field of flowers?
What if vibranium gets all of the Mrs high and they have a tessering party in the throne room?
How about Queen Ramona giving Meg’s mom parenting advice?
M’baku barking at Meg’s principle?
What if the father tessered into the ancestral plane and got chased by panthers?
What if Killmonger found Mrs. Who reading books with his father?
What if Charles Wallace rode a rhino at recess?
Thanks to Black Panther, there has been a real-world focus on how museums acquire indigenous artifacts and if they have a right to retain them. The art world may have been grappling with this question internally for years but now articles are appearing on my far-from-museum-centric timeline. It’s brought back to mind a great creature feature set in a museum – The Relic.
Chaos and mayhem descends on a Chicago museum when a fierce monster begins stalking it’s exhibits. What is this beast? Where did it come from? Does it have anything to do with a recent shipment the museum received from a pompous anthropologist who made direct contact with an indigenous tribe? Hmmm.
The Relic is a fun movie that in several ways follows the Jaws/terror at the beach formula. There is an important event that MUST go on even though people have been murdered. See, the 1st victims are expendable; obviously the creature isn’t interested in people with money. The wise, but low class policeman must be put in his place. It’s not long before the museum realizes that going on with the party is a mistake.
Behind the scenes, office politics are on overdrive. It’s fun watching haughty, pretentious people get their comeuppance.
There’s also a nice nod to Dracula: material acquired for museum research arrives on a ship that does not have a living crew. It deceptively suggests a familiar villain.
On the creature itself, how is this big, bulky thing able to stay hidden until it decides to party? The nature of the museum exhibit gives it a wonderful place to hide. What is it? There’s an explanation in the movie that boils down to a fascinating method of self-defense (or warfare, depending on your point of view).
Bottom line: Museum anthropologist need to be careful what they take from other cultures.
Tip: If someone on your job has been murdered in an unusual way, call in sick for the next couple of days.
Oliver and Alice Reed are married and determined to put the past (especially Oliver’s first wife, Irena) behind them. Their daughter Amy is a sweet girl who has problems making friends her own age. They are like any wholesome 40’s family complete with a manservant o’color. When Amy begins talking about an invisible friend named Irena, it’s a sign of trouble to come.
The movie posters are a lie. Yes, this movie is a sequel to Cat People (1942) but it’s not a horror movie. It picks up at least 5 or 6 years after the end of Cat People and follows the same characters. There’s no cat person in this movie. There’s barely a cat in this movie. This is a family drama that demonstrates how NOT to raise children.
Though he loves Alice, Oliver can’t shake the memory of Irena and her condition. Though Amy is Alice’s daughter, he is afraid that the girl’s behavior means that she is following in Irena’s delusional footsteps. The women in the movie recognize that Amy is acting like a normal child, but Oliver is obsessed with fixing her.
Amy befriends an elderly recluse who lives a few blocks over and showers her with grandmotherly affection. Turns out that the bitter nurse who takes care of the old lady is her daughter. Not only does the recluse refuse to recognize her (claims her “real” daughter died as a child), it’s clear that her doting on Amy is just another way to be cruel to her own flesh and blood.
You have two bad parents and two children longing for love and acceptance. Add anger, resentment and loneliness to the mix and you have the potential for danger.
If you are looking for someone to transform into a black panther**, you’re not going to find it here. In fact, it’s easy to imagine this was a totally unrelated script that had characters from Cat People grafted on to it.
*Perhaps consider seeing things from your child’s pov before the spanking?
*Don’t tell your kids fairy tales and then get pissed when they believe them.
The Crypt Keeper is throwing a monster bash – come on down! (It’s skeletons of fun.)
Gary met, fell in love with and married Samantha. In addition to being a loving husband, he’s signed up to be stepfather to young Lucas. Lucas doesn’t want a new daddy and does everything in his power to drive Gary away. It sounds like a typical family comedy – except Lucas is powered by Satan – his birth father.
With Gary and other forces vying to win Lucas’ affection (and soul), can this family be saved?
Little Evil is a horror comedy that is heavy on the comedy and “eh” on the horror. It feels like a bunch of friends got together over a weekend or two and had a really good time putting this movie together. Will the viewer have fun? This is mostly a parody of The Omen, so how much you enjoy this movie may depend on your memory of the 1976 classic.**
Samantha’s backstory is pretty interesting; I wish it was a bigger part of the movie. Besides ignoring most of the bad things her son does, she’s constantly encouraging Gary to try harder to “reach” Lucas. There’s not much else for this character to do.
Gary is okay. Bland, but okay. It’s everyone around him that puts the zing into his life. Thankfully, he joins a stepdad support group which contains some colorful characters. They are the ones that help him cope and will be there when it’s time for the ultimate showdown with evil.
Al, Gary’s coworker and fellow stepdad, is the one who introduces him to the group. Al is played by Bridget Everett and reminds me of a younger, less mature version of Dan Conner. Some articles reference Al as queer (butch lesbian, gender fluid, or a transman) and make a big deal about the character being fully accepted and respected by their male, (presumably) CIS gender peer group.
Except for a bit early on where Gary is trying to figure out which side of the “step” binary Al falls into, gender/orientation really isn’t brought up again. Is this revolutionary? Not to me but your mileage may vary.
If you are looking for a horror movie, look somewhere else. If you want a chuckle or two, Little Evil works.
*Before marrying the woman of your dreams, consider developing a relationship with your future step-demon.
*Take Your Demon-possessed Spawn To Work Day would be awesome.
*Satan is My Co-Parent is a book that would fly off of parenting/self-help shelves.
**I saw the 2006 remake of The Omen. Other than it’s release date – 06/06/06 – I can’t remember a thing about it.