Tuesday Terror: The Monster Project (2017)

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A duo who creates fake ghost/monster hunting videos for Youtube comes up with a great idea: film a documentary about real people who believe they are monsters. They rope in two more folks (a fellow fighting drug addiction and an ex-girlfriend) and set out to interview a supposed tattooed vampire, a body-camera wearing skinwalker and girl possessed by a demon.

Did I mention this documentary was being filmed in a boarded up house that has been the location of satanic rituals?

The Monster Project spends a healthy time trying to establish characters and relationships to foreshadow upcoming conflicts, etc. The filmmakers weren’t that exciting – just love triangles and typical drama. I wish the film had spent more time getting to know the monsters outside of the house. It could have been a day-in-the life of these normal people who believe they harbor dangerous, terrifying secrets.

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Things don’t really get going until they get to the house where – aaahhh real monsters! Do you know the chase scenes from Scooby-Doo where they run from room to room? That’s what happens here with shrieks, gurgles, growls and bloodshed.

As a found footage film, there is an explanation – sort of – for the multiple points of view. The filmmakers have cameras, the house has cameras everywhere, etc. However, there is a scene that we get were a camera recording it is completely illogical. That was a distraction for me.

 

 

The ending is one that you may not see coming but the film does throw out a few clunky clues early on.

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Tip: Don’t work with your ex.

Note: There a completely unrelated organization called The Monster Project that encourages kids to “pursue their creative potential.”

Terror Tuesday: House (1985)

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Horror writer Roger (William Kat) inherits his aunt’s house after she passes away. His first thought is to sell the place; it contains painful memories of his son’s abduction. Feeling that his son is still alive and needing a new space to write, he changes his mind. The house has his son and it wants him, too…

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This is a horror comedy that has a good balance of both. As a haunted house movie, it has things that go bump in the night, weirdness that shows up during the day and a surprise lurking in every closet. The film deals with sadness, grief and regret – but it’s not malicious.

Besides the inhabitants of the house, Roger’s world includes a nosy next door neighbor, an ex-wife who is concerned about his well being, a sexy model-type neighbor who wants knows when a man is “ready to play” and a dead aunt who stops by with advice.

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The stars of the film and most of the cameos are folks from 80s tv. For example, William Kat was The Greatest American Hero. George Wendt was a regular on Cheers. (Norm!)

Typically, horror movies gives you a human character who is evil (the true villain) or annoying to the point you root for the creature/killer to get them. That character doesn’t exist in House. There are conflicts that arrive from misunderstandings but the house is the only villain. Even today – a thousand years after I first saw the movie – that feels refreshing.

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Tip: Beware garden tools.

 

Tuesday Terror: The Comeback (1978)

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Nick Cooper, a singer who hasn’t cut (ha!) an album in six years, is ready to get in the recording booth again. Not everyone is set to welcome him back. In fact, someone wants to silence him . . . foreva!

Take a slasher movie and add a dollop of Scooby-Doo sensibility and you get The Comeback. The killer even looks like a Scooby-Doo villain. Nick looks a little like Freddie and his lust interest does give off Daphne vibes (right down to being danger-prone). As a slasher flick, it’s a bit gory in spots.

 

Nick and the other characters are in a horror/mystery but don’t know it. He is at a castle where weird sounds and visions have him doubting his sanity. The murders are happening in a different location – Nick’s old penthouse. While waiting for the characters to catch on to what’s really going on, the viewer gets introduced to a wide range of possible suspects.

It may be obvious who the killer is but the movie does its best to throw suspicion on everyone who crosses Nick’s path. When you least expect it, one of the characters is revealed to be a crossdresser. In the 70s/80s – hell maybe up through last week, this would have been a Big! Shocking! Clue! It was worth an eye roll.

The reason for all of the deaths? I won’t reveal the details but let’s say you never know how your actions impact other people.

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Tip: If you wake up in the middle of the night and see a corpse, perhaps check into a hotel.

Tuesday Terror: The Bay (2012)

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On July 4th 2009, disaster struck a small Maryland town. Several government agencies were involved in a cover up. They locked away evidence, cleaned up the bodies and buried the truth.

However, there are still witnesses.Thanks to a government leak, a journalism student who was present at the July 4th fiasco gets access to the various material authorities had confiscated. She’s combined her footage with surveillance cameras, video calls, etc to create a documentary that reveals what really happened that day…on The Bay.

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This is a pretty good found footage story. It isn’t linear and unfolds in a way that will keep you guessing as to exactly what is going on. The townspeople, who have no idea what’s happening to them, flail around for answers. Many of the theories presented don’t seem incredibly far fetched.

There are shades of Jaws – the vacuum cleaner salesman turned mayor sucks – and other horror films but it doesn’t feel redundant. The story telling works to draw you in.

This is the kind of movie that will send you to Google afterward.

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Tips: Don’t drink the water. Don’t swim in the water. Don’t run through a water sprinkler.

Tuesday Terror: Friend Request (2016)

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You think you can ghost Marina? Unfriend her on social media, ignore her messages and FaceChats? You are an amateur; Marina takes ghosting to a whole new level. You’re not ready.

Let’s start from the beginning. Laura is a beautiful, popular girl with over 800 friends on a Facebook lookalike site. She’s also a good, kindhearted girl who magnanimously accepts a friend request from a Marina, a girl who (OMG! Can you believe it) has 0 social media friends.

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Unfortunately, Marina is tremendously clingy. She believes that this virtual like translates into real life best friends.

Laura is too nice to tell Marina to back off. She pretends that she’s too sick to have a birthday get together rather than telling Marina the truth. Of course, Laura’s real life friends document the festivities on social media. Then, all hell breaks loose.

A big stumbling block for this movie is the Facebook lookalike site everyone uses. At one point, Laura and friends desperately want to delete profiles or remove disturbing material from them but can’t. It’s incredibly easy to be suspended from Facebook. That these college aged people being helpless doesn’t ring true. IRL, those types of offensive post would have been taken down because of complaints.

So, Laura and the gang not being in control of their social media looks more incompetent than scary. To be fair, they do try to explain it but…eh.

It’s a bit of The Ring, with just a hint of Stay Alive. It’s has a nice surprise or two but don’t think about the plot after the credits.

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Tips:
*Why lie if your social medial timeline will give you away?
*Careful who you befriend on social media.
*Do you see ovaries in the 2nd poster…or is it just me?

Tuesday Terror: Burnt Offerings (1976)

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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.

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Tip:
An old lady in the attic who never leaves the room? Come on people – be smarter than this.

Tuesday Terror: The Visitor (1979)

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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?

thevisitor2Let’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.

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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.

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Tip: Beware little girls with pet birds.

Tuesday Terror: Rings (2017)

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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?

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The professor with his vcr.

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.”

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Tip: Your lover is going away to college and leaving you at home? Save yourself trouble and break up with them.

Tuesday Terror: Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (1971)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Tuesday Terror: Most Haunted (2002 – eternity)

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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).

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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.

There’s been a bit of scandal, a drinking game and that time they tackled The Winchester House. If you ever visit the UK, you can join the Most Haunted team on an adventure.

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.

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*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.

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