Tag Archives: movie discussion

More Conjuring 2, the Warrens, and the Enfield Poltergeist – The Big Séance Podcast #55


PHlBBexiy2ogoo_1_l

Lana and John of Carbon Lilies join me to discuss the questions many have brought up about the upcoming Conjuring 2 movie and whether Ed and Lorraine Warren were ever really involved in the case. 

Pssst… Are you looking for the SpeakPipe Link?

Get to this episode in iTunes!
Direct Download Link

Continue reading


31 Days of Spooky Movies with Carbon Lilies – The Big Séance Podcast: My Paranormal World #49

Interview with Lana Carbon and John Lilies of Carbon Lilies on The Big Séance Podcast, BigSeance.comI dare you to watch 31 spooky movies in 31 days next October in honor of Halloween! Can it be done? Lana Carbon and John Lilies, the folks behind Carbon Lilies, took the challenge and succeeded! Listen to find out some of what they learned! Also, they give a bit of behind-the-scenes from their blog. 

 

 

Get to this episode in iTunes!
Direct Download Link

Interview of Lana Carbon and John Lilies of Carbon Lilies on The Big Séance Podcast, BigSéance.com

Continue reading


Danvers State Insane Asylum and Session 9

Yesterday I watched Session 9 (from my list of movies I plan on checking out this fall), a movie filmed on location at the Danvers State Hospital/Insane Asylum in Danvers, Massachusetts. I’m not sure where I was when this film was released in 2001, but I was a different kind of nerd then, and this film just wasn’t on my radar, I guess. I enjoyed it, though I have to tell you it put me in a funk for a few hours. It belongs in the psychological horror genre, but less emphasis should be placed on the horror and more on the PSYCHOLOGICAL! The plot of the film, according to the movie’s IMDb page: “Tensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.” But the cool thing is that the parts of the story that pertain to the hospital itself are loosely based on real history and events.

For most of the movie, like a true paranerd, I couldn’t stop obsessing about the building, wondering what they added, what they didn’t, etc. I also couldn’t get my mind off of the fact that the place doesn’t exist anymore (more on that later.) If you’re brave, continue reading the somewhat bi-polar thoughts that came out of my fingers after the movie and after researching Danvers State Hospital all day.

 

Danvers State Hospital/Insane Asylum 

800px-Danvers_State_Hospital,_Danvers,_Massachusetts,_Kirkbride_Complex,_circa_1893

Construction on the site began in 1874 and opened to patients in 1878. Like most asylums and hospitals of this type and age, it has a complicated, sad, unbelievable, and depending on the decade, even a criminal history. Most of the infamous and inhumane treatments and methods were practiced here at one time or another, including shock therapy and lobotomies.

By the 1960s, a combination of controversy and budget cuts caused Danvers to begin shutting down sections of the hospital. For the most part, by 1985 the whole campus was closed and abandoned.

In the DVD’s special features, Brad Anderson (writer/director) and Stephen Gevedon (writer) explain that they had Danvers in mind before they even started writing the script. They also mentioned that they racked their brains trying to figure out exactly how they were going to tell the story in this building, meaning why in the world would anyone be in an abandoned asylum? This is a great example of life just before, or at least in the infancy of what I’ve always referred to as the great paranormal craze. How quickly we paranerds forget what life was like before Jay and Grant and the T.A.P.S. team. It is difficult for me to comprehend this, but Ghosthunters didn’t premier on SyFy until 2004. Clearly, if this script were being written today, asbestos would still be an issue, but they would have used a paranormal investigation team, armed with plenty of night vision and oxygen masks, to tell the story.

**RANT WARNING**
Now I know, I know… I’ve mentioned this before, but every paranormal investigator in the world likes to claim that Ghosthunters on SyFy had no influence on what they do in the field. I’m here to tell you that 99% of them are lying. It is accurate to say that paranormal investigation was not invented by Jay and Grant. It is accurate to say that a few of you may have been in the field before 2004 (like 2 of you, perhaps). However, it is also correct to say that approximately eleventy-thousand new paranormal teams and paranormal television shows have popped up since Jay and Grant popped on the scene. Whether or not the craze is truly a great thing is a topic for debate. I’ve got to be honest, though. I owe them a lot for really changing my life and my interests, and I’m giving them props where props are due. **RANT OVER**

Now cut to December of 2005, four years after Session 9 was released. Despite a brave fight by local groups and community members trying to preserve the enormous acreage of the Danvers hospital campus and its unique history, demolition began. In its place is now an Avalon apartment community. Can you believe it?!

I can’t help but think that perhaps if they would have been able to hold off for just another year or two, enough interest would have grown to somehow save this strange, embarrassing, yet fascinating and physically beautiful landmark. Now days all it takes is a visit from SyFy or the Travel Channel to put a place back on the map, turning it into a paranormal tourist spot. Many similar locations have been saved, at least for now, by funds that are raised by leading tours or by paranormal groups paying to investigate. See Waverly Hills Sanatorium as an example. I have mixed feelings on all of this, however, and I know it hits some ethical nerves of some of my readers. In my opinion, the great paranormal craze has its side effects, one of them being tons of paranormal groups trampling through historical buildings, tearing things up, and riling up spirits. These groups will leave their trash, their “trigger objects”, and their energy behind. (I have to include myself in “these groups”, by the way. I told you this was somewhat bi-polar.) And then 30 years later, will we be investigating an old asylum or a historic former paranormal training facility? What about the investigators who will have died during that time period? Those paranerds LOVE these places and the memories they made there. Are they now hanging out there for eternity too? Ha! I know I’m being silly, but it all just gets weird for me. But… at least this way a historic location has a fighting chance, right?

Hollowed out facade of the central part of the main Danvers building.

Hollowed out facade of the central part of the main Danvers building.

So let’s get back to the demo and that mean old Avalon company and the apartment community, which I believe was completed in 2007. Interestingly, of the massive hospital campus, which consisted of an enormous main building (shaped like a bat) and several outer buildings (click HERE for an aerial photo), the facade of a small central portion of the main building was saved (see photo to the right). Though this portion was hollowed out, leaving only the front face of the building, I have to say, what they attached to it looks pretty cool to me. There are several other buildings and typical apartment units now on site, but apparently some of them are in the ominous “new” asylum building. Check the Avalon site HERE for cool interior photos. (On a related note, check out the former Michigan Insane Asylum, which is now residential condos, office, and retail space.)  Part of me thinks it is completely annoying and greedy for a company to come in and do this and then fake us out with a phony tiny portion of a Danvers building. But that’s silly, right? Why should a place stay abandoned, damp, and dark, with endless walls of peeling 1960s hospital green paint? Another part of me thinks it’s a really cool way to preserve at least a portion of Danvers, in a way that only a big company with big money can do. Another part of me thinks ARE THESE RESIDENTS CRAZY?! WHO WOULD MOVE IN THERE?!

………………………..and then the last remaining part of me wants to move in there. 

The new Avalon community building attached to the facade.

The new Avalon community building attached to the facade.

 

Clearly I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I’d REALLY love to hear from residents of this new Avalon community. What are the chances of this post finding someone who lives in the new faux Danvers building? Contact me!

 

My resources for this rambling post:

Session 9 DVD Special Features & Commentary

http://www.danversstateinsaneasylum.com/home.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danvers_State_Hospital

http://www.avaloncommunities.com/massachusetts/danvers-apartments/avalon-danvers/pictures/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Session_9

 

You might also like: 

Rosemary's Baby (1968 (Big Séance)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968 (Big Séance)

The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL (Big Séance)

The Milton Schoolhouse, Alton, IL (Big Séance)

Papa Jack's Pizza: Final Investigation Report (Big Séance)

Papa Jack’s Pizza: Final Investigation Report (Big Séance)

There's Just Something Romantic About a Staircase  (Big Séance)

There’s Just Something Romantic About a Staircase (Big Séance)


Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

This last weekend I watched the first film from my list of movies that I plan on checking out this fall. Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968) has been one of those movies that I’ve always heard about, and I’ve always been aware of its place of importance in psychological horror films. I remember my mother talking about how disturbed she was when she saw it as a girl. For whatever reason, maybe the weirdness factor that the film has going for it, I just never watched it.  

 

By the way, in no way am I intending this to be a review of the film. For a basic synopsis and further information about the film check out the Wikipedia and IMDb pages. Rosemary’s Baby did, however, inspire some rambling and blabbering below. 

 

A snowy aerial view of The Dakota Building. Photo courtesy of http://blog.daum.net/jun1234/78.

A snowy aerial view of The Dakota Building. Photo courtesy of http://blog.daum.net/jun1234/78.

 

The Dakota Building in Manhattan.

The Dakota Building in Manhattan.

From the very beginning, with the beautiful shots high above Manhattan in New York City, I was sucked into the style and the setting of most of the film.  Even though I followed the plot and the story, I wasn’t much interested, actually. I was too busy absorbing the beauty of the apartments and the interior of the fictional “Bramford” building. The filmmakers wanted to film the interior shots inside the beautifully upscale and historic Dakota Building in Manhattan, but in the end they weren’t allowed, forcing them to film in a studio and use The Dakota for exterior shots only.  I want to assume that they based the design of the set on the actual Dakota. The building, constructed between 1880 and 1884, is just the type and style of architecture that I fall in love with. And even though the movie takes place in the 1960s, it is clear that the apartments in the film are meant to be outdated and misplaced for the time period. The main characters (played by Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes) “update” their apartment with a fresh coat of white paint soon after moving in, but I actually preferred the darkness of the walls and wallpaper, the ornate trim, the glow of the wall sconces, and the dusty shelves and books. Fortunately, the older neighbors are stuck in the past, so for much of the movie I got to stay in that turn of the century “excuse me while I retire to my study” world. 

 

 

Ruth Gordon (1896 - 1985)

Ruth Gordon (1896 – 1985)

Once I finished the film, I was surprised to find special features with behind the scenes information and interviews from several people involved. This led to one of my infamous non-stop labyrinths of research and Googling of the film, The Dakota Building, and the cast and crew. A few of the actors, like Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer, were born before the turn of the century and were involved in silent films! I don’t know why that fascinated me so much!

 

Anyway, it was an interesting film and worth finally seeing it. It wasn’t nearly as “weird” as people led me to believe it was, plus the acting was great!  

For more beautiful stills from the film, check out this post from Beautiful Stills from Beautiful Films

 

You might also like:

Top 10 Spooky Movies for Fall (2013 Version) (Big Séance)

The Uninvited (1944) will finally be released on DVD (Big Séance)

The Conjuring Sequel and the Enfield Poltergeist? (Big Séance)

Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden on Lifetime? (Big Séance)

The Conjuring Movie Review (Big Séance)

The Innocents (1961) (Big Séance)

House On Haunted Hill (1959) (Big Séance)

The Changeling (1980) (Big Séance)

 


The Uninvited (1944) will finally be released on DVD

A year ago I very much wanted to watch the classic 1944 haunted house film, The Uninvited, based on a 1941 novel by Dorothy MacardleI even included it on my list of Movies I Plan On Checking Out This Fall from last year, and I was interested in reviewing it here at The Big Séance. I couldn’t find it anywhere. Not even a bootleg version on YouTube. Well I decided to search for it again tonight and was excited to see that thanks to The Criterion Collection, The Uninvited is finally being released to DVD in late October! The film has a new and improved cover that you can see here (a major improvement). According to Criterion, the features also include a new visual essay by filmmaker Michael Almereyda, two radio adaptations from 1944 and 1949 (both starring Ray Milland), the trailer, and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme and a 1997 interview with director Lewis Allen. I’m so incredibly pumped to receive my copy on October 25th, just in time to get a review posted before Halloween!

 

A pair of siblings from London (Ray Milland and Ruth Hussey) purchase a surprisingly affordable, lonely cliff-top house in Cornwall, only to discover that it actually carries a ghostly price—and soon they’re caught up in a bizarre romantic triangle from beyond the grave. Rich in atmosphere, The Uninvited,directed by Lewis Allen, was groundbreaking for the seriousness with which it treated the haunted-house genre, and it remains an elegant and eerie experience, featuring a classic score by Victor Young. A tragic family past, a mysteriously locked room, cold chills, bumps in the night—this gothic Hollywood classic has it all. – Synopsis from Criterion.com

 

Check out the super spooky trailer!

 

 

You Might Also Like These Classic Spooky Movie Reviews

The Innocents (1961)

The Innocents (1961)

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

The Changeling (1980)

The Changeling (1980)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Flies and Hauntings: “You can’t really kill what’s already dead.”

Hey folks! I’m on page 218 of the first volume of House of Darkness House of Light, the true story of the events that happened in the movie The Conjuring, written by Andrea Perron, the oldest daughter. I’ve got to be honest. I was initially intimidated by the size of these books (the third and final book is yet to come), but at this point I’m pretty sure that there’s virtually no chance of me not buying into all three volumes. I’ve been sucked into the story all weekend, and I’ve not been able to think of anything else in the last two days. It is such a good book!

Early on in their story, not long after moving in, the Perrons experienced supernatural and never-ending amounts of flies that seemed to come from nowhere. This was in the middle of a very cold and snowy winter. No amount of swatting or extermination could solve their problem. It was making them crazy, and along with other bone-chilling events, it was gradually tearing a family apart.

Most likely, when you think of flies and hauntings, you think of the famous scene from the movie The Amityville Horror from 1979. Usually when I hear someone describe flies as being a sign of a haunting, I get the instant urge to roll my eyes. You won’t find many “experts” in the paranormal who are willing to validate flies as being harbingers of things to come in a haunted location, though Lorraine Warren supposedly told Mrs. Perron that this was the case. Referring to their nasty fly situation, Warren is quoted in the book as saying “You can’t really kill what’s already dead.” In The Conjuring, James Wan apparently chose to nod to Alfred Hitchcock and use birds as a harbinger, rather than flies. It could be that birds play a role in the book as well, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I’ll admit I’m conflicted. It just seems so Hollywood to me… and like talk of “demons” (which I’m sure I’ll be discussing soon), it seems to require a certain kind of religious belief that I don’t usually buy into. But I’ve done lots of researching into this story and the Perrons recently, and unlike the questionable history of the Amityville haunting, and though I don’t know the family personally (though I’ve enjoyed recently being connected with Andrea on Facebook), I really believe their story. So here it is. I feel like I have to tell you that all of this is really making me re-think my position on evil harbinger flies.    

 

Thoughts? Experiences? Fly swatter recommendations?

Related Posts:

The Conjuring Movie Review

The Conjuring Movie Review (Big Séance)

True Haunting: Reads Like Fiction… But it’s Not! (Big Séance)

Andrea Perron's House of Darkness House of Light trilogy (Big Séance)

Andrea Perron’s House of Darkness House of Light trilogy (Big Séance)


Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden on Lifetime?

 

Christina Ricci Photo Credit: David Shankbone

Christina Ricci
Photo Credit: David Shankbone

This is apparently not breaking news, but it was news to me today. I was watching Christina Ricci’s interview on today’s The View, where she was promoting the new movie, Smurfs 2, in which she lends her voice for the character of Vexy, a bad Smurf. Early on in the segment it was briefly mentioned that she is working on a film about the famous ax murderess, Lizzie Borden, and she plays the role of… duh… Lizzie. The ladies were poking fun at the fact that she has played so many dark characters. Christina talked about how she loved the darker roles and often saw humor in them. (It was funny seeing her talk about these darker roles while wearing a bright and sunny polka-dotted outfit.)  

According to The Herald News, the Lifetime movie (bummer) just finished filming a few days ago. No word yet on when we’ll get to see it.

Also from The Herald, it is interesting to find out that the curators of the famous Lizzie Borden house were not even contacted or used as a resource for the film, other than asking to borrow the famous couch that resembles the original. They turned them down (good for them).

Anyway, I’m totally still pumped.

Just in case you didn’t grow up learning the chant, or if you don’t watch SyFy or the Travel Channel and are therefore unaware of the Lizzie Borden story, let me catch you up.

 

Your Lizzie Borden Study Guide

In 1892, in Fall River Massachusetts…

Lizzie Borden…

did this…

to her father…

and this…

to her stepmother.

She used this. 

The jury…

announced that Lizzie (cough cough murderer) was not guilty. (Rrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight…)

She died in 1927. 

Be sure to come back and visit the Big Séance for all your remedial learning needs. 

Sources: 
http://www.heraldnews.com/news/x273440786/Lizzie-Borden-film-is-a-wrap
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/LizzieBorden/bordenhome.html

 

Related:

I Still Watch Ghost Hunters... So What? (Big Séance)

I Still Watch Ghost Hunters… So What? (Big Séance)

Have you “Liked” Big Séance on Facebook yet? 


%d bloggers like this: