Tag Archives: oscars

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Conjuring movie review

First of all, if you are a fan of this genre of film, YOU MUST SEE THIS MOVIE! You WILL see this movie! (Although… some of you may want to see an afternoon matinee so that when you leave the theater you can go to a park, watch the bunny rabbits play, and soak in the last hours of sunlight before you’re home checking rooms and corners.)

Okay, now that I have that out of my system, we can get to the review and the details. Last night I attended an advanced screening of the much anticipated film, The Conjuring, starring Patrick Wilson (Insidious, Evening), Vera Farmiga (A&E’s Bates Motel), Ron Livingston (The Odd Life of Timothy Green), and Lili Taylor (The Haunting, HBO’s Six Feet Under, and TV’s Hemlock Grove). The film is directed by James Wan (Saw, Insidious), is rated R, and opens in the United States on July 19, 2013.

There are multiple reasons why I’ve been so excited to see this film, but one of them has to do with the fact that the screenplay for The Conjuring (written by Chad and Carey Hayes) is based on the case files from actual events involving the Perron family in Harrisville, Rhode Island in 1971. These files are from two of America’s earliest, most experienced, and most loved paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Wilson and Farmiga). Outside of the paranormal circle, this married paranormal team will be most remembered for their involvement in the real events of the Amityville haunting that later spawned a book and movie. Many of the people more intimately involved in the field know this duo to be paranormal rock stars.  But the events depicted in this film happened before Amityville and before this rock-star status.

Even though the film is told from the perspective of the Warrens, there is a tormented family in this story as well (as is common in the haunting genre) … the Perrons. Livingston and Taylor take on the roles of real life Roger and Carolyn Perron who struggle to keep their five daughters safe and protected from the horrors going on in their secluded country house (built in 1736) which has an incredibly dark history. Many of the ads, trailers, and TV spots for the movie have been playing up the fact that this case might not be known to you because it was just too disturbing for you to know and was kept quiet for almost 40 years. But now the world is ready … or so the ads say.

It is my understanding that after Andrea Perron, one of the daughters, wrote two volumes about the experiences in 2011 entitled House of Darkness House of Light, it drew more attention to the story. The movie is not based on this book, but as I mentioned earlier, the screenplay is based on the Warrens’ case files. As far as I’ve read, the family and Lorraine (Ed Warren passed away in 2006) seem to approve of the film and are fully behind the events depicted in it. In a YouTube video where Andrea reviews the upcoming film, she states “I expected something entirely different. I expected Hollywood to do what Hollywood does, and yet in some ways this is a very quiet and studious film. You would never know that from the trailers, but that’s their job… to entice an audience. It’s also about the love of a family. It’s also about people who came to help, who felt that this was the most significant and compelling, and dark and disturbing story that they had ever heard in the course of a fifty year career.” She also mentions that the film “truly captured what we endured.”

According to the production notes (a lengthy but fascinating read that can be downloaded from the movie site), Lorraine Warren, who is looking good and in her 80s, is quoted as saying “When I walked inside, I immediately knew it was haunted. There’s a feeling that comes over you, almost like a veil, it draws your energy because the entity needs it in order to manifest; the only way to get that energy is from you. It was really heavy in that house and being on the set brought all that back. It was uncanny. I’m very fond of James. He wanted to get everything right, and I’m excited about the film.” According to the Warrens, this case was the “most intense, compelling, disturbing and significant investigation.”

I found the film incredibly spooky and satisfying, and in a way felt like I was watching something that was released from a time capsule. You really do feel as if you’re watching events from 1971. I don’t have the film production vocabulary to accurately describe it, but the whole thing was shot in a stylistically retro way. Even the design of the ads and the title seem very period. Along the same lines, I’m a huge fan of minimal special effects and computer generated imagery in horror films, and I feel like this had to have been a goal of the production team. Instead, for the most part they used sound, dark corners, squeaky doors, and a really good makeup team… just like the old days. It made the whole thing way more believable, and spookier, in my opinion. The last film from this genre that I saw do this so well was The Woman In Black. But before I move onto the next paragraph, let me be very clear. Like me, you may be fascinated with the history and story, and it is truly a great film, but… This. Film. Is. Scary.

I’m going to avoid busting out spoilers, but the acting in this film was spectacular. Lili Taylor for sure had what must have been some incredibly difficult scenes to film. In the production notes she has some interesting things to say about preparing for her character and blowing her vocal cords. I love Patrick Wilson (who doesn’t?) and Vera Farmiga earned my respect after being hooked on the first season of Bates Motel this year. In such an uncomfortable story, seeing the very loving and beautiful relationship and camaraderie between Ed and Lorraine made me very comfortable when I needed it.

A few interesting bits of information about the production. James Wan decided to film The Conjuring in chronological order. I don’t know why this always makes me happy to hear, but it just makes sense to me. Also, as with many famous films of this type, according to production notes there were apparently several strangely paranormal incidents that happened to various individuals involved in the production of the film, including incidents involving Lorraine Warren and the Perron family members visiting the set.  

Now before you run off to buy your tickets (and remember, it doesn’t open for a few days), let’s stop for a minute and discuss the ads and trailers. Don’t try to pretend like the television spots with the two claps and the sharp tug of the leg in bed didn’t horrify you. And if you think those were the only two scary parts that were thrown away for advertising, think again. I find it interesting that in only one of the three main movie trailers do they even introduce us to perhaps the two main characters, Ed and Lorraine Warren. The other two are your typical “family in a haunted house” trailers, although in the third trailer they made an interesting decision to add commentary from the real Perron family members. So depending on what trailer you saw, you may have been expecting a slightly different movie. The shorter TV spots have had a mix of all of the trailers and include the Warrens.

Thank you for visiting the Big Séance! Check out the trailers below and make sure to go see The Conjuring! (Leave the bunnies at the park.)

 

 

Related Articles:

The Conjuring and its True Story (rhinews.wordpress.com)

‘The Conjuring’ commercials are freaking me out! (Entertainment Weekly)

 


Shirley MacLaine’s Out On a Limb…

Shirley MacLaine has written several books, but the autobiographical Out On a Limb (1983) is the first book that really goes “out there” as she lets you follow her search for inner truth. If you not only go back a bit in time, but also think about the massive career that Shirley had built by this moment, it’s not hard to understand that she had a lot to lose by “coming out” to the public about her enlightenment. It’s not really a short read, and it’s not light and fluffy either. But I suspect many Big Séance readers can relate to much of what is in this book. 

There are a few initial chance meetings that introduce Shirley to topics like reincarnation, mediumship, and aliens/UFOs. I found it interesting to hear her talk about her hunger for learning and finding information through books. She couldn’t stop reading and searching for answers. This is how I felt when I began what I’ve often called my “spiritual shift” several years ago. This blog has been a continuation of this shift. It took what seems like forever for Shirley to really accept some of these concepts. There were times she was downright skeptical and wouldn’t just take one person’s explanation or even one personal experience as proof. And the biggest moment that I could relate to happened after spending two and a half heavy and dramatic weeks in Peru with a friend and teacher. She became overwhelmed. The spiritual truths and learning was all too much and was happening so fast. I flagged this paragraph in the book.  

“I spent the next few days walking and thinking. Sometimes David came with me, sometimes not. Sometimes I wanted to go home, back to America, back to the familiarity of my old world with its fast-paced involvement, its clanking relationships, its unrealistic romance, all the rushing with no seeming purpose–the events, the news, the arts, movies, hits, flops, sweat, hard work, black humor, competition, new fashions, profits, color TV, and success. I missed it all. I was used to it. I had survived in its colorful confusion, and I missed it. But I didn’t want to be unfulfilled in it anymore either. I watched the woman with no teeth wash her clothes by stamping on them with her feet. They came out clean. The clothes, I mean. (Probably the feet, too.) That’s what I wanted to do with my life… stamp on it until it came out clean. Could I go back to my old world now? Would I be two people? Was I more than one person anyway? I stopped and laughed right there. That was the whole lesson, wasn’t it? I was all the people I had ever lived. I had probably been through versions of this brain drain more than a few times before.”

How many of us have experienced this? I know I did. I still do sometimes. Well according to her book, it didn’t take long for her to snap out of the confusion. You might say that since then she’s been one of the few Hollywood faces of the paranormal/spiritual. Her site has the following as a part of their mission. 

“The objective of our center is to afford visitors of all ages the ability [to] explore and interact with the myriad of alternative views relating to Spirit, Mind, and Body. These are vast realities that range from the very human concerns of health, well being, aging, and alternative therapies, to universal topics of extraterrestrials, UFOs and phenomenon, to our delicate environment, to life after life, and the spiritual truths of the Divine that each of us is striving to connect with.”

For those in a younger generation that may only know her as playing the role of Martha Levinson on the hit PBS series Downton Abbey (AhhhhMAZING show!), below is Shirley’s Oscar acceptance speech for the amazing film, Terms of Endearment in 1984, a year after Out On a Limb was released. In it, she makes a joke about past lives, but she also talks about there being no such thing as accidents and that we all manifest what we want. I love it and I’ve watched it several times. Just look at the amazing talents and personalities that are shown. The ending of her speech is classic. This video started me out on one of those endless labyrinths of addictive videos that kept me from sleeping. I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that this same all-night obsession has happened in the past with Esther Williams and Gloria Swanson. Anyway, view at your own risk.

 

 

Unfortunately, Shirley has most recently been in the news after her daughter, Sachi Parker, wrote and released a book Lucky Me: My Life With — and Without — My Mom, Shirley MacLaineIn the book, Parker apparently claims that Shirley was an absentee mom. 

 

More Shirley MacLaine Links:

ShirleyMacLaine.com

Shirley MacLaine on Oprah

The 1986 TV Miniseries Out On a Limb based on the book

Shirley MacLaine Chose Career Over Me, Daughter Says (ABC News)

Related:

Coming Out of the Paranormal/Spiritual Closet

Communicating with Dead Celebrities and the Famous

 


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