Tag Archives: witches

My thoughts on the ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Premier

Just one of many creepy promo posters for American Horror Story: Coven.

Just one of many creepy promo posters for American Horror Story: Coven.

Well tonight was a big night for a lot of paranerdal folks. Not only did we get to see the mid-season premier of Ghost Hunters (in their 9th season), but a growing audience of fans got to see the much-anticipated premier of American Horror Story: Coven. I wanted to leave you with just a few of my thoughts on these wicked witches before heading to bed for another insane day of work.

I’ve been looking forward to this season since the first rumors of a witch plot began to spread. Endless articles and reviews have been written in anticipation of the series, but other than watching all of the promos as they were released, due to work and being busy I hadn’t really read too much about it. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was going to be, but that’s not a bad thing. I was pleasantly surprised… and I think I’m going to LOVE it! Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, and Frances Conroy are simply going to rock my world! No pressure, ladies!

SPOILER ALERT (if you haven’t seen episode one yet.)

The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans.

The LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans.

Even after watching the first half of the episode, with all of the slavery and torture, and even after seeing the famous LaLaurie Mansion (well known to most paranerdal folks) and knowing much of its history, it took me several minutes to begin to put two and two together. Duh! The LaLaurie Mansion and the real life Madame Delphine LaLaurie will apparently play a major part in the story this season. Maybe this is old news by now, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it, and it is why I’m even more excited about the rest of the season. 

And how about some of those hilarious lines?! Someone is getting paid well. “Don’t make me drop a house on you.” HAAA! It was something like that. Keep ’em coming, Ryan Murphy. 

My only thumbs down as of now is the very low-budget power that the newest witch pupil has over the boys. Maybe I’m old and no fun, but I’m hoping this doesn’t end up playing a major part in the rest of the season, because it could potentially ruin it for me. It just seems cheap and reeks of Cinemax to me. Am I alone? Maybe it’ll grow on me. 

 

 


Two More Halloween Books from Lesley Pratt Bannatyne

Last year I read and reviewed an amazing book by a true Halloween expert, Lesley Pratt Bannatyne. The book is titled HALLOWEEN: An American Holiday, an American History. I loved it and learned so much from it that I’ve referenced the book several times here on the blog. I immediately ordered her follow up book, but I saved it for this year’s autumn lineup. So tonight I present to you HALLOWEEN NATION: Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night.

If Lesley’s first Halloween book is the history, then HALLOWEEN NATION is a fun and in-depth snapshot of the current reality of the holiday here in the USA, with some history thrown in when it is necessary, of course. The book covers everything from our obsessions with ghosts, witches, zombies, costumes, and pumpkins, to tricks and pranks, and the different ways we choose (as children AND adults) to celebrate the holiday. Also, she discusses many of the horrifying and heart-stopping haunts that we love to put ourselves through for entertainment. And she truly does go behind scenes, tracking down many interesting people, such as event organizers, a witch, artists, people in the haunted attraction industry, and the people who build and create the creatures used in those attractions.  

The book includes a 20-page section of notes that really shouldn’t be skipped. I’m in the process of finishing these now. She also includes a section of helpful resources and a selected bibliography.

HALLOWEEN NATION is full of fascinating photos in full color. Lesley writes in a friendly style and tends to add humor at the very moment you have the urge to turn to your invisible friend to throw in a funny comment. She’s got you covered.   

A few weeks ago I also picked up Lesley’s A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past. I grabbed this one in hopes of finding some stories to share with my students at school on Halloween. I always try to do something different, spooky, and fun to celebrate the day. I’ve also just become more and more fascinated and interested in the history of the holiday. If anyone has access to a time machine, let me know please. I haven’t started this book yet, but I believe I’ll start tonight!

For more on Lesley Pratt Bannatyne, visit her site at iskullhalloween.com.

 

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Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

Planning a Halloween Party (in 1911) (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

A New Spin On Your Halloween Altar and Decorations (Big Séance)

Classic trick or treat loot: nostalgic candy & prizes from Halloweens past. (Renae Rude - The Paranormalist)

Classic trick or treat loot: nostalgic candy & prizes from Halloweens past. (Renae Rude – The Paranormalist)

The Haunting of Al Capone (News From the Spirit World)

The Haunting of Al Capone (News From the Spirit World)

 

 

 


Top 10 Spooky Movies for Fall (2013 Version)

Well I held off for as long as I could stand it. Last year I posted this list a whole month earlier. It’s September. I have pumpkins. Just lit a candle. Just saw a witch flying in front of the moon in a meme on Facebook. I don’t care what you say it’s FALL! Alright let’s go.

 

In chronological order by release date. Linked titles take you to more info on the film. Photos take you to Amazon.com.

 

Psycho (1960)

There’s just something about a Hitchcock classic in black and white that gets me electrified for fall. And with the success and rise in popularity of A&E’s Bates Motel series starring Vera Farmiga (The Conjuring), the original Psycho has made it back onto the scene for lovers of this spooky genre. As a kid, I was obsessed with this movie… a movie most known for the screeching strings in the score that in my opinion forever changed film music, and that horrifying shower scene. I was known to refer to it as simply “Bates Motel”. If you haven’t seen it in a while, it’s time to dust this one off and give it a watch! Just be sure to shower BEFORE showtime! Watch the trailer.

 

The Innocents (1961)

I watched and fell in love with this film for the first time last year. The movie begins with a black screen and a creepy melody, “O Willow Waly”, which is sung a cappella by a young child. Much of the film is shot in beautiful outdoor garden-like settings, and the rest of the movie takes place in a beautiful large country estate. It really is beautiful to see on screen. And then, of course later, that same beauty creates the good old-fashioned spookiness that I love in a horror movie. No special effects needed. The storyline involves two children, their governess, and the ghosts of the former governess and valet who possess the children.

 

 

Carrie (1976)

This movie first played at screens just two years before I was born, but it was actually only like 6 years ago that I saw it. I’ve seen it many times since. The wonderful Sissy Spacek hasn’t aged a day since filming it. Also, at the time I had no idea that Betty Buckley (a Broadway star to me) was in the film. For many people, this was the first time they learned of a phenomenon called “telekinesis”. Carrie has an amazing film score that I think is really beautiful, but unfortunately it isn’t really accessible or recognized. The beautiful score from final scene that finishes with a surprise, is simply genius and is one of my favorite movie themes. Don’t waste your time with any of the remakes. They are horrible and just don’t even come close to the small budget original. Watch the trailer.

 

The Changeling (1980)

Like The Innocents, it was only last year that I saw this film for the first time. Starring the wonderful George C. Scott, it has that classic spooky movie feel that I always prefer. I very rarely enjoy all of the computer generated imagery (CGI) of modern-day films. I get a much bigger scare out of some good sound effects, an emotional score, an incredibly spooky setting, darkness, a ball bouncing down the steps, or a secret dusty room that has been untouched for decades. This movie has all of those things. Fitting right into the subject of this blog, The Changeling also includes a séance scene, and believe it or not… even some EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). Watch the trailer.

 

The Watcher in the Woods (1980)

I first watched this Disney Pictures film when I was very young. Until recently, I sort of forgot about it, which is unfortunate. I was two years old when it was released, and I can’t believe I’m old enough to mention that it stars Bette Davis… but it does. I never understood why it was the Disney company that made this film, simply because it is so incredibly creepy! Don’t believe me? Watch it! I remember having nightmares about it. But it is such a good movie. From imdb: “When a normal American family moves into a beautiful old English house in a wooded area, strange, paranormal appearances befall them in this interesting twist to the well-known haunted-house tale. Their daughter Jan sees, and daughter Ellie hears, the voice of a young teenage girl who mysteriously disappeared during a total solar eclipse decades before…”

 

 

Hocus Pocus (1993)

Ohhhh my beloved Hocus Pocus. I’m finding that I’m far from being the only nerd that enjoys a tradition of watching this film every year. As a young teenager I loved it because it had all of the elements a spooky Halloween themed movie needed to have… witches, spells, graveyard, a black cat, and a cute main character. But of course, what makes this movie fabulous is the hilarious trio of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, and Bette Midler. It used to be on cable a lot more, but I try to catch it every time it’s offered. In fact, I think I’ll set the DVR now. Most of these movies are on my list because of the nostalgia that they bring, and this one brings back feelings of the excitement I’d get as a kid around Halloween. Watch the trailer.

 

Halloween H20 (1998)

The events taking place in this film, along with the year it was released, marks twenty years after the original. It is one of those nostalgic college movies for me. I used to be into these old slasher movies a lot more than I am now. Don’t get me wrong, if a Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, or a Michael Myers (Halloween) marathon catches me on the right day in October, I just might get sucked in. But even though this is probably on many lists for being a really horrible movie, it is my favorite of the Michael Myers films, with the possible exception of the original Halloween, which I haven’t seen in a long time. It is the Halloween movies that has forever changed the meaning of  The Chordettes’ Mr. Sandman for me. And of course, there is the unforgettable classic Halloween theme. Watch the trailer.

 

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

People often make fun of me for loving this movie. It is a movie I have often watched late on Halloween night by myself after the trick-or-treaters fizzle out. I’m not sure why, because this movie doesn’t exactly scream “HALLOWEEN”, but ah well. I think the improvised faux reality style in which it was made was ground breaking and shocking. Several films have used this technique since. If you’re not familiar with this movie or the way it was filmed, it might be worth checking out its wikipedia page. Then again, that might ruin it for you. Watch it first and then check out the page. Though a lot of people complained about getting nauseous in the theaters due to the amateur shaky film footage, I think they’re whiners! Watch the trailer.

 

What Lies Beneath (2000)

Again, college nostalgia for me. I was lucky enough to have HBO in my apartment back then, and this was shown a LOT for a year or two. It’s just a creepy movie with some pretty intense spirit communication, including a funny scene with a Ouija board. Right up my alley. Plus, who could forget the amazing bath tub scene? I’ve never personally had one of those “lounge in a tub” kind of bath tubs, but when I see one I immediately think of this scene. Sadly, this is one of those movies that is becoming hard to find unless you own the DVD. I do not.

 

  

 

The Others (2001)

The last movie on our list tries to give us a glimpse into what happens when we die and what it might be like. That, of course, is probably not how Hollywood describes it, but that’s the question that is pondered and brought up so many times in this blog and in other paranormal circles. Again, like most the movies from this list, it has all of the spooky elements to it. Creepy old house, creepy children giggling, lots of darkness, and a séance scene that includes some automatic writing. And then… the creepy old woman… with the little girl’s voice! I thought this was a very well-made movie.

 

 

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Christina Ricci as Lizzie Borden on Lifetime?  (Photo Credit: David Shankbone)

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(Photo Credit: David Shankbone)


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