Category Archives: Horror Movies
The Dark Discussions crew enters the Newport Beach Film Festival official selection Devil’s Gate. This interesting piece starts off as one thing and seamlessly evolves into something else. You can watch the trailer for the movie here: https://youtu.be/4Hqs6XzYqog and you can listen to DD episode on Stitcher, Itunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_345.html.
Jaws 3-D–a movie that most people will tell you is a flaming piece of crap–was the film I fell in love with when I was 12 that basically made me the aquarium volunteer I am today. It inspired me to want to be around fish, and it inspired me to dream big and live in Florida (well, I’m getting to that part, still). So…on July 22, 1983, the film was released in theaters. In celebration of its 35th anniversary, I’m re-running an article I wrote for Jennifer Allis Provost’s MARCH MOVIE MADNESS blog series last year. Enjoy!
1983’s Jaws 3-D—one in a brief spate of super-hyped early ’80s 3D films—is considered the joke of the franchise, even though it was #1 at the box office and got its own prop exhibit at SeaWorld Orlando (then called Sea World of Florida), where it was filmed. There are still, however, some neat things that make 3-D eligible for at least a one-time watch.
At the time, underwater attractions were novel, dangerous things.
In 1964, the founders of SeaWorld San Diego (then called just Sea World) abandoned plans for an underwater restaurant because it “wasn’t feasible.” In 1980, the Shark Encounter, an under-the-surface walk-through, was on Sea World of Florida’s maps; in October of 1983—four months after Jaws 3-D’s theatrical release–Epcot’s Living Seas, which featured the aquarium-facing Coral Reef Restaurant, broke ground. While this new technology “wowed,” it also terrified: what happens if you’re in that tunnel and something fails? 3-D not only illustrates this scenario, it illustrates the solution. So while it’s clear that 3-D’s submerged multiplex was inspired by and publicized the real park’s exhibit, it heralded a new age: today, so many major aquariums have time-tested underwater attractions we take them for granted. Read the rest of this entry
Dark Discussions recently delved into a couple of this summer’s hits–Hereditary and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.
While Hereditary, as is typical of just about every new horror film that comes out, was touted as “the scariest film ever”–and the trailer makes it look like another “scary little girl movie”–it Read the rest of this entry
The crew from Dark Discussions gets in touch with the 2018 indie Pyewacket, which focuses on a teenager full of angst who probably should’ve been more careful about what she wished for when she got angry at her mom.
Tune in to our episode #337 on Stitcher, I-tunes, or go for the easy download/listen here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_337.html
What makes Session 9 truly remarkable is its location: the abandoned Danvers State Hospital, where the film was shot, becomes a character in itself. If you didn’t get the chance to urban explore the place when it was still a decaying wreck (which really wasn’t a great idea anyway since A, it was dangerous, and B, they were very hard on those who trespassed), watching Session 9 is probably the next-best thing.
That said, the history of the place is fascinating. Here are the links and videos I mentioned in the Dark Discussions episode on Session 9. And yes, I know I promised pix of me when I “urban explored” Fairfield Hills—an infamous abandoned asylum just fifteen minutes from my home—back in 2002. I put Read the rest of this entry
If you’ve been following me on any social media or have read some of my work, you know I have a thing for all things abandoned. On a recent Dark Discussions episode, we reviewed the 2001 film Session 9—it has some small issues, for sure, but you can’t beat the atmosphere; it was shot in the real former Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts, which today is home to luxury apartments (yes, really).
I decided it might be fun to pull together a list of my favorite movies that are set in abandoned locations. I didn’t include films that have one or two stunning scenes in such places—believe it or not, the animated love fest Happy Feet would rank high on that list, with its most disturbing scene playing out in an abandoned Antarctic whaling station—only films that are almost entirely set in them.
Please note: The only thing these films have been judged on is the quality of the abandoned setting. Check out your favorite review venue if you want more detail on the film’s other aspects before watching.
Session 9 (2001)
An asbestos cleaning crew takes on a big contract at a crumbling, abandoned asylum, not realizing that they’re going to get a lot more than they bargained for when they find cassettes of a patient’s hypnotherapy sessions. Many people consider this one of the most terrifying movies of all time, but I maintain it’s because of the claustrophobic setting. Shot at Danvers State Hospital in Massachusetts (before it was gutted and became Bradlee Danvers Luxury Apartments—check it out here), this is a fine example of how setting is sometimes the biggest player in what makes a movie scary. Watch Session 9
Ghost Ship (2002)
A salvage crew thinks they’ve hit the jackpot when they find a passenger liner that went missing forty years ago—one that had long been rumored to harbor massive treasure. But it also harbors something else: ghosts for sure, but I’m thinking more along the lines of splendid furnishings corroded by four decades worth of exposure to the salt air. For most of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to exploring a derelict liner. The set is so ably rendered it’s easy to envision the grandeur that must’ve been. Watch Ghost Ship
A filmmaker and his crew go to an abandoned hotel twenty years after Read the rest of this entry
I’ve always loved seeing “then and nows,” especially when it involves a location such as a no-longer operating amusement park, hotel, or town. In the spirit of all things abandoned, here’s a then-and-now short that Adam the Woo (a popular urban explorer I follow) did on the filming locations for John Carpenter’s Halloween, which includes scenes from the film for comparison.
If you like all things abandoned, you might want to pick up either the upcoming Ink Stains Volume 7: Decay, or my novel Bad Apple.
There are some Christmas gifts that are just so personal, clever, and awesome it’s unlikely they’ll ever be forgotten. I came home from a particularly rough one and received just that—and so did my friends Eric and Phil.
Most of you know that I’m a part-time co-host on a horror film podcast called Dark Discussions. The five of us—Phil, Mike, Eric, Abe, and me—tend to be irreverent and do a lot of laughing. A year or so before I joined them, they discussed an unsettling 2015 indie gem called Creep. Much joviality surrounded one of the movie’s more outlandish moments which was a little on the dirty side, if you get my drift.
The Creep franchise focuses on a serial killer; but, much like a narcissist, he likes to toy with and manipulate his victims first in a series of bizarre emotional ploys. He first cons his victim—in both movies, an aspiring filmmaker—with the lure of cash to film him for one day, evoking sympathy with one sob story after another as things get more complicated. What’s key to my anecdote, though, is that at one moment in the original film, he dons a wolf mask he calls “Peachfuzz.” That dirty moment I referenced? He touches himself while murmuring Peachfuzz’ name, later explaining to his victim that he thinks of himself as a wolf—tough on the outside, tender and loving on the inside.
After the victim leaves to go back to his life, our serial killer regresses to mailing strange packages before doing him in. The contents of at least one of the packages always contains a stuffed wolf.
As far as my scary little package, we’re still not sure which co-host did it; nobody’s owned it yet. Or even better if we never know. Because the brilliance of this isn’t only the reference to all the fun we have on the show, it’s got that creep factor: I could, indeed, be this guy’s next victim. Oh, Peachfuzz…
I often get asked about what influences my work as a writer. Inspired by the amazing website Kindertrauma–which is right up my alley–I’m compiling all of my childhood (and some adult) terrors.
I first watched 1973’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark on a Sunday afternoon in the late 1970s—at my grandmother’s house, on one of the channels that always ran repeat made-for-TV films.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which aired on October 10, 1973 on ABC, stars Kim Darby as a nervous homemaker who inherits her grandfather’s massive—and decrepit—mansion, complete with a caretaker who’s constantly warning her that “some things are better left alone” when she finds a tightly sealed fireplace in a shadowy room under the staircase. Which, of course, she opens in the name of “updating” the home. Soon, she’s Read the rest of this entry