Category Archives: Horror Movies

Love abandoned asylums? Special features for DD’s SESSION 9 Ep #320

325_Session-9-2001

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

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Eight films with immersive abandoned settings

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.

8 Abandoned Session9

David Caruso stands amidst the ruins in SESSION 9.

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

8 Abandoned Ghost Ship

An abandoned state room in GHOST SHIP.

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

8 Abandoned Reincarnation

Something’s amiss in the surprisingly bright abandoned resort in REINCARNATION.

Reincarnation (2005)

A filmmaker and his crew go to an abandoned hotel twenty years after Read the rest of this entry

How to celebrate Poe’s birthday: fun, last-minute and on the cheap!

My Poe action figure. I can’t write without him around!

January 19 (TODAY!) is Edgar Allan Poe’s 209th birthday—and it falls on a Friday, the most popular night of the week to party! Can’t make it to any of the myriad of Poe-related events in Baltimore, Virginia, Philadelphia or the Bronx this weekend, but still want to have some fun? Here are five instant, easy, low-cost ways to mark the occasion. Read the rest of this entry

Adam the Woo explores HALLOWEEN filming locations

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.

 

CREEP, CREEP 2, DARK DISCUSSIONS and the most unsettling Christmas present EVER

Peachfuzz 1

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.

You can listen to the DD episode on Creep here and the one on Creep 2 here…and you can watch the films here:

Creep

Creep 2

Creep Episode 195

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 195, CREEP. Look at the picture bottom left–yup, it’s the stuffed wolf! Collage by Philip Perron.

*SPOILER ALERT*

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…

Creep 2 Episode310

The masthead for DARK DISCUSSIONS Episode 310: CREEP 2. At the top left, you can see the Peachfuzz mask. Photo collage by Philip Peron.

TOT TERRORS: DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973)

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.

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (1973) 1

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

DARK DISCUSSIONS dives 47 METERS DOWN

 

Dark Discussions 47 Meters Down Mast_Episode293

47 METERS DOWN collage by Philip Perron.

Shark Week may be a long 10 months away, but there’s still plenty of thrills to be had in this year’s much-delayed Mandy Moore vehicle 47 Meters Down, which had been titled–and even briefly released, as I understand it–under the moniker In the Deep.

Dark Discussions delves deep into what works and what doesn’t in this film (which personally I didn’t get all the hate for–it’s a friggin’ shark thriller, for God’s sake, why are you all expecting high art?) which is available on Blu-Ray and DVD today. Pick it up here — http://a.co/20Q1UNs — then dive into what we thought!

You can listen to our episode on Stitcher, iTunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_293.html

1280_in_the_deep_47_meters_down_poster

TOT TERRORS: THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK

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.

Legend of Boggy Creek 1

The menu of my DVD edition. I have no idea which edition this is, but I know I got this at least a decade ago, maybe more. What I love about this menu is its featuring of what I think is the scariest episode in the film: the creature’s assault on the Fords and Turners.

I wouldn’t be surprised if 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek—an In Search Of…esque docudrama chronicling the hair-raising encounters of the people in Fouke, Arkansas with a sasquatch-like creature—spawned an entire generation of Bigfoot hunters: it certainly inspired me to not only fall in love with Bigfoot, but with what-none-of-us-knew-then-would-be-called found footage.

Legend of Boggy Creek 2

I remember seeing this title card on my grandmother’s kitchen television set — and it totally creeping me out. I’m thinking I could also attribute my love of found footage to this film.

This is yet another of those movies Read the rest of this entry

DARK DISCUSSIONS pays tribute to George Romero

Dark Discussions Mast_Episode297

Montage by Philip Perron

Dark Discussions pays tribute to George Romero in the wake of his passing. We discuss his life, his work, and the controversies that sometimes surrounded him, and some of our thoughts might surprise you! You can listen in on Stitcher, iTunes, and here: http://www.darkdiscussions.com/Pages/podcast_297.html

THIS WRITING LIFE EPISODE 10: DAMNATIONLAND is up!

Episode 10 This Writing Life

This episode of This Writing Life road trips to Portland, Maine!

For me, being a writer means always studying other media—film, music, art, whatever. One of my favorite things to do is attend DAMNATIONLAND—a horror film festival which showcases short films by independent Maine filmmakers. I probably did more partying than studying…but come take the ride with me! Watch This Writing Life Episode 10: Damnationland here: https://youtu.be/1ro3aNkm89M

If you wanna do it for real? You can check out the dates for 2017 on the Damnationland FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/Damnationland/?ref=br_rs

Damnationland Art 2

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