Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alien Abduction - First Person Fire in the Sky

Alien Abduction
Directed by Matty Beckerman
Written by Robert Lewis

Starring Katherine Sigismund, Corey Eid & Riley Polanski

Not Rated - Approx 85 Minutes
Exclusive Media

Tag Lines
 - Fear The Lights

Alternate Titles
The Morris Family Abduction

"Everybody up here knows there's something weird going on."

First off, I've gotta get this off my chest:  I'm tired of people automatically dismissing a movie because it's found footage and continually bashing the format.  Found Footage films are here to stay, deal with it.  If you don't like it, that's fine.  If everyone liked the same things it would be an awfully boring world.  But for the love of God and all that's holy PLEASE stop judging films based simply on the fact that they're found footage.  Stop making automatic comparison's to Blair Witch and stop calling it lazy filmmaking.

Meet The Morrisons!  

I would have packed up my shit right then and there and left....

Okay, now that I've gotten THAT out of my system......let's talk Alien Abduction.  This is (if you haven't already figured it out) a found footage film that chronicles that last days of The Morris family.  The family of five (Father, Peter...Mother, Katie and siblings Corey, Jillian and Riley) are on a camping trip in the Brown Mountains of North Carolina.  On the first night, the kids spot a series of bright lights in the sky that are behaving quite oddly before shooting off into the night sky.

The next day things start to go wrong for the family.  Their SUV is mysteriously low on gas, the GPS is malfunctioning and tensions are starting to run a bit high.  When the family comes to a tunnel that is blocked by abandoned vehicles, you KNOW shits about to go sideways.  Dad and the boys trek into the tunnel to see what could possibly be causing the problem.  What they find is goddamned creepy.  Dozens of cars are abandoned.  Some have their hazards on, some don't, but they are ALL disheveled.  Clothes are strewn about, babyseats seemingly ripped from cars and laying on the ground, cell phones and other objects just apparently abandoned.  Getting towards the other side of the tunnel, Peter see's what he believes to be a person standing at the tunnel's mouth.  It's not human.  Personally, right then and there I would have lost my mind....because...well, you guys know how I feel about aliens.

There are aliens in the tunnel!

I just pooped myself a bit

From there on out, it's a fairly constant extraterrestrial assault on the family as they scramble for safety.   Unfortunately for them, the car doesn't have much gas left in it and after a highly disturbing shower of dead birds, the car completely runs dry and they're now on the run....literally....on foot.  They manage to find shelter when they come across a cabin belonging to a hillbilly named Sean.  At first he seems like your typical mountain dwelling type....not very fond of city slicker tourists who come up to his mountain, but he quickly becomes more of a protector and dare I even say hero as the film progresses.

That can't be good.

Meet Sean.

The aliens themselves are only ever briefly glimpsed, which makes their appearances all the more jarring when they do appear.  Their presence is heralded by blinding white light that seemingly infiltrates every crack, nook and cranny of whatever structure you happen to be in.  The light is accompanied by an unsettling metallic/ electronic noise that I can only describe as uncomfortable sounding.

Pretty much my worst fear encapsulated in a single screencap.

The film is based on the real life phenomena known as the Brown Mountain Lights, which have been sighted in the Brown Mountain region of North Carolina since the early 1900's.  They can still be seen to this day and there is still no explanation as to what the source of the lights could possibly be.  They've been the subject of several songs, books, movies and paranormal television shows.  There was even an episode of The X Files that revolved around the lights in 1999.  

No blood in this one.

No skin in this one either

Aliens.  Goddamned aliens, man.  Freaky bug eyed bastards with their long spindly fingers.......

That town looks a looooooooong way off.

Final Thoughts
It's no secret that those grey skinned freaky bastards from beyond the moon scare the crap out of me, but I try not to let that get in the way of my objectively viewing the film.  Even if they had used a different monster in the film, it still would have been effective.  Set pieces such as the car tunnel and the road covered in dead birds were highly effective.

It still amazes me that in this day and age of YouTube and Vines that people are so against found footage films.  The argument that "No one would continue to film as all this scary stuff happens" is invalid.  YouTube and other online video sights prove that.  Do you know how many videos you can find online of REAL people being killed in accidents and even murdered while someone stands by and numbly films it?  How many websites are dedicated to pictures of videos of gruesome accidents, injuries and death?

If you were in an unbelievable situation and had a camera with you (as most people do on at least their phones now) wouldn't YOU want to document what was happening?  Should you manage to get out of it alive, you'll want proof of your unbelievable story.  If you die, you'll want people to know what happened to you.  Unlikely that you would be filming when bad shit happens?  In this day and age, I think it would be unlikely that you WOULDN'T be.  Think about it.

Final Rating

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Willow Creek - The Sasquatch Hunting Project

Willow Creek
Directed by Bobcat Goldthwait
Written by Bobcat Goldthwait
Starring Alexie Gilmore & Bryce Johnson

Unrated - Approx 80 Minutes
Jerkshool Productions


Alternate Titles:

"They put fruit in my sushi.....who does that?"

I don't remember exactly the first time I heard of Bigfoot.  Whether it was in a book that I got from the library or perhaps an episode of Unsolved Mysteries I can't recall.   What I DO remember is the first time I ever saw the Patterson-Gimlin Film that allegedly shows a Bigfoot strolling through the forest in the middle of the day.  It's long arms eerily swinging back and forth....the way the head turns to look back at the men filming....it spooked me.  That was when I really began to think that there may be something more to Sasquatch then just old stories and legends.  I saw that footage in the first paranormal themed VHS tape that I ever rented:  Secrets of the Unknown.   If I remember correctly, SotU was a 30 minute documentary series that covered a wide range of topics:  Bigfoot, UFO's, The Loch Ness Monster, etc.  Now I know this is going to come as a shock, but I did NOT rent this from Video Paradise.  Nope.  This was one of my first rentals from Blockbuster Video.  Back in the early days of Blockbuster, they had a huge variety of tapes that just weren't available at my beloved mom & pop shop.  I remember watching the Bigfoot tape on a weeknight and I was completely enthralled.  It was all I talked about the next day at school.  This was the start of my love of the 'Squatch!

     The Patterson-Gimlin Film 

There have been a metric shit ton of Bigfoot films, tv shows and documentaries produced over the years and a good deal of them tread quite closely together.  For every great film such as The Legend of Boggy Creek, you also end up with a film such as The Asylum's wild and wonky Bigfoot, film starring Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams!  Lemme tell ya....watching Danny Partridge and Greg Brady fight on top of Mount Rushmore as a giant Sasquatch is blasted by helicopters is definitely not something you're likely to forget.  No matter how hard you try.  Trust me.

I haven't seen them all, but I've seen my fair share and I think it's only fair to say that a good many of the Sasquatch films made are fair to middling.  Bigfoot flicks, much like zombie movies, are generally cheap to produce.  A trip to the local Halloween Costume Store and you're off and filming (See Suburban Sasquatch for a good example) your 'Squatch epic!
When I heard that Bobcat Goldthwait was making a found footage Bigfoot movie, I was intrigued.  God Bless America and World's Greatest Dad were both great films.  I wondered how Bobcat would handle straight on horror...especially found footage.  I was quite surprised.  

Our story unfolds with a young couple, Jim and Kelly, heading up to Northern California to visit the sight of the now legendary Patterson-Gilmlin Film.  It has been a lifelong dream of Jim's to take this trip and he full well believes in the beast.  Kelly, on the other hand is extremely skeptical and she's really only taking the trip to make Jim happy (cause she's a pretty swell girlfriend).  As they make their way closer to their destination, they stop in Willow Creek (which just so happens to be the Bigfoot capital of the world!) and visit all the kitschy Bigfoot attractions including the Bigfoot Restaurant (home of the Bigfoot Burger, which by the way looks delicious!), Bigfoot Books and of course one of several giant wooden Sasquatch statues that are hanging out around town.  As best I can tell all the locations are real.  I know that the Bigfoot Restaurant is, cause I Googled it and several Yelp reviews came up.  So that's kinda cool that there's a genuine local flavor going on there!

Jim is also making a documentary out of the trip and interviews many of the locals in Willow Creek.  I've heard that they used real locals in some of the interviews (much like they used real locals in the filming of Under The Skin) but I am unsure if that is true or not.  Some seem authentic, while others seem like they may be actors.....I know for sure that The Forest Ranger was actor Peter Jason.  He's appeared in everything from episodes of Gunsmoke to John Carpenter's They Live!  There is one hell of an amusing interview with a fellow that Jim describes as the Bob Dylan of Bigfoot experts.  Jim wasn't kidding.  This guy's even written a song about the Patterson-Gimlin expedition into the woods called Roger and Bob Rode Out!  It was actually pretty catchy.  You don't get to hear too many Bigfoot themed songs these days.  As an added bonus we're treated to another dude singing a 'Squatch song while playing his ukulele!  

As Jim becomes more and more excited about getting to the actually filming location, Kelly becomes more and more uneasy, but of course still goes along with Jim's idea to hike out to the location to camp.  It's the movies third act that truly impressed me.  Entering the woods, they encounter an angry local to doesn't just warn them off, but literally tells them to fuck off.  Jim, STILL not deterred in his hunt for the truth knows another way into    After driving for about two hours on a dirt road into the middle of the Six Rivers National Forest, they come to the end of the road and must hike the rest of the way to Bluff Creek where the film was shot.  After hiking for what appears to be most of the day, they set up camp about an hour and half hike from the site (according to Jim's calculations).  After some last moments of levity, night inevitably falls and that is where the fright truly begins.  

Naturally I'm not going to spoil the film, but what I WILL say is that there is an intense single take that lasts about twenty minutes.  It consists solely of Jim and Kate sitting in the tent as Tree Knocking (allegedly one of the ways that Sasquatch communicates.....by banging wood on trees) and vocalizations (just want it sounds like....Sasquatch yelling!) and a too close for comfort visitor outside their tent keep them terrified.  It doesn't happen often when I watch a film, but I found myself holding my breath....straining to listen to the sounds occurring outside Jim and Kate's tent.  If you've ever been camping and found yourself startled awake in the middle of the night by a strange sound, you will no doubt have the same reaction.

No sir!  Much as I know that you were looking forward to Sasquatch ripping someone limb from limb and them beating them with their own appendages, it ain't happening here.  

Well, there's a little skin....but.....well....you'll see.

Yes and No!  The film is steeped in Bigfoot lore and from the moment the couple steps into the woods you can almost feel the eyes on them (and you...being a found footage film, you feel as though you're there with Jim and Kelly).  However, you never actually SEE any Sasquatch.  You can definitely FEEL them though.

Final Thoughts
I went into this film thinking it was more or less the Sasquatch equivalent of The Blair Witch Project.  And while I am a fan of BWP, I do believe that Willow Creek actually made some improvements on the formula.  Most of the film was build-up.  It was a lot of interviews and little moments here and there at the kitschy tourist attractions and conversations in the car.  By the time you're in the woods with Jim & Kate, you have much more of a sense of who they are and you feel more for them.  It's certainly not a perfect film, but it's a fun Bigfoot romp with a few good scares.  

Final Rating

Monday, August 4, 2014

Midnight Cinephile's Guide To Paranormal Televison

If you're like me then as a natural extension of your love for the horror genre, you've also got a keen interested in the paranormal and the unknown.  I suppose that an argument could be made that MOST people are at least somewhat curious in the unexplained.  It's a natural human condition to want to understand all that surrounds you, after all.  We're curious beings, we humans.  There have been countless books written on the subject, but that's not what I want to talk about today.  Today, I want to take a look at the evolution of paranormal television shows.  This is not meant to be a definitive list....more a progression of the shows that I've watched throughout the years.

In Search Of... is one of the earliest examples of paranormal television.  Originally slated to be hosted by Rod Serling until his untimely death in 1975, the program (hosted instead by Leonard Nemoy) covered a wide variety of topics from UFO's to Cryptids to psychic powers and even mysticism and religion.  It was a fascinating show that really opened the floodgates for what was to come.  It aired from 1977 until 1982.  I don't think that I watched it during it's original run....but I definitely caught it in syndication in the late 80's or early 90's.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not! while there was a show that ran briefly from 1949 -1950, it was the show that aired in the early to mid 1980's that most people remember (1982 to 1986).  While the show didn't necessarily deal with the paranormal, it still opened people's eyes to incredibly bizarre things in the world...hence the title of the show.  The show was hosted by Jack Palance and I can remember being creeped out on more than one occasion by some of the stories they would air.   The show was revived in the year 2000 and hosted by Dean Caine, but at that point the show seemed to take on more of a "people doing amazing things" type of vibe.  Not that the original shows didn't have that as well.....but it lost that sense of mysteriousness to it.

Unsolved Mysteries  was the show that really got to me as a kid.  In addition to reports of UFO's, Bigfoot sightings and Ghosts, there were also a number of unexplained disappearances and unsolved murders that would help fill out the show.  Of course anyone who's read Midnight Cinephile for a while knows that the Unsolved Mysteries theme music had me hiding behind the couch each week.  That soul destroying synth music was the soundtrack to every fear that I held in my young life.  It certainly didn't help that Robert Stack had to stand in a goddamned graveyard, in front of a crumbling mausoleum at 2:30 in the freaking morning to tell me all about a woman who vanished in broad daylight after sighting a UFO.  Thanks a pantload, Bob!

Mysteries, Magic and Miracles was a strange one for me.  It was hosted by Patrick MacNee (remember him from Waxwork!?) and it was sort of all over the place.  I will never forget that one afternoon I was watching (it must have been in syndication at that point) and it was the first time that I saw the alleged video of the Area 51 alien interview.  I was working at the local grocery store at the time and I remember spending the whole night on carriage duty (collecting the shopping carts in the parking lot and bringing them inside) and just couldn't stop thinking about it.  I'll be honest I don't remember much else about the show!

Sightings  was another show that would more often than not give me the willies.  As I mentioned in my Childhood Trauma Flashback yesterday, I would often end up watching Sightings alone while my mother went to pick up my sister from Friday night high school football games.  Sightings, which originally started as a series of specials, dealt with a lot of UFO's and ghosts....with the occasional psychic phenomena or Cryptid sneaking in.  What freaked me out even more about this show is the fact that host Tim White treated it more like a news broadcast.  It just made it all seem that much more credible.

Unsolved Mysteries and Sightings were really the two shows that blew the whole thing wide open into a recognizable genre.  Suddenly there were specials being aired on a multitude of networks (though Fox always seemed to have the most).  Alien Autopsy, UFO:  Best Evidence Caught on Tape, Ghosts:  Best Evidence Caught on Tape, Area 51 Exposed etc, etc....are just a few of the television specials that would be the topic of conversation around the water cooler the next day.  I've got about a bazillion and a half VHS tapes filled with these type of shows because I had to record EVERYTHING when I was a kid.  As it would turn out, the new millennium would become the age of Reality TV and paranormal programming would become a huge part of it......

One of the shows that sort of bridged that millennial gap was Beyond Belief:  Fact of Fiction.  The show was hosted by Commander Riker himself, Jonathan Frakes!  This time around instead of simply reporting on strange events and talking head interviews, they would show a series of re-enactments, some of which were allegedly true while the others were simply made up stories.  As the show progressed, viewers were asked to play along so to speak and guess which was which.  At the end of the show, Frakes would reveal which tales were true and which were false.  I watched quite a bit of the show and I must say I was pretty good at sussing out the fake stories.

The first ten years of the aughts brought us about a gazillion shows about haunted places.  America's Haunted Castles, America's Haunted Hotels, Haunted History, Most Haunted, Scariest Places on Earth, Psychic Detectives, Weird Travels and on and on and on the list goes.  It was a supernatural explosion.

The most influential show to come out of this period was of course Ghost Hunters.  The show debuted on t Ghost Hunters follows the real life adventures of the TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) team as they travel to various locations reported to be haunted to launch an investigation.  What I always liked about Ghost Hunters was that they were not over zealous.  They would try and debunk every piece of evidence before even thinking of relenting that it may in fact be supernatural activity.  I wish the same could be said for the many various rip-off shows that have sprung up ever since.  Some of the more recent shows such as Ghost Adventures I just cannot take seriously.  Running around a house/abandoned prison/insert other haunted location here, calling the ghosts "pussies" and daring them to appear is a little on the ridiculous side.  Now before you jump up and exclaim that I am a hater and I just don't believe in the paranormal, nothing could be further from the truth.  I spent a few years as an amateur ghost hunter and as we speak (or as I type) I'm working on a paranormal project that will work in conjunction of Midnight Cinephile.  My point is:  they are unprofessional and look like fools.....but that's enough of that....moving along!
he Syfy Channel (Still called SciFi then) in 2004 and is still going strong to this day.

As I really don't feel like running through the glut of other short lived paranormal shows that have appeared and vanished again in the blink of an eye let's take a look at the shows that you can check out today, if you so desire.  To make it easier for you, I've arraigned this next section by channel.  Again this is not a definitive list.  This is a list of the shows that I watch, have watched or possibly know someone who watches.  I'm sure there are quite a few shows that have slipped past me.  So let's get to it!

I proudly present:

Midnight Cinephile's Guide To Paranormal TV!

Destination America
A Haunting
Originally airing on The Discovery Channel from 2005 - 2009, this is the show that first introduced us to the plight of the Snedeker family, who underwent a horrifying ordeal when they moved into their Connecticut home.  The show (after being cancelled in 2009) was revived on Destination America in October of 2012.  Ever since it's been stories of creepy-ass hauntings that make me glad that I work at night and sleep during the day!  Seriously.  Some of that shit is MESSED UP!

Monsters & Mysteries in America
I haven't seen too many episodes of this show, which is kinda surprising given my love of cryptids!  Each episode is split into three segments, each focusing on a different monster in a different part of the country.  The usual interviews are interspersed with re-enactments and so forth.  I may actually fire up the ol' DVR and record some episodes to watch, now that I'm thinking about it!

When Ghosts Attack
Yet another show about hauntings, but this one (as the title indicates) is all about people who have had rough physical encounters with the other side.  Another title for the show that would have worked:  I Got Beat Up By A Ghost,

Hauntings & Horrors
Oh, where to begin with this one?  This is the B-Movie equivalent to paranormal television programming.  I've watched about five or six episodes so far and it's pure hilarity.  The episodes are all over the place in terms of believability.  For instance, in an episode that featured the "Goat-Man of Maryland" it was painfully clear that the "eyewitnesses" were actors.  To further illustrate that fact, they had many of the "eyewitnesses" in the re-enactments.  The title screen and credits all look like they've been made on a Window's 95 version of Paint.  Especially endearing is the early 90's autumn leaf animation that appears every two minutes.  I'm also quite fond of the Sasquatch costumes with the glowing eyes that they use.  I know I'm poking fun at this quite a bit and please don't mistake that for negative criticism....if you want to be thoroughly entertained, watch this show!

Mountain Monsters
Another of the "So ridiculous I love it" shows.  Mountain Monsters follows a group of hillbilly monster hunters as they track and hunt various monsters all over the Appalachian Regions.  As a matter of fact, the group calls itself A.I.M.S. (Appalachian Investigators of Mysterious Sightings)!  Don't get much more hillbilly than that!  Amirite?!?  So here you've got your teamleader, John "Trapper" Tice!  TRAPPER JOHN!  Other team members include Huckleberry, Wild Bill and of course, Buck.  I've only seen a handful of episodes at this point, but I was hooked when I saw the boys hunting a werewolf.  They tried to trap in in a hole and cover it with a big rock.  It was amazing.  I never want to miss another episode.

Unsealed: Alien Files
This is, in fact one of my favorite UFO/Alien shows.  Perhaps because it also airs on WBIN, a local station from Derry, NH that reminds me of WNDS, the Derry TV station that showed Tales From The Darkside and Monsters on Friday nights.  The show is a half hour long and usually each episode will stay with a certain theme....hostile aliens, top ten encounters, MiB's, Goverment Cover-Ups, etc.  What truly makes this show is the narrator, whose deep voice booms through your television and up your spine as you are shown actual video as well as the occasional re-enactment.  If you're into UFO's and Aliens, THIS is the show to watch!

Unsealed: Conspiracy Files
I must not be alone in my love of Alien Files because the creators of that show have given us a sister show that deals with Conspiracies!  AWESOME!  I've only watched a few episodes at this point, but so far it's every bit as awesome as it's alien twin broadcast.  Sometimes a bit far stretching (The Government is trying to cover-up Bigfoot's existence?!) but it has the some fantastically creepy vibe as Alien Files.  If you're looking for a quick paranormal/alien/conspiracy fix.....it doesn't get much better!

History Channel/H2
Monster Quest
I never really watched Monster Quest...maybe an episode or two.  What you have here is your standard Cryptid Hunter show:  Talk about the monster.....dig up info about the monster.....hear stories about the monster.....look for the monster.......don't find the monster.  The only show that seemingly does not follow that format is Finding Bigfoot....because apparently those guys find Bigfoot every damned episode!   Though the show is no longer producing new episodes, they still run in syndication fairly often.

UFO Hunters
Another of my favorite UFO themed shows...this one is also no longer producing new episodes, sadly.  You can watch old episodes fairly often though, so that's pretty nice.  The show followed William J. Birnes and his team of experts as they would work on various UFO cases.  Much like Jason Hawes from Ghost Hunters, the team did not easily jump to conclusions and would often try out every possibility before stating that the object could very well be a bona fide UFO.

Ancient Aliens
If you've read Erich von Däniken's book Chariot of the Gods and you subscribe to the Ancient Astronaut Theory (or the AAT, as I like to call it!) then this is the show for you.  Giorgio A. Tsoukalos, former editor of Legendary Times Magazine and Ancient Astronaut Theorist and bizarre hairstyle enthusiast is the consulting producer and appears frequently on the show.  This is another of my favorite shows.  I've watched since Season One and I've gotta say that they make one hell of a compelling case for the AAT.  Some episodes REALLY seem to stretch and grasp at straws, but by and large I feel that the AAT is as valid a theory as any other.

In Search of Aliens
 Giorgio A. Tsoukalos' second Alien themed show that only just premiered on July 25th this year.  I've got it on my DVR but haven't found the time to sit down and watch it yet.  From what I have gathered thus far, Giorgio heads out into the great wide open to actively explore and search for signs that extraterrestrial life has been on our planet.  The first episode he searches for clues to Atlantis.  Interesting stuff, for sure.

Hanger 1: The UFO Files
Taking a more historical approach to the UFO phenomena, Hanger 1 takes a look at more classic cases such as The Battle of Los Angeles, the alleged meeting between extraterrestrials and  President Eisenhower in the early 50's and of course the Roswell crash.

The Science Channel
The Unexplained Files
What can I say?  More reports on UFO's, Cryptids and other strange happenings!  Not a bad show, but also not one that I watch a lot of.

Alien Encounters
This is a fantastic show that takes a hypothetical approach to the question of aliens contact.  What would it be like?  Through a combination of interviews with scientists and a fictional enactment of the events that would take place, the program shows a compelling view of a possible future in which we know that we are not alone in the universe.  A world of expanded technology and hybrid humans.

Dark Matters:  Twisted But True
Not exactly a paranormal show, Dark Matters takes the Beyond Belief approach, except leaves out the false tales.  Some of the stories are cases of amazing coincidence, mad science or in one of the most chilling stories, an amateur ham radio operator who managed to tune into the signal of a lost cosmonaut that would never return to earth.

Also not paranormal per se, but I included it here because it deals with many real life macabre objects...some of which have been alleged to be haunted or once belonged to a haunted house and such.

Ghost Hunters
The Great Grandpappy of all the ghost hunting shows.  Jason Hawes and the TAPS team to a good job investigating the various cases and I appreciate the fact that they do not jump the gun and proclaim a home haunted simply because an "orb" appeared in a photo in the basement.  For those who are unfamiliar with ghost terminology and "orb" is just what it sounds like:  a small, sometimes translucent sphere that appears in pictures sometimes.  99.9% of the time it's a reflection of the flash on a dust particle that is close to the lense and out of focus.  Many people see these and claim them as proof of the supernatural.  TAPS strives to collect more solid evidence with thermal imaging, EVP's (Electronic Voice Phenomena), video and still cameras and more.

Paranormal Witness
Very much in line with A Haunting, Paranormal Witness is a show that explores people's reports of hauntings with a combination of interviews and re-enactments.  I'll be honest...I've never watched this one so I can't speak on it one way or the other!

Destination Truth
Josh Gates and his team of investigators search for evidence of everything from ghosts to UFO's to cryptids.  It's sorta like Ghost Hunters, but with an expanded scope of research.  Sadly the show was cancelled in 2012, but you can still catch episodes on Syfy quite often.  I've heard that The Travel Channel has picked up Josh for a show that should be coming out soon.  Not sure exactly what it is, but I'll be interested to see!

Fact of Faked: Paranormal Files
A show that reminds me quite a bit of Destination Truth.  Headed up by former FBI agent Ben Hanson, a group of investigators will watch a series of videos each episode and then vote on which ones they would like to investigate.  Again, ghosts, cryptids, UFO's, etc....are all in the mix.  Of particular note is the fact that the crew is actually doing everything in their power to duplicate the video that was given to them.  If they can duplicate it easily then it is considered Faked.....which I may not necessarily agree with every time....but it's still fun to watch them try and duplicate the videos!

Ghost Mine
I never watched this one, but apparently it about miners in Oregon and two paranormal investigators who were trying to determine in the mine was haunted.  It only lasted one season.

Haunted Highway
Jack Osborne (son of Ozzy) heads up a team of investigators who search for ghosts and cryptids in various locales around the US.  What I like about this show is that there are no camera crews.  Everything is filmed by the investigators themselves.

My Ghost Story
Another ghost show in which eyewitnesses recount stories of their ghostly encounters with re-enactments added for extra dramatic effect.  Not much else to say on this one.....not a bad show by any means....but also not offering anything new.

Celebrity Ghost Stories
Pretty much exactly the same as My Ghost Story except for the fact that the eyewitness recounting the paranormal encounter is a celebrity.  This one is pretty interesting if you're into listening to celebrities talking about something other than their latest movie, TV show, book or record.  Some of the celebrities that have participated include Carrie Fischer, Alice Cooper and Joey Lawrence!

Extreme Paranormal 
Much like Ghost Adventures, this is more ridiculousness.  Instead of conducting an investigation professionally, these three run around like macho roid'heads.  They taunt ghosts, dare demons to attack them, "Blah, blah, blah....We're SO EXTREME!!!!!!"  I have no use for these ridiculous antics.

Psychic Investigators
No UFO's or ghosts this time.  Psychic Investigators takes a look at psychics who help police departments with unsolved crimes and difficult cases.  The show seems to take what the alleged psychics say at face value and rather than investigate the psychic phenomena itself.  The show has been fairly controversial with many of it's critics stating that the cases shown have never actually happened.  The show was awarded the Truly Terrible Television Award.....so I guess that's something.  I've only seen a few clips from the show, so I cannot really say either way.

The Unexplained
Another paranormal show that takes eyewitness accounts and re-enacts them.  This one is a bit different in that instead of the usual ghostly hauntings, more metaphysical mysteries are examined as well including Out of Body Experience, Mind Over Matter and Psychic Phenomena.  I have only seen a handful of episodes, but what I saw didn't really impress me too much.

True stories about curses are the premise here.  I haven't seen this one and I don't know much else about it.  This was helpful, wasn't it?

Long Island Medium
Theresa Caputo is a medium who claims that she can communicate with the dead (Hey, just like that John Edwards guy!  *FRAUD* cough, cough)  It's your typical reality show but with the whole "I talk to dead people" thing thrown in.  I watch an episode.  That was enough for me.  I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before but I am NOT a disbeliever of psychic phenomena.  Hell, my own grandmother said she had the gift and even had correspondence with Edgar Cacey himself when she was younger!  Having been a professional magician for a number of years, I'm all too familiar with the tricks that some so called psychics use to try and gain fame and fortune.  I truly hope that science can one day prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that psychic powers exist.

Animal Planet
Finding Bigfoot
A group of guys search for Bigfoot.  At the end of every damn episode they seem to be satisfied with their investigation to the point where they can proclaim that Bigfoot exists without a doubt!  Every.  Damn.  Episode.  Okay, to be fair, I've only watched a handful of times......but geez.  Every episode is kinda the same.

Travel Channel
Ghost Adventures
Much like Extreme Paranormal.  I do not care for the unprofessional and ridiculous attitude the investigators take, treating the whole thing more like a frat game.  Daring ghosts to attack, calling them pussies....blah blah blah.  It's not edgy.  It's not cool.  It's downright annoying and takes away from any spook factor.  Either that or I'm just a cranky old bastard....either way....get off my lawn, ya hooligan!

Well, shit.  I've written a metric shit ton about Paranormal Television haven't I?  I hope that I've managed to not only entertain but enlighten and inform you about the vast cornucopia of paranormal themed reality tv shows out there.  Some are good.  Some are bad.  Some make me want to stab myself in the eyes with chopsticks.

This was definitely a longer post than usual and I thank those of you who stuck with it till the end.  I would love to hear your thoughts on these shows.  Feel free to point out any that I've missed and by all means chime in with your thoughts on the paranormal, UFO's etc.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Childhood Trauma Flashbacks Part VI: Prime Time Scares

Back in February of 2013, I posted the first Childhood Trauma Flashback in which I talked about various Television theme songs that scared the crap out of me.  Tonight we're going to take a look back at the various television shows that spooked me.  Sometimes it was a whole series that gave me the willies....sometimes it was just a specific episode.  In any case, let's step in the way-back machine and visit Young Matt in 1980-something and watch as he cowers in fear in front of the glowing pictures being emitted from a cathode ray.....


Sure, sure....go on an laugh, but Matlock scared me as a kid.  There was ALWAYS a creepy murder that started the show, at which point Andy Griffith would try to solve the mysterious murder within sixty minutes.  I remember watching this every Monday night with my mother.....scared the crap out of me every time.  I remember one episode in particular that bothered me for a long time was about a killer dressed as Santa Claus.  Looking back, I'm not so sure it was a good idea on Mom's part to let me watch that show....

"Ghost Story"

You know, now that I'm thinking about it, there were a lot of TV shows that I watched as a kid that were really kind of over my head.  You wouldn't think that an 8 year old kid would be terribly interested in a politically themed sitcom, but man, did I love Benson.  The episode in which the mansion is apparently haunted by the ghost of a former Governor really spooked me out as a kid.  There is also an episode in which The Governor and Benson are golfing at night when a UFO appears and abducts Benson!  You KNOW how I am with aliens!  Scared the everlasting gobstoppers out of me.

The whole damn series!

It started out as The UFO Report: Sightings.  Then came The Ghost Report and The Psychic Report.  Then Sightings became a full fledged television show that aired on Friday nights.  I've mentioned in a much older post about the Friday night tradition of old.  Things changed slightly when my sister started high school and joined the marching band.  Every Friday night in the Fall, she would playing the band during the Friday night football games.  My mother would leave me to watch my baby sister while she went to pick up my older sister from the high school.  She would usually leave just before 8:30 to be able to get a decent place to park and wait from my sister, who usually got back to the high school around 9pm (barring of course the game going into overtime).  Sightings would come on at 8:30 and I would sit there alone in the living room (my baby sister would already be asleep) and would be rooted in fear to the spot as reports of UFO's and mysterious creatures sightings would be reported every week.  My mother and sister would get home and I was so relieved to not be alone anymore.....of course I couldn't let them know how freaked out I was and had to play it cool.

The Facts of Life
Seven Little Indians

This is one of the more embarrassing scares of my youth.....and I've written about it before, but I would be remiss if I didn't include it when talking about things that scared the crap out of me as a kid.  I went into the plot in detail before, so to short version is that this episode plays like a slasher movie narrated by a Rod Serling clone.  I was even afraid of him!  He really creeped me out!  I'll never forget lying in my bed, trying not to look at my closet door (which was never able to close fully....always stuck open about an inch).  I swore there was a killer lurking in my closet and the minute that I fell asleep, he was going to get me.  I'm pretty sure that I was convinced it was the Rod Serling clone in my closet.  My mother had to comfort me for at least 45 minutes to an hour while I freaked out about the whole thing.  Every now and then she'll still get a smirk on her face and simply say:  "Tootie."  (The Rod Serling clone had a running gag in the episde where he liked to say Tootie's name....)

I think we'll stop here for the night.  The sun will be up soon and the shadows will retreat into the underground for another day.  I hope you enjoy these Childhood Trauma Flashbacks......it's quite cathartic going back and revisiting my childhood fears!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Unexpected Horrors Part V: Jim Henson - Nightmare Maker

It's that time once again to delve into the realm of Unexpected Horrors.  Those skin crawling, nightmare inducing moments and creatures that catch you by surprise because they do not appear in a horror film.  In Part III, I mentioned the Fiery's in Jim Henson's Labyrinth.....which got me thinking about other various creatures and moments in Jim Henson's world that spooked me as a kid.  So, in no particular order, allow me to count down my top Henson scares!

The Muppet Show
Meteor Aliens

In an episode with Jonathan Winters, the show is apparently under a gypsy curse with anything and everything going wrong for the cast and crew.  When Fozzy tries to convince Kermit of the curse, Kermit replies that the show would have to be "visited by something absolutely disastrous".  Just then a meteor crashes into the theater, pinning Kermit's flipper underneath it.  It cracks open and these two glittery creatures come out and announce that they are there to observe and ask questions.  Looking back on it now, they're kinda cute.  Not so much when I was 5.  They scared the bejesus out of me.  Bastards.

Fraggle Rock
The Terrible Tunnel 

For a kid's show, Fraggle Rock certainly had it's share of freaky episodes and disturbing characters (Seriously, show me a kid who wasn't at least slightly creeped out by The Trash Heap!)  One of the episodes that scared me the most when I was but a wee one was The Terrible Tunnel.  The Fraggles are playing a game called "Heidey-Ho"...a call and answer game that's sort of a cross between hide & seek and Marco Polo played on land.  Wembley is "it" and must find the other Fraggles who are hiding.  He stumbles across what he believes to be the "Terrible Tunnel"...which was a story told to the Fraggles by The Storyteller.  The tunnel is supposedly haunted and full of creatures.  I will never forget Wembley searching for his fellow Fraggles and calling out "HEIDEY!"  and an unearthly voice answering "Ho....."   Gives me chills just thinking about it.

The Muppet Show
Dancing Clowns

As a general rule, clowns don't bother me.  Some of my favorite horror flicks are clown movies:  Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Stephen King's It, House of 1,000 Corpses, etc.  However the Clowns that appeared on the Muppet Show while Judy Collins sings "Send in the Clowns" are pure nightmare fuel.  Everything about them bugged me as a kid.  The way they moved seemed unnatural.  The worst part was the fact that they attempted to make them "full bodied" Muppets, which means that they had Muppet like faces with giant alien like googly eyes that haunt me to this day.  Every once in a while, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and half expect one of these bastards to be standing at the foot of my bed staring at me.  Good thing I work nights and mostly sleep during the day!

And finally there's this:

This is wrong on so many levels.  I guess that's why I love it so much!