Horror

Ghost Adventures – The Zozo Demon – S10E03

imageWe’re off to Oklahoma City to investigate a house where a man used a Talking Board also known as the Ouija to contact the spirit world and it’s believed he let through a spirit named Zozo. This is supposed to be a dark energy and one that cause harm and even inflict sexual assault on it’s victims. The door was originally opened by Darren who believes he was possessed by the spirit. He also states that odd things have been going on inside the house and now he and his wife are afraid of their home.

Zak states that Zozo is an evil entity and there have numerous reports of Zozo being conjured by these boards. He then meets with Robert Murch, Chairman of the Talking Board Historical Society. Interestingly, Robert says the more people believe in something the more real it is to them. He also states a lot of people say they contact Zozo. However, from listening to him, he doesn’t really state that using the Spirit Board actually opens a door. It’s more that if you think something has happened, then in your mind it did. Basically, if you wander around in the dark with the idea you’re chasing the devil, then in your mind that’s the reality. That’s the crux of it, you’ve convinced yourself something has happened regardless of whether or not it really did. So when Zak convinces himself that a place is haunted then in his mind everything is slanted to that end. Regardless of how things really play out, that place is haunted. And obviously, Zak believes this place has the devil inside.

To start things off and to show just how dangerous this house is, they bring in the handyman and have him sit on the stairs. Within seconds he’s saying something is brushing up against him and he bolts for the exit. Zak decides he needs to sit there with his Mel Meter that shows 1.0 and 1.1 repeatedly as a reading. To Zak, this is Zozo being spelled out. Ok, sure, whatever Zak.

There is a lot of talk about all the noises that go in the house. Not to be rude or judgmental, but the house is a shit box. Look at the walls. Look at the stairs. Look at the basement. The whole damn thing is falling apart. The stairs are insanely narrow and sagging. The wood is split, the walls are dirty as hell and everything about this place makes me feel like it’s going to topple over or someone is going to fall through the floor. Really? You’re surprised this place has creaks and makes noise? God only knows what’s living in those walls.

The investigation consists of Nick and Darren sitting around the Talking Board with the intent of contacting Zozo. They have to throw out their cautionary words of using the Board and opening a portal to hell. Again, I’m simply stunned with how easy it is to conjure demons from the depths of hell using cardboard covered in letters.

It should come as no surprise that the planchette starts to move back and forth and spell out Zozo. Wouldn’t we all be embarrassed if it spelled out something else? Of course, Nick repeatedly states he’s not moving it and it’s all outside of his control. Just who is he trying to convince?

But it’s during this time that the house starts to make all sorts of noises such as bangs and footsteps. Nick speaks of electricity charging through his body and down to his fingertips. The same fingertips that he assures everyone are barely touching the board.

Kathleen, Darren’s wife, decides this is a good time to make an exit because it’s all just to scary and dangerous for her. Nick and Darren keep at it and Zak is mystified how the word Zozo keeps getting spelled out.

Kathleen then makes a reappearance in a confused state and her belt undone. Zak jumps to the conclusion that Kathleen has been assaulted by the spirit energy. Kathleen even states the demon wanted to see her tits. Pervy little devil isn’t he? Dramatic effect for the sake of ratings? Clearly not.

As usual when there is supposed demonic energy around, Zak sits off on his own in a trance like state. He’s caught in a web of emotion and can’t move. He gets stuck like that a lot. Kathleen seemed to slip out of the demonic grasp and has wandered outside and disappeared. Oh no, she’s been lured outside by a demonic force. Zak jumps into his rent-an-suv and gives chase. He doesn’t have idea which way she went or how the neighborhood is laid out, but that won’t stop him. Good thing the pursuit comes to an end mere moments later when Darren catches up with him and says he took Kathleen back to the hotel. Hmm, she has her belt undone and a lusty look in her eye and there is a hotel near by. Say no more my good man!!

Nothing is said of where she went or what happened. It’s better to remain vague and mysterious about these things. Zak links the howling of the dogs he hears in the neighborhood to this visit by Zozo.

They decide switch things up a bit and have Darren work the Spirit Board with Jay, the other sound technician for the show. He had a bad experience using the Ouija years ago where a friend tried to stab him in the throat with a dagger after they conjured their own Zozo. Boy, that Zozo gets around doesn’t he?

With Darren and Jay at the helm the dark force spells out kill and that he will manifest within Nick. More trouble breaks out as Zak tells Nick what to do while he’s safely tucked away somewhere else. Even the demon thinks it’s funny as he spells out HA-HA, because that’s what spirits do. They don’t actually laugh into the digital records and say, Zak you’re a jackass, they spell it out like it’s instant messaging.

There are more bumps and bangs and even a couple more unexplained voices. It’s all manner of chaos when the devil is in town. And as they decide to wrap things up, they’re on edge that the devil is going to come through Nick.

Yes indeed, we had plenty of bangs and bumps and knocks in this POS house. This place is a wreck so who knows where all these noises are coming from. I’m not going to believe that the devil or some minion of the devil known as Zozo is going to choose this place to make his grand entrance. And I’m still not going to believe that the Ouija is a tool for contact spirits. I don’t care that Nick felt the planchette move. This all seems like the plot of a bad B-rate horror movie. Could it be any more cliché? Could it be any more predictable? The only thing missing was pea soup.

Again, if you think something is real, your mind makes it real. After all, isn’t that what the Matrix taught us?

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Oh my goodness, oh my damn!  Have a look at these screen grabs. The top picture is taken of Kathleen at the top of the stairs. In my recording this is at 20:27. The second image is Kathleen on the stairs supposedly taken less than 5 seconds later. In my recording this is 20:32. Notice her belt is indeed undone and hanging open.

Just as Ash commented, something isn’t right about this. You can call it what you want, but to me this looks like a whole lot of faked evidence. Anyone with an HD capture of this same time frame want to comment?

It took several years for Jason and Grant to get caught with this same sort of silliness, but it eventually came back around on them. Looks like we have the same thing going on here. I think it’s time to call bullshit on the Ghost Adventures team.

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The Many Faces of Hannibal Lecter

imageI’ve said a few times that I’m a big fan of the NBC adaptation of Hannibal and think this new portrayal of Hannibal is intriguing and suspenseful. I’ve never been that big of a fan of the original movies though- and by original movies I mean Silence of the Lambs. I saw it years ago and didn’t think very highly of it. I seem to be in the minority in that respect since the vast majority of people think it’s an amazing movie and Anthony Hopkins put in an award winning performance. I thought the movie was quite boring and found Hopkins to be annoying and almost comical as Hannibal Lector. This seems a direct conflict to the Hannibal we see in the TV series. So I thought it was time to go back and watch the movies over again and how it all blends together. When taken all together we now have an "active" Hannibal who works alongside the FBI and is quite adept at carrying out his crimes. We have young Hannibal who gets thrown an incredibly dark path due to horrific events involving his sister. And then we have the jailed Hannibal who works to put other serial killers away. Finally, we have an escaped Hannibal with a bounty on his head. How do all of these flow together if in fact they do flow together?

Red Dragon – The movie that should (or perhaps was if you take into account Manhunter) have been released first. Since we were thrown into Silence of the Lamb, the character of Hannibal never made sense to me. In this introduction to Hannibal all the characters are presented and to be honest they all come across as incredibly flat. We see that Will just barely escapes with his life after Hannibal attacks him, but the reasons for that never really show themselves. We’re supposed to fear Hannibal but we never really see why. All we know is that he’s a cannibal and a brilliant psychologist, but I never really felt a fear of Hannibal. He acts foolish and juvenile and doesn’t strike me as someone who could hide an Easter Egg let alone be responsible for all the crimes leveled against him. He doesn’t come across as being smart enough to get away with anything.

Silence of the Lambs – A very slow and boring movie. Even after all these years and all these rave reviews of Anthony Hopkins, I still don’t like this movie. Even when Hannibal kills his guards and wears a face he carved off he doesn’t instill fear or panic. His mannerisms up to that point just make him seem on the verge of shaking his head and foaming at the mouth like you expect to see from Charles Manson. He doesn’t seem sophisticated, he doesn’t come across as calculating, he doesn’t give an air of cool planning or reserved danger. He just comes across as a lunatic who’s no more capable of controlling his emotions and behaviors than a 5 year old on the playground. This was supposed to be award winning performances and I struggled to get through.

Hannibal – A movie with a plot and storyline that made no sense whatsoever. Everything about this movie felt forced and pointless. All the sequences with Mason Verger as Hannibal’s nemesis didn’t strike a chord with me. Someone is going to take the time and spend the money to do away with Hannibal using feral pigs? Oh for heaven’s sake. Talk about an overly elaborate and easily escapable plan. None of the over the top violence made sense either. Fine you can have Hannibal twisting open someone head like a can of beer to expose their brain, but that really doesn’t do much for the character. Yeah, it was gross, like a lot of other scenes, but this doesn’t make Hannibal sinister or foreboding. Since he has nothing else it’s just a shock factor.

Hannibal Rising – A movie that seems universally disliked, but a movie I like quite a bit. While I don’t fully buy into the origin story I do like and understand this Hannibal. He is cold, calculated, plotting, reserved and always thinking ahead. The misdeeds against his sister have thrown him out of whack and his heart and mind burn for revenge. This explains his initial motivation, but is that really enough to sustain his serial killer desires?

Hannibal the Series – Here we see a tormented Will Graham and a sophisticated and lurking Hannibal. Will is being worn down by the atrocities he has to face on a daily basis. Hannibal steps in to watch and feed off that downward spiral. I think in this series we see all the characters that were lacking from the movies. Hannibal is calculating and sophisticated and a master of misdirection and suggestion. He points the FBI away from him at every turn. He’s twisted and manipulated Will so no one will believe the wild stories he tells. His calm and sophisticated exterior make you like him, but the staging of his victims make you fear him. And you always have it in the back of your mind as to whether or not Hannibal is responsible for the crimes. We see him commit some, but he’s able to throw enough clues and suspicion on others that we can’t be sure of some things. I think Mads Mikkelsen is a far superior version of Hannibal Lector. He has a smooth and comfortable presence that draws you in. By comparison I felt Hopkins wasimage abrasive.

Of course you have to watch the movies in a completely different order than they were released. Silence of the Lambs was a confusing mess and Hannibal Rising feels like a forced origin story. I still think the movies are terrible and don’t understand or agree with the draw people have to them. The movie portrayal of Hannibal is cliché and lacking. The TV portrayal of Hannibal feels dark and menacing. In the TV series, Hannibal feels like more like Jack the Ripper – a ghost of a killer that no one can catch, that disappears into the night after leaving behind a wake of devastation and fear. He’s the gentleman killer that will cozy up to you and you’ll never know until it’s too late. None of that comes across from the movies.

I’ve read about the direction the TV series want to go and I would love to see Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal re-written using these characters and personalities. I think it will make for a far superior story and will far eclipse anything the movies have to offer.

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The Scream Trilogy – Good Campy Fun

Scream was one of those rare movies that came across as a spoof, yet still had so much bite and it’s own unique story as to let it stand on it’s own. Since this is the Halloween season I dug into the archives and brought out all 3 Scream movies. Yes, there are indeed 4, but we’re just going to look at the original trilogy.

The first movie was quite an interesting take because it sets itself up as a scary movie and gives you plenty of clues as to what you need to watch for. It’s sort of like you’re watching a tutorial. Don’t ever say, "I’ll be right back!" because you won’t. "No having sex in the movie!" "Look behind you!" What’s funny is, Scream points out all these cliché’s while they’re happening in the movie. Of course they mock them and reference dozens of other movies where the same thing happen. It lulls you into a false sense of security, then Scream does the same thing – you just weren’t expecting it.

Once you actually get immersed into the movie itself, it goes about making everyone a suspect. It brings all the central characters onto the screen and shows off some quirk or behavior that could make them the prime suspect. Even, Sidney, the victim in all this is actually shown to have some motives for carrying out these murders.

The movie twists and turns and slowly, like in an Agatha Christie novel, the major characters fall away one by one. You have to keep guessing to see if your guilty party makes it to the end. And then in the typical dramatic finish, there is a big showdown and the big reveal as to why the killer is causing mayhem. And oddly it’s a viable reason and the movie works. Wes Craven has actually pulled off a horror spoof that’s suspenseful with a decent story, lots of action and plenty of misdirection. How the hell did he do that? Most movies can’t get that right when they take themselves seriously.

Then we have the sequel, which we all know is never as good as the first. But as stated in Randy’s film class, the Godfather was as good if not better than the original. An exception to the rule? And perhaps Scream 2 is following in those footsteps, albeit with some bloody shoes.

Scream 2 continues the misadventures of poor Sidness who’s being hunted and victimized because of the sins of her mom. Seems mom was a pretty naughty girl and got a few men in trouble with her feminine wiles. Like a wrecking ball she tore some families apart and those left behind aren’t too happy.

Like the first Scream movie, everyone becomes a suspect. Misdirection abounds and while we’re familiar with the plot and nemesis, we know it can’t be the same person as the first movie, so who is it? Unlike a Michael Meyers who can take multiple shots to the body, our villains in the first movie were dealt with by a headshot. That absolutely put them in the ground, right?

So who’s causing all the new murders and for what reason? Again, suspects start falling one by one and once again, Sid’s boyfriend seems the prime suspect. Even the wrongly accused Cotton Weary is back on the streets and might be looking for some vengeance for that prison time he did. But yet again, Scream 2 comes off like a spoof of itself with the Stab movie showing the events that took place in the original Scream movie.

But there is an actual mystery to solve here and the murders of the young girls coincide with the names of the original murders. There is a nasty copycat on the loose and ultimately Sidney is in the crosshairs.

There is some interesting commentary on violence in movies since when the killer is revealed, a point is made that the defense will blame violent movies for violent behavior. The killer is really the victim and the media is responsible for all the murders. But, there is more of a twist ending here and we have some vengeance that spills over from the first movie and the two boys that were killed.

For the final part of the trilogy, all the rules need to be thrown out, Randy tells us from beyond the grave. Everything we assumed will turn out to be incorrect and nothing is what we believed. And true to that we’re taken on a wild ride into Sindey’s past as they uncover some truth about her mom. It really comes across as dirt since mom was a pretty naughty girl. And once again, everyone is suspect, from the movie producer of the new Stab movie, to the director, to the cast, to a stalker fan. And yet again we have the big reveal at the end that changes what we know about the first movie. All sorts of new information is brought forward that we never knew about. It doesn’t contradict anything, we just didn’t know.

And once again, the whole thing seems to work. It may not be quite as tight as the first and we’ve now come to expect these twists and the attempts at misdirection, but on the whole it’s still pretty good. It’s sort of the like the M. Night Shyamalan movies, you can get away with it twice, but by the time the third movie comes out, we’re onto the game.

Even still, these are by far better than a lot of the other movies out there. There is the typical decline, just like we see in everything else. Saw was good, Saw III was not. Scream is good, Scream 3 is better than most. Either way, there is still a lot of fun to be had with these movies. They comes across as whodunit movies as much as slasher films. They actually have a pretty decent blend of both. It’s certainly a fun nights worth of entertainment and since I hadn’t seen these in several years, since they came out really, I had a great time trying to remember what happened.

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Scream (Collector’s Series)
Scream 2 (Deluxe Collector’s Series)
Scream 3 (Collector’s Series)
Scream / Scream 2 / Scream 3 (Triple Feature 3-DVD Set)

Rob Zombie’s Take on Halloween and Halloween II

image Since the original Halloween movies left a little something to be desired I decided to check out Rob Zombie’s take on these two original slasher movies. I have to say his first movie added a massive amount of backstory that to me gives a lot more depth to the original movies. However, his second retelling didn’t exactly thrill me and halfway through I found myself giving up and looking for something else to do.

This remakes give us a glimpse of Michael Meyers that’s been abused both emotionally and physically for years and he can only communicate and tolerate the world when he hides behind a mask. All the bullying he’s suffered as a boy comes out as he gets revenge on several boys. Those acts send him to an asylum where Dr. Loomis is brought in to try and help. This is why Loomis has an interest in finding Michael in the original movie.

I found the first movie pretty intriguing and when relating back it the first, both movies make a lot more sense. Michael is the victim and he’s lashing out. At least we understand who Michael is and that he’s a disturbed man who had a terrible childhood and horrible events in his life.

Unfortunately, the follow up doesn’t hold up as well as the first. Like the original it picks up where the first left off, but the movie plods along so poorly that I quickly started to lose interest. Unlike the Zombie’s first effort this doesn’t add any real depth or explanation to Michael and quickly devolves in violence and gore for the sake of showing it on the screen. Before Michael actually makes his epic trek back to Haddonfield I was bored silly. Just like the original I got bored pretty quickly and just didn’t care. I ended calling it quits with the intent I would come back later. I still haven’t finished it.

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