Movie Review: Houses October Built (2014)

real documentary about 5 friends who set out to uncover the culture of underground haunted houses. Brandy Schaefer, Mikey Roe, Bobby Roe, Zack Andrews and Jeff Larsen are longtime friends who set out in an RV to 9 different haunts. Interviews are not scripted or manipulated in anyway, and the truth is more horrifying than the lie in this flick. People running haunted horror events notoriously don’t run background checks… some of the things participants say are down right deviant and terrifying. There are multiple actual news reports related about people dying in haunted houses while pranking their friends and no one knows until long after the night’s over.

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The crew travels across Texas in search of the most frightening events October has to offer. Along the way, they hit up all types of attractions (including zombie paintball) …and then they go in search of the Holy Grail of underground haunts but get more than they bargained for from locals.

Interestingly enough, this film was fascinating on it’s own. It won FearNET’s Shocker Award in 2011. Sadly, this project fell by the wayside for a while. The producers behind the Insidious films and Paranormal Activity decided that what it needed was a little mockumentary flair.

…and it works.

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I don’t know that it needed it; but it is well acted enough that the scripted portions fit well with the various interviews, news reports and first person filmings in dingy fake blood coated halls. It adds another dimension to the film that I hadn’t seen coming. I’m also not totally clear when it started. Brandy, the lone female, has an altercation with male hillbillies in a public bathroom. Mikey has an argument with locals that gets them run out of town. They pick up a bizarre hitch hiker. These brief elements break up the chatty drives in the sun on the long trek from destination to destination. So when things get more serious… it’s difficult to know what to believe. Is this a practical joke? Have they found the haunt they are looking for? Or are they facing deranged lunatics?

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A great look at extreme haunted houses and intense and escalating subculture surrounding haunted events …with a little Hollywood panache.

5/5

This film is out in select theaters and on itunes on Friday 10/10.

Brandy Schaefer will be on WCUW’s Radio Of Horror on Sunday.

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A Social Justice in Fantasy Blog Carnival

Oh yeah. Deb from  Kiss My Wonder Woman came up with this fantastic idea to have a blog-carnival/sewing circle for critically thinking horror/sci-fi media bloggers. I’m involved (duh) and you’ll want to check it out (double duh). Our first topic is “Monstrous Metaphors: the use of monsters in horror and supernatural fantasy to explore social issues or to exploit the fears of the public.” Which will be posted officially on October 31st. Hell yeah!

Neither the title of the event or the topic are incredibly snappy: if you have a reasonable suggestion, for the love of cookie dough, please let us know! If you want to get involved click here for more info, or get at kissmywonderwoman@gmail.com

The Underburbs Vol. 1

The Underburbs follows the story of 13 year old Angela who stayed home sick and missed trick or treating. Instead her brother tries to summon a demon. A spooky portal springs up and out pops Countess Winifred and the Hammer bust out ready to take over the human world that Winifred feels is mocking monster-kind. Winifred is a vampire and she turns Angela’s bro and his 2 friends into monsters, then she tells her father how she crossed into the human world.

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Seems monsters have lost interest in the human world once they found a source of clean burning fuel. 

Angela crosses over to the other side to reverse the curse. She also makes friends with a wolfman. The wolfman encourages her to go monster and they bust out the classic monster tropes. 

Angela and Winifred double cross each other. Angela becomes the costume BtVS style (a Halloween classic)! The town gets smothered in an evil mist that turns them into monsters. Winifred heads to a Halloween party to… uh, “help” them.

Next they go to Mall-Mart to… well, this time to threaten everyone with certain doom if they don’t comply. The humans at Mall-Mart are in no condition to comply and are paranoid and pulling shotguns on children mere minutes after the crisis begins + more zombie tropes. 

“Basically, ya gots two types of zombies: fast n’ slow.”

Winifred unleashes her hoarde on “Maul-Mart” Angela tries to get a grip on her powers, 

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I picked up the trade paperback collection and it included all this rad bonus material by creators Joe Haley and TJ Dort. Aside from references to Wolfman lore, vampire manners and Dawn of the Dead (zombies liking shopping centers) the bonus bits also clue us in to Resident Evil easter eggs, and that our main protag and antag are named after characters in Sleepaway Camp and the Shining. Cool!

I heard Underburbs is a regional comic, so if you aren’t rad enough to be from MA, you can order one at IndyPlanet or say Hi to Haley and Dort at NYCC! 

Snag an issue. It’s cute, its fun, it’s clever with all the classic horror references. Spooky cool kids that are light on the gore, heavy on the sarcasm. Wonderful Halloween treat.

Angela is a typical 13 year old, trying to be mature and smart while still being pretty freaked out. Winifred is too self assured, spoiled with a rebellious steak less subtle than the Bride of Frankenstein’s highlights:

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the two play off each other well, great supporting cast of well known and lesser known monsters.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer- S2 Ep6

Just watched the Season 2 Halloween episode of Buffy in which everyone becomes what ever they dressed up as for Halloween. 

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Buffy becomes a helpless 18th century noble woman, Xander is a brave soldier

And Willow:

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becomes a ghost. Luckily under that sheet, she looked totally fierce

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Anyway, various towns people turn into demons and apemen and vampires. After watching this episode about 15 years ago, it really impacted what I chose to wear for Halloween. If my costume came from a spellbound costume shop would I want to spend who knows how long as a French maid, or sexy pirate #4 or PocaHOTness? No way!

The past few years my costumes have slanted toward the superhero/super-villain variety. I know it’s a little early to start picking out your costumes (though, you can never really start too early).. But what do you go for? The scary, the sexy, the funny, the grotesque? Pop culture references? Celebrities? Classic monsters? 

The sheer number of sexy demons and ancient goddesses at most parties I’ve attended would mean havoc if this Sunnydale occurrence happened for real. 

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I would have loved to see Cordelia as a wereleopard, for the record.

 

Movie Review #2- Girl vs Monster

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Honestly this movie was so adorable. Skylar is a literally fearless fifteen year old. She’s also a fifth generation monster hunter. Monsters in this story feed off of your fear in order to manifest themselves, usually around Halloween, when fear is running rampant. Skylar’s parents catch these creatures and lock them in a tank. They also never explain this to their daughter. Soooo… Skylar, unburdened with the family business just wants to go to and sing at a Halloween party (it’s the Disney Channel, everybody sings), but her parents lock her in the house with a babysitter. She cuts the power. Monsters get out. Ohh nooo! 

So Skylar and her BFFs, Henry and Sadie go monster hunting complete with steam-punk-y weapons! Sadie is a nervous girl and a book worm but she really steps up to help out Skylar, and they both get giddy and start cheering when they catch their first monster. Adorbz

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It was really cute. Cheesy songs, silly CGI effects. 

They find out that the only way to fight monsters is to face your fears! So there’s musical numbers to get over stage fright and a boy asks Skylar on a date. Ridiculously cute.

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And this girl Kathrine McNamara who plays Skylar’s rival, Myra. First she’s kinda gawky and snobby and at one point she get’s possessed by a monster. SUCH GOOD ACTING

Netflix rated this for 8-12 year olds, I think. It’s silly and cute. The monsters don’t look so scary. But it’s a good little spooky story. 

4 Pumpkins! 

(I’m pretty sure half a point was for Skylar’s pink leather jacket. Check it.)