Of Musings and Wonderings

{February 16, 2014}   The Conjuring [Films]

the conjuringLet’s get one thing straight before I delve into this. I hate dolls. They creep me the hell out. By this, I mean china dolls, or old-fashioned dolls. Not like Barbie’s and stuff. I used to love them. But ventriloquist dummies and most types of dolls…my nan, when she used to go on holiday, used to bring back these big doll things. Because we visited her more often, I’d get first pick. I’d pick the least creepy looking one (I’m sure to most normal, sane humans they didn’t look creepy at all. They weren’t that bad), thank her with a smile and throw it in my cupboard once I got home, so I wouldn’t have to look at them.

So…yeah, I was really, really not into the first part of this film. Or any shot of ‘Annabelle’. Even looking up some of the images for this post were bad enough. They are scary, all right? Along with the previously mentioned dummies. (I can’t watch anything where there’s a shot of a dummy talking on its own. Puppets are fine. Dummies…no. Just no.) If you ever saw the Derren Brown where he convinced a guy he was a dummy, then just know that that in itself freaked me the hell out. Like, if that was me, I would have probably had nightmares and panic attacks for years.

*deep breath*

conjuring02The Conjuring tells the (allegedly) true story of a family who move into a large, spacious home, only to find that strange things begin happening. Firstly, their dog is killed shortly after moving in. Strange paranormal disturbances follow this, and eventually, the mother contacts Ed and Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigators, and asks for their help.

There are countless films out there that deal with families moving into haunted homes, (not complaining, as I do have a tendency to love these films) but The Conjuring stands out from these as it deals with, not just the family, but the Warrens, too, a real life couple who investigated these sort of happenings, and whose recordings inspired the basics of the film. (They were also the couple to investigate Amityville, and there’s a reference to this towards the end of the film)

To me, it really was the Warren side of things that made things most interesting. As the family try to cope with what’s happening, we see how Ed is trying to protect Lorraine, after a previous exorcism went wrong. And, as he states, she takes on the pain of what she sees and feels. It’s easy to see why he was less than eager to take on the haunting, and why he tries hard to keep her out-of-the-way.the conjuring 2There are some nicely done moments of real horror in the film, especially as it builds up towards the actual possession (because of course there’s going to be a possession). We get glimpses of the ghosts that haunt the property, and slowly, over the course of the film, we get hints and clues as to what is actually going on. It’s not thrust in our faces, and there are moments where we’re almost allowed to work out what’s happening, and what might happen, before the film’s characters do.

It’s an interesting plot, with an excellent build up, and one that is handled quite nicely. There aren’t long periods of time where nothing happens, but there’s not a scare in every scene. As well as that, the atmosphere really adds to the tension, and like in most haunted house films/novels, the house itself becomes a character in its own right.

Really good film, probably one of the best I’ve seen in a long while.

As a side note…they’re making a spinoff, based on Annabelle, the doll at the start of the film. To which I say…no no no no nope and hell no. I’ll be staying far, far away from that one.


imagesCAWJ4247 Like most of the Stephen King books I’ve been reading recently, I haven’t seen the film for this one. I had absolutely no idea what the storyline would be. I knew it involved pets, and I had some sort of idea that it would involve pet resurrection, but, as anyone who has read this would know, there is a hell of a lot more to this book. The Creed family move to a new home, and everything seems perfect. Physician father, starting work at a local college campus, beautiful wife and adorable children, along with the family’s pet cat. Their neighbour takes them for a walk on the land behind their house, taking them to the local Pet Sematary, where children have buried their pets for years. The family think no more on it, and Louis Creed begins work. However, on his first day, a young college student dies, a bad omen for what is about to come.

Louis Creed’s job involves helping people, saving people. And right from the start, he is presented with events that make it impossible for him to do anything, impossible for him to do his job and fulfil his role. As this builds up, it becomes easy to see why Louis makes the choices he makes, why he goes to such extremes to try to keep his family happy and together.

Although King is known as the master of horror, one of the things that keeps me coming back to his work, time and time again, are the emotions he pumps into his characters. He has a knack of really drawing you inside the head of whoever he is writing about, of laying out their thoughts and feelings and ramping up, not just the tension, but the emotions throughout the novel. Pet Sematary is a brilliant example of that.

After reading the introduction, by King himself, I did have a suspicion of what was going to happen to the little boy in the novel. But even that didn’t detract from the suspense built up before that scene. And the way King handles it, the way he draws you right into the emotions of the family and especially of Louis Creed, and the impact that one, single chapter has, where he manages to convince the reader that everything is actually okay…

I mostly read in work and on my way to and from work. And I had to put the book down, just for a few moments, just to stop myself from breaking down and blubbering in public.

Pet Sematary is a brilliantly written novel, dealing with death and grief and the extremes humans will go to when pushed. It’s a book that lingers in your mind afterwards, and really makes you wonder if you would do the same as Louis, if confronted with an untimely death of a pet or loved one, even knowing the risks involved.

It’s basically King doing what he does best; showing humans, going through human lives, but revealing the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves, those parts we don’t want to face, the parts we try to keep hidden. If it’s not a book you’ve read yet, I’d strongly recommend it.

{January 26, 2014}   Waxwork [Film]

waxworkWaxwork tells the story of a group of college kids who get invited to a private show at a waxwork museum. The place seems to have cropped up overnight, and is manned by a creepy English guy (David Warner). Seriously? Why would anyone step into that place? Especially after an invite from a guy who seems to go out of his way to be creepy.

Anyway. After entering the museum, two of the students step over the barriers and find themselves transported to other dimensions, containing stock horror characters. The first finds himself attacked by a werewolf, while China – already tagged as the slutty girl – finds herself at dinner with a bunch of vampires.

There are points when it feels this film could have been pretty damn good. The exhibits in the museum serve, almost, as movies within movies, with homages to various famous characters. And there’s a brilliant comment by creepy museum guy, when someone points out that Phantom of the Opera was made into a movie, that “They’ll make anything into a movie these days.” Yeah like…creepy waxwork exhibits coming to life.

Back to the plot! After two go missing, the other two leave the place unscathed and the main character, the hero, Mark, begins to worry about his former girlfriend China. Also his mate. But more China. After some investigation they find out that if the exhibits absorb a certain amount of people, they will come alive and wreak havoc on the world.

waxwork 2Very little in the film actually makes sense. It feels like a mishmash of homages more than anything else, with a little bit of 80s gore and splatter thrown in for good effect. And you know what? All of this makes this film great. Not in a typical great film way, but it is, without a doubt, one of those so terrible it’s good films. Camp, over the top, and the ending even has a bunch of old men charging forward to defend the world from the evil about to be unleashed.

Yeah. It has God awful, laugh out loud moments. And I loved it! And there’s a sequel!! Which I really, really need to watch.

Waxwork. A brilliant, over the top 80s flick. A terrible, downright confusing mix of homage and attempts to be original. A contradiction that works wonderfully.

{January 12, 2014}   Lords Of Salam [Film]

lords of salemSomething strange starts happening when local DJ Heidi receives an album, with no information except the name of the band Lords of Salem. As she listens to it, she begins to see things. Hallucinations invade her life and her friends try to help, but unfortunately Heidi is under the grip of a group of witches, burnt at the stake during the Salem witch trials. The music affects other women in the community, too, anyone whose ancestor was part of the group who tracked down and killed the witches.

The premise is actually sort of interesting, and could have made for a much, much better movie. As it is, Lords Of Salem tries way too hard to be different and a little edgy, with over the top ‘trippy’ scenes, a rock DJ with a history of drug abuse as the main character, and, oh look, the standard academic guy who twigs what’s going on before anyone else.

To be honest, this film was crap. Do me a favour and just…give it a miss.

The characters are bland, the dialogue feels forced and there’s no real connection between any of them. There are a few short scenes where things feel a bit more natural, but they’re overshadowed by the strangeness of the whole thing. And the climax of the film…oh, God. It was just so unbelievably weird. It was like watching a really shitty metal band trying to make a unique and ‘oh this gonna be awesome, dude’ music video. Just way too much squeezed in.

So in short. Crap characters, potentially good plot completely wasted, and trying too hard to be weird and trippy. Like I said, give it a miss.


{January 5, 2014}   Thir13en Ghosts [Film]

thirteenWhen strange uncle Cyrus dies, he leaves his eccentric, strange house to his nephew and his family. Of course, not everything is as it seems, and Arthur and his children find themselves trapped in a home with a number of different ghosts, collected by Cyrus over the years.

The ghosts aren’t just normal ghosts. They’re violent and deadly, with each one representing part of the Black Zodiac. They’ve been captured and put in the house, which forms a machine. And when the machine activates, there is only a limited time before the Eye of Hell is revealed. With the Eye of Hell opened, the user can see into the past, present and future, making them insanely powerful.

It’s a sort of interesting plot, but the family at the centre of it are the weakest part of the film. Little kid who buggers off because he’s too curious, nanny who’s only role seems to be to freak out and scream, and daughter who’s there to get attacked. Oh yeah, and the dad who has to save them all. Blah blah blah. The most interesting aspects of the film are Dennis, played by Matthew Lillard, and the ghosts themselves. To be honest, I would have loved to have seen more about each of the ghosts, would have enjoyed their own back stories rather than seeing the family run around acting stupid for half the time. (The back stories are, apparently, part of the DVD extras, so I’m going to have to try to watch that somewhere at some point)

thirteen ghostsAnd who’d have thought a maths teacher would be so damn stupid?

Anyway. There’s a couple of jumps and scares in here, but not a hell of a lot. It’s not really a scary film but the premise is interesting and the ghost designs work really well. It’s also worth noting the setting of the house, designed so that it’s never quite clear where the characters are in relation to each other. Aspects of the film are done brilliantly, while others sort of let the film down. Worth watching though, especially if you’re in the mood for something  a little bit different.

et cetera