BARE BONES: A HAUNTING ON WASHINGTON AVENUE: THE TEMPLE THEATER (2014)

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A HAUNTING ON WASHINGTON AVENUE: THE TEMPLE THEATER (2014)

Paranormal documentary has the members of the Seekers paranormal investigation team investigating the Temple Theater in Saginaw, Michigan. The nearly 100 year-old theater is said to be haunted and there are numerous eyewitness accounts and stories to substantiate the claim.

Documentary is directed by Seekers team leader Steven ‘Prozak’ Shippy, who is from Saginaw. Ironically, Shippy’s first documentary, A Haunting on Hamilton Street, made it’s premiere at the Temple. The documentary gets off to a bit of a slow start, but does pick up somewhat in the second half. Still, none of what we see, or hear, is anything new, or anything that we haven’t seen, or heard before, on countless paranormal investigative shows. Truth be told, the documentary is fairly uneventful aside from some typical random object movements, orbs, a few shadow figures and EVP messages, which are routine for this kind of material and too spaced out to make this consistently creepy. The setting has atmosphere, with the century old theater and it’s maze of passageways and the system of tunnels built beneath it, once used for bootlegging. Sadly, Shippy and his team, though, can’t conjure up anything really intense or scary, despite trying hard. There are a couple of spooky clips towards the end, but at that point, it’s too little and too late to make this the scary treat fans of this stuff look for. Entertaining, but nothing we haven’t seen before.

Personal Note: While this documentary didn’t thrill me, I also caught Shippy’s A Haunting in Saginaw, Michigan. Did it bring the chills and scares I was looking for this time? Review forthcoming!

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: TIGER HOUSE and THE DIABOLICAL

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TIGER HOUSE (2015)

When pretty teen Kelly (Kaya Scodelario) sneaks into her boyfriend’s house, she has no idea what trouble she’s going to get into. A group of four armed men break into the home and take boyfriend Mark (Daniel Boyd) and his parents hostage. They need Mark’s step-dad (Andrew Brent) for a robbery scheme and now only the hidden away Kelly stands between the thieves and a likely horrible fate for the family.

Directed by Thomas Daley and written by Simon Lewis, this is a familiar, yet entertaining enough, thriller. Kelly is locked in the high security house with the men and plays a cat and mouse game with them to try and release their hostages. It could have had some more intensity and one character’s change of heart seems like a contrived plot device to get Kelly out of trouble here and there, but Miss Scodelario makes a solid and very likable heroine who can hold her own and kick a little ass when she needs to. Sure, it could have been better and the big reveal was not much of a surprise, but watching Kelly outwit these guys in a limited space and with little to work with, was entertaining. Not great, but an amusing enough diversion for 90 minutes and star Scodelario earns extra points for her resilient and street-smart Kelly. Also stars Ed Skrein (Deadpool) and Dougray Scott (The Vatican Tapes).

3 star rating

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THE DIABOLICAL (2015)

Directed by Alistair Legrand, who co-wrote with Luke Harvis, this haunting story finds a pretty, single mom (Ali Larter) battling an increasingly hostile entity in her home. As she starts to investigate the haunting, she finds a connection between it and a mysterious research facility. This takes her already nightmarish situation on an even more bizarre…and personal…turn.

Flick starts out as a routine, but well enough made, haunting scenario with innocents in an apparently haunted house. What earns it a few extra points is an interesting science fiction twist about two thirds of the way through and a very strong performance by Larter, as the mom dedicated to protecting her kids. The make-up effects are also well done and presented effectively and there are some solid spooky sequences. The big reveal at the climax was a surprise and also added a little emotional weight to the flick after a familiar start. Director Legrand does give it some atmosphere and there are a few legitimate scares. Not a great movie by any lengths, but entertaining enough to pass the time on the couch if there is nothing else going on TV-wise.

3 star rating

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-MonsterZero NJ
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REVIEW: REAL FEAR: THE TRUTH BEHIND MORE MOVIES (2013)

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REAL FEAR: THE TRUTH BEHIND MORE MOVIES (2013)

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What better way to follow up yesterday’s review of last year’s fun paranormal documentary Real Fear: The Truth Behind The Movies but, with a review of the new installment Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies set to debut this Friday 9/6/13 on Chiller TV. (check your local listings!)

Katrina Weidman (Paranormal State, Real Fear #1) is back with returning crew members John McGarry and Chris Holt along with new Real Fear team members Becky Weingrad and veteran Ufologist Richard Dolan. Together they take us on investigations of the real stories behind The Haunting In Connecticut, Fire In The Sky, A Nightmare On Elm St. and The Blair Witch Project and this gives us a nice mix of angry spirits, abducting aliens, nightmare inducing entities and cryptozoological creatures. As a fan of horror flicks and paranormal shows, you had me at… well, all of it.

Second installment is a lot of fun and already has me hoping for a third. The team, especially the returning novice members, have some experience under their belts now and with investigator Weidman and grizzled veteran Dolan, they have matured into a fairly sturdy team of investigators. While we don’t quite have the fun of watching the newbies get spooked so easily like last time, it has all the more impact when they do get spooked as they are more experienced…and delightfully, they do get spooked quite a few times during the show. The gang travel to Connecticut to investigate that famous haunting and the film it inspired. They talk not only to mom Carmen Reed, portrayed in the flick by Virginia Madsen, but also TVs Haunted Collector John Zaffis, who was one of the original investigators on that infamous case and now owns some interesting relics from it in his haunted collection. We, as last time, get a run down of what allegedly actually happened compared to what was portrayed in the movie and the team even gets to spend the night at a nearby house where a local Paranormal team is dealing with an escalating haunting of their own.

Next they travel to Pennsylvania to look into the background of the creepy alien abduction flick Fire In The Sky. They interview Travis Walton, the man who was allegedly abducted and was the subject of the film, who tells his side of this bizarre occurrence as compared to what Hollywood presented. Things get a bit creepy when the group also investigates a death which may be related to Walton’s tale and spend some time at night in the woods where the film and real life incidents supposedly took place.

While the first two segments are a bit interview heavy, as those cases have no new developments, the next two segments are the real meat of this fun meal as the team goes into the field to investigate A Nightmare on Elm St. and The Blair Witch Project

To look at Wes Craven’s classic, the team goes to the abandoned Pennhurst Asylum in PA. where we are told patients suffered from recurring dreams and visitors, who now enter the closed facility, are also haunted by recurring nightmares as well. Craven’s film was supposedly based on a group of Asian immigrants who all suffered from the same dream, some of which who died in their sleep and in the style of A Nightmare On Elm St. part 3, the team decides to spend the night in the dread filled asylum. Add to that, veteran psychic Chip Coffey…who is a hoot here as always…and you get a delightfully goose bump filled segment that would entertain Mr. Krueger himself.

The show wraps up with my favorite segment…as it takes place in the Pine Barrens, N.J. how could it not be…with an investigation of The Blair Witch Project and the similar tale of accused witch Mrs. Leeds and her infamous 13th child. While the Blair Witch itself is not based on the Jersey Devil lore, it is similar to The Last Broadcast a found footage flick made a year earlier that was. There is no proof that Blair Witch is inspired by Last Broadcast, but the similarities in the films and the Jersey Devil legend sends the team to the infamous stomping ground of my home state’s most famous resident aside from Sinatra and Bon Jovi. They gather witness testimony and then decide to camp out there for the night and it’s a most eventful and spooky night indeed.

Sure the novelty of the first special has worn off somewhat and it has a bit less of the fun ‘Scooby Doo‘ vibe as the team has matured into their roles a bit more and with the addition of older, veteran investigator Dolan, but we do get more intensive investigations to entertain the paranormal fan and a lot more analysis of the films in question, which intrigues the movie fan. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, it’s fun to watch the team connect the paranormal dots between the reported incidents and the movies they inspired. Personally, I think the best segments are the ones that get the team out in the field and staying in spooky spots. I really enjoyed all the history, interviews and analysis, but the show really comes alive when the team puts themselves in a position to meet the unknown…and sometimes the unknown wants to meet them. That’s where the real fun in Real Fear is and hopefully future installments get them into haunted spots even more. I had a really good time with this new chapter and hope Katrina and the gang go to the movies again real soon!

Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies premiers Friday 9/6/13 on the Chiller Network. Check your local listings for times.

3 and 1/2 spooks !

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REVIEW: REAL FEAR: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MOVIES (2012)

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REAL FEAR: THE TRUTH BEHIND THE MOVIES (2012)

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Normally I don’t dabble too much in TV reviews but, I am a big fan of paranormal shows and movies and watch them frequently. Paranormal State was and is still my favorite paranormal investigation show and regardless of whether you believe or not, it was good TV. So when I heard Chiller TV was doing a paranormal investigation special where they were investigating paranormal cases that inspired some classic and well known horror movies AND the investigations were going to be conducted by Paranormal State‘s sexy spook hunter Katrina Weidman…I was definitely looking forward to it. And, for the most part, was not disappointed…

Katrina Weidman had spent 5 seasons as a Paranormal Investigator on Paranormal State and was inspired to become a PRS (Paranormal Research Society) member due to some supernatural experiences of her own growing up in rural Pennsylvania. So she has a natural and passionate interesting in the paranormal and Real Fear puts her experience to work to investigate the alleged real stories behind the films The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, The Mothman Prophecies and Silent Hill. Katrina was a researcher for PRS and she does her homework here with a lot of fascinating history and background facts to garnish the team’s investigations. Along with Katrina are friends Chris Holt, John McGarry and Charity Winters. What results is a fun look at some supposed true stories that inspired, whether acknowledged or not, some very popular horror movies. The show also gives us some insight on what embellishments Hollywood added to these cases to make them more cinematic. Even if you do not believe in the supernatural, it’s an entertaining two hours of how Hollywood can turn real life ghost stories and urban legends into box office gold.

As a horror movie fan, I found the special a real treat and Katrina’s legitimate enthusiasm for her investigations comes through and helps pull you in just as her novice friend’s fearful reactions, especially when doing some actual investigations of supposedly haunted places, are fun to watch. That is also the only drawback with the special that I had. While it is fun to watch her friends get scared, it’s also disappointing that in a couple of spots when things get interesting, they retreat instead of standing their ground as more experience ghost hunters would do. I f they had stuck with the investigation instead of running, they may have gotten some even more intriguing evidence. So, if this fun special has it’s Achilles’ heel, it’s that her friends are not experienced investigators and are prone to flee just as things get interesting. We do get a lot of fun facts such as an interview with one of the Lutz children from Amityville who reveals that their step-dad George Lutz was actually a practicer of the occult, so that made moving into a house that was the scene of a multiple homicide a volatile mix. He also explains that things weren’t anywhere near as dramatic as the movie. Sorry folks, no blood on the walls or swarms of flies.

We also get a glimpse of The Herman case, a reported instance of poltergeist activity that supposedly inspired Spielberg and Hooper’s classic flick. Ironically both Amityville and the Herman cases both took place in Long Island in the vicinity of Indian burial grounds…which the team check out. Hmmmm…Guess I’m staying in Jersey…which has it’s own plethora of supernatural tales! We then get a look at the Mothman case from the 60s, which inspired the spooky Richard Gere movie, where a bizarre creature was seen by quite a few people in Point Pleasant, West Virginia for over a year and ceased after a tragic bridge collapse that killed dozens of people. The interviews here definitely give some chills and makes one question what really happened. What did people see? The show finishes up with a journey to Miss Weidman’s own backyard in Centralia, Pennsylvania where a mine fire that started underground in1962 still burns and has caused the abandonment of an entire town. Katrina’s family is from Centralia and her personal and emotional ties to the place add a very interesting dimension to the segment. The events here are very similar to the events from the video game based movie, Silent Hill and it’s hard to think there wasn’t some inspiration from this real life tragedy. This segment is rather spooky with the thought that there has been a fire burning underground for decades and it steadily causes cave-ins and slowly is claiming this abandoned ghost town, building by building. The team also does some investigating into tales of the spirits of miners who perished there that are said to still haunt the area and this combined with Katrina’s personal stories really resonates.

All in all this is a fun look at the tales that inspired some of our favorite horror flicks. Again, I do wish Katrina’s friends weren’t so easily spooked when they started getting some possible spirit activity, such as when investigating the wooded area that supposedly was home to the Mothman and the allegedly haunted mines of Centralia, but otherwise they are a likable bunch and they do handle themselves very professionally in the interview segments and get some interesting answers out of their witnesses…and watching them get scared and run screaming did give me a few chuckles, so I’ll cut them some slack…I probably would have been running right along with them.

As a horror movie and paranormal show fan, I overall really enjoyed seeing some deep digging into stories that have, or allegedly have, inspired some entertaining and classic horrors. The special is overall effective and spooky and very entertaining…and even surprisingly touching…when all things are said and done. Katrina seems like a very down to earth and accessible person as she did on Paranormal State and seems to be very comfortable, yet laid back, leading her group. That and her camaraderie with her friends makes us feel more like we are along for the ride then just an audience watching a show. If you are a movie fan…or a fan of ghost hunting shows…I recommend it, even if you don’t believe in supernatural events, it’s still fun stuff and is very entertaining, maybe more so then some of the movies these tales inspire. Real Fear is real fun!

3 and 1/2 spooks !

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GOOD NEWS!: Katrina and Co. will be back on Chiller TV on September 6th 2013 at 9PM with a new special, Real Fear: The Truth Behind More Movies which will focus on the cases behind The Haunting in Connecticut, The Blair Witch Project and more! Check your local listings and join in the fun!

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