Pay the Ghost (2015) – Movie Review

pay the ghost by rafy-1989.cr2

Pay the Ghost (2015)

Directed by Uli Edel

Starring:
Nicolas Cage
Sarah Wayne Callies
Veronica Ferres
Jack Fulton
Elizabeth Jeanne le Roux
Stephen McHattie

 

Dad, can we pay the ghost? Imagine if that were the last thing your child said to you before disappearing without a trace. Add to that fact that the young son in this film had been seeing a cloaked figure outside his bedroom window and three vultures circling the sky above the NYC skyline. It’s not often that I enjoy a film with Nicolas Cage in it, but this is a decent enough horror tale. It won’t be remembered for being all that scary, but it was entertaining and I cared for the characters by the end. It’s based on the Tim Lebbon novel of the same name, with the screenplay by Dan Kay.Pay the Ghost - poster

Cage plays Mike Lawford, a father striving to gain tenure at a NY University and after putting in extra hours on Halloween night, he misses trick or treat with his son, Charlie. The carnival is still going on down the block, in the Greenwich Village area, so he asks his wife, Kristen, if he could take their son for a little while. He lets go of the boy’s hand for one second to pay for ice cream and the boy is gone.

Mike and Kirsten (Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Laurie in The Walking Dead) search for him. They fight and blame each other. For a whole year there are no clues or leads to follow until a few days before Halloween. Mike sees graffiti on a wall that reads, did you pay the ghost? This leads him on a trail into the unknown where myth and the darkness of old yarns converge onto the modern city back alleys. There’s some moody atmospheric visuals with the vultures and the witch’s cottage for those who like that kind of stuff (like me).

There’s also a lot of horror flick standards and cliché horror tropes thrown in for good measure. The end is the usual Hollywood faire and although not original, it was good to see the dad be the hero. The film reminds me of older style horror with some jump scares and visual effects thrown in to fill the gaps between the main parts. There’s no blood or gore to speak of and not even much death. It seems like most viewers gave this film bad reviews so watch at your own risk. It won’t win any awards for originality but it can be a fun watch if you don’t expect too much.

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Blend Poltergeist, Darkness Falls, Celtic and Greek mythology tales into the subject of missing children, and you have a decent horror film with a decent story.

I give it 3.0 wicked witches out of 5 on the harrowing harbingers of hell scale.

Behind the Screams!

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Behind the Screams!

Some fun behind the scenes shots of horror and sci-fi films…

 

Baragon the horny Kaiju

Baragon the horny Kaiju

The Fog (1980) – movie review

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The Fog (1980)

Directed by John Carpenter
Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Adrienne Barbeaumy top 10 1980s horror
Jamie Lee Curtis
Tom Atkins
Janet Leigh
Hal Holbrook

We all probably know what the story entails in The Fog, but to review it briefly, The town of Antonio Bay is cursed due to the founding father’s destruction of Captain Blake’s ship, the death of his people, and stealing his gold which is invested in the town.  On the 100th year anniversary, the spirits of Blake and his crew come back for revenge and to take back what is rightfully theirs, the crew’s gold which was melted and fashioned into a giant gold cross.

This is a great ghost story movie that begins with creepy poltergeist occurrences piercing a quiet night and builds to a crescendo of horrific The Fog dvd coverdeaths at the hands of the dead spirits. The mood and atmosphere are top notch in this film. Carpenter took a queue from the EC Horror Comics of the 50’s and fashioned it into a classic ghost tale of American Gothic Horror.

One of the creepiest scenes to me is the attack on the fishing boat, when the fishermen come up from below and see stoic figures standing in the fog on the bow of the ship.

The mystery of what these shadowy figures look like, the lack of details, makes it scarier then fully shown ghost images. Quite often the only thing in clear view are the hooks that these ghouls are holding in their shriveled hands. The whole sequence with Mrs. Kobritz, the babysitter at the house was tense, a prime example of Carpenter’s mastery of suspense.

Carpenter once again crafts a wonderful score for the film including the creepy main theme. You can hear it below in the video. I had purchased the film soundtrack and play it often during our Halloween activities.

What most people don’t realize about the film are the multitude of references and homage’s to other horror icons in it. I point out a few in the Fun Facts.

FOG, THE - Silver Ferox Design WEBFun Facts:

Tom Atkins’ character mentions Bodega Bay, which was the setting of The Birds (1963).

On the radio, a search for the lost fishing boat is mentioned – the radio voice names, Waitely Point and Arkham Reef as points being searched. Both are frequently used titles, (one a name, the other a place) in stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

Carpenter and Hill were inspired to write this after a trip to Stonehenge and seeing the ancient ruin shadowed in thick fog. Another strong influence on the story was The Trollenberg Terror (1958).

When water from the ships nameplate spills on the cassette deck at the radio station, the tape says, “like an albatross around the neck,” a quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

The coroner in the film is named Dr. Phibes, an obvious nod to the Vincent Price films, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and Dr. Phibes Returns.

The part of Father Malone was originally offered to Christopher Lee, but he was unable to clear his schedule for the shoot.

This film brought mother and daughter horror stars together in a film, Janet Leigh (Psycho) and Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween). Both owe much of their success to the popularity of the horror films they had stared in.

Carpenter’s Main Theme for The Fog:

This ‘Making of The Fog’ video is about a half hour long:

Insidious Chapter 2 (2013) – movie review

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Insidious Chapter 2 (2013)

After being thoroughly entertained by ’The Conjuring,’ I was eager to see James Wan’s sequel to his earlier film, Insidious. I like the 1st film despite the similarities to Poltergeist and Nightmare on Elm Street. It had its own originality with the black and red demon. The depictions of the Nether and the veiled old crone were creepy. After a brief back-story scene, Insidious 2 begins immediately following the events of the 1st film. The Lambert family has moved into their mother’s home, having their own home quarantined as a police investigation into the death of psychic medium, Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye).

insidious 2 pic 2Josh (Patrick Wilson) is happy that the ordeal is over but his wife, Renai (Rose Byrne), is not convinced. She begins to see and hear strange things in the house, just like at their own home. When she tries to tell her husband, Josh insists that these events are nothing. Eventually the incidents turn into full-on poltergeist encounter. Renai and Lorraine (Josh’s Mom played by Barbara Hershey) get suspicious of her husband’s insistence that it should be ignored.

This first half of the film was successful in creating suspense and delivering a haunting atmosphere. I will say that the phantom piano playing was done better in both, The Others and Grave Dancers but combined with the baby monitor noises, and some ghostly apparitions floating through the rooms, it was escalating nicely. It was good to see Jocelin Donahue from ‘House of the Devil’ playing a young Lorraine in the flashback sequence. I think she’s a fine actress and hope to see her get more parts in film.

(spoiler alert – if you intend to see the film, skip to the last paragraph)
There is a point in this film where everything lined up too perfectly and where everything seemed too explained. The thing that makes paranormal films (and the paranormal in general) scary is the not knowing. I also feel that Wan and Leigh Whanell (co-writer) decided the audience was too dumb to figure things out without slapping them in the face with it. I would say most viewers had already understood that the serial killer, Parker, was abused by his mom and that she made him dress like a girl because she hated men. This was obvious early in the film. But then they had a whole scene, again, which explained it and showed it in better detail. This only made the audience feel sorry for the young boy Parker who grew into the killer Parker. Insidious2 pic 3Feeling empathy toward your main antagonist doesn’t make him scary, it makes him a sorrowful figure. And if that’s not enough, the psychic, Elise, (I know, she’s dead but she was there in the Nether waiting for Josh) then explained it verbally for a third time and added, “If we destroy the memory of the Mom, the spirit looses his power.” Really, that’s too nice and neatly packaged for me. I also love the way the son can fall asleep at a moments notice, even when he is terrified by a psychotic banging down the door. My BS meter was pinned.
(spoiler alert – end)

Eventually, the events became too much to believe. Everything lined up too conveniently. A good film needs to not drift too far from reality to be effective. At times I couldn’t believe all the logic and simple explanations of the events happening. I’d rather have no explanation than a dumb one. I get the same feeling from most cop shows on TV. Every clue leads to another clue or witness and in an hour everything is wrapped up nice and neatly. It’s like paint-by-numbers. It is amazing that a lot of the same techniques that worked so well in The Conjuring, fell flat here. It’s another one of those movies that I wouldn’t mind watching the 1st half, but would then shut it off as it becomes too silly. As always, the sequel isn’t nearly as good as the original.
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Related Articles:
The Conjuring
House of the Devil
Creepy Old Ladies in film

The Conjuring (2013) – movie review

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The Conjuring

In Harrisville, Rhode Island, a young couple with five children struggling to survive a weak economy got a great deal on a home and several acres of land. It was an opportunity they could not pass up. They would later regret it.

The Conjuring is the classic haunted house tale, a true story adapted for film under the direction of James Wan. It relays the harrowing events of the Perron family and what occurred in their country home during 1971. It also follows real-life paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who throughout their lives have helped hundreds of families deal with supernatural occurrences.

The Conjuring delivers, jump scares, creepy scares, fun scares, and ‘think about it at 2: am’ scares – it has it all! The pacing was excellent, leaving time after each big scary scene for nervous laughter and regrouping before ramping up the tension again. There
were some intentionally funny parts, dark and oppressive atmosphere, and the kind of build-up needed for a supernatural film to be effective. At its climax the film escalated into a high-action fear-fest.

Some will say that aspects of the film could have been more in-depth. The investigation into the history of the land seemed truncated but nothing is worse during a ghost movie than watching the protagonist sit in a library looking at old newspapers on microfilm. The scene with the priest was equally short but the film is not about the priest, it is about the Warrens and the Perrons. So, while these scenes were obligatory they were kept to minimum length, which I think worked well for this film.

If you like supernatural horror, ghost stories, haunted house flicks, and a bit of spirit possession, you will likely enjoy this film. It is the most fun I have had with a haunted house film since Poltergeist.
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Recommended if you like:
Poltergeist, House, The Amityville Horror, Insidious, The Woman in Black, The Changeling,

Lorraine Warren was on set as a consultant, a testament to Wan’ s commitment in portraying the events as close to the real happenings as possible.

Lorraine even makes a Cameo appearance in the film during a lecture on supernatural occurrences.

***You can compare the movie with the real life happenings here: Reel Faces

**You can read about some of the Warren’s investigations here: The Warrens

**After many years of silence, the youngest Perron daughter penned a book, ‘House of Darkness House of Light’ in 2009 detailing the events that had taken place back in 1971. When asked why she waited all these years, she stated, “The world was not ready for a story like this back then.” Check out the book here: ‘House of Darkness House of Light’ 

Apartment 143 (2011) – Movie Review

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Apartment 143

apt 143 pic 1A paranormal investigation team sets its cameras up in the home of a single dad and his two children. In an interview with Alan (the Dad), he tells how the paranormal events started a few weeks after the passing of his wife. They moved from their house to this current LA apartment and within a few days the activities started again. It becomes clear early-on that the teenage daughter hates her father. The six-year-old son is a charming young man full of questions for the investigating team. Alan is struggling to raise his children while dealing with the paranormal events now taking place in their lives.

The activity begins with creepy atmosphere and subtle movements in the apartment. They soon escalate into violent outbursts as doors are slammed and items are moved. In one scene they hear the loud crashing of dishes in the kitchen, but when they run into the room, nothing is out of place. Through a series of interviews and investigations the team learns more about the family, hinting at several different possibilities for the situation. The lead investigator tells the dad that the teenage daughter is exhibiting signs of schizophrenia, and that is when the paranormal shit hits the fan.

There was some good acting and character development considering this was a documentary-style film. It is one of the better ones, providing creepy suspense, jump scares, paranormal action, and a tense build up to the climax. Not for everyone’s tastes but I liked it.

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Footnote:
Apartment 143 is distributed by Magnet, which has clearly become one of the premier distributors for quality, R-Rated, middle-budget, modern horror-films from around the world. They have brought us films such as: Monsters, I Saw the Devil, Troll Hunter, VHS & VHS-2, John Dies at the End, Absentia, The Shrine, etc… When I see the Magnet logo associated with a film, I will not hesitate to watch it.

Hide Here! Rooms Least Likely to Get You Killed

GUEST BLOG POST: Eddie D. Shackleford

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Hide Here!  Rooms Least Likely to Get You Killed

Our homes are our sanctuaries.  They are where we go to relax, keep our belongings, and most importantly, protect ourselves from the terrors outside. Unfortunately, it’s hard to do the latter when horror movie killers, creatures, and other things that go bump in the night decide to make themselves welcome in our homes.  Once inside, they leave victims few places to hide.

Here are the rooms of the typical house which will give you the best chance of survival—from the worst to the best—should you find yourself in the company of a threatening, unwelcome guest in your home.

6. Bedroom
Topping off the list as the room with probably the most death tolls in all of horror cinema is the bedroom.  It’s a tasty choice for many a killer because it’s the usual place we go when we are at our most vulnerable—sleepy time.  Killers know that while we’re sawing logs we’re oblivious to their creaking footsteps or the ominous shadow they cast over our bed.
friday the 13th - Hide Here

Friday the 13th

For those actually lucky enough to be awake, the bedroom is also home to the ever popular hiding under the bed or in the closet.  Bad move.  You can expect the menace to thoroughly check both of those spots, if they didn’t crawl out of one of them to begin with.
poltergeist - hide here

Movie: Poltergeist

With no way of defending ourselves, the bedroom is the undisputed leader in certain death.  Sleep tight.

5. Bathroom
The bathroom is another terrible choice for several reasons.

First, people only use bathrooms to do a few things—all of which leave us exposed and defenseless.  Spooks thrive on this.  They get a kick out of being behind folks when we shut the medicine cabinet.
psycho - hide here

Movie: Psycho

Second, hiding in the bathroom leaves you trapped.  Most bathrooms have only one entrance, which, of course, is also the only way out.  Furthermore, they are generally small; leaving little range of motion should you pry off the shower rod to use as a weapon.
Dawn of the dead - hide here

Movie: Dawn of the Dead

If you are going to use the bathroom to hide, at least check behind the shower curtain upon entering.

4. Basement/Attic
Not every home has both, so we’re lumping these two dark, cob-web-ridden rooms together.  If you do have both, that’s unfortunate.  You’ve just halved your chances of survival.

Basements and attics are, by nature, the creepiest places in the house.  They contain boxes of cursed family artifacts, possessed dolls, magic books, skeletal remains, and a hodgepodge of other things that should generally be avoided.
insidious - hide here

Movie: Insidious

Sadly, people are all too curious, snooping around despite the creaky boards, lack of light, and cats jumping out of corners—awakening demons, restless spirits, and ghouls in the process.
evil dead - hide here

Movie: Evil Dead

If you’re going to hide in the basement or attic, just know that you’ll probably have to return there to send your killer back to the nether from whence they came.

3. Kitchen
While the Kitchen has been the scene for many grizzly deaths, it’s usually because of victim’s lack of intelligence rather than lack of resources.

For instance, though the kitchen doesn’t have much room for hiding, it provides useful tools to help combat the attacker such as knives, pans, blenders, you name it.
Gremlins - hide here

Movie: Gremlins

Kitchens in larger homes often have multiple exit points for quick escape.  And if you’re lucky enough to have doors to the kitchen, lock them, hunker down, and wait out the killer.  You’ll have plenty of food and water.

Watch out for tile and spilled blood.  That’s a good way to slip and slow you down.

2. Garage
Should you have the chance to make it to the garage, you’re doing ok.  Not too many victims in horror have drawn their last breath in the domestic carport.  A deserved exception can be seen in Scream.
PA 4 - hide here

Movie: Paranormal Activity 4

Your chances of survival improve dramatically if your power hasn’t been cut off yet, as there is a giant door ready to let you out into the free world.  If your power is out and you can’t reach the manual lever to the garage door, fear not!  The garage is essentially an armory, with weed whackers, hedge trimmers, shovels, and other makeshift weapons at your disposal.

Check out how resourceful the heroine is in Paranormal Activity 4, when trapped in the garage.  The whole series, which is probably now on demand with most cable and satellite providers, actually provides a good case study on good and bad places to hide in the home.

1. Laundry Room
If you find yourself in the laundry room during a horror movie home invasion, congratulations!  You’ve chosen the best place to hide.
laundry room - hide here

Source: http://www.simplifiedbee.com

What the laundry room lacks in space and defenses, it makes up for in the sheer fact that hardly anyone would think to look there.  Plus, who wants to get all those nice linens all bathed in red?  No one, that’s who.  Not even killers and monsters.

Bonus points if you’re small enough to fit in the dryer.  Just hope the killer doesn’t turn it on.

At the end of the day, there’s a good chance none of these places will keep you safe forever.  But know that some are better than others and you should choose wisely before deciding to stake out in one.

And as for the bedroom— it’s best you just make it another laundry room.  No one will be the wiser.

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AUTHOR: Eddie D. Shackleford

 BIO: Eddie is a TV, movie and entertainment blogger for direct4TV.com.  Look to him for the scoop on hit movies and TV shows, sports, tech reviews, how-to’s, and more. You can follow Eddie @Eddie20Ford