Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ reminds me why I hated High School

13 Reasons Why starts out with the voice of a girl who has committed suicide. “A rumor based on a kiss, ruined a memory I’d hoped would be special.” Hannah’s ghost voice shares. “In fact, it ruined just about everything.”

I just got done binge watching Thirteen Reasons Why.  I know this isn’t the usual horror I write about, but I felt strongly about it. This heavy story, shown exclusively on Netflix, depicts the flood of angst that is what makes up the psyche of an American teen. Some people have a great experience in high school, but many teens don’t, and as adults, good or bad experience aside, we’ve all been there.

13 Reasons Why is Netflix’s first attempt to offer up a series this serious for its teenage audience. Issues as huge as bullying, sexual assault and suicide. Heavy indeed! But I am not the only adult watching it. One reason for me, is that I have a teen who I know had some unfair accusations in school and the shaming that followed. Why are people so cruel? I wish I had paid more attention and asked more questions, but social media has changed the world so much as to make it almost impossible for a pre-internet person to navigate the world their teen lives in these days. For that reason I will always feel guilty, that I missed out on the chance to help my own child.

The other reason the show was so awkwardly compelling for me (like a train wreck kind of thing) was that high school for me was a nightmare. I was left damaged, socially inept and anxious about every personal interaction that came after. My life was very similar to the main character Hannah’s was, but I decided not to make the one big choice she did, and I’m still alive. I was lucky enough to have one friend I confided in, who helped me through the horror that being sexually assaulted can bring to a young girl. As most of my friends left the hormonal and crazy world of high school behind them, fairly unscathed, I was left scared and afraid to believe in myself, all self-confidence gone. I look back now, with life experience as my perspective, and realize if I had just gotten a little more help, well, I might have moved on sooner. I’m glad social media didn’t exist when I was a teen. All that drama and craziness we went through during high school seems a lot less important now, but watching 13 Reasons Why, I’m reminded of how end-of-the-world every little problem seemed at the time.

Jay Asher, the author of the book 13 Reasons Why said, “The whole subject of suicide is uncomfortable to talk about, but it happens and we have to talk about it, It’s dangerous not to talk about it. Because there’s always room for hope.” I have to agree. Most people find it easier to avoid the subject, feeling like by bringing it up, that simply mentioning it, can make it happen. But it does have to be discussed. The only way to make people understand what a rape survivor has gone though, is to talk about it. The more times you tell your story, the less power it has over you.

Executive Producer Selena Gomez said they tried very hard to make the show something they could be proud of. “We wanted to do it in a way that was honest. She said. “We wanted to make something that could hopefully help people. Suicide should never ever be an option.”

So other than the fact that I connected with the story, what can I say to convince you, why YOU should watch it, right? Is there a point to all my rambling? Yes. I think it was a well done series. It’s a story that grown-ups can relate to, not just a story directed at teenagers.

First off, I really love the characters. It’s high school and that right there is one big stereotype. Now not everyone experiences it the same, but I think that it’s not that far off using all the kids we remember at a high school, because they were really there. Much like in the movie The Breakfast Club, we all had the jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerds, the mean girls, goths, stoners, brains, etc. But 13 Reason Why takes us a little deeper into the characters, gives them some depth, makes them much more interesting and we see them dealing with their own off-campus lives. Is the show a bit campy? Yes, indeed, but that helps soften the blow of the serious subject.

I thought the acting was really well done. Dylan Minnette as Clay (I loved him in Don’t Breathe) is who the show revolves around. He is the current recipient of cassette tapes made by Hannah (Katherine Langford) before she kills herself, and the person we see the most.  He goes back and forth from past to present, as he listens to the dead girls anguish and reasons for leaving this world. He plays the nice guy that still manages to screw things up.

The entire cast is fantastic, but both Langford and Minnette really carry the show. You spend a lot of time with both Clay and Hannah, and these actors do not disappoint. But the rest of the cast is also fantastic, including Christian Navarro as Tony, Brandon Flynn as Justin and Kate Walsh as Hannah’s mother.

Not only are the characters complex and sympathetic, the story goes beyond simple teen drama. Being a show about bullying and harassment leading to teenager suicide, it’s easy to imagine that the ones to blame are the typical bullies. Well, it isn’t completely.  The series shows that kind of harassment, however, it also shows the damage that people and even close friends who don’t intend to hurt any one, can cause. From the friend who stops showing interest, to the guy who only tried to help but messed it up, one doesn’t need to be the joke of the class to identify with these stories. People make mistakes, and others get hurt. This is a suicide story, but it’s also a story about a community affected by loss. Parents, teachers, businesses.  And I think that for all its flaws that it will ultimately be a really profound and important TV show for many young people.

I have to mention my two super pet peeves, I can’t help it.
1) The makeup was terrible!! I know they use the band-aid and head injury on Clay to keep us from being confused about whether we are in the past or present- but since it’s constantly in close-up it should have looked good. It was awful and badly done. For such a good show, I am surprised that got past the first episode.
2) Even though I liked the actors, most of them were no where near being teens. Why? I know there are equally as talented teen actors out there. Just sayin’.

Creepy message left in the dust on Dylan Minnette’s car

Do they glamorize suicide? That is my one worry. I hope it doesn’t do the opposite of the creators desire. But bullying is real and we can’t underestimate it. I hope 13 Reasons Why makes someone stop and think about whats bothering them and then go kick those stupid people’s asses!

 

13 Asylum Horror Movie Locations To Go “Mad” Over

Mental hospitals, hell, madness in general, has been the stuff of Hollywood horror since the beginning. When it comes to real mental illness, most people are a bit put off, but if the setting of a scary movie is in an old hospital or abandoned building, fans of the macabre get very excited! Mental asylums are considered peculiar and places indeed and usually are thought to be haunted. We horror weirdos especially like the real hospitals; abandoned, full of creepy dangerous looking medical equipment, broken tiles, peeling paint, body parts in jars, flickering lights, dripping water and just brimming with supernatural happenings! These are the kind of hair-raising places we all want to wander around in, but are a bit scared we could get hurt- or find something creepy for REAL! Something haunted must be inside places that are so forsaken!

My photo of a hallway in Kilmainham Gaol in Ireland

In my life, I have always sought out old scary looking buildings to photograph and my nights have been disturbed by a lot of different reoccurring nightmares. Oddly enough abandoned hospitals have been the places that haunt my sleep the most. Long endless hallways, tiled walls with random patients chained up, (reaching out to me of course) puddles of what could be blood, (or God knows what). You know, the truly gross, decrepit, deserted and no-way-out kinda places. So maybe that means I belong in one? Or maybe it came from reading a lot of creepy books as a kid? Who knows?

Eloise- Courtesy of Friends of Eloise

I recently got a chance to see the newest film offering about an old hospital. The movie is Eloise and is a decent horror flick. You can read my review of it by clicking here. After watching it, I started to wonder which of the many movies based on mental institutions were filmed in real abandoned hospitals. When I started doing the research, I really opened up the asylum doors for myself. There is such a plethora of insane asylum movies! I had such an amazing time reading the history of so many cool places. Many I’ve seen mentioned before, some I’ve never heard of and some are just “found footage” offerings on You Tube.  A good number of them were filmed on sets, but some of the cooler ones (and some not so great) utilized amazing real locations. I even found a few that started filming at great abandoned locations only to disappear and never get made. Hmmmm. I wonder if that right there, is a movie to be explored? I can’t list them all, but I thought I would share a few of the movies I found, that had interesting or creepy hospital locations.

The Kay Beard Building at the real Eloise Hospital

Eloise-2017: This movie hasn’t gotten very good reviews, but I enjoyed it, and loved seeing the inside of the old hospital of the same name. The actual Eloise is located in Wayne County, Michigan and operated from 1839 to 1984. Originally a poor house and farm, it eventually developed into a mental asylum and county hospital. The Eloise Mental Hospital was originally comprised of 78 buildings on more than 900 acres. It was one of the biggest of its kind and was truly a self-sufficient institution. There hasn’t been any real patient abuse reported from Eloise, So the ghosts and the evil doctor in the movie are just part of the script. Only a few buildings are left and these are the ones we see in the film. The production design and photography made good use of the abandoned hospital, and really made the movie interesting to look at.

Beelitz-Heilstätten Sanatorium
Hohenzollern Castle

A Cure for Wellness- 2016: A movie that filmmaker Gore Verbinski describes as “a descent into darkness, layer by layer” has some of the coolest locations I’ve ever seen. Visually it is a beautiful gothic horror film. The two locations that blew me away are the former royal Hohenzollern Castle and an abandoned hospital in Beelitz-Heilstätten, both in Germany. An overly long film, I had trouble following the story, and was disappointed at the lack of a final big twist. But A Cure for Wellness has a lot of style, was truly engaging and gorgeous to watch, using the cool locations to the fullest.

Medfield State Hospital
Whittenton Mills

Shutter Island-2011: The movie unfolds on a fictitious island in Boston Harbor that’s home to the Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane. While Shutter Island may not exist, Lehane’s setting was inspired by the real-life history and uses of the Boston Harbor Islands. And in some cases, the truth is stranger than fiction. Shutter Island was mainly filmed in Massachusetts, with Taunton being the location for the World War II flashback scenes. Old industrial buildings in Taunton’s Whittenton Mills Complex replicated the Dachau concentration camp. The old Medfield State Hospital in Medfield, Massachusetts was another key location. Huge amounts of CGI were used to make all the cool old locations look new again. I’m not sure why they would go to that much trouble, but if you match up some of the shots with the buildings you can see they were at the locations. I loved looking through the photos of the real places and I wish I could get at them with my camera!

Riverview Hospital, BC

Grave Encounters 1 & 2 2011/2012: For this story about a ghost hunting reality show, the location was Riverview Mental Hospital in British Columbia. The sequel went back to the same location a year later. Both movies are shot in found footage style and the only difference for the second movie is it follows a group of devoted fans who break into the same psychiatric hospital to investigate whether the events of the previous film actually happened; but, of course, they also quickly become the targets of the hospital’s malevolent ghosts. Neither was a great movie, the first being much better, but the location was amazing.

The Ridges, Athens, OH.
Human stain at The Ridges, Athens, OH.

Here I must also mention the Athens Mental Hospital in Ohio. Although the Grave Encounters movies weren’t filmed here, the rumor is, that this is the place the stories are based on. The Athens (or The Ridge) was an infamous facility that was used to house the criminally insane, patients that were written off as useless to society. Various stories exist of atrocities that occurred within its walls. Beatings, tortures, and other cruel forms of punishment were apparently the norm for its day and there have even been many reports of deaths and murders occurring within the facility’s walls. Perfect for a movie script full of angry ghosts.

Brandon Mental Health Center

Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings – 2011: Wrong Turn 4 was filmed at the abandoned Brandon Mental Health Centre in Brandon, Manitoba. The fourth film in the Wrong Turn series, it’s a really awful and gory prequel to what was a pretty good horror series. The Mental Health Centre closed its doors in 1999 after over 100 years.

Patients at Waverly Hills Sanatorium
Waverly Hills Death Tunnel

Death Tunnel – 2005Death Tunnel is another asylum film where the setting was better than the movie. The synopsis: Five sexy (always, right?) students are trapped when they go to spend the night in an abandoned sanatorium, as a prank of their school mates. 63,000 people were killed there in the 30’s when the location was devastated by an infectious white plague, leaving lots of spirits behind! During the night, while trying to escape from the asylum, they are haunted by ghosts, and the survivors disclose that they are descendants of the victims and are reliving their deaths. The crazy part about the back story is that at The Waverly Hills Sanitarium in Louisville Kentucky, where the movie was filmed, thousands of people really died from tuberculosis. Treated with little more than fresh air and sunlight in an era before antibiotics, the tuberculosis patients admitted to the hospital invariably ended up in the 500-foot tunnel located beneath the hospital, called a ‘body chute.’ The dead were secretly lowered into the tunnel and loaded on a train so that the remaining patients wouldn’t give up hope that they’d get out alive. I hear there are talks of making it into a haunted hotel. I bet there really are some crazy supernatural happenings there. I would love to spend a night in the hotel when it’s done.

St. Vincent-de-Paul Prison

Gothika- 2003: Here is another movie hated by critics that I enjoyed. It wasn’t Halle Berry’s best, but the story about a repressed female psychiatrist who wakes up as a patient in the Woodward Asylum where she worked, with no memory of why she is there or what she has done, is interesting as we see it unfold. The primary location for Woodward was the St. Vincent-de-Paul Prison, a now-abandoned maximum security facility in Laval, Quebec. The filmmakers had originally intended to build the penitentiary sets on stages, but changed the design after director Mathieu Kassovitz fell in love with the dark, decaying facility, commonly known as “the SVP.” Several scenes in the script were expanded so that the production could utilize more areas of the SVP to make Woodward an even greater presence in the story. Over 50 other films have been filmed in this location including Battlefield Earth.

Danvers State Hospital
Med Restraint at Danvers cir 1869

Session 9-2001: Session 9 is a horrific tale of a group of asbestos removal workers working in an abandoned insane asylum. This movie kept me on the edge of my seat and is one of my favs on this list. A host of underground tunnels connect the castle-like buildings, making it the perfect location for the five men, to slowly lose their minds. This was a pretty great movie and was filmed at the abandoned Danvers State Insane Asylum in Danvers, Mass. Danvers is often given the lovely title of the “birthplace of the prefrontal lobotomy” for its use and refinement of the procedure. Visitors to the hospital in the late 1940s described the patients as aimlessly wandering the halls, or vacantly staring at walls, perhaps a result of both their poor treatment by the staff and their various medical interventions. Danvers has since been made into an apartment community, but when director Brad Anderson filmed his movie there, he had this to say. “We found all sorts of creepy medical instruments and a straitjacket and stuff. We also got a sense of the asylum’s history. Even if you’re a very skeptical person about the supernatural, that place is so emotionally heavy. Hundreds of thousands of people were wrongfully committed and lived out their lives locked in these tiny little rooms that they call ‘seclusions.’ It’s tragic.” The abandoned buildings and ambiance itself, truly added to the creepy feel the film has. I’m sad they decided to rebuild this location into apartments.
(Extra note: the Danvers Mental Hospital is also said to be the model for H.P. Lovecraft’s Arkham Sanitarium in “The Thing on the Doorstep” and several other stories.)

A scene from One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest at Oregon State Hospital
Unclaimed Ash cans at Oregon State Hospital

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest-1975: OK, so it’s not a horror film, but the Oscar Award winning movie deserves to be on the list since it was filmed at the Oregon State Mental Hospital. The movie that stars a huge cast of favorites: Jack Nicholson, Michael Berryman, Scatman Crothers, Danny Devito, Louise Fletcher and Christopher Lloyd was made inside and around the hospital that the book was based on. Both actors and real patients worked on the film. A reporter watching the filming back in 1975 said that At first glance, the difference between the patients and the actors who play the patients – a group carefully selected for their eccentric manner – seemed to be that the former tried desperately to appear sane and the latter didn’t.

Needs a mention: There are a couple of places that just need to be mentioned- even though I won’t list what was filmed there- the locations themselves stand up for themselves.

Linda Vista before the recent renovation

The Linda Vista Community Hospital  is the hospital that has the most film credits I’ve even seen and is located, where else? Los Angeles California. On Wiki I noted over 40 movies that used the location, (including favs of mine, Dead Girl and Insidious) over 30 television episodes and more music videos than I felt like counting. The historic, and some say haunted, hospital that has been closed for decades, has now been converted into apartments for low-income seniors. I wish it was still the haunted hospital turned Hollywood studio, but I understand the need for housing in LA. One question remains though?  Did the ghosts come along too?

Fairview Training Center Salem, Oregon

The final honorable mention is the Fairview Training Center in Salem, Oregon. No full-length movies have been filmed there, that I could find, but the location has inspired some pretty cool found-footage type films on You Tube, that are fun to watch.  Check out one called simply The Asylum. Another location I would love to wander around in, with my camera.

Where are some cool abandoned locations that you have been to? Let me know! I love creepy photos!!

 

 

 

A Horror Fiend’s Valentine – ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ with K.A.O.S.

I know it’s Women in Horror Month so I am going to take the liberty of talking about something that is near and dear to this female horror fiend’s heart. I am a woman in horror and I love, beyond all compare to all the other horror movies, and am a fan of, an amazing, unique, very misunderstood pastiche and love letter to B-Movies, sci-fi, horror and a bit of Frankenstein; the cult classic film The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

 

 

Now, right off the bat, if you haven’t seen Rocky Horror ever….. OMG- Do it now! Not the badly redone mess that FOX did last year; Please, please don’t waste time on that. It was awful and miscast. Go to your local cinema and watch it at midnight, check it out on VOD or go see the play at a local theater. My favorite suggestion is seeing the movie with a shadow cast performing in front of the stage, so you can understand why fans like me fell in love with it in the first place.

 

 

The interactive aspect of it is what made it so special. Back in 1979, the author of the play, the screenplay and also one of the stars, Richard O’Brien, explained his feelings on why RHPS was such a hit. “Psychiatrists and sociologists have asked a lot of people to interpret the show’s success and they all seem to miss the very obvious answer: It allows the kids to dress up. I see guys on the street in fishnet stockings and corsets and I think it’s terrific. It’s a major breakthrough. Women have been cross-dressing for years. Now they can wear almost anything, but a man can’t. Thanks to Rocky Horror, a guy can put on fishnets and strut his stuff and feel okay. I see no harm in that.”

 

 

Speaking for the oddball that I am, Rocky taught me to be myself no matter what other people think, and I think that’s why it’s been so popular over the years. I was a weirdo in high school (still am) and the movie challenged me to stand up for who I was and to not be afraid of being different; to be proud of who I am, weird or not. Before long I was dancing the Time Warp up on stage with the shadow cast every weekend! I saw the play, The Rocky Horror Show, live in London and when I became a DJ, midnight was always “Time Warp time”, wherever I played.

 

 

So, what does all this have to do with Valentine’s Day? Well this year I took myself to The Frida Cinema in Santa Ana, and experienced my favorite movie, with an amazing shadow cast performance by the group K.A.O.S! The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an international phenomenon, celebrating almost 40 years of subversive decadence, is truly a film to be experienced on the big screen. Add in a live troupe of shadow cast players bringing all the insanity to dancing, lip-syncing life, you have the best of both worlds, an amazing movie and a live performance! For those of you that don’t know what I mean by shadow cast, let me explain.

 

 

A shadow cast is a group of talented and brave volunteers who act out the movie in front of the screen and enhance the movie, by taking us personally on the journey with them. Some characters are almost carbon copies of the actors on the screen, some just play the parts they love the best and it’s all OK. All of them are in some sort of costume, have props and all I can say is, it’s fabulous. When I first started seeing the movie back in the 70’s (yes, I’m old) we did the same thing, but it was not as organized as it is now. The group K.A.O.S. is wonderful and brought me back to the same place I felt way back then. Every time I see the movie or play, it gives me a chance to remember a time of my life, when I would spend weekend after weekend, with a wonderful best friend, who I eventually lost to AIDS.

 

 

The group K.A.O.S. is one of hundreds of shadow casts all over the world that perform Rocky on a regular basis. Here is some info on them from their website.

“The Frida’s own shadow cast K.A.O.S. returns to bring you the longest-running film of all time – The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Based on the stage musical “The Rocky Horror Show” by Richard O’Brien, this 1975 cult classic invites you take a trip to The Frankenstein Place, a Gothic castle filled with some of the most ‘unconventional conventionalists’ you’ve ever met – tap-dancing Columbia (Nell Campbell), hunchbacked faithful handyman Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) and his sister Magenta (Patricia Quinn), motor maniac Eddie, (Meatloaf) and cinema’s most dangerous mad scientist in high heels, Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry)!

 

 

Sweet and virginal Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet, (Susan Sarandon) had no idea what laid in store for them when they walked into this weird household – and neither did the world, as the film went on to become an “audience participation” phenomenon complete with “call backs” (listen as the audience hurls words at the screen!), props, and sing-alongs. EVERY Rocky Horror screening is a sing-along – so raise your voice and join us!”

 

 

Please enjoy my photos of K.A.O.S. and Rocky Horror Picture Show! To the other unconventional conventionalists out there- find Rocky Horror Picture Show near you and:

“Give yourself over to absolute pleasure. Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh- erotic nightmares beyond any measure, and sensual daydreams to treasure forever. Can’t you just see it. Wo-o-oh. Don’t dream, be it. Don’t dream it, be it….” Frank: Floorshow from Rocky Horror Picture Show

K.A.O.S. at the Frida Cinema- Website, Facebook

‘The Barn’- A new horror movie that delivers the best of the 80’s slasher genre and rocks our brains out too!

All they wanted was a Halloween they’d never forget. What they got was a night they’d pray to survive!

 

I love slasher movies. I admit it. It’s been one of the constants in my life since I saw Psycho when I was a little girl. Now, I have been accused of being a “shiny thing” kind of girl. Any glittery object that comes along can catch my eye, and take me in another direction. But gore filled movies, I’ve never lost the taste for. Even as my friends, one-by-one “grow up” and don’t want to go to see them with me anymore, my love continues. Which is why I want to write about my admiration for the newest retro 80s movie, The Barn.

 

 

When I got a chance to screen it, I was excited just reading the official synopsis- which is as follows:

 

It’s Halloween 1989 and best friends Sam and Josh (Mitchell Musolino and Will Stout) are trying to enjoy their last “Devil’s Night” before graduating high school. Trouble soon arises when the two pals and a group of friends (Lexi Dripps, Cortland Woodard, Nikki Darling and Nickolaus Joshua) take a detour on their way to a rock concert, finding an old abandoned barn and awakening the evil inside…The Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack and The Candycorn Scarecrow. Now it’s up to Sam and Josh to find a way to protect their friends and defeat the creatures that lurk within The Barn.

 

 

This movie brought back to me all the things I love about my favorite slasher movies. Films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Terror Train, Friday the 13th, Black Christmas and even Scream are some of my all-time fav homicidal murderer flicks. It also reminded me of some of my best memories of being a kid. Late night horror movies hosts, Halloween parties, decorating for Halloween, Trick or Treating and telling scary stories. I was the master of scaring the crap out of my friends at slumber parties! I also thought it was great that the characters had their own sing-song rhyme:

 

The Boogeyman wants to crack your back, cut you into pieces to carry in his sack. The pumpkin man Hallowed Jack wants to carve out your head, slash you with his vines until you’re dead. And if you get scared, don’t you cry or the Candycorn Scarecrow will surely eat your eyes.

 

 

 

The passion in this project is so apparent. The Practical Special FXs weren’t without flaws, but they were pretty amazing and fit the 80s homage perfectly. There were at least 30 deaths (I tried to count) of all sorts. The total massacre at the Harvest Hootenanny was epic. We saw everything from body parts chopped to bits, hearts torn from chests, guts everywhere, and even faces peeling off. Everything about the movie and the packaging look like they would be sitting on a shelf at your local video store in the VHS section. The movie truly looks like it was made 30 years ago.

The original score by Rocky Gray was the butter on top of this popcorn party classic! The hard rock metal music was so reminiscent of the 80s, that I almost thought it was. It was so perfect for head banging! A little added fun was to see a couple of classic horror actors return to the screen. The Barn features “Scream Queen” Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons and The Return of the Living Dead) and Ari Lehman, the original Jason from Friday the 13th.

 

 

In my humble opinion, what better way is there to spend an evening, but to go to a rock concert, stop at a haunted barn and release demons from hell on a small town? Sounds like your basic awesome Halloween. Now one of our main characters, Sam, should have known better, he had heard the legends of The Barn, all his life and had serious rules to get him through every Halloween (up till now) safely. He knew better than to go up to a barn door, knock three times and say “Trick or Treat”. Seems pretty simple. But logic always goes out the window during horror movies and The Barn is no different. As I was watching it I laughed out loud, cheered and rocked out to the metal music like I was in Wayne’s World! Party on indeed!

 

Little Justin with his original “The Barn” book

 

It was so great talking to writer/Director Justin M. Seaman. I found out that he wrote the original book The Barn was based on, when he was just a little boy, and I got a chance to ask him a few other questions.

 


 

Los Angeles Zombie Girl: What inspired you to write The Barn?

 

Justin M. Seaman: “I wrote the original story of The Barn when I was 8 years old. I was obsessed with all things Halloween and spooky (hint hint Sam’s based on me!) plus I had a very active imagination. My favorite film is ‘The Monster Squad’, and I always wanted to make my own film that had kids battling monsters too. Many films inspired me to style The Barn the way I did. Some influencing movies were Night of the Demons, The Return of the Living Dead, Trick or Treat, Ghoulies, Neon Maniacs, and Fright Night. I wanted this film to look and feel like a movie I would have immediately been drawn to in a video store.”

LAZG: When did you start filmmaking?

 

JS: “I started making short films when I was 5 years old with the family camcorder. I formed Nevermore Production Films while in high school with a group of friends, which eventually led me to college to study film production and start shooting feature length films.”

 

LAZG: What were the challenges you had while making The Barn?

 

JS: “The film was very challenging to make for many reasons including locations, set construction, clothing, props, casting and funding. It took us almost 2 years to completely wrap the production with the help of about 12 dedicated crew members and cast. I wanted to make a film that wasn’t trying to change the horror genre or be scary, I just wanted to make a film that was a FUN watch.  A “Popcorn Party Movie” if you will.”

 

LAZG: Any funny stories about the making of film?

 

JS: “There’s a good many, but one of my favorites looking back on the shoot was when I jokingly complained about the two lead actors being divas because of the weather. We shot the film in October in Pennsylvania and it was average 20-27 degrees outside on the night shoots. The crew would be dressed head to toe in winter attire, while Mitch and Will (Sam and Josh) had to wear thin blue jeans, sneakers and T-shirts and pretend it wasn’t cold. So, in between set ups they would go running back to a vehicle off screen to get warmed up. Well, karma came back at me with a vengeance lol. I also play ‘The Boogeyman’ in the movie and during the finale scene it was 17 degrees in the barn location and all I had on under the jumpsuit was just my underwear. After shooting for about 8 hours in the intense coldness I could no longer call those actors “divas” because I knew exactly what they had been going through. Trust me my hat goes off to them for doing as many scenes as they did in that weather.”

 

LAZG: How can the public see The Barn?

 

JS: “We are currently working a distribution deal for the film for some time in mid to late 2017, but for now we are selling a 2 DISC Set on our site- www.thebarnmerch.com. Disc 1(DVD) includes an Extended Cut of the Film with Special Features and Disc 2 (CD-ROM) is an 8bit video based on the movie for PC play. You can also find us on The Barn Movie Facebook and the Nevermore Productions Website ”

 

Why do we like Horror Movies? A 2016 Retrospect

2016 has been a wild horror-filled ride. To even try to rate the horror movies I’ve seen seems pointless since there are so many ways of looking at them and everyone else has already made their lists.  What must be said, is that I have been a very happy horror lover this year. Most of the films I saw took the genre to a higher level. Many years this has not been the case! Admittedly, some horror flicks in 2016 were not the greatest of all time, but overall, WOW!

So, if I’m not here to give my version of a top horror movie list, why am I writing this article? Well, what I want to talk about is horror itself. Why do we love it so much? What is it that makes us crave the vision of an autopsy, a throat getting slashed, or a good person getting eaten? Why is the horror genre becoming so mainstream? Why would anyone love horror films as much as I do?  To quote my favorite horror writer, Stephen King, “We make up horror to deal with the real ones.”

 

No matter how much we analyze it: We Like to be Scared!

 

 

Adrenaline is an addictive thing. We learn to want it, crave it, need it. When we watch a horror movie we go through many stages where adrenaline kicks in and we feel good, while feeling absolutely terrified. Horror movies, going to haunts, or just being around people that are scared is a kick- it’s fun, crazy and not boring in any way. The more we are scared, the more we like the movie or haunt. People, in general, do the same thing every day, but none of us really want to. We want things to be different, we want things to get our juices flowing. Why do we all slow down in morbid fascination at an accident on the freeway? Why do we watch shows about real crimes? Because we need to see things that don’t happen in our everyday lives. Most of us realize that what we see in horror movies isn’t real. We know there are SFX makeup artists creating the blood and gore on the screen. Because of that, we can create a psychological distance between the violence in the movie and our real lives. That gives us a sense of control and allows us to give in to our fears. We know it will be over soon and no one really gets hurt. Horror movies also become a sort of safety valve for our sadistic, aggressive or violent impulses. If we watch it done in a horror movie, we hopefully don’t have to act on those kinds of thoughts.

 

Who out there isn’t worried about the future? Is there going to be a bomb going off at the next big event I go to? Will someone target Disneyland on the day I go there? Will there really be a zombie apocalypse? Will someone take everything I have, away from me?  Is there something scary under my bed? When we watch horror films we can project our fears onto the bad people or monsters in the films. When the bad guy is finally dead- we feel better. Our fears are released and we can go on. Our anxiety is relieved for a short time. Horror films make us feel good, in a backward sort of way.

 

So, what are the myriad of fear buttons that horror movies push? What are we so afraid of? I think one of our most basic fears, that comes from our childhood, is where I will start:

 

 

  • Fear of Being Alone: Things happen when we are alone, that don’t seem to happen when we are surrounded by people. If all the people we love, die around us, we are left alone. If we are alone we are less likely to be able to fight off a possible threat. Who really wants to spend the rest of their life with just themselves to talk to?

 

  • Fear of the Dark: Something could be hiding in that dark. Jump scares in movies depend on this fear. Watching a horror movie in a dark room or movie theater, adds to that feeling too- that something could jump out of the dark any second and grab us! The crack of unexpected lightning, a rumble of thunder or the sound of a heart beating loudly, brings on the same response. Scary movies use this fear well.

 

  • Fear of Death: We are all afraid of death in some way, and even more so, seeing people we love die. Death is very final in the real world, but not always in horror movies. In horror movies, people do die, but many times come back to play another role.

 

  • Haunted Places: We have all had a place that was scary to us. Many of us daring our friends to go inside. I went in a “haunted house” in high school and a real guy with a gun ran us out. Maybe not haunted, but seriously scary. Old abandoned houses or hospitals, graveyards, dark forests, attics, and basements are all places that our imaginations host very nasty monsters in! Most horror movies, use a cool scary location to trigger this basic fear.

 

 

  • Horrible Looking Creatures: We are all afraid of monsters in some way. Looking at a sweet teddy bear, doesn’t bring out the same reaction as a melted face or rotting zombie. Freddy Krueger, Jason, even a Chucky doll, make us afraid, just because they look yucky. An unseen face behind a mask will always make us shiver, too. The fear of clowns is an example of this. No matter how much we try, most people are afraid of things that are scary looking or hidden behind a disguise.

 

  • Bugs, Snakes, and Creepy Things: Spiders, snakes, bats, and rats are all just part of the natural world around us. But the idea of being surround by any of these in the dark, or worse yet, having them crawl on us, can make the biggest guy, scream like a little girl.

 

  • Permanent Injury: We are all afraid of pain and getting hurt. Having someone throw acid on our face, or cut off our body parts, is terrifying. Movies like Hostel, Saw or even cannibalistic horror movies leave us wondering if we would rather be dead or alive if that kind of torture were to happen to us.

 

And lastly, the reason that ties back to the beginning of this article:

 

  • Fear Itself: We all like to be scared! Yes, everyone. It’s not always logical, but it’s true. There are a lot of horror movies that take it too far for the faint of heart. But we all like a little scare occasionally. Even just walking in a room and people yelling surprise for a party, someone scaring your hiccups away, driving your car too fast or riding a roller coaster are examples of this. The term “edge of your seat” is the perfect illustration. The greatest horror movies, do this super well. They build up our anxiety and the suspense that something bad is going to happen. We literally slow our breathing, and our hearts beat faster, as the tension builds. When it happens, we realize we almost stopped breathing in anticipation. We wait for it while clutching our seats or date! The emotions that are released after we realize that we are still OK makes most people laugh. I know it does me. We don’t usually leave horror movies scared, we leave giddy and relieved. True horror movie fans love the adrenaline rush much more, I suppose, than a person that hates that kind of movie, but horror films fill an important niche in our culture.

 

Horror movies are here to stay and I am so grateful to all the unique and creative filmmakers, who continue to bring us quality movies, awesome gore fests and terrify me daily! As I said, I can’t really give a perfect “best of” list from 2016. Movies like Don’t Breathe, Green Room, Autopsy of Jane Doe, Hush, Nocturnal Animals, Lights Out, The Witch, Neon Demon and Rob Zombie’s 31 are some of my favorites. They are movies that made my black heart happy. I was lucky enough to be able to see so much horror this year! The movies ranged from no-budget Indie shorts to full-length features with huge finances and big stars, and I honestly loved something about each and every one of them. Please keep making great horror films! 2017 is almost here!!! Here’s to the best new horror movie year yet! Stay happy, my horror fiends!

 

LA Zombie Girl Horror Review: Christmas Slasher ‘All Through the House’

All Through the House gives you no time to think, hmmmm, is this going to be too scary for me? The bloody holiday horror film, starring a serial killer Santa, starts with a bloody bang! Six minutes into the movie and there is no doubt that you are watching a gore lover’s, old school, slasher movie! All my life I have been a Halloween first, Christmas second, kinda girl, and when you mix them together I get very Ho Ho happy! The original Black Christmas, made back in the 70’s is my one of my all-time favorite horror movies! All Through the House is in the same vein (bloody pun intended) and I love it!

 

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The plot for All Through the House: Fifteen years ago, a peaceful Christmas neighborhood was engulfed by fear when five-year-old Jamie Garrett was mysteriously taken from her bedroom, never to be seen again. Now on Christmas break, Rachel Kimmel comes home from college to find her neighborhood struck again by a reign of terror. A violent killer is hiding behind
a grisly Santa mask, leaving a bloody trail of slaughtered women and castrated men on the steps of the Garrett house. Rachel finds herself in a horrifying nightmare as she discovers the twisted secret behind the mask.

 

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One of the first things I noticed about All Through the House, was the gratuitous use of Christmas decorations. So many, that I am still seeing different colored lights in my eyes! The overly festive choices made me happy too, since I have been accused of over decorating many times, and this movie fits right in with my, Christmas is for excess decorations, feelings. Mix that with a LOT of blood, and we have (in my demented opinion) a Christmas slasher classic.

 

I got a chance to meet writer and director Todd Nunes at quite a few of the horror conventions this last year. He is very passionate about his movie and enjoying the ride it has been on at many film festivals. The movie is now available on all the major VOD sites and for sale on DVD/Blu-ray. “This slasher has been brewing in my mind since I was a kid,” said Nunes. “It’s not a rehash of popular Christmas horror movie subplots, like punishing the naughty, Santa-obsessed psychos, or death by antlers. This is a dark, scary, violent story that delivers on a big bloody body count, beautiful girls, and lots of terrifying action. It’s everything I love to see in a horror movie – every murder is shown on screen and the anti-hero is a killer with a diabolical, sadistic mystery.”

 

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For your zombie girl, I love that this movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is a revenge movie of a sort, but with a huge twist you won’t see coming. Christmas slashers, in general, only work if they have a sense of dark, morbid humor. The types of kills are what make the genre (or sub-holiday genre) work, and they are always the campy kills. All Through the House has many of them. I’m not into spoilers for the actual plot, so I won’t share much, but picture a boob getting stabbed, a wheel chair flying off a cliff or Santa’s sack full of cut off penises and you will get an idea of what All Through the House is all about.

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With those deaths being mentioned, I must say, for the most part, the practical effects were super gory and very well executed (oops another pun!). No blood was spared for this film. They effectively pay homage to some great 70/80’s Christmas slashers of the past. The killer is impossible to kill, pops up right behind you no matter where they fall and is relentless in its need to hunt you down and kill you. We have a giant dead-body count, lots of nudity, stupid but sexy girl victims, (including Scream Queens Jessica Cameron and Johanna Rae) a crazy mom played amazingly by Melynda Kiring, and a totally kick ass final girl, Rachel, brought to us by the talented Ashley Mary Nunes.

 

 

I think All Though the House belongs in every horror fans stocking this Christmas and is available to watch on many formats whether you want VOD or a DVD/Blu-ray of the movie. The easiest way is to go on their Facebook or Website, and get all the info. After watching the film, I may stay away from special eggnog made by creepy moms, but that’s just me.

 

If you love all Christmas slashers- Todd Nunes and Jessica Cameron put together their favorite list of Christmas horror movies of all time. (The video Top 10 list coincides with the VOD and DVD/Blu-ray release of their film) and I am happy to share that video with you here!

 

 

All Through the House was a hit on the film festival circuit. The film received 20 awards and nominations including:
Best Slasher (RIP Horror Film Festival)
Audience Choice Award (RIP Horror Film Festival)
Best Editing (RIP Horror Film Festival)
Best Director (Hardcore Horror Fest)
Best Actress – Jessica Cameron (Hardcore Horror Fest)
Best Local Feature (SFindie’s “Another Hole in the Head” Film Festival)
Best Supporting Actress – Melynda Kiring as Mrs. Garrett (GenreBlast Film Festival)

 

 

 

From the Brains of Los Angeles Zombie Girl- Why a horror fan can love ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’

Hi Everyone. With Christmas ahead and Thanksgiving behind, this zombie lover is missing her horror fixes and feeling a bit out of place. Yes, I still see horror movies, and I am even leaving up my small black Halloween horror tree all season, but this time of year we are supposed to pick up the jolly bug and be happy with everything Christmas. I admit, I used to like it more, but now I already feel like if I hear one more Christmas song I may have to throttle someone, and it’s still November!

 

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

 

So, the other day I got a chance to go out with my daughter and see a movie that surprisingly satisfied this zombie girl, and isn’t even technically horror! The newest film from J.K. Rowling– the creator of the Harry Potter world- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them! I have always loved everything Harry Potter, so I knew I would enjoy it, but wow, it was amazing! Take your family during the holidays, you will not be sorry!

 

This newest installment is kind of a prequel, but only to the wizarding world, not Harry Potter himself. It takes place in 1920’s New York City and gives us a much darker movie than the original Harry Potter world. We see the U.S. version of the wizarding world being terrorized by their local evil dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). For those of you that follow the series, this wizard is the mortal enemy of good guy Albus Dumbledore and a huge villain before Lord Voldemort’s time.

 

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This article is not a review of the film. The movie was well done, great CG special effects and a huge cliffhanger that leaves fans waiting for the next movie. So why am I writing this on a horror site? One reason I think it’s worth seeing and following is that most of it is in similar context to what we see in the world around us now. Using the Great Depression as its historical base, we experience the oppression that was part of that time period. I saw a lot of metaphors for the ugly side of our current culture. The wizarding world, like many groups today, feel the need to suppress their very existence, because a group (like the witch hunters during the time of the Salem Witch Trials) is trying to make them disappear. It was illegal for wizards to marry what they called No Maj’s (people with no magical powers). Sound familiar? Let’s be scared of anything or anyone that is different from ourselves. The fear, prejudice, and violence remind me of events in our recent history, and that made it very relevant if you care to look deeper into the story

 

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Helped by my daughter, the other interesting thing I did was find out what house I would get sorted into. For those of you that haven’t seen any Harry Potter (if that’s possible), when you are chosen to be a wizard in England and go to Hogwarts for training, they have a special hat that basically sees inside your soul to place you into the perfect house to live in while at school. My daughter, a very ambitious girl, sorted into Slytherin. I myself sorted into Gryffindor. We took the Myers-Briggs Personality Test and that puts you into categories that can give you your personality types and then those traits can be “sorted” into the different “houses.”

 

So, my horror fiends, in my next article I am going to explain the different houses and “sort” some horror protagonists and see how they fair. I know, most people would think that all horror characters would be Slytherin (because that’s where most of the evil wizards come from), but I think we all might be surprised.

 

Thanks for following me, and I’ll see you in the dark…..

 

 

 

 

From the Brains of Los Angeles Zombie Girl- A new column on Gruemonkey

Welcome horror friends and fiends. I have been given an opportunity to write a column about my thoughts and about the horror world around us. An offer I am accepting and terrified by what I might say! My name is Vicki and I go by the pseudonym of Los Angeles Zombie Girl. I have loved horror since I was a little kid, putting blood on my Halloween costumes and scaring my poor religious mother by playing on an old Ouija board and listening to Black Sabbath. A part of me liked that I was referred to by my parents as morbid and weird. (Weird is Good, right Crypt TV family?) The way most kids looked forward to Christmas, I looked forward to Halloween, a day I could be anyone I wanted to (usually dead) and no one thought I was odd.

 

I grew up before horror was mainstream or anyone cosplayed on a regular basis. The movie Night of the Living Dead started my love of zombies, but was not the final piece of the I Love Zombies puzzle. I found my “inner zombie” during the making of a friend’s student film, entitled The Living Dead. I played a zombie in that movie for several weekends. I was drooling blood, pawing on a car full of potential meals, and realized I loved it beyond words. Weird for some people, but it worked for me. I knew then that I wanted to immerse myself in the horror world I lived on the fringes of, and voila, Zombie Girl emerged!

 

I love creating horror. My favorite job is doing horror makeup and I have my own company called Scattered Brains! I write, do SFX makeup, and make horror creations to sell (like zombie barbies). No, I don’t have a web page for that, but there are ways to get stuff from me; just ask.

 

So, funny story. Whenever I am out, I try to get more readers for the sites I write for. I love that if someone asks what I do and I say I write about horror, most people hear the word whore, and give me the weirdest look until I clarify and say no, Hor-ror! I have no explanation as to why most human brains go to that word over horror, but from the confused look on their faces, it just does. Ok, so maybe it’s not the funniest story in the world, but I am always amused by it, when it happens.

 

Again- Welcome to From the Brains of Los Angeles Zombie Girl and I hope you like my thoughts. I have a lot of strange things in this head of mine and am open to suggestions of what to write about too. As my friend Gereg, from the band The Rhythm Coffin would say; “Fangs very much!” I’ll be talking at you again soon.