I always find it amazing when I hear music that’s created in a bedroom studio. It always has a cozy, warm aesthetic that’s much more listenable than any other genre I find. Perfume Genius and Youth Lagoon have really captured the essence of bringing the music from the bedroom (or a friends) to life. With the release of the weird, but very good Wondrous Bughouse, I’ve felt the need to rekindle some of that lo-fi feel in my daily music listening. A musician that brings together this idea greatly is Candy Cigarettes.
Lane Mueller is a solo, self-taught musician out of Portland that has been releasing songs under the alias of Candy Cigarettes. Already playing in festivals around his hometown (The monstrous Kaleidoscope Festival in Eugene, Or), his deep baritone voice is rare to hear in the dream pop genre he’s playing. What makes him special as well is how he can jump from a Matt Berninger rumble to a Ben Gibbard, Postal Service, style of singing. Because of his smaller scale and bedroom feel, it’s obvious the quality cannot compete with some of the bigger players in the business, but it adds to the feel of his music. The tracks I listened to, “Tomorrow”, “Stockholm”, “Call Her Friend” and “My 45″ all fall under the same lo-fi sound, but are extremely different in their own qualities.
I’m torn between “Stockholm” and “Call Her Friend” as my personal favorite track from Mueller. It’s easy to tell what emotions he’s trying to convey from his diverse range of sound. “Stockholm” begins as a lonely, National influenced track that bursts into a riff resembling “Entertainment” by Phoenix. I hated that song on it’s own, but Mueller takes the idea of the riff, and creates it into a great ending for a sad, revealing track.
“Call Her Friend” was not a track I wanted to hear from the opening guitar riff. it’s too Garage Band like, but I gave it a chance and I found it to be Mueller’s most creative work. I hear an early Death Cab for Cutie influence, but with more desperation with the backing vocals droning off, leading into an outstanding electronic section. The song has so many different noises coming from different angles, but Mueller utilizes the silence of the chorus with the background vocals to create amazing tension and connection with the listener. I also found the bridge and fade out to be very solid, with the exception of the blues guitar that doesn’t fit. Nonetheless, great track.
“Tomorrow” was the song that I first heard, and it did really capture my attention. It’s the definition of bedroom music, and that’s not an insult in the slightest. I’m saddened by the fact that many people haven’t been introduced the Candy Cigarettes, or other bedroom artists of the same nature. Mueller’s bio describes himself as “Carved name amongst the elders of Portland’s highly proclaimed music scene”, and it makes scene. This track in particular has huge potential to be a radio hit with a bit of clean-up. My same comment goes as the blues guitar doesn’t fit the overall feel of Mueller’s music, but nonetheless it doesn’t detract from the great ideas.
Lane is among the many talented solo musicians who are striving to have their name heard. Some are pretty established, like Mueller, while others haven’t shown a single soul their creations. All we know is it can be a work of genius if we give it a chance. Thanks to the age of social media, we can experience the greatness of millions of musicians, and see their minds flow. Just listen to “Weary Is”, and tell me the closing piano notes don’t make you feel something special. Candy Cigarettes, much like Washed Out, is a unique project that only needs that single opportunity, and at 21, Lane Mueller will be given many.
Life moves at a different pace in Ogden Marsh, Iowa. That is, until a downed military airplane carrying a to-be-decommissioned biological weapon crashes and contaminates the water supply. Soon after, the once neighborly population begins tearing itself apart.
The 2010 Breck Eisner remake of George A. Romero‘s The Crazies lends itself well to modernization. In a world where everything can be monitored, tracked, and analyzed from a safe distance, Big Brother has never been more omnipotent or terrifying as when the US military rolls into the sleepy town of Ogden Marsh and starts detaining its population.
Starring Radha Mitchell and Timothy Olyphant as husband and wife, David and Judy, The Crazies is an intimate horror film that begins innocuously enough on a Spring day and then quickly unravels over the course of a nightmarish, chaotic 3-day period.
The Crazies is relentless and terrifying on personal, psychological, and primal levels. The filmmakers practically use every technique in their toolkit to bring the fear to the audience – they confine the characters, they confuse them, they challenge them, they put them in death’s grip time and again. All the while, always giving them (and you) the sick hope of being saved.
It is truly depraved … and delicious storytelling.
While this is done in other films, to greater extent, The Crazies holds back just enough to keep the plot moving at a steady (and interesting) pace without overly fatiguing the viewer with a bunch of shock and awe. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of gore, and shock, and awe, but never at the expense of maintaining a solid storyline.
What I like about The Crazies is the lack of information the viewer really has about what’s happening, who’s infected, and who’s to blame. Is the toxin airborne, is it blood borne, can you only contract it if you drink the water? And really, when it happens, you know it’s over. At least, for them. The sense of dread is imminent and terrifically inescapable – as the final moments of the film will reveal.
Add to this the intimacy of the small town setting and you have a great character drama, something refreshing, and uniquely uplifting, for a film in the genre.
The effects of nuclear testing have had a long lasting and devastating effect on a desolate mining community in the hills of the New Mexico desert. One thing’s clear – someone has to pay.
On their 25th wedding anniversary, Bob (Ted Levine) and Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan), traveling across the desert in their Airstream trailer with their entire family, are about to cross paths with a pack of mutant cannibals hell bent on exacting revenge.
This 2006 remake of the original Wes Craven film, is helmed by Alexandre Aja, the director responsible for terrifying (and delighting) us with High Tension. Aja dares to take the audience into some very palatable dark places. Places where real terror resides. Forget the supernatural. Forget the inexplicable. In Aja’s vision, there is reason everywhere, and the dangers are very tangible.
When I saw this film years ago, I swore I would never watch it again. The Hills Have Eyes evoked such terrible feelings, such fear, such disgust, that I could barely make it through the film.
Gah!! Fine. Challenge accepted.
The sense of dread is absolutely overwhelming as I wait for that little red Netflix envelope to arrive. The anxiety is so acute that I can barely sleep the night before I know I will wake up and have to watch it. In fact, I wake early, on a Saturday, at around 7 in the morning. No longer able to stand it, I pop in Alexandre Aja’s version of The Hills Have Eyes and again live through what is probably the most terrifying ordeal ever faced by a celluloid family.
The trailer attack. God. All I have to say is – kudos on performances from Aaron Stanford, Vinessa Shaw, Emilie de Ravin, and Dan Byrd. After all, special effects help flesh out a movie, to make it more real, but without the blood, sweat, and fears of its cast, a horror film is little more than gore.
The horrors this family faces are completely astounding and only surpassed by their drive, their will to survive.
All of this, all of these things, these feelings, these emotions, this reaction – in essence, it means Aja has made a masterpiece of horror. True horror. Not of the teen scream variety. This is a film for adults about the horror of reality.
Aja’s tapped into the very nerve of what terrifies an audience and he manipulates it to the fullest extent possible, utilizing every tool in his toolkit to ratchet it up until you can barely take it. Effects crew on the film included the genius of Greg Nicotero (GREG NICOTERO!!), CGI-a-plenty, true blue cinematic fakes, 1-shot real deal car crashes, and foam latex character design galore.
What I’m saying is that The Hills Have Eyes is no joy ride. You want to be scared? Fine. The Hills Have Eyes is the film is for you. Just be careful what you ask for because Aja will give it to you – in freakin’ spades.
Session 9 centers around a group of asbestos abatement professionals looking to make a hefty bonus on a bid if they can complete a monster job in a week. The job? Get the notorious Massachusetts Danvers State Hospital clean and ready for renovation.
The team is a group comprised of old friends Gordon, Phil and Mike (Peter Mullan, David Caruso, Stephen Gevedon respectively), new enemy Hank (Josh Lucas), and fresh meat, Jeff (Brendan Sexton III). The group dynamics are enough to make the film interesting, but throw in an atmospheric mental asylum, mystery, and some eye catching cinematography and you have the hidden horror gem, Session 9.
Phil and Hank are working through some things, mainly the fact that Hank slept with Phil’s girl and now the two are together. Gordon’s a new dad, not getting much sleep, and money’s tight meaning this job means everything. And Mike? Mike is the law school dropout son of the State’s Attorney General, with an intelligence that puts his curiosity into overdrive.
On the first day inside, the group splits up, each man taking on a different task. When Mike finds a box marked “Evidence” in an area he is working, he can’t help but look inside. He finds data pertaining to patient #444, Mary Hobbes, aged 37. The box contains 9 session tapes which include audio recordings of Mary’s interviews with a Danvers’ State Hospital doctor, photographs, and the general details of her dissociative identity disorder.
Mike, curiosity running wild, sits down and immediately starts playing the tapes. As the interview unfolds, all but one of Mary’s alternate personalities appears. All of them reference an alternate named “Simon” who is supposedly responsible for a violent, traumatic event occurring 22 years prior on Christmas in Lowell, Massachusetts.
The intensity of these interviews, and the manner in which they are slowly revealed to Mike like ghostly voices from a dark and violent past, is enough to make for a terrifying tale. But, director Brad Anderson refuses to relent there.
As the long days of stressful removal work continue, each team member begins to show wear and tear. Hank, finds a hidden stash of coins, jewelry, and assorted personal effects behind the wall of the hospital’s crematory oven. He comes back that night and, while he’s heading out with the loot, befalls a mysterious fate. The next day, when Hank fails to show for work, Phil finds out Hank may have split town for casino school in Miami. No one is particularly surprised, especially Phil who is still bitter over losing his ex-girlfriend to him.
Down a man and with the deadline for their bonus looming, the guys seemingly begin to buckle under the stress.
When confronted about his odd behavior, Gordon, the crew leader, confesses to Phil that he hasn’t been sleeping, that he hit his wife. Concerned, Phil tries to rally the crew to take on another guy. Gordon flatly refuses, a move that threatens to jeopardize the entire contract. Meanwhile, Mike, our law-school dropout continues delving through the session tapes for Mary Hobbes until finally, he arrives at the tapes for session 9.
This is when things go haywire. On the recording, Simon, Mary’s alternate, finally appears. He begins, for the first time, to engage with the interviewing doctor. Interspersed with this eerie repartee are scenes that reveal the true nature of what’s been going on with Gordon and his crew behind the walls of the Danvers State Mental Hospital.
Session 9 was a modest film that didn’t enjoy commercial success. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a terrific horror film. Rich with atmosphere, mystery, and moments of absolutely hair-raising tension, Session 9 is a film that continues to “get me” viewing after viewing.
The Climax Golden Twins provide a brilliant, nerve-twisting score. The lack of light, the filth and dilapidation of the building are like a physical manifestation or reflection of the state of the crew’s mental and physical decay. It may sound weird to call Session 9 a gorgeous film, but it is. Carefully framed and lit, each scene looks as good as any art house indie film, made all the more special by the fact that you’re watching a scary film.
Session 9 is a horror-lover’s treat. A rare, deliciously mind-bending, terrifying treat. Tasty.
“I just wish that … all those people hadn’t died here. I mean … ugh! A guy kills his whole family. Doesn’t that bother you?”
“Well, sure, but … houses don’t have memories.”
The Amityville Horror (1979) caused quite a stir at the box office in the US the year it was released. People flocked to see the film adaptation of an apparently true story of a supernatural event that rocked a family to their very core by a house full of demons.
The film tells the story of George (James Brolin) and Kathy Lutz (Margot Kidder), recently married and deeply in love, who decide to shell out $80,000 for a house on Long Island for their instant family of 5 (Kathy has three children from a previous marriage). The house in question was the site of a grisly mass murder years before, 112 Ocean Avenue. Regardless of the house’s disturbing history, the Lutz family decide to buy it.
After the sale is final, the Lutz family spends the next several weeks attempting to move in. Only, the house doesn’t really want them there. Disembodied voices tell them to “get out!” and seemingly unexplainable events begin to occur at every turn. A chair rocks itself. Windows slam closed with no apparent cause. The house never feels warm to George, who falls ill. Doors close on their own volition and cannot be opened despite the fact they have no locks.
Kathy, who is a devout Catholic, begs her friend, a priest named Father Delaney (Rod Steiger) to bless the house, to help her rid it of its bad vibes. Even the girlfriend of George’s business partner, Carolyn (the ever dishy Helen Shaver), feels the bad energy rolling off the house. Though Carolyn initially refuses to go near the place, she eventually leads George to the discovery of the point of origin in the house. An area in the basement where the spirits/demons come and go. Come on. We all know you don’t go in the basement! That’s where the bad sh*t always goes down. Always.
Things continue to escalate and degrade until one night, during a horrible storm, the Lutz family flees for their lives, never to return or reclaim their possessions.
“The truth never stands in the way of a good story.”
The crux of The Amityville Horror lies in whether you are a believer. A believer in God, in Christ, and therefore in the Devil, in spirits and demons. As a child, my parents hauled me to Sunday school, religiously (pun intended). I first saw the film in the 80s when it, no doubt, showed up on one of the local television networks, probably completely edited down and devoid of the bleeding walls that I went “nice!” to this viewing.
But, 80s version of me, the child version, that is, the one that had been going to Sunday school and learning about good and evil, was terrified of that empty, rocking chair in Amy’s (Natasha Ryan) bedroom. The 80s me was terrified at the idea of voices coming from no particular person, dispossessed. Indeed, the 80s version of me was pretty friggin’ terrified of The Amityville Horror in total.
I think it’s true what they say, about not being able to go home again. Additionally, I think that sentiment, that belief can really be applied to more than just the ideology of “home”. In fact, it can certainly be applied to films that terrified us, films that we loved, or films that were just so amazing or original or fascinating to younger versions of ourselves. Films with which, upon revisiting, we occasionally find ourselves disappointed, maybe even a little sad. Of course, there are many factors at play here, including the fact that we are viewing the film through a new lens, one that has more experience.
“It’s not your fault. It’s me.”
Whatever the cause, The Amityville Horror definitely falls into this category for me. Instead of fear, I found myself preoccupied with the religious angle of the film, of the role it plays in the fear and experiences of the Lutz family. Instead of being terrified of the little rocking chair, I kept thinking how dishy Margot Kidder (and James Brolin, for that matter, damn!) was in 1979.
No. The shine is definitely off the horror here, and not just because I’m older and don’t put as much stock in religiously slanted horror films anymore. Like some of you I imagine, I found myself doubting the validity of any movie with the words (or some combination of the words) “based on a true story” associated with them. I think it started with Fargo and it never relented, this doubt and mistrust. Thanks, Coen Brothers.
You see, in order for this film to be of any worth in terms of scaring its audience, that audience has got to believe it. The audience has to buy it. They have to give a damn. And (sorry) I just don’t. I think The Amityville Horror is still a solid film, and it will scare the hell out of people into the supernatural/religious horror genre. James Brolin and Margot Kidder are terrific. Brolin freaks me out if for no other reason than his unbelievable fixation on the ax he wields throughout much of the film. And Kidder, well, she’s the perfect eye candy for a horror film, even if her character is a somewhat unsubstantial.
Bottom line? After 30+ years, the effects in the film are still decent and the story of the Lutz family continues to attract people to the “original” home where the events supposedly took place (*see link below).
*The REAL story behind The Amityville Horror (spoiler: is it really based on a true story?)
When my nephews first approached me a few years ago after having first seen Paranormal Activity, they were literally terrified of the subject matter. Not the film, per se, but the idea that someone (or some thing) might be watching them when they sleep. The fear is not without grounds, although, as far as I can surmise, no recognized phobia yet exists for it. Should it? After all, sleep is a time of particular vulnerability. A time when we are neither here nor there. A time when secret things happen because no one is there to see them.
Director Oren Peli, having spent his entire life afraid of ghosts, said this: “If something is lurking in your home there’s not much you can do about it.”
It’s a primal thing. If it doesn’t bother you, and you (like me) don’t subscribe to the existence of demons, Paranormal Activity is going to be a snore. There are long periods of time where nothing is going on except the director’s attempts to ratchet up the tension. This technique is effective if not a little exhausting. There’s only so much time a human being can spend in a state of anticipatory dread.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m particularly harsh on films claiming to depict, or be based on, “true events”. Even though it does not expressly say it’s based on true events, Paranormal Activity falls into this category thanks to the use of found footage to emulate the vibe of a documentary. This would be fine if the film didn’t attract a certain contingent of film goers believing the film to be a kind of proof of the existence of ghosts and demons. This makes the film Paranormal Activity one of the most insidious (and, make-your-head-explode profitable) films of this nature yet made.
Paranormal Activity focuses on a young couple, Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah, who are settling into a home and trying to have a life together. When things start going bump in the night, Micah (Micah Sloat) decides to use a video camera in hopes of gathering proof and potentially, some answers. After the incidents become more frequent, Katie consults a psychic, Dr. Fredrichs (Mark Fredrichs) who tells her the thing in the house is not a ghost. It’s a demon. And what’s bad about that is it’s attached to Katie, not the house. So, basically, there’s no sense in running. It’ll just follow you.
On and off for the remainder of the film, Katie begs to leave the house. Wouldn’t you?
As the incidents become more harrowing, and the couple are now able to, in the bright light of day, watch the previous nights’ events unfold before their eyes, Micah decides to try to communicate with the demon via Ouija board. He has been expressly told not to, first by Dr. Fredrichs and then by his pleading girlfriend, both of whom fear it will invite the demon in.
And, by all accounts, it does. One night, after Katie and Micah have left the house for a rare night out, the board catches fire. After this, it’s game on for the demon who makes no qualms when it comes to expressing its hostility toward Micah.
Unable to escape the sometimes maliciously slanted torments of the demon, Katie slowly unravels. Exhausted, terrified, and feeling hopeless, Katie begs to leave the house knowing full well it will do little to deter her tormentor.
Filmed in the director’s home and completed for about $15K, film goers rewarded Paramount Pictures with an astounding $193M in ticket sales proving yet again that people just really like being scared. Me too! Otherwise I wouldn’t be going through the Boston.com Top 50 Scariest Movies of All Time list film by film. This film, by the way, ranks 43rd.
And although Paranormal Activity isn’t my piece of cake, there’s plenty going on here to make it a worthwhile film. Paranormal? Maybe not so much. Supernatural? Definitely. Although, Supernatural Activity isn’t that catchy.
Katie Featherston’s performance, for example, is nothing short of perfection in this particular scenario, in this particular film. Hell, even the moments when I was sitting there keenly aware of the fact that I wasn’t buying the film’s premise, I could still buy Featherston as a terrified college student looking for a little peace (and sleep).
- Paranormal Activity: reliving a phenomenon (guardian.co.uk)
- Paranormal Activity (Postmortem) Answering the important questions like; is it really scary? and is Katie Featherston hot?? (videodead.com)
- Paranormal Activity (uhsswordandshield.com)
- PARANORMAL ACTIVITY Films Bookend 2014 with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 5 (collider.com)
- Exclusive Interview: Kathryn Newton Talks Paranormal Activity 4 (shockya.com)
- Paranormal Activity 4 Movie Review (shockya.com)
“When the Jews return to Zion / And a comet rips the sky / And the Holy Roman Empire rises, / Then You and I must die. / From the eternal sea he rises, / Creating armies on either shore, / Turning man against his brother / ‘Til man exists no more.”
Originally advanced screened in the United States on June 6, 1976, Richard Donner‘s The Omen, starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, terrified audiences with it’s hauntingly evil portrayal of the devil incarnate, in the shape of a little boy.
When their child dies at birth, Robert Thorn (Peck) decides to deceive his wife to spare her the grief. In their child’s place, he agrees to take into their care, another child, born the same night as his biological child died. Unbeknownst to him, or to his wife, Kathy, the child is the seed of Satan. As Damien, their “adopted” child begins to grow, it sets in motion a chain of unfortunate, and deadly, events from which neither Robert nor his wife, Kathy, can escape.
Many people have heard the stories of The Omen curse – the lightning strikes, the plane crashes, animal attacks, car accidents and the like. Whether or not you believe in it, the murmurs of such a curse lurking around the production of The Omen did do something successfully, it drove people to the film either out of curiosity or morbid fascination. Personally, I agree with the folks at deathensemble.com – and since I don’t believe in Satan, how could I possibly believe Satan didn’t want The Omen being made so he cursed the production of and those involved with the film?
Yeah, about that…
You see, the not believing in Satan, or in the Roman Catholic church, poses a significant problem for members of the viewing audience. But, I suppose there’s two ways of looking at it – a.) who cares if these people don’t buy it, they knew what they were going to see, b.) maybe they’ll leave being a little more afraid of deception, children, and large, black dogs.
Either way, The Omen comes out a win-win for a filmgoer. After all, devil or no, is there anything more terrifying than a child who doesn’t seem to think twice before harming its own mother?
There are plenty of tense moments, great effects, and the plot is kept moving by well-paced storytelling.
The Omen made a strong impression on me when I first saw it years ago as a much younger incarnation of myself, one who still believed in demons and ghosts and biblical evil in general. Now that I’m older, The Omen evokes other, more tangible fears about the cost of deception in a relationship, the alien nature of quietly scheming children, and of religiously motivated violence.
In a way, these two visions I have of The Omen make the film, its construction and execution, a very good one, even after more than 35 years.
- Top 10 Horror Movies (toptensofrandomthings.wordpress.com)
- “An omen over Catholic Colleges: cognitive dissonance and the tyranny of sentimentality” (juicyecumenism.com)
- The Blood Red Moons Of 2014 And 2015: An Omen Of War For Israel? (aworldchaos.wordpress.com)
- In Honor of Friday the 13th (Sept. 13), Macabre Pet Names Revealed (prweb.com)
- How to Defeat the Hindenburg Omen (stocktipsinvestment.blogspot.com)
There’s nothing coming out of the London based Star Wars camp, as of late, that has me even remotely interested in how this will all turn out. No one really knows how or what, J.J. Abrams, will do with this beloved franchise. All we have to go on are his previous films, which aren’t bad, but they weren’t all that great either. This humorous open letter to the God of lens-flares, is the work of Prescott Harvey an employee at Sincerely Truman, a marketing company in Portland Oregon.
The short video talks about what every Star Wars fan has gone over and over in his or her head since the prequels “What made Star Wars great?”. I am posting this video because, for the most part, I totally agree with the films critiques. My only question is why didn’t someone do a video like this for George Lucas before he embarked upon raping our childhood with rusty tools?
Was it because we thought the film was in good hands, even though the introduction of the Ewok‘s foreshadowed the apocalypse? We should’ve been equally as hard on George, but we trusted him through three prequels, each time hoping it would eventually get better and it didn’t.
So now, in the year of our Lord 2013, we’ve decided to say something, well…for the sake of those that made this video and fans like me, I hope it gets heard. I especially hope J.J. Abrams pays particular attention to the part in the video about the mystery of the Jedi (an idea I proposed in a previous article on MITNG).
It’s important to keep in mind, for those of us who grew up on A New Hope, The Empire… and Return.., that at the end of the day, it’s about money and no one has ever crossed the mouse and lived to talk about it.
J.J. Abrams, I give you all the respect in the world for taking on something like this. God Speed…you fool.
- J.J. Abrams to Shoot STAR WARS: EPISODE VII in IMAX? (geektyrant.com)
- J.J. Abrams May Shoot Some of STAR WARS: EPISODE VII with IMAX Cameras (collider.com)
- Well Done Animated Open Letter to JJ Abrams About Star Wars (thehothspot.com)
- The only four rules needed to make the next Star Wars awesome again (io9.com)
As we grow as a human race(I use that term very lightly), we are constantly redefining sex through music and with each generation, we seem to be getting closer to the heart of the matter. FKA twigs (affectionately named for the way her bones cracked?) is giving sexiness the much needed makeover it deserves (you fucking hear that Miley?). FKA twigs, hails from Gloucestershire, UK and is lending some soultryness to the already sexy genre of witchhouse, two step, pitch-down, trap music that groups such as Balam Acab, How to Dress Well , James Blake and Active Child , have made great careers at. Sounding a bit like Lykki Li or Kate Boy, FKA twigs is clearly carving an original path with Papi Pacify, the second release off her four track 2013 EP. One taste of this video will be all you need to get you there. Sex has a new face.