Thursday, March 26, 2020

Stay Home. Watch Horror.

For those new to home quarantine, welcome. We're all in this together. Now let the #horror movie marathon begin!


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Quick Takes: The Platform, Zombieland: Double Tap, Child's Play


The Platform bristles with a vexing, timely message & social commentary on class, resources & the penal system. Exquisite direction & a fascinating dystopian/alternate reality plot thrills, but leaves you hungry for more exposition, resolution & character development.




Zombieland: Double Tap sadly proves again that lighting doesn't strike twice. It's great to see this cast again but unfortunately the paper-thin plot doesn't add much to the original. There are some great moments & a few chuckles but there's just no reason for this sequel, released 10 years after the original, to exist.


Child’s Play is a smart remake that lives in a mighty big shadow. This film was created for a new generation that depends on tech to live & the horror lies in grounded fears of runaway A.I. Some of  it is beyond the limits of plausibility and I didn’t buy Aubrey Plaza as a mom, but still a dumb, fun popcorn movie.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Quick Takes: Invisible Man, Color Out of Space, The Lodge, Come to Daddy

The Invisible Man updates the classic mad scientist story with a domestic violence angle. Elizabeth Moss commands our empathy & anchors a slapdash & often surprising plot. It’s effective, thrilling horror with stellar effects but its final reveal is problematic. If you make a message film, be sure its a good message through to the end. Clearly they were trying to set up a sequel regardless of the cost.





Color Out of Space attempts the unimaginable task of adapting H.P. Lovecraft & succeeds with a new familial narrative. The dreadful tone & creeping mayhem explode into colorful cosmic horror that evokes absolute hopelessness. Nicholas Cage is presumably loony but the rest of cast grounds the madness. This is one stellar movie.





The Lodge is unrepented, psychological torment about the inner devil within that awakens to wreck havoc. This cerebral, gloomy & exceptionally tragic horror drama gives up the ghost midway through to agonize us with the weight of choices made by those with deep grief & anger. It's a pleasant watch but it's an essential film.



Come To Daddy puts a Beverly Hills poser with daddy issues in the middle of an oddly amusing feud. It’s nutty, tonally loopy, and carving forks will be forever tainted. Elijah Wood is made for straight-faced dark comedy but this is not quite the horror as the marketing implies. It's still highly recommended.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Quick Takes: The Boat, After Midnight, Freaks

With minimal dialogue & one character, The Boat is a clever nautical horror is a cat-&-mouse thriller that only keeps getting more mysterious. It’s a tense ride that won’t please those wanting answers but will be a bounty for those beguiled by the sea’s dark side.



After Midnight is a dreary romance with fits of humor & peculiar music. Also, a creature pops up. It’s a tonal mishmash that rests on whether you find the two affable leads charming & buy into their wine-swirling, rural-living, karaoke-loving hangs. As horror it doesn’t satisfy.


Freaks starts as a mysterious but off-putting captive child drama then frustratingly treks into spectacularly ambitious yet all too familiar sci-fi territory. There is excellent world building, a strong cast, and a forceful finish that soars in to save the day.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Illusions of the Passed at Winchester Mystery House


Valentine’s Day can be a horror so attending a seance at the Winchester Mystery House seems like a good fit. Master magician and apparitionist Aiden Sinclair performed what is called a “theatrical seance” which unlike the seemingly traditional seance where people sit around a table, hold hands and talk to the dead, an audience sitting in near darkness participates in demonstrations of “mentalism” such as clairvoyance, ESP, and in this case, tarot reading. Everyone in the room was asked to close their eyes, concentrate on a ghost standing beside Mr. Sinclair and accept messages from him. It’s these messages Mr. Sinclair harnesses for answers.





He did produce bewildering results in prescribing tarot cards picked at random to complete strangers. It was quite the spectacle and yet not quite what I was expecting (parlor tricks, fog machines, and projections). This felt like a much more real experience. Yes, it’s entertainment but I could not figure out the trickery involved, and it made me a believer.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


After the seance, a limited number of high-rolling guests where treated to a private investigation of the Winchester House. Various experiments were held in two rooms, including a laser matrix to detect ghostly activity in the Daisy Bedroom below, and a spirit box to listen to words hidden in the static (the Estes method) in the Seance room. Some guests participated in these experiments while listening to stories from Mr. Sinclair’s previous investigations.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


My friend Britta Peterson of Eerie Elegance pointed out the respectful and compassionate approach Mr. Sinclair has to paranormal investigations. In talking about the tourist destinations like the Winchester House many guests don't seem to respect the spirits adding, “How would you like it if so many people came through your house demanding you do tricks?” Mr. Sinclair prefers to listen, hear what they might have to say, and perhaps even help those lost souls.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


Aiden Sinclair and his Illusions of the Passed series explores other haunted places including the Queen Mary and The Stanley Hotel. For more information and tickets to upcoming events, visit illusionsofthepassed.com and follow them on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

Photo courtesy of Britta Peterson.


Editor's Note: Gracias to Britta Peterson for contributing photos and information to this post! And you can deduce, she was a high-roller. Please follow her on Instagram and Facebook for comprehensive recaps!

Feliz día de San Valentín


Sunday, January 19, 2020

2019 Day of the Dead at Señor Scary's House

Every year I look forward to January, primarily because it's my time to catch up physically, psychologically and even spiritually after the hustle & bustle that stretches from September through December. I've been updating the Halloween site with my 2019 photos and haven't really covered my Halloween shenanigans from 2019.

My dear friend Britta Peterson (right) and her husband Glen Simon were in a house selling/buying frenzy so as the Scream Team we decided to have Eerie Elegance do a takeover of my yard haunt! We chose a revival of the 2015 Day of the Dead display, our greatest collaboration to date, which features large colorful tombstones, 300 flickering candles, ghostly projected figures, and a full animatronic skeleton band playing and telling a story!

Many of the larger tombstones we used in 2015 had been lost, so Britta recreated them from scratch. We also remade a large portion of the candles, each hand wired & soldered. She is a very talented, tenacious woman – sometimes terrifying – and a complete inspiration to me! Her Halloween displays are legendary and feature amazing tech and builds that far exceed what I can do, so to have them at my house was a dream come true. We used the same script we wrote and performed together in 2015 but made a few edits.


My front yard is very different from hers so she made many adjustments to the layout and projections to compensate. It was an insane amount of work for one person. All these while trying to revive the skeleton band that was disassembled and refused to get back together without a lot of negotiations. Typical, right?

Glen, who is the resident engineer and makes things move, tasked me with working on what he described as a "simple" animatronic: a pop-up skull. Truth be told it was really straight-forward but being my first foray into animated props it seemed daunting. He handed me a motorized rig, a power supply, and skull. After some trial and error, I did it! You can see my handy work in the spirited ofrenda (altar) video, link below.

In the end it all worked out and we ran just under 100 shows for 8 days, with over 1000 total visitors on Halloween night alone. We also entered the City of Santa Clara Halloween Decorating contest and won the People's Choice Award. Not a bad way for Britta & Glen to end their run in Santa Clara now that they own a (HAUNTED!?) Victorian mansion in San Jose, CA home of the infamous Winchester Mystery House.

Here's a few selected pics and video from our work. Find more at:
senorscaryhalloween.com/2019dayofthedead and
eerieelegance.com

Dia de los Muertos 2019 from Señor Scary on Vimeo.


The large installation took over the entire from yard and allowed so many interesting views.


We added a tombstone photo op where guests could sit amongst the dead.

Very long and colorful papel picado banners where hung across the yard to complete the scene.

Three giant tombstones were recreated for the display and dare I say better than before.

Britta designed this jack-o-lantern –and a 3D skull– in my likeness!


The animatronic skeleton band proved to be both impressive and a fussy lot throughout the run.


Our spirited ofrenda offers some impressive ghostly activity that must be seen to be believed!


Monday, January 13, 2020

Quick Takes: Underwater, Harpoon, Little Monsters, The Dead Center


Underwater is a solid if unremarkable entry in aquatic #horror that ultimately reveals a glorious creature worth the deep dive. The pace is steady, production design is admirable & the cast is leagues above the paper thin story that has nothing to say. Fun but forgettable.


Harpoon is a nasty thriller that dares to dissect a thrupple composed of really awful caricatures & feels like an indictment of aimless youth. I didn't buy these people as friends & the dark humor wasn't as funny as it thought it was. But there's a splattering of occasional gore & whiplash reveals to keep things lively.


Little Monsters is the feel good zombie movie we've been waiting for. Lupita Nyong'o is the charismatic wonder at the center of this very funny, clever & even touching film that transcends the gimmicky set up.


The Dead Center manages an intriguing setup but keeps the story underdeveloped relying on performances & plot to move the proceedings along. It was partially successful but some mysteries are much too unexplained to be impactful.



Friday, January 3, 2020

Quick Takes: The Grudge, In Fabric, Girl on the Third Floor

The Grudge has a promising director, solid cast & interesting structure but it’s still soggy schlock that lacks clear rules, dimensional characters or compelling storytelling. It sadly meanders towards a stopping point with little suspense & predictable scares.



In Fabric weaves a hypnotic tale about a haunted dress that sways brazenly between Giallo horror & humour. It’s oddly satirical, sensually twisted & visually bewitching. A love letter to the devilish films of the 60s/70s, albeit with whispered British wit & style to burn.


Girl On The Third Floor succeeds at disrupting haunted house tropes, with style, humor & buckets of goop. But the plot fails to gel with an underdeveloped story & unclear rules. The quirky casting keeps you engaged but ultimately the film loses all its marbles by the end.