Tag Archives: Poltergeist

Supernatural Season One Episodes 9 – 15

TV Binge

9. Home 

S1HomeThe monster this week is an angry poltergeist haunting the boy’s childhood home back in Lawrence Kansas and threatening the lives of the young widow Jenny (Kristin Richardson) and her two children who are living there. Sam had a nightmare where he sees Jenny screaming for help so now he finally has to tell Dean about his precognitive nightmares and of course Dean isn’t happy about been kept in the dark.

They try looking into what John did after the fire and learn that he visited a local psychic called Missouri Moseley (Loretta Devine) so they pay her a visit. Missouri acts as if the boys are old friends and, to Sam’s amusement, she treats Dean like a naughty child all the time, scolding him for things he’s only thinking about doing. John had come to her after Mary’s death to try and find out what killed her but though she sensed powerful evil it was gone.

Missouri goes to the house with them and her warm sympathetic manner gets them in the house much faster than whatever lie Dean was cooking up. Missouri assures Jenny that they can help and she has Dean make up some hex bags to place in house to expel the spirits. The spirit tries to stop them but they they manage to do it  just in time for Jenny to return from a trip to the movies

Missouri is sure it worked but Sam isn’t so sure and they keep an eye on the house that night. Sure enough the spirits are back and the Winchesters leap to the rescue.  Sam gets grabbed by the poltergeist but then a second fiery spirit in the bedroom resolves itself into Mary Winchester and after greeting both her sons her spirit sacrifices itself to destroy the poltergeist.

I like the scene at the end where it looks like Missouri is talking to herself about Sam and his growing psychic abilities only to reveal that she‘s taking to John Winchester.

10. Asylum

The boys get an anonymous text message that is simply coordinates and Dean assumes it’s from their father giving them a job though Sam is sceptical. The coordinates are of the derelict Roosevelt Mental Hospital in Rockford Illinois which is full of ghosts but the ghost of the insane Doctor Ellicott (Norman Armour) who ran the place gives a homicidal rage to people he touches. Sam and Dean discover the place was closed down after the patients rioted and there were many violent deaths of both staff and patients with many bodies never found so plenty of potential for vengeful spirits.

The Abandoned Asylum is a popular location for many horror films and these places are always going have stories of grisly goings on and tales of the spirits who haunt the place. This means it attracts teenage thrill-seekers. Sam and Dean find themselves having to a rescue a teenage couple as they search the place. Gavin (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Kat (Brooke Nevin) are there because Gavin thought it would be cool to go somewhere that is like a film without thinking through the desirability of becoming a stupid character in a horror film since that is the only genre of film set in this location. Dean comments on this himself when he is talking to Kat, advising to avoid wandering into haunted places in future.

Sam tries to take Katherine and Gavin out of the asylum but discovers the place is on supernatural lockdown.  He gets a call from Dean who had gone looking into a lead in the hospital’s records. This turns out to be a fake call to lead Sam into the basement and Endicott zaps Sam with his rage power.

Sam has a lot of pent up rage and he lets it all loose on Dean, his frustration at Dean treating him like kid, deciding where they go and never getting them any closer to finding John and kiling the demon. After Dean has taken out the ghost Sam tries to protest that his words were from madness but Dean clearly thinks it was Sam’s true feelings that inspired them.

Back at their motel room Dean just crashes out and falls asleep. Dean’s phone ring and Sam answers only find out it is John Winchester.

11. Scarecrow

meg-samWe start the episode with the phone call from John Winchester that was the cliffhanger ending of the previous episode. Sam has so much to talk to John about and John tells them that he knows what killed Jessica and Mary was a demon. John wants them to stop following him and tries to give them a job to take care of but Sam is furious and really doesn’t want to talk to him any more so Dean takes over, noting down names John wants them to look into.

The names turn out to be couples who all went missing on road trips across the country. They all went missing at the same time of year and all their planned routes passed through the town of Burkittsville, Indiana. They have all been sacrificed to the Vanir, a pagan god that looks a lot like a scarecrow.

This episode features the first of Sam’s huffs where he gets pissed off with Dean and he goes off on his own, this time it is mainly about their father because Dean is happy to do whatever John says.  Sam wants to go to California to find John so he heads off on his own.

Sam meets Meg Masters (Nicki Aycox) for the first time, apparently just a young hitchhiker who gets chatty with him and he confides all his troubles to her.  Meg seems genuinely frustrated when Sam rushes off to Dean’s aid when he fails to get in touch with him for a few hours.  Dean has annoyed the local much that they are going to sacrifice him to the god of the apple trees but Sam gets there just in time  save him from the evil scarecrow apple tree god

At the end of the episode we see Meg on her own getting in some guy’s car. Meg seems nice and normal until she pulls out a knife an slits the driver throat, collecting his blood in a strange looking bowl. She stirs the bowl and recites a spell then.she talks to bowl as if talking to someone we can’t hear but the gist of the conversation is that Meg is tracking Sam and Dean and she is frustrated at the order not to kill them .

12. Faith

Dean is dying after accidentally getting an electric shock when killing a monster and rescuing two children. Sam is nearly in tears as he leaves a message for his father and he is calling all their contacts to find some way of curing Dean.

Sam is desperate so tricks Dean into thinking they are going to see some sort of specialist but instead he takes Dean to a faith healer in a tent in a muddy field. Dean is of course grumpy and cynical when the blind preacher Reverend Roy le Grange (Kevin McNulty) starts his sermon.  Unfortunately for Dean, Roy heard his smartass remarks and replies to him directly calling him onto the stage to be healed.

Roy puts his hand on Deans head and something start happening and dean goes down to his knees before fainting dead away. When he wakes up his feels better but sees a strange grey skinned figure in a suit walk behind Roy and vanish.

This episode is the first time the brothers have actually spoken about what they believe. They see things all the time that prove the supernatural exists and to Sam this is evidence that God might exist too and miracles are possible. But Dean has only seen evidence of the evil done by the supernatural so his feeling is that whatever is going here is some sort of evil con.

They get Dean checked out at a hospital where tests show that his heart was never damaged. When talking about strange things happening the doctor mentions a healthy young man dying of heart attack the day before. Dean gives Sam his patented “told you so” look.  Sam looks into the death and confirms Dean’s suspicion that it matches the time he was cured. It was not a miracle that healed him but dark magic that traded Dean’s life for another man’s.

They figure out that somehow Roy has bound a reaper using dark magic. These are beings who escort the souls of the dead into the afterlife and binding them is very dangerous. They have to stop Roy healing anyone else which is complicated for Dean because he was about to heal Layla (Julie Benz), a woman Dean spoke to before and who has an inoperable brain tumour. Dean stops the healing and discovers it is Roy’s wife Sue Ann (Rebecca Jenkins) that has bound the reaper.

This seemed obvious to me since Roy’s blindness would have been a hindrance finding the ancient book of spells never mind reading from it. Sue Ann bound the reaper out of desperation to save Roy when he was dying of cancer and kept it bound out of ambition, her fall to the darkside, echoing what Dean said earlier about what evil can do to good people.

They stop Sue Ann and the reaper takes its vengeance for being bound but Dean regrets taking away the hope of those people, especially Layla. Sam has laid on a little surprise visit from Layla to say good bye and reassure Dean that she’s okay.

It is interesting to note that Dean was nowhere near as upset about his imminent death as Sam was. This a shared characteristic of the Winchester family in this series, they are literally willing to move heaven and hell  to stop each other from dying but are also willing to sacrifice themselves for the lives of others. This is really why they need each other.

13. Route 666

1120954_1348375236757_fullAfter one Dean-centred story we get another when he gets a call from an old girlfriend, Cassie (Megalyn Echikunwoke). She called Dean because her father has been killed by a ghost truck. Cassie is a journalist and Sam finds it hard to believe but Dean had told her that he was ghost hunter and that’s why she called him. Sam is shocked that Dean told Cassie the big family secret while he kept his hunter background secret from Jessica for over a year. This lapse is how Sam figures that Cassie was more important to Dean than he lets on.

The Ghost Truck appears to killing off important black men in the town and their investigations lead them back to the death of a serial killer Cyrus Dorian who targeted black men in the 60s. Cassie’s father had killed Dorian in self defence but the law at the time would not guarantee a black man a fair trail so he called his friends and they pushed the truck with the body into a swamp. The local deputy investigating Dorian’s disappearance figured it all out but covered it up. He grew up to be the mayor and also becomes a victim of the ghost truck.

Sam keeps trying push Dean and Cassie together and this works eventually. It turns out Dean opened up to Cassie about hunting because he loved her but she thought he was making up a crazy excuse to leave so she broke up with him.

The usual method of destroying vengeful spirits involves dragging the truck out of the swap then salting and burning Dorian’s body but that only seems to make the ghost truck angry so Dean leads it on a chase around the country roads while Sam tries to find another way to destroy the spirit. He has Dean wait in the grounds of an old church that Dorian burnt down when he was alive. When the truck tries to ram Dean car it vanishes away completely. Sam explains that there’s a story that spirits are destroyed by hallowed ground.  Dean is bit worried at Sam using him to bait the truck based on nearly nothing.

14. Nightmare

This episode is all about the psychic Sam plot. He has a vision of a man being killed and rushes them to Michigan to try and stop it happening but they get there too late. While they Investigate what happened Sam has another vision of the man’s brother being killed, this time he’s awake.

They find out Max (Brendan Fletcher), a young man who is the son of the first victim, with powers similar but different from Sam’s. Max is telekinetic and used his power to kill his father and uncle to pay them back for a lifetime of physical abuse. Sam has a vision of Max killing his stepmother and so they try to prevent it.

Max lost his mother the exact same way that Mary Winchester and Jessica died but instead of hunting down whatever killed her Max’s father drank and took out his anger on Max. Sam realises no matter how screwed up his life was it could have been a lot worse. When Sam is trying to talk Max out of killing his stepmother Max traps him in a cupboard.  Sam has a vision of Dean getting shot dead and his desperation seems to unleash a new  telekinetic power just like Max’s and he frees himself in time to stop Max.

Sam is very worried about his powers and whatever the demon wants with him. The most obvious fear is that he turns kill crazy like Max but Dean claims he isn’t worried because Sam has one thing Max didn’t have – he didn’t have Dean watching out for him.

15. The Benders

While investigating a possible supernatural attack Sam gets captured by a family of red neck torture cannibals who capture people to hunt and kill them. This episode is one I often miss out when I’m watching this season because… well I just prefer the other episodes.

The episode is definitely inspired by Texas Chainsaw Massacre with the family of back woods psychos who decorate their house with mobiles made of animal bones. I think there may be elements of other films that I’ve never seen but humans hunting humans is a common plot in episodes of many TV series. The Bender clan are  Pa Bender (John Dennis Johnston) and his three unwashed children and they have made some pretty elaborate cages for their victims.

Dean has to team up with a local cop Officer Kathleen (Jessica Steen) to rescue Sam but only after he convinces her not to arrest him for impersonating a law enforcement officer. Kathleen had younger brother who went missing ten years before so she understands how Dean feels. Dean thinks taking on monsters is easy compared to humans. There is logic to evil of monsters but the evil of humans is just madness.

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Posted by on May 17, 2014 in Entertainment, Television


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The Quiet Ones

At The Movies

the quiet onesThis is from the legendary Hammer studio and it is a quiet low key film that takes it time establishing its creepy mood. This is just a soft way of saying that this film dragged quite a bit especially in the middle. The story is not very original or interesting but the cast do it fairly well and there are some scares leading up to the fairly so-so ending. Apparently based on true events like that matters but  may  be the justification for the slow pace.

Cambridge University Professor Coupland (Jared Harris) is working on his theory that supernatural phenomena are produced by some sort of energy from the human mind and to test his theory he is going to try to cure Jane Harper (Olivia Cooke), a young woman so haunted by poltergeist activity that she seriously contemplates suicide. All of her life she has been passed from one foster home to next when each family become aware of the strange supernatural forces that follow her.

Coupland has two very loyal students assisting him Kristina Dalton (Erin Richards) and Harry Abrams (Rory Fleck-Byrne) who are cultishly devoted to him. Coupland has also hired Brian McNiel (Sam Claflin) a young cameraman to document The Experiment.  Brian is an outsider so is the natural sympathetic protagonist for the audience while is everyone else is so confident the Professor’s bizarre theories.

When the noise of the loud rock music (Slade – Cum on Feel The Noize and is about the only significant detail that nails the period to the 70s) used to stop Jane from sleeping disturbs the neighbours Coupland finds himself hauled before the University authorities and deprived of funds or premises. Coupland moves The Experiment to a large remote house in the country to keep going without interference. Of course Harry and Kristina agree to keep going but Brian agrees to carry on at this stage out of curiosity and his feelings for Jane.  It seems unlikely that if this was official sanctioned research it would be getting held in town with neighbours that could be disturbed even in the 70s

There is a slow escalation of strange events involving the well-used horror technique of long quiet moments followed by jump scares and Brian manages to catch some of it on film. Brian gets increasingly concerned for Jane’s safety when he sees the lengths to which Coupland will go to force a psychic response from Jane. The techniques they are using amount to torture and the only thing stopping Brian going to the authorities is Jane’s willing participation because she is desperate for a cure.

The last part of the film is where conflicts heighten as secrets get revealed and the supernatural freakery gets to dangerous levels. It wasn’t as predictable as thought it was going to be but the ending scene itself was right out of the box of dusty old horror clichés. Coupland portrays himself as a heroic sceptic taking on the supernatural by trying to explain it away with scientific sounding jargon and lots of apparatus but there were lots of clues that his outlook is like a dogmatic religious position especially the scene at the start with the rejection of the non-believer who has moral objections to The Experiment. Brian is the real sceptic in the film investigating the Professor’s history and making it clear that the evidence he has filmed is not really evidence as even he suspects fakery.

This film was just not very notable. It did hold my attention while watching but apart from the jumps it didn’t really do very much to disturb or unsettle me and my attention did wander in the middle and I noticed the three wee bastards two rows in front mucking about on their smartphones. There was a 70s setting that was barely used apart from costumes, music and a lack of modern technology. Jared Harris is good as usual in the mad scientist role giving the character a vulnerability and humanity. Olivia Cooke is also good in the part of Jane Harper. This is a film that is okay to pass the time if it happens to be on TV or streaming on the internet but it’s just nothing special.

Rating 6.0/10

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Posted by on April 13, 2014 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: The Conjuring

Cinema Review

I have seen the trailers for this film since they have played them before nearly every film I watched at the cinema for the past few months. This meant I was already pretty familiar with I was going to get when I went to see this and the film delivered exactly what I expected: a haunted house story in the vein of Poltergeist, The Possession and Insidious. It is a film that manages to produce all the usual scares in the usual way without really trying to push the ideas into new territory. It makes a big claim to being based on a true story but that doesn’t mean much going by how often that claim is made for films. It also has one of those generic titles that don’t ave much to do with this film

The main focus of this film is Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) Warren, a couple who have made a name for themselves in the world of paranormal investigations and we get introduced to them finishing off a case involving a doll possessed by what Ed insists is a demon. Another film based one of their case is the Amityville Horror though they don’t appear as characters in that story.

conjuringThe family that is being haunted are Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) Perron and their five daughters who have just moved into a new house out in the country. Of course they have put all their money into this new house which establishes why they don’t just leave when things start getting dangerous. Things start slow with things like the youngest daughter finding an old music box. Later she tells her mother about an imaginary friend that she says that she sees the mirror of the music box while the music is playing. At first it’s just things getting misplaced which are easily passed off as the sisters messing with each other.

Things move up to the next level and the girls are getting affected by ghosts appearing to some of them and attacking them. Carolyn is also waking up every morning to find her body covered in bruises. She goes to a lecture that the Warrens are giving at a local university and Ed is giving a lecture about the three stages of attack by a demonic spirit. After the lecture she asks them for their help and while Ed is reluctant Lorraine agrees to help.

They arrive to have look over the house and have another couple of people along to help: a nerd called Drew (Shannon Kook) to operate the recording equipment and Brad (John Brotherton) a cop  withe a porn ‘tache who is there as a sceptical witness (though I don’t see how bringing along your own regular sceptic witness helps their credibility). Lorraine uses her spooky super-sense to determine that there is a demonic presence haunting the place and now they have to gather enough evidence to convince the Catholic Church to allow an exorcism to be performed.

This film has a nice slow burn and lets us get to know the large number of characters. The girls playing the daughters have a natural feel to their interactions and feel like sisters. The rest of the cast are good enough. When it starts with the creepiness the film uses all the old tricks that fans of horror films will be very familiar with but they still seems to be as effective with the general audience as ever. Some of these have had their impact dampened by appearing in the trailer but they still work pretty well. I thought that the ending was very routine but that fits in with the fairly standard nature of the film and I would have been surprised if they had thrown in sort of gimmicky twist. I’m glad that this film is doing well at the box office but though I liked it I can’t say I found it as scary as other people have.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Poltergeist (1982)

Bluray Review

Poltergeist Bluray 001This mainstream horror film from the collaboration of Tobe Hooper and Steven Spielberg has earned its reputation as a horror classic so it is not a suprise that there are plans to milk its reputation with a ill-advised remake. The family facing supernatural horror is format that has inspired many imitators but Spielberg really knows how to set up this type of story with a feeling of genuine warmth, creating relatable everyman characters before really bringing the horror right home.

The film opens with sound of the US national anthem being played on a TV just before the channel closes for the night. You young sprogs probably don’t remember that but TV channels didn’t run through the night stopped at about one or two in the morning and cathode ray TVs didn’t turn themselves off when there was no signal. The family dog is on the prowl for food and as it goes around the house we see the whole Freeling family. Steve Freeling (Craig T. Nelson) is dozing in a chair in front of the TV. When the music stops the signal is switched off and the screen is covered in random dots and the sound of white noise comes from the speakers. The dog goes upstairs to Diane Freeling (JoBeth Williams) who is asleep in bed. In the bedroom of the teenage daughter Dana (Dominique Dunne) the dog gets lucky and finds a packet of crisps (potato chips). In the children’s bedroom is eight-year-old Robbie (Oliver Robins) and five-year-old Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). Carol Anne wakes up and goes down to the living room, She starts answering some voices she seems to hear in the static coining from the TV set and she starts calling out to the voices This wakes everyone up who all come down to see what’s happening. They are all a bit weirded out but Diane and Steve put it down to sleepwalking.

Next day is a summer Sunday afternoon in the suburbs and the establishing scene is very typically Stephen Spielberg, with the camera following a man riding a child’s bike and trying to balance an unwieldy pack of beer while a bunch of kids send a pair of remote control racing cars after him, making him fall of the bike and drop the beer. He lifts the beer which is spraying its contents in jets from the leaking cans and carries it into the house, past Dana in the kitchen and through to the living room where Steve is with a group of buddies in the living room watching an American Football match. When the channel suddenly switches to a kid’s show Steve apologizes to his buddies. His neighbour has a TV remote on the same frequency and there’s a spot of childish bickering between the two men as they duel with their remotes.

Diane is trying to tidy up the children’s bedroom and she discovers Carol Anne’s pet canary lying dead in its cage. She is about to flush the bird down the toilet when Carol Anne spots her and she has to put the bird in a cigar box and give it a funeral in the garden. Billy is watching them bury the bird from the branches of an old dead tree in the garden. He can see that there’s a storm approaching

That night when they put the kids to bed the storm is coming closer. Robbie is frightened of the old tree just outside his window, insisting that it is staring at him even when Steve tries to assure him that it is protecting them. Robbie is just little bundle of anxiety and he’s also scared of the lightning and his little sister’s large creepy clown doll. Carol Anne seems less worried but she insists on the closet light being switched on with door left half-open. Stephen just pops his head in Dana’s door and tells her to get off the phone that she tries to hide from him.

Steve and Diane sit on their bed, rolling joints while watching TV and Steve is reading a book about Ronald Reagan. The film treats the dope smoking as casually as the earlier beer drinking and it never gets raised again. It’s not a long or significant scene but considering the US government’s drug policy then and today it is probably a little statement by the writer. They start kissing and cuddling and are just about to make love when they get interrupted by Robbie who is scared of the thunder.

Steve puts Robbie back to bed and tells him about counting the gap between the lightning flash and the thunder to see that the storm is moving away. He leaves Robbie and Carol Anne counting the gaps and goes back to bed. There’s a sudden lightning strike near the house the next shot shows the two children sleeping in between their parents in their bed. The TV is on and the anthem is playing then the signal goes dead and there’s static. Carol Anne climbs out of bed and approaches the TV calling out to the voices she seems to hear in the static. A glowing wisp of light comes from the screen and seems to search round the room until it reaches the wall then beam of light shoots out of the screen and hits the wall above the bed. Everything starts shaking violently and the others wake up. Carol Anne just says brightly “they’re here.”

Next day is when things start getting freaky. After Steve has left for work and Dana and Robbie have gone to school Diane is cleaning up the kitchen. She turns her back for a moment and when she looks round the chairs are balanced in a precarious pyramid arrangement on top of the kitchen table.

When Steve comes home from work Diane is really excited and drags him into the kitchen to show him something strange. She has a circle marked on the floor in crayon and she puts a chair in the circle. The chair starts to shake then it shoots across the floor by propelled by some unseen force. While Steve is trying to process that she gets Carol Anne to put on a crash helmet then sits her in the circle. Steve catches her as she slides across the floor. They try to figure out what’s going on but they really don’t know. There’s an abrupt cut to a very curious scene where Stephen and Diane go to talk to their next door neighbour to find out if they have experienced anything strange but they end up getting badly bitten by mosquitoes and having fits of the giggles.

The night is stormy again but this time there is an unnatural vicious edge to the wind. A branch of the tree smashes through the window and grabs Robbie right out of his bed. His parents rush outside just as the tree tries to swallow Robbie into the trunk. A tornado appears and starts pulling the tree up by the roots. Steve climbs the tree and manages to get Robbie out just before the tree gets sucked up into the tornado.

This was actually all a distraction because back in the bedroom a portal of bright light has opened up in the closet into the dimension of death and is sucking everything in the bedroom into it. Carol Anne’s screams go ignored in the panic to rescue Robbie and she finds herself pulled into the portal. When the family notice she is gone everyone searches the house and Steve even searches the bottom of the hole dug for the swimming pool they are having built. It is Robbie who notices that Carol’s Anne’s voice frightened voice is coming from the TV set

Steve goes to see Dr Lesh (Beatrice Straight) a professor at the local university who has published papers on her psychic research. She agrees to come to the house with her two assistants Marty (Martin Casella) and Ryan (Richard Lawson) and whole load of recording equipment. There is a really nice juxtaposition between the feeble expectations of the researchers based on years of data and the extraordinary events that they witness in the Freeling house created by movie magic. The children’s room is chaotic with objects flying around the room and signs of a mischievous intent about the chaos as a book flaps in their faces and a spinning record is played by the needle of a compass.

In the kitchen a visibly shaken Dr Lesh tries to compose herself while explaining the difference between a poltergeist which is a short-term event around a single person and a normal haunting which is focused on a place, while a kettle moves itself across the table and light flash off and on. The definitions Dr Lesh gives suggests that this is a normal haunting but perhaps it merely reveals the limitations of labelling such barely defined phenomena. Diane contacts Carol Anne through the TV set. Carol Anne is terrified and doesn’t know where she is. Marty goes upstairs to check for natural causes of the voice like a CB radio. Carol Anne says there are other people there with her and she can see a blinding white light. Dr Lesh urges Diane to warn Carol Annw away from the light. This is the light that is supposed to be seen by those who have near death experiences and is where the souls are supposed to go when they die but Carol Anne is not dead. Carol Anne starts screaming that someone is coming for her. Diane goes to stairs and she feels something pass through her. She is covered in the familiar smell of Carol Anne and she is sure that’s who it was. She heads for the stairs but there’ a roar and they hear Marty’s screams from upstairs. He comes running back down saying that something bit him. When he shows them the marks the jaw that did is clearly huge. There’s a sudden flash of light and load of old junk drops out and fall to the floor. Then there’s another roar and a blast of air throws them all back. After that they can’t hear Carol Anne any more. Steve wants send his family away but Diane’s not going anywhere and they all stay.

That night everyone is in the living room. Steve tries to sleep in an armchair and Robbie is lying on the couch next to Diane who talks with Dr Lesh. Marty and Ryan take turns monitoring the equipment while the others try to get some sleep. Marty feels hungry and goes to get some food out of the fridge. The cheeky bastard helps himself to a chicken drumstick and lifts out a steak to cook. He puts the meat on the counter while he finds a frying pan. When he looks back at the meat it is crawling across the counter then bursts open in foetid rotten chunks. He spits out the chicken which is suddenly covered in maggots and he rushes into the toilet to rinse his mouth out in the sink. He stands up and looks in the mirror but instead of seeing his reflection he sees his hands tearing the face off a really obvious dummy head. It still creeps Marty out.

Back in the living room Ryan is sitting listening to music with his back to the monitors but fortunately these ghosts want to appear on camera and they turn it to face the stairs. Marty comes back into the room and nudges Ryan to look at the screen. The other wake up and they watch as a ghostly figure with flowing robes glides down the stairs followed by several orbs of light. When they play back the video they recorded they see that the orbs are actually human figures. What they have recorded at this house would be a radical blast across the bows of science and Lesh and her team know it, but the Freelings are not interested in shaking up science, they just want Carol Anne back safe. In the morning when the team leaves Dr Lesh tells Diane that she is leaving Ryan with them and she will be back and she’ll promises to bring some expert help.

Next day Robbie and the dog are sent off to stay with his grandmother while Dana is going to stay with a friend. Steve’s boss Mr Teague (James Karen) drops by to find out if he’s okay. Steve doesn’t want to tell him what’s going on so tells him that they all have the flu. Teague drives Steve to a hillside overlooking the whole housing development. Steve is his top real estate agent and Teague is worried about losing him to a rival. He offers Steve a house in the latest phase right where they are standing. Steve comments on the lack of available space, indicating the graveyard they are standing beside. Teague waves away his concerns, saying they have bought the land and will move the graves to a cemetery a couple of miles away. Then Teague tells him they did it before when they built the first phase Cuesta Verde in the 70s where Steve’s house is. This is significant as we learn later and Steve clearly suspects.

Back at home Dr Lesh has returned with the expert help that she promised, a small unworldly woman called Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein) who has apparently been tested and those tests confirmed her claims to be a powerful psychic medium. She goes into more detail than Dr Lesh about the strange dimension where Carol Anne is trapped and adds in the detail that there is malevolent force there with her which she calls the Beast implying it’s something like the Devil. Steve is having a hard time taking her seriously with her strange childlike voice and peculiar mannerisms but Diane gets him to shut up since she’s their only hope.

Tangina takes them upstairs outside the bedroom and she tells Diane to call out to Carol Anne. Carol Anne is frightened to talk so she tells Steve to order her talk. Tangina tells them to tell her to go towards the light and Diane is worried since Dr Lesh said she was not to go anywhere near the light but this is to get rid of the many spirits surrounding her and then she gets Steve to order Carol Anne to turn away.

They can get into the bedroom now and Tangina asks for some tennis balls and rope. When Tangina tosses the tennis balls into the bedroom closet they re-appear in the same place as the old junk in the living room but covered in strawberry jam. This confirms Tangina’s idea that the bedroom is an entrance point to the other dimension and there’s an exit in living room. Steve tosses one end of the rope through and Ryan grabs the other end in the living room. Tangina plans to go in and fetch Carol Ann then bring her out and plans to tie the rope around herself and have Steve and Ryan keep hold of the ends. Diane insists on going instead.

With the rope looped around her waist Diane goes into the closet while Steve holds on to the rope. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of shouting over it but Tangina’s plan works and Diane falls out of the dimensional hole in the living room with Carol Ann held tightly in her arms. They are covered in jam and aren’t breathing so Steve and Ryan carry them into the bathroom to wash the jam off. They soon start breathing and open their eyes. After that is happiness and tears as Carol Ann is reunited with her parents in the world of the living and Tangina declares that the house is clean.

Next day Robbie returns from his grandmother’s house. They are going to leave to stay in a motel but before that Steve is going to see Teague to hand in his notice. In the meantime for some bizarre reason Diane puts the children to bed back up their bedroom then runs herself a bath. Robbie gets attacked by Carol Ann’s scary clown doll and he fights it off then tears it to pieces. Then the portal into the death dimension opens up again and it starts sucking the two children into it. Meanwhile Diane in the bedroom has been dragged up the wall then across the ceiling. Diane hears the children screaming but she can’t get in their room because of a large hideous spectre guarding the door. Everything she touches gives her electric shocks which throw her down the stairs and out the door.

Diane goes to the fence and calls out to her neighbours for help. As she looks up helplessly at the flashes of light from the children’s bedroom she slips in the mud and falls into the hole dug for the swimming pool. Decayed corpses break out of the ground and fill the muddy water around her and their bony fingers clutch at her. She manages to struggle out of the pool with help of her neighbours and they hear the children screaming upstairs. She rushes up in the room and the children are clinging to their beds while the portal drags them in. She grabs Robbie’s hand and tells him to grab Carol Anne’s Hand. Then with all her desperate strength she pulls them out of the room.

They run downstairs and coffins burst through the floor, blocking the way to the door so they run to the kitchen. Steve returns to the chaos, driven by Teague. When he enters the house there are coffins exploding out of the ground spilling their contents. He confronts Teague with the obvious fact that he only moved the headstone but he left bodies where they were buried. Diane Gets the children out the back door and they run through the garden avoiding the coffin exploding out of the ground around them

The house is collapsing in itself and the whole neighbourhood is exploding into chaos. Dana arrives back from her friends and Steve gets the family into the car and they drive off leaving the neighbours watching their house collapsing in before dragged through the portal and vanishing. Steve drives to a motel and there’s an amusing last scene of him dumping the motel room TV outside.

I think this film still holds up pretty well today and I think it is down to a timeless quality of the story of a normal family facing down a threat to stay together. The Freeling family are really believable thanks to great performances and direction. There is strong feel of the influence of producer and writer Steven Spielberg throughout the film and it seems he was a very hands-on presence even though he was also directing ET just up the road from this film’s set.

Most of the special effects are well done though some have not dated well, like the scene with Marty at the mirror. The tragic death of Heather O’Rourke at 12 of septic shock and the murder of Dominique Dunne by her boyfriend at 22 has led to the inevitable talk of this film series being cursed. These beliefs are reinforced by the story that some of the skeletons used were real. I am sceptical about these stories but it certainly doesn’t do harm to a horror film to have creepy reputation and the Bluray comes with documentaries with spook botherers. Personally I’d liked to have seen cast and director/producer commentaries or an SFX documentary.

Rating 8.5/10

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Posted by on June 6, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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Film Review: Insidious


Synopsis: A family moving into a new house are disturbed by strange things happening. When their son falls into a coma they need to look for help from paranormal investigation team.

That short synopsis makes this film sound like Poltergeist and it’s hard to avoid the comparison. But Poltergeist was big flashy special effects extravaganza and this film is much more subtle. The scares come the from mysterious noises and the sudden appearance of things such as a face at a window and bloody hand-prints on sheets. My biggest jump scare came from the appearance of a red-faced demon just behind Patrick Wilson‘s head

I thought the film was very good at building up the tension through the first two-thirds of the film. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson really were very convincing as the desperate parents trying to get help for their son. Lin Shaye was lot less bizarre as the medium brought into to help than the unearthly Zelda Rubenstein in Poltergeist, at least she was until she put a strange gas mask to talk to spirits. Perhaps the rush of events just left no room for the quiet tension that was so effective earlier and the last third of the film was a bit of let-down. Despite that is still a very good film and I think it is better than Poltergeist, especially as horror film.

Rating     7/10

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Posted by on June 25, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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