Archive for Demon

Films That Haunt Me: NOROI (THE CURSE)

Posted in Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Found footage is, and has always been, a point of contention. It tends to opt for cheap frights and frustrating characters, hiding behind the conceit of “being real.” But sometimes, there is a film that uses the found footage format for good, capitalizing on the horror implicit in the raw and unseen. One of these films is NOROI (THE CURSE).

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It’s maddeningly hard to find, but if one gets a hold of a copy, they are in for a nightmare. The film is played off as a paranormal investigator’s final documentary, looking into the disappearance of two unrelated children and the supernatural occurrences surrounding an actress who disturbed a mysterious altar. But the investigator finds that the disparate events are all caused by the same force, a powerful demon that is hell-bent on getting its tribute. And that’s when the real terror starts.

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There is something about this film that sets it apart from others of its kind. Perhaps it is the complicated nature of its plot, and the authenticity lent by the documentary format. While most films of this subgenre settle for a small set of characters and one location, this film involves a wide range of people, all touched by the same force. The variety of the characters gives the story a sense of reality – I always find it more chilling when a pattern is widespread, taking root in many places, because it means that the evil has no bounds.

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With a villain straight out of Lovecraft – the kind of ancient, omnipresent, but invisible evil that drives people mad – and a format that echoes the epistolary nature of those classic stories, “Noroi” instills itself with a suffocating dread. Few found footage movies have been able to achieve this, though they all try. (The only others that I can think of are ‘Marble Hornets’ (not a film, but so good, it counts) and ‘The Blair Witch Project,’ though that one is controversial.) This one stands, for me, as the pinnacle of what the genre can accomplish.

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Found footage in general has its roots in classic horror stories – “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” and much of Lovecraft’s work, just to name a few, are set up as ‘found documents’ that relay a very real horror. Of course we know it’s fiction, but that format suspends disbelief just enough to convince us, while we’re immersed in the story, that we are witnessing something transgressive. If it’s well done. Which, unfortunately, most found footage is not. But there is immense potential in that underdeveloped format.

“Noroi” realizes that potential and, though it’s too slow and complex for some, reaches points of incredible terror. I still think of this film as a far-off nightmare that I tried to forget. Watch it, and see if it haunts you, too.

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Films That Haunt Me: ONIBABA

Posted in Films That Haunt Me with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2015 by smuckyproductions

Today’s film is one that every horror fan has seen referenced, even if they did not realize it. We all recognize the nightmare-inducing demon face from “The Exorcist” – but what inspired William Friedkin to design that horrific makeup? For this, and for many other reasons, we can find endless macabre genius in ONIBABA.

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Translating more or less as “Demon Woman,” this Japanese classic follows in the footsteps of its contemporaries – weaving a fable-like morality tale set during the wars of feudal Japan. This one finds a destitute mother and daughter duo who survive by robbing half-dead samurai and hiding their bodies in a pit near their house. When the daughter falls in love with a stranger who lives nearby, the mother must find a way to keep her precious asset. She manages to steal a horrific demon mask off a dying soldier and uses it to scare her daughter away from her lover… but she doesn’t know that the mask is cursed.

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Like many of the films that haunt me, this one requires patience and attention – but these are rewarded monstrously as the film crescendos to its climax. The almost lulling atmosphere of the first half, composed of swaying reeds and the tense fraying of a mother-daughter relationship, sets a dreamy tone that is shattered by the horror of what comes. This transition from quiet and peaceful to violent and nightmarish is highly effective. The film takes on a liminal aspect, as if the characters are in limbo, waiting in the reeds; then hell is unleashed in full force.

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William Friedkin sites this as one of the scariest movies he’s ever seen, and used the disturbing mask as inspiration for his own Pazuzu’s face. That goes to show the power of the imagery in the latter half. Watching the mask float out of the night, rising above the daughter gone to meet her lover, is unreasonably shocking. Like a nightmare, the film constructs itself so that the viewer only recalls specific moments – and the appearance of the mask, then learning what it truly means, is one of the things that will never leave my mind. It’s pure, poetic horror.

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In addition to this, there is a magnificent human story that supports the imagery – a tale of survival and jealousy. The mother-daughter tension is palpable and subtle, justifying the nasty things that happen later on. As all the best horror films are, “Onibaba” begins as a drama and moves into terror as the story escalates. Because of this, it will test some viewers’ patience; but those who stick with it will be rewarded with a thunderbolt of an ending. It really plays out like a fable, but the final moral is dirtied by the humanness of the characters. That is what lends it its brilliance.

As a family drama, a survival thriller, or a pure demonic horror, this film succeeds on many levels, and cements itself as iconic. Watch it, and enter this liminal world of murder and death. Perhaps, after the credits roll, “Onibaba” will follow you back.

Fool’s Gold is available in paperback!

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2013 by smuckyproductions

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“Fool’s Gold,” a new vision of horror, is now available in paperback. Click HERE to buy now!

FOOL’S GOLD AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2013 by smuckyproductions

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CLICK HERE to buy Fool’s Gold for only $2.99. If you would rather have a hardcopy, the paperback will be available soon.

Support an up-and-coming author and BUY NOW!

Fool’s Gold will be available for purchase TOMORROW!

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2013 by smuckyproductions

My debut novel, “Fool’s Gold,” will be available on ebook devices through Amazon and other venues tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned for the links and get ready to download!

“Fool’s Gold” Official Book Trailer

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2013 by smuckyproductions

The official trailer for my novel “Fool’s Gold,” which will be available for download in late April.

“Fool’s Gold” Official Book Cover

Posted in Updates with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2013 by smuckyproductions

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Recently got the cover for my book back from the designer.

The book itself, a supernatural horror with occult undertones about a haunted country club, is going through final edits and will be released at the end of April on e-book devices.