Archive for Thrillers

Top 5 Haunted House Films

Posted in Best Of, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2013 by smuckyproductions

I have a special place in my heart for good haunted house movies. So, in honor of an age-old genre and in anticipation of my new book that uses many of its tropes, here’s a few of my favorites.

5. The Changeling (1980)

This film, extremely influential in the genre, creeped me out beyond words. While not the most well-crafted movie, the storyline is inventive and very chilling, with a great twist and heart-pounding climax. The mansion is perfect, full of hidden rooms and cobwebs. Certain scenes – those who have seen this movie will remember a rubber ball – are wonderfully spooky, and the seance sequence is one of my favorites of all time. A must-see, especially around Halloween.

4. The Woman in Black (1989)

This isn’t really a haunted house movie (the ghost can travel) and it isn’t even a movie, as it was produced for TV, but I forgive this discrepancies. I enjoyed the remake, actually, but the original is one of the only films to manifest its ghost in a truly creepy way – most movies, when they reveal their spirit, loose tension because it just doesn’t look right. The titular character is just terrifying. Again, the atmosphere provided by Eel Marsh House and the misty English countryside is spooky as hell. This movie proves that nothing can beat the British in the 80’s for sheer eeriness. Impossible to find, but worth the search.

3. The Others (2001)

While arguably not a horror film, this quiet tale is horrific enough to include here – at 13, this movie scared the crap out of me. The atmosphere and setting are all perfect, claustrophobic but also large enough to cause fear of the darker corners. Kidman is brilliant, and her character is wonderfully complex. The children’s performances are shockingly good, too. This movie is much more creepy than frightening, but I’ll be honest, the piano scene sends chills up my spine. The ending could have been cheesy, but it’s subtle and beautifully done. A fantastic movie in every sense, and the perfect ghost story for a cold night.

2. The Innocents (1961)

An obvious addition to the list. This film, with its chilling music (can’t go wrong when you have a little girl singing) and dark themes, is fantastic for any genre. Here¬†is another film to make its physical ghosts terrifically scary – when the first apparition appears to the fabulous Deborah Karr in the window, it’s impossible not to be creeped out. The mansion is gorgeous, full of atmosphere. The ambiguous ending – was it real, or is she crazy?? – is ahead of its time, and brilliant. It’s a unique movie, so much so that I was a little put off at first, but when you learn to appreciate it, it will never let you forget it.

And, DRUMROLL PLEASE….

1. The Haunting (1963)

Four years after I saw it for the first time, this movie remains one of the scariest I’ve ever seen… and nothing happens. There are some strange noises, some creepy wallpaper patterns, and a hysterical leading woman (a brilliant performance by Julie Harris), but that’s it. It’s a brilliant piece of cinema. Not only does it raise interesting questions about the nature of ghosts, it also introduces some terrifying ones. Hill House is beautiful and frightening all at once. The cast is amazing. The script is genius. I could go on. Skip the awful remake and see this one – arguably the scariest ghost film of all time.

Honorable Mentions

– Poltergeist: My first real horror film. Would be on this list, but it’s just a little too much for my taste now.

– Full Circle: A great performance by Mia Farrow, wonderful score, cool story – worth a look.

– The Amityville Horror (1979): Rather terrible in some senses, but who can forget Jody? Great memories with this one.

– Dead of Night (1945): This isn’t a 100% haunted house film, but I love it too much to ignore it – one of the stories, after all, involves ghosts.

– The Entity: Very cheesy but very scary, it’s dated but I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

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“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.

The Other: Book Review

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 27, 2013 by smuckyproductions

Author: Thomas Tryon
Published in 1971
9/10

Since I don’t have a recent book to review for today, I thought I’d discuss a classic. “The Other,” written by an actor-turned-author, is a fantastically written supernatural thriller with great twists and wonderful atmosphere.

Twins Niles and Holland Perry live on a sprawling farm in 1930’s Connecticut. Their grandmother has taught them to transport themselves into other’s minds, in order to imagine what can be seen through their eyes. One hot summer, strange things begin to happen surrounding them: family members die violently, objects vanish, and sanity dissolves as the twins’ secrets drive the Perry family to ruin.

What really makes the novel fascinating is the evocation of place. Tryon brings the Perry farm to life fully, through beautiful prose and ¬†extreme detail. It’s easy to be lost in the world the novel creates – it’s romantic, peaceful, and at times eerie beyond belief. The characters are given the same care, each one fully fleshed and visualized. “The Other” pulled me into its universe, and I loved every moment I spent there. This intense illustration makes it all the more terrifying, then, when Tryon introduces the horror behind the charming veneer. And there is plenty of horror that shows its head by the end.

The story takes turn after turn into ultimate darkness. Most of the novel is very quietly creepy, but the morbidity of some moments shocked me. The twists are sprinkled throughout, coming at the most unexpected moments. Some may see them coming from a mile away, but I always found myself taken by surprise. As a thriller, “The Other” is marvelous.

I’m surprised to find that “The Other” isn’t mentioned more when discussing horror classics. It’s a fantastic novel, with great characters and plot turns. Though it’s short, it is completely involving and at times, even brilliant. I recommend it, and put it high on my list of favorite horror stories.