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Wednesday, October 27, 2010


  Halloween Horror Nights 2010 at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, marked a new milestone for Universal Studios. This was the 20th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights, in which “Fear, Himself” was celebrated. Of course, they brought back many of the horror icons of the past to help “Fear” scare guests. As I did last year, I will give you the official description of the haunted houses, scare zones, and shows from the event guide (e.g.), and then give my opinion of them. Hopefully you will get a feel for the event, and this encourages you to take a trip to Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Florida, one day.

Haunted Houses:

Horror Nights: The Hallow’D Past- “Travel into a nightmarish realm where Horror Nights isn’t just an event, but a reality” (e.g.). This house was dedicated to past Halloween horror nights, as it included some of the horror icons from years’ past. Basically, you were walking through a prop house, and got to see some props used in other horror night events. The props made a great distraction, as you fixed your attention on them, the horror icons would jump out from around the corner and scare you. The Usher got me good in this one, as he jumped out at me with his flashlight.

Catacombs: Black Death Rising- “During the plague, the infected were quarantined and trapped beneath the city. Now almost 500 years later, the dead are seeking vengeance” (e.g.). This was one of the darkest of the houses because it recreates going underground into a catacomb dig site. There were a lot of creatures lurking around in this house, but it was probably my least favorite.

Havoc: Dogs of War- “Shadow Creek’s super soldier program is a success, but the side effects have turned these “Dogs of War” into raging killing machines” (e.g.). One of the coolest things about this house was the huge gun they have by the entrance that made an extremely loud sound, as it pretended to fire. I didn’t find the house too scary, but I did like how several soldiers had shaved heads with barcodes tattooed on them. Every year they seem to incorporate a soldier themed house, or scare zone. I think they make better scare zones than houses. 

The Orfanage: Ashes to Ashes- “This burned out shell of an orphanage contains the souls of the forgotten and the lost, who all scream one name: Cindy” (e.g.). During our tour, our guide pointed out that this house was made completely out of burnt wood. That is pretty neat, and shows you the great lengths they go to in order to make the houses genuine. The house had to be burnt, as that was part of the continuing story of one of their characters named Cindy. If you weren’t paying attention, she would sneak up on you.

Zombiegeddon- “Six months after the zombie outbreak, independent training consultants promise the best zombie survival training money can buy…more or less…” (e.g.). I was very happy that zombies made their presence known at this year’s event with a house, and a scare zone. The house was full of zombies, which didn’t really scare you, but were awesome to look at. One of the best parts of the house took place right after entering it. There was a consultant, with a clipboard in his hand, and a zombie on a long chain next to him. Every once in a while the zombie would spring out at people. The consultant would pull him back, and say, “you can’t eat him, you don’t know where he’s been.” I got a good laugh out of that.

Hades: The Gates of Ruin- “Make your way into the Underworld and come face to face with the most terrifying creatures of myth and legend” (e.g.). When I saw that there was a house based on a Greek God I wondered, “what in the hell does that have to do with Halloween?” I had my doubts, but the house wasn’t that bad. It had some interesting creatures popping out, including Medusa herself. What I liked most was the hanging heads, and dead bodies around the house.

Psychoscareapy: Echoes of Shadybrook- “Fifteen years after they closed its doors, Shadybrook’s halls are still inhabited by the souls of the criminally insane” (e.g.).  There were a couple of good things about this house, but probably the best scare was a series of hands gripping onto window bars. As you moved through the hallway, you didn’t know which hands were real, and which were fake. To top it off, there were openings in the window for the real person to reach through.

Legendary Truth: The Wyandot Estate- “Using a machine that gathers ghosts, the Spirit Seekers are about to get more than they bargain for” (e.g.). This house had something I had never seen before. Actually, I missed it the first time I went through the house, and just caught a glimpse of it the second time. Not too far into the house, there was a glass bottom floor, where if you are lucky, you could see a ghost sliding back and forth. I will have more on that on my Behind the Scenes Look at HHN’s.

  As far as the houses, I had my doubts based on the descriptions given by the event guide, but they actually weren’t too bad. I can’t say any of them really scared me, but I was surprised a few times. The most impressive thing about the houses is the details, and scare-characters. In the dark, everything looks so real, and the characters are dedicated to trying to scare you. It is even more impressive when you get a behind the scenes look. 

Scare Zones:

HHN: 20 Years of Fear- “The lantern casts its light on some of the most frightening characters of Halloween Horror Nights past!” (e.g.). This zone was really a set up for the Fear Revealed Zone. It has some props from past HHN’s, and some creatures walking by. It also included the ever to popular guys with chainsaws. You can’t go wrong sneaking up on people with a loud saw!

Fear Revealed- “Empowered by 20 years of Chaos, Death, Sacrifice, Legend, and Vengeance, FEAR emerges to reign supreme” (e.g.). “Fear” was the star of this zone, as he was a guy on stilts walking around. Every once in while, fire would go off on the top of two giant X’s they had symbolizing the 20th year, and he would stand underneath it giving a frightful speech. The horror icons of the past such as, The Director, Jack, and The Caretaker were walking around scaring guests, and taking pictures. I like how they bring back some of the icons each year.

Zombie Gras- “This Mardi Gras parade has gone severely off course and the undead walk among us” (e.g.). This was actually a fun scare zone because it is a mix of the party atmosphere of Mardi Gras with the scare of zombies. Some of the zombies were walking around with brains in their hands, while others were dancing and having a good time. When was the last time you got to party with zombies?

Saws N’ Steam- “In a world powered by steam, the oceans have evaporated… leaving your body as an untapped source of fuel” (e.g.). There wasn’t much to this zone except for a lot of guys with chainsaws. You know what, that is all you need sometimes!

The Coven- “Beware the Cult of the Raven! Enter this witches realm at your peril, as unbelievers will be condemned to death” (e.g.). What would Halloween be without some witches? This zone had a mix of good-looking witches, and the typical evil-looking witches. Apparently, that was part of the witches plan to lure you into the zone, and scare you. Look at the pretty one while the evil one sneaks up on you for the scare. That wasn’t a bad plan.

Esqueleto Muerte- “Revel in the seductive taunts of Death as you wind through a glowing skeletal nightmare!” (e.g.). Every scare zone should have something scary in it, but I didn’t find it in this one. This zone was more about using that glow in the dark effect on skeletons. This was a good zone to bring your little kids to if the other zones scared them. They tried to scare you, but I wasn’t feeling it.

Shows and other events:

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure- “Party on as those two most excellent dudes return to skewer the biggest names in entertainment and pop culture” (e.g). As I mentioned in my post on last year’s event, this is a must see show at HHN’s. It may sound dumb, but when you see the line for this show, you will know it is the place to be. However, every few years they put on a show that disappoints, and this was that year. It was nowhere near as funny as last year’s show. All they did was point out that there have been a lot of bad movies this year, and that was it. Even the music selection was weaker than usual.

Brian Brushwood: Menace and Malice- “Experience two realms of bizarre magic by one of the country’s most outrageous illusionists” (e.g.). Sorry guys, I’m not a big fan of magic shows so I didn’t see this show. It replaced “The Rocky Horror Show Tribute” they have done the last couple of years, so I know that disappointed some people.

VIP Lounge: This year they included a special VIP lounge, where for a fee, you could go in, and take a break from the action. Inside, there were a bunch of props from previous HHN’s, and some movies. It made a great place to get pictures of some cool stuff. If you wanted you could stand outside, and watch other guests get scared in the Fear Revealed Scare Zone. At one point, a couple of characters walked through there, and interacted with guests. I thought that was exactly what that area needed to make it just right.

  I had some concerns going into HHN’s because of the lack of familiarity with the themes for the houses, but I still had a great time. I got to go in 5 of the 8 houses twice, which was great because each time was a new experience. As with last year, I probably liked 6 out of the 8 houses. While they probably scared me more last year, they still had some cool new tricks that scared many other guests, and I give them credit for trying some original ideas. I am somewhat disappointed with the scare zones overall. I don’t know what it is, but I want more from them. If this was your first year seeing the Bill and Ted’s show and you didn’t like it, please give it another chance if you go in the future. It’s hard to create a great show every year. I am already looking forward to next year’s event, and I encourage you to go if you have never been before. HHN’s is one of the best Halloween events around!

  I got to go on a behind the scenes tour in 3 of the houses, and I will be writing a separate post on that. Please check it out, because I will be taking a closer look at some of the things they do to scare us. There will be pictures, and videos to come as well.

  I have to take a minute to answer a question I get all the time about the event, and give you some tips for surviving HHN’s. If you have any other questions about the event, please feel free to ask. 

  Can I take my kids to this event? This is always a hard question to answer because I don’t know your kids. It really depends on what you think they can handle. If they are easily scared by horror movies, then this event may be too much for them. I have seen adults freak out at some of the things going on, so your kids could be freaked out too. I would say they should at least be a teenager, but again it really depends. On our tour, there was a father, and his two young sons. One of them was probably around 10 years old, and the other was probably around 13 years old. The father was a regular to the event and wasn’t bothered by the scares, but I can’t say the same for the boys. You could tell certain things scared them, but I give them credit for hanging in there for the whole tour.

  Once again my number one tip is to go on the RIP tour. Yes, it is expensive, but this is the only way to guarantee that you will see all the houses, and scare zones. That is, unless you are planning on going multiple times. I have never gone during a weekday, so that might also allow you to see everything, but I don’t know. The RIP tour is not only great because it guarantees you get to see everything, but the tour guide will give you a lot of the back-story to the houses, which makes them more interesting when you go in them. If you don’t go on the tour, then at least get an Express Pass, because trust me when I say, “the lines are long!”

  Here is another piece of free advice. Universal Studios closes the park generally for about an hour and a half before reopening for HHN’s. If you go to the park for the day, see if they have a deal to stay in the park while they are closed. This way you don’t waste time leaving the park, and reentering with the crowd. I did that this year, and they opened a house early for those that were waiting inside. By doing this, you get ahead start on the crowd waiting outside. Also, move from house to house as quickly as possible because the lines will get long in a hurry. There will be plenty of time for scare zones, drinking, and eating later on. I knocked off 3 houses in an hour and a half before the tour started, so it can be done.


Check out my HHN's videos at: HHN's Videos and pictures at: HHN's Pictures 

Friday, October 22, 2010


(includes a spoiler alert)

  If you read my review of the first Paranormal Activity, I hope you got that I was extremely annoyed by the ending of the movie. The ending was too predictable, I hated the back-story, and the last image in the movie was ridiculous. What started off so well basically became too “Hollywood” for me. So here I am again, wanting to see if this movie built on scaring people, could actually scare me, and stay away from the “Hollywood” non-sense.
   Paranormal Activity 2 primarily starts off 60 days before Micah’s death. Katie’s sister, husband, stepdaughter, and baby Hunter have been in there home for about a year when their house appears to be vandalized. The father immediately has a security company come to the house to install an alarm, and cameras around the house. Unknown to them, an alarm, and cameras aren’t going to stop this intruder from terrorizing the family. We find out the demon from part one actually paid Katie’s sister a visit first, but why?
  While they stuck pretty much to the same formula of part one, they added a few key elements to make this movie work, including the perfect element: a baby. There is something to be said about children, and ghosts, in this case a demon. It adds so much more suspense, intensity, and creepiness to the story. Every time they show the baby alone, and you know the demon is lurking around, it ups the ante. Whether or not the demon actually scares you, it doesn’t matter. It seems like it is a matter of human instinct to fear for the baby’s safety. Something inside of you wants to know what the demon is up to, and you are just dying for someone to come help the baby. It doesn’t help when the baby knows the demon is there, and no one can do anything about it. Throw in a dog that also knows the demon is there, and you are producing some good fear.
  Another element they add is more cameras. The stepdaughter uses a normal hand held camera, a much smaller one than Micah used in part one, but it is not the only view you get. There are a bunch of security cameras set in places such as, the living room, kitchen, pool area, and most importantly the baby’s room. At night, they would scroll through the camera views starting with the front door, to the pool area, and then throughout the house. My favorite is the view of the pool cleaner going around the pool. It is almost pointless, but for some reason I got a kick out of it each time they show it circling the pool. At first, it seems a little annoying having to go through all the camera views, but it became a perfect suspense builder, as you want to know where the camera is going to stop, and what is going to happen. Of course, there is always that agonizing pause before the demon does whatever it is going to do.
  The other element they add is allowing the demon to scare the family at any time. In part one, the scares come mostly at night, until much later in the movie. There is some tension, but it is expected because the mood is set. You know that Micah is trying to capture the paranormal activity, and most of that comes when they go to sleep. The biggest difference in this sequel is that the scares could come at any second, and oh did they come. To be honest, I think it got me to jump 2 or 3 times. So yes, Paranormal Activity finally got what it set off to do: scare HorrO!
  So now that I have answered the fear question, let me talk about the “Hollywood” effect, and back-story. This movie adds more to the back-story about the demon that is following Katie, and her sister. I was waiting for the moment to start being annoyed by the story, as I did in the first movie, but it never came. It just made me think about the events that happened in part one, but now with more knowledge of the situation. As a matter of fact, while it didn’t annoy me, it did make me question certain parts in the original. I won’t give it away, as I prefer to let you experience it for yourself, but just listen carefully to Katie, and think about the events in part one.
Now for a spoiler alert: I am going to make a comparison of the last scene in both movies, so don’t read this section if you haven’t seen the end of either movie.

  So at the end of the original, we got to see a possessed Katie throw Micah at the camera, crawl over to him, smell him, and then snarl at the camera before attacking it. Katie being possessed pissed me off, and that ending just topped it off, particularly the snarling at the camera. They were bordering on believability throughout most of the movie, and then, just went too far past it. Then, there is the ending to the sequel. Actually, it becomes a continuance of the end of part one. Katie appears at her sister’s house, and kills the father, and her sister. On a side note, how in the hell did Katie manage to knock her sister into the wall without hitting the baby that was in her arms? It didn’t look like Katie moves her hand, and then her sister magically flew against the wall. To me, it looks like she physically hits her, which leads me back to my question: how can Katie hit her, and not the baby? Whatever; that is not the point here. After Katie picks up the baby, I was waiting for it. It was that “Hollywood” moment again. Was she going to acknowledge the damn camera again? If she did, that was going to ruin my Paranormal experience for a second time, and I was ready to rip the movie. Hey…she didn’t look at the camera; she just walks away mysteriously with the baby. Thank you Paranormal Activity 2 for learning from some of your mistakes.

Spoiler alert over!

  Speaking of mistakes, the movie is not perfect, and there are a few things that I question. I already mentioned one, and that was some of the things Micah, and Katie said while at her sister’s home. It just didn’t seem to add up to how Micah, and Katie acted at the beginning of part one. Then, there is a change with the cameras towards the end of the movie. You see the people start vibrating whenever they move. They were trying to add another element to scare you, and show the demon’s presence, but it went on too long. It became annoying, and is to distracting when you are trying to watch what the characters are doing. Also, I question the use of the hand held camera in certain parts. At the beginning, they use it to film the family coming home with the new baby, which is fine. It is also all right when they are filming the baby, but then there are other moments when you can tell they are just filming for the purpose of the showing it in the movie.
  A local theater showed Paranormal Activity 1 & 2 back-to-back, so it was good to see part one, even though it annoys me, right before the sequel. It allowed me to make a quick comparison of the two movies, which led me to one conclusion: this sequel was better than the original. For one, it actually did scare me, which is the point of the movie. It scared me because it adds just the right elements to some of the things they accomplished in part one. Second, even though it had its similarities to part one, the back-story didn’t annoy me as much because I have accepted the story-taking place. There is no “Hollywood” ending, which couldn’t make me any happier. I did question a few things about the movie, but overall I think it accomplished what it set off to do so I give this movie 3.5 pools of blood.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


  After my first trip to Orlando, Florida, for the Spooky Empire horror convention, I wondered how could this get any better. Well, they managed to easily top that this year with celebrities like Robert Englund, Danny Trejo, and John Carpenter. They also had some celebrities from last year’s show return, such as, members of the GhostHunters, Kane Hodder, and Danielle Harris. There were fantastic workshops, and Q & A’s, which entertained the audience while giving out a lot of great information. I can’t forget the merchant room, which was filled with all kinds of crazy horror related items. As I also did last year, I will now take you through a recap of my adventure at Spooky Empire 2010.

  This year I was able to get there in time to witness the zombie walk. I really have to hand it to people because they came up with some great zombie costumes. One of my favorites was a couple dressed up as “Kermit the Frog” and “Miss Piggy” zombies. Instead of saying “brains,” Kermit said, “Flies…flies!” After the zombie walk, it was time to enter Spooky Empire. 

  After finally getting into the convention, I made my way over to the first workshop that I wanted to see, which was “Zombie Evolution.” This was a discussion held by Scott Kenemore, Dr. Steven Schlozman, Phil Nutman, Scott Marlowe, and Rob Fox. All of them are published authors of zombie stories. The discussion was about how zombies have evolved over the years. One of the more interesting conversations was about how the brain functions, and what would make zombies forget how to open a door, yet still have hunger for brains. This workshop was immediately followed by another titled “An Oxford Debate on Zombies.” Dr. Schlozman took on Kevin A. Ransom in a debate over whether fast zombies or slow zombies were scarier. Dr. Schlozman probably presented a better case stating slow zombies are scarier, but I have to agree with Ransom: fast zombies scare me more. On a side note, it was interesting to find out that Dr. Schlozman has been a consultant for George A. Romero.

  From there, I was onto another workshop titled “Horror Journalism 101” presented by the Horror Channel. The discussion covered topics such as, how to set up, and do an interview, write a review, and get your blog picked up on search engines. Of course, this was a must see for me. I learned a lot about writing a review, and I’m probably breaking some of the rules right now. Oh well! It was good to see that I am doing some things right, but I still have things to improve upon.

  In the process of seeing these workshops, I missed the viewing of A Nightmare on Elm Street parts 1-3, and the Q & A that followed each. Missing the movies wasn’t a big deal, but it would have been nice to hear the Q & A’s. I ended the night swinging by the Freakshow Horror Film Festival. All weekend long this festival showed several full length and short films, ending on Sunday with awards given out for the best films. They are independent films, so you have to realize not all of them are going to be great. On this night, I saw “Maxwell Stein.” This was the story about Maxwell Stein, a director who was willing to do almost anything to finish his current film and had a little help from a possessed old style video camera.

  Day 2 started off with the last workshop that I would see over the weekend. This workshop, titled “Believers, Skeptics, and Cynics,” was presented by renowned crptozooloogist Scott Marlowe along with Robert Shuster, Elissa Malcohn, Stokely Gittens, Vince Courtney, and Joe Garden. They talked about where we stand on whether or not creatures like Big Foot, and the Chupacabra are real. The most fascinating thing that was mentioned was about the possibility of humans being engineered, and they didn’t mean cloning; they meant from the beginning of human life. I never thought of that it that way.

  Enough with the workshops let me get to the really good stuff. It was time for a series of Q & A’s starting with Danny Trejo. The room was packed for this event. This Q & A started off with a video of clips from several movies he has done such as, From Dusk Til Dawn, Halloween (remake), and Machete. He then came out, and it didn’t take long for him to make a joke. I figured he would be a funny guy, and I am happy that I was right. He had some amusing stories, but I also found him to be a very intriguing guy as well. The audience got to learn about how he got started acting, got some of his roles, and does a lot of work for charity.

  The next Q & A was with the GhostHunters and TAPS members Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, and Amy Bruni. I got to see their Q & A last year, but was still eager to see them again. They have plenty of ghost stories to tell, which is interesting to hear especially if you are a believer. The most entertaining thing about this show is that you get to witness how well Steve and Dave play off of each other. They make a great comedic pair, as they seem like they have known each other forever.

  Then onto another Q & A, which was Hatchet 2 with Danielle Harris and Kane Hodder. This was the perfect time to have a Q & A with them because there has been a lot of talk about Hatchet 2’s release in theaters. As part of the promotion of the movie, they wanted people to go out, and support this unrated horror movie in hopes of getting more unrated movies in theaters (besides making money obviously). Both Danielle and Kane addressed this issue at the beginning of the Q & A, which you can see in my videos of Spooky Empire. They didn’t seem too bothered by it, and were quick to defend the film.

  After finally getting a much-needed rest, and doing some sight seeing, I went back to the Freakshow Festival to catch some more movies. I got to see a movie called “Doomsday County”, and a short called “Unfun House.” Then, I caught a little of “True Nature” before leaving to see a trailer screening of a new movie called “Inkubus” staring Robert Englund, and Joey Fatone. While I got glimpses of Robert while walking around, this was the first time I saw, and heard him up close (before I got my autographs and picture). I was very impressed with his strong personality, and quick wittedness. I can see why he made a great Freddy Krueger, and is such a great actor. As for the movie, it looked promising, but they said they are still working on the final touches.

  I concluded the night by watching The Human Centipede. The perfect movie to see before going to sleep, but at least I wasn’t eating. Of course this was the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. If you thought your local movie theater was filled with people that don’t know how to be quiet while watching a movie, then you should have been watching The Human Centipede with me. Everyone was just yelling things out trying to be funnier than the last person that gave their two-cents worth. Well, besides the audience interruption, the movie wasn’t too bad. It did have some mistakes (which were pointed out), but it was definitely a unique story.

  My final day started with getting in line for my picture with Robert Englund. If you wanted a picture with him, you could only take a posed picture. Several of the celebrities would not take personal photos with fans. If you were wondering, it cost $40.00 for one picture with him, and it could have up to two people in it, besides Robert of course. They also gave you the opportunity to have your picture taken with Robert and Heather Langenkamp, or Robert, Heather, John Saxon, and Amanda Wyss. As you would expect, the more celebrities, the more it cost (too much for me). It was worth it to at least get a picture with Robert because “how many times are you going to get a chance to take a picture him after all?” It was cool because he did put on the Freddy glove, and made a Freddy like facial expression.

  After that, it was off to get an autograph, and picture with Danny Trejo. I regret not planning ahead, and bringing a machete with me to have him sign it. Again, in the few moments waiting for and meeting him, you could see what a cool guy he is. He was smiling, and seemed more than happy to be around his fans. Then, it was back in line to get Robert’s autograph. I was nervous taking a picture with him, but I was even more nervous getting his autograph. It was like I was a little kid all over again because never in my wildest dreams, or nightmares did I ever think I would meet him. His wife, who is an extremely nice woman, accompanied him. One of the things I had him sign was one of my HorrO’s Gory Reviews T-shirts, which read, “I’m a Horror Icon.” When his wife saw it, she immediately said that Robert needed one. Of course, I came prepared for this, and gave her one. She got a good laugh out of it, and she held it up (got video of that too).

  My Nightmare on Elm Street experience wasn’t over yet. After getting Robert’s autograph, it was onto the “Nightmare on Elm Street Panel.” I thought the Q & A with Danny was packed, but now, the room was really full. It included the aforementioned cast members, Robert, Heather, John, and Amanda. As you might expect, Robert dominated the conversation because a lot of questions were directed his way, but he did let the others give their opinions as well. One of the most unexpected questions came from a guy that actually held up a record from A Nightmare on Elm Street, and asked them about recording the record. They don’t forget much because they remembered that album. As expected, someone asked about the remake, and they gave their opinions, but the most interesting things said were about things that happened on set.

  I had just enough energy to catch one more Q & A, which was with Allan Hyde who plays Godric on True Blood. I was surprised to find out he was from Denmark. He was a very down to earth kind of guy. One woman even complemented him on how nice he was when she met him earlier in the day. He talked about his experience on set, but we also got to learn a lot about his personal life, and moving to the United States. After that, it was off to the merchant room to buy some T-shirts. I always save this for last because sometimes the dealers will put stuff on sale during the last day, or even the last few hours of the event. I was right because I got a good deal on a shirt I saw the day before.

  I concluded the convention by getting an autograph from John Carpenter. It was good to see him not only because of who he is, but because the day before he was rushed to the hospital. Apparently he had a small seizure. I did see an ambulance outside, but I never imagined it was for him until I read about it Sunday morning. He seemed a little tired, but in good spirit. I give him tons of credit for coming back to the convention to entertain the fans. There were two things I regret missing out on, and one was seeing his Q & A (the other was meeting Elvira). I wished him well, and thanked him for the autograph.

  Overall, I had an amazing time at the convention. I got to meet, and get autographs from people I never imagined I would. Robert, Danny, and John are all great people, and I only have more respect for them now. The zombie workshops were great because they made you really think about what makes a zombie, and why so many people like zombie stories. Speaking of people that like zombies, I am glad I got a chance to see all the great zombie costumes at the zombie walk. There were also plenty of other people dressed up in costumes walking around throughout the convention, who are always great to snap a picture of. This year was so awesome, I don’t how they are going to top next year, but hopefully I will be there to find out.


Don’t forget to check all the videos from Spooky Empire on my YouTube Channel to see what I am talking about: HorrO's Gory Reviews YouTube Channel

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


  When I was thinking of the best way to describe this movie, I couldn’t come up with anything better than the way one of my friends on Twitter (Sarah G.) described it. She compared it to trying to start a car that just won’t start. You get it to jump a few times, but it just doesn’t start. It is really dead at the beginning, then gives you a little hope, but it is all for not. Someone call the tow truck!
  This story follows Emily Jenkins (Renee Zellweger), who is a social worker. Already with her hands full, her boss gives her case 39, which involves a young girl named Lilith Sullivan (Jodelle Ferland). She hesitates at taking on another case, but can’t help but be drawn to this case. Emily has an odd meeting with Lilith and her parents, where Emily becomes convinced there is something not right with her parents. From here on out, she makes it her business to rescue Lilith, and take the responsibility of raising her. Unknown to Emily, Lilith becomes more than a handful to handle.
  While this movie has a few good things going for it, the bad outweighs the good. It does not take long for the bad to show itself either. Usually in the first few minutes of a horror movie, you want a little taste of things to come. Maybe something that scares you, a death scene, or something that makes you wonder what is coming. This movie doesn’t give you any of that. The only thing that happens before the opening credits start rolling is a quick shot of the parents looking to see if Lilith is sleeping, and then they close the door. The movie then shows Emily as she drives to work, and the credits roll. I’m sorry, but that wasn’t enough of anything for me.
  The problem continues as nothing really exciting happens for the first 45 minutes, maybe even an hour. You get a feel for Emily, and her work environment. Then, she sets off to meet Lilith’s parents for the first time. While the parents are somewhat odd, especially the father, again, nothing exciting happens. It may peak your interest a little in wanting to know why the parents are acting strange, but nothing unexpected so far. The only scene that is remotely good in the first part of this movie is when Emily gets a call for help from Lilith in the middle of the night, and races to the house to save her. Since this is the only good scene in the first part of the movie, I won’t spoil it for you by giving any more information away.
  Once Lilith is rescued from her parents, she pleas with Emily to take care of her, at least until they can find a foster home for her. What seems like the right thing to do becomes a decision that Emily will never forget. Of course, everything seems great when she first moves into Emily’s house, and it is until Emily finds out that one of the kids she has been monitoring killed his parents over night. Finally the movie is getting to the point. The big turning point is when Lilith sits down for a conversation with Doug (Bradley Cooper), who is a child psychiatrist. This is probably one of the better scenes in the movie, but it is kind of awkward as well. It is awkward because Lilith makes a complete 180 here. Not much has happened to suspect that she is evil (except what you already know from the previews), and then she goes from a sweet little girl to having a crazy adult conversation with Doug. See, this would have made more sense if maybe they did something at the beginning of the movie to set up this change in her. They don’t gradually show the evil in her, she just displays she is evil all of a sudden.
  From that point on, Jodelle stole the show going back and forth from a sweet little girl to crazy demon. Really, she is the best actor in this movie. I never really bought into Renee’s portrayal of Emily. I could not get myself to be really scared for her. All she would do is a lot of screaming. And why they had to have Bradley in the movie, your guess is as good as mine. Not that he did a bad job, but his character isn’t all that important, so anyone could have played that role. In the end, it probably isn’t their fault, as they have shown to be good actors; it is probably more of a problem with the story. Bradley’s character is a perfect example of that. It seemed like they wanted him to be more of an important character with him having an outside-of-work relationship with Emily, but they let the audience assume that, instead of showing it. Their lack of establishing a true relationship between the two characters leaves you not caring what happens to Doug.
  Another thing that really bothers me about this movie is Lilith being a demon. They really don’t explain why she is one, or why she is there. Yea, there are a couple of conversations between Emily and Lilith’s father, but I just wasn’t satisfied. She is a demon, and that is it. They did explain what she feeds on, her weakness, and her plan. Still, it seems as if something is missing. To be honest, when I decided to see this movie, I was hoping that there was going to be some mystery to it, or even a twist. Maybe I wanted something a little more complicated than just her being a demon, and that is it.
  This movie has some good ideas, but the story just isn’t put together well. The lack of anything exciting happening at the beginning really dooms it from the start. Throw in some sub par acting, and relationships between characters that aren’t properly explained, and it isn’t enough to entertain you. There are a couple of decent scares, but some cheap ones offset them. I really wanted more than just another demon story, and didn’t get it. Therefore I give this movie 2 pools of blood. Let me know when that tow truck arrives!


Saturday, October 2, 2010


  Let me get this out of the way, I didn’t see the original movie (I know, shame...), so this won’t be a review comparing the two movies. This is my first impression of this story, and this movie. And what was my impression of this movie? Well, I walked away liking a lot of things about this story, and how this movie was done.
  This story follows a 12-year-old boy named Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Life has dealt him a bad hand, as he struggles with parents that are getting divorced, being bullied at school, and having no friends. There is a light at the end of the tunnel when a young girl named Abby (Chloe Moretz), and her “father” move in next door. Finally a friend, who as a young boy, he quickly wants to be more than just friends, however, she has a secret that may make or break their relationship.
  There are a lot of things that I liked about this movie, but the first thing I have to mention is the acting. As far as young actors, last year I thought Isabelle Fuhrman did a wonderful job as Esther in Orphan. Kodi and Chloe do an equally terrific job in their roles. They really mastered all of the characteristics of their characters, and played off of each other very well. When it was time to love the characters you loved them, and when it was time to doubt them, you doubted them.
  Maybe their acting is good because the characters are so interesting. When describing Owen, you could say he is awkward, different, impressionable, and just looking to be loved. A big reason for his insecurities is the environment he has grown up in. Given his struggles, you would think it would be easy to feel sorry for him. However, if you take a closer look at him, it isn’t as simple as it seems. It is interesting how just before you really find out about his struggles, they play him off as being somewhat troubled. There is a scene early on, when he is looking in the mirror with a knife in his hand, and a mask on his face. He repeats a phrase, which leaves you thinking that he is a disturbed little boy. It kind of reminded me of the young Michael Myers in the Halloween remake, but lacking that true evilness. Then there are a few things he does after meeting Abby, which could give you reasons to think differently about him.
  Abby has similar characteristics as Owen, but for a very different reason: she is a vampire. She is awkward, and different because she is hiding that secret. Impressionable, because even though she doesn’t want to get close to Owen, she can’t help but be charmed by his unusual manner. She found someone that is on the outside of society like her. As far as looking to be loved, it may not be as obvious as Owen, but every vampire needs a companion. Then, there are her vampire characteristics. She may look harmless, but she is far from it. There are a few times when she goes from helpless little 12-year-old to vicious, hungry vampire. I am definitely not letting her in my house!
  Put these two characters together, and you get a great love story. Did I just say love story? I guess I did! It turns out to be a love story without all the love and romance. They are only 12 years old (or in a 12 year old’s body) after all, so maybe you could call it bonding. There is no sparkling vampire, or sappy “I love you” dialogue. The story mostly centers around Owen and his struggles, but over the course of the movie, a bond is formed between Abby and him. In one of his classes, he is reading Romeo and Juliet, which he relates his situation to. Not that there are two families forbidding them to be together, but it is more about the situation that each of them are in. He has some growing up to do, and circumstances have to change for her before they can truly be together. While each of them may give you reason to dislike them, ultimately you can only root for the pair. 
  The movie moves at a slow and steady pace, which seems to fit with the characters, but it may be too slow for some people. If you like the characters, then it shouldn’t bother you too much, but if you aren’t connecting with them, it may be a bore. The movie is kind of like a boxing match when two fighters are just circling the ring taking jabs at each other. Then all of the sudden, one of them starts going for the knock out blow, and the action picks up before going back to jabbing. Of course, most of those “knock out blow” moments were vampire related, and there is just enough of them. One of those moments that is most note worthy is when she goes into Owen’s apartment without him giving her permission to come in. During True Blood, we got to see what happened when Sookie revoked a vampire’s invitation while they were in her house. This time we get to see what happens when a vampire comes in without an invitation. Now I know why vampires don’t crash parties!
  I don’t usually get hung up on shots in a movie, but I thought this movie had some very interesting ones. There is one at the beginning with the cop standing outside a glass window door, and you see a reflection of a TV showing a speech by Ronald Regan. Then, there is the shot of Owen’s eyes as he is looking through his telescope. One of the more terrifying shots is when Abby looks up, as she feeds on one of her victims. Also, there is her final vampire act in the movie. Instead of showing you everything that happened, which I usually prefer, they give you a taste of it, but leave you with the lasting image instead. In this case, I thought it worked well. It really shows the extreme other side of her, and the lengths she will go to with the proper motivation.
  A lot of people think that a remake can’t be as good as the original. If that is the case here, then I am anxious to see the original because this remake is a pretty good movie. The characters are intriguing, and the acting is great. It is a brilliant story of how a young boy, who is potentially heading down the wrong path, has a chance encounter with a vampire that changes his life potentially forever. It covers many elements of a true vampire’s life, which gives you just enough bloody moments. The movie’s pace and setting fit perfectly with the characters, and produce some great shots. I give this movie 3.5 pools of blood.


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