Sunday, July 29, 2012

Kecksburg UFO Festival

Today, I had a chance to venture out to Kecksburg for the Kecksburg UFO Festival. This awesome event centered on the famed and mysterious crash sometimes called the Pennsylvania Roswell was both educational and fun. More importantly, I was able to catch up with some friends and colleagues, such as Stan Gordon (from UFO Anomalies Zone), John Ventre  (MUFON), and Eric Altman (Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society and Beyond the Edge Radio).

Of all of the guest, it was awesome to talk with Eric about the upcoming Bigfoot Expedition to locations here in Fayette County, PA. Incredibly, this region is one of the biggest hotspots in the nation for sightings of this famed cryptid, and I for one cannot wait to get back out in the field for the weekend event.

These events (and items like this Kecksburg Festival) are recapped on Beyond the Edge Radio, as well as a variety of interesting topics and guests. Come September, I am sure our expedition will be one of the hot topics. With that in mind, if you are interested in some great alternative radio, you should definitely swing by and check out the different content brought to you by Beyond the Edge Radio ( The show is live on Sunday Nights from 8:00 pm ET to 10:00 pm with hosts Eric Altman, Lon Strickler, and the crew delivering the best in Alternative Talk Radio.

A Trip to See the Oddities of the Fayette County Fair

Yesterday, we gathered all four daughters together for a trip to the Fayette County Fair. One thing that is always interesting at these events is the variety of exhibits. Of course, they are very different from when I was a kid, with some of the modern sideshows and such. This is a travesty, as honestly, there is nothing better than the world of curiosity and oddities.

Fortunately, society may be changing some with the popularity of shows like Oddities and now Oddities: San Francisco. If you have read my blog, you most likely know that I am all for these shops and have started building a curiosity cabinet.

This same trend seemed to continue at our fair, as there was again a couple of side show related oddity exhibits, complete with multiple legged cows, two headed squirrels and four horned goats. I was truly in my element.

It was also nice to see Brenda and the girls be successful with the items they entered in to some of the categories. Bren and all four of my daughters are extremely talented, and sometimes amaze me with their creativity.    

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lord of Illusions (1995)

It has been an interesting few days at work, as my new class and I overhauled a 1950s RCA Victor phonograph (it sounds awesome) and built a weird vibrating rocket ship. Of course, here at the house, we focused on completing some things for the Fayette County Fair, which we got to enter today. Overall, it was just another busy week. Fortunately, I had some time to squeeze in a movie, Clive Barkers, Lord of Illusions.

Plot/ During a routine case in L.A., NY private investigator Harry D'Amour stumbles over members of a fanatic cult, who are waiting for the resurrection of their leader.

This is by far my favorite film by Clive Barker. The atmosphere, characters and storyline are tremendous with Barker’s signature style permeating throughout the movie. More importantly, there is a nice blend of blood, death and strange happenings woven into the fabric. Yes, some of it may be a bit over the top, but for me, that was only a small detractor. In the end, it may not be as famous as Hellraiser no have the cult following of that classic, but it is a intriguing journey into a magical realm of darkness and a flick that must be seen (especially, the directors cut).

Monday, July 23, 2012

White Noise (2005)

After watching its sequel, I decided to revisit White Noise to see if my opinion has changed after all these years. For me, as an investigator, I have recorded some creepy EVPs at some locations, and feel that it is a great tool. Unfortunately, this one left me feeling different from that of reality.

Plot/ An architect's desire to speak with his wife from beyond the grave, becomes an obsession with supernatural repercussions.

Even now, re-watching this one, I could not truly get into it. I still believe that the idea behind it was great, and an interesting subject that is one of the more intense parts of a paranormal investigation. The acting was solid, there were some intriguing scares and the soundtrack was on target. Unfortunately, the storyline was not developed as much as it could have been and the scripting left a lot to be desired. On top of that, the ending was not there, and left a lot to be desired. In the end, this movie had potential but missed a chance to properly bring a sound facet of the supernatural world to light. I know that I could not watch it again.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

White Noise 2: The Light (2007)

I was sitting around looking for something on the tamer side for Scary Movie Night with the daughters and decided on White Noise 2: The Light. Ironically, I had avoided this movie like the plague for some time, as I was extremely disappointed in the first film. However, if I new Nathan Fillion was in it, I would have watched it earlier. No, it is not a man-crush or anything, but he does star in my favorite show Castle and his performance as Captain Hammer is one of my favorites.

Plot/ Following the loss of his family, a man attempts suicide only to discover upon waking that he can identify people who are about to die

As I stated above, I was not expecting much from this one. Fortunately, it was so much better than I could have imagined. Sure, it was not perfect as the ending really did nothing for me and some of the scares were predictable, but to me, it was better than the first installment. Overall, it did boast some atmosphere within the solid pacing, the acting was good, and there was actually characterization that helped the interesting storyline. In the end, while not perfect, it was enjoyable and had a few creepy moments (one that made the daughters jump, which is always a plus). If you have not watched it, feel free to check it out, it is pretty good and you could do a lot worse.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Absentia (2011)

After an evening with my sister at the Death Cab For Cutie concert and a trip with her and the kids to Idlewild Park and Storybook Forest, it was time last night to find something more my speed. So, I sat back and decided to watch the 2011 independent horror flick, Absentia.

Plot/ A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.

To start, this was not at all, what I expected. In fact, it was better than that, and also an extremely different experience than I thought I was about to enter. This slowly building atmospheric gem is one of the better independent flicks I have watched in some time. Honestly, there is a lot to like about it. It features solid acting, a good storyline and above average cinematography with a minimalist soundtrack that adds to the dark mood. Yes, some of the mysterious elements are not fully explained, but that is fine and actually adds to the experience. In the end, this is not a typical clichéd horror movie full of gore; it is much more than that. Absentia is an atmospheric and creepy thriller that should be seen.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Messages Deleted (2009)

While I have been in the middle of a somewhat giallo marathon, at times I need to throw something else on. Today was one of those days as I decided on something tamer with the daughters running in and out of the living room. After searching Netflix, I settled on the 2009 mystery / thriller Messages Deleted.

Plot/ A screenwriting teacher is forced to live out the plot of a screenplay idea he stole from a student, who now seeks revenge.

I really had no expectations when I put this on, and maybe that was a good thing, because I actually found it somewhat entertaining. Yes, it is far from perfect as the interesting sounding plot spiraled into an abyss of cliché, but that was OK. The acting was decent, the pacing solid and there was a lot to like. Unfortunately, the spiraling plot became way too unbelievable and even predictable, the characterization was off and to be honest the storyline (which had potential) was not used to it fullest possibilities. In the end, the mystery / thriller had a lot of potential, but fell flat. While it is far from the worst flick out there, it is not a must see.

The Bloodstained Shadow (1978)

After watching the Crimson Rivers last night, I decided to venture back into the world of vintage 1970s giallo. Of course, I had to wait until the Pirates defeated the Giants today so I could Raise the Jolly Roger here at the house, before I could get started. Fortunately, for me, I have a ventriloquist dummy here in the living room that holds the flag perfectly. Now let’s move on to the movie, the 1978 giallo The Bloodstained Shadow.

Plot/ The body of a schoolgirl is found in a meadow. The murderer is never caught, and years later; a young man named Stefano returns to the island and is reunited with his brother, the local priest.

While this was not the best giallo I have watched, it definitely had all of the elements except the dark leathers gloves. Sure, the story drifts a bit and some of the pacing draws it to almost a complete crawl, but those are the only major flaws (unless you count a lack of chemistry between some of the actors). This one has a great combination of cinematography, setting and score with some decent kills thrown if for good measure, not to mention some solid acting (even with the dubbing issues). In the end, it may not be a great giallo, but it was an entertaining flick that should be seen by fans of the genre.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Crimson Rivers (2000)

I had been spending some time on Netflix trying to find some good movies from the vintage giallo genre. For some reason, I have been stuck with that type of film in my head. After populating my instant queue, I decided to take a break yesterday and attend my first Pittsburgh Pirates game since retiring and moving home, what an amazing experience that was. Luckily, for me, the Bucs beat the Astros 2-0 to complete the sweep; my only disappointment was I forgot my broom. I decided to get back at it tonight with one of the flicks I put into my queue. While it was not a vintage giallo, it was an interesting thriller, The Crimson Rivers.

Plot/ Parisian murder detective commissioner Pierre Niemans is called to Gueron, a self-sufficient, prestigious university in a mountain valley, to investigate the murder on 32-year old professor and librarian. Inspector Max Kerkerian examines two crimes in the town: a school break-in with theft of old photos and archive papers as well as a graveyard desecration of Judith Herault. Little do they know that the crimes may be connected.

When I was searching Netflix for some giallo flicks, this one popped into the recommendations and I am glad that it did, as this is one of the better psychological thrillers I have seen in some time. The intricate storyline is amazing. Yes, there are some parts that maybe a bit too conspiracy ridden to believe for some viewers, but it really works well. The scenery, cinematography and visuals are excellent, that acting solid throughout and the atmosphere draws you in. On top of that, the audio dubbing and use of horror elements are tremendous. In the end, if you love mysteries or thrillers about twisted serial killers, you should love this one. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Who Saw Her Die! (1972)

Battling this stomach flu has been absolutely no fun, as I lack the energy to do almost anything. I have not even had a chance to finish the UFO Detector I am building with the daughters. I have had a chance to watch some good flicks, the next one that was up is the 1972 giallo, Who Saw Her Die!

Plot/ A young girl is brutally murdered somewhere in France. Sometime later, the same thing happens to the daughter of a well-known sculptor. This time the parents (the sculptor and his wife) start investigating, and soon find they are in way over their head. Meanwhile, the body-count keeps rising as the killer now starts butchering all those who find out too much.

This is one of the better and more underrated Giallo’s out there. A film by Aldo Lado, from the opening moments, this one cries atmosphere. Complete with solid tension, a tremendously gripping storyline and some brilliant cinematography, this has everything (including the soundtrack) that makes this genre tick. I will admit that the story may be a bit complicated to truly digest in one sitting, but that is only a minor flaw that does not detract from the overall feel of the movie. In the end, if you love this genre as I do, this one is a great choice and one that should be seen.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Operation: Nazi Zombies (2003)

When I was searching for something to watch the other day while being laid up with some type of stomach virus, I decided to check out some more of that great Nazi Zombie subgenre. My selection for the day (at least the first one) was from 2003 Operation: Nazi Zombies.

Plot/ A team of Army Special Forces is sent into a secluded, secret biological weapons facility, only to fall prey to the specimens of a Nazi experiment that was recreated by the Army Chemical Corps and the CIA after World War II.

This flick, originally released in 2003 under the title Maplewoods, is a decent score for Brain Damage Films. While it is not a perfect film and suffers the same fate as many no-budget indie flicks, what it accomplished on a limited budget (especially considering its age) is not bad. Yes, the acting is uneven, the plot nonexistent, and some of the locations do not fit, but that is a problem in many zombie flicks.  This one does have some decent zombies and enough gore to keep it interesting, In the end, it is not the best zombie movie out there, but it is far from the worst. If you like Nazi zombie flicks, give it a try, you could do a lot worse (check out my review of Nazis at the Center of the Earth).