Posts Tagged ‘Scary’

Snow White’s (Scary) Adventures

August 5, 2019

Recently, I have been watching shows like Defunctland and Yesterworld and I am starting to branch out from there to like-minded shows. All of these shows delve into the history of theme parks and their rides and attractions. They mostly explore those attractions that have been removed from theme parks. As I explained in my review of Defunctland, they explore things through business decisions, tactical decisions, and creative decisions. All of these decisions effect each other, obviously. It has been endlessly fascinating and has inspired me a lot in my own creative choices. However, it has also served another purpose. It has let me know in great detail that my memory was correct when I was scared by rides.

I have spoken before on a particular nemesis of mine when I was a little child but let us set the scene a little more. There was a time before my brothers when I spent a lot more time taking joint vacations with my mom, my uncle, and my cousin, Brantley. Brantley is the oldest of the cousins on my mom’s side and over time she became a sort of leader when there were eventually six of us. Early on, there were just the two of us though and she and I were fast friends. I remember in particular a visit to New York City together and a visit to Walt Disney World. The visit to the Magic Kingdom (aka the real happiest place on Earth) had a lasting effect on me even though I cannot remember a lot of it now.

Disney parks are an experience as many of the good theme parks are. When you enter, you are entering another world, a self-contained city of pure entertainment. There is so much to do that you could spend a week there and not finish doing absolutely everything. It has always been this other world that I have been interested in and not exactly the actual thrill rides. I do not remember riding Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, or any of the particularly big rides. I know we went on some of the more sedate rides for sure. I vividly remember It’s A Small World and I am strangely not very annoyed by the song now because I was inoculated to it young. I think I almost remember going on the Jungle Cruise which seems like it would be a fun time. Journey Into Imagination is an attraction that has really stuck with me. I remember going on Pirates of the Carribean and getting scared while in line but once the ride started, I was enamored by the fun scenes unfolding in front of me.

When Disney created the Fantasyland section of the park, they wanted to adapt their movies based on popular fairytales. That is why the icons of Disneyland and Disney World are both storybook castles (Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella respectively). They ended up creating a bunch of rides based on Disney animated movies where the riders took the place of the main character of the movie. (Which ended up flooding the park with complaints). When I visited in the early nineties, one of those rides is the focus of this post: Snow White’s Adventure. While on the trip, at some point my mother and my uncle went off to do something. In order to occupy we children, we were put on one of the dark rides. How scary could Snow White be? Well, there is a reason why they changed the name of the ride to The Scary Adventures of Snow White in 1994.

The ride would not be so bad if they had simply followed the movie. Instead, they made it into a straight horror movie. Instead of only showing up once, the Wicked Witch (the Evil Queen in disguise) shows up tons of times. Her animatronic jumps out at the riders over and over, cackling with murderous glee. Among other things, she tries to offer the riders the iconic poison apple, tries to ram them with a minecart, tries to attack them head-on, and finally tries to smash them with a giant boulder. She is more like Wile E. Coyote than the sneaky witch she is in the movie. My little heart could not take it. The relentless witch and the ominous darkness of the ride sent me into full-on panic mode. I ended up covering my eyes and crouching down into the vehicle to make myself as small as possible. If I had even thought of coming back up for air, I swear I heard the witch cackle and call out “Don’t Cover Your Eyes, Sweetie!”

I swear that last part happened even though I cannot find it anywhere on the Internet. In fact, the first results in google are my own blog from a previous claim I made. Still, I have irrefutable and well-researched evidence that proves that the ride was scary. Many people have backed up those words and I have now seen plenty of footage. The witch was relentless and hilariously and needlessly aggressive. I look back and laugh now but I was pee-my-pants scared during that ride. I really believe that it was one of the formative moments that led to me being a fan of the Horror genre. Which is not to say that I was scarred by the experience but maybe somewhat inspired.

I do not blame the Imagineers who made the ride for making it scary. In fact, that was kind of a theme in Fantasyland. The rides there were scarier than the Haunted Mansion ever was. Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan’s Flight were originally also pretty scary. It is alright to scare children a bit. A little darkness shows them about the world in a safe way. I also don’t blame my mother as she had no idea and was there to hug me afterward and assure me that it was going to be alright. I was in the sunshine and everything was safe. At least, safe from the Evil Queen and all the imaginary horrors that would become an obsession later in life.

Halloween Begins Monday!

September 30, 2017

Obviously, long-time readers know that my favorite holiday is Halloween. I dedicate the whole month of October to the holiday on this blog and I dedicate even more of the year to “Halloween Season”. Christmas is kind of a no-brainer. I was raised right so kindness and generosity are obvious to me and acting those impulses out yearly is merely a culmination of how I feel for those I love and respect. In comparison, Halloween celebrates the silly and the scary so its value is a little more esoteric.

Being silly is important in life because we all tend to take things too seriously sometimes. We work all day to pay to pay the bills and work at our lives to better ourselves. We need to unwind by watching ghosts and goblins or dress up intending to look cool or stupid. We need that because if we did not have pressure valves like that, we would explode ten times over. Lately, the world seems to be creeping ever closer to a bad place. It is important to work against that but the pressure is so high we also need to take care of ourselves.

The world is already scary but Halloween provides a scary service in that regard. It sets up scares that are inconsequential and ultimately harmless. These frightening situations are easily defeated. Besides being fun, it builds us up for the more difficult scares we encounter in everyday life. Freddy Krueger does not hold a candle to asking out your first crush. He does give you a little boost of confidence when you make it through A Nightmare on Elm Street at age nine. If you got through ninety minutes of Jason and Freddy, you might be a little better off when you face Cindy.

Anyway, this post marks the beginning of my annual Halloween tradition. I will be reviewing thirteen moves through the month (Monday-Wednesday-Friday) and then three movies on the 31st. I will also be continuing the tradition of Fanfictober with a continuation of the Aftershocks story I started writing two years ago. Media Updates will continue but they will be spooky as well. The above video should explain everything. Below, you will find the more copyright safe video for visitors from outside of the USA. The only difference is the song used.

Happy Halloween! Enjoy!

A Campaign of Fear

July 4, 2016

I hinted at this story during the 100 Questions posts but it is finally time to commit it to writing. I still laugh at the memory but the laughter comes much later. First, there will be tiredness and then there will be fear. There will be more fear than I have ever felt in a single moment in all of my life. And now, the infamous dog story from a few summers ago.

In 2010, it was suggested that I work on a political campaign in order to readjust to Baltimore and to work toward getting my first office job. It was a good transition from my work in theater although I spent a lot of time out of the office. I spent the summer out in the heat putting up a lot of four foot by eight foot political signs and getting griped at by people who did not like those signs which is pretty much everybody. I also spent a lot of time knocking on doors to deliver the good word on our candidate. This was something that people tended to like even less than the political signs but it was all necessary in order to get name recognition locked in. A lot of people who vote in local elections do so in a pretty uninformed state and they will often vote for the name they recognize if they are not just voting alphabetically.

On the day in question, we had been dispatched to the Randallstown area to knock on doors in a massive event. We were working with a couple other sympathetic campaigns in early fall for a huge push for everybody involved. It was incredibly hot and it was a Saturday but I was committed to doing the best job that I knew how to do. After a quick meeting to split up territories, I jumped into a car with two people I had worked with all summer. We were a pretty well-oiled machine at that point and we were able to hit a lot of doors in a pretty short amount of time.

The thing you should know about knocking on doors for a political campaign is that it is shocking when you actually get to talk to somebody. We knocked on a lot of doors and we had all the talking points prepared should we get a hold of an interested party. Most doors I knocked on there was never an answer because either people were not home or they saw me in my t-shirt at their door and did not get up. I do not blame them if that is what happened because I also do not like being bothered at home. I did speak to maybe a handful of pleasant people who did want to discuss politics. Most people politely declined or cursed me out and although the latter drove me crazy, I took it in stride well enough.

So the three of us walked the streets near Randallstown and started knocking on our assigned doors. I do not remember talking to a single person that day. Even the people who curse at you are sometimes welcome to break the monotony and to have a good story for later. Good stories are how you make it through long days in the trenches and there are so many long days in those trenches. We were making good time and without any further commands, it looked like we were going to have a day where we would get home at a reasonable time. I was already hot and covered in sweat but short rides in the air conditioning kept giving me the will to continue. I do not do well in the heat but I had kind of gotten used to it over the summer.

We arrived on a little cul de sac and it was like every other cul de sac I had seen in Baltimore County. It was not unlike the houses in Dundalk, Essex and areas of Towson. We started to knock on doors as usual. I took one-third of the houses just like my two companions. The place was a ghost town on a beautiful Saturday afternoon as I had expected. So I knocked, waited a minute and then dropped some literature and moved on. I walked up to a particular house and looked at the big open window to the right of the door. I rang the doorbell and waited. Suddenly, the window to my right exploded outwards as a huge dog burst through it. It was barking like a furry missile but I was already gone. My body had taken over and I was halfway down the street in a full run and screaming my lungs out.

Obviously, my companions came running toward me because no ordinary person runs screaming down the street even in Baltimore City. They saw before I did that the dog had neglected to follow me that far. Thankfully, for whatever reason, he or she had decided that I was not worth chasing. I bent over and sucked in deep breaths of air to keep from passing out. As I stood up again, I started to laugh as hard as I have ever laughed because I was so happy to be alive and unharmed. My companions looked at me like I was crazy until I was able to stop laughing enough to explain what happened. We decided to skip the rest of that little cul de sac just in case that dog was loose and angry. On our way out, we warned a Salvation Army truck driver and he nodded in thanks. We all laughed about that for the rest of the day and six years later we still haven’t forgotten it.

(Happy July 4th!)

Supernatural Televison 2

October 30, 2014

Here are couple more supernatural shows that I was able to dig up and sample.  Now that I mention the word “Supernatural” yes I realize that that show exists.  It is really good but my experiment here was to watch some stuff that was new to me.  That is why I’m not talking about Buffy, Angel, Supernatural, Charmed and a whole whost of good supernatural/creepy television shows.  I mean I could go on and on about how much I liked the Mockingbird Lane pilot but I’ll spare you guys that for now.  Onward.

Penny Dreadful (2 Episodes in)

I am an avid reader.  I have been a big reader since I was really young and some of the books I remember enjoying during summer reading were the classic horror novels.  I ripped through books like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  So imagine my excitement when they combined all those sorts of horror stories and added a dash of history of the day to make the story feel a little more authentic.  I still don’t know what to make of this show but it really is captivating and spooky and I really like it.  I can’t fully understand the plot yet but a lot of it looks like it is supposed to be a mystery so they are still pussyfooting around certain things.  It’s an incredibly powerful show with plenty of gore and foreboding so check it out.  Come for the Billie Piper and stay for the naked Frankenstein Monster.

The Strain (1 Episode in)

Holy shit.  This show scared the ever loving bejeezus out of me several times.  Leave it to Guillermo Del Toro to creep me out to a level where I kind of needed a hug.  Instead I had to settle for episodes of the Muppet Show (also a cure for the Woman in Black).  The show weaves together a lot of common fears like: harm to children, worms, disease, blood and the darkness  into a very scary tapestry.  We get Sean Astin who is always a good thing to happen to us.  We also get David Bradley who has acted in a lot but most recently as William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time.  I don’t recognize anybody else but that’s not a bad thing.  It seems to have a solid cast who will have to deal with a supernatural/biological threat or something.  I definitely recommend watching it but with the lights on.

Sleepy Hollow (3 Episodes in)

I have found my new show to binge watch.  I started to watch this show and did not want to stop watching it until all of the episodes were behind me.  Still, I wanted to sample more shows and movies at the same time so I was torn.  There’s plenty of time to watch the rest of it anyway.  The show follows a version of Ichabod Crane who kills the Hessian mercenary but that mercenary also turns out to be the first horeseman of the Apocalypse.  Thrust into the modern age, the two of them and a police detective are locked in a fight for the fate of the world.  Even with all that the show feels very personal and vaguely true to the original Irving story. I’m not a stickler. I definitely recommend this one.

Clownhouse (1989)

September 25, 2014

So it looks like it’s time to start the Halloween festivities early and the first stop on this year’s tour is the Clownhouse.  Hope you brought a change of underwear.

“I’m hoping for Killer Klowns but I’ll probably get Halloween Part 5.”

I really like cheesy horror movies with horrible effects and horrible writing.  I don’t like gross-out horror movies or torture porn movies.   Killer Klowns from Outer Space is definitely a standout among all of the horror movies that I have seen.  It was cheesy but it scared the crap out of me when I first saw it.  On the other hand, I never liked Michael Myers.  It was drawn out with no humor and just seemed pointless to watch if you’ve already seen the Friday the 13th movies.  Once again, Halloween 3 is the only one I like.

“My brothers and I were assholes to each other when we grew up but this is ridiculous.”

A lot of the time when we were growing up my brothers and I could sometimes be utter dicks to each other and even got into some heated wrestling matches or outright fights.  Still, when the chips were down we begrudgingly backed each other up.  I would have never squealed on either of my brothers for wetting the bed or mocked a phobia.  Still, the dynamic is actually pretty believable given the kids’ ages even though I like to think I was a lot nicer to my younger brothers when I became a teenager.

“Aw man, I was hoping for a supernatural clown movie.  Basically Fright Night with Clowns.”

Fright Night is another great, cheesy horror movie with just enough thrills to make you shiver but enough comedy to let you go home happy.  Looking back I don’t know why I expected this to be a supernatural clown horror movie.  I was probably spoiled by Pennywise, Killer Klowns and Poltergeist.

“Eleven minutes in and the protagonist finally speaks after being in at least four or five conversations.”

The film seems to follow the youngest brother who already has a fear of clowns from a previous encounter.  The film begins with his nightmare and the camera seems to follow him the most.  However, he remains stubbornly silent for a good chunk of the movie.  He is really good at looking terrified though which he does often.  Most of the lines in the movie go to the oldest brother who is an asshole.

“The Scary Fortuneteller has a dead eye and looks kind of like Hatchetface.”

I’m pretty sure she added nothing to the film although there’s a chance it could pay off later.  She was not very scary even if fortunetelling is a real skill in horror movies.  The great part was that she reminded me of Mona “Hatchetface” Malnorowski which is fun.  It wasn’t Kim McGuire, though, I checked.  Still, a great face for an old fortuneteller.

“Clowns are inherently creepy.”

They make a big deal of making the lead clown Cheezo act really creepy during their performance.  They don’t linger much on the other clowns but they’re not much better.  Something about the exaggerated movements and facial expressions and the unnaturalness of the face paint, I guess.  I started to wonder if the killers had already taken over the clowns’ identities.

“Ok Horror movie, you’re not supposed to evoke sympathy.  I’m not used to this.”

I suffer a lot from anxiety in public and especially anytime when I feel like I might be the center of attention or close to it.  If I was late to church as a teenager I would just not go rather than walk in and feel the stares of everybody around me.  I imagine that basically having a nervous breakdown due to being simultaneously confronted by clowns and public disgrace would have broken me permanently.  So I sympathize with the main character who is understandably distraught.

“You made me like the clowns before you kill them.  Thanks.”

The actors who portrayed the clowns are really, really good at being scary.  However, when we see them briefly during their downtime they are really fun to watch.  The lead clown is basically Ron Perlman with grease paint halfway removed from his face.  I honestly would have watched a movie about being in the circus starring these three clowns.  Too bad.  They must die.

“Kid terrified by clowns attracts killer clowns.”

Seriously, it must be like when you’re allergic to cats and all the cats want to say hello to you.   It doesn’t help that they take turns telling killer clown scary stories to further summon the villains.  Hurray for horror movie tropes!

“This movie is cliche city!”

The hero utters the phrase ‘We’ll be right back.’ several times.  A character keeps singing a song called ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ which later comes out of a radio.  The protagonist spots the killers and when he tries to show his brothers they’re gone.  A character utters the line ‘Is someone in here?’ in a dark room.   Still, there’s a lot of fairly inventive stuff in the movie as well that I won’t spoil.  It just makes me roll my eyes but I guess it’s in a good way.

“So much good pantomime in this.  I’m starting to get legitimately creeped out.”

Great choice making the killers absolutely silent.  It could have ruined everything if they all acted like the Joker or Freddy Krueger.  Or it could have been awesome.  I guess we’ll never know.   The soundtrack adds a lot with semi-distorted circus music that makes my blood pressure spike a bit.

“Wow. Didn’t see that coming.”

I won’t spoil it but holy shit.  This just got real.  Oh wait, never mind no it didn’t.  Still, this is actually a great little horror movie.

“Shit did get real.”

Yeah, I tend to drop off from commenting somewhere in the last third of a movie if it’s any good.  It’s so easy to get sucked into a good movie.

All in all, I would recommend this little horror movie to any of my fellow horror fans.  The movie gave me goosebumps but was just lighthearted enough that it wasn’t one note.  The child actors aren’t ridiculously awful and in fact show flashes of brilliance and actually help carry the film.  As I mentioned, the pantomime is really, really good and what is usually done for laughs ends up being legitimately scary.  In fact, they get a lot of their scares by appropriating comedy routines and twisting them into horror.  Of course, without the soundtrack, this movie would not have been half as scary.   I watched the whole thing on Youtube so I know you can too.


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