6:10 Like Horror Films


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Conjuring--Annabelle Doll

Conjuring–Annabelle Doll

6:10 Like Horror Films

If 6 out of 10 people like horror films, why do so many horror films suck? Traditionally, horror films are low-budget, or micro-budget, films that could potentially catapult an unknown actor, screenwriter, director into the stratosphere. Horror movies have dedicated fans and enduring franchises. Screenwriters continue to push the limits of the genre. Now it’s time to reel it back in. Horror films don’t need to be complicated. Alfred Hitchcock’s movies were simple: few cast members, few locations, few distractions. Classic formula. Quit screwing with it!

The formula is tried and true. Tell a story through film. Show don’t tell. Start with action. Sprinkle backstory once the audience is hooked. Most importantly: There needs to be a hero. Someone—anyone—must survive. And it should be someone the audience likes.

Too many horror films conclude with an abstraction here: villain, demon, mirror. No thanks. Franchises are built on the hero surviving for the sequel. Remember Jamie Lee Curtis? She lives. Watch Scream for the rules. There are rules, just like any other genre.

Horror films are not difficult to write. Getting produced is another story. (See “Haunting of Cellblock 11: Success with Crowdfunding” for discussion) While ambitious independent filmmakers embark on their horror film production, I expect great things. I expect a strong protagonist. I expect a sequel. I expect a likeable hero to survive. Long live the horror film genre!


Haunting of Cellblock 11: Success with Crowdfunding


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Haunting of Cellblock 11

Haunting of Cellblock 11

Haunting of Cellblock 11: Success with Crowdfunding

Screenwriter Andrew P. Jones appeared on Archer Paranormal Radio and discussed his horror movie, Haunting of Cellblock 11. If you haven’t screened it yet, do! Great script, fabulous actors, and beautiful location. All for a fraction—deep fraction—of a major Hollywood film. Jones produced the movie on a micro-budget and utilized crowdfunding.

A studio-backed major Hollywood movie costs roughly $139 million to produce. That’s 1-3-9-MILLION. The odds of your script making it to the big screen are nil. Independent filmmakers are creatively funding their projects. For some genres, the reward is huge.

Horror movies consist of 4% of the overall motion picture market share. However, they are the second most profitable genre. Documentary films are statistically the most profitable, but they are also the cheapest films to produce. The average documentary costs $2.6 million, and most are made far below that figure. So, for major genres, horror movies are the best genre. I’m not surprised. There are loads of statistics on why we love horror movies. But that’s another blog.

Back to Jones. He was able to raise enough money and create a production schedule based on a very small production budget. That’s encouraging to all the other independent filmmakers out there. Inevitably, Jones turned to crowdfunding to raise some of the money.

Crowdfunding started in 2007. In 2012, $2.7 billion dollars was raised through crowdfunding (www.gogetfunding.com). Films/Performing Arts comprise nearly 12% of the money raised in campaigns. For a small contribution, movie fans can buy in on a film. Although the most successful campaigns attempt to raise a few thousand dollars, with $7,000 the best target, some independent films have been able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. According to Fundable.com, the average campaign lasts 9 weeks, 24-35 years olds are more likely to contribute, and males donate more than females. Thirty percent of the total is raised within the first week. The critical factor driving success is social media outlets. The more people who see the post, blog, tweet, the more money contributed. Important. Re-read that one again. In order for a crowdfunding campaign to succeed, the campaign has to utilize as many social media outlets as possible.

Independent filmmakers like Andrew don’t need the blessing of major studios to produce horror movies. Instead, Jones and others can work with micro-budgets and establish crowdfunding campaigns inviting horror movie fans to own a piece of the film. I like that. Less Hollywood control equates to less formulaic movies and more people entering the industry. Shoot. I may even buy a piece myself.

Dee Wallace, Haunting of Cellblock 11

Dee Wallace, Haunting of Cellblock 11

H2O 4 $40



QoR Watercolors from Golden

QoR Watercolors from Golden

H2O 4 $40

I hoard watercolor paints. I’m always looking for vibrant brands that counter the perceived notion that watercolors are muted. With $50, I can purchase the introductory set of 12 QoR paints by Golden. The set retails for $38.99 at Dick Blick Art Materials, http://www.dickblick.com. I’ll be able to experiment with the broad color selection. Now to decide what to paint!

Looking for vibrant watercolor paints? Check out the new QoR brand from Golden. Consisting of 81 colors, QoR contain an exclusive binding material, called Aquazol, which keeps the pigment on top of the paper. That equates to more intense colors. Try an introductory set ranging in price from $22-38. Available at Dick Blick Art Materials, http://www.dickblick.com.

Golden Artists Colors released the new watercolor line QoR. Pronounced “core,” the brand offers 81 colors. Individual tubes and introductory sets are available. Prices range from $9-38. QoR paints contain the exclusive binding material Aquazol. The paints are not absorbed into the paper and float closer to the surface thus providing more intense, vibrant colors.

Note: This is a writing exercise for my ENGL 1101 students. For more information about the review I read to develop these paragraphs, please visit http://www.janefreeman.com. Her School’s Out painting is gorgeous.

School's Out by Jane Freeman

School’s Out by Jane Freeman

Article in Watercolor Artist magazine

Article in Watercolor Artist magazine

God Welcomed Robin Home: Suicide and Heaven


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Robin Williams

Robin Williams, 1951-2014.

God Welcomed Robin Home: Suicide and Heaven

News of Robin William’s suicide rocked the Internet. Fans are still reeling from his death. Depression has been thrown into the national spotlight. But will anything substantive be done to heal them?

One person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. According to the World Health Organization, depression became the #1 disability in the world. Between 75-80% of all completed suicides are made by men. Interestingly, there are 8 to 25 attempted suicides for every completed one.

The good news: 80% of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully. The bad news: 15% of people who are diagnosed clinically depressed die by suicide. Depression is the strongest risk factor in suicides.

Another issue circulating the Internet is the topic: Do people who die from suicide get into Heaven? The short answer is Yes. Here’s my long answer:

First, let me offer this disclosure: I am not in the clergy; I am not an ordained minister. I am a practicing Episcopalian. Most importantly, I am a believer. And an ardent reader. There are some great articles written by many far more qualified to speak on this matter; however, I wanted present a layperson’s perspective. Call it my 2 cents.

God loves all His children unconditionally. He knows that we all suffer. But He forgives us.

Depression is a disease. Its effects are patient specific. Depression is a tricky beast that lies in wait for years. It may take up residence and stay for a lifetime. For the lucky, the beast may only stop in for a few years or ultimately be permanently evicted. However, without treatment, it will surely kill you.

People caught in the grips of this beast don’t act logically or rationally. The bouts are just that bouts. It’s where the brain battles the beast.

For Robin Williams, the beast won. The beast took more than a man. The beast took a comedic genius. Robin Williams was talented, quirky, creative, and one of the best humanitarian ambassadors in the industry. He will be missed.

God welcomed Robin home. Robin is at peace. The beast is gone.

My prayers go out to Robin’s family and professional family. They need time to grieve, to heal, and to seek professional help. Don’t let the beast get you. Seek help for depression. If you know of someone who may need help, be her family and get encourage her to seek help.

Nanu Nanu.


Note: For more information, please visit: http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=705D5DF4-055B-F1EC-3F66462866FCB4E6.


Films of Robin Williams

Films of Robin Williams

Tammy. Melissa McCarthy’s Best Yet


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Susan Sarandon Melissa McCarthy

Susan Sarandon and Melissa McCarthy from Tammy

The API Gals had a cancellation. Deciding on a change of pace, Jenn, 1L, and 2L opted to screen Melissa McCarthy’s new movie Tammy. Although not a horror or paranormal themed movie, it still cast light on people’s behaviors. Out of her last three movies (Identity Thief, Heat, and Tammy), Tammy was by far the most entertaining. It was packed with some of the best comedians working in the industry today. Gratuitous in-your-face sex screens were minimized as was the excessive profanity usually spewing from the star’s mouth.

Susan Sarandon’s role as main character Tammy’s grandmother was a feat of suspended belief. In real life they are only 24 years apart. If Tippi Hedron and Jessica Tandy could accomplish it in The Birds (1963), why not Sarandon? The wardrobe department must have had a field day locating the stereotypical fashion favorites of women approaching 80. The clothing was spot-on.

Earlier reviews claim that McCarthy “saved” the movie. I disagree. Saradon’s performance was stellar—not Oscar worthy, but this isn’t an Oscar-burdened film. Dan Aykroyd’s part was too small; however, he left a lasting impression. Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh shined. Allison Janney seemed too calm, though. I missed the peppery delivery from prior films. Ultimately the comedic chemistry between McCarthy and real-life husband Ben Falcone set the tone and made the audience wonder if they truly are a “Hollywood” couple. They’re just so darn adorable! Let me assure you. Not only are they a popular couple, they are a refreshing change from the other so-called Hollywood couples. They’re almost the anti-Hollywood couple. They only appear for comedic tension, never as lovers. That will carry them farther than most modern screen couples. Audiences dig them. They’re the American couple!

Go see this movie.


Sarchie’s Deliver Us from Evil Thrills


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Ralph Sarchie

Ralph Sarchie

Sarchie’s Deliver Us from Evil Thrills

Demonic possession cases are rare. However, every—and I mean EVERY—paranormal investigator needs to know how to distinguish between them and mental illness. Ralph Sarchie’s Deliver Us from Evil teaches the reader to do just that.

Ralph Sarchie is a veteran NYPD police officer. He is also a paranormal investigator trained by Ed and Lorraine Warren. A devout Catholic, Sarchie along with co-writer Lisa Collier Cool interweave fascinating case studies with practical advice. My copy is flagged throughout. This book dives right into an unbelievable case. The authors then step back and provide Sarchie’s backstory. The common thread linking the chapters is God. Sarchie’s a firm—and I mean firm—believer in God and the power of prayer. And I agree!

Beware the Night

Originally published as Beware the Night.

Some of the more salient points are: The psychic hours are between 9 pm and 6 am. Human spirits aren’t subject to exorcism. Inanimate objects cannot be possessed. Prayer works! However, Sarchie goes in depth with orders and stages and terminology. Hint: Read the book.

[Note: I would be remiss not to point out the one glaring typo: Super Bowl is two (2) words. This is a pet peeve of mine.]

The problem is that people don’t believe in the Devil. Even some of the clergy don’t believe a Devil exists. Sarchie makes a credible argument that an Unholy Trinity exists and is waging war against the Holy Trinity. His Unholy Trinity consists of Satan, Lucifer, and the Antichrist. Combined they are feeding off of innocent and uneducated souls. Only the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, can save them. Sarchie should know; he has assisted on countless exorcisms. He works in concert with the Catholic Church.

While reading the book, I was reminded of the movie The Conjuring. I can hear Ed Warren’s voice advising Sarchie in many of the cases. Shoot, even John Zaffis make a couple appearances. This book shows why it is important for paranormal investigators to help their clients. It reminds us that somewhere along the way we will encounter a case that is beyond our capabilities. We cannot handle it alone. We should refer those few cases to the professional exorcists. Do not attempt! Unfortunately, there will be the few who will not heed my advice. The Devil and his minions do exist, my friends. It is only through God that they are controlled and casted back to Hell.

Deliver Us from Evil

Deliver Us from Evil

Ghosts Wear Clothing—So Should You


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Chicago Tribune 11_04_1906-pg-2

Chicago Tribune 11_04_1906-pg-2

Ghosts Wear Clothing—So Should You

It’s a pet peeve. I don’t want to see shirtless middle-aged men mowing their yards—especially in my neighborhood. It’s disgusting. It’s the beacon: Middle Age Crisis Alert. Dude, you don’t look cool, sexy, or attractive. You look desperate. Put a shirt on!

This train of thought was spontaneously followed by the revelation: Ghosts wear clothing. Consider that for a minute. They do. And for good reason. I’ve never read an account where the ghost was naked. That’s because no one wants to see that.

Ghosts appear in the fashion of their time. That provides a valuable key to the observer in attempting to solve the mystery. Without clothing, the ghosts cannot visually represent their story. And paranormal investigators need all of the clues we can get. Clothing is a freebie. I love it when a client can discern specific pieces of apparel. The lace floor-length nightgown is indicative to a time past. The high collars. The wide hoop skirt. Given that most of our investigations involve Civil War era hauntings, the color and type of uniform helps.

Pay attention and ask about the clothing. You will be surprised how easy it is to research and to narrow your focus. Plus, it’s fun searching the Internet for period clothing and learning the history. Remember: Historical research is critical in all investigations.

Imploding Like a Rock Star


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Ryan Buell

Ryan Buell

Imploding Like a Rock Star

The paranormal community has identity problems. We are constantly barraged by skeptics. We all do our homework before we investigate.* We check our facts. We test our equipment. We do a lot to ensure the evidence we gather is the best and most accurate obtainable. Just when we gain a little more credibility, something comes along and sets us back.

As I see it, the paranormal community is divided into 4 categories: 1) Professionals, 2) Professional Celebrities, 3) Celebrities, and 4) Amateurs. The bulk of the people fall into the first category: Professionals. These are the people working in the field. They are investigating, writing, and observing all things paranormal. These are the working-class paranormal peeps. They don’t get paid for what they love; they do it for the love of it. They act respectfully and professionally.

Some move from the first group into Group 2: Professional Celebrities. They are “celebrities” because their education and skills elevated them to experts in the field. They’re on television. Do the conference circuit. Write the better books. They are the “face” of the community.

The third group contains people who are “celebrities” but haven’t a clue what they’re doing. They may have good intentions, they may have gone to the dark side, they may have let “fame” go to their heads. Professionals know who they are and try to avoid them. Unfortunately, the general public sees them as the real-deal. They’re not. This group is very small; however, the paranormal community should be cognizant that it may grow with continued media exploitation.

The final group contains the Amateurs. These are the thrill-seekers. They hunt ghosts because the celebrities make it look easy. These are the people who dabble and get into serious trouble. They are the folks who get their kicks in the black arts. They’re also the fools who get drunk, trespass onto private property, and burn the plantation down. The media loves this group! For them, they represent the para-community. Unfortunately, this group is growing.

Recently, two former television paranormal investigators made the news. Examiner.com broke both stories. Brian Harnois, formerly of Ghost Hunters, is accused of scamming fans by not refunding money or providing products. For those who watched the early episodes with Brian, you should not be surprised. I’m not. I always considered him the drama queen of the show and a distraction. His situation is minor and I hope he gets it together.

The second one is more troubling. Ryan Buell, star of Paranormal State, is accused of booking tours, selling tickets, cancelling the show, and then refusing to refund the money. In addition, there was some confusion as to the actual participants, which could be viewed as misleading. Originally, Chip Coffey was scheduled to appear on the “Conversations with the Dead” tour; however, he withdrew for “professional and personal” reasons. Somewhere along the line communication broke down, and Chip Coffey’s name was not removed from the program. Hence the misleading issue. This has since been rectified. The bigger issue looms. How much are we really taking about? According to Coffey’s post on Facebook, it hovers in the six figure range. Six figures! That’s a lot money. That’s huge. Since the story broke, the “Conversations with the Dead” website has been updated, displaying make-up dates and the removal of Coffey’s name. I hope the tour happens. Until then, Buell’s controversy has become a major paranormal distraction. It’s time he fixed it.

Paranormal people on television have a larger burden than the regular reality TV star. Viewers know that Honey Boo Boo does not represent the State of Georgia; however, the distinction cannot be made for paranormal investigators on TV. They shouldn’t waste the opportunity or blow it. It’s like a rock star imploding. It’s hard to recover from.


*I’m presuming that ALL paranormal investigators do this because they really should. There are professional responsibilities involved. But I’ll save that argument for another blog.


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