Snuggle Up with a Few Stephen King Horror Movies

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childrenofthecorn

Snuggle Up with a Few Stephen King Horror Movies

NetFlix has three Stephen King movies streaming this month. If you’ve never seen one of his classics or want to re-watch, here is the essential listing to get you through the month.

Children of the Corn (1984): Based on his short story, a religious cult of children hold a couple hostage. With a reported production budget of 800,000, the movie generated over $14.5 million in its initial run and spawned several sequels and made-for-TV-movies. Rated R and running 1 hour and 32 minutes.

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Cujo (1983): A lovable family pet contracts rabies and turns against the people living in a small American town. This is based on King’s full-length novel of the same name. This movie had a larger budget of $5 million and earned over $21 million in its first run. Rated R and running 1 hour and 33 minutes.

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The Shining (1980): Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) takes his wife and foster son, Danny, to Estes Park, Colorado to be the winter caretakers at The Overlook Hotel. Stanley Kubrick penned the screenplay, based on King’s novel, and directed the $19 million dollar production. Although opening weekend was weak, it earned over $44 million in the United States alone. Rated R; running a long 2 hours and 26 minutes.

There’s nothing like snuggling up to one of the horror master’s classics during the cold January nights.

 

End of Uniquely Americana Entertainment: World-Famous Ringling Closing

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End of Uniquely Americana Entertainment: World-Famous Ringling Closing

 

“There’s a sucker born every minute.”

P.T. Barnum

Feld Entertainment Inc., owner of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, will turn down the lights one last time this May, 2017. The circus had a robust 146 year run. Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO, cited several reasons for shuttering the iconic circus: high operating costs, declining ticket sales, changing public opinions, and protesting organizations. Ultimately, the circus industry has lost the battle with motion pictures, streaming services, and game systems. With Ringling closing, the era of uniquely Americana circus curiosities ends.

Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum hobbled together a traveling side show act. In 1841, he bought Scudder’s American Museum, a 500+ collection of curiosities. “The Feejee Mermaid” join in 1842 with “General Tom Thumb,” real name Charles Stratton, following shortly after. Barnum expanded the variety of the show by hiring Jenny Lind, “The Swedish Nightingale,” who hypnotized audiences with her liltingly songs. However, Barnum would soon find his big act.

In 1882 for $10,000, he purchased “Jumbo” an Asian elephant, and the audiences loved him. Since then elephants became the staple of circus routines. Ironically, it was animal protesters forcing the circus to agree to retire all the elephants by 2018 who killed the business. Circus-goers love the elephants; the elephants comprised the bulk of the show. As the elephants were relocated to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, the circus attempted to reignite the show by updating acts. Ultimately, this could not sustain the circus.

Barnum's Elephant

Five Ringling brothers founded their circus in 1884 in Baraboo, Wisconsin. By 1907, their circus had eclipsed Barnum & Bailey; therefore, the brothers purchased the remaining stocks for $400,000. They ran two separate circuses until 1919, when it became economically advantageous to operate as one. The Ringling family owned the circus until 1967, when they sold it to Feld Entertainment, Inc. It’s been quite a long history.

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Feld Entertainment released a statement that the existing animals will be placed in “suitable homes.” The company has not stated where the costumes and other props and memorabilia will be housed or sold off. Established in 1948, the Ringling Museum of the American Circus is housed on the Ringling Estate, comprised of the Ringling Museum of Art, Ca’d’Zan, The Historic Asolo Theater, and the Bayfront Gardens. Hopefully, the Circus Museum has the resources to preserve, maintain, and display this uniquely Americana collection.

The circus industry has suffered tragedies and fatalities over the nearly 200 year history. Most notably for Ringling were 1) a horrendous train wreck on August 22, 1889; and 2) a great fire enveloping the Big Top on July 6, 1944. The fire haunts me to this day.

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Hung on a wall, tucked in a corner inside the Circus Museum was an old newspaper article. As a middle school-age kid, I wandered around as the article caught my eye. I still don’t know why since it was in black and white, and yellowed with age. I remember standing in the corner reading about the fatal fire. On July 6, 1944 in Hartford, Conn., the hot, stale air caught fire beside the Big Top. The fire was fast, fierce, and deadly. One hundred and sixty-eight people died. Over 700 injured. At least 50 animals were killed. The article was sad, but it was history. The pictures fascinated me. I stood there staring at them. I continued reading the exhibit documents. Some children were victims of the fire. That made me very sad. I continued to read. There was one female child, a child with blonde hair—between the ages of 6-8 possibly—who sustained fatal burns. The bodies were laid out underneath a large tent for identification. No one came to positively identify this child. This broke my heart. She became known as “Little Miss 1565.” The number was assigned in numeric order to the unidentified bodies in the county. This story haunted me.

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I dreamt of being under the Big Top when the fire starts. That blonde girl haunted my dreams. She visited for several years. In my dreams, amongst the flames, she stood before me. And we run, run toward the exit. We never made it out.

Some years passed; I grew up. At some point I remembered the girl and started researching. I was relieved when I located an article where on May 8, 1991, she was finally identified as Eleanor Emily Clark. Her remains were removed; she was interred with her family. Finally, she is at peace.

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I never returned to a circus after reading the article. They didn’t interest me. I don’t like carnivals, either. However, I’m sad that Ringling is closing. It’s the end of an age where people were willing to open their minds and consider the impossible. To think, well, just maybe, this does exist.

 

Characters with Psychic Abilities Mainstreamed on Popular TV Shows

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Characters with Psychic Abilities Mainstreamed on Popular TV Shows

British television detective mysteries are known for ensemble casts. The characters are eclectic and diverse representing a large swath of people. It’s quite refreshing to see actors playing “normal” people. Gone are the overly sexy, highly polished and poised characters coming out of Hollywood. When was the last time you saw a female police detective in a pencil skirt and 3-inch heels? Like never. Season one of Broadchurch went a step further by incorporating a psychic into the storyline. It was a positive, nearly honest, representation of a psychic in prime time.

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Debuting in 2013, Broadchurch is now in its 3rd and final season in the UK. The first season 8-episode run had 7-9 million weekly viewers, which is fantastic. (Fox attempted a US version, Gracepoint, which was cancelled after one season) According to IMDB.com, season/series 1 dealt with “[t]he murder of a young boy in a small coastal town bring[ing] a media frenzy, which threatens to tear the community apart.” As with most detective mysteries, nearly everyone in town was a suspect. And one stood awkwardly out: Steve Connelly, portrayed by actor Will Mellor.

“Steve” would have blended into the background and off of the radar of DI Alec Hardy (played by David Tennant—yes, as in “The Doctor”) and Detective Ellie Miller (played by Olivia Colman), except he felt compelled to share his visions with them. His psychic messages add to the colorful dialog (see below). Barring spoilers, you should give this show a chance and see for yourself. It is streaming on Netflix. Psychics have assisted police departments and families seeking answers, closures, and even suspects. It’s time they appear more as characters supporting the investigations.

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The Bye Bye Man: First Horror Film of 2017

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Movie Poster.

The Bye Bye Man: First Horror Film of 2017

Tagline: Don’t think it; don’t say it.

Time to blame the Ouija Board. Again. The Bye Bye Man (2017) debuts on Friday the 13th, January 2017. It is the first horror movie of 2017 (Amityville: The Awakening was moved from January 6 until June). The trailer portrays a menacing creature who is a cross between Candyman and Slender Man, two contrived characters to seem like an urban legend. The Bye Bye Man media package wants viewers to believe this is based on a true story. That would be a stretch.

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Republished book cover.

Robert Damon Schneck published The President’s Vampire: Strange-But-True Tales of the United States of America, a collection of short tales, in 2005. It has been republished as The Bye Bye Man: And Other Strange-But-True Tales coinciding with the movie. The movie builds off of the short story “The Bridge to Body Island,” set in the 1990s when three college students move into a house and discover a cursed Ouija Board. Of course they begin to experiment with the board and eek out the story of an abandoned blind albino boy born in rural Louisiana and left on the stoop of an orphanage. The boy, ultimately known as “The Bye Bye Man,” escapes the orphanage traveling vagabond style leaving corpses in his wake. He pines for a “friend” and begins sewing eyes and a tongue together. The creature sets the “friend” down so it may identify the next victim. The doll whistles when a victim is found. The urban legend stops shortly after this and the movie presumably picks up the tale.

The trailer and brief write-ups describe the plot as a mesh of Ouija Board antics, tied to a creature who comes when his name is called or thought (hence the Candyman reference), photobombing pictures like Slender Man, and then leading to possession. Originally rated R, the movie is PG-13. The production budget is $6 million, making it a low-budget movie, but certainly not fatal for a horror movie. Stay tuned for my review after opening weekend. In the meantime…don’t think his name, nor dare say it.

The Bye Bye Man

Kim stands in front of the train.

Amityville: The Awakening—Release Date Postponed. Again

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amityville-awakening

Amityville: The Awakening—Release Date Postponed. Again

Originally announced to debut in 2012, Amityville: The Awakening (ATA) has been postponed. Again. This does not bode well for the film, part of the Amityville franchise. Production completed nearly 3 years ago and has endured 7 release date changes. Seven! If this movie does hit the theaters, save your money. The drama surrounding post-production is an indicator that this movie is a dud.

ATA comes 38 years after The Amityville Horror (1979) jolted theater-goers by claiming it was “based on a true story.” With a production budget of $4.7 million dollars, the movie made $86 million in the US alone. As a staple on cable TV stations, the movie continues to generate income. The 1970s ushered in a new form of horror movie: those loosely based on potentially true events. The budget for the 1973 The Exorcist was $12 million dollars. It raked in over $204 million in the United States alone. Likewise, it continues to generate income through cable TV revenue. Arguably, both movies were cutting edge and advanced the horror genre. Most importantly they came from incredibly popular books. Both films successfully bridged the text to celluloid. Although both stories claimed to be based on true events, the stories continue to unravel—more so with Amityville.

The Amityville franchise is successful. By keeping production budgets low, companies can produce a profitable film. This, in turn, leads to more sequels. Not all of them are as successful. This is the case with Amityville. Three motion picture sequels were not as successful. One barely broke even. But the “legend” surrounding the house endures. Unfortunately, it is time to shutter the house and move to a new location.

Initially titled Amityville: The Lost Tapes, this reboot occurs in the infamous Long Island home. The most alert viewer will notice some discrepancies, though. The house is a private residence located at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville. After the film’s release throngs of tourists would linger in the yard. The owners successfully petitioned to change the address to 108 Ocean Avenue in the hopes of confusing tourists. The owners also made extensive renovations to the house so it would not resemble the house at 18 Brooks Road, Toms River, New Jersey, which was used to for filming. Most notably removed were the quarter pie-shaped windows, pretty much the most haunting feature.

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The official movie trailer opens with the old house and lots of land around it. The real house sits on a densely populated street with a canal in the back. There is very little similarities between the two.

The story-line could stand on its own. The mental thoughts of “Kill, kill, kill” is the only visible link to the original movie. The producers should have created a new, fresh horror film franchise. I’ll have to wait until June to see it. That’s if 7 release date changes are the charm! Stay tuned!

Paranormal Research in Time of Trump: Beware!

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Paranormal Research in Time of Trump: Beware!

Forewarn’d, forearm’d.

Ben Franklin (1706-1790)

Four out of 5 white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. Although a majority of people identifying themselves as “Christian” did not vote for him, he has embraced the white evangelical Christian interpretation of the Bible. And that interpretation does not favor a belief in the paranormal.

According to a 2005 Gallup Poll, 3 out of 4 Americans believe in one or more aspects of the paranormal, which is defined as a “psychic or mental phenomena outside the range of normal.” Phenomena may include believing in ghosts, angels, Bigfoot, aliens, etc. Simply put, the paranormal is the unexplained. And the spectrum is vast.

The Bible includes a lot of unexplainable mysteries. By definition, these mysteries fall within the spectrum of the paranormal. However, most televangelists rebuke this. They claim the Bible does not approve of the paranormal. They can’t identify precise passages. (There aren’t any) Often they take lines out of context hoping not to be challenged. Likewise, a lot of their followers disapprove of the paranormal. They are vocal in their condemnation. To them the “paranormal” is un-American. Unfortunately, these televangelists have Trump’s ear.

Enter Newton Leroy “Newt” Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives from Cobb County, Georgia. Back in June, Newt declared that legislators should dust off the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) by re-instating the anti-free expression committee to root out “radical Islam.” When Newt was not selected as Mr. Trump’s running mate, he backed off his stance until now. Newt reenvisions a modern form of the committee. Now he wants a committee formed to roundup people who oppose the viewpoints of Trump. And let’s face it: Trump gets his viewpoints from those around him—namely millionaire televangelists.

Newt’s comments beckon back to the day of governmental censorship and McCarthyism. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was established by the US House of Representatives in 1938 to monitor communist behavior in Americans. Building off of the anti-communist sentiment after World War II, HUAC hit its stride in the 1950s by abusing its subpoena power and ability to blacklist people whom the committee members felt were communist sympathizers. Those summoned before the committee who exercised their Constitutional rights were stripped of those very rights. People lost their jobs, reputations, and property on the whims of committee members. HUAC’s most vocal proponent was Senator Joseph McCarthy, hence the nickname “McCarthyism.” It was a dark time in US history.

To be clear: the HUAC targeted people for exercising freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of political beliefs. It was a tool to punish left-wing activism. The hypocrisy remains that the HUAC was ultimately un-American.

Newt wants people to believe he is a historian. He’s not. He has a narrow viewpoint of what qualifies as “American.” Further, Trump’s vision of an “American” is predominantly Christian—white evangelical Christian. Here is where the warning comes in: Paranormal research and investigations go against the white evangelical Christian leanings of Trump and his supporters. In the Age of Trump, one should error on the side of caution, at least until we know where he stands with his un-American committee.

 

Slander in the Age of Post-Truth: Burke Ramsey Files Defamation Lawsuit

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Slander in the Age of Post-Truth: Burke Ramsey Files Defamation Lawsuit

 

JonBenet Ramsey rests in eternal peace alongside her mother and half-sister Elizabeth in St. James’ Episcopal Church Cemetery across the street from my daughter’s school. It happens to be my church’s cemetery, as well. It is a small, quiet cemetery. I pass it at least twice a day during the school year. Every time I drive by, I think of JonBenet. Her murder was a tragedy that persists because no one has ever been arrested or convicted for the crime. Americans with their fascination with true-crime books and TV shows are consumed with her death.

 

Twenty years ago 6 year old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was murdered in her Colorado home. Her parents, John and Patsy, along with her brother, Burke, were suspects early on in the investigation. All three were cleared (see http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/29/us/jonbenet-ramsey-murder-fast-facts/). However, this didn’t stop one “documentary” from naming Burke as the killer. The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey debuted to lukewarm reviews capitalizing on the public’s infatuation with this tragedy. Ultimately, CBS may pay substantially for its recklessness.

 

The 2-part production was riddled with slanderous accusations. It was clear that the network merely sought to capitalize on ratings and advertising dollars. Producers dismissed the conclusions of law enforcement and multiple witness testimony concluding that Burke, who was 9 years old at the time, committed the murder. They’re wrong, but in the age of “post-truth,” this did not matter. All CBS saw were dollar signs. Hopefully, they will pay—and pay dearly. Burke Ramsey filed a staggering $750 million dollar defamation lawsuit this past week (see http://variety.com/2016/biz/news/jonbenet-ramsey-cbs-lawsuit-1201949899/ for more information).

 

Shortly after the series aired several “news” outlets suggested that JonBenet’s body was exhumed. It wasn’t; however, it sold a lot of tabloids. According to The Oxford Dictionary, post-truth means “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Although routinely applied to political arguments, post-truth is when facts are ignored and replaced by emotional opinions. Needless to say, this is dangerous territory. By making an emotional appeal that someone—anyone—should be held accountable for JonBenet’s death, the producers believe that they can get away with framing Burke. They shouldn’t though.

 

Media is rampant with slanderous comments. There are numerous laws against and related to slander. However, law enforcement routinely avoids charging someone. Often the only recourse is civil court, which is expensive. To some, it is easier to defame and to get away with it while profiting. That is why this case is important. If Burke’s legal team is successful, they may be able to set a precedent for others seeking remedies in similar actions. Similarly, they rely on Hulk Hogan’s defamation case against the now defunct Gawker Media to bolster their case. These cases may pave the way for others with limited income to successful sue for defamation.

 

The paranormal community has its share of profiteers who slander others in order to make a quick buck. This article is meant to place them on notice. Don’t make up stories about the living or the dead. (Yes, the dead cannot sue for slander, but it’s unethical just the same.) In addition, don’t repost or share stories that you suspect to be fake. Paranormal researchers should hold themselves to higher standards. By doing so, they establish credibility and limit their exposure to potential lawsuits.

 

People of Earth is Special

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People of Earth is Special

U.F.O. encounters become mainstream entertainment in People of Earth. TBS’s new comedic series is quirky and light while long on humor.

The 10-episode first season of People of Earth follows Ozzie Graham (played by Wyatt Cenac), a journalist, who profiles a small group of “experiencers” (preferred term for alien abductees) who form the support group StarCrossed. The members of the group meet to reconcile their experiences with three distinct types of aliens. Ozzie unintentionally outs the members but ultimately believes them and takes a job at the local small-town newspaper.

The TBS original comedy incorporates subtle humor while not poking fun of the experiencers. Instead, the show’s humor lies in addressing the loneliness and rejection the group members experience in real life. The aliens make sure that the abductees feel special as they end the abduction by reaffirming: You are special. People of Earth is worth the time. Check it out.

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Read some of the positive reviews:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/people-earth-review-942336

http://variety.com/2016/tv/reviews/people-of-earth-tv-review-wyatt-cenac-1201891285/

https://www.wired.com/2016/10/pilot-program-people-of-earth/

 

Halloween is Popular–Seriously Popular

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Halloween is Popular—Seriously Popular

halloweencandy

Next week children and adults across America will celebrate Halloween. Seven in 10 American adults plan to partake in the spooky tradition. Consumer spending in 2015 exceeded $7.9 billion dollars. Spending this year is expected to surpass $8.4 billion dollars. Halloween is a seriously popular holiday.

Over 68% of adult respondents stated they planned on celebrating Halloween in 2015. That’s a lot! Children and adults celebrate the holiday. Both dress up. Last year 11% of children dressed up as a princess, while 13% of adults dressed up as witches. However, pets are also participating, with 11% of adults saying they dress up their pets. This year, superhero costumes are the favorite. Halloween is a family affair.

Candy collecting peaks on October 31st. According to Influenster (https://www.influenster.com/article/americas-favorite-halloween-candy-state-by-state), candy corn remains popular in a lot of states. Surprising! Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were the top choice of the 40,000 respondents. Note: This survey only surveyed users of the site. More importantly, Americans spend $27 per person on candy. That equals $2.5 billion on candy alone. Candy spending for Halloween has now surpassed Easter candy spending.

Halloween embraces the things we love: dressing up and eating candy. But Halloween is more complex than that. There are many sources available online to research the origins of the holiday. Just know: It’s not the Devil’s Holiday; it’s America’s.

 

 

Shakespeare and Co.–Must Eat Here

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Shakespeare and Company—Must Eat Here

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When in Lexington, make sure to eat at Shakespeare and Co., https://www.facebook.com/shakespeareusa/. Whenever I’m attending Scarefest, I always dine (multiple times even) here. I love it! The iced tea is fresh—very important for me. The décor is shabby chic, which I cannot pull off at home. Finally, my teenage daughter can chow down on crepes and Caesar wraps, while I enjoy the shrimp and avocado sandwich. Located in the heart of downtown (with 2 additional locations in the Lexington area), the restaurant is two blocks from the Lexington Convention Center. Next year when you head to Scarefest, plan on stopping in.

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Interior beverage station.

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Beautiful interior.