Tomorrow I head up to Pittsburgh, PA for the annual MAPACA (Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association) Conference. This year I am presenting my paper titled: “Travel Channel: Singlehandedly Delegitimizing the Paranormal Field.” My show is an early Thursday event scheduled at 1:45 PM. Upon my return, I will post excerpts of it. I’m looking forward to returning to Pitt–it has been many decades since I visited.
Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983) remains the best music video ever produced. Here are 13 facts regarding the iconic and popular video.
- John Landis, fresh from directing An American Werewolf in London (1981), called the music video a “musical horror movie.”
- Thriller incorporates horror movie elements creating a lasting homage to the genre. MJ transforms into a were-cat, not a werewolf.
- MJ sought to change the music video genre and music listening by forcing radio stations to give equal airtime to artists of color.
- Costing nearly $900,000, Landis and MJ negotiated with cable provider Showtime and cable channel MTV to pay between $250,000-300,000 each by offering exclusive limited broadcast rights to The Making of Thriller.
- Two famous people were on set for the filming: Fred Astaire, legendary actor/dancer, and former first lady, Jackie Kennedy Onassis. MJ also brought his pet boa constrictor, Muscles, to the set.
- At the time of release, MJ was a Jehovah’s Witness and feared retribution from the church. He asked Landis to destroy the video. Instead, Landis penned the opening disclaimer.
- Landis called the short-film a “vanity” coming-of-age video addressing puberty.
- A popular urban legend claimed that the UPC barcode was MJ’s telephone number. Callers were surprised when employees of a hair salon in Washington state answered.
- Horror movie legend Vincent Price earned roughly $1,000 for 2 takes. Price recorded a rap to accompany his voiceover; however, the rap was cut from the final video.
- Nine million videos of the short film were sold. Today, the official video has over 625 million views on YouTube.
- The original title of the song was “Starlight.” Rod Temperton was brought onboard to re-write, and he renamed the song.
- Spoofs of the famous dance scene persist in popular culture. Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi’s spoof in Boy (2010) is a must-see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-TiQXCJtRk
- Dubbed as “innovative” and “inventive,” “Thriller remains a quintessential Halloween music video/short film. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA.
Technically, the winner of the Creepy Doll Contest was the circa 1850 handmade doll missing her right arm. However, the History Center of Olmsted County (Minnesota) announced that all 9 contestants will be on display from October 29-December 1. Joining them will be 15 additional dolls from their collection. For more information, visit https://www.olmstedhistory.com/?fbclid=IwAR3C7joW_JaVfJY_YlsKD70zbwz6oS1dPdIaJqbXTit2_wxgk74_-eq_-ak or https://www.facebook.com/OlmstedHistoryCenter/?__tn__=%2Cd%2CP-R&eid=ARAUEc0oDD__OCdpZPi7dZDIp0IjzgSzzzvAVClq1NxB5TtGKS6fWf4RzMMQvtqm0n1ikY5ZYZaSRNoY. Seems the contest was a huge success!
The History Center of Olmsted County (Rochester, Minnesota) is holding a Facebook contest: What is the creepiest doll in their collection? Nine dolls were featured, one a day, for Facebook users to vote for. The top three dolls will be on display during the Halloween Week. Personally, I think all of them should be on display.
Each doll is unique. The dolls were donated to the museum and run the gamut in terms of material and age. Curator Dan Nowakowski posted pictures and videos of the dolls, which are still posted for viewing.
My favorite is a handmade doll circa 1850. The head was made of cloth and then painted flesh tone. Over time, the paint has chipped off making the doll appear faceless. She’s also missing her right arm. How creepy is that! (Actually, she’s very sad looking, in need of the Cleaner in Toy Story 2.)
Generally, dolls were not made to creep kids out. They have been made from all types of materials. The only criterion is that they resemble human form. In 2017, news broke that a soapstone doll’s head was found in a child’s grave in the Republic of Khakassia, in southern Siberia. This doll dates back 4,500 years to the Bronze Age, thus making it the oldest doll ever discovered. Another doll that was dated 4,000 years old was found on the Italian island Pantelleria in 2004. Before then, archeologists had discovered dolls all the way back to Ancient Egypt (2000 BC). Dolls are considered the first type of toys made.
Most people are not afraid of dolls (pediophobia). Instead, dolls make people uneasy. More females (66%) fear dolls compared to males (34%). Children and teenagers, under the age of 18 fear dolls at 45%. That number drops 1 percent to 44% for people ages 18-34. The older someone gets, the least likely he fears dolls. Which is interesting since dolls were essentially made for children.
Dolls are an easy target for horror movies. But have no fear; most are harmless.
Peruse the gallery images here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/OlmstedHistoryCenter/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10156992913154263&ref=page_internal
Lex “Lonehood” Nover is a master storyteller. He’s had years of experience penning plays and articles capturing the imaginations of audiences. Since 2002, he’s worked as the Web Producer for Coast to Coast AM, one of America’s highest rated overnight radio shows. In his first full-length non-fiction book, Nightmareland: Travels at the Borders of Sleep, Dreams, and Wakefulness, Nover thoroughly documents the strange occurrences we encounter when we sleep.
Nover’s writing skills pay off in this exhaustively researched and eerily entertaining book. Nover weaves folklore and anecdotes with scientific research regarding sleep, sleep disorders, and sleep behavior. Nover’s sense of humor is reflected in such subtitles as “Beware the Ambien Zombies,” “A Salad of Sound,” and “Back at the (Paranormal) Ranch.”
Rosemary Ellen Guiley, who died this past July at the age of 69, states “A must-have book!” She’s correct; however, people interested in general sleep issues not just paranormal enthusiasts will find value inside. Nover retells stories of average people experiencing the weirdest things while asleep. Then Nover attempts to explain what happened! He completes the story by adding context and science. How incredibly novel in the paranormal field!
Illustrations accompany each of the nine chapters. All are in black and white and operate as artwork inspired by the chapter’s focus. The book feels like the field journal of a scientist attempting to unpack the complexity of sleep, contemplating every possible theory.
Nightmareland is a compendium on sleep. It should be on everyone’s bookshelf.
Last night, October 16th, the Bangor City Council unanimously approved the zoning application for Stephen and Tabitha King to convert their 3.27 acre property into a museum and archive while creating a writers’ retreat in an adjacent house on the land. The retreat will hold up to 5 writers at one time. The deal would cause King’s archives to move from the University of Maine. Hours for access with be by appointment only. King did not want the property to become a Northeast version of Dollywood. Instead, the couple decided to give something back to his fans while continuing to support the local economy.
Once application information becomes available, I will post. Now I need to come up with a clever reason for my husband, daughter, and me to spend a winter surrounded by snow while attempting to write my novel. Gee, that sounds a tad familiar.
This afternoon my family caught the final show of Frida, performed as part of the Atlanta Opera’s Discoveries Series, https://www.atlantaopera.org/performance/frida/. While watching the candid–and riveting–performance, I immediately knew who “Dimas” was in the opening act. One of Frida’s earliest paintings is of the deceased child. Yes! Frida took part in the Mexican tradition of painting dead children.
Here’s my blog article about the painting: https://thehauntedlibrarian.com/2017/03/02/frida-kahlos-the-deceased-dimas-rosas-at-3-years-old/.
If you get the chance to catch the operatic production, DO! It was fantastic.
Dead Still returns on SyFy October 11th. Part of the 31 days of Halloween programming, Dead Still is a nice addition to the line-up. It stands out for not relying on CGI special effects to force the plot. Schedule your DVRs and watch this movie. In the meantime. read my review from 2014:
Dead Still Worth Viewing
I love horror movies. I’ve watched them since I was a teenager. My favorites include the classics: The Exorcist (1975), Jaws (1975), and Poltergeist (1982). However, I like the B-movie horror films, namely The House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Monster Squad (1987), and The Tingler (1959), too. I grew up watching Dr. Paul Bearer on Creature Feature on WTOG. Horror movies transcend decades and act as social commentary. The Booth Brothers’ new film Dead Still incorporates the Victorian practice of taking mourning portraits into a fictional modern-day inheritance issue. Dead Still, an original SyFy movie, is worth viewing.
The Horror film genre remains popular. Box office rival Annabelle nearly toppled Gone Girl this past weekend. Even though each film generated over $37 million in ticket sales, Annabelle was the money winner. Produced for under $7 million dollars, Annabelle’s return in one weekend was five times its production costs. Wow! Low-budget horror films produce huge profits. This applies to films released exclusively on television with DVD sales later.
Dead Still’s estimated production costs were $2 million dollars. That’s extremely low for any film project. Moreover, the film shines with beautiful cinematography, haunting music, and A-list acting.
Filmed on location in Baton Rouge, Dead Still features an incredibly spooky house. Philip Adrian Booth captures the moody ambiance of the house, as well as, the Negative world. Remember: This is a low-budget film. Philip does a lot on a tight budget.
Equally impressive is the eerily evocative soundtrack. Twin brother Christopher Saint Booth assembled a soundtrack heavy with strings—quite appropriate for a horror film. Working as “Saint,” Christopher has assumed the role as music scorer for their productions. Christopher delivers.
Producers landed three strong actors. Ray Wise is absolutely wicked. Mr. Wise’s transformation into the crazy “Wenton Davis,” great grandfather and original owner of the antique Victorian camera, is creepy. Creepy weird and chilling. Ben Browder as “Brandon” is convincing as the relationship-challenged heir to the camera. He’s at his best in the Negative world. Gavin Casalegno portrays “Bobby,” Brandon’s son. His facial expressions convey what words cannot. Already boasting an impressive acting resume, Gavin has a long career ahead of him.
Graphic scenes are limited; however, I could have done without the sexual scene with the newlyweds. It didn’t add any real content and could have been achieved without the nudity and hand-gripping bedrail close-ups.
The antique Victorian camera is an amazing prop. The claw-footed, custom-made stand is intricately detailed and gorgeous. Reproductions of mourning portraits are impactful. They realistically represent the type of photographs popular in America and Europe from 1840-1891.
Dead Still is entertaining and gruesome. The Booth Brothers have expanded their filmmaking collection and have made the jump into the fictional horror movie genre. I look forward to their next film. Until then, stay still—Dead Still.