All posts by thefrightowl

Paranormal Celebrations, True Stories

Happy Paranormal Day!  I hope everyone out there is getting a good dose of the supernatural, but in case you’re struggling to find the right way to celebrate, here are my suggestions.

  1.  Watch a little Paranormal Activity…with your imagination.  I will defend these movies forever.  Just imagine yourself in those situations.  Would you need crazy CGI to freak out if you were in those characters’ shoes?  No.  You wouldn’t.
  2.  Read a good piece of supernatural fiction.  My favorites are the Anita Blake and Hollows series.  They might not be truly scary, but I love the magical worlds Laurell K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison create.
  3.  Get lost in the true and not-so-true creepy stories on Reddit on subreddits like NoSleep or Paranormal.  I’d also suggest searching for creepy stories on the AskReddit subreddit.  I love reading about people’s scary experiences.

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Now for a true story.  Let me set the stage.

I was a freshman in high school, and my mother, sister, and I had just gotten home after a grocery trip one day after school.  As my mother began to prepare our dinner and my sister started to pass some time on the computer in the dining room, I remembered I had a permission slip that I needed signed for a field trip.  So, I went to my room at the back of the house to search my backpack.

My room was right across from my parents’ bedroom, and at this time my bed was situated where the end of the bed was even with the edge of my door frame about 10 feet across the room.  My mother that day was wearing a cream-colored sweater. This comes into play in a minute.

While I was searching for the permission slip in my backpack at the foot of the bed, I heard my dad come home.  He was talking to my mom and sister, and I could hear them joking around.   I finally found the piece of paper I was looking for, and while I was wrestling it from the other papers in my bag, I saw very clearly with my peripheral vision my mother walk past my doorway and into her bedroom into her closet.

Or so I thought.

I told her to wait one second while I got her to sign the paper, and I heard a very clear, “Hmm?”  I immediately followed her into her room with the paper and a pen and turned into the walk-in closet.

No one was there.

I stood there for a few seconds, really confused because I had JUST SEEN HER WALK IN THERE and she had JUST ANSWERED ME.  I walked back to the kitchen and saw that my mom was exactly where I left her, washing vegetables for dinner.  My sister was still on the computer, and my dad was taking off his work boots.

What. The. Hell.

I walked back to my parents’ room, but – of course – nothing was there.  I didn’t really expect there to be.  I was so weirded out that I didn’t even make a big deal about it, which is pretty strange because I’m all about this stuff normally.  I just couldn’t believe that had just happened.  I ended up telling my mom about it one day, and she said that the house could be creepy sometimes but that it was probably nothing.  My sister thought it was cool and said she felt creepy in the back of the house at times.

I forgot about it for the longest time until one day my family and I were eating dinner at a restaurant in Branson.  We were talking about creepy things, and my dad happened to mention that he thought there was something in our house.  He said he’d seen out of the corner of his eyes a Native American woman in a cream-colored shawl walk around our house at least a few times.

Say what now?

I had a momentary freak-out when I heard this and told him about the woman I had seen go into his bedroom closet.  He just said that he believed it.  My parents’ house is located in Eastern Oklahoma, and there are quite a few Native American burial grounds close to our house.  It’s very possible we have a few ghosts that call our land home.

Each of my family members’ have seen or felt creepy things in the back of our house from time to time.  My sister has even had a few things moved from her shelves and placed on the floor in her room.

Silly ghosts.

So that’s my story.  It’s not flashy, but it’ll do.  Anyone out there have a creepy paranormal encounter?  I’d love to hear it.

 

 

 

 

 

Horror Movie Streaming

I love horror movies.

Surprising, I know.

I have quite the collection, but even I run out of things to watch from time to time.  That’s why I was so excited to discover that there are actually streaming services that specialize in horror movies.  Yeah.  That’s a thing.

Now, there are a few of these streaming services out there.  Let’s look at the 3 I’ve found.

FRIGHTPIX

Frightpix has one big thing going for it.  IT’S FREE.  The movie selection isn’t great, but there are a few hidden classics in there – namely The Last House on the Left, An American Werewolf in London, and Suspiria.

The rest are mostly B-movies, straight-to-DVD types (*cough*Poultrygeist*cough*) that are good for a laugh but don’t have any real substance.  Regardless, check out Frightpix if you want a quick, cheap horror fix.

SCREAMBOX

Screambox is pretty cheap at $3.99 per month (or $2.99 per month with an annual membership), and it has a few gems in there – Scream 2, The Hills Have Eyes, Hellraiser, and The Prophecy series just to name a few.  It also has the full Masters of Horror series, which is pretty great.  It might have been more of a selling point for me if I didn’t already have them, but if you don’t, it’s definitely a plus.

SHUDDER

Shudder is more expensive than Screambox at $5.00 per month, but this is the one I ultimately chose just because of the selection it offers. It’s got a wide variety from classics like Nosferatu to newer, critically-acclaimed horror like Let the Right One In.

Movies can be browsed in alphabetical order, or they can also be browsed by collection, such as Comedy of Terrors, Monster Mash, and A-Horror.  The A-Horror collection was probably what sold me.  I love Asian horror movies like Shutter and Audition, so the fact that they had their own section made me smile.

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So if you’re looking for something to supplement your horror collection, my recommendation is a subscription to Shudder with a side-order of Frightpix.

How do you satisfy your horror cravings?  I’d be interested to know what others think of these services.  My experience so far has been positive, so I think I’ll keep Shudder around at least for now.

 

Make It Work

I love Halloween, but that does not mean I have an all-inclusive attitude toward Halloween things.  I have drawn a definitive line at the cutesy stuff.  Halloween is meant to be scary or, at the very least, dark and mysterious.  I don’t want to look at Halloween things and think “Awww! How adorable!”

Unless you’re talking about little trick-or-treaters.  I had at least 3 Elsas come to my door last year, and I thought they were precious.

Anyway, I say this to tell you that my prejudice against the cute almost made me miss out on a pretty sweet deal.  A few years ago, my husband and I were at Lowe’s two days before Halloween, and they were clearancing out their merch to make way for Christmas stuff.  I only glanced at their dwindling selection.  One of the clearanced items was an adorable (read: nauseatingly cute) life-sized, animated witch, complete with pastel pink striped socks, cute little boots, and pink ribbon in her bodice and hat.  She was also wearing a brightly-colored tutu.

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That’s right.  A tutu.

Needless to say, this didn’t sit well with me, and I began to move along, but my husband stopped me.  Like me, my husband can’t pass up a good deal, so he’s always on the lookout for a sale. He noticed a sign that said clearance items were an additional 75% off their already 50% marked down price.  That meant that this cutesy, originally $150 witch was now $20.

*Record Scratch*

Halloween prop-making was still new to me, so my first thought hadn’t been how to make this work.  Those thoughts were just, “Ew. Cute. No.” But after finding out about the crazy low price, I started thinking about how I could improve it.  I mean, $20 for a life-sized prop is a freakin’ amazing deal, and I couldn’t pass it up.  I knew I had craft paint to up the creep factor and a few black capes I could use to cover the skirt at home.  So $20 and some change later, we were loading that baby up in my car.

And this is what she looks like now.

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Pretty sweet, right?  She’s been greeting trick-or-treaters at my front door for the past two years, and now I never turn down something at first site.

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IT’s Coming

Well, if you’re up on your horror news, you know that Warner Brothers recently announced the release date of the remake of one of my favorite movies, Stephen King’s IT.

Cue happy dance.

My mom has said time and time again that she can’t believe she let me watch that movie when it premiered on TV in November 1990.  I was just 6 years old, and I remember watching it with her in my parents’ bedroom, hiding my eyes at some points and loving every minute of it.

Back in those days, we taped everything.  We recorded a VHS copy of the movie, and I wore that thing out.  I can’t even estimate how many times I watched it, but you know how little kids are with their favorites.  It was on constantly.

Seriously. I’m pretty sure it rivaled my little sister’s obsession with Space Jam and Spice World.

I took it with me to every slumber party and sleepover.  It wasn’t my intention to make all my friends scared of clowns, but it happened. I’m not proud of it.

Okay. Maybe a little. 😉

We’d turn it on late at night and watch Pennywise terrorize kids our age.  It was so fun.  We loved the scene where Georgie’s picture winks at Bill with its awesomely 80s horror movie track and the one with Pennywise coming out of the drain.  I don’t know if I ever took a bath or shower without thinking of that one.

Another favorite was the scene in the Chinese restaurant. Fortune cookie, anyone?

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Tim Curry’s Pennywise will forever hold a special place in my heart as one of my favorite villains.  I don’t know anyone that would argue that Curry didn’t play that role to perfection.  That voice. That laugh. I don’t know how anyone can fill those shoes.

Let’s see if the September 2017 date sticks.  I’m not holding out hope since the production has seen so many problems, but you can bet I’ll be first in line if it does.

Throwback: Chilling Children’s Stories

Slumber parties. Sleepovers. Campouts. When a group of children gather, it’s just a matter of time before scary stories are told.

Some of my best memories are of ghost stories told in whispers at sleepovers after all the adults had gone to bed.   So for this Throwback Thursday post, let’s talk about the books and stories that fueled the fire.

In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories

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This book was my first introduction to reading horror stories.  My mom would take my sister and me to the public library for their summer reading program, and we always wanted to check out this book.

Like most children’s books, the stories are short and simple.  But although it’s written for kids, the content is chilling even today.  It’s full of tales taken from folklore of various cultures.  The illustrations set the tone of the book with a little bit of humor and just the right amount of creepiness.

The story that stands out most to me is the one about the girl who wore a ribbon around her neck. Spoiler alert: her husband removes it on her deathbed, and her head falls off. As a kid, I loved that one.

The Scariest Stories You’ve Ever Heard

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I snagged these at book fairs in elementary school and brought them with me to every sleepover.  My love of urban legends came from these books, which were directed at a younger audience but were still full of dark and scary content.

The call is coming from inside the house!” Yep. The first time I ever heard or read these words was from the first book in this series.  I remember the first time I read about the hook hand and the one about the boyfriend who is hung over his car while his girlfriend waits inside, listening to the scratch, scratch, scratch of his feet above.

Good times.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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Oooooohhhhh, man.  Lets talk about the big daddy of them all.  If you’re in your mid-20s to mid-30s and had even a slight interest in scary stories as a kid, you KNOW these books.  They’re still favorites of mine today.  Quirky, creepy, gross, and sometimes funny – how could you not love this stuff?

And let’s talk about the thing that elevated this from just another scary book to an unforgettable experience – Stephen Gammell’s horrifying illustrations.  Even if you can’t remember a specific story, I know you can remember the pictures. The one with the rotting ghost woman is the lock screen on my phone.  If my husband wouldn’t object, I’d display his art in my house.  Just sayin’. I LOVE IT.   The books are still around today, but the drawings have been replaced by those that are considered “kid friendly” instead.  I feel sorry for children today that won’t have the opportunity to get freaked out by these things.

So what about you? Are there any creepy books from your childhood that you miss?

The Fright Owl’s Top Twenty Favorite Horror Movies

Since this is the inaugural Top Tuesday post, I thought I’d give my audience a little peek inside my head and list my top 20 favorite horror movies.  It was just going to be a top 10 at first, but that just made me sad.

So here goes…

20) Evil Dead: How could I not put Evil Dead on the list?  Sam Raimi + Bruce Campbell = Imperfect Perfection

19) Paranormal Activity: These movies get a lot more hate than they deserve.  I love that they aren’t in-your-face with the effects and that you have to use your imagination. Plus, I’m pretty special because I’m listed in the credits on the DVD.  Yeah. It’s there along with a billion other people’s names, but DON’T YOU TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!

18) Trick ‘r Treat: I love a good, Halloween-themed, intersecting bunch of stories as much as the next person.  That’s why this one is probably on your list, too.  And Sam is just freakin’ adorable.

17) The Conjuring: Of the new horror movies that have come out recently, this is only second to one.  It doesn’t have to try too hard to get the creep factor across.

16) Sinister: This is that one. Love, love, LOVE this movie. The music, the direction, the story…all gold in my book.

15) Scream: Ah, the movie that spurred a rash of slasher movies in the late 90s.  Where would we be without Billy Loomis and Stu Macher?  I can tell you one thing.  There would be no Ghostface, and that is not a world I want to live in.

14) Poltergeist (1982): ”You son of a bitch! You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you? You son of a bitch, you left the bodies, and you only moved the headstones! You only moved the headstones! Why!? Why!?” Best. Quote. Ever. Fin.

13) Stephen King’s It: This was my favorite movie in kindergarten, and Pennywise will forever hold a special place in my heart.  Now, it has a special place on my list.

12) The Thing: Doom? Check.  Gloom? Check.  Creepy awesome severed alien head that grows spider legs and shrieks? Check.

11) Shaun of the Dead: All three movies in the Cornetto trilogy are fantastic in my book.

10) Dawn of the Dead (2004): I love zombies. That is all.

9) Psycho: I love the history of this movie just as much as I love the movie itself.

8) Child’s Play:  Before Chucky became a wisecracking serial killer with a wife and kid, he just wanted to take over little Andy Barclay’s body with his crazy voodoo spell. These movies turned into dark comedies, but the first in the series was seriously creepy.

7) Halloween: Oh, Michael.  I could watch you walk slowly and menacingly for hours. And I have.

6) A Nightmare on Elm Street: I don’t want to glorify a burned child molester, but Freddy’s got it going on in the fright department.  The scene where his arms are stretched in Tina’s nightmare? ‘Nuff said.

5) Rosemary’s Baby: This movie is so tense without having to do much.  Poor Rosemary.  Happy me.

4) The Exorcist: No other possession movie has been able to come close to the horror created in this movie.  Perfect.

3) The Shining: Ghost stories and haunted houses have always been some of my favorite things, and Kubrick created such a foreboding atmosphere with this movie that it’s hard not to rank it higher.

2) The Silence of the Lambs: I know. You might try to argue that this one’s more in the psychological thriller category, but go head.  I’m ready.  Just try to tell me that the world’s most famous cannibal doesn’t also belong on a horror list. You can’t.  Not possible. Point: me.

1) The Ring: If you saw my post on Friday, you know I have a little bit of history with this movie.  It’s the first movie that I saw in theaters that actually stuck with me way after it was over, and I’m pretty sure it’ll be one of those movies that I look back on when I’m older and think how cool it was that I saw it opening night in the theater.

Wow. That was so much harder than I thought it would be, and there are so many other movies that I love that didn’t make the list.  I almost feel guilty that I didn’t add more, but who has time to read a top 100?

So, what’s your favorite scary movie?

I Saw The Ring: Not a Movie Review

I would really like to know what mad marketing genius came up with this one.  Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, in the year 2002, there were these crazy things called VHS tapes.  Before DVRs were a thing, people could use these devices to record and watch their favorite shows and movies directly from their televisions (which were much fatter in those times). 

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freeimages.com/NitinAle

A young lady was rearranging her VHS tapes late one summer night, trying to find the perfect one to cure her boredom.  An infomercial was playing (one about the Magic Bullet blender – her favorite), and during a commercial break, the girl heard a high-pitched noise that drew her attention to the screen.

Her television screen, once colorful with brightly flashing images, now reflected only one image against a backdrop of darkness – a ring of light. As she watched, the image changed, replaced by the black-and-white image of a woman with long, dark hair standing in front of a mirror.

As the woman smiled knowingly into the camera, the image changed again – and again and again and again. Dark, disturbing pictures flashed across the screen one after another. Soon after they started, the images were gone, replaced by the dark screen with its ring of light. The girl stared transfixed as a child’s voice was heard. “You will die in seven days.” Immediately, a new commercial, this one bright and happy, replaced the image, and the girl’s semi-hypnotic gaze was broken.

The girl didn’t know what to think. Was that real? Had she just imagined it? She hadn’t had much sleep lately, but she’d never hallucinated before. She wrote down what she had seen and attempted to go to sleep.

The next day she interrogated her parents and sister. Had they seen it? Anything like it? They hadn’t, and the girl began to worry that she was going crazy.

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When the seventh day arrived, she impatiently waited for the dark and the time she had seen the strange video.  The time came and went without incident, and the girl was able to have a good night’s sleep.

She forgot about the odd images for months, her attention focused on preparing for the magical world of college.

One night in October, her college friends asked the girl if she wanted to go see the new horror movie, The Ring.  The girl jumped at the chance.  She was always up for a horror movie.  It was a good one, but when twenty minutes or so had passed, something crazy happened…

I think you know where this story is going. The creepy video I (oh, I’m the girl in the story if you didn’t know) saw in the middle of the night – with absolutely ZERO INDICATION that it was for a movie – was the cursed video from The Ring.  Who does that?!

And I just want to be clear about one thing: IT WAS AWESOME.  I flipped out a little in the theater when I saw the video that had made me think I was going crazy that summer, but I was thrilled.  You know how Naomi Watts looked pretty freaked after she saw it the first time and got the phone call? That’s how I felt. I mean, I didn’t actually think I was going to die, but it was a pretty creepy feeling. And it made me appreciate the movie that much more.

I actually feel pretty special to have been one of the people to get side-swiped by the thing.

So. Anyone else out there have a fun, late-night viewing of the CURSED video? If I never find another person that saw it, too, then I’m just going to assume they’re all dead.  Like I said. I’m special.

My First DIY Severed Head: A Love Story

I love severed heads.  Not real ones, of course.  I love the fake kind, and I experience quite the thrill when I finally get to check out the selection at Spirit Halloween and Halloween Express each year.  I usually buy one myself, and then my mother-in-law gets me one for Christmas.  It’s a tradition that I’m pretty fond of and one that makes my MIL one of the best in history.  Does your mother-in-law get you  severed heads for Christmas?  I didn’t think so.

Anyway, I love getting a “commercial” creepy head, but there’s a certain charm in the homemade stuff.  A few years ago, we moved from an apartment to our house, and with the added space came a new-found love of making props.  So even though I already had a pretty decent head collection at that time, I thought I’d try my hand at making one myself.

So this is how I made my very first DIY severed head.

I started with a foam head from Hobby Lobby that I bought using one of their 40% off coupons.  Aside from being a horror fan, I’m also a big proponent of getting the best deal, so I try to buy as many of my supplies on sale or clearance as possible.  Hobby Lobby has a few varieties of heads to choose from – female, male, and faceless – so you can choose whichever fits your project best.  Although the faceless ones are creepy on their own, I wanted mine to be pretty big, so I went with a male head.

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As you can see from the pic above, my first step was to draw out the features I wanted for my severed head.  I wanted it to be gross, and keeping both eyes weren’t an option.  I used a craft knife and some metal sculpting tools to pick and carve out one of the eyes, part of the scalp, and the base of the head to make it look actually severed.  We want realism wherever possible, people, and a clean-cut head just won’t – well – cut it.

I also carved out some of the area around the side of the mouth and jaw and used some fake zombie teeth that I bought (again, with a coupon) at Spirit Halloween.  The teeth were rubber and very easy to cut.  They were ridged on the back to make them easy to wear, so I sliced off the back to make them lay flat and fit my head.  I then used a hot glue gun to secure them in place.  You can see in the pic below that my guy was already looking pretty handsome at this stage.

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After the glue dried, it was time to make it PRETTY!!!  Pretty to me, at least.  I already had a lot of paint on hand so I mixed some random colors together to get a sickly, partially-decomposed skin color.  Like I said – pretty.  I also mixed some red, black, and brown to get a realistic bloody color.  I slapped my paint mixtures on until I got the look I wanted and – VOILA! – severed head!

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Isn’t he beautiful?

My zombie head has served me quite well these past few Halloweens.  Another benefit from these foam heads is that you can stick them on pvc pipe or dowel rods to make a full-body prop, a head-on-a-stake, or something else equally cool.  I turned my severed head into full-body prop the first year.  You can see by the shirt in the pic above that he was quite stylish.

If you want a great creepy project, I recommend you try making yourself a severed head of your own.  You could make one for a Halloween prop.

Or it could be especially therapeutic if you make one to look like an enemy.  No judgment.  We’ve all been there.

You do you, man.

Coming Soon 2016

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Do any of you go through the ‘Coming Soon’ page of IMDB and get really excited about all the horror movies coming out?  I do, and this year is no exception.  This is what we have to look forward to:

MOVIE TITLERELEASE DATE
The Conjuring 2June 10
ClownJune 17
The ShallowsJune 24
The Neon DemonJune 24
The Purge: Election YearJuly 1
GhostbustersJuly 15
Lights OutJuly 22
Don't Breathe (AKA A Man in the Dark)August 26
Patient ZeroSeptember 2
Before I WakeSeptember 9
When the Bough BreaksSeptember 16
DeliriumSeptember 30
Underworld 5October 14
Ouija: Origin of EvilOctober 21
Boo! A Madea HalloweenOctober 21
RingsOctober 28
The Strangers 2December 2
Bye Bye ManDecember 9

I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited for The Darkness, Conjuring 2, Lights Out, and Rings.  I believe I screamed a little when I found out a new Ring movie was on the way.  Here’s hoping it’s a lot better than the second one.

Also, if you haven’t seen the movie short of  Lights Out, I highly recommend you click the link and check it out.  Go ahead.  Do it now. I’ll wait here while you do.

Did you love it?  Yeah. Thought you might.

Break out the popcorn.  I’m ready for the movies.

It Begins

I am a horror fan.  If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are, too.

FreeImages.com/AnnaGrist
FreeImages.com/AnnaGrist

I started this blog because I love to write, and as the saying goes, write what you know.  I love scary movies, scary books, creepy history, horror survival video games, urban legends, cryptozoology, haunted houses, creepy crafts, and – most importantly (to me anyway) – Halloween.  I also collect anything with a skull on it and keep a skeleton in my backseat.  No, it’s not a statement on the importance of wearing seatbelts.  It just makes me smile.  And it gives me someone to talk to when I’m driving alone.

So, basically, I live and breathe horror. It’s what I love. It’s what I know.

I plan on posting at least twice a week to start. But who knows?  Mr. Muse could attack at any moment.  My topics will include:

Movie Reviews: Um, yeah.  It’s a horror blog.  What did you expect?

Halloween: So I’m a little obsessed with Halloween.  I plan for it all year long.  I’ll review local haunted houses, Halloween merchandise, special events, and any other Halloween-related topics that might pop up.

Lists: I’m pretty OCD (self-diagnosed), so lists are one of my favorite things. What kinds of lists, you may ask?  One day I might rank my favorite zombie movies and then post a list of my favorite creepy video game villains the next.

DIY Creepy Crafts:  I love being creative, and because my love of all things horror-related is pretty severe, I do a lot of creepy little crafts.  One of my biggest projects is a haunted dollhouse (that used to have its own blog – very short-lived).  I’ll post updates and pictures of the dollhouse as well as Halloween projects I’m working on.

Other Topics: I’ll also discuss creepy history, scary websites, video games, books, cryptozoology, urban legends, etc…  I get distracted easily, so I don’t want to limit myself to one subject.

I’m excited to get started.  I hope you enjoy my blog!