Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's Halloween Time!!!!

     Ever since I was a little girl I have loved Halloween.  I loved dressing up and watching all of the houses in my neighborhood put out pumpkins and other wonderfully dark decorations, and to listen to ghost stories.  These stories that are usually only told around Halloween have always fascinated me.  Some of my favorites came from "Scary Stories to tell in the Dark" by Alvin Schwatz.  He actually wrote three books, all filled with chilling stories and equally hair raising drawings by Stephen Gammell.  Ghouls, Goblins, and Ghosts Oh My!!!  Each story, in my eyes, was even better than the last.  (Don't take my word for it... Get one of the books and read for yourself.  If you dare!!)  Another classic tale is "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving.  The Headless Horseman was an intriguing character to me.  Then, there was the Trick-Or-Treating! This was a Halloween tradition that I couldn't wait to get started on.  But who didn't love that as a child?!  I would get home from a fun day of parades and parties at school, have some dinner with my parents, get my costume on, and head out for some candy.  In that one night, I was guaranteed to come home with more candy than I had seen the whole year.  Afterwards, I would sit up and sort through the candy with my sister and parents. Making sure that everything was wrapped properly and tossing a few pieces my parents way. Halloween has always been a wonderful family holiday.  Every year I looked forward to Halloween, and each year Halloween seemed more magical than the last. 
     Growing up in Pennsylvania, fall was already a truly magical time.  The leaves on the trees changing  color and you could just feel the change in the air.  Even now, being in California you can feel the weather changing.  The days begin to take on a different feel, and though it's much subtler here, the fall is still noticeable all around you.  However, on Halloween everything seems to come alive.  The nights seem darker, the trees seem to grow over night, reaching out to you as you pass by them.  And the air itself becomes crisper and fills with the sweet smells of wood fires and pies baking.  Some of my fondest memories are of walking the streets with my family, feeling the cool air against my face and looking out into the shadows with the curiosity of a child in a toy store.  For me, feelings and moments like this are caught, suspended in time, within some of our most classic horror movies.  Though there are many horror movies out there for everyone to indulge in and claim as our favorites, for me it's Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and Bram Stoker's "Dracula".
     These movies, as well as their novels, have always had a special place in my heart.  To me they are classic, dark, gothic, and absolutely wonderful.  "Interview with the Vampire" by Ann Rice is also both a fantastic novel and movie.  I was happy and truly surprised at how well all of these movies so closely followed the novels they are based upon.  This is not something that I come across very often and I find to be a real treat. Another movie that falls into this list is "The Stand" by Stephen King.  Out of all of his fantastic novels turned movies, this is one of my favorites.  It is an extremely long movie - about four hours - but one that is definitely worth seeing.  "The Stand" is filled with a great collection of talented actors/actresses, a fantastic plot line, and a dark feel that only comes with the masterful story telling talent of Stephen King.

     Halloween also brings about memories of carving pumpkins, telling ghost stories around a dimly lit flashlight, and lots and lots of good times.  Recently we have taken to going to a local corn maze each year.  Walking through the maze at night, shivering in the cool air, we would constantly be watching the corn stalks towering above our heads.  They seem to dwarf everything around them, making us feel small in comparison.  Take all of that, add in a touch of wind, and you have the makings of a good Halloween story.  It's here though, wondering through the maze at night, that I realized nothing can scare a person more than their own imagination.  For all the ghost stories I've read, and horror movies I've watched, nothing gets me more than my own mind.  I'm always in this kind of mind set, which is why I not only love all things horror, but it's why I would love nothing more than to be an author.  Halloween has never been just another holiday to me.  It is a day to keep ones mind a little more open to the possibilities the darkness offers around us.  A day to delve, if only just a little more, into the shadowy corners of our imagination. 

HaPpY HaLlOwEeN!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Another Paranormal Activity!?!

     I had the privilege a couple of years ago to see the original film festival version of Paranormal Activity.  It was written and directed by Oren Peli as an independent film, and shown on a big screen for the first time at a film festival in 2007.  I borrowed the DVD from a friend and was able to watch it with my boyfriend , curled up and cozy on the couch.  What struck me first was the way it was filmed.  It had a very personal feel and was like watching someone's homemade movie.  After having some time to get to know the happy couple, the suspense starts to build. Strange things happen during the night, and it all seems to be centered around the girlfriend, Katie, played by Katie Featherston.  With the boyfriend, Micah, played by Micah Sloat, trying to catch the activity on a handheld Sony camcorder.  By the end of the movie both my boyfriend and I were hiding our heads every time night time hit, nervous of what we'd see next.

     For those of you out there that have only seen the Paramount version, just know that the only notable difference between the Independent and Hollywood film versions is the ending.  However, it was a big enough difference to cause my boyfriend and I to pause. We felt the original ending was much more suspenseful and couldn't figure out why it had been changed, but the reason for the change was quickly made apparent when we heard a sequel was being released, done in true Hollywood style. Leaving the end of the first movie open as they did, was the only way to lead in to a second movie.

     Paranormal Activity 2 was directed by Tod Williams, written by Michael R. Perry, and was released to the public in October 2010.  After seeing the second movie I was impressed.  I don't usually have high hopes for sequels, but this one proved me wrong.  It was actually not a true sequel however, for the events of the 2nd film were happening during the events of the first.  This might seem confusing to some but for the movies, it worked.  They also kept the main actors from the first film, which as a viewer makes me extremely happy.  Added to the already dynamic duo from the first film was Katie's sister, Kristi (played by Sprague Grayden), Kristi's boyfriend, Dan (played by Brian Boland), Dan's infant son, Hunter, and the family house keeper/nanny, Martine (played by Vivis Cortez).  It had all of the suspense and filming allure of the first one; leaving us shaking and wanting more at the end.  Ask and you shall receive!! 

     Paranormal Activity 3 was directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman and released in October 2011.  This one is a prequel to the first and second movie.  Taking us back to when Kristi and Katie were young and were first introduced to the demon that follows them throughout their adult years. I was truly looking forward to this movie.  I thought it would not only answer a lot of questions stemming from the first two films, but it seemed like it would make a great addition to the Paranormal Activity world.  As it turns out however, by the end of the movie I was extremely disappointed.  Not only did the movie not live up to the hype or my extremely high hopes, it also didn't follow the events mentioned in the previous two movies, and it ended with it all being about witchcraft. That was a little too cliche for my taste, so I ended up walking out feeling extremely let down.
     Now here we are, five years since the original Paranormal Activity was first released, and Hollywood is gracing us with a fourth film.  This one is directed by the same people that made Paranormal Activity 3, and is set to be released today in a theater near you. I don't really know what to make of this one.  After seeing the previews for it I do feel there may be hope.  They still hold true to the original shooting style and it brings Katie (the main character from the first film and supporting actress in the second) back to the lime light. While I am still a little raw from the disappointment with the third film, as I'm sure many viewers out there are as well, I will still go see this one with an open mind.  Lets hope they don't let us down.         

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hello To The Blogger World

I have never really put much thought into blogging. I have quite a few friends who love blogging. They find it to not only be therapeutic but also highly rewarding. Several months ago I created a profile on here to show support for my friends, but I never put much thought into actually using the site. It wasn't until a few weeks ago, while chatting with a coworker, that I realized the potential that the blogging world had. You should know that I have always wanted to be a writer, and my dream is to someday walk into a Barnes And Noble store (only my favorite store out there) and have a book of mine sitting on the shelf for new authors. So when I started talking to my coworker about my dreams for the future, he told me to look into blogging. At first I didn't see how it would help, but he convinced me that this would be a way to not only sharpen my writing skills, but also to reach out and get some outside inspiration and guidance. So, here I am! Starting to get my thoughts down on paper and have my voice heard. I can't promise that all you read will make sense, but I will promise you that things will be entertaining and maybe even a little dramatic (who doesn't love the What I enjoy writing about is extremely varied, but each topic is important to me in one way or another. It will just be nice to work on my writing and maybe make a few friends along the way.