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Halloween Guide and Ideas


Halloween Guide and Ideas



For years now, the ever growing genre of so called "Found Footage or Film" movies and "Horror Reality" shows have been invading our lives. While some of them are actually good, most are not. Starting back the 1980's with Cannibal Holocaust and making a resurgence in 1999 with "The Blair Witch Project",  the story of three student filmmakers Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, and Joshua Leonard, who disappeared while hiking in the Black Hills near Burkittsville, Maryland in 1994 to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch), they seem to have become very popular. Next came "The St. Fancisville Experiment"  in 2000,  which chronicles a group of paranormal investigators who are given video cameras and locked into a supposedly haunted house for the night, an old plantation house located in Louisiana that belonged to a notoriously sadistic family.

The phenomena of "found footage" films has grown over the years to spawn many franchises for each movie.  Some of the better known movies include the "Paranormal Activity" series, "Grave Encounters 1 & 2",  "Cloverfield", "Chronicle",  "Quarantine", "8213: Gacey House", "REC", "The Last Exorcism", "Devil's Due", and countless others. Not only in the U.S. are these films being made but they are popping up coming from many other countries as well, especially the U.K., Asia and Australia.

They all have the basic components: a group of people just all happen to have hand held video cameras or smart phones and are either looking for trouble or it just finds them and they record it all before every last one of them disappear leaving nothing but the filmed evidence. Most of them are shot from a  jerky, hand held P.O.V., for instance, "The Blair Witch Project", which was so jerky that it made many people motion sick while watching, the acting alone was enough to do that. I wanted them all dead half way through the movie. Unfortunately, 90% of them are pretty lame, leaving a choice few to be truly frightening even though you know that it's just a movie.  Face it, there is no such thing as "Found Footage" films except in the minds of Hollywood screen writers.

To us, Blair Witch was a huge waste of time except for the last 3 minutes. I don't find listening to three supposed friends whine, cry and argue for what seemed like an eternity all that entertaining but the last 3 minutes were actually creepy. "Grave Encounters" was one we really liked with exceptionally creepy special effects. You actually did feel like you were watching things happen that they couldn't see or hadn't seen yet and when the frights set in, they were good ones. The claustrophobic surroundings, the frustration of the group as strange things started to happen, the oh-so-obvious fake ghost hunters show that has suddenly taken a turn for the weird. To us, that's what made it good and then the SFX, the ghosts, the people screaming and disappearing, the hands sticking out of the walls, all stuff that would make a great haunted attraction, made it exciting. Unfortunately, they should have left well enough alone and forgotten the sequel which took place 9 years later and was terrible, it bombed at the box office with good reason.

The appeal of these movies is that anyone with a digital camera could make one. Of course, that doesn't mean that they should unless it's unique,  above all else, because it's all been done and done again. The "realness" of these films is what draws us in, I think. Some of them truly do look like found film, most are as fake as a "reality" show.  When you have a guy running in terror with his camera and he stops then you see a shot of him from the back and no one is supposed to be there except the killer it makes you wonder if the killer has a camera, too. In some cases they do, of course. Movies like "Area 407" (also known as "Tape 407") make you wonder just how many people are filming at any given time because EVERYTHING gets caught on camera.

You may have noticed the huge out pouring lately of TV. shows, especially on the Destination America Channel, which is owned by Time-Warner. Other channels that they own are putting out the same kind of shows as well. You have shows that we classify as reality shows and docu-dramas. "Monster Hunters", "Ghost Asylum", "Monsters Underground", "Amish Haunting", "Swamp Monsters", "Mountain Monsters" are all reality type shows and "A Haunting" and "Monsters & Mysteries" would fall into the docu-drama category. And yes, they are all on the same channel and for the most part, they all look about as "real" as a $3.00 bill.

Every one of these shows use the same basic format. There is a group of 5 or 6 people that set out in search of some local monster or haunting. They are somewhat well equipped with cameras, heat and cold sensing devices, infra-red glasses,  tape recorders for picking up ghostly voices or screaming monsters. They usually go out at night, into the woods or a haunted building. Oh! someone hears a noise! They hear the scream of the Saber Wolf or Skunk Ape or Bigfoot, whatever and you may or my not hear it as well. They hear cracking trees, see ghostly images, something tries to get into their tent or hiding spot but you never and I mean NEVER ever get to see anything at all.  These shows are so fake, it makes my head hurt! Just once I would love to actually see something, anything that lasted longer than two seconds and that we really got a good look at, not just some fleeting glance of a guy in a Big Foot suit running past a tree at night.  This also goes for the ghosts talking on tape, you can't hear it but for some reason audio tape or digital will pick it up. To, me, it never sounds like anything other than static or something that they mixed in post production.

While  these shows are entertaining, like watching pro wrestling, you know they aren't real. They give any show that may actually have some merit, such as A Haunting, which talks to real people and family members while actors re-enact the haunting of the persons home, bar, office, etc. no credibility at all. "A Haunting" is the one show in that line-up that has given me goose bumps and while it may be just as false as the rest of them, at least it has a scare factor that makes it seem real.  "Monsters & Mysteries" has this same format, they talk about urban legends and haunted places around the U.S. and talk to the actual person(s) that were involved in an unexplainable event. This series also left us with some fairly freaky moments that gave us the creeps.

There are other channels that have the same fare on them, SyFy has "Ghost Hunters", now in it's eleventh year, which I could never get past 5 minutes of but apparently people love, has both the Found Film and Horror Reality TV. aspects to it. Chiller Channel, which we love, has "Fear Factor", a show who's premise is a friend sets up another friend to have the crap totally scared out of them. Two problems. 1. If someone did that to me, even though I'd know it was fake I'd beat the crap out of said friend and 2. Even the supposed set up friend looks like they know what's happening. Just once I'd like to see some one pull a concealed weapon, freak out and start taking shots at everyone on the set. Now, that's Reality TV.! In the end you have to look at both as just another source of entertainment and not take them for what they say they are. No "Found Film" movie is real, we all know that although there are some very good ones out there. No "Horror Reality" show is any more real and,  if you can take the acting, just watch them and enjoy. After all, if someone came up to me and said "We'll pay you a bunch of money, give you all the equipment you need and you get to make a show about hunting crypto creatures or ghosts" I know I'd say "Hells Yeah!"

Article by Dawn de la Morte'


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