What to Watch this Halloween Part 1

halloween

There’s no better night to get comfy on the couch with delicious treats and a stack of spooky films than Halloween. Here’s a list of some ideas for this October 31st.

Hocus Pocus

hocus pocusNot the scariest, but it’s enchanting and darn good fun. The Sanderson Sisters (Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy) are hanged in 1693 for murdering a child. Fast forward three hundred years and some kids bring them back to life when virgin, Omri Katz lights the black flame candle. A night of high jinks ensues. The costumes are stunning, the atmosphere spooky, and we get some fun musical numbers. One of my favourite movies of all time.

From Winifred Sanderson: “On all Hallows Eve when the moon is round, a virgin will summon us from under the ground. We shall be back, and the lives of all the children of Salem shall be ours.”

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Buffy

Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer_title_cardAny episode will do, but I suggest wading through the options until you find the Halloween episodes. First up is the imaginatively titled season 2 episode Halloween. When evil sorcerer, Ethan, casts a spell on Halloween that makes all kids become the costume they’re wearing, all hell breaks loose in Sunnydale. Seeing Buffy as a helpless lady of leisure from the past, Xander in soldier mode and ghostly Willow take charge is entertaining every time. In the Season 4 episode, Fear, Itself Buffy and the gang attend a Halloween party at college that turns into a house of horrors. Waiting for them in the attic is the cutest monster the Buffyverse has ever produced, an Irish fear demon. What will Buffy do to this little beast?

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Ginger Snaps

gingerThis Canadian film is wickedly gross and lots of fun. Fifteen year old Goth sisters, Ginger and Brigitte, are the misfits of their high school.  They strive to be different and are obsessed with darkness and death, making a pact, “dead by sixteen”. Nothing much happens in the sleepy (a.k.a. boring) suburb of Bailey Downs until one night Ginger is attacked by a rabid dog under a full moon and it’s not long before her imminent werewolf status starts to ruin her life. I loved this dark comedy when it first came out and it still holds up today. It’s tongue-in-cheek, clever and gross out violent in some parts.

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The Conjuring

conjuringYou have to watch at least one haunted house movie on Halloween. I’d like to suggest The Conjuring. Set in the 70s, the story follows a young family who move into their dream home and soon learn they are not alone. They hear knocking at night: three sharp raps in quick succession, photo frames fall off the walls and the children find their bed covers drawn off them at night. Creepy!

The Conjuring has a great cast including Lily Taylor and Vera Farmiga and provides several genuine scares. The uneasy atmosphere will keep you on edge from the opening moments when we’re introduced to the scary-looking doll Annabelle. Annabelle, the movie, is actually out in cinemas right now. Anyone fancy going to see that one with me? ;)

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The Skeleton Key

skeleton keyWho’s up for some voodoo or hoodoo magic this Halloween?

Well, look no further than the bayous of southern Louisiana. When Kate Hudson moves into a big plantation house by the swamps to take care of Gina Rowland’s elderly husband, she’s not expecting to hear tales of ghosts in the house and the powers of hoodoo. She’s a firm skeptic and won’t be taken in by such nonsense… Until she is.

Spooky and haunting, and set in the backwaters of Louisiana, you can’t beat the eerie atmosphere of this movie. The setting is also a major plus.

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Next week, I’m got some vampires, witches and more monsters coming up. What will you be watching on Halloween? Leave your suggestions for Halloween movies in the comments.

I’ll leave you with the trailer for Hocus Pocus.

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It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark… It’s Halloween Time

Given the month that’s in it, I thought I’d write a few spooky posts in the run up to Halloween. Today, I’m going to talk about an eerie place in the city where I live. The Old Cork City Gaol.

cork city gaol 2

Photo from Cork City Gaol’s facebook page

The imposing jail opened in 1824 and closed in 1923. Men, women and children were held imprisoned and some were later transported to Australia. In the early 20th century, political prisoners were kept here during the Irish Civil War.

Last year on Cork Culture Night, the one night of the year where almost every heritage site, tourist spot and attraction in Cork opens up to the public for free, I ventured up to The Old Gaol in Sunday’s Well. I’d been there on a few occasions during my childhood, always during the day, and roamed about the corridors and cells either with friends or at my own pace listening to the audio guide. At night, it was quite a different experience.

We got there late enough, close to ten o’ clock as far as I can remember, and weren’t even sure we’d find it still open. But it was. A group of perhaps fifty to sixty people stood huddled close together outside the closed doors. In the dark, surrounded by such an old building with barred windows and turrets, goosebumps broke out on my arms. The atmosphere was one of eager anticipation. A staff member came out, an American lady, and said she was willing to do one last tour, despite the late hour, given the festival night that was in it.

cork city gaol

Photo from Cork City Gaol facebook page

So we lined up and entered and were taken from cell to cell, peering at the creepy wax figures of men, women and children, malnourished, half starved, some of them in jail for simply stealing a loaf of bread to feed themselves, listening to the stories of hardship, the hangings, the transportation of the so called criminals to Australia, and even some tidbits about the prisoners themselves. We saw the scribbled hand writing (now protected behind glass walls), of the prisoners, announcing “James was here 1912″ and so on. Most of the jail is closed off, but there is one corridor you can peer down and see the ghostly apparition of a young girl in a white dress with her back to you. This hologram terrified me when I first noticed it as a child, but even as an adult I was aware of a chill running down my spine.

I can’t say I felt any ghostly activity, but given the suffering that went on, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of the place being haunted.

gaol dayLast weekend, I hopped on board the Cork City open-top tour bus and saw my hometown from a different perspective. We passed the Gaol in broad daylight and I took a few snaps.

gaol outside view

view of Cork City from outside the Gaol.

gaol day 2If you ever get to Cork, I’d recommend a trip to The Old Cork City Gaol. You can find out more at corkcitygaol.com

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Is this a place you’d like to visit? Do you know of any possibly haunted places where you live?

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Fan Videos

I’ve long been a fan of fan videos. People who love a character or a TV show or a fictional pairing so much, they go and make their own mini movie and upload them to YouTube. A fan made video is how I first stumbled upon the Twilight books years ago. I’ve chosen a couple of videos/songs to share this Friday.

Oz. I watched this gritty, dark and disturbing prison drama when I was in school. It aired late at night, sometimes even the early hours of the morning, so I caught it when I could. It stuck with me, though, and recently I went back and watched all six seasons. Searching “Oz” in YouTube led me to Radiohead’s “All I Need”, focusing on Ryan O’ Reily and Dr. Gloria Nathan. O’ Reily was one of my favourite characters on the show. Intelligent, sneaky and dangerous, he orchestrated the murders of many of his inmates without getting his own hands bloody. He was charming, part of the Irish gang and fell in love with the prison’s doctor. Radiohead have a knack for producing moody, introspective and seductive songs and “All I Need” is a good example.

Roswell. While Liz and Max weren’t my favourite couple from Roswell – that would have to be Michael and Maria who were miles more fun – I like this video and song.

 

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Do you ever watch fan videos on YouTube? If so,share a link in the comments.

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Cover Reveal Shinigami Eyes

I’m part of the Dark World Books cover reveal team for Cheree and Adam Smith’s Shinigami Eyes. Find details about the story and the authors below. The blood spatter against the simple black and white design gives me chills.

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ShinigamiEyes-Cover_PrintReveal

(Shinigami Eyes #1)
Most children hope to grow out of their imaginary friends.

17-year-old Rin Waters’ only hope is that hers doesn’t kill someone, especially when said imaginary friend puts a boy in a coma. Finding herself shipped half-way around the world—to Japan, of all places—she is forced to live with grandparents she hasn’t seen for ten years and a cousin she can’t even remember.
Rin would rather just forget about the one night that ruined her life and pretend her imaginary friend doesn’t exist—if it was only that easy. When manga-obsessed otaku, Matt, won’t stop pestering her about a manga that sees the future and the tragic accident she’ll be involved in if she doesn’t listen to him, pretending becomes quite a challenge.
Suddenly mysterious accidents begin to happen to students in her school, and Rin has to wonder what length Matt is willing to go to prove his manga is real. Is it all a sham or is there really something that wants to see Rin and her new friends dead?
Coming October 31st, 2014
Add Shinigami Eyes to your Goodreads list!

Cheree Smith
Cheree Smith lives in the coastal city of Newcastle in Australia where she is studying graphics design and photography. When she is not hard at study, she is busy writing paranormal, horror and dark stories for young adults. She enjoys listening to and learning about legends and myths, watching scary movies and dreaming up new worlds where monsters can come alive. When she is not in her writing cave she can be found listening to music, even dabbling in the occasional writing of music or reading.
Website BlogTwitter Facebook Goodreads

Adam Smith
Adam Smith has always loved the Japanese culture, which began with his love of anime and manga. This helped him accomplish his goal of moving to Japan to become an ALT (assistant language teacher) in Iwate, Japan. When he’s not reading, writing or speaking Japanese, he is working on paranormal, horror and dark stories for young adults with his sister, Cheree.
Goodreads

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Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (A sweeping epic tale that crosses centuries and genres)

If someone asked me what genre Outlander belonged to, I’d have trouble answering. Historical fiction, of course, with a strong romantic relationship at its heart, yet also fits into the fantasy and supernatural genre with a touch of science-fiction. Whatever the genre, all I can tell you is I found Outlander to be an epic tale that swept me along for the ride.

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The year is 1945. The war is over and Claire Randall has been reunited with her husband, Frank. She spent the past number of years as a combat nurse in France while Frank worked for M16. They go on a second honeymoon to Scotland, a chance to get to know each other all over again. There, Claire wanders up to the circle of standing stones and presses her hand to one of them. Her world tilts and she awakens in the same spot, some two hundred years in the past. How will she get back to her husband? How will she convince the Scots she isn’t an English spy? How will she manage in the year 1743?

Wow. I’ve fallen fast and hard in love with this book and I can’t wait to dive into the next one. I’m not sure how I would have survived reaching the last page if I hadn’t known there were a further seven books in the series! I don’t often give a book five stars, but with Outlander, I wish I could give more. It swept me up and tore my emotions apart. I loved Claire and Jamie and their relationship. Jamie is my new book boyfriend. :) He’s courageous, handsome, more forward thinking than most men of his time, and he loves Claire completely. And of course he’s also got that swoon-worthy Scottish accent! And he wears a kilt!!! Claire herself is a formidable heroine. She copes a hell of a lot better in the eighteenth century than I could ever imagine I would. She’s resilient, brave and strong, a force to be reckoned with. I am still shaking my head wondering how this book escaped my attention. It was published in 1991 and I cannot understand why I hadn’t heard of it previously.

This story contains romance, but it’s not a traditional romance. Romance books for me are the journey of a man and woman falling in love and getting together, and the book usually ends with “and they lived happily ever after”. Yes, Jamie and Claire are forced to get married and be together, but this story spans beyond that. For readers who aren’t too much into romance, note Outlander is a historical fiction piece. Want to know what life was like in the Highlands of Scotland in mid eighteenth century? Look no further. Given the time period, there is much brutality in this novel and the threat of violence and rape permeates through many of the pages, a word of warning…

I read the book on my Kindle and it was long. A quick Google search and it’s apparently 850 pages, and even at that length, I wanted more. Outlander now goes in my top ten favourite books of all time.

Check it out on Goodreads & Amazon.

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Have you read this? I’d love to know what your thoughts on this book are.

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