Thursday, November 26, 2009

You'll Come Home for the Holidays...In A Body Bag.

Happy Turkey Day to my fellow Americans! (I don't actually eat turkey myself, but I'm definitely looking forward to gorging on scrumptious side dishes.) In honor of the holiday, please enjoy this faux trailer for the sickest, most twisted Thanksgiving-themed slasher flick never made...Eli Roth's Thanksgiving.

White meat, dark meat...all will be carved.

Friday, November 13, 2009

TONIGHT: Spirits With Spirits at La Golondrina Cafe

It's Friday the 13th! Don't you want to celebrate by doing something a little more adventurous than spending the night with Jason Voorhees? Yeah? Then allow me to remind you that, on the 13th day of each month, LA's very own ghost hunting group meets at a haunted bar or restaurant in order to discuss the paranormal - and tonight is no exception. Join the GHOULA get-together at La Golondrina Cafe on historic Olvera Street for an evening that's sure to offer some intriguing insights into Los Angeles history...if not a few spirit sightings. (Unfortunately, a prior engagement means that I'll probably be a no show at this meeting, so have a margarita for me!)

Here are the details, from the GHOULA website:

Note: The management has agreed to allow our group into the (normally closed to the public) haunted area of this historic restaurant. So, come out and experience this rare opportunity to go inside one of the city's oldest buildings.

THE DATE: November 13th, 2009 (Friday the 13th!)
THE PLACE: La Golondrina Cafe
(17 West Olvera Street, Los Angeles) map
THE TIME: 7:00pm to 9:30pm (closing time)


In 1885, Guiseppi Covaccichi built his home and winery next to an alley that at the time was known as "Vine Street" (or sometimes "Wine Street"), because of all the other wineries in the immediate area. Despite this fact, that modest home is for some strange reason today known as the Pelanconi House (who was one of many in a string of former owners), and the dingy alley was also mysteriously renamed after one of the other families in the area to "Olvera Street." Although these reasons may have been lost to history, thankfully the house and street were not. This is largely due to a local activist, Mrs. Christine Sterling, who in the 1920's made it her mission to preserve the Alvila Adobe (the city's oldest adobe structure) and the Pelanconi house (the city's oldest brick structure) for future generations and to turn the decaying slums known as Olvera Street into "The Mexican Street of Yesterday in the City of Today." As part of her plan, she convinced a local businesswoman, Senora Consuelo de Bonza, to move her popular eatery into the old Pelanconi House (and the adjoining warehouse). After cleaning, renovating, and blessing ("to remove the evil spirits"), La Golondrina reopened its doors to the public in 1930. Not only is it the oldest business on Olvera Street today, but it also holds the distinction of being the first place in Los Angeles to serve "Mexican" food (as opposed to "Spanish").

Although Senora Consuelo de Bonza is no longer with us, her portrait still hangs in the dining room, and some say her spirit still remains as well. In addition to the sounds of disembodied footsteps trailing throughout the empty restaurant, witnesses have claimed to see a woman (sometimes described as young) dressed in a white gown floating up the stairs to the "third" floor (originally the second floor), as well as inside the private offices on that floor. Even though this apparition is generally believed to be Senora de Bonza, it is quite possible the ghost could be a member of one of the many families that resided in this home over the years, since these offices are where the house's bedrooms were once located. It is also worth mentioning that the canal (known as the "mother ditch") that brought water to this cluster of buildings and farms from the Los Angeles River ran very close to this house and would surely have been visible back then from one of the upstairs windows. Although, this waterway in many ways represented life to this community, sometimes it also represented death. It was not uncommon in our city's early (wild west) days for murdered bodies to be disposed of in that ditch, or for drunken souls to meet their accidental end there. Perhaps this "woman in white" is connected to a long ago unsolved murder (or accidental death), as a victim or one who mourns for a lover who met his demise in the dark muddy waters that rolled past this former haunted house.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Spooky Hiatus: NaNoWriMo

So you may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet over here. But wait, I have an excuse! On a complete whim, I signed myself up for NaNoWriMo on Halloween - which means that I have to write a 50,000 word novel by the end of this month. Of course, I'm not planning to take a full-fledged break from this blog for the entire month of November, but if my posts are a bit scarce, keep in mind that I'm writing my brains out. To wit:

This is where I work. My typewriter looks so innocuous, does it not? And yes, I smoke Marlboro Reds. Doesn't everyone?

Of course, my manuscript gets a little repetitive at times, but I have to make that 50,000 word quota by midnight on November 30th! Give me a break!

Okay, at this point I am looking a little psychotically comatose, but it's all part of the process!

And yes, I fully expect to be doing this by the end of the month. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 2, 2009


October has passed, and that can only mean one thing: If you're still reading this blog, you're no Johnny-come-lately to horror and Halloween; like me, you're a lifer. So while we can all bow our heads in a moment of silence for our dearly departed Halloween season, which is sure to rise again in a mere 363 days or so, I have good news for you: There is a fantastic new scary movie for you to seek out - and no, it's not Paranormal Activity, which I'm sure you've already seen (and formed your own opinions about). This one is somewhat more obscure, but - in my estimation - even more effective at generating those atmospheric, slow build scares. It's called The House of the Devil.

Last week, I read an article in the L.A. Times that described this film as the kind that "transforms the mundane into the macabre, and when...[it] finally takes a step into the supernatural, it comes as even more of a shock because of the muted atmosphere that precedes it." This is exactly how I like my scary movies: Long on atmosphere, short on cheap thrills, and painstakingly paced. From the very first frame, I had a feeling I would love it. To begin, it's set in the early 80s, but not in the spoofy, played-for-laffs way that most movies set in the 80s present the decade; no one is dressed like Pat Benatar or wearing garish neon colors. Instead, the colors are muted, the hair is softly feathered, and the jeans are high-waisted - in other words, authentic. The protagonist is a reserved, thoughtful college girl named Samantha, as portrayed by Jocelin Donahue, who calls to mind a young Margot Kidder far more than she evokes overly toned and styled modern-day starlets like Jessica Biel.

We learn that Samantha desperately wants to move out of her dorm and into an apartment of her own, but she doesn't have enough money for the first month's rent, and there are few available job prospects. Then she is presented with an intriguing opportunity to babysit for an eccentric couple in a sprawling Victorian mansion in the country. Despite her reservations about the creepiness of her employers and their shady bait-and-switch when it comes to the particulars of the job, Samantha accepts - and that's when the real fun begins.

If you're looking for an action-oriented horror flick, stay away from this one; about three quarters of the movie is spent entirely on building anticipation and heaping on the tension. When is the axe going to fall? When are the Satanic rituals going to start? What's with the lunar eclipse that everyone keeps mentioning?! From the opening credits to the lingering closing shot (and even the promotional posters that I found online!), everything about this movie is eerie, unsettling and meticulously true to the period without crossing the line into camp. If you fetishize late 70s/early 80s horror movies as much as I do, this is a must-see. Director Ti West knows his shit when it comes to the era - and I can say that this is easily my favorite new horror film of the year so far.

The House of the Devil is currently in theaters in limited release, in addition to being available for viewing OnDemand.


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