Archive for the Media Macabre Category

My thoughts on A Dark Song

Posted in Horror, Magick by Trial & Error, Media Macabre on May 19, 2017 by Occult Detective

a dark song

Liam Gavin has delivered an intense and atmospheric occult thriller that is, in a word, absolutely brilliant. Moody and claustrophobic, the tension escalates throughout, and with but two principle players, the stark tapestry woven between them is mesmerizing.

Catherine Walker and Steve Oram are wonderful in this. Walker’s vulnerability and pain are the linchpin to the story, while Oram’s performance perfectly captures so many occultists I’ve had run ins with.

a-dark-song

Evoking the Abramelin ritual, carefully constructed and acted, this is a movie about so much more than sorcery as the real magic lies in human emotion, raw and visceral. But magic abounds and is captivating and painful to watch as the drama unfolds.

It’s a beautiful and frightening picture, with a resolution that feels transcendent and important.

This is the second vibrant and exuberant esoteric film I’ve seen this year, the first being The Love Witch, a lustful and decadent camp, that was an utter delight. Now, with A Dark Song, we have a more tenebrous exploration of magical enterprise.

A really cannot recommend this picture highly enough.

Available via Vudu, Amazon, or iTunes

May the Fourth Be With You

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error, Media Macabre on May 4, 2017 by Occult Detective

MAY4TH

It’s hard to believe that in a few short weeks we’ll be celebrating Star Wars’ 40th Anniversary. I was a few months past my 11th birthday, the perfect age for what this little movie was offering. Star Wars, an homage to the serials of George Lucas’ youth, was everything to me then. I was Luke, a kid living on a small farm, dreaming of adventures in far off lands, believing fervently in an ancient, mystical power that surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together. Forty years later, I still do.

Star Wars was a near perfect movie. All these years later, I see each subsequent film attempt to strip just a little bit of magic from the original, the one whose opening scrawl did not begin with the words “Episode Four: A New Hope”.

But try as they might, they can never rob from me that feeling that washed over me, sitting on the aisle seat, far right of the theatre in the front row, planted next to some old woman whom I didn’t know.

It was my coming of age in a lot of ways. It was the first movie I saw by myself. No parents. No friends. I was dropped off at the theatre to stand in an impossibly long line, and by the gods, I was by shear luck (or providence) the last person admitted into the theatre. I was scared, to be honest, being alone in a strange city and unaccompanied by any sort of supervision, but once the movie started and John Williams’ score carried me away… I wasn’t alone, or frightened… I was transfixed and amazed and reborn.

For many people in my generation, Star Wars was a defining moment, and though for most of us that magical experience is a distant memory, I can’t help but think its transformative effect is still with us now.

Ignoring everything that came after, clinging to the memory of that first glimpse into that universe, I can still let go of my conscious self and act on instinct. I can still feel the Force flowing through me.

Happy Star Wars Day. May the Force be with you… always.

Pick a film for every year you’ve been alive?

Posted in Media Macabre on March 21, 2017 by Occult Detective

I’ve decided to take the “Pick a film for every year you’ve been alive” Challenge and to be honest, this was a lot tougher than I thought it would be. Some years were near impossible to narrow down to a single film, especially in the 80s.

movies

Anyway, off we go, 50 years of moviedom.

1966 — Dracula, Prince of Darkness
1967 — You Only Live Twice
1968 — The Devil Rides Out
1969 — Legend of the Witches
1970 —  The Dunwich Horror
1971 — The Omega Man
1972 — The Night Stalker
1973 — The Exorcist
1974 — Chinatown
1975 — Jaws
1976 — Logan’s Run
1977 — Star Wars
1978 — Halloween
1979 — Alien
1980 — Somewhere in Time
1981 — Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 — Blade Runner
1983 — Eddie and the Cruisers
1984 — Dune
1985 — Remo Williams: The Legend Begins
1986 — Highlander
1987 — Angel Heart
1988 — Alien Nation
1989 — Road House
1990 — The Exorcist III
1991 — The Fisher King
1992 — The Last of the Mohicans
1993 — Tombstone
1994 — The Crow
1995 — Seven
1996 — From Dusk till Dawn
1997 — The Devil’s Advocate
1998 — Saving Private Ryan
1999 — The 13th Warrior
2000 — Unbreakable
2001 — The Others
2002 — Bubba Ho-Tep
2003 — The Last Samurai
2004 — Hellboy
2005 — Serenity
2006 — The Prestige
2007 — 1408
2008 — The Spiderwick Chronicles
2009 — Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince
2010 — Shutter Island
2011 — Thor
2012 — Prometheus
2013 — Odd Thomas
2014 — Edge of Tomorrow
2015 — The Martian
2016 — Doctor Strange

Happy Anniversary, Buffy

Posted in Media Macabre, Occult Detectives on March 10, 2017 by Occult Detective

BuffyCast-S1_(1)

Has it really been 20 years since Buffy the Vampire Slayer debuted on the WB?

How an unsuccessful early 90s movie became a smash-hit late 90s television series is some sort of esoteric alchemy that can not rightly be explained. Against all odds, Buffy conquered the small screen with a largely unknown cast spouting witty, irreverent, and sardonic dialogue.

The Scooby Gang, as they were so aptly called, were not us… they were who most of us wished we were.

Buffy was, without question, ground breaking television and, arguably, one of the finest modern depictions of the occult detective genre.

Joss_and_sarah_on_set

Fedoras off to Joss Whedon and the entire cast, crew, writers, and directors that helped turn Buffy into something more than just a tv show. Does it hold up after 20 years? Yeah, mostly. Oh, there are a few chinks in the armor, here and there, but the heart remains, even if there is a stake plunged into it.

My Favourite Movies of 2016

Posted in Media Macabre on December 31, 2016 by Occult Detective

Another year comes to a close. I saw far fewer movies this year than normal, and they are very genre heavy. I’m sure I missed out on some great films, and one in particular, The Love Witch, is on my must-see list just as soon as it’s available for purchase.

Let’s have a look —

10: Warcraft

This movie got a lot of hate, but I enjoyed it over-all. It would have ranked higher but the ending really left a sour taste in my mouth.

09: The Witch

Nice, suspenseful period piece that was visually stunning. A little light on the scares, and I think it could have gone a bit farther, but it was a beautiful film.

08: The Invitation

This movie was just bloody dripping with tension throughout, and when it finally exploded — wow, what an unexpected, and very violent, twist.

07: The Nice Guys

My friend Doug pressured me to watch this and I’m glad he did. It was easily the funniest movie I saw all year, with terrific performances from the entire cast. The 70s never looked so good.

06: The Legend of Tarzan

Easily the most gorgeous movie I saw. As a huge fan of Tarzan, I loved the story and thought it really captured the feel of Burroughs’ most famous creation. Cast a different Tarzan and Williams and this could have been my number two.

05: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

In a welcome return to Rowlings’ Wizarding World, this movie was hit or miss, but I was enamoured and glamoured by the possibilities Fantastic Beasts presented. I think future installments need some refinement, but overall a thrilling new franchise addition.

04: Captain America: Civil War

Marvel continues to deliver. With as many characters as this movie showcased, they did a fantastic job of keeping all the pieces moving.

03: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This movie ranks as high as it does because of the Third Act. Acts One and Two were uneven, but the end was a fantastic culmination of what I had hoped for.

02: Suicide Squad

Wow, this movie irritated a lot of people. Not me. The soundtrack popped, Harley Quinn and Deadshot were slick, and hey even Batman was cool. I think the plot would have made for a better Justice League Dark movie, but I thought it was killer and easily the best modern DC movie to date.

01: Doctor Strange

doctor-strange-teaser-poster

Doctor Strange is arguably my favorite movie of all time. It pushed all the right buttons. Sure, there were a couple of sour jokes, but I can live with that. What it delivered was mind-bending special effects and the most resonating depiction of magic on screen I’ve ever seen. And the end, seeing a ‘super-hero’ defeat the Big Bad by using brains over brawn, was exactly what the Doctor ordered.

So there you have it, my Top 10 Films of 2016. I don’t expect many to agree with them and that’s okay. I look forward to reading your own lists.

May the Force be with you…always.

Posted in Media Macabre on December 27, 2016 by Occult Detective

leia3

Carrie Fisher
(October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016)

I wanted to write something poignant about the passing of Carrie Fisher, but it’s too fresh, I guess. Star Wars was, for my generation, a life-altering event. It defined most all of us in ways few can truly understand. Carrie Fisher embodied the beautiful but independent modern woman. She was no mere damsel in distress as we’d previously been reared on. She was tough as nails and a leader of men. I hope she realized just how special she was…

Farewell, Leia Organa. You will be sorely missed…

A few thoughts on Rogue One (Spoilers)

Posted in Media Macabre on December 21, 2016 by Occult Detective

rrogue-one

Kim, Connor, and I finally made it to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The general consensus by fans and reviewers has been extremely positive. I don’t think I can really argue that point.

Rogue One was, first and foremost, entertaining, at least as a war movie. My wife wasn’t interested at all. She felt there was no emotional hook, and on that, I agree. But as an action movie, and as a piece of nostalgia, it worked.

FOREWARNED — HERE BE SPOILERS

Let’s break things down a bit —

The Good?

Yeah, well, the Third Act really, particularly the dogfights. I was really invested in seeing proper X- and Y-Wings in action and all that. I was not disappointed.

The pace. Yes, pacing can really make or break a movie and I thought the director did a great job of keeping all the pieces moving. Even when the plot was a bit askew, the story pressed forward, never lingering long enough for any serious harm.

The acting was solid throughout and the special effects were, mostly, outstanding.

I liked the characters quite a bit. I thought they were fleshed out enough for what they were asked to do. K-2SO was a highlight, really. Alan Tudyk’s delivery was spot on, with great comedic timing. And, like everyone else, I thought Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen were terrific. They made an excellent team.

All the call backs and Easter Eggs to A New Hope, especially Ponda Baba and Colonel Evaza, Red & Gold Leader, and did I see Biggs Darklighter?

The Bad?

Michael Giacchino is one of my favorite composers. His soundtrack for LOST is one of my most important writing aids, and his recent turn at scoring Doctor Strange cemented his work for me. But Rogue One’s music felt flat and lifeless. There were moments, usually taking their cues from John Williams’ legendary work, but overall, it didn’t work.

Saw Gerrera. Yeah, he didn’t really work either, mainly because of STORY.

Yes, the THIRD ACT was stellar, but the plot leading up to that desperate battle, and the first victory of the Rebellion, was really rough around the edges, held together only by good direction and acting from all involved. Pity the writing couldn’t have been a touch better.

The Ugly?

Look, it was a bloody thrill to see Tarkin and Leia. It really was. And I forgive the inadequate CGI, but let’s be honest, it wasn’t good. Tarkin was slightly better than Leia, but we are still a few years away from seamlessly integrating CGI and RL Characters.

DARTH VADER

vader

Okay, Vader gets his own talking points, because he was the best thing about the movie.

The Good? Easy enough. Vader, physically, was a menace and awesome presence. It was nice to have one of the greatest movie villains of all time returned to his former glory.

The absolute best thing, hands down, in the movie was the Dark Lord walking through those Rebel soldiers during the film’s climax.

I also really dug Castle Vader on the planet Mustafar.

The Bad? Not enough. Not nearly enough. Giving Vader even more of a presence in the movie would have gone a long way to erasing some of the first two acts’ issues.

The Ugly? James Earl Jones. His voice acting was flat and uninspired.

FINAL WORD

So where does Rogue One rank
in the Star Wars TV/Movie Canon?

1. Star Wars
2. The Empire Strikes Back
3. The Clone Wars
4. Rebels
5. Rogue One
6. The Force Awakens
7. Star Wars Holiday Special
(Boba Fett Animated Feature)
8. Revenge of the Sith
9. Return of the Jedi
10. The Phantom Menace
11. Attack of the Clones
12. Droids
13. Ewoks

I’ve been a fan from day one, obviously. In May of 1977, I was two months past my 11th birthday. Star Wars was my everything. It was the first movie I saw by myself, sitting in a packed house, staring up at the screen from the first row, last seat on the right side of the theatre. I was spellbound.

I bought the toys, hung up the posters, collected the trading cards, read the comic books and novelizations, and drank from the K-Mart Frozen Coke plastic collectible glasses.

I have watched the franchise spiral out of control. But nothing could ever diminish the joy I felt watching that movie for the very first time. The third act of Rogue One rekindled a little bit of that… Now I’m just waiting for someone to stitch the ending of Rogue One together with the beginning of the now-called New Hope.

Come on, Internet. Make that happen. Just be sure to edit out the opening scrawl.

 

 

%d bloggers like this: