August 26, 2015

PARANORMAL WITNESS: Scary Sights On Hot Summer Nights

PARANORMAL WITNESS airs Wednesday's at 10PM E/P on SyFy

SYFY FINALLY KICKS OFF A NEW SEASON OF ONE OF TV’S SCARIEST SHOWS. DON’T WATCH ALONE…

 
EDITOR’S NOTE: THIS REVIEW OF “PARANORMAL WITNESS” FIRST APPEARED IN JUNE, 2013. SINCE THEN, IT HAS BECOME ONE OF OUR ALL-TIME MOST POPULAR POSTS. WHAT FOLLOWS IS A FULLY UPDATED VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL, WRITTEN AND REFRESHED TO COINCIDE WITH THE SEASON FOUR PREMIERE ON AUGUST 26, 2015.
 
There are plenty of shows that deal with ghosts, beasties from beyond and paranormal phenomena. Unfortunately, most are unscripted train wrecks, snoozy dramas like THE WHISPERS or dreadful re-makes of highly regarded foreign productions (A&E’s recently cancelled THE RETURNED, for example).  It’s a format that’s often sullied by cheap thrills, silly re-creations and endless night-vision camera sequences. Though the pickings are slim, every now and then you can find a really good bat flitting about the belfry.
 
CLICK to buy episodes and full seasons of PARANORMAL WITNESS on Amazon Instant VideoOne exceptional standout is PARANORMAL WITNESS a genuinely scary and expertly produced SyFy original. It’s the single best series in the unscripted wing of the genre since DESTINATION TRUTH. Even better, no Zak Bagans or Amy Allen anywhere in sight!
 
PARANORMAL WITNESS kicks off its fourth season tonight and airs Wednesdays at 10PM E/P on SyFy. Up first is the story of Ron and Doretta Johnson. After the couple purchases an abandoned Indiana hotel, they unwittingly become involved in a live ghost story of madness, murder and a maniacal “Dark Man.” Though not the scariest of installments, it is a tragic tale and the kind of haunting that the series does an especially effective job of bringing to life. Note to those shopping for cut-rate real estate: if the price seems too good to be true, check out what’s been going on in the bathroom before you sign on the dotted line.
 
The producers of PARANORMAL WITNESS clearly enjoy scaring the crap out of their audience. This is genuinely chilling stuff and the stories chosen are often dark, disturbing affairs. They don’t score a homer every time, but they always swing for the fences. As a rule of thumb, the only disappointments are UFO-centric installments and the handful of episodes with multiple stories told in the same hour. Even those few weak spots are more adult and accomplished than shows like GHOST HUNTERS and GHOST ADVENTURES.
 
CLICK to buy episodes and full seasons of PARANORMAL WITNESS on Amazon Instant Video
What sets PARANORMAL WITNESS apart is the quality of the production. Most episodes deal with a single haunting, re-told through a combination of interviews with the actual people involved and highly cinematic re-creations. Each episode feels like a mini-movie. The special effects are top notch and the actors not only resemble their real-life counterparts, they can actually act. It's one of the few shows I always watch with the lights on.
 
As good as the series is, SyFy does a terrible job of promoting it. The show didn’t even appear on the network Twitter feed until earlier this evening. Only after I called them out on the dedicated PARANORMAL WITNESS feed, did they bother to re-tweet a plug for tonight’s season premier. Apparently, SyFy is too busy shoving FACE OFF down our throats and pushing crap like DOMINION. I’d love to include clips of upcoming episodes or the season four promo spots, but the network isn’t offering any embeddable video. Seriously, who turns down free promotion these days? SyFy is also very stingy with streaming options. You can buy episodes and full seasons on Amazon Instant video, but don’t look for PARANORMAL WITNESS on Netflix or Hulu because you won’t find it on either service.
 
CLICK to buy episodes and full seasons of PARANORMAL WITNESS on Amazon Instant VideoA total of thirteen new episodes will be rolling out in the coming weeks. Included in the mix: a battle royale between a politician and a demon known as Molech, nasty Native American spirits, the real-life story that inspired the 2011 film THE CONJURING and the Suzy Doll. Heard of ANNABELLE? Well, word has it that this porcelain faced creep makes her look like a sweetie pie. All that’s missing is a killer clown…and for that, I’m thankful.
 
 
COMING SOON: Check back here next Wednesday for an all-new photo feature. We’ll be picking the “must scream” episodes from the first three seasons of PARANORMAL WITNESS.
 
CLICK to buy episodes and full seasons of PARANORMAL WITNESS on Amazon Instant Video

 

June 14, 2015

LEGACY: Christopher Lee

MAY 27, 1922 – JUNE 7, 2015

 
EDITOR’S NOTE: To ensure the integrity of this posthumous tribute, sponsored content and retail links are not included in our “Legacy” posts. We encourage you to discover and enjoy the work of this talented artist by conducting an online search for any of the titles cited.
 
In a world where words like “icon” and “legend” are overused and often misapplied, both superlatives only begin to convey the full scope of Christopher Lee’s cinematic legacy. Less that ten years after his big screen debut (CORRIDOR OF MIRRORS, 1948) Lee became the face of a gothic horror revival. He breathed new life into the genre with a revisionist take on classic movie monsters like Dracula and The Mummy. It’s an approach born of both raw talent and an actor’s desperation. Though casting Lee would give any film a shot of artistic gravitas, these gaudy and gory potboilers were typically low-budget second features with shaky production values and dime store dialogue. Luckily, Lee had great instincts. When the script would fail him, he could regroup on the fly and figure out a way to make the scene work.

Whether in full monster drag or looking like his everyday self, Lee’s long, angular face and intense, focused gaze made him particularly effective as the villain…with a twist. He wasn’t unattractive or physically grotesque but, Lee did give off a distinctively unsettling vibe that was both seductive and menacing. This strange convergence of allure and alarm would serve him well throughout his career. Lee didn’t just play a boat load of baddies, he re-wrote the evildoers handbook.

Christopher Lee died last week at the age of 93. While many actors burn bright then quickly fade or become collateral damage after a string of box-office bombs, Lee never stopped working. He  leaves us with an impressive body of work that spans almost 70 years and includes more than 200 film roles and countless television appearances.

Celebrate the life and career of Christopher Lee with our interactive photo feature. Included are career highlights, a few hiccups and his own personal favorites. Immediately following, you can hear from the man himself in a 1990 NPR radio interview.