Irish Ghostbusters

Can you name five great paranormal comedy movies released in the past decade? I’m drawing a blank. By my estimation, two of the best comedies about the spirit world were released back in the eighties – Ghostbusters (1984) and Beetlejuice (1988) – and there has been nothing to really rival them since then. Of course, if we were to broaden the search to include best horror comedies of the past decade then I would have to pick the 2014 vampire satire What We Do in the Shadows, written and directed by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, and their subsequent FX TV series based on the film. If you are fans of those, you will probably get a kick out of Extra Ordinary (2019), a paranormal comedy from Ireland that is almost as witty, twisted and silly as anything the Clement-Waititi team can conjure up. Continue reading

The Lost Colony of Dalton’s Ferry

For the early settlers of this country, the New World offered freedom as well as the unknown. This was certainly true of the first colonists who had no idea what awaited them on these strange, new shores. The story of The Lost Colony, a settlement on Roanoke Island that was sponsored by Sir Walter Raleigh, was one of those childhood history lessons that stuck in my mind as a creepy unsolved mystery. Sometime between the years of 1585 and 1587, numerous attempts were main to establish a permanent base for English immigrants in the Virginia territory. Then supplies for the Roanoke community were cut off for three years during the Anglo-Spanish War so when John White, whose daughter and granddaughter were among the colonists, was able to return from England with aid, he found the settlement deserted with no trace of the people, only the cryptic word “Croatoan” carved into a tree. Much speculation but no evidence has emerged over the fate of The Lost Colony. Some say sickness and starvation killed them off, others say they were captured and assimilated into the local native tribes, either the Croatan or Hatteras. A few historians theorized that the survivors attempted to return to England and were lost at sea. There was also a theory that cannibalism may have decimated their ranks as it did the infamous Donner party.   Which brings me to Eyes of Fire (aka Cry Blue Sky), a little known, independent film from 1983 that has obvious connections to The Lost Colony in its tale of a band of settlers driven from their community and forced to find shelter in the wilderness. There they find themselves at the mercy of hostile tribal groups, the elements and….something much more insidious.    Continue reading

A Paranormal Puberty

Yasmine Dahm plays Sophie, a young girl who sets off a chain of poltergeist activity in Au Rendez-Vous de la Mort Joyeuse (1973, aka Expulsion of the Devil).

Although Luis Bunuel never made a straight up horror film in the traditional sense, many of his movies contained elements of the horrific and the fantastical such as the “mother meat” nightmare sequence in Los Olvidados (1950), the severed, crawling hand in The Exterminating Angel (1962) or the Devil in his many disguises in the 45 minute allegory, Simon of the Desert (1965). However, Juan Luis Bunuel, the director’s son, launched his feature film career with an audacious and unsettling journey into the paranormal – Au Rendez-Vous de la Mort Joyeuse (1973, aka Expulsion of the Devil) which must have made his father proud as it was brimming with the sort of anarchic disregard for the conventional and corruption of the innocent that distinguishes the master’s best films. It’s also creepy as hell.      Continue reading