Haunted Houses

American Scream crew

With October on the horizon, as well as that glorious holiday there contained, many of us are gearing up for haunted house season. In many ways the last vestige of the roaming carnival days, companies come in every year, occupy some abandoned retail space, and commence with a nightly regimen of shrieks, jumps, and frights that carries us screaming into November. But what happens when those with the desire to create an effective spook house don’t have the benefit of such monstrous budgets? The more organic, love-labor-intensive community haunted houses are the results of an entire year’s worth of work by blue collar artists and their families. The process by which they transform their own homes into cathedrals to low-budget scares, called home haunts, is the subject of Michael Paul Stephenson’s (Best Worst Movie) latest documentary: The American Scream. A touching, fascinating, and deeply sincere testament to unflappable creative spark, The American Scream found easy purchase in the Fantastic Fest lineup this year. In fact, beside the theater, in what used to be a scooter retailer, the Alamo Drafthouse partnered with Manny Souza (a featured subject in the doc) to quickly, and with a MacGyver-like resourcefulness, build a miniature home haunt right next door. It was in this hallowed place that we were fortunate enough to sit down with Stephenson, producer Meyer Shwarzstein, and another featured home haunt artist Victor Bariteau to talk about the film. Even in the light of day, the appropriateness of this meeting place was not […]

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Sinister

This article is presented in partnership with SINISTER, in theaters October 5. Don’t forget that you can see Sinister first with Tugg.com and Film School Rejects in Washington, DC (and many other cities) by visiting SeeSinisterFirst.com. Even though movies often get a bad rap for glorifying sex and violence, there’s a lot of lessons that can be learned from various films. Horror films, in particular, have taught people a variety of helpful things. For example, we all know to never split up when being chased by a maniac. We know to never drop your weapon next to a killer’s “obviously” dead body. And we also know not to go out a-sexing and a-drinking in the woods without at least keeping one eye open for a deranged psychopath with a questionable past. Movies have also taught us to ask what might be considered bizarre questions when deciding on a new place to live. Has anyone been killed with a nail gun in the living room? Does there happen to be a gateway to hell in the basement? How many former tenants have gone completely bat-shit crazy and murdered their entire families? (Note: if the answer is more than zero, you might want to reconsider renting or purchasing this home.) These real estate listings below might seem to be a good deal, but read between the lines and discover the wicked deal you’re getting on the purchase price might not be a good deal at all.

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As an expert on Asylum movies, the bar isn’t exactly high here, but what’s most striking about the trailer for Jose Prendes‘s The Haunting of Whaley House is that it looks like an actual movie – not a CGI-from-1994 slathered abomination cribbing close to the legal limit of blockbuster theft. Granted, it’s a haunted house film, and it looks like it’s maintained the central tropes, but there’s lighting! And decent camera work! And the lines don’t completely read like they came from a a sophomore in high school with a loose understanding of grammar! Could it be? Could The Asylum have produced a good movie? It’s too soon to tell, but we’ve acquired proof that it’s highly possible:

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In 2010, Patrick Wilson got haunted in Insidious. In 1999, Lili Taylor got haunted in The Haunting. Now the two are heading back into the haunted house together with Vera Farmiga and Ron Livingston in James Wan’s The Warren Files. Now they’ll have children to look after as ghosts chase them around in New England. According to Variety, Mackenzie Foy (Twilight) and Joey King (who will play young Talia Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises) have both been tapped to play young members of the based-on-real-life Perron family who claimed they were living with spirit from beyond in the 1970s. Taylor and Livingston play the adult members of the family, while Wilson and Farmiga play ghost investigators The Warrens. So, for those keeping track, with Insidious, The Warren Files and Insidious 2, James Wan is going to be telling ghost stories for a long time.

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If you’re the kind of person who builds air cannons and small motors for bowls of spaghetti around Halloween, Michael Stephenson might want to have a word with you. The director of Best Worst Movie is setting his sights on the boldest homemade haunted house fanatics to create a new documentary for NBCUniversal. The project is casting right now, and you can submit yourself or friends or family. Or enemies if you’re so inclined. If you’re not that kind of person, the good news is that you can still kick back and enjoy what sounds like a fun documentary by a proven team. Magic Stone will be producing, and they’ve brought on the Alamo Drafthouse’s Zack Carlson as a writer/producer. In short, this sounds awesome. People who try to make strangers pee themselves in terror should be celebrated, and it’s high time a filmmaker did so. The project is still untitled, but their website name, Homemade House of Horrors sounds pretty solid. Now if they can just get George Hardy to host it, things would be perfect.

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Director Peter Medak takes a stab at the most illustrious of horror sub-genres. I know I said stab, but it’s not the serial killer sub-genre.

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BookofBlood

In the market for a haunted house? Check out this clip from Book of Blood to sneak a peek at some sweet property that comes complete with a girl in her underwear on the ceiling and a ton of skin-slicing spirits.

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