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31 Days of Creepy – The Entity

516YDEWE8PLThere are scary movies – movies with scenes that make you jump and shriek. Scenes that make you cover your eyes – although that’s usually because somebody’s being dismembered onscreen.

Then there are movies that disturb you so deeply you can’t go home. That’s what happened to me back in 1983, when I had a solo movie night with THE ENTITY, starring Barbara Hershey. It’s taken from a supposedly true story involving a young single mother whose home was invaded by an invisible entity that raped her repeatedly over a period of months. In the film version, she enlists the help of a group of paranormal investigators who are at first skeptical… and then come to believe her.

Sometimes, when you live alone, the night gets very, very dark.  I watched this movie at the theater knowing I’d need to go home by myself… in the dark. I don’t honestly believe in supernatural home-invading entities, but THE ENTITY got under my skin so deeply that I couldn’t face being alone. Instead, I went across the road to another theater and detoxed with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. That eased my fears somewhat, but I still slept with a light on that night.

I don’t know if the movie would have the same impact on a guy, but… maybe. Turn out the lights, make sure you’re alone, and give it a try. I dare you.  🙂

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31 Days of Creepy – Our Mother’s House

51BsGQprh7L._SL500_SX319_BO1,204,203,200_I’ve always figured, no one knows how to do “creepy” like the British – and that’s particularly true of this little book, which originally came out in 1963.  I bought it five years later for the princely sum of 50 cents, and have held on to it as one of my favorites ever since.

OUR MOTHER’S HOUSE is the story of the seven Hook children, who are left on their own when their mother dies suddenly. Rather than take the chance of being sent to an orphanage, they decide to bury their mother in the back yard and pretend she’s still alive, supporting themselves with monthly trust fund checks that one of the boys endorses in his mother’s name. All goes more or less well for a few months… and then their mother’s shiftless ex-husband appears.

The story is eerie and disturbing, particularly when the children turn on one of their siblings for daring to interact with a stranger – and in the way they respond to the father they’ve never really known. It’s a tale that will grab you around the throat and hold on, so masterfully told that it will stay with you years later. It’s not available as an ebook, so you’ll have to buy a used copy for a couple of dollars – but it’s well worth the trouble. Turn down the lights, start turning the pages… and start wondering if you can really trust your kids. Or your siblings.

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31 Days of Creepy: One Step Beyond

newland1Even people much younger than I am know about The Twilight Zone. Some genre fans have probably heard about The Outer Limits. But there was another series on TV at around the same time – the supremely creepy One Step Beyond, hosted by John Newland.

Like its TV siblings, OSB was a black-and-white anthology series with a different cast and a different story in each episode. Unlike the other two shows, though, its host claimed that the stories being told had actually happened.  Combine that with eerie music and a lot of characters terrified by hauntings, precognition, astral projection, and mysterious disappearances and you have a show that scared the bejeebers out of little grade-school me.

Nicely written and directed, featuring a roster of fine performers, the show holds up well 55 years after its initial run. Some of the episodes are more eerie than others, and the anecdotes the episodes are based on date back a long time – but if you’re intrigued by a man predicting the 1906 San Francisco earthquake the day before it happened, a house from which a number of people mysteriously vanished, a little girl who’s apparently possessed by the spirit of a dead neighbor, and a lonely woman who’s befriended by a man who died long before she was born, then the inexpensive DVD sets of this terrific series are a great investment for you! (There are a number of different collections available at Amazon – click the photo to see one of them – and you can also find the individual episodes on YouTube.)

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at one of my favorite scary books!

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31 Days of Creepy: Village of the Damned

51e1OI4c+8L._SX940_It’s October – my birthday month, the month of Halloween, and the advent of longer, colder nights. What better time to blog about… what scares me? Actually, what’s scared me throughout my life in books, movies and TV shows. I’ll be reviewing a lot of creepy stuff, so turn on a couple more lights to ward off the shadows and dig in – I hope you’ll find some new scary goodies to enjoy!

Go ahead… tell me this picture isn’t scary! Especially so for a 6-year-old who happened to see a trailer for VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED on a black-and-white TV and had nightmares for weeks afterward.

It’s the story of a small town in England where suddenly, mysteriously, everyone passes out. Weeks later, all the women of childbearing age discover they’re pregnant – and they give birth to oddly platinum blond children with mind control powers. Where did they come from? What do they want? No one knows… and no one dares to upset them, because they’ll kill to protect themselves.

65 years after its premiere, VOTD is still nicely creepy, and worth curling up with on a rainy afternoon. The first 10 minutes or so, when outsiders are trying to figure out what’s going on in the village, are beautifully photographed and paced. After that, things get a little overly melodramatic, and the film never actually answers a number of questions. But that’s not the point. What VOTD does best is pose those questions: What if the place you thought was safe… suddenly isn’t? What if your child (who might not be your child at all) turns out to be a threat not only to you, but the entire town? And how far are you willing to go to solve the problem?

You can find VOTD on Amazon by clicking the poster image. (You can also find it on YouTube, if you don’t mind its being broken up into 15 five-minute segments.) Or, if the concept intrigues you, you could try the remake with Christopher Reeve and Kirstie Alley, although it just pads and pretty much goofs up a compact, eerie little movie. VOTD no longer terrifies me the way it did when I was 6, but it’s well worth a watch. So grab some popcorn, turn off the lights, and start wondering about your kids…