Monthly Archives: September 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #27 – Demon House

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Demon House

 


In 2014, TV host Zak Bagans purchased a house in Gary, Indiana sight unseen. The previous owners, the Ammons family, claimed the house was infested with demons, and that the demons had tortured and possessed them before they moved out. Immediately upon arrival at his new home, Bagans began to film a docudrama.

 

 

During the making of this documentary, Bagans claimed to have been so ill that he couldn’t leave his room for 8 days. People he spoke with were hurt and some where hospitalized. Members of his crew quit or were fired. Bagans attempted to speak with the former owners, but they refused to speak to him at their new home in Indianapolis. Her brother Kevin did agree to speak with Bagans. When asked, he admitted her reluctance to be involved in the documentary was because they’d received an offer from a film company for the rights to their story. After speaking with Bagans, the Ammons wouldn’t allow Kevin back into the house, claiming he might have picked up something from Bagans, who’d been inside the demon house at that point, and were concerned he would bring it back to them.

 

Bagans interview a social worker and a child psychologist who claimed to see the 9 year old son of the 


family walk backward up a wall and across the ceiling. Five minutes after the alleged incident, the child had no memory of what they said happened. The social worker turned the case over to someone else. A Catholic priest, Father Maginot, requested and received permission to perform an exorcism.

 

Various people who were involved in making the docudrama showed unusual behavior, up to and including becoming aggressive to one another. In the basement of the house, they discovered a small dirt area beneath the stairs – the only part of the basement like this – and Bagans believed they may have found a Satanic altar. In a final bid to settle the matter once and for all, Bagans had himself sealed into the house to spend the night.

Okay, where to start. A documentary is not meant to take sides, simply to present facts so the viewer can decide for themselves what to believe. Not sure if that was entirely true here. Non-demonic solutions were briefly touched upon, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, but not was investigated very thoroughly. At least they didn’t mention it.  And also, in case you don’t recognize the name Zak Bagans (which I didn’t), he hosts a show called Ghost Adventures, which tells me he is predisposed to believe.

 

In order to believe in demons, I think one has to believe in Satan, which I don’t. But I do believe in the power/energy that resides in all of us, which most of us don’t know how to control or draw upon. By the same token, why couldn’t there be a negative counterpart of this energy, one that people refer to as demons, for lack of a better word. 

At times, this film seems rather too staged for my liking, and perhaps that is the fault of the editing, or the voiceovers, obviously done after the fact. Besides the Ammons, other former residents as well as neighbors said they had no problems with the house.  Some people in Gary believe the whole thing is a crock, made up by the Ammons in order to cash in on the story. There is no overwhelming evidence to support the demon theory as being the true solution. Trying to paint an image of a twelve foot tall goat-headed being didn’t exactly win me over either.

For viewing pleasure alone, and not on believability, I’d give this about 2.5 Stars. The thing to keep in mind is that if you’re highly suggestible, be careful. This might make you think you heard something.

Wednesday Briefs: September 8, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

An Unholy Alliance #15 (4.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Tyrone who?

The next moment, my irritation was a thing of the past. I restrained the impatience that demanded I snatch the paper from Casey’s outstretched hand. They weren’t about to tease me on a matter of such vital importance to me, this much I knew.

“Now, I don’t really know how much information this woman has,” Casey warned me, but I was honestly not foolish enough to hang all my hopes on one particular star, so that didn’t faze me. “I met her on a genealogy forum, and we’ve been talking a little. She’s interested in local history too. Her family has lived in the same place since well

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Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 2 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 2     

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 4, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga//192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

During the Final Selection to become a Demon Slayer, Tanjiro encounters a very old and very strong demon that recognizes him as a student of Urokodaki—and has a grudge against Tanjiro’s sensei. Even though he has to kill the demon, Tanjiro shows compassion to him at the end, and helps to ease him into death. Only four of the original twenty candidates remain, and now they learn about what will happen. They each have the rank of mizunoto, which is the lowest. Each will receive a katana and a crow. They will choose the ore for the katana, but it may take a couple of weeks for it to be finished.

Tanjiro heads for Urokodaki’s home, to find Nezuko awake and happy to see him. His sensei is also overjoyed and embraces both children. He later tells Tanjiro that he believes Nezuko sleeps the way she does in order to recharge her energy without consuming human blood. Fifteen days later, Tanjiro’s katana is delivered by a man called Haganezuka. He refers to it as a Nichirin sword, a color-changing sword. Excited at the sight of Tanjiro, he refers to him as a child of brightness, and hopes that his sword might turn red.  But it turns black instead, which they say is a color rarely seen.

Tanjiro learns that his crow actually talks when he receives his first assignment as a Demon Slayer. He is to go to a northern town where young girls disappear night after night! Urokodaki makes a very light box for Tanjiro to carry Nezuko in during the day, made of kirikumo cedar. On arrival in the town, he finds a very distraught young man, whose fiancé is missing. Suddenly, Tanjiro smells a demon, and he springs into action! Urokodaki had told Tanjiro that only one demon has the power to turn humans into demons, and that is Muzan Kibutsuji. So Tanjiro is determined to question every demon he comes across for information regarding Muzan.

Tanjiro has the demon trapped in an alleyway, but the demon is able to split himself into three. Nezuko helps him, but then he tells her to keep safe the young man and the young girl he just saved while he faces the demons. Immediately after this job, he is sent on a second mission, to Asakusa in Tokyo, where a demon is rumored to be hiding. He and Nezuko stop by a udon vendor’s cart. Suddenly, Tanjiro smells the same scent he detected at the scene of his family’s murder. Can he have found his prey already?

Tanjiro has come a long way in a short time. But despite the tragedy that has befallen, he maintains his loving nature, especially toward his sister, whom he would do anything to bring her back to the way she was. The battle with the first demon was great, and I won’t say anything about the trip to Tokyo. I’ll save all of that for the next review, to avoid spoilers lol  You just know Tanjiro’s journey to seek normalcy for his sister won’t be an easy one, and it’s hard not to root for him. I certainly do.

Looking forward to the third volume.

Saturday is Horror Day #26 – Krampus: The Reckoning, The Brotherhood of the Wolf

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Krampus: The Reckoning

 

Zoe (Amelia Haberman) is a troubled child caught in the foster care system. She is difficult at best, and some might even say she’s downright creepy. She wears a perpetual glower. So cynical for one of her tender years. When a fire claims the lives of her current foster parents, back into group care she goes.

 

 

Dr. Rachel Stewart (Monica Engesser) is a child psychologist who is assigned to Zoe’s case. She finds her rather disturbing and uncommunicative but gives her some leeway, under the circumstances. Rachel works for the police department, in the Homicide division, along with her friend, Detective Miles O’Connor (James Ray) who has a propensity for drowning his sorrows and turning up drunk on her doorstep. Although there is nothing between them, you can cut the sexual tension with a knife. Rachel has an adopted son, Lamaar, whom she loves dearly, and he’s a rather precocious young man.

 

In an effort to learn more about Zoe, Rachel plays detective to hunt down Zoe’s previous foster family. And what she learns… well, it’s not only shocking but it’s impossible. Zoe doesn’t have a lot of things, but she has a small box in which she carries her most prized possessions, including a small Krampus doll. She believes wholeheartedly in Krampus, and has no problem with summoning him, should the necessity arise. She doesn’t seem to care for other people, especially those who, in her opinion, are evil.

More people are turning up dead through fire. They’ve never seen so many crisped corpses. Something 

suspicious is going on here. What can it be?

 

This entry in the Krampus series is weak, at best, and just about as bad as the first one (which was pretty bad). The actors just aren’t very good at what they do, and they sound like just what they are – actors who learned a script (but not very well). The story is rather weak, and doesn’t even bother to explain the strange supernatural element (other than Krampus).Or how Krampus and Zoe even got together originally.

 

There are much better Krampus films out there. I recommend you find one of them and don’t bother with this one. I give this film a rather shaky 1.5 Stars.

The Brotherhood of the Wolf

At the time of the French Revolution, a nobleman who knows the peasants are coming for him,  remembers a time many years before, when he was very young, and a mysterious beast roamed the French countryside, killing hundreds of people. The Chevalier de Fronsac (Samuel Le Bihan) and his native American friend Mani (Mark Dacascos) are sent to investigate, at the behest of the king, Louis XV.

On their arrival in the province of Gevaudan, they are met by some highwaymen, who think they will be easy marks. But Mani is greatly skilled, and easily puts them in their place. He catches the eye of a young woman of high spirits. But when he runs into her later, during a wolf hunt, she taunts him cruelly.

 

 

The Chevalier and Mani are introduced to the family of the Comte de Morangias.  Gregoire is instantly smitten with the daughter, Marianne (Emilie Dequenne). She has a mind of her own and great beauty. Her brother Jean-Francois (Vincent Cassel) was sorely wounded on a trip to Africa, and as a result has lost one arm. Even so, he manages rather well, and keeps a close eye on his sister, with the assistance of the family priest.

Gregoire is convinced that the beast is not a wolf, despite what the others say, and Mani agrees with him. During a visit to a local brothel, Gregoire becomes intrigued by an Italian whore, Sylvia (Monica Belucci) who he suspects isn’t all she appears to be. The Chevalier has a talent for drawing, which he utilizes on his journeys, besides his skills as a taxidermist. He sketches the courtesan, but someone with an axe to grind steals the pictures and shows them to Marianne, which of course does not sit well with her.

 

When a wolf is caught, Gregoire is ordered to make it into the beast, so the people will be satisfied and the matter will be over, and the king will be happy. He has no choice, but he knows the beast is not dead, far from it. And he will do everything in his power to get to the truth.

This was a very well executed film, beautifully filmed, and very imaginative. From the title, I assumed this was a werewolf movie, but that is pretty far from the truth. I don’t often watch French films, and listening to it in its original language was a treat. For the most part, the cast was unknown to me, but I have seen Monica Bellucci before. You may remember her from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The big surprise was with Mani, who turned out to be Mark Dacascos, who you might remember if you ever watched Iron Chef America as The Chairman. He also played Wo Fat in the recent Hawaii 5-0 tv series.

The story is very interesting and kept me guessing up until the end, until we found out about the brotherhood. Mani’s action scenes are very impressive, as are Gregoire’s. Admittedly, there are some flaws, such as the mention of steel, which didn’t exist back then. And the reference to Mani as a Mohawk, another term not in use then. Maybe some minor continuity errors. But on the whole, this was an enjoyable film. I give it a solid 4 Stars.

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 1 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 1

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 3, 2018

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga//192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Tanjiro and his family have a hard life, being rather poor. But Tanjiro works hard and does what he can to help provide for his mother and many siblings after the death of his father. Hoping to provide for a happy New Year for his loved ones, the weary Tanjiro wants to go into town, despite the weather, to sell more charcoal. But he is prevented from getting back and ends up spending the night there, heading home at first light. Upon his return, he is met with the horrific sight of his family, dead and bloody from some sort of massacre. The stricken Tanjiro realizes his sister Nezuko is still breathing, and hurries to get her to town, where she can be helped. When he slips and accidentally drops her, he realizes that Nezuko has become a demon, turned by the same creature that killed his family!

Just after this realization hits him, as he attempts to keep his demon sister from biting him, a stranger unexpectedly swoops in and attempts to kill her. He is confused as to why Tanjiro, a human, should be protecting a demon. But Tanjiro tells him that she’s his sister and he will do everything he can to help her become human again. He tells the stranger that Nezuko hasn’t killed anyone and won’t harm anyone.  He finally persuades the man, whose name is Giyu, and Giyu tells him to go to see an old man named Sakonji Urokodaki at the foot of Mount Sagiri, and to tell him Giyu Tomioka sent him.

In order to travel that far, Tanjiro realizes he can’t avoid sunlight, much as Nezuko would like to, so he acquires an old basket and fixes it up for her so he can carry her on his back. On the journey, they are attacked by a demon, but luckily they are met by Urokodaki, in a tengu mask, who was apprised of their arrival by Giyu. Giyu told him Tanjiro seems promising, and has the same strong sense of smell that Urokodaki does.  The older man makes Tanjiro figure out how to kill the demon himself then leads both him and Nezuko back to his mountain, never cutting the boy any slack. He leaves Tanjiro at the top of the mountain and says he’ll train him if he can make it down by morning. Tanjiro thinks that’s easy, with his sense of smell, but of course it isn’t.

Tanjiro has taken his first step toward becoming a Demon Slayer and recovering his sister’s lost humanity.

I have been watching the anime, and just started reading the manga. I really like it, and I think they complement one another well. It’s a sad story about bravery in the face of tragedy, of a brother’s love for his sister and his determination to give her back the life she had before, as well as a supernatural story about demons and humans. Tanjiro is a sweet boy, and very kind. Sometimes too kind, to the point of being indecisive, which his mentor fears in his nature. But he also has a steely quality that I think will stand him in good stead in the future.

Urokodaki’s tengu mask is intriguing, and I’m sure there’s a story as to why he always wears it, one we will find out later.  A side note, the actor who voices Urokodaki in the anime is the same one who voices Jiraiya in Naruto (win-win for me because I love Jiraiya lol) The story of how Tanjiro splits the boulder is sadly sweet. Tanjiro’s trial as part of the final selection to become a demon slayer is filled with intrigue and potential death for all involved. Not all the candidates will come out alive.

I like the artwork very much, and I look forward to reading more volumes.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 5 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 5

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 6, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Playing the giant chicken Bo on television is exhausting for Kyoko, but she’s actually grateful the producer gave her a second chance, after the fiasco with Sho. But apparently the viewers loved her and thought the old Bo was boring, so now she is determined to make the most of this opportunity. To do her best, so she can succeed.

Kyoko runs into Ren at the agency, and his being nice to her and smiling at her has even more freaked out than before. She forgets to inform the agency that she has an audition for a commercial scheduled for the next day. Of course they are happy for her, and Ren tells her to do her best. At the audition, Kyoko unexpectedly runs into Moko, and an entitled blonde who is sure the world revolves around her and her money. Apparently, she and Moko go way back, and she is very condescending and mean to Moko. But instead of fighting fire with fire, as only Moko can, she is down and almost defeated! Kyoko can’t believe what she is seeing. What’s going on here? After the first round of auditions, Moko is ready to quit, but Kyoko slaps some sense into her!

The commercial’s director, who missed the first audition, overhears the discussion between Kyoko and Moko, and is curious to see what they can do. So he changes the casting call from one to two girls, and all the girls have to team up to audition.  Kyoko ends up with Moko. When the others girls, including the rich one, find out that Moko and Kyoko work together at LME, they claim their pairing is unfair. So to even the playing field, they demand that they can’t rehearse together beforehand. Moko is appalled, but Kyoko agrees. But can they play upon one another and bring out the emotions the director and his team need for the product without even being able to discuss it first?

This is a big deal for Kyoko, auditioning for this commercial. No chicken suit to hide inside, only her. Plus she is auditioning against Moko, whom she strongly wants to be friends with. Moko is resistant to her overtures of friendship, but Kyoko isn’t the type to give up easily. I enjoyed watching the director of the commercial as he watched them carefully, sensing something special there. And of course he was right.

Poor Kyoko has no idea that Ren has finally realized how and when he knows her from because she has changed so much, and she has no idea who he was to her. All she knows is that she is afraid of his gentlemanly side as much as his colder side. I love watching the two of them together, but I know they have a long way to go. Lots of fun in this volume, can’t wait for more!

Book Review: The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book #1) by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book #1)   

Author: Suzanne Collins

Publisher: Scholastic Press

American release date:  September 14, 2008

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA SciFi Action/384 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

In the aftermath of a devastating war, what was once North America is now a nation known as Panem, comprised of the Capitol and twelve outlying districts. Once there had been thirteen districts, but the thirteenth had rebelled against the Capitol, only to be destroyed. As a reminder of what happens to those who don’t obey, the Capitol conceived the Hunger Games. Every year, each remaining district provides two contestants—one male, one female—who are chosen by lottery to represent their district. The contestants are sent to the Capitol to participate in the games, pitted against one another to fight until only one person remains. The last person standing is then crowned the winner, their district receiving benefits from their win. All of which is televised to the entire nation.

Times are hard for everyone. Catniss Everdeen lives with her mother and younger sister Prim. Catniss supplements their meager diet by hunting, which is illegal as it takes place outside the area where they are allowed to go. But survival calls for desperate measures, so Catniss continues to hunt, along with her hunting partner, Gale. She also forages for various herbs and vegetables, which she has learned from her mother, who is a healer.

Time for the Hunger Games again, and everyone attends the drawing of the two participants. Catniss only wants her family to be safe, so is unprepared to hear the first name drawn is Prim’s. Without hesitation, she volunteers to take Prim’s place, and her offer is accepted. The male volunteer turns out to be Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son. Catniss and Peeta are escorted to the Capitol by Haymitch Abernathy and Effie Trinket, the former a drunken fool and the latter an excitable fool.

Catniss hopes that she isn’t killed too quickly, not holding out hope of winning the games. But she is tougher than she realizes, and maybe, just maybe, she can survive this thing if she tries.

This is a really creative story about a dystopian future society filled with barbarism and inequality. The poor have a rough life, while the idiots in the Capitol go blithely about their merry way, watching the annual slaughter that is the Hunger Games. Catniss is a very good, well-written heroine, and Peeta is easily her counterpart. Watching them grow and develop throughout the book, and watching them work together to defeat the others, is priceless. Catniss is a typical teenage girl in that her emotions are all over the place, especially under the circumstances. But she comes through it all with great grace and aplomb.

I really hope this sort of society never comes to be, but I can also see it happening, too, especially in an oligarchy, such as we in the US live in now.  The first book in the trilogy is riveting. Looking forward to the next one.

Wednesday Briefs: September 1, 2021

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Fifty-four by Cia Nordwell
 

“This is in English.” I glanced at Mereval. “You can read it.”  

“Yes,” she said. “But we don’t understand it.” She pointed at the screen. “Why would you cut off your nose to spite your face?” She grimaced. “We weren’t aware that humans took part in body mutilation.”  

“We don’t,” I said automatically. Then I backtracked, thinking of all the genetic modifications made in the womb that produced what seemed like, to me, some pretty freaky looking people. Not to mention what modern cosmetic surgery could do in a single afternoon. “Not in that fashion at least or for no

 
 

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