Sunday, October 15, 2017

Review - Hell House LLC: Director’s Cut DVD #WitchSeasonCM

I have a special treat for you today...on my birthday of all days! Why is it special? Well, I haven't done a horror movie review on this blog for a LONG time. I was sent this film for review by the director, Stephen Cognetti. Here is the synopsis and following that, some words from the director himself.

15 people died on the opening night of a Halloween haunted house attraction. A documentary crew revisits the scene of the tragedy to find out what really happened.

"Hell House LLC was shot in May of 2014 while working full-time at another job. I was only able to edit a little each morning or a little at night. That lead to a year-long editing process until I had my locked version of the film.

My intent for Hell House LLC was to produce a slow burn of subtle, yet building scares. I have never been a fan of jump scares or music aided scares. My favorite type of scares in horror has always been the little things caught in the background that the protagonists are not immediately aware of. I worked to embody these sensibilities in Hell House LLC." ~Stephen Cognetti

My thoughts on the film
A "slow burn of subtle, yet building scares" is exactly what this film is, and it's what makes it so good. At first, the viewer might think, "Oh great...another found footage film." Personally, I tend to like those types of films. I'm a huge fan of The Blair Witch Project. This movie is similar to that in some ways, and in others, it's much more scary.

Of course, the hotel where the attraction is put on, the Abaddon Hotel, has a creepy back story. This is the point where any horror movie buff (I don't care who you are) is saying, "Why would you want to put on a haunted house attraction in a location with such a past?" We always say/think this, but there wouldn't be any horror movies if the people in them were really smart...or maybe just had some common sense. All the more fun for us.

This movie just works. There are isolated (subtle) creepy moments right from almost the beginning and these build to a killer crescendo. Anyone who has ever enjoyed going to haunted house attractions, something I've always loved doing, has probably wondered what would happen if the attraction turned deadly. Come wouldn't be a horror buff if you didn't. Putting yourselves in the shoes of the protagonists is what makes the fear more palpable. Even if the horror is ultimately caused by a supernatural force, there is a part of us that still thinks "what if?"

I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves horror movies. My fourteen year old son, and my sixty-seven year old mom, watched it with me and they thought it was great too. Perfect movie for this spooky, season of the witch time of year.

This film is a DVD-Only Release...

Here is some important information about the DVD:
  1. Extended feature includes Director Commentary
  2. Additional footage showing the chaos in the basement near the end. The original cut was scripted to be a much bigger payoff. We shot green screens for some VFX, but due to budget and other reasons, we had to use alternative shots. For the Director’s Cut, we brought on a visual effects expert to finish the VFX. 
  3. Additional character development scenes. My original rough-cut ran almost 100 minutes and was screened in fall 2014 in New York City. While the film was received well and the scares were effective, the run-time bothered some of the producers. So, I spent the next few months trimming the film by eight minutes. We didn’t lose our best scares but we lost some character development that I was reluctant to part with. I added some of these scenes to the Director’s Cut.
  4. DVD Release Date: October 1, 2017 – DVD only. Purchase at
 Check out the website and support the sequel: Hell House LLC 2: The Abaddon Hotel (Yes, there's going to be a sequel!) DVD sales will help fund the production costs for the Hell House LLC sequel!

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Shirley Jackson's The Witch - Discussion #WitchSeasonCM

A couple days late with this discussion post. I'm sure you're not surprised.

There are spoilers ahead so if you haven't read the story yet, tread lightly.


What a strange little five page story! I look at this one as a horror story for parents. The man with the cigar, or as the little boy calls him, "a witch" is a parents worst nightmare. Whether he was teasing or not, one could not deny sharing the mother's unease when she heard what the man was saying to her son. I mean, who sits down next to a four year old and starts telling a story like that? Such a conversation might be looked at as comical until he starts going into the (literally) gory details..."and then I took her and I put my hands around her neck and I pinched her and I pinched her until she was dead...And then I took and I cut her head off and I took her head..." Of course, the four year old gasps and yet he's still curious, as any four year old who doesn't quite know yet what a threat is would be. The man goes further with this talk and that's when the mother steps in.

So, not quite the "witch" story I was thinking it would be, but no less interesting with its underlying meaning. Shirley Jackson has a true knack for subtle horror.

What did you think?

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Season of the Witch - October means #WitchSeasonCM

First, an update on Gothic September. I really dropped the ball there. I couldn't even keep up with reading short little Poe stories. Well, I read the first three. I just have one to go. I will post my final thoughts on the four some time this week.

Now on to the late start of Season of the Witch. As mentioned in my earlier post, we will be reading the following (thank goodness The Witch is only five pages!):

The Witch by Shirley Jackson
Ancient Sorceries by Algernon Blackwood
You can download a PDF copy of the story, or any of Blackwood's stories, at Blackwood Stories (the site is up and running again), or you can get a Kindle copy of Blackwood's Complete Works on Amazon for 99 cents.
The Witch of Ravensworth by George Brewer for Kindle on Amazon $2.99

 I'm going to try to keep to this schedule:

The Witch - Discussion post up on October 11
Ancient Sorceries - Discussion post up on October 20
The Witch of Ravensworth - Discussion up on October 30

I hope you will read along with me!

Also, I would love some guest reviews on some scary reads...or if you have a spooky story to share, or a spooky memory...I would love to have you. Just shoot me a message via the contact form.

Don't forget...the FrightFall Readathon is going on ALL MONTH LONG! Join us here 

Come read along with us at Gather Together and Read...Anne Rice's The Mummy, or Ramses The Damned. All the info here! 

Happy October!

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