Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Top 10 Most Frightening Youtube Videos To Keep You Awake All Night Long

I know what you are going through right now.  Your Mom told you to, “Go to bed” and you aren’t the slightest bit interested in doing a single thing that witch tells you to do.  Well, that’s what I am here for.  Allow me to help you stay awake, because I like you a lot.  Also because the system your Mom has created for you is bogus and you of all people deserve to do what you want.  So go ahead and party all night like it’s 1999!  And to help fight off the sandman from sprinkling those magical dust particles in your eyes, I have compiled a list of the top 10 most frightening videos on youtube designed to keep you wide awake all night long.  Just remember to turn the lights out before you begin.  Are they out yet?  Good.  Let’s have some fun. 

1. Unbelievable Poltergeist Activity

This video entertains me as it manages to create a tense scene without turning the lights off.  The camera remains stationary throughout as it catches a bunch of spooky shit happening in this house; all the while those dogs keep wondering what the hell is going on.  Some have said this video is a fake (what else is new) because some point in, the lighting changes implying a passing of time to create fake ghost effects.  I myself question the almost-too-obviously-spooky choice of music the Poltergeist plays on the radio (seriously, who has a song like that set up to play on their home entertainment system?).  But despite my doubts of its authenticity, it still managed to make my spine tingle in a way very few youtube ghost videos can do.  Some of the simplest scares are the most effective after all. 

2. Dorm Room Ghost

This video is especially creepy, as the ghost manifests itself from the shadows around it and nothing more.  Granted, a lot of the mystery behind this ghost seems to come from the low quality of the camera, but it is tough to just write off how this spirit just appears and disappears without opening any doors or using any video effects.  Real or not, this is one hell of a spooky clip.

3. The Old Tape

This is a creepy online horror artifact, first shared on Redit in April of 2013.  Supposedly it was recorded off of a radio broadcast by the Redit poster Ravenmouth (the youtube poster is AD10669sh, presumably the same person) back in 1995 and until 2013, the recording had been sitting in a desk drawer.  It is of creepy ambient noises, followed by an echoed choir of female voices reading off a list of names and dates.  The trusty diehards of (link to the discussion) took some time to study up on some of the names recited in the recording and found they all belong to dead people and the dates are of their deaths.  But some of the names are of these deceased individual’s next of kin.  The word on the street is The Old Tape may have your name listed in the recording too.  So take a good hard listen when you play this…You know…If you’re brave enough.

4. Japanese Ghost

Few cultures are as creative with their horror as the Japanese.   This has a lot to do with their rich, diverse background and belief system, which incorporates a platoon of supernatural creatures, ghosts, gods and demons.  It is easy for us to forget that the world we live in today is manufactured to provide us with more comfort than our ancestors were able to provide themselves.  But sometimes the old world likes to sneak up on us and shake us out of our comfort zone as a reminder that the same threats our ancestors had to face are still relevant today.  Such is the case with this fantastically frightening video, in which a happy group of individuals are interrupted by a Yūrei; a tortured spirit whose body was not put through the proper rights of passing.  If you had to pick a ghost video to watch to keep you from falling asleep, this is probably the one you are looking for.

5. Body of a Pig

Despite what I just said about the Japanese, don’t write off the British as just a bunch of tea sipping swootilypoopers.  They are hardcore with their myths and legends of ghosts and demons as well.  Body of a Pig messes with your head, as it anthropomorphizes one of the most delicious creatures in the animal kingdom and makes it a threat to these curious paranormal investigators.  The EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) is creepy enough.  But the money shot is what follows the EVP.

6. Real Demons Caught on Tape

Arms, arms everywhere but not a gun to shoot (sorry, it’s not a creative joke).  Whoever made this video is sick.  And I want his autograph.  Seriously, what could be more frightening than being locked in a room with a million arms reaching out at you from nowhere?  How about a gaggle of tiny baby arms grabbing at you from underneath the doorframe, or the doorknob turning into an eyeball?  Or how about a giant finger monster ready to turn you into tasty tasty finger food?  I don’t know, but I do know I practically crapped my pants the first time I watched this.

7. Real Exorcism of Annelise Michel

All of you know about Exorcisms.  If not, I know you’ve at least heard of the movie The Exorcist.  Some of you may even know of at least one of the three not-as-good-or-popular horror films in similar vain, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes and Requiem.  Those three films were all inspired by the real case and Exorcism of Annelise Michel, a young Catholic woman who believed she was possessed by the devil.  In response, her parents secretly organized an Exorcism for her by two priest which took place over the span of 10 months and 67 sessions.  She died on July 1st, 1976 from Dehydration and Malnutrition, among other ailments brought upon by mistreatment during the Exorcism rights.  The trial of her death received a great deal of press and the individuals responsible for her death were charged with negligent homicide.  Needless to say it was an all around fail for those who were responsible for her well-being.  The following is an audio recording of the actual Exorcism taking place, juxtaposed to photographs of Annelise throughout that last year.  If the ghosts and the demons make you scoff, let the sweet and somber tones of the horned one himself speaking through a dyeing young woman keep you company as you spend the rest of your night huddled nose deep beneath your covers.  They won’t protect you of course, but at least you will stay warm when he comes for you.

8. The Scariest Video You’ve Ever Watched In The Name of Science

After all those spooky videos I’d say it is time for a break from the paranormal.  Want to learn how to fix a transmission tower?  There’s nothing scary about that, right?  I mean it’s a pretty blue collar job working with electricity and metal pipes and whathaveyou…Oh yeah, and you also have to climb a vertical ladder that can go up thousands of feet while barely secured to only the most bare bones of safety equipment.  If you ever wondered what it was like to climb a 2,000 foot ladder while dragging over 30 lbs of equipment dangling from your belt, feeling the wind blow you back and forth, knowing that just one unpredicted storm cloud or the slightest breeze could knock you off balance causing you to fall hundreds to thousands of feet to the hard, unforgiving ground, wonder no more.  But look on the bright side; if you fall at least they won’t need to dig a grave for you.  By the time your body hits the earth, it will surely leave a 6-foot deep crater for your broken bloodied carcass.  Have fun thinking about that as you sit back, relax, and watch this climb from the safety of a GoPro camera. 

9. Robert The Doll

Haven’t got the creeps yet?  Bare with me now, I’m not done yet.  This video is about one of the most famous haunted artifacts of the 20th century, Robert The Doll.  He is to this day one of the most nightmare inducing things ever conceived by mankind.  Robert the doll was a gift to the 6 year old Robert Eugene Otto.  His maid, who was thought to practice voodoo magic, created the doll in the likeness of the young man himself. You want to know the really scary part? Until his dyeing day, Robert Eugene Otto really believed his doll was alive.  And the people in his life including his wife were legitimately affected by the supposed mischievous actions of Robert The Doll.  That’s right folks, paranormal or not, everything in this video actually happened.  Pleasant dreams.

10. Found Footage Super 8 Reel 8.687687.87: Fragment 7k

I’ve seen a lot of these “guy with a camera checking out a lot of nothing until a pair of eyes stare back at him from the darkness” videos.  But I really like this one for a few reasons.  Most notably, the idea that the only thing separating you from whatever is reaching through those cracks is a flimsy, rotten bathroom door stall.  The youtube poster of this video is Jack Torrance (link in the name), and he has a bunch of these, “found footage super 8 reel” clips supposedly found in, “10 large boxes at an estate sale for 5 bucks a box” in Austin, Texas.  If my list wasn’t enough to keep you awake, then as a bonus I challenge you check out all of the videos on his channel.  Though this one is particularly scary, they will all aid in keeping you from catching the necessary Z’s for your well deserved night’s sleep. 

So that’s it folks.  I hope my list has kept you thoroughly entertained.  Maybe next time you won’t need inspiration to keep yourself awake, as these videos provide a sufficient amount of nightmare fuel for a lifetime. At least so long as you keep the lights out.  And remember.  There is nothing in the dark.  So there is no need to look behind you.  Even when you feel that warm, raspy breathe of air on the back of your neck.  Whatever you do.  Don’t turn around.  

Monday, August 5, 2013

Phantom of the Paradise Review

All right, all you Phantom-of-the-Opera-fans, it is time to knock your socks off.  You want an original take on the phantom?  I bet you didn’t even know you had one.

Phantom of the Paradise is a film directed by Brian De Palma, director of Carrie and Mission Impossible.   It draws heavily from both the original Phantom of the Opera novel as well as the infamous legend of Faust.  In this story, Winslow Leech, played by the late William Finney, is an up and coming composer who is solicited by the great and powerful record producer, Swan, to produce his album.  But this is only a ruse for Swan to steal Leech’s music, which he plans on using to open his new Casa de Rock and Roll that rivals such industry locals as Disneyland, which he calls The Paradise. 

Upon discovering Swan’s plan, Winslow struggles in vain to get back on the same page with the satanic producer.  But each attempt lands Winslow in even more trouble, such as being kicked out of Swan’s office, sent to jail, having his teeth removed, having his vocal cords removed and having his face melted down to silly putty in a record press machine. 

Humiliated and presumed dead, he stalks the paradise, sabotaging Swan’s attempts to put on his opening act.  Unfortunately ever the devil, Swan’s not done with Winslow yet, as he plans to bleed the new phantom’s creativity and steal the woman of his dreams all in one sinister swoop. 

Funny thing this movie, it is filled with tiny inconsistencies and technical errors but it remains to be one of the most entertaining indie films of the early 1970s.  Normally, I like picking the bones of these cult movies clean like a vulture in the Arizona desert.  But this movie is way too much fun.  Partly because of Paul Williams of course!  What?  That guy from the Muppets who sings about an old fashioned love song with two clones of himself singing alongside him?  Yup, that guy.  Apparently this guy plays bad guys very well, as this is not his only time performing as a villainous character.  You can also see (or rather hear) him as the murdering, bank robing, son of a bitch Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot in the Batman animated series. 

Mr. De Palma made a wise choice in hiring Paul Williams to write the music for this movie.  It’s fun, dark, creepy and hauntingly beautiful.  Strange, coming from the man who wrote Rainbow Connection.  This brings up a very good point.  Does anyone remember any original not-used-for-television-or-film songs written by this guy?  More importantly, why does no one remember this guy?  He’s had it all, and even been the subject of a mildly darkly themed documentary titled, “Paul Williams Still Alive”.  Not only can he write memorable, catchy music but also he plays such convincing bad guys.  Look at him, walking into his office with a million women climbing all over each other just to have a piece of this piggy bloke, Swan. You know these women are doing this just to get a taste of the lime light their foster parents went so far out of their way to convince them they weren’t good enough for.  What a schmuck.

My favorite scene in this movie is when Swan hooks up Winslow to an electric voice box jerry-rigged to a mixing station.  Winslow plays the piano and sings his bittersweet song (lovingly entitled “Faust”) as Swan, at the mixing board, works to re-create Winslow’s true voice.  The progression of “tuning in” to artificially restore what Winslow no longer has, juxtaposed to the horrible figure he now is, is eerily beautiful.  This scene also brings up a lot of nostalgic Frankensteiney imagery such as a mad genius slaving over his machines to put together his horrible monster.  Classic.

Just like in the original novel, the Phantom of this film is not a ghost but actually a talented and misunderstood artist who uses mystique and theatricality to impose fear and intimidation on his enemies.  But unlike in the original novel, Winslow has an on screen change from your run-of-the-mill musician to the haunting creature, The Phantom.  At first, Winslow is a pretty approachable guy, albeit with a bit of a temper when threatened.  He flirts, he smiles and he writes beautiful music that touches fellow performers and tycoons alike.  When he first realizes his music has been stolen, he attempts to make peace with his antagonist to come to a fair arrangement for both parties.  But the more Swan pushes him, the more his anger takes over.  He even tries to break into Swan’s boudoir dressed as a woman in hopes of getting Swans attention, only to be beaten up and framed for possessing illegal drugs, fetching himself a life sentence for Sing Sing, were horrible medical experiments are implemented on him for God knows how long.  The dark side of Winslow’s nature seems to dominate his actions for the rest of the movie after that.  He breaks out of prison, dons a mask and black leather outfit and attacks the various performers who attempt to bastardize his own music at The Paradise.  He is quick to react aggressively when things don’t go the way he wants.  Yet Winslow’s passion is easily manipulated by the evil Swan into making more music in exchange for fame, a new voice and various narcotics to keep him cranking out them hits!

This movie is also my second favorite film starring Jessica Harper.  Try and guess which one is the first (If you can’t figure it out, I’d find that a little Suspiricious).  She has a girl-next-door plainness about her that fits well in this movie.  She is young and mouse-like with a good singing voice and a lot of stage presence.  But outside of her stage presence, she is your average everyday girl, looks and all.  This makes the Winslow character even more down to earth, as he finds this young woman to be perfect despite her shortcomings.  His standards are just not as corrupt as everyone else.  This is the one thing he is able to hold onto throughout the film in order to keep his humanity

Lastly, let’s not forget one of the best characters in this movie; the effeminate, metal prima donna Beef played by Bud the Chud himself, Gerrit Graham.  When on stage or in front of a camera, Beef is a nasty grimacing badass with an attitude to match.  But meet him in his changing room and you’ll find a very different kind of man.  He’s girly, catty and a tad on the bitchy side for a metal head.  His butchering of Winslow’s music is hilarious, especially coupled with Winslow’s reaction to every note he listens to Beef belt out.  Winslow is flat out against Beef performing his music, as he only wants the angelic “Phoenix” (Harper) to sing his songs.  Swan bricks Winslow into his room to keep him from interrupting Beef’s opening performance of Winslow’s music.  But just like a Honey badger, Winslow breaks the wall down and attacks the live performance once more.   

This movie was panned at its initial release, mostly due to a mishandled marketing campaign and a great deal of confusion from the audience about what type of movie this was  But since the late 70’s, it has built a rather impressive fan base.  In 2005 and 2006 in Winnipeg, The Convention Phantompalooza was held to honor the film, consisting of a reunion of most of the surviving cast followed by a concert from Paul Williams.  When William Finley died in April 2012, indiewire wrote a wonderful piece on his career as an actor, most notably his involvement in Phantom of the Paradise (link to article right here).  It seems that even though this film was forgotten almost as soon as it was made, time has treated it with great reverence.  It continues to rope in newer, fresher audiences who hunger for the lost gems of indie Hollywood.  Do something nice for yourself and take a moment to check this one out with your friends.  I promise you will get a lot out of it.