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 on...you 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 http://hellhousellc.com
 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.

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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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Monday, October 2, 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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Friday, September 1, 2017

Gothic September - Edgar Allan Poe #GothicSept #Poe (and more upcoming events)


Gothic September is here...and that means fall is just around the corner! One of my most favorite times of year! It has become a tradition for us to read Poe during this month and so that is what we're doing again. The stories and schedules are listed below.


Week One - Berenice: A Tale
Week Two - William Wilson: A Tale
Week Three - The Imp of the Perverse
Week Four - A Descent into the Maelstrom

Discussion for each story will go up by the weekend at the end of each week on this blog.

More upcoming events this fall here at Castle Macabre, over at Seasons of Reading and at Gather Together and Read!


In October, Season of the Witch is back. We will be reading stories about witches by Algernon Blackwod, George Brewer (a short novel) and Shirley Jackson. I will post the reading schedule and more specific details in the starting post on the first of October.

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


The FrightFall Readathon is back and I've made it a month long event! Sign up is open now so head over and add your name. Would love to have you join us!


Everyone knows I'm a huge Anne Rice fan (my favorite author) and she has written a sequel (with her son, Christopher Rice) to one of my favorites of her books, The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned. The new book is titled Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra. So, I've decided to host a read-along of the first book (October) in honor of the sequel's release in November. This will be a reread for me and frankly, I'm pretty excited. Rereading a favorite is always fun! Check out the announcement post and express your interest HERE.

That's it! Let's get the fall fun under way!


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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Castle Macabre celebrates 7 years! #blogiversary #giveaway


Seven frightening years of (mostly) horror! Wow! I know this sister blog of True Book Addict is not quite as prolific, but it is no less dear to my heart. I've discovered some great horror authors since starting this blog and I'm looking forward to discovering more...and continuing on with more from my favorites. You know who you are!


In recognition of seven awesome years of scary, and to thank you for your friendship and loyalty, I'm hosting a little giveaway. I'm giving you a chance at winning any horror book (Kindle format) on Amazon (under $5). Looking for recommendations? Click that Book Reviews tab in the menu at the top. I've read some really good ones, especially in the last year. All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me a horror book you've read that you could not put down. Don't forget to leave your email address so I can contact the winner. (Anyone who does not leave an email address will not be entered. If you're afraid of a bot stealing it, enter it like so: truebookaddict AT gmail DOT com) This giveaway will end on September 15th at 12 midnight central time.

Good luck...and thanks for sharing the horror!



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Saturday, July 8, 2017

It's a real Horror Show

This post will be cross-posted on all of my sites.


You may not have heard about Photobucket screwing over a ton of people with their new third party image hosting plan. (Read more here: http://nypost.com/2017/07/05/how-photobucket-is-now-shaking-down-its-users/) Basically, it means if you have a free account, you can no longer host your images without paying $400/year! So, all those clever grab codes I make for images and buttons...they have to be fixed with a new link from wherever the images are now being hosted. Luckily, I own two domains on GoDaddy so I get free image storage up to a certain amount and then I can pay extra if I need more (only $1.99/month). But with 7+ blogs/sites, it's going to take me a bit. I hope you will bear with me.


If you have any of my buttons on your site, I'm afraid you will have to delete and then come back by at a later date to grab the new code. There should not be any further problems in future. Fingers crossed.

I hope Photobucket crashes and burns for their underhanded tactics. I mean, I didn't even get an email notifying me!


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Sunday, May 28, 2017

New Release - Jason Parent's A Life Removed


I had intended to post this on release day (May 23), but my life is a constant disaster. My apologies to Jason...I hope he's not too mad at me. Watch for my review sometime in July.

Detectives Bruce Marklin and Jocelyn Beaudette have put plenty of criminals behind bars. But a new terror is stalking their city. The killer’s violent crimes are ritualistic but seemingly indiscriminate. As the death toll rises, the detectives must track a murderer without motive. The next kill could be anyone… maybe even one of their own.

Officer Aaron Pimental sees no hope for himself or humanity. His girlfriend is pulling away, and his best friend has found religion. When Aaron is thrust into the heart of the investigation, he must choose who he will become, the hero or the villain.

If Aaron doesn’t decide soon, the choice will be made for him.



In his head, Jason Parent lives in many places, but in the real world, he calls New England his home. The region offers an abundance of settings for his writing and many wonderful places in which to write them. He currently resides in Southeastern Massachusetts with his cuddly corgi named Calypso.

In a prior life, Jason spent most of his time in front of a judge . . . as a civil litigator. When he finally tired of Latin phrases no one knew how to pronounce and explaining to people that real lawsuits are not started, tried and finalized within the 60-minute timeframe they see on TV (it's harassing the witness; no one throws vicious woodland creatures at them), he traded in his cheap suits for flip flops and designer stubble. The flops got repossessed the next day, and he's back in the legal field . . . sorta. But that's another story.

When he's not working, Jason likes to kayak, catch a movie, travel any place that will let him enter, and play just about any sport (except that ball tied to the pole thing where you basically just whack the ball until it twists in a knot or takes somebody's head off - he misses the appeal). And read and write, of course. He does that too sometimes.

Please visit the author on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorJasonParent?ref=hl, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/AuthorJasParent, or at his website, http://authorjasonparent.com/, for information regarding upcoming events or releases, or if you have any questions or comments for him.


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