Sunday, November 22, 2015

SNL 'Star Wars Auditions' Sketch Features Rey and Finn

This week on "Saturday Night Live" we got a special sneak peek at Star Wars: The Force Awakens screen tests. Introduced by director, J.J. Abrams, of course. It featured not only SNL cast members playing characters such as Sofia Vergara, Chris Tucker, and a Coke Zero-obsessed George Lucas (Bobby Moynihan) but also, the real Emma Stone, Jon Hamm (Solo), Michael Bublé and of course, new stars, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega. Bonus!

I may have LOLd one or two times. Did you? it is. Enjoy.

-Larissa Mrykalo

Friday, October 30, 2015

American Horror Hotel Stories: Haunted spots for scary stays in every state



Although we're about to check out of the Halloween season, it doesn't mean the time is over to check into some scary action. In fact, all across the country there are haunted houses (and hotels, and B&Bs) worth a visit for year-round paranormal tourism.

As a lover of ghost stories, and professional paranormal pop culture nerd, I am often on the hunt for haunts, with my tastes leaning more towards comfortable hotels with a ghosty rep and less creaky old drafty mansions. This used to be a more daunting task, when establishments were reluctant to embrace their spectral folklore for fear they might attract the wrong crowd, appear less reputable, or basically scare away guests.

Thankfully, things have changed in the past decade or so, with the popularity of paranormal reality TV, such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, and successful movies like Paranormal Activity and The Conjuring. Now ghost stories are a selling point for many locations, and with American Horror Story currently taking on the hotels, I would not anticipate a good haunted hot spot to have much difficult in filling its vacancy.

I currently have a running tally of more than 100 supposedly haunted hotels, and I've stayed at a large number of them. And many have become well known in the mainstream, and dubbed some of the "most haunted" destinations in America.

The Stanley Hotel, aka The Shining hotel, is a part of pop culture in its own right - and for good reason. Shown above, the Estes Park, Colo., location is luxurious and set in the scenic Rocky Mountains. Meanwhile, the RMS Queen Mary, moored at Long Beach, Calif., is an ocean liner that carried civilian passengers and then troops during World War II. Now it is a tourist attraction, party venue, and the focus of many ghost hunts.

But what of the less-famous locations, and how do you hunt down your haunts? To that end, I have a beginner's guide of 50 haunts for all 50 states (plus Washington D.C.). This is by no means a comprehensive list, but is just to kickstart a spooky stay. In my search, I relied on active listings using's database, and tried to lean towards the lesser-known. Don't just take my suggestions, or only use these listings. Instead, begin your own ghost hotel hunt.

A history of the mysteries of the Ouija


Whether you say yes or no to the power of the Ouija board, there's no dismissing the legacy of this supposed spirit communication tool that inspires intrigue and amusement -- and sometimes fear.

For more than 125 years, the Ouija has been an all-American invention that's alternately viewed as a practical way to reach out to the beyond, a slumber party game and a great narrative device in pop culture. Some even see it as a negative creation and a potential gateway for the nastier denizens of the spirit realm to enter our turf.

Regardless of the Ouija's power (or lack thereof?), it is an undeniable part of our nation's history. That history was honored on Oct. 14 when the Talking Board Historical Society -- led by the world's leading talking board expert, Robert Murch -- worked with the City of Baltimore to install a plaque commemorating the location of an April 1890 séance where the board was named.

Though it is now a 7-Eleven, the building at 529 North Charles Street was once the Langham Hotel boarding house. Inside, the board's first manufacturer, Charles Kennard; his attorney friend and fellow Mason Elijah Bond (who registered the Ouija/Talking Board patent); and Bond's sister-in-law and medium Helen Peters asked the board what it wished to be called during a seance. When it spelled out "O-U-I-J-A," the board allegedly said it meant "good luck." Though later stories said the word was an amalgam of "yes" in French and German.

And much like the location where it earned its name in 1890, the Ouija board has changed over the years. What is currently sold by Hasbro, and marketed as a kids game, is a cardboard platform with glow-in-the-dark letters, or a plastic planchette with an embedded black light to read the board's "hidden" messages.

But there is much history to the Ouija board, and the talking boards (aka witch boards) that pre-date the brand. Join me and Murch, who has consulted on the show Supernatural and last year's Ouija movie, and next appears as a talking board expert on Destination America's Exorcism: Live!, for a brief tour of this mysterious, mystifying (and some would say malevolent and murderous) device.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Celebrate Day of the Dead with James Bond!

With Halloween just mere days away, die-hards are searching for a way to extend the spooky holiday. For those wishing to draw out the festivities, worry not, for Dia de Los Muertos is TWO whole days (Nov. 1-2) of extra goodness.

Dia de Los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that celebrates loved ones who have passed on to the other side. Altars are created and filled with photos, gifts, incense and candles, and even little sweet treats, to guide their spirits.

In recent years, the Day of the Dead celebration has been garnering more attention in pop culture, and it will be prominently featured in the newest James Bond film, "Spectre."

If you're still dying to know more about the history of Dia de Los Muertos, check out this fantastic infographic from Morph Suits, and be sure to check out "Spectre" when it hits theaters on November 6th!

-Nowal Massari

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Watch the Definitive Survival Guide For Zombie Children: 'A Brain is For Eating'

And remember my darlings...
To take care of your head...
It's the thing most important...
It keeps you undead.

Three years ago, I encountered what was described as an "educational book for zombie children" and wrote up a little something about "A Brain is For Eating." Yes this self-published book from Dan and Amelia Jacobs exists! It's available on Amazon for purchase but now, just in time for Halloween, they've released the full illustrated version on YouTube and it's delightful.

Read along with your little ghouls and goblins and, well...brain eaters. Click here for more details. Happy Halloween!

-Larissa Mrykalo

'Exorcism: Live!' Premieres this Friday, October 30 on Destination America

Chip Coffey (all photos courtesy Destination America)
Did you know that October 30 is National Candy Corn Day? Well it is and it would be a perfect treat to enjoy (unless you hate candy corn) when you tune in to Destination America at 9 p.m. ET for the historic television event, "Exorcism: Live!" featuring psychic medium, Chip Coffey.

The network just issued a new press release and we have it here in its entirety so you can check out all of the details. Will you be watching? It's certainly a controversial subject in the paranormal field but whichever end of the argument on which you fall (or somewhere in between), it'll certainly make for interesting viewing.

Full release:

(New York, N.Y.) – The most dangerous night on television is coming this Friday. Do not watch alone.

The history-making special EXORCISM: LIVE! premieres this Friday, October 30 at 9/8c, bringing the first-ever live televised exorcism in U.S. history to TV screens exclusively on Destination America. Just in time for Halloween, the two-hour TV event revisits the legendary house that inspired the scariest movie of all time, The Exorcist. It was in 1949 at a house in St. Louis when an exorcism was performed on Roland Doe to rid him of demonic possession. No one has ever attempted to cleanse the house of the dark entities that remain there… until now.

'Face Off' Recap: 'Movie Magic - Part Two'

All photos courtesy Syfy.

When we left off after the camera test, Nora and Ben were feeling pretty good about their work while Evan despaired. As usual. Then, the twist! A script change requiring not only fixing the current characters per Patrick's direction but also a brand new third character! Excited is probably not the word I would use right now. Season Nine has come to a close so let's do this!

No worries guys, we won't hang you out to dry completely, we'll give you some more help!

Nora - Ricky
Ben - Jason
Evan  - Libby

Um, yay.

'Face Off' Recap: 'Movie Magic - Part One'

All photos courtesy Syfy.

This is it, Part One of the Season Nine finale. We've our final three: Ben, Nora, and Evan. Who will be crowned the champion? It's Lights! Camera! Makeup... so let's do this.

It's virtual family visit day! Evan is so thrilled to see his dad and girlfriend he cries. Ben is super excited to see his dog Quincy and Nora and her girlfriend Mary are so freaking adorable. For the record, I'm pretty sure my cat wouldn't care. At least until I returned and then she'd pee in my shoes. Anyway, thus fortified, off they head to the lab for the final challenge.

The lab is empty but for McKenzie and the crew which is unusual as the surroundings generally lend a clue as to the theme of the challenge. Well actually, the crew is the theme as for their final challenge, they will work with a director and production crew to create three stunning short films. The director is none other than Patrick Tatopoulos, helmer of "Batman vs Superman"...and McKenzie's husband. They will be creating two characters to star in a short film which has already been scripted and story-boarded. You all want to work in TV and movie make up? Here you go!

Reelz Channel ups the real fear factor of Halloween programming

Note: This post is sponsored by REELZ; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.

| Movie Trailer | Review

We are only just a few days away from Halloween, but the fear is far from finished this season. This is especially the case over at Reelz Channel, where they are still in the throes of their unique 13 Nights of Reelz Scary programming. But what is making this particular slate of October content notable is that Reelz is kicking up the real fear factor by exploring freaky facts behind favorite movies and popular scary stories.

For instance, last night on the network, our skin was crawling with their true crime shows that built the tension leading up to "The Silence of the Lambs." Before Dr. Lecter started licking his lips over chianti and fava beans (and a little human liver), the programming block kicked off with an episode of "Murder Made Me Famous," about the gruesome works of serial killer Ted Bundy. Following that was "Behind the Screams," a docu-series that connected the dots between Bundy and how it inspired the character of Buffalo Bill in "Lambs." The 1991 Jodi Foster/Anthony Hopkins classic then rolled, and was followed by a behind-the-scenes documentary about the film, featuring cast and crew interviews.

See what they did there? Build the tension using real (and horrific) scary stories, then lead into a great Hollywood flick. Although the programming is not strictly paranormal-themed, the "Behind the Screams" episodes detailing the disturbing lives of Ed Gein and John Wayne Gacy are darkly compelling -- as are the effects the killers had on the entertainment industry.

But there is actually quite a lot in the paranormal pop culture realm to scare the pants off you. Tonight at 8 p.m. ET, a "Behind the Screams" episode titled "Witches Among Us" explores the haunting tale of the Perron family, who you'll remember from "The Conjuring." This installment adds a level of creepiness to the movie with the first-hand accounts you may not know about. Also tonight is the story behind a different case of Ed and Lorraine Warren: "The Amityville Horror Murders." The doc takes a critical look at the murders and the supposed hauntings to determine whether the reports were true or not. There are also "Behind the Screams" entries this week focusing on the "true story" accounts of some of the most famous paranormal movies, "The Exorcist" and "Fire in the Sky."

Even if you don't end up tuning, or setting your DVR, into the 13 Nights of Reelz Scary, check out their site for pretty cool/creepy supplemental content. One of the things I really got into was a gallery of exorcisms depicted in art, from 1300 to 1900. They also include a breakdown, and listing, of the Latin exorcism ritual.

And if you need a little appetizer to get you ready for some scary programming, check out the YouTube vid of supposedly real footage from hauntings and poltergeist activity.

I won't say any of it's legit, but it is worth sticking around to watch the whole thing. Though the one beginning at the 1:28 mark is the best, in my opinion.

-Aaron Sagers

Monday, October 19, 2015

'The Walking Dead' Most Talked About Scene: 'JSS'

Jessie's got a gun...
Obviously there are spoilers in here so if you missed last night's The Walking Dead please step away. Go on. I'll wait.

Okay, season six's second episode started off with Enid's heartbreaking backstory and her reminding herself to 'just survive somehow.' Then it got a little slow with Carol and the gals talking about ham and paprika and how smoking is bad for you...well it turns out, it really IS pretty bad for you. The wolves invasion arrived and for 45 minutes, Carol's casserole baked away as Alexandria was brutally attacked.

"JSS" has become a fan favorite already and in the scene AMC chose at the 'most talked about,' Jessie is attacked by a female wolf in her really nice kitchen where she gives haircuts. After a failed attempt at using her gun and being temporarily knocked out, she grabs her scissors and goes all mama bear on this palazzo pants-wearing psycho. As a parent, I may have let out a very loud, "YES!" when she gave that last thrust into the invader as her older son looks on. As if he didn't want that haircut before he witnessed this? Hopefully he now has a new found respect for his mother.

So here's that scene but of course, let us know what scene was your fav. There were really too many to count. I also added a sneak peek at next week's episode, 'Thank You.' You're welcome.

-Larissa Mrykalo