Horror That’s Not Horrible: James Wan and his Ghosts

IMG_0278.dngIt’s not often I get excited about horror films anymore.  More often than not they’re pretty much crap.  I’ve talked about my lifelong love/hate relationship with the horror film genre.  It started as a kid and has followed me up into adulthood.  Though now, I’m much more pickier than when I was 12, 13 years old and perusing the horror section at Video World.  Looking for the most disturbing cover I’d end up with The Evil Dead, Suspira, Dawn Of The Dead, Nightmare On Elm Street, and The Pit(if you have never seen The Pit, you must seek it out…absolutely stunningly bad, but in a hillarious way).  I had a friend in Fangoria Magazine that would guide me on my search for new horror to see.  Hellraiser, The Dead Next Door, Prince of Darkness, From Beyond, Re-Animator,….the list goes on and on.  Believe me, some were absolute junk.  But there were those hidden gems.  Lately though, I’m starting to tire of the zombie thing.  How many more times can we go through it?  And with World War Z eviscerating the intelligence, charm, and literary significance right out of Max Brooks truly great book, I think I need to walk away from the genre completely.  Vampires?  Thanks Stephanie Meyer for screwing that whole thing up.  Werewolves are nothing more than bare-chested stud muffins thanks to MTV(sorry guys, but that dude does NOT look like Michael J. Fox in the slightest).  So besides sci fi, ghost stories are really what’s left that still intrigues me.  Maybe because that’s a grey zone.  We’re closer to a haunting than a zombie apocalypse.  Ghost stories have always scared me more than anything.  It’s those creaks in the dark you hear.  Lights that flicker.  A glimpse of a shadow on a wall.  That’s the stuff that make a chill go down your spine(Was that a spirit passing through me?  No.  Turn up the furnace idiot).  Last year I watched one of scariest movies I’ve seen in years.  Insidious was a ghost story that was nothing short of a creepy masterpiece.  A family being tormented, their son trapped between here and the netherworld, a prisoner of some sort of demon.  Things moving in the dark.  Horrible demons appearing then disappearing.  I jumped more during that film than anything other movie I’ve seen(with the exception of Daddy Day Care….terrifying). 

When I heard that there was going to be a sequel to Insidious I was a little let down.  Come on, people.  Do you really need to screw up a ghost story classic?  Bring in Michael Madsen, Sharon Stone, and one of the Culkin kids that’s still young-ish looking and not a drug addict and defecate on yet another movie that should’ve been left alone?  But that wasn’t the case.  Same director, writer, all the same actors?  Damn, they did it right.  And the trailer only comfirms this, as it decidedly scared the crap out of my 8 year old son.  He normally laughs at this stuff.  Not this time.  He had to walk away.  Insidious: Chapter 2 comes out in September, just in time for the changing of the leaves and the fall movie season.

If that wasn’t enough, I heard rumblings of yet another haunting film called The Conjuring.  I looked up the trailer and proceeded to be creeped out and enamored.  And not only does this film look like a classic ghost story in the making, it’s got a great cast(Lili Taylor, Ron Livingston, Patrick Wilson, and Vera Farmiga), but it’s also got James Wan directing, the dude behind both Insidious films, plus the first Saw, Dead Silence, and Death Sentence.  I can’t say anything about his other flicks.  I did watch Saw once.  It didn’t do much for me, honestly.  The other two movies I’ve never seen.  But I can say without a doubt that he has the magic touch for making creepy ghost movies.  Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, The Conjuring is based on real events.  It takes place back in 1971(70s period films are a favorite of mine, btw).  An actual family was terrorized by some benevolent spirits and this husband/wife team of paranormal investigators came in to help them.  The film is based on trascripts of taped interviews with the couple and their experiences.  Do I know if this stuff really happened?  No.  But it only adds to the overall experience.  The MPAA gave The Conjuring a R-rating.  When the filmmakers asked why, they told them it was just too scary to be PG-13.  No nudity, or bad language, or extreme violence.  It’s just….too….scary.

See you at the movies.

16 Replies to “Horror That’s Not Horrible: James Wan and his Ghosts”

    1. I’m talking about old school haunted house jump-out-of-your-seat kind of frights. No gore, no gratuitous violence. This is just old fashioned ghost stories. Things that go bump in the night kind of stuff.

      There’s another trailer for The Conjuring where it’s Lili Taylor playing hide and seek with her daughters. If you can find that, watch it. That’s a great example of what this movie is about.


  1. Damn, sorry for always commenting in bulks and way too late, I binge-read, it’s my only weakness.
    Anyways, I really agree. I do watch all the horror movies, zombies, vampires and werewolves but with a few exceptions, they are all the same and especially the zombie genre has become a boring comedy-pit of carbon-copies. But I looooove a good ghost story. “Insidious” was great, even though the ending…I don’t know. But maybe I was confused in the middle of the movie because Lin Shaye is the queen of horror comedies and that threw the tension a little off for me.
    I really liked “Sinister” (kind of the same vibe like “Insidious”), again, the ending – not my thing – but the atmosphere of that movie is gold and the soundtrack is one of the most genius (meaning, terrifying) things ever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgYxydrVlDk


    1. No need to apologize. Thanks for stopping by the Blog O Horror.

      I agree completely regarding the ends to both ‘Insidious’ and ‘Sinister’. The creepy vibe was so well done throughout that the ends of those two couldn’t hold up. ‘Insidious’, especially. It was like some half cheese ending like ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’ where the mom gets yanked into the house through a 7inx7in window like a blow up doll as the car drives away by itself and the red and green convertible top comes up. Lin Shaye was one of the teachers in that I believe. Anyways, I totally agree with you. Supposedly they explain that whole ending in the sequel. ‘Sinister’ was good, but that ending was disappointing to say the least. It didn’t help that I wanted to beat Ethan Hawke to a bloody pulp with his smirk. But I digress. He played a narcissistic alcoholic true crime writer to a tee.

      I need to revisit the ‘Sinister’ soundtrack now. I’m really into 70s horror movie soundtracks. Mostly italian horror like Dario Argento and George Romero, but John Carpenter made some great soundtracks for his flicks.


    2. Oh, and if you’ve never seend Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Devil’s Backbone’, you need to. One of the best ghost stories I’ve seen in many years. Many as in like, ten. Very creepy and quite sad.


      1. I started that movie twice and didn’t finish it and I don’t even know why. Welp, another one on the bucket list.


      2. Gasp! At least they didn’t live in an anachronistic village hidden in a forest in the middle of modern society…dan dan da!


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