The Psychology of Scary Movies

Hi, folks. I came across this 14-minute YouTube video today that I enjoyed. I thought I’d share it with you.

It’s called “The Psychology of Scary Movies” by Filmmaker IQ (John Hess).

Analyze, and then go watch something scary!

Movie Review: House of Wax (2005)

I’m a little late to the show for this one, but if a movie fuels my imagination, even if it’s eight years old, I’ll review it. I felt this way about HOUSE OF WAX, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and released in 2005.

House of Wax


Synopsis: Six friends are traveling to a football game. They camp out for the night and plan to continue driving the next morning. But after discovering car trouble, two of them accept a stranger’s ride into the small, out-of-the-way town of Ambrose, where the main attraction is the House of Wax. But something’s strange about this town. Save for the wax figures, the town is deserted—except for two serial-killing twin brothers. The friends must fight to survive and escape from being the next exhibits. (Adapted from IMDB.)

I’ve always loved wax museums and think they’re fascinating as well as creepy. (A great combination for me.) I love the concept of not just a wax museum, not just a house, but an entire town made of wax. This village is cut off from everything and full of wax figures—any of which could be one of the deadly brothers—a situation that generates plenty of suspense. The awesome set makes for some genuinely creepy moments. And there are plenty of adrenaline-jolting scares from loud sound effects (cheap thrills, nonetheless effective).

The twins are the perfect killing franchise: one is the artist, the entertainer, and the other is the businessman, the salesman. Their only redeeming quality may be that they love their mother. The artist twin works with flesh, wax—and cutlery.

HOUSE OF WAXProtagonists are fraternal twins Carly and Nick Jones, played by spunky Elisha Cuthbert and brooding hottie Chad Michael Murray. The acting is unexceptional, but it’s not terrible either, except perhaps for Paris Hilton, who plays part of Paige Edwards. And other than the roadkill picker-upper (Damon Herriman), none of them is hard to look at. Even the mangled twin keeps himself hid behind a nice wax mask (Brian Van Holt). He’s a scary sonofabitch, this vicious killing artist.

There’s loads of violence and gore in this flick, but the set and cinematography are visually rich and satisfying, something I like in horror, although these can’t redeem bad logic or shitty plotting.

HOUSE OF WAX suffers from some typical stupid horror movie moments. Why chase after the smell of rotting flesh? Why split up to search in a dangerous place? Must we have an explanatory info dump at the end? And gas at the filling station is $1.19—totally threw me out of the story. (Was it ever that cheap?) 😉

Favorite parts: Paris Hilton getting pegged. (It was her finest scene.) Catching a clip of Bette Davis crooning to Victor Buono’s ivory tickling in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, which plays nightly to a theater full of wax-covered corpses. And how the film used symbolism and tied in thematic elements at the climax.

HOUSE OF WAX isn’t as brilliant as CHAINED, but all in all, it’s not a bad view. The biggest problem with a house made of wax? Like an enormous candle, it melts. I’ll leave a few surprises for your viewing pleasure.

HOUSE OF WAX was written by Charles Belden (writer credited for the original story of the 1954 Vincent Price version) and TWIN brothers Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes (screenplay). 113 minutes. Rated R.

Movie Review: Chained

“Brilliant!” That was my exclamation after watching CHAINED (2012), dark crime thriller directed by Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David Lynch).

Bob is a taxi-driving serial killer who abducts women, rapes and kills them, and buries them on his property. But one day he picks up Sarah and her nine-year-old son Tim. After doing his schtick on Mom, Bob raises the boy as his own. “Rabbit,” as Bob calls him, must do as he says: eat his leftovers, clean the house, and bury the dead.

Eamon Farren as “Rabbit” in Jennifer Lynch’s CHAINED

Although the house is inescapable, Rabbit is chained to the daybed in the kitchen. As he grows older, “Dad” assigns an anatomy textbook for his protegé’s education, expecting Rabbit to follow in his footsteps whether he wants to or not.

Shot in just 14 days, there are no spectacular special effects in this film. Just intense drama, keen suspense, and fascinating characterization.

Although I don’t like looking at Vincent D’Onofrio, he’s an incredible actor and, like his performance in THE CELL, delivers a convincing—and chilling—performance as Bob. The lovely Eamon Farren portrays Rabbit with sympathy. I hope to see more of him in coming years.

CHAINEDWhile this movie is not for the faint of heart because of its violence, it’s worth studying for its writing and characterization. And there are shocking surprises you won’t want to miss.

CHAINED was included in Rue Morgue Magazine’s 200 Alternative Horror Films You Need to See. (I’m still loading up my Netflix queue…)

Bloody Disgusting posts an interview with Jennifer Lynch. The trailer is here. CHAINED was written by Damian O’Donnell and produced by Rhonda Baker, David Buelow, and Lee Nelson. 94 minutes. Rated R.

Darkly disturbing, I loved this film and will be adding it to my collection. It’s a keeper.

Insights from Nikola Tesla

Tonight I watched the 1980 biopic, The Secret of Nikola Tesla. Production values were poor, but I was nonetheless inspired. Here’s what I felt Tesla saying to me on this, his 156th birthday.

  • You can speak to departed geniuses. If they talk back, treasure their advice.
  • Follow your dream, do your best work, and these will make a way for you.
  • Don’t compromise what you know to be true, even if no one else agrees.
  • Screw the good old boy network. Those a-holes will be gone tomorrow.
  • Do honest work that enables you to remain true to yourself, even if you have to dig ditches.
  • Your greatest insights will come from higher consciousness, providing the missing pieces to your puzzle just when you need them.
  • Don’t let the small-minded and those steeped in conventional knowledge sway you from pursuing your vision.
  • If it’s good for humanity, it’s good enough to pursue.
  • Advancement doesn’t come without risk.
  • When you stick to your principles, you’ll meet the right people and money will come in.
  • Believe in yourself, name your price, and don’t compromise.
  • “You’ve got to be rich, so you can be free and independent.” —Told to him by George Westinghouse. But Tesla cared only for his vision and his work.

Happy birthday, Mr. Tesla. You’re my kind of genius!

“The future will show whether my foresight is as accurate now as it has proved heretofore.”
Nikola Tesla

Tesla's Secrets of the Universe