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Autumn of Terror: How I Failed To Make A Documentary About Ghosts And Legends

By @hmsbeefnuts

You may know from recent blogs that I’m quite fond of documentaries, well one summer, about 5 years ago, or maybe more now, the exact date is lost in memory, a few close friends and I decided to film our own documentary. We are all from Barry, a large town near Welsh Capital Cardiff, in South Wales, an area that seemed to be rich in folklore, ghosts, legends, and even a few cryptids here and there. Now we had never filmed more than a few Jackass style stunts before, we were inexperienced, totally unprepared, but were enthusiastic and ready to bullshit our way around The Vale of Glamorgan, in search of myths, monsters and spooky stories. The team was set up like this, me, my Brother Ollie (camera man), our friend Matty (presenter) and another friend Clare (team complainer ‘It’s cold. It’s rainy. I’m hungry!!’. Sorry Clare, we still love you!). My role was basically handling director duties and trying to get everyone’s arse into gear.

Why would anyone attempt this type of thing for no money, in ones spare time? Well it was Summer, at the time none of us had full time jobs, we were young and bored, and it sounded like a good idea at the time. I still think it sounds like a good idea, and it was definitely fun, if I ever had a chance again, I would totally try and do something again, but life gets in the way. Anyway. I’m getting ahead of myself, things are better started at the beginning, and so, we shall start there…

A rushed ‘production meeting’ allowed us to talk about what things we wanted to cover in this exciting (for us at least) project. The local area turned out to be quite the hotbed of mysterious goings on, from winged snakes, hitch-hiking ghosts, white ladies, black dogs and big cats. We had a lot of ground to cover if we wanted to see it all. Instead, we decided to concentrate on a few of the more likely and believable stories. So winged snakes were out, they hadn’t been seen for 200 years or so, and were most likely the invention of a drunken mind. Ghosts were decided on as being the most interesting and probably the most likely too, and so, our documentary crew went off to their computers and tried to look up any information they could about ghosts in our local area.

A local pub called The Captains Wife, (after the spirit of the wife of a Sea Captain who never returned home from a voyage, the wife so distraught that she hurled herself into the sea, to join her beloved), was thought to be our first port of call, and so, with no script, very little research and a whole lot of youthful endeavor, we loaded up my car and drove to the pub. As we were very early, there were few customers, and so we quickly found the manager, and camera in hand, asked permission to film and interview a few of the staff about their experiences of a ghostly nature. We came up with a genius excuse for doing all of this. Clearly we thought that just saying we were a bit bored and fancied filming something fun for a few weeks wasn’t going to cut the mustard. Instead we invented a whole back story for our group, we had met at university, where we were all doing film studies, and that we had chosen this documentary as our final project. Clever right? Well whether they believed us or not, and they must have thought we were very disorganised film students if they did, they allowed us to film and interview the staff. We were actually doing it.

We interviewed 4 members of staff, who each had tales of ghostly happenings that they had experienced, from chairs that moved on their own, to turning around in an empty bar and coming face to face with the Captain’s Wife herself. Spooky indeed. We filmed the interviews in front of the impressive fire-place, it all looked brilliant and atmospheric, our cover story was holding up, and our first location shoot was a massive success… until we got home to edit the footage. Of course our camera wasn’t a HD expensive piece of kit, so the image wasn’t excellent, but it was passable, in any case, we had already clocked that our film wasn’t going to look as a Louis Theroux or Michael Moore, the problem was the sound. Umm, we had forgotten that microphones are a good idea, and tend to pick up sounds that people say. So excited were we to start our amazing new project, we had forgotten the one of the two most important things about a film. A whole day wasted, and worse, we now had to invest in some sort of microphone if we were going to continue. Also, could we go back to The Captain’s Wife and reinterview everyone? It would be embarrassing, and to be honest, although the stories were very good, we decided the shame of  admitting we were inept was too great. It was a dark day for our nameless production, one we never really recovered from.

We decided we would try one more trip, this time to a local country park, reputedly haunted by a White Lady, a legend that has a few stories based around it, but one that people saw every few years. The usual story went as follows; a group of teenagers go camping in the Park, near the large viaduct. During the night, they are awoken by wailing and a ghostly white figure of a woman is seen approaching the tents. The kids leave sharpish, and never camp there again. We had our interest piqued by a girl I used to work with who swore this had happened to her, the investigation was on… But there was another place we wanted to try too. Somewhere that didn’t really have a haunted reputation, but looked spooky as hell. An old abandoned mill on the outskirts of Barry, now in ruins, looked like a perfect place for ghostly goings on. We decided to investigate both. We found nothing, unless you believe that orbs are the spirits of the dead, and not like dust or insects. We spent half a night down Porthkerry Country Park, and an afternoon at the mill. Nothing happened, we went home cold and tired, and a little disappointed, but we were not bored.

Our project had ended pretty much as soon as it had started. We were unprepared and disorganised, we didn’t think it through properly and we had no chance of doing anything of any worth. However, for a few weeks during a long, boring summer, we were entertained and we did some cool research. I would love to do something like that again, giving it a much better go, if I won the lottery, I would be all over it again. Documentaries are hard work, and although ours was a blatantly pathetic attempt it did show us a little of what it takes to make one, and if nothing else, we got to hear some really awesome spooky stories, and wasn’t that worthwhile enough?

 

Movie of the Month: May

By @hmsbeefnuts and Geeky Gem

Tale as Old as Time, Song as Old as Rhyme, Movie of the Month…..for May. Full Marks if you sang the opening sentence, obviously to the tune of Beauty and the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It is a strange time here at All Geek To Me’s enchanted castle in the woods. Spring has sprung and Disney’s Avengers has left me in a very happy mood. Of course, with The Avengers having only come out a few short days ago, and still to come out in many countries world wide, you should probably just go and see The Avengers, if you will only watch one film a month. However, May is the proper start of the Blockbuster Season, at least it should be, but apparently, someone forgot to tell Hollywood.

 

May 13th is my Birthday. I enjoy nothing more than having a day at the cinema in order to celebrate this. This year, well, I guess I’m going to have to see films I’ve already seen, because quite frankly, May releases suck balls this year. Men In Black 3, The Dictator, American Pie Reunion, Safe and the best of a shitty bunch Dark Shadows. Safe actually looks quite good. I love a bit of Stath, who doesn’t? But everything else, apart from Eva Green, umm sorry Dark Shadows, jeez, what a shitty month.

 

I have very little interest in anything Will Smith does any more, and Men In Black just looks… OK I guess? I just have no interest in seeing it. The Dictator. The trailer looks OK, it made me chuckle a few times, but that probably means the rest of the film won’t, but we shall see.  American Pie will have to work very hard to be funnier than Wanderlust and 21 Jump Street, but you never know, it can’t be any worse than the straight to DVD sequels, can it?

 

Dark Shadows…hmm. Really wasn’t too sure what to make of this, I’m not a huge fan of Tim Burton, but he seems to be in his element here, and Johnny Depp looks like he’s having fun as a vampire and the whole thing looks like fun. Oh and Eva Green, jumpin’ Jack Flash that dress is impressive, I shall not lie to you dear readers, Eva Green is sexy as all hell, and I will be going to watch this film for that dress alone. I’m not proud of the fact, but I am honest, possibly to my detriment. But to those who would call me a pervert, I would say to you, she knows what she’s doing, and so does Burton and the production team, that dress was purposefully used to draw men to see this film, well mission accomplished.

Here is the trailer for Dark Shadows… Seriously Hollywood, you couldn’t have kept John Carter for May? Sorry for the less than positive vibe going on here, I just can’t summon the enthusiasm to be positive this month. Don’t they know it’s my Birthday?!?!? June will be better, please Crom make it so.

 

Hmsbeefnuts

As normal this is the month where I get to pick the other movie I think you should at least think about seeing. Now I have had a good look at this months movies and I must say I found it hard to find something I thought I might like to go see apart from Hmsbeefnuts choice.

 I looked again, I thought about Men in Black 3 but part of me says it might not be as good as I hope. I also looked at the re-release of a lovely Disney movie Beauty and the Beast. I even thought about telling you go and see [Rec] Genesis as I like a good horror film, but none of these sparked my interest past the trailer, so I have gone with a comedy, that brings back a host of character’s that have not been together for some time.

 I am of course talking about American Pie: Reunion, now I loved these movies when they first came out and I have to admit I skipped the straight to DVD’s ones as they just didn’t do anything for me. So when I heard that they were not only making this one but the whole cast was coming back I was very happy. It looks like it will take the laughs we had to a whole new level. I cant wait, the trailer which I have added below for you is funny and I just hope it lives up to my dreams.

 Here for you viewing pleasure as always is the trailer.

 

 

Geeky Gem

March Movie Musings

By Hmsbeefnuts

With March coming to an end and April very much in full swing it is time for me to write a little something about the films I have seen theatrically this last month. All in all, a very good month I would say. A lot of good stuff going down. I had a great time at the movies this month, well, mostly.

First things first. John Carter, was the best film this month. I do believe that puts me ahead of Geeky Gem in my made up game. I won’t bang on about Mr Carter for long, I already covered how great this film is in numerous posts. It is very very good though, and you should defiantly go and see it. It is a shame that this will go down as one of the biggest flops in history, as it certainly deserves to be one of the top films this year. Such a pity. Anyway, lets not dwell on the negative shall we?

I enjoyed The Raven a hell of a lot too. Nice dark mystery thriller. A little bit like Saw mixed with From Hell mixed with a Morgan Freeman detective thriller, but with John Cusack. I liked it immensely. OK I worked out who the killer was before I was supposed too, but you can’t hold that against the film. Well acted, well shot and a really nice mystery thriller, recommended.

Continuing the Horror theme, we have The Devil Inside. Hmm. I’m having trouble with this one. I liked about 35% of the film. I liked the documentary aspect, the initial story was interesting, it’s just a shame it descended into sub Exorcism of Emily Rose rubbish. There are far better exorcism movies, Emily Rose, The Rite, The Last Exorcism, and of course, The Exorcist. The problem is, the sun genre has kind of done everything that it possibly can now, and The Devil Inside offers nothing new. During the exorcism scenes I must admit I was laughing pretty hard, much to the disappointment of my friend, sorry Leanne. I just think it’s hilarious when demons threaten to suck your cock or lick your aunties c-word. It’s stupid. The ending was terrible too. I enjoyed the film, but not in the way it was meant to be enjoyed and thus, I can not recommend it.

Speaking of laughing, Wanderlust and 21 Jump Street were both different comedies, but made me laugh my ass off. Both highly recommended. I went into Wanderlust expecting a romantic comedy with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, it was romantic but it was also very very funny. Rudd is at the top of his game, and Aniston gets better looking with age, she is beautiful. I almost lost control of myself during one scene clearly improvised by Rudd, the man is a comedy legend. 21 Jump Street has looked great from the get go. Jonah Hill is back to his best, and who knew Channing Tatum was such a great comedian? I have always liked Tatum, he reminds me of one of my best mates, but I never new he could keep up with someone as good as Jonah Hill in the comedy stakes. Jump Street may have the best cameo this year too, I will not spoil it, but it isn’t Ice Cube, and it is almost as good as a certain X-Men First Class cameo last year. Both films are more than worth your time.

We are now left with two major Blockbusters. One, I was very much looking forward to, but had some serious doubts about. The other a film I had very little knowledge of, and to be honest, looked like a girlie style action movie that was copying Running Man. But, I trust Geeky Gem, and she had been excited for The Hunger Games for quite a while, and so has Kirkie Chick. It was time then to man up, and take my Mum with me to see a huge blockbuster double bill, The Hunger Games, and Wrath of the Titans.

We started with The Hunger Games. I’ll be honest, I was mostly bored throughout the beginning of the film, until the contestants for said games were unveiled to the public in chariots. This was about 20 mins in, and from that moment on, with a few moments of ‘what the hell is happening’ I enjoyed the hell out of this film. At times it looked like it was being filmed during a Lady GaGa fan convention, but the story was strong and the action, although muted, was exciting. At times I thought there was a presumed audience knowledge on the part of the film makers, I won’t spoil which bits, but I felt things needed to be explained a little more clearly. Geeky Gem has since put me in the know and cleared up any confusion, a job the film-makers could have solved by putting a sequence of less than a minute in explaining how the arena works. Anyway, apart from that Jennifer Lawrence is pretty and great, the other roles are well acted and this could have been really good if the violence quota had been upped and some real carnage had been shown, but I guess kids being killed is a touchy subject. All in all well worth your time, but it is in no way as good as The Running Man, the king of future death sport films.

We now come to the last film I watched this month. Straight after Hunger Games, I high tailed it to another screen, I had bought both tickets before hand, and waited with baited breath for Wrath of the Titans to begin. I had hated the Clash of the Titans remake. The original was a vastly superior film, and Harryhausen is still the king of epic myth movies, but, you have to give these things a go. Oh dear. I hated this film with every ounce of my being. From an uninteresting start, some absolute shitty monsters and some very misplaced comedy moments, which were not funny, this film was an abomination. Oh and to make things even worse, Bill Nighy was in it, being his usual shitty self, but this time he was trying extra hard to piss me off. Bill plays Hephaestus, Metal Worker of the Gods, with a thick Yorkshire accent. FUCK YOU Bill. I’m serious, fuck you, stop accepting roles in films you can not play. It was like he was taunting me personally. Well it worked, you ruined and already shitty film, Bill Nighy makes things 20% worse.

Effects wise, at least everything looked a hell of a lot better than the bizarre and equally awful Immortals. That is, apart from the Cyclops. When will effects houses realise that if you are going to do humanoid faces and creatures, they have to look excellent, the uncanny valley is prominent in this movie, and the Cyclops looks like a giant mess of pixels.

It might be that I love Ancient History and Mythology too much, my degree is in Ancient Greek and Roman History, but this film was perhaps worse than the first. Andromeda is also a problem now. Played by a different actress to last time, Andromeda has been transformed into an Amazonian Warrior Princess. I hate that shit. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind women kicking men’s asses in films, but for the love of Zeus, make it slightly realistic. There is no way a woman would be in charge of a Greek army back then, no way. Especially a princess like Andromeda. I would have not even mentioned Andromeda, and just cast Rosamond Pike as an Amazon. You know like they had in Greek myth. Instantly my problem with her would be over. Amazons would frequently kill men and were better warriors than almost everyone else. Andromeda is better in the role of damsel in distress. Now I am also aware that there is no ‘back then’ these things didn’t exist and therefore if I can accept a Chimera, I should be able to accept a Princess leading men into battle. Well I can’t sorry. Even Liam Neeson can’t save this turkey, although, he is the best thing in it by far.

I hate this film, mostly because with a better script, better cast, well better everything it could have been so good. There is a place for old fashioned monster adventure movies, look at how well King Kong turned out, or Lord of The Rings, but you have to take the films seriously, and Titans, hasn’t been taken seriously since Harryhausen stopped making films. Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to love this movie, and I hated it, and I hate hating things that I want to love. Like an ex-friend who has betrayed you and revealed themselves to be a selfish twat, Wrath of the Titans is a film that deserves a verbal beating. Please don’t make any more of these films, unless you are willing to get a director who knows how to handle this shit seriously. I would like to put forward Peter Jackson, or Guillermo Del Toro.

Anyway, that’s it for last month. From the heights of Olympus with John Carter, to the lows of Hades with Wrath of the Titans. April is now upon us, an April filled with hope and renewed movie going vigour, if The Avengers lets me down, I will be most upset, but it shall not!!! It can not!!! I will be great, oh yes, it will be great, AVENGERS!!! ASSEMBLE!!!

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