Tuesday, July 30, 2013

REPOST: Why 'The Conjuring' could be James Wan's Scariest movie yet

Not all true stories translate well in the silver screen, unless they were created with utmost care and accuracy by their filmmakers. In the poltergeist film "The Conjuring," the good old-fashioned suspense element has worked to the movie's advantage, earning it numerous plaudits from critics. Hollywood writer Kelsea Stahler even called it as probably director James Wan's scariest film to date.

Director James Wan is synonymous with blood-curdling horror, thanks to his work on the first Saw movie. His creepy vision introduced us to the world of Jigsaw, a serial killer so terrifying, audiences can't stop coming back to him. Then, he terrified us even further when he played guide to a story about a young, comatose boy whose family was trying to prevent evil spirits from taking him. Now, he's on the trail of two famous ghost hunters. It's a tale steeped in elements of reality we haven't seen in his other films, yet it's the one that had the potential to scare us the most.

At his New York Comic Con panel for The Conjuring the somewhat true story of famed ghost hunters, Ed and Lorraine Warren, Wan was joined by leads Patrick Wilson (Ed Warren), Ron Livingston, and Lili Taylor (Livingston and Taylor play a haunted husband and wife), and they all proceeded to terrify Con-goers with the never-before seen trailer and a clip that was both hilarious and panic-inducing.

Step one was to express how real these ghosts are to the subjects of the film, the real-life Warrens. Wilson spoke about visiting the couple along with his co-star Vera Farmiga (who plays Lorraine Warren), who keep a room of haunted artifacts they swear are capable of bringing destruction. "We love [ghost stories] and yet we're always trying to debunk it... So it's a tough thing when they believe it so strongly," says Wilson of the Warrens. He adds an anecdote about touching "the Annabell doll" and how both Ed and Lorraine swore it would bring harm, and even cited an incident in which a man touched the doll, and when he was leaving, crashed his motorcycle and died. While it's easy to write all the ghosty nonsense off, all it takes is a small detail like that to give the film enough credibility to do some serious scaring. And between that story and the fervent beliefs of two very real people, Wan may just be onto something.

Plus, it scares him. A lot. And if he's to be believed, that's a sign he's onto something good. Wan says the way he chooses to do films is by picking things that terrify him. "I'm a chicken s**t, that's how I can make these films," he says. "That's kind of like my therapy."

It shows. In the lengthy clip Con-goers saw from the film, it's the simple things that can be most terrifying.

In the full-length scene, we find Taylor's character playing hide and seek with her daughter, a game in which the daughter hints at her location with a simple "clap, clap." But when Taylor follows the clapping to an empty wardrobe (the one we saw the witch-ghost jumping off of in the trailer) as her daughter walks up behind her, confused as to why her mother would be looking in there, it's clear the ghost games have begun. Taylor still hears the claps later that night, and as she follows them, jarring phenomena continue to startle her. All the family photos along the stairs come crashing down as if someone is walking along the wall and thrashing them, one by one. Then, as she wanders through the house, turning lights on as the claps lead her toward the desolate basement, the sense of terror is at an all time high. Then she actually looks down into that basement chasm, and braving the cloudy darkness, reaches for the light switch, breathing a sigh of relief when nothing appeared. That is, until the light bulb shatters and goes out. Alone in the dark, Taylor lights a match, and for a moment, it seems she was imagining it all. Until, in a flash, and right next to her face filled with terror, come two, grimy, ghostly hands. Clap-clap.

To be perfectly honest, I just got scared writing that description. And that's because sometimes, the stories that are the most terrifying are the ones that prey on your simplest, most common fears. We've all gone creeping through our homes, seeking the source of a strange noise, and the longer we go without an answer, the more we imagine the sound is coming from something horrible. In minutes, it can go from a raccoon snooping in the trash, to a burglar, to an ax-murderer, to a blood-thirsty ghost. And in this case, all that ghost did was have a little fun, and yet, that scene is mind-bendingly terrifying. Wan may be onto something here.

James Van Praagh is an author, producer, and television personality known for his alleged ability in clairvoyance and as a spiritual medium. To know more of his most recent activities, visit this website.

Monday, July 22, 2013

REPOST: A New Explanation for Loch Ness Monster?

In 1933, a certain Mr. and Mrs. MacKay reported seeing a massive creature frolicking in Scotland's fabled Loch Ness. But scientists, to this date, remain skeptical about the occurrence of such a large monster. Recently, however, new “sightings” of the beast are again surfacing in the news. Read this article for more details.

The legend of Scotland's Loch Ness Monster is getting a good shakedown.

The elusive plesiosaur known as "Nessie," who is said to have first appeared in Britain's largest lake 13 centuries ago, may be nothing more than an illusion caused by earthquakes, according to an Italian scientist.

Luigi Piccardi, a geologist at the Italian National Research Center, presented his theory today at the Earth Systems Processes conference in Edinburgh.

Piccardi deduced that seismic activity in the Great Glen Fault, which runs underneath Loch Ness, releases gas bubbles, resulting in a violent commotion on the water surface. That commotion, says Piccardi, could be mistaken for sightings of Nessie.

A Small Sample of Reports

Although there are more than 3,000 known reports of Nessie sightings, Piccardi analyzed fewer than 40 of those incidents.

"When you look at the reports of people who saw the monster, they say we heard a great noise, saw a large commotion in the water, and that the waves rocked," says Piccardi. "They say we couldn't see the beast because the water hid the creature. The usual sighting is humps moving in the lake and normal waves, which can be related to the seismic effect."

Even the earliest account of the monster, from the seventh-century Life of St. Columba, pointed to an earthquake as the source, according to Piccardi. While walking along the shore of Loch Ness, the saint, who warded off the monster by "forming the saving sign of the cross in the air," experienced strong shaking.

But Piccardi will have a hard time swaying the staunchest Nessie-believers. Gary Campbell, president of the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club in Inverness, Scotland, disputes Piccardi's findings.

"Most of the sightings involve foreign objects coming out of the water. There's two most common — one's a hump, and the other is a head and neck," says Campbell. "At the end of the day, there's still sightings that are inexplicable. There's something physical in there."

The first locally recorded sighting of Nessie took place in 1868 and spoke of a huge fish, but the phenomenon of Nessie sightings didn't take off until 1933, when a Mr. and Mrs. MacKay reported seeing a massive creature frolicking in the lake.

Piccardi points out that the spate of sightings in 1933 and 1934 took place just before the last major earthquake in 1934.

The researcher, who specializes in finding seismological explanations for ancient myths, believes that the magic of the Loch Ness monster will live on, despite scientific explanations. "This will demonstrate an important side of human culture. It shows how myths can be so easily believed in, because people still believe in them today."

James van Praagh’s books on clairvoyance and mediumship, particularly “Talking to Heaven,” have reached the New York Times best seller list several times. Visit his website to know more of his works.