Wicked Wednesday: The Hitchhiker s3e1 “Nightshift” (1985)

I’m a bit obsessed at the moment with finding the perfect ‘old’ horror, sci fi or true crime show. It started with Unsolved Mysteries and Forensic Files and has moved on to hunting down the likes of Night Gallery and Beyond Belief. It’s amazing how much there is to discover once you open that can of worms.

My latest “discovery” is the 1980s anthology series The Hitchhiker, which first aired on HBO in 1983. Like most anthology series, there’s a mythical, seemingly omnipresent host – the Hitchhiker. He introduces us to each episode as he wanders the dark corners of the world.

Jane Renyolds is a crooked nurse who governs her care home with an iron fist. One night her boyfriend, Johnny, stops by to assess the jewellery she’s stolen from her patients. Though she’s disappointed when nothing seems to be of value.

During Johnny’s visit, a new patient is brought in who had been discovered in a burned-out building. Jane immediately spots the man’s massive ring. She attempts to slip it off his finger but cannot.

Johnny later returns, and the couple start to get frisky. It’s then that they’re interrupted by crashing sounds. Afterwards, Jane hears the angry shouts of her patients. She discovers that a cat has been murdered in the halls. They immediately blame their horrible nurse.

Suspicious of the new arrival, Jane straps him down to his hospital bed and finally gets his ring. Showing incredible strength, the man breaks free from his bindings and chases after the nurse. Unsurprisingly, the receives no help from anyone else in the building.

I always think short stories of horrible people getting their comeuppance are the most fun. “Nightshift” is no exception.

The cast in this is very good: Margot Kidder in the lead with Stephen McHattie and Darren McGavin in supporting roles. The quality is fantastic in it, I’m fairly surprised I’ve never heard of this show before. Being on HBO and not network television, we get a story with much edgier imagery. The gore alone certainly sets it apart from earlier counterparts.

Finding episodes of The Hitchhiker isn’t very easy beyond crap quality uploads on YouTube. I imagine things are probably easier in the US. If a streaming service in the UK could step-up and carry older television shows, that would be fantastic. If I can find more episodes to watch, I certainly will. I love the gleeful darkness.

Also, that hitchhiker is pretty hot.

Lockdown highlights (so far)

It feels unreal to finally be reaching the end of the strict stay-at-home orders. Sure, we have a long way to go. Living in London means my life won’t be running as usual for a long time. But we can see glimpses of “normalcy” seem to be breaking through.

Exhibit A: My friend brought me flour over this morning. FLOUR! The first bag I’ve been in three months.

I’ve been at home for 10 weeks. I wish I could look back on these past few months and take pride in the things I accomplished. But like most of us, I haven’t done anything. Instead I lay around listening to audiobooks and watching videos with titles like “5 most shocking murders with household appliances!”

That’s not to say that there haven’t been good things. So as we begin to step back out into this world, I’d like to doff my cap to the things that got me through Rona Times (so far).

Do share what’s been entertaining you and make you happy!

Movies

I’ve had a shocking time with movies lately. Almost all of them have been forgettable.

In the early days of March, my husband and I paid to watch The Hunt, which was definitely a mess, but a fun mess. More than anything it was interesting to partake in this new VOD-style release of brand new films. Going to the cinema in London is incredibly pricey, so this was a great middle ground. It was a way of paying to see a movie I wouldn’t have otherwise paid to see in cinemas. So I get to be relevant and cheap!

One of my better viewing choices was Candyman. I haven’t seen it in aeons, and thought it would be worth revisiting in preparation for the new film. Well, that release for Nia DaCosta’s sequel has been pushed back to September, but hey – plenty of time to watch the rest of the series.

For something more mind-opening, I can’t recommend Netflix’s Crip Camp more highly. This documentary chronicles the lives of key players in the disabilities rights movement in the US. It begins with their summer together at Camp Jened, a space that allowed them to be inspired by others like themselves. It’s an eye-opening piece of work that is so moving and impactful. You’ve already watched Tiger King twice, so just watch this next.

Hands-down the best movie I’ve seen call lockdown has been The Muppet Movie. There isn’t even a close second. Give me puppets, puns and Paul Williams and I need nothing else. It’s wholesome, but not in any sort of sickening way. A bright spot in what was certainly a dark time.

“Turn left at the fork in the road.”

Books 

One of the saving graces of the lockdown has been discovering Valancourt Books. This indie publisher specialises in rare and out-of-print fiction. They publish a wide variety of genres, but I’m here for one thing: horror.

From icons like J.B. Priestly and Robert Marasco to the hidden gems in the Paperbacks from Hell series, there’s a lot to discover from their selection.

My audiobook library is currently heavy with their titles. So far, the highlight has been Elizabeth Engstrom’s When Darkness Loves Us. This book is made up of two quiet, haunting novellas. The audiobook narrator, Karly Hutchins, does an incredible job bringing the stories to life.

My copy of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires FINALLY arrived this morning. Over a month after I was supposed to meet Grady Hendrix in person for a signing. Just the delivery of the book itself has been a highlight.

Let me tell you, the publishing industry has been absolutely ravaged by the coronavirus. So please support local bookshops and authors as much as possible.

Music

I rarely write about music anymore. Frankly, I find it dull work. And even more honestly, my music tastes haven’t exactly extended beyond the familiar in the last few years.

Early in the days of lockdown, I decided to start a playlist of the songs that I’d been listening to the most. Some are songs that I’ve only just discovered by accident through shows (and TickTock videos stolen and uploaded onto Twitter). The tracks don’t necessarily sounds good together, but it is what it is. A reflection of the chaos that is Rona Times.

So I guess if you like Ghanaian disco and early Meixcan rock ‘n’ roll…this playlist is for you?

Quick-fire “Misc” round

The Meyer Dancers‘ for their 60s go-go dancing videos that make at-home workouts fun again.

Enchanted Living Magazine for filling my dull life with stories and images of fantasy, magic and beauty.

RuPaul’s Drag Race and Schitt’s Creek for making me laugh and cry and being the only TV shows I can stomach.

Top5s and Rachel Maksy for being my go-to YouTube channels despite having nothing in common.

Filmageddon for hosting the best-damn film quiz, making me feel like I’m at the Prince Charles Cinema again and for filling my Wednesday nights with cheer.

Wicked Wednesday: Fatale Collective: Bleed (2019)

If there’s any upside to our current situation, it’s the sheer volume of wonderful things being given to us as treats. Free trials. Downloads of the newest cinema releases. We have proven, if anything, that humans are inventive when push comes to shove.

If you’ve been asleep these past few years, you’ll have missed Fangoria’s relaunch, which included many new ventures and a foray back into film production. If you sign up during these Rona Times you can get two free months and scans of the first 14 issues of Fango Vol 1. So why not? What else are you doing? 

Hopefully nothing else because you need to stop whatever that is and watch the Fatale Collective’s short film Bleed

Bleed is a marathon of short films within a short film. Six stories by six directors in less than 14 minutes. The pace is relentless enough to make you lose your breath.

With such a short running time, there isn’t that much time to deliver full stories. Instead you get a one-two punch with each segment. But each director makes sure to make her distinctive mark.

Fatale Collective is a group of female directors working together to “raise women-identifying voices in horror”. So it’s not really surprising that the themes here are, unsurprisingly, very specific to women’s experiences. 

That’s not to say, of course, that it’s only made for women. Trust me, there’s plenty of quick scares that will please anyone. Stories of identity and social pressures are particularly prevalent. It’s interesting to see theses themes manipulated every few minutes under a different lens from the next director.

My personal favourite was Linda Chen’s stylish and surreal animation in “Panoptia”. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in an anthology, which tend to take more traditional routes in storytelling.

I’m not lying when I say I’m loading up the video now to rewatch it. I can’t wait for some feature-length work from these directors, but I’d gladly accept more shorts. And to think, without Ms Rona, this short might have passed me by. 

Wicked Wednesday: The Next Step Beyond S1E19 “The Haunted Inn” (1978)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll remind you again: The Twilight Zone has been a constant in my life. A favourite of both mine and my dad’s. Every holiday when there’s a marathon it’s on. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve seen each episode. It’s a treasured part of the family culture.

So when I learned there was a 70s show nearly identical in style and format, I knew I had to give it a whirl. The Next Step Beyond was a revival of its 1950s counterpart, One Step Beyond, with many of the episodes remakes of the originals. The revival apparently wasn’t very successful and met its demise within the year.

Unlike The Twilight Zone, many of the stories in the “stepping beyond” cannon claim to be based on real events. “The Haunted Inn” doesn’t attempt to make that claim, but it could easily be a ghost story claimed by any historical inn’s free pamphlet.

Chris Stabler is an artist. On his journey to a town, he soon realises he’s lost. He stops when he sees a young in woman in white, and she directs him to a nearby inn to stay in. But she refuses his help when he offers her a life.

When Chris finds the inn, he discovers it’s charming and historical. The only other guest is Miss Argus, a writer who pens ghost stories. The only employee of the place, Peter Combs, warns Chris not to take anything Miss Argus says seriously because of her imagination.

But Peter soon discovers on his own that the inn is unusual. He hears the noise of people talking and a party, but never seems to be able to find the source of the sounds. then he meets Lucianne, the woman who gave him directions. Only Lucianne can’t remember him at all.

As Peter’s stay continues, the circumstances get stranger. His painting styles keep changing. He keeps hearing the sounds. Finally he decides to leave with Lucianne, who surprisingly agrees. Miss Argus, though, decides to stay behind, happy to have finally found the ghosts she’s sought for so many years.

The night before Peter’s exit, he wakes to find Lucianne in his bed. Only it turns out she isn’t quite what he thought she was.

“The Haunted Inn” is pretty cute with its simple premise. There’s nothing wrong with this episode. It’s pretty entertaining. But it does lack clarity and style, which makes it nothing to write home about. By playing to the rules of a typical haunting, there really aren’t many surprises here.

I’d certainly be willing to give the show another try and watch a few more episodes. Though hunting down quality videos seems to be an issue. Overshadowed by the original and The Twilight Zone, it appears as though The Next Step Beyond has been neglected by time.

Wicked Wednesday: The Devil Bat (1940)

Bela Lugosi is one of horror’s greatest treasures. He was a wonderfully charismatic actor, and one was of the most iconic faces and voices of the genre. I find that even if the film is lacklustre, Lugosi brings an enormous presence to the screen (I’m look at you, Plan 9).

There are only so many men that pull off talking to a stuffed back and make it menacing. Think I’m lying? Just watch The Devil Bat.

Paul Carruthers (Lugosi) is the much-loved doctor in the village of Heathville. Unbeknown to them, the doctor is conducting horrible experiments in his laboratory. His goal? To enlarge bats to exact his revenge.

Being a successful chemist, Carruthers worked on products that made his employers millions. But Carruthers remains relatively poor, especially compared to the luxury of the men who write his checks. Though in fairness, Carruthers sounds like he doesn’t have a mind for business – he took an early payout instead of staying on as a partner in the company. Deal with your own actions, buddy!

Coincidentally, it’s a check that sends him over the edge. When he receives a check for $5,000 as a “bonus” from his boss, he decides to let one of his boss’s test his new product: a “shaving lotion”. Only the shaving lotion’s smell lures the doctor’s giant, trained bat.

Soon the boy is found murdered by something with claws. Reporters are brought in to investigate the murder, only to discover that more murders in the same fashion are occurring.

The premise for The Devil Bat is simple. A man is mad. Man becomes mad. Mad man makes killer bat. Mad man with killer bat is killed by killer bat. Such is the circle of life.

Sure, this little movie is a bit hokey. The bat is laughably fake, but I always admire a good practical effect. It’s clear that the film is at least trying, which makes it all the more endearing. This was apparently meant to be Lugosi’s comeback film. I adore him here. He comes off as a complex character despite the script being fairly standard.

The Devil Bat is now in the public domain. So there really is no excuse not to watch this.

Wicked Wednesday: Isolation and ghost stories

At the start of lockdown all those weeks ago, I really thought I’d have the motivation to be productive. I was going to watch loads of movies for this blog. I was going to come up with lots of fun ideas for content. I’d have SO much time to do everything I wanted!

Well, turns out anxiety disorder and being locked in a tiny flat isn’t a good combination. One that does not yield productivity, but does lend itself to lying in bed aimlessly for hours listening to audiobooks alone. So that’s something.

My nights are increasingly getting longer and longer as I stay up later and later. This aimlessness can be blamed on several things: daylight savings, how little energy I expend, and my newest hobby – watching supernatural mystery and cold case videos on YouTube.

I have always loved scaring myself. It is a favourite pastime.

Growing up, my family loved to tell scary stories in attempts to scare one another. We still do if the summer night is particularly hot or stormy. Being the youngest and most gullible, I was always an easiest target. My dad is the master of deadpan delivery, feeding me stories of men with hooks for hands and gangs of people trying to kidnap him from the farm as a child. Not a bit of it was true…right?

I’ve tried cultivating his skills as I grow older. I practise on my nephews, feeding ghost stories to their young minds. They can’t escape it: scary stories are in their blood.

With the current global situation, I won’t be going home this summer. It hurts to think about not seeing my family for so long. I won’t be in my room listening to the crickets outside, wondering if someone is looking through the widow, plotting to kill me. The sense of paranoia is real when you live in a place where “no one can hear you scream”.

So without being able to go home I thought: why not get scared shitless by myself!

It all started a couple weeks ago when I learned about the Max Headroom incident. I tend to see the sinister side to everything, which of course explains the love of horror movies. So when I first saw these clips of this set of famous signal hijackings, I didn’t laugh – I was unsettled.

Desperate to learn more, I fell down a rabbit hole of strange and unusual topics on YouTube. The driving force behind most of it has been the channel Top5s. The creators behind the channel make videos about the natural and supernatural world. Videos full of the unexplained. I soon found it unbearable to get out of bed in the middle of the night, terrified of the shadows. A safe, but satisfactory way of feeling afraid.

I’m getting to the point where I feel like I’m running out of content to watch. So I went into an even deeper dive and jumped onto the cold case bandwagon. This is not as ‘fun’. It feels too concrete in many ways. There are too many facts. Give me the unexplained! Plus many of the videos I’ve watched since do not have narrators as soothing as the kid from Top5s.

I also recommend watching old episodes of Unsolved Mysteries. Alone, if possible, just to drive home that feeling that someone is watching you. It’s long been a favourite of mine. The late 80s/early 90s was certainly a bizarre time, but it made for excellent television. Hell, it’s worth a gander even for that famous theme song. My best friend recommended Forensic Files years ago, and I still have yet to make it through all the seasons, but it’s good.

They say that we have to get through this pandemic sane. I guess that even includes winding yourself up on purpose.

Hope everyone is staying safe out there. Wash your hands. Stay inside if you can. Lock your doors…and look behind you.

Wicked Wednesday: The Children (1980)

If being in lockdown all these weeks has taught me anything it’s this: children are the worst*.

Our neighbours have two young beings and they’re truly…something else. One ‘plays’ the piano by literally bashing the crap out of it while the other one throws twice-daily tantrums! Would love to say that they’re like three or something, but they’re not. To all the parents out there currently homeschooling their little ones – I salute you.

So Monday morning the eldest ‘creative’ discovered the church organ setting on their electric piano. God bless us all. While laying in bed at 7 a.m. to the haunting sounds of a drunk child organist, I recalled reading the Creepy Kids chapter in Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell.

We love creepy kids in horror. Or we love to fear creepy kids. From the Satanic spawns Rosemary’s baby and Damien Thorn to the doomed Gage Creed and Sadako Yamamura – they’re staples of the genre.

The Children has a wonderful cast of creepy tykes. Perhaps a bit more hilarious than any mentioned before them, but I still wouldn’t want to cross these kids in a dark alley.

As any good 80s slasher begins, this story starts in a chemical plant. When two negligent workers leave early, a pipe begins leaking toxic gas into the area. When a local school bus drives through the cloud of chemicals, the children on the bus turn from gleeful to ghoulish.

Sheriff Hart is your standard good-doing, well-loved sheriff. When he discovers the school bus empty in the middle of the road, he takes it upon himself to start investigating.

Unbeknown to him, the children are hiding in the cemetery ready to wreck havoc on the world. Their little, sweet faces are still as normal, but their hugs have turned nuclear. As the sheriff runs about town tracking down all the parents, the children go about hugging everyone to death. Seemingly no one can out run or resist them.

When Hart realises his deputy and dispatcher are both dead, he teams up John, one of the missing children’s father. They soon find little Janet knocking about. She’s yet to turn, and unaware of the state of the other children, pick her up in the car. They discover how dangerous she is, though, once she turns in to a zombie in the back of the squad car.

The only way to get rid of the girl is by cutting off her hands. So with only the two of them and a very-pregnant wife, the adults must defend themselves against the tiny terrors. And by sun rise, surely the terror is over, right?

The Children is one of those movies than definitely deserve the “fun” tag. Zombie children that microwave you to death with their hugs? Wild! The children here are truly creepy, which creates some fanatically spooky scenes. But other parts of the story made me literally guffaw. Was it the intention of the film? I think (hope) so because some of these scenes are absolutely iconic. There are also a lot of illusions to Night of the Living Dead’s Karen, which are pretty fun touches.

It does get a touch repetitive and go one for a bit too long. There’s perhaps not enough material in the movie for it to be 90 minutes. It was probably a mistake of the plot to keep everyone separated and their deaths mostly off-screen. That being said, though, there is plenty of joy to be found in the wackiness that is The Children.

*Except for my nephews, that is. Best two humans in the world.

Wicked Wednesday: Blood Sisters (1987)

Not every sorority slasher is created equal. Some are the greats of the genre: the Black Christmases of the bunch. Some are middle-of-the road and forgettable like…um, that one about the sorority sisters that get killed because of a prank? (Or was it on initiation night?) Then there are some real turds like Blood Sisters.

I don’t like to tear down a movie, but this lockdown has made my brain thirsty for entertainment. I did not find it in 90 minutes of this movie. The scores for the film probably should have warned me off. But I’m a sucker for an 80s slasher. And let’s face it, I’m pretty easy to please when it comes to films. When I saw the movie poster, I knew I had to watch Blood Sisters.

Just look at it! It’s incredibly and dynamic, bringing forth images of early 80s Lucio Fulci. I was expecting some House by the Cemetery-level madness. I did not receive it, but please: send my regards to the illustrator who made this incredible piece of art:

As far as the plot goes, we’ve all been here before.

A young boy kills his mother who is a whore at the nicest brothel you’ll ever see. Thirteen years later, a group of sorority pledges are forced to go to a house (surprise – it’s the brothel) to spend the night and complete their initiation.

When the girls arrive, they discover that the house has been booby trapped by some frat boys. As they try to complete some sort of scavenger hunt, they’re terrorised by the pranks. They also see visions of the whores who used to work at the house.

Soon the girls get killed off one-by-one, but because of the pranks, it takes them a while to realise what’s happening. Once they do understand there’s a killer on the loose, it takes them a while to get together and figure out what to do. They sit in the van for a while. They get cold. They go into the house to warm up. They get tired of waiting for their friends. They look and get killed.

The mystery isn’t particularly built up. We know someone was murdered from the opening scene of the film and a diary a couple of the girls find. Why there are ghosts of all the whores isn’t entirely clear. Only one of them and her trick was murdered. The rest were told to pack up by the police. When we finally get the killer’s reveal my immediate reaction was ,”Who’s this dude?”

I wanted to be more inspired by Blood Sisters, but it just felt too much like a lot of other movies I’ve seen (Mil gritos tiene la noche and The House on Sorority Row are the main two that spring to mind first). There’s something distinctly dated about this movie – well behind its time. I had to keep reminding myself that this came out in 87 and not 81. You can tell this is reaching peak slasher fatigue: the stories are all incredibly recycled by this point.

Part of me expected something slightly different, considering it was helmed by Roberta Findlay (wife of Michael). But if anything, this felt more misogynistic than the usual slasher fare. Sure, some of the dialogue is slightly more on-point (the girls are constantly complaining about the cold), but none of them have any stories or any distinct personality traits. There girl-in-glasses and girl-who-runs. The rest of them are basically all the same thing, but perhaps that’s the mistake of having too large of a cast.

I would have loved at least a few more minutes set in the past before jumping into the future. Learn more about the sex workers, but alas. Maybe I’m expecting too much out of my slashers.

This movie could have even been more interesting if it really leaned in to the supernatural elements. Make the girls possessed! Not just temporarily to get a sex scene in, but flesh it out – make these girls become women of the past! Imagine the mayhem that would ensue! But ultimately, the ghosts really don’t serve a purpose other than to remind us of what happened at the beginning of the film.

Despite this being my least-favourite sorority slasher I’ve ever seen, I’m definitely going to seek more of Findlay’s work out. I hear this wasn’t her crowning achievement, and I’m always willing to give second chances.

Wicked Wednesday: April Fool’s Day (1986)

Some holiday-themed movies are really good at capturing the essence of the day they’re set around. Many of them are not. There’s no bigger proof of this than the slew of Christmas horror movies that have virtually nothing to do with Christmas or even feels like it’s set in December. Many of these movies just slap a holiday in the title just to sell to a larger audience (I’m looking at you, The Day After Halloween).

A few years back I watched Slaughter High and was less-than-pleased with it. Fabulous setting with plenty of fun moments, but really didn’t stick the landing at the end. That alone is enough to leave a bad taste in the memory. Incidentally, Slaughter High was released in 1986, the same year as April Fool’s Day, which is, in my humble opinion, a significantly superior and more fun April Fool’s movie.

Why? Well, many reasons. But the first being it actually captures the fun and devilishness of the holiday. And April Fool’s is a pretty lame holiday, so I think it’s saying something that the film actually made me like pranks.

Straight off the bat, the film introduces us to the cast of playful characters. A group of college students are preparing for a weekend away on an island courtesy of Muffy, a cousin Skip, one of the boys.

On the ferry to the island, the kids create a ruckus. And by (seemingly) total accident, one of the ferry boat workers is injured when the boat’s motor crashes into him as he’s helping the ferry dock.

Unsettled by the mangling of the ferry worker, the kids try to salvage the most of their night. Thankfully Muffy is a wonderful hostess. She plays harmless pranks on them throughout the night and entertains them at dinner, including table settings complete with dolls that look like each of them.

But it’s April Fool’s weekend, and there’s bound to be trouble. The morning after the first night, the friends realise that Skip is missing. Even more, peppy Muffy has become noticeably more skittish and dowdy.

The friends try and settle in for the weekend as best as they can. It’s when couple Kit and Rob go to the boathouse together that they spot their friend’s corpse in the water.

After the discovery, the students soon realise that someone is playing a very serious trick on them. They quickly go down in number one-by-one. And it’s soon up to Rob and Kit to piece together the pieces of Muffy’s history.

Half of the fun of April Fool’s Day is the playfulness of the script and cast. Much of the dialogue actually attempts to round out each of the kids, making them weirdly likable despite being utter idiots for the most part.

There’s plenty of tricks and pranks here to round out the film. The constant sun-shiney-ness of the movie is also unusual but welcome. The night scenes are noticeably dark (both in light and tone), but scenes don’t shy away from the use of spring sunshine in moments of gore.

I know this is a bit of a classic, but this one has passed me by for ages, mostly because I thought I had already seen it. Blame it on getting it confused with both Slaughter High and Happy Birthday To Me. But I really enjoyed it. There were brilliant moments of gore and laugh-out-loud moments. Not really something you have with slashers (that are meant to be intentional, anyway).

April Fool’s Day reminded me of a funnier Harper’s Island but with more yuppies. It’s a unique slasher that I think will stay with me for a long time. No April Fool’s here.

Wicked Wednesday: The House That Would Not Die (1970)

You know how that old saying goes: nothing brings lovers and family closer together better than an old-fashioned possession.

No? Not a saying? Well it should be.

The House That Would Not Die has all the hallmarks of horror TV movies from this era. The dramatic pauses, the use of storms for even more drama and kind-of-clunky writing. So basically everything I love. The fact that this story throws in ghosts, séances and possessions means that it was completely up my alley.

The excellent atmosphere reminded me on of my favourite made-for-TV movies: Home for the Holidays. Just with a touch less lightning. So it wasn’t totally surprising to learn that they were both directed by John Llewellyn Moxey (who also directed The City of the Dead).

At the heart of both of Moxey’s films are the women. Here glamorous Ruth and her niece Sara move into an old house after one of their elderly relatives die. They both immediately take to the home and all of its old-timey quirks. Sara instantly feels at home, knowing the house almost instantly.

The two women soon meet their dashing next-door neighbour, the professor Pat McDougal. At a party at his house, they meet his young student Stan. When the other guests meet the town’s new arrivals, they soon all agree to have a séance in the new home.

In the days before the party, Sara and Stan begin to spend more time together. They find an old painting of a man and bring it to the house. When they hang it up, Pat has a rather negative reaction, feeling suddenly ill.

Despite the growing instances of strange behaviour and dreams from nearly everyone, the group continue on with the seance. Only things don’t go very well. The painting falls from the wall and crashes into the fire.

Sara’s behaviour takes increasingly strange turns. She finds herself out of bed at night, crying for help. She begins to forget things when she behaves madly (including attacking our dear Ruth).

But it’s Stan who is the first to realise that Ruth is possessed. Not only is she possessed, so is Pat, who randomly becomes violent and aggressive. Stan drags in Ruth to help research the home, which is clearly linked to the possessions. The gang all band together to discover the truth.

They soon find out that the house was once home to a Revolutionary War General named Campbell. He supposedly went mad after his daughter left. The daughter, Amanda, is clearly the spirit inhabiting Sara.

With their little information, the group decide to have another séance. This time they’re given a clue when the cellar door is blown open by the winds. While Ruth and Stan do their digging in the cellar, they discover a walled-off room.

But before they can even get upstairs, creepy Pat stops them to tell them about the new information he and Sara learned: Amanda had eloped and run away from her father.

With this new information, all the pieces begin to fall into place. The four friends all must face the truth in the room on the other side of the wall.

*DRAMATIC PAUSE*

I loved this little horror-mystery. Certainly a positive note to end another Made-for-TV March on. Sure, it’s a little hokey. But it’s also sufficiently fun with a good story.

It doesn’t hold a candle to Home for the Holidays. It doesn’t have the same punch or thrill to really make it memorable in a year’s time. But with good performances and a fun plot, it’s difficult to argue against spending 70 minutes watching this.