The Conjuring

Wicked Wednesday: The Haunted (1991)

We’ve been here before: family move into new house, all goes well minus a few ‘quirks’, something big happens and all the demons in the world are entering the world through a dimension door in suburban America.

The Haunted is one of the most run-of-the-mill haunted house fils I’ve ever seen. It’s based on the ‘true’ story of the Smurl family who lived in Pennsylvania in the 1980s.

Initially, I thought this was going to be great because of one key factor: Ed and Lorraine Warren were investigators in this case. The Warrens are a fascinating pair, being linked to some of the most key hauntings in the throughout their lives (proof: watch and of the Conjuring Universe films or some little film called Amityville Horror). But those cases have something that The Haunted doesn’t: distinction.

Janet and Jack are a sweet little couple sharing a house with Jack’s elderly parents. Their children are all girls, just an all-around fun bunch. And soon things begin to go awry. Electricity bills become expensive (WATCH OUT!), the older women of the house hear whispering, Janet begins to forget things.

But beyond that, there’s not really anything particularly interesting about the hauntings themselves. And to be fair, there really is only so much that a ghost (or demon) can do.

The family get their local priest involved, who is unable to do any exorcism for them. So they head to the Warrens, who apparently can’t do much either. The hauntings get worse and increasingly physical. Janet is eventually so distraught that she is driven to taking her story to the media.

It’s a shame that the Warrens and the media attention seem so much like an after thought in this film. Much of the TV movie spends time showing us the paranomal activity. And nearly thirty years on, it just doesn’t scare or even make you feel uneasy…minus that one scene where Jack is seemingly sexually assulted. Yikes.

I think it’s interesting to see the local reactions to the Smurl family. It certainly wasn’t very nice. And the family’s desperation is equally as watchable, but for some reason – it’s all overlooked.

Sally Kirkland is good in the role of Janet. This part got her nominated for a Golden Globe. But the material is so boring that her performance can hardly save it.

A good haunting film need one thing: suspense. And The Haunted really lacks any of it. Blame it on being made-for-TV, but watch any of the classic horror network movie and you’ll know it’s possible to thrill. It’s a shame that this wasn’t done better, but part of me things this: if the original material isn’t that differneciating to begin with, maybe it wasn’t worth the energy and budget to begin with.

Horror I’m most looking forward to in 2020

I had every intention of watching a film and writing for Wicked Wednesday today. But I woke up with a bigger hangover than expected.

So 2020 is off to a very unique and special start. Eh. So here’s a rather-lazy list of things I’m looking forward to in 2020!

1. The franchises

Halloween 2018 was pretty perfect for me. I know it certainly wasn’t to everyone’s tastes, but it easily slid in at my #3 in the Halloween series. It’s perfectly fine as a stand-alone. But when I learnt there was to be two more sequels, I wasn’t going to complain. Give me more Jamie Lee Curtis as badass, grizzled Laurie Strode any day!

I absolutely love The Conjuring and its sequel. Both are great little pieces from James Wan. I have to be honest, the rest of the Conjuring Universe doesn’t really interest me. So I was really happy to see that a third instalment featuring Ed and Lorraine Warren was to be released in 2020. This time, director Michael Chaves tackling the true story of “the Devil made me do it” case. I only know a bit about the true story – but it’s certainly a promising bit of history to turn into a film.

2. Grady Hendrix brings us a world of vampires and old ladies

Over the last few years, Grady Hendrix has become a firm favourite of mine. His novels My Best Friend’s Exorcism and We Sold Our Souls are definitely a couple of my top horror novels. He does a great job of blending horror with campy fun in a way like no one else in print. Also, his nonfiction Paperbacks from Hell is a great read too!

His next novel, The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, sounds like it’s another wild ride. The book’s summary declares the story is Fried Green Tomatoes meets Dracula and that’s all I think anyone needs.

Also, do yourself a favour and follow Hendrix on Twitter. You won’t regret it.

3. Mike Flanagan returns to Netflix to haunt us

I was so pleased with the success of The Haunting of Hill House. While I was initially disappointed that it didn’t directly adapt Shirley Jackson’s work, I was so impressed with the show.

Season two doesn’t see us back with the Crain family, but in a world inspired by Henry James’s Turn of the Screw in The Haunting of Bly Manor. I suspect the adaption will be as loose as season one’s, but I’ll definitely be reading James’s work in preparation for what’s sure to be another excellent piece from Flanagan – who is time and time again proving himself a modern-day master.

4. Take a trip to Fear Street

R.L. Stine is a master of children’s horror with his Goosebumps series. But those a touch older will remember him for his Fear Street series, his stories featured teenagers in the town of Shadyside.

There’s to be three instalments based on these books, apparently all to be released in 2020. There aren’t a lot of details about which books will be the inspiration for the films, but it will be set in 1994. Hopefully the movies include some twisted cheerleaders and a bit of creepy phone calls – all the joys of being a teen.

5. The stand-alones

There are countless horror movies coming out in 2020. I imagine many of them will continue the success we saw in the past few years. Original, interesting stories with great acting.

To say exactly what I’m looking forward to most would be difficult, as many films later in the fear will not have trailers or full synopses yet. Also, I’m struggling to find out info about more small independents (that will come with FrightFest season, I hope!). But I’ll just throw in this mini-list:

6. Welcome to Lovecraft

It’s no secret that Locke & Key is my favourite graphic novel series. Netflix’s adaption cannot arrive soon enough. The cast looks pretty damn spot-on (especially when compared to the previous attempts), and all early teasers and stills looks magnificent. I really hope that this adaption will do the story justice. But I have very few worries. The show was developed by Joe Hill and Carlton Cuse (Lost) which is as solid of a team that you could hope for.

Locke & Key follows the Locke siblings after the brutal murder of their father. They, along with their mother, return to their father’s ancestral home where they begin to uncover secrets about both the house and their father’s past. It’s a wonderful blend of family drama, magic and horror. February 7th can’t come soon enough.


What are you looking forward to most this year? I personally can’t wait to see the end of the horror that is the current presidency. But that’s perhaps a chat for a different day.