This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: April 20 – 26, 2015


Video: Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl | Song: Promise Land – Hannah Miller

On Saturday, April 26th, 1986 — 29 years ago this week — the worst accident in nuclear history occurred at Chernobyl.
This video of the area, taken by drone, was filmed last year.


Pickings are slim in new releases this week, so I’m offering up some outliers for you. Perhaps you’ll like one of these:

movie poster the cat and the canary movie poster the devils carnival movie poster mad house movie poster a girl walks home alone



A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) NR
Will be streaming as of 4/21/2015
Ogre has been telling me about this one for months. Apparently the reviewers at one of his movie-centric podcasts thought it was terrific. It looks … intriguing.
On IMDb here.

The Devil’s Carnival (2012) NR?
This is a horror musical. A review I read called it a “blend of Rocky Horror and the Twilight Zone,” and that is a great description. I’m watching it as I type this, and I don’t yet know if I like it or not … I will say it’s gorgeous.
On IMDb here.

The Cat and the Canary (1927) NR – SILENT
Available on Netflix streaming.
(This movie has come into the public domain and is available for viewing all over the internet.)
On IMDb here.
The following is a scene from the movie as I was unable to find a “trailer.”

Madhouse (1974) PG
Available on Netflix streaming.
Vincent Price and Peter Cushing in 1974. Sweet.
On IMDb here. 


The Age of Adaline (2015) PG-13
Likely to be an art house film. Release date: April 24
Ogre and I saw the trailer for this when we went to see Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. It’s more magical realism than horror or scifi, of course, but it looks gorgeous.
On IMDb here.


12 Monkeys | SYFY
(The full first season is currently available on SYFY STREAMING now. Also check your ON DEMAND.)
I’m coming to this AFTER the first season has wrapped up, on the recommendation of a friend. I’m able to access all the episodes via On Demand. So far, I’ve seen the first two episodes and I like it. It’s too soon to know if I’m going to love it, but I’ll be watching more this week.
On IMDb here.


To see other, recent, recommendations, visit

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: Mar 30 – April 5th, 2015.
Don’t miss: Nightcrawler.

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: April 6 – 12, 2015.
Don’t miss: Whiplash.

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: April 13 – 19, 2015.
Don’t miss: Housebound.

Nearly all of the highlighted movies & shows listed there are still available.

NOTE: The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Not yet watched. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Watched. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Watched. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Watched. Recommended. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.

Investigating a Haunting: Carlos Avery WMA, MN – part two

I’m in the early stages of my investigation of a suspected haunting in the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, a local nature preserve. Last Friday, I shared the Facebook conversation which inspired me to begin this series, as well as brief sketch of the park’s history.



The day after I last wrote about this topic, my husband (aka Ogre) and I visited one small portion of the WMA. Since then, I’ve searched the internet to find any references to paranormal phenomena associated with the area. I am continuing to find and read dozens of old newspaper articles about the park and its environs.

Here’s what I discovered this week:


Over the past 25 years or so, I’ve spent hundreds of hours exploring our local public parks and doing citizen science projects in regional nature centers. My engagement with Carlos Avery, however, has been limited. (Or, at least I thought so, until I began to understand the scope and scale of Carlos Avery. I’ll get back to that in a moment.)

I’ve been driving past, and through, portions of the preserve for most of my life, occasionally noticing small signs meant to identify it, without any real understanding of its purpose. My first order of business was to find out what a “WMA” is.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

“Wildlife management areas (WMAs) are part of Minnesota’s outdoor recreation system and are established to protect those lands and waters that have a high potential for wildlife production, public hunting, trapping, fishing, and other compatible recreational uses.”

This, then, is not the kind of park most of us are accustomed to.

It’s a beautiful area with good access. It provides habitat for a multitude of species, (only a fraction of which are game animals.) I’ve learned that it is a popular spot for birders.

But. It is also often full of hunters, many of them inexperienced, who are absolutely intent on killing something.

If, like me, you believe that a haunting can be caused by a concentration of negative or harmful intent, or by a saturation of fear or tragedy, then it’s only logical to see how the atmosphere in a hunting preserve could become … tainted.

(I’m not knocking the practice of hunting. I don’t really get it, in the absence of a need for food, but that’s just me. Here in Minnesota, hunting is fact of life and I don’t begrudge the hunters their space. The WMA isn’t meant for me. I understand that I am only a curious guest there … one who is a little worried about getting shot as I continue to explore the grounds. I think I might need to add some blaze-orange to my wardrobe.)


When Ogre and I visited there were no hunters. (Apparently, though, turkey season has since started.) The access roads were closed to vehicles due to muddy areas, resulting from a recent thunderstorm, but we were encouraged to grab a map and walk in.

In our two and a half mile walk, we saw a flock of turkeys, a herd of deer, a variety of birds, and this little guy:

Carlos Avery April 2015 garter snake

It’s early spring here, so the park felt quite open and well lit. It was quiet, though some frogs were calling from the wet areas. Overall, it was peaceful and pleasant. At no point did I feel unsettled or uncomfortable.

Of course, this was just a taste of the WMA, in of one of the most frequently accessed areas of the preserve. I have not yet located the specific sites of the tragedies I referenced in part one of this series, so I cannot say that anything bad or traumatic happened here. I would be surprised if there was even much hunting this close to the park entrance.

It does appear that gunfire is common though.

Carlos Avery April 2015 gunfire evidence


It’s important to understand that this is a huge tract of land, ( 23,000 acres,) containing a variety of zones which are dedicated to diverse purposes.

This particular WMA includes the Wildlife Science Center on its grounds.

This center “was founded as a federally funded research facility in 1976, in order to observe and document the physiology and behavior of a captive population of gray wolves.” (WSC)

Now, in 2015, the center houses more species than just the grays.

I know this not just because I can use google, but because I was once a regular volunteer there.

Yes, I’m admitting that I have spent a great deal of time on the Carlos Avery property, without realizing it.

In my defense, the Wildlife Science Center feels very distinct from the rest of the WMA. You visit the center by going through this arch, which is visible from a well-trafficked two-lane highway:


“Carlos Avery Game Farm” by Bobak Ha’Eri – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The white structures you can see in this photo are part of an eleven building complex built between 1936 and 1941. (I have never been inside any of these buildings.)

After you go through the gate, the road curves to the left, past the complex.

The section of the property which houses the Wildlife Science Center is composed of modern barns and sheds, as well as the main building, which is just a modified, late 20th century, residential house. Large, chain-link, animal enclosures stretch back into the park, providing homes for animals. (Resident species include: gray, red and Mexican gray wolf; coyote; fox; bobcat; lynx; cougar; black bear; porcupine; and several different kinds of raptors.) The entire center is well fenced and only open to public tours on Saturdays.

During the week, the yard of the center is over-run by a pack of 20-30 large-breed dogs which belong to the center’s director … or at least that was true when I was working there ten years ago. (There were also several wolf-dog hybrids.)

Most of my job was dealing with dead things. I chopped up gophers, which had been turned in for a bounty, then laced them with vitamin supplements, so they could be fed to the raptors. I boosted road-killed, maggot-infested, deer into a wheelbarrow and carted them over to the wolf enclosures. (This was very hard for me. I have a particular aversion to maggots.)

I wasn’t permitted to handle the live creatures, (other than the dogs,) though I did once get to stroke an anesthetized adult wolf who was having a medical procedure done.


All of this is a digression, really. Yes, I did feel watched–even hunted–sometimes when I was moving around in this part of the WMA, but that’s because I was being watched, and watched intently, by large predators who wanted my carcasses. Even when I wasn’t toting a corpse around with me, I still reeked of flesh and blood and decomposition. I’m sure I seemed likely to be quite tasty.

(By the way, I loved the work … well, not so much the tasks I was assigned, but the larger work. I’d still be doing it, but I screwed up and got myself dismissed. That’s an embarrassing story for another day, though.)

I will say this: The wolves (and other canids) like to howl. On still nights, and quiet, overcast days, I imagine their chorus can be heard throughout many acres of the WMA. That sound would absolutely contribute to a sense that the area is haunted.


As long as I went off on this tangent, I might as well share one more interesting tidbit about the Wildlife Science Center. Its director, Peggy Callahan, has appeared as a wildlife expert on an episode of History Channel’s MonsterQuest (Swampbeast, 2007, S1E5.) For the show, she devised and conducted an experiment meant to determine how long it takes for the body of a large beast in the wilderness to decompose and completely disappear.


My quest for accounts of paranormal events associated with Carlos Avery is only beginning. An internet search revealed two primary legends.

One that amused me is our old friend, the Linwood Woolly Beast. If you’ve been reading The Paranormalist blog for a while, you may have run into one of my posts about this creature:

My best guess is that folks are seeing a large, perhaps albino, deer. If you’d like to know more about the critter, feel free to click on one or both of the above links. I won’t be spending a lot of time watching for the Beast. If I spot him, I’ll be sure to let you know.

The second commonly told legend of Carlos Avery is more interesting to me. Apparently several people have reported seeing phantom vehicles in the park. Headlights and taillights are seen shining from areas that are actually inaccessible to a vehicle. (From the middle of a pond, or swamp, or otherwise road-less spot.) This is a legend I can pursue. The WMA is open to visitors from 4:00 am – 10:00 pm. I should be able to legally spend some time driving around in there while it’s dark, once the roads are open.

Though I have some feelers out in search of local people who have had unusual experiences in and near Carlos Avery, I haven’t yet been contacted by anyone other than “Rebecca” my original source.

If you are reading this page because you searched for information about Carlos Avery after encountering something unexplained in or near the preserve, please contact me to share your story. To remain anonymous, send me a PRIVATE message at my Facebook page. Our conversation will be confidential, and you will determine how you will be identified if I quote you or include your experience in this series.



Last week, I mentioned that this region of Minnesota was first utilized by fur traders in the 1700s, then by loggers in the early to mid-1800s. After that, some of the land that now makes up Carlos Avery was purchased by a carpet manufacturer which wanted to use the wire grass that grew abundantly there. (Wire grass is similar to sisal.)

Based on these facts, I am assuming that the land has been witness to some significant human activity in the past couple of centuries. I have not been able to confirm any particular settlements prior to 1890, but I do know that the carpet manufacturer created three camps on this property which, at one point, employed 100 men and used 250 horses. (I do wonder what camp life was like at that time, and how this activity could have contributed to the atmosphere of the area.)

After WWI, the carpet industry faltered, and the land became tax delinquent. Many acres reverted to the state’s ownership.

The Carlos Avery Game Park was established on about 8,000 of these acres in 1933. In 1935, the project was approved for WPA status and expanded. Since then, it has been subject to an evolving system of wildlife management.

And so ends my speculation about the pre-1933 era.


My continuing search through old newspapers has turned up a 1911 murder that occurred in Linwood Township, (which now borders a portion of Carlos Avery.) I have not yet ascertained how close this location is to the boundaries of what is currently the Carlos Avery WMA. (Remember, in 1911, the preserve had not yet been established.)

It’s an interesting, if brutal story, so I’ll likely share it in a future post. For now I’ll give you a glimpse of one James Dugart:

James Dygart Linwood Murder 1911


Starting next week, I’ll provide the details of at least one of the historical events that could be contributing to a haunting at Carlos Avery.

This is going to be a busy week for me, so I’m not sure I’ll have time to do any on-site investigations, but I will try. (Once I figure out how to not get shot.)

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: April 13 – 19, 2015


The Flight – Dark Corners
Not sure about the music itself, but I love the video.

If you only watch, play, or read one thing from this list, it should be:

movie poster housebound

Housebound (2014) on Netflix streaming. (See below.)



The Babadook (2014) NR
Will be streaming as of 4/14.
In Redbox on 4/14
I could not get to this when it was in the theaters, so I’m excited to watch it this month.
On IMDb here.

Housebound (2014) NR
Available on Netflix streaming.
This one is fantastic! I retroactively added it to last week’s M&M Media post, because I found it late in the week, but I want to mention here too. I loved this movie, especially the first two-thirds of it. It’s funny, and smart, and it has some pretty good scares.
On IMDb here.

Marvel’s Daredevil (2015) 
All 13 episodes of this Netflix original are available now.
I’m hearing this is darker and gritter and all-around better than the 2003 movie. The previews look intriguing. Ogre and I will be giving this a go this week. [UPDATE] We caught the 1st episode this weekend and it looks pretty good so far.
On IMDb here.

Practical Magic (1998) PG-13
Not newly released but I just saw it is an option at Netflix.
It’s April. There’s gotta be a rainy afternoon or evening that lends itself to watching this charmer.
On IMDb here.

Killer Legends (2014) NR
A documentary about the true stories that may have inspired urban legends, by the director of Cropsey (2009).
This is dark stuff folks. I haven’t watched the whole thing but I can tell you the crime scene photographs, which feature prominently, are tough to take. It’s different when it’s real, you know. [UPDATE] I have now see it all and thought it was worth the watch. A couple of the four segments are better than the others, but a decent show overall.
Available on Netflix streaming.
On IMDb here.

Speaking of Cropsey, it is also available on Netflix streaming right now:

Cropsey (2009) NR
On IMDb here.


Child 44 (2015) R
In general release. (Opening Friday at our local theaters.)
We saw the trailer for this at the theater, and it looks great. The movie is based on a book by British thriller writer, Tom Rob Smith, which is based on the crimes of Soviet serial killer, Andrei Chikatilo, aka the Butcher of Rostov.
On IMDb here.

Monsters: The Dark Continent (2014) R
Supposedly in general release on the 17th. (I suspect this might be art house flick, though.)
I mentioned the movie that came before this, Monsters, last week. Since then I’ve head more good things about it, but I haven’t queued it up yet. I’m thinking I should.
On IMDb here.

Woman in Gold (2015) PG-13
In general (wide) release.
On IMDb here.
Not paranormal at all. ‘Just mentioning it because Ogre and I saw it over the weekend. Interesting story, but the movie-making is nothing special. I think a lot of the latest true-life / historical films have been that way. The source material is compelling, yet the cinematography, writing, acting, etc. feel serviceable but bland. (The Monuments Men (2014) and Unbroken (2014) are other examples that comes to mind.) I didn’t dislike this movie. My eyes did fill with tears a couple of times, and I gasped in outrage at one particular revelation. Still, I think that’s a function of the story itself rather the way it was presented to me. If you want something similar but better, try Philomena (2013.) (Currently available in Redbox and on Netflix disc.)

To see other, recent, recommendations, visit:
This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: Mar 30 – April 5th, 2015.
Don’t miss: Nightcrawler.

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: April 6 – 12, 2015.
Don’t miss: Whiplash.

Nearly all of the highlighted movies listed there are still available.


NOTE: The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Not yet watched. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Watched. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Watched. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Watched. Recommended. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.

Investigating a Haunting: Carlos Avery WMA, MN – part one

Recently, a concerned reader contacted me via my Facebook page. She wanted to discuss a sensation of being watched or followed she has experienced while working on the grounds of a local wildlife management park, as well as her confusion about why she is able to sense anything. Our conversation intrigued me, so I’ve done some preliminary research about the site and its history. I’m discovering multiple factors which may be contributing to the unsettling atmosphere of the region.

I’m learning enough, in fact, to know I will need to break my investigative progress into several parts. I hope to share my results on Fridays, throughout the spring. I will always notify readers of a new segment by sharing the link to Facebook, Twitter and G+. I will also add two-way links to each installment as it goes up here at the blog.

For today’s installment, I’ll share the message thread that inspired me to start digging, and some basic first facts about the history of the place.


“Carlos Avery Game Farm” by Bobak Ha’Eri – Own work.
Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


The following instant messaging thread has been edited for length and clarity, and to obscure any personally identifying information ‘Rebecca’ provided during our conversation.

March 26th, 3:33pm
I am new to the area and we own a towing company. We have been called out to the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area several times for different things. Every time we go there, I always feel as though we are being watched and/or followed by some unknown presence. I have tried to do some research on the wildlife refuge, but unfortunately am unable to find much. I have, however, discovered that a little boy was murdered back in there, which is sad. I am truly just wondering if there is any other info out there that would help me understand the feelings I get. Thanks.

The Paranormalist – Renae Rude
Mar 26th, 4:59pm
I’m not surprised by the experiences you’ve had in Carlos Avery. I haven’t done any intensive research about the place, but my family has all sorts of stories about things that happened there … mostly about gangsters during prohibition. I’m glad you brought it up. Maybe that will become my spring project. … I’d be interested to learn if there’s any particular place or time where you’ve noticed a strong sense of being watched.

Mar 26th, 5:03pm
Yes I could help you in your project. I’m not saying I have a sixth sense or anything, but it’s like I can feel, and almost see, what it is that is bothering me. Can’t explain it and no one believes me.

Mar 26th, 5:16pm
I would like to know if I do have a special ability and how to control it. One night, in a home where we lived, my fiance was unsure about why I was uncomfortable. Then he started to try to understand, and was able to feel what I felt by touching me. That night was one of the worst nights on the property, and we moved shortly after. Sorry for bothering you, but I just wonder if there is something wrong with me or if all of this is just a gift, so to speak.

The Paranormalist – Renae Rude
Mar 26th, 11:29pm
I think it’s always best to pay attention to and obey one’s instincts. [Note: I’ve clipped a few sentences of my response from this thread and moved them down to the “WHAT’S NEXT” section of this post. You’ll see why when you get there.] Your experience with your fiance is familiar to me. My husband is less open than I am to sensing the mood around him, but he can “catch” what I’m feeling if he tries. I doubt there’s anything wrong with you. And it doesn’t matter if anyone believes you. Only you know how you feel in certain situations, and only you can determine your own belief about why you feel that way. Personally, I enjoy feeling like I might be tapped into the history of a place. (And if the “vibes” are bad, I’m outta there.)

The Paranormalist – Renae Rude
Mar 26th, 11:34pm
Oops. I didn’t mean to hit enter yet, but I am pretty much done. I suspect there are lots of folks out there who are wondering some of the same things you are. May I use the text of our correspondence in a blog post? You can be anonymous or choose a name that conceals your identity.

Mar 27th, 8:11am
Sure, you can use our conversation. Just use my first name, but not my last. And yes, if it is anything bad, I do feel I need to get out as well. The same goes with the town where I live. [Note: The town Rebecca named here borders portions of the WMA.] There are areas within the town where I sense different things. I guess it is what it is. It’s all in what one’s individual take is on things, I suppose. I just may be a little extra sensitive. We did a tow for someone who lives on the edge of the Carlos Avery, and who is surrounded by the wood line. I didn’t have to say anything at all and this person just started talking about the spiritual activity they have experienced. Creepy, but yet I knew already.

That is where Rebecca and I left off. The next day I went to the Anoka County History Center and began my research.


The Child Murder:
Rebecca is correct about a boy being killed in the sanctuary. He was six years old. The murder happened in 1980, but the saga of the perpetrator’s insanity actually began in 1965-66. (Most of that story happens well outside the boundaries of the wildlife preserve, but it’s chilling.)

The Fugitive Hunt:
I discovered that I was wrong about the history of the park including “gangsters during prohibition.” In fact, the gangster incident occurred in 1957.

CA full page from book 2 (3)

The Camps:
Now, in 2015, the property is more than 23,000 acres, with 4,500 acres classified as a wildlife refuge and closed to all trespassing. The habitat is a mix of open water grasslands, marsh, and oak woods.

The property has been in production since since the 19th century. First it was logged out, like most of Minnesota’s wilderness, then a carpet company bought the land to harvest its wire grass for the making of rugs, then the state government took over and established a game farm. To make each of these endeavors possible, camps of workers were required.

Territorial Conflicts:
I’ve not found reference to any major battles within the boundaries of the Wildlife Management Area, but the history of the wider area is dense with territorial conflicts. Minnesota did not achieve statehood until 1858. From the 17th century forward, however, the wilderness was being harvested of its furs for French and British traders. During this time it was common practice for the traders to intermarry with the indigenous people, and so a new “race,” known as the  Métis, developed. In the mid-18th century, territorial conflicts between the Dakota Sioux and the more recently arrived East Coast tribe, the Ojibwe intensified. Battles between the two tribes continued for a more than a hundred years. 


I’ll share the local urban legends and spooky stories that are associated with the Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area in particular, and the surrounding counties in general.  I’ll organize the historical information I’m finding, and attempt to determine the origins of the urban legends. (I foresee several more trips to local historical libraries and sites.) I hope to have more conversations with Rebecca, and–perhaps–others who have had unusual experiences in or near Carlos Avery. Of course, I’ll be going out to to the property–probably repeatedly–to explore, take pictures and experience the atmosphere of the place.

My purpose for conducting this investigation is best expressed by a passage I originally wrote within the conversation I shared with Rebecca. I’ve clipped and moved it to this spot, so that you can understand why I’m doing what I’m doing. I wrote:

I suspect that most of us have some degree of sensitivity to the echoes that linger in certain places. (And some of us are just naturally inclined to pay attention to our environments.) I don’t know what those echoes are. For lack of a better word, most of us think of such places as haunted. I suppose we each have to develop our own opinion about what it is we are sensing. I’m interested in the haunted-place experience itself, more than the cause. (I don’t attempt to either prove or debunk hauntings. I don’t think it’s possible to do so. I also have zero interest in trying to interfere with or change whatever is going on. It’s not my place to “send anyone into the light.”)

My plan is to go where the research leads me, and to report my findings here, in future blog posts.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.


This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: April 6 – 12, 2015


Deathly Spirits: A Ghost Story (and cocktail recipe) from Ted Raimi

A huge thanks to my daughter, Pooka, for finding this and sharing it with me.

If you only watch, play, or read one thing from this list, it should be:

movie poster whiplash

[EDIT] Now that I’ve found and added the sneak peek video for the 8th season of Ancient Aliens, though, I’ve got to say the TRAILER (at the very least) is not to be missed.

(See below.)



Nothing exciting in the releases this week, but The Babadook is coming next week!

Wait, here’s something: A movie called Monsters: Dark Continent will be coming to theaters soon. I’ll share that next week. Right now, you might want to check out its forerunner. (What’s the the correct name for a movie that spawns a sequel?)
Monsters (2010) R
Currently available on Netflix streaming.
This film has surprisingly good reviews. Not sure how I missed it entirely back in 2010.
On IMDb here.

Whiplash (2014) R
Available in Redbox.
I forgot to mention Whiplash last week. It’s not horror, of course, but it’s definitely intense and suspenseful. And weirdly inspiring for artist types.
On IMDb here.

EDIT: Housebound (2014) Not Rated
Available on Netflix streaming.
O.M.G. This one is fantastic. I’m not even done watching it yet, but I had to pause it so I could come here and add it to the list. Because I missed it on Monday this week, I’ll feature it next week too.
On IMDb here.


Ex machina (2015) R
In general release.
On IMDb here.

To see other, recent, recommendations, visit
This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: Mar 30 – April 5th, 2015.
Nearly all of the highlighted movies listed there are still available.
Last Week’s Don’t Miss: Nightcrawler in Redbox.


Ancient Aliens | HISTORY (not H2) | Fridays | 9/8c
(Eighth season begins April 10th.)
I cannot wait! This is my favorite sleep aid of them all.
Webpage here.

The Returned | A&E | Mondays | 10/9c 
(First season. Episode 5 will air on April 6th.)
I’m catching up with this series this week. I missed it when it came out, but luckily all the episodes are available On Demand through my cable provider. To be honest, I had it confused with ABC’s Resurrection, which I tried and abandoned last year. This show has nothing to do with that. It is an American version of a French television series which began in 2012 and went on to win an International Emmy for Best Drama Series in 2013. I’m three episodes in, and I’m liking it so far. If you have the opportunity to see it from the beginning, give it a shot. This one might have some legs.
On IMDb here.

The Lizzy Bordon Chronicles | Lifetime | Sundays | 9/10c
(Started LAST NIGHT, Sunday April 5th.)
Sorry I missed this, Guys. I’m not a Lifetime watcher, but I’m thinking of giving this one a go, because I love Christina Ricci.
EDIT: Ok, I’ve given it about 15 minutes. So far I see two characters that I could maybe love, existing in a show that might be too chaotic and experimental for my tastes.
On IMDb here.

The first full episode is available online right now, at Lifetime.
The movie that came first is available on Netflix streaming now too.



The color of each title is keyed as follows:
Black = Not yet watched. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Watched. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Watched. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Watched. Recommended. A good movie that lives up to its reputation.

Paranormal lesson of the day: stalking pays off.

A long time ago, I wrote about stalking the author Hunter Shea. Regular readers of this blog will already know that I’ve gotten nothing but positive reinforcement for that behavior. I mean, he actually included me in a list of acknowledgements in at least one of his books. (I’m not sure what I did to earn that.) Then the man sat down and had a (virtual) beer with me … and let me record it!

Now he’s gone and given me a cameo in his new book, Island of the Forbidden!

book cover hunter shea island of the forbidden

Click the cover to visit its Amazon listing.

Here’s a screenshot of a little snippet from the first chapter. Apparently I play a real estate agent:

my cameo in Island of the Forbidden by Hunter Shea

Pretty cool, huh?

When my namesake character is first mentioned in the book, we learn her full name is “Renae Rudd.” I can only assume that Hunter thought an agent with the last name “Rude” would be too on the nose. (Though this character Renae seems quite polite.)

I’ve known this was coming for a while. During one of Hunter’s early book launches, he made a limited time offer on his Facebook page, in which he offered to name a character after anyone who bought a book within a brief time window. Of course I saw it and jumped on the opportunity.

I’m particularly pleased that this is the book he decided to put me in because it’s part of a series I love. Island of the Forbidden is the the third book featuring Jessica Backman.

Here’s the description for Island of the Forbidden:

Jessica Backman has been called to help a strange family living on a haunted island in Charleston Harbor. Ormsby Island was the site of a brutal massacre two decades ago, and now the mysterious Harper family needs someone to exorcise the ghosts that still call it home. The phantoms of over one hundred children cannot rest.

But something far more insidious is living on the island. When the living and the dead guard their true intentions, how can Jessica discover just what sort of evil lurks on Ormsby Island? And why is Jessica the only one who can plumb its dark depths?

For more information, including some glowing reviews, pop over to Hunter’s page to see his publication announcement.


Macabre & Mysterious Media: Wintersong, The Dark Servant, NOS4A2, and movies on Netflix.


If an item is posted in the “NOW” section, I have seen (or in some way experienced) it, and am actively recommending it. NOW items are immediately available to you if you have access to the same basic services I do.


For my dad.



I’ve been waiting and watching for a number of movies that have technically been released, but that are not coming to a theater anywhere near me. I think the problem lies in all the damn film festivals we have these days. And maybe I have to take some responsibility, because I’m not as interested in the popular blockbusters as I am in cool, creepy, quirky stuff. Sigh. FYI: I’ve decided to start taking advantage of some of the features available at IMDb, including the watch list. Apparently I have the option to make that public so here’s my address over there:

I am annoyed with theaters right now, so, for this installment of M&M Media, I’ve concentrated on other things.



book cover matt manochio the-dark-servant

Last week I mentioned the debut novel, The Dark Servant, by Matt Manochio. I didn’t give you much detail, so I thought I’d share the blurb today:

It has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction-and bloody hoof prints stomped in the snow. Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes on December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, endangering his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why supposedly innocent high school students have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion-that cannot be stopped.

Since then, I’ve been trying to find more intriguing horror books set in or around Christmastime. There are not many.  In fact, it wasn’t until I read a well-timed review of NOS4A2 that I remembered that Joe Hill has given us a great Christmas book. Read the review from Emily Einolander of Craft Fear that saved me: Hop in the Wraith and Let’s Go to Christmasland.


I have been in love with Joe Hill’s work since I read Heart Shaped Box (without knowing ahead of time that he was Stephen King’s son.) I can’t resist a guy who can write this:

“The problem with that plan was she liked guys better than girls, and she liked Lou better than most guys; he smelled good and he moved slow and he was roughly as difficult to anger as a character from the Hundred Acre Wood. ” –Joe Hill, NOS4A2

King himself touched on Christmas in Different Seasons, in the novella The Breathing Method. Then, of course, there’s all the wintry goodness of The Shining.




I had completely forgotten about seeing this until I ran across it today while browsing Netflix. This belongs on two of my existing best-13 lists, and on one I’m still compiling. If I’m remembering right, it’s also a beautiful movie. Heads-up: it’s far more of a psychological thriller than a ghost story.

Stars:  Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts
Available on Netflix streaming.


You’ve probably seen it, of course, but if you haven’t this is a really gorgeous film. It has it’s flaws, but its dark opulence and sensuality is refreshing in this season of unrelenting chipperness.

Rated: R
Stars: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins
Available now on Netflix streaming.


EDIT: I watched this Monday night, after posting it to & LATER in this post. Thus, I moved it up to the NOW section.

I’m wondering if this a gem we missed.  Yes, it is a bit of a gem, though a small one, and not very shiny. I was distracted during the first half and I think it was slow and a bit disjointed. It does pick up. Cage’s performance is really quite understated, and his character feels real. The story itself — which is based on the crimes of Alaskan serial killer, Robert Hansen — is compelling. The approach is unusual in that the Alaska Trooper Jack Holcombe knows early on who the killer is but can’t get enough evidence together to get a warrant. It’s frustrating, but I suspect it’s truer to life than most procedurals.

An Alaska State Trooper partners with a young woman who escaped the clutches of serial killer Robert Hansen to bring the murderer to justice. Based on actual events.

Rated: R
Stars: Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, Dean Norris, & Vanessa Hudgens
Available now on Netflix streaming.


If an item is posted in the “& LATER” section, it may mean that it has not yet been released, but it may also mean that it’s been around for a while, but is new to me. In any case, I haven’t seen the following yet, but my interest has been piqued. 


Has anyone seen this? I want to be clear that is a fictional story, done in the found-footage style, about documentary filmmakers taking on a New World Order type conspiracy. I am interested.

Rated: R
Available now on Netflix streaming.

IDA (2013)

This is an outlier but I am intrigued. There’s nothing remotely supernatural about it, but there’s just something about the atmosphere that is compelling to me.

Anna, a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland, is on the verge of taking her vows when she discovers a dark family secret dating back to the years of the Nazi occupation.

Language: Polish with subtitles.
Rated: PG13
Available now on Netflix streaming.


In the spirit of American Horror Story: Freakshow

Documentary; 95 minutes.
Available now on Netflix streaming.


I kept meaning to catch an episode of this series but never got around to it. Now the six episodes of the first season are available on Netflix streaming. Reviewers seem to love it or hate it … in particular the overwrought narration. I’m still going to give it a go, because I think abandoned places are beautiful and oh so creepy.

Documentary series; 48 minutes per episode.
Available now on Netflix streaming.


May of us are going to have extra time off this month so an installment or two of MST3000 might be just the ticket.

Here are some titles available right now on Netflix streaming:

Click the episode title to go to its Netflix listing.



BTW, did you know that you can use Redbox in much the same way you used to use a brick and mortar video store? If you create an account online, you can view the current contents of all nearby kiosks, reserve titles, then go pick up your movie(s) at you convenience. Start here:

Redbox Reservations


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