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San Diego’s Save Our Heritage Organisation Pursuing Action Against The Asylum for The Haunting of Whaley House

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San Diego City Beat

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As someone who lives in San Diego, I’ve been curious about the reaction of the real Whaley House toward The Asylum’s recently released The Haunting of Whaley House, and let’s just say it’s not good.

San Diego City Beat did a little digging and learned the following:

The basic plot of the Whaley House [film] follows a group of teens who sneak into the titular house and get murdered, one-by-one, by the vengeful ghost of Thomas Whaley and the other spirit of Whaley lore, Yankee Jim. As the body count rises, so does the tension—hence this amazing line of dialogue: “This house is haunted as fuck,” which is said not once, but twice in the movie. (Other great lines include: “Now they’re fucking possessing us! I’ve had it with this shit!” and the simple-but-effective “Fuck you, ghost!”)

You don’t need to go on the educational, non-haunted-as-fuck tour of the historic house to see that the filmmakers took great liberties with the Whaley legacy. For example, the Whaleys in the film are hell-bent on replacing their dead daughter, Violet Whaley, with the main character (by means of fucking possession!), while Yankee Jim—depicted as a drippy skeleton—melts everyone else’s skin off. None of this is mentioned in the official Whaley House brochure.

As obvious as these disparities are, the fact that the filmmakers didn’t use the actual house, or even film in San Diego (the Bembridge House in Long Beach acted as the Whaley stand-in), gives the film a snaky quality. It feels like the filmmakers borrowed just enough not to have to pay respect to the Whaley legend, a sentiment that raises the question: Do movies like this tarnish the historical reputation of one of San Diego’s most iconic landmarks?

Whaley House writer/director Jose Prendes claims that he was hesitant to attach the Whaley name to his haunted house script and agreed to do it only when it became a financial stipulation from The Asylum.

“I pitched [The Asylum] a whole bunch of haunted house plots with no real name,” he says during a phone interview. “‘A family moves in and etc.’ or ‘Some kids break into a house and etc.’ A few days after I sent them a handful of pitches, they told me, ‘We’re going to focus it on the Whaley House; we want to deal specifically with that location. At least the title of the movie has to be The Haunting of Whaley House.’ I’m guessing they wanted to market the movie off the fact that it was considered America’s Most Haunted Home.”

When asked what, if any, permissions were needed to use the Whaley name, Prendes says, “That part is on the producers and their lawyers,” but he concedes that he did, indeed, seek permission from the ghosts.

“I went down to Old Town and visited the house, and I went to the cemetery next door where Yankee Jim was buried. I feel like I communed with the house. I said, ‘They want me to do a movie about you. I hope it’s OK.’ I hope I got permission from the spirits, you know? That was it. I started writing.”

Unfortunately, ghosts can’t grant such permissions. Alana Coons, Education & Communications Director of Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), which manages and operates the Whaley House, says The Asylum initially contacted SOHO regarding a Whaley film but offered no follow-up after preliminary discussions and never secured permissions. She says that SOHO is pursuing action against The Asylum (no stranger to legal action: Universal filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this year for the Battleship knockoff, American Warship).

“The information available on the film depicts the Whaley House as a location of significant paranormal activity, which results in the exposure of visitors to unimaginable horrors and physical violence. Clearly this is not consistent with the image that SOHO strives to promote,” Coons writes in an email. “The filmmakers have no concern for the tens of thousands of volunteer man-hours and financial resources dedicated to the home,” Coons continues. “Nor have they exhibited any interest or capacity for the respect, honor and integrity that are integral in the business world to which they strive to be a part of with their ‘filmmaking.’ Any harm to the property, loss of revenues due to the depiction of the film or harm or emotional distress to our docents that are directly caused by this ridiculous film will be entirely the fault of the filmmakers and damages will be sought.”

San Diego's Save Our Heritage Organisation Pursuing Action Against The Asylum for The Haunting of Whaley House

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George A. Romero’s Daughter, Tina, Wrote a Script For Queens of the Dead

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The loss last year of director George A. Romero was a huge blow to the horror community, as well as the filmmaking community at large. The passing of the man responsible for creating the modern day zombie and whose work influenced “The Walking Dead”, Dead Alive, 28 Days Later, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out was felt far and wide but we take solace knowing that his work and legacy will live on forever.

Something that brings a smile to my face is hearing that his daughter, Tina, who DJ’s under the name DJ TRx, has written a screenplay for a zombie film that is called Queens of the Dead. And yes, it’s very gay! Romero has not only written the script but also plans on directing the film herself.

Romero tells The Saunder Blog about the film, saying, “Queens of the Dead is a fusion of two huge parts of my world: zombies and Gay nightlife. It’s a tribute to my father as well as my entrée into the genre he grandfathered. I can’t say too much yet, but what I can tell you is that this film will have all the hallmarks of a George A. Romero classic: farce, politics, heroes, assholes, and most importantly, herds of silly and slow moving walkers that you can’t help but love. But I’m doing it Tina-style, and bringing the glitter, choreography, queers & queens.

Romero’s father always brought some sort of social message into his work, so to hear that she will continue that tradition is inspiring, especially since it comes on a topic that is so discussed and topical.

If you want to read more about Romero and her DJ career, click on the link above.

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?

Wanna See Something REALLY Scary? Local 58 Contingency Emergency Broadcast

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Wanna See Something REALLY Scary

“Wanna see something REALLY scary?”

To horror fans who came of age in the 1980s, the line above instantly evokes memories of Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks in the opening scene from Twilight Zone: The Movie. Now, on a bi-monthly basis, I’ll be asking, “Wanna see something REALLY scary?” with the goal of shocking you with chilling footage plumbed from the darkest corners of YouTube.

As a child of the Cold War born in the 1970s and traumatized by films like The Day After and Threads, I remember immediately panicking every time an Emergency Broadcast broke into a TV show I was watching. That alarming tone made my stomach drop and in the moments before it was confirmed to be “only a test” I had already imagined a barrage of nuclear warheads bursting overhead.

My heart went out to the residents of Hawaii who, due to a false alarm, believed a missile attack was imminent this weekend. For almost 40 minutes, families scrambled into fallout shelters, bathrooms, and even storm drains, believing war had begun between the United States and North Korea. Even after the all-clear was announced and the warning revealed as a mistake, nerves were severely rattled. I can only imagine the potential long-term damage done to the psyches of Hawaii’s youngest residents.

For a taste of the pandemonium that occurred, check out an excerpt from CNN’s reporting below.

While the shock must have been unprecedented for most, a bizarre alert that accidentally aired in the late 1960s puts the Hawaii debacle to shame. What viewers of a local station saw just before the end of programming at 3 am was a message announcing the fall of the US Government, and included instructions for committing suicide rather than surrendering to enemy forces.

Wanna see something REALLY scary?

The message bore the seal of The U.S. Department for the Preservation of American Dignity, included a statement from President Lyndon B. Johnson, and warned that failure to commit suicide as instructed would have consequences:

“Your local law enforcement has been ordered to ensure your compliance,” the message cautioned. “It is against the law to delay.” The final instructions remind adult viewers to put down their children and pets first while promising “There is nothing to fear.” Though the station later posted a statement ensuring viewers the message was a hoax, the potential loss of life this broadcast could have inspired is staggering. Have a look:

If the Local 58 Contingency, as it’s become known, seems too outlandish to be true, that’s because it isn’t. Though the video doesn’t include an admission of fiction, it’s written and directed by Kris Straub. If that name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the writer of the popular creepypasta Candle Cove, recently adapted into a TV series on SyFy.

Still, the vintage look of the Local 58 Contingency, not to mention the current climate of heightened tensions between American and a rogue nuclear nation, make this video a truly terrifying viewing experience.

Got an idea for a future installment of “Wanna See Something REALLY Scary?” Hit me up on Twitter @josh_millican!

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The Housemaid Haunts a New Trailer

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Here’s the thing… if we had the choice between cleaning up our own house or being haunted by a vengeful spectral servant of sorts, well… just hand us a friggin’ mop, wouldja already? Still, in the case of The Housemaid, it looks like nothing is gonna stop her from sensing shivers! Dig on this new trailer.

Derek Nguyen directs the flick, which stars Kate Nhung, Jean-Michel Richaud, Kim Xuan, Svitlana Kovalenko, and Rosie Fellner. Look for IFC Midnight’s release of The Housemaid coming to select theaters, VOD, and via Digital platforms in the U.S. on February 16, 2018.

Synopsis:
A forbidden passion awakens vengeful spirits within a haunted mansion in this bloodcurdling, erotic tour-de-force.

Vietnam, 1953: Linh (Nhung Kate), a poor, orphaned young woman, finds employment as a housemaid in a crumbling rubber plantation presided over by the emotionally fragile French officer Sebastien Laurent (Jean-Michel Richaud). Soon, a torrid love affair develops between the two – a taboo romance that rouses the ghost of Laurent’s dead wife, who won’t rest until blood flows.

Submerged in moody Gothic atmosphere, this stylish supernatural saga confronts the dark shadows of Vietnam’s colonial past while delivering heart-stopping scares.

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