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Exclusive: Opening The Dead Files – An In-Depth Interview with Amy Allan

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“The Dead Files” on Travel Channel

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For many years I’ve watched just about every paranormal related show there is. Around 90% of them include a medium or some kind of sensitive who usually ends up making things seem silly what with their “feelings” and such. On “The Dead Files,” however, this is far from the case.

Amy Allan is the co-host of the Travel Channel TV show “The Dead Files” and also a physical medium who uses her abilities to communicate with the dead in some of the most frighteningly real ways imaginable. Simply put, she’s either the greatest actress in the world or 100% legit. Together with her co-host, retired homicide detective Steve DiSchiavi (interview here), the duo investigate hauntings and phenomena all over the country including Alcatraz and the famed Lizzie Borden House. They bring with them a no bullshit approach that’s rarely seen nowadays, and to say it’s compelling is a bit of an understatement.

Recently Amy sat down with us to discuss not only the show but also what led her to it.

Exclusive: Opening The Dead Files - An In-Depth Interview with Amy Allan

“The first memory I have of dealing with the paranormal was when I was four years old and had encountered shadow people,” says Allan. “I really thought they were my friends. They came every night and I would see them on the walls. It was actually a male and a female presence. They were really friendly and nice. We were friends over a long period of time, and eventually they asked me to go with them. They told me to bite the electrical cord on my humidifier, which I did and was electrocuted. After that I realized obviously that they weren’t good, and that’s kind of when they got scary. They would peel off of the wall and stare at me, or they would scream at me. It was a very traumatizing experience, not only because they were shadow people and they were negative and they tried to kill me, but also because I really thought that they were my friends. They betrayed me in the utmost manner by trying to inflict harm on me.”

Growing up, things only became more confusing and frustrating for the young woman.

“Throughout my younger years there would be random experiences like when I was eight or ten years old. I would see people when I was with my friends that they couldn’t see. and I really didn’t understand that. For instance, one time my friend and I were playing in the living room of my house. We had set up like a little Barbie kingdom of sorts. We then went to get some food, some snacks. When we came back, everything was ruined. Things were all tossed around and torn up, and my friend just screamed and ran out of the house. I was just standing there looking at this little boy who had lived in my house and who was dead. I didn’t understand why she would freak out and was afraid. She didn’t see him; she only saw what had happened to the Barbies, and that was one of the moments where I was like, ‘Hmmm… that’s odd. She was afraid but couldn’t see him, but I could and wasn’t scared at all.’ That was just one of those moments. It took until I was about thirteen years old for me to realize that I was different, and I was really upset by this. I just wanted to be normal. I didn’t want to see these things. I just wanted to be like everybody else.”

Realizing that being normal would never be the case, Allan tried to learn more about what was happening to her.

Amy continued, “For years I had studied the subject of death and the paranormal. I read all of the books and research papers… I was very into the science of it all. In my twenties I started using my ability professionally. I said to myself, ‘Okay, I have this thing and it is not going away. What can I do with it?’ I started doing lots of research to help me get a handle on these abilities so that I could start helping others to understand what they were going through. At first I started giving readings as a means to help people find closure with their loved ones. That was good, but my thing was always that I was seeing all these dead people who were trapped in homes and couldn’t get out. I felt really bad for them, and above all it was them that I wanted to help the most. It really started with me wanting to help the dead more than the living!” *laughs* “The way that the living deal with death and dying and the dead sometimes irritates me. Trying to understand living individuals’ perspective on these things has been a real learning experience for me. I try to educate them so that they have a bit more compassion for those who have passed. We tend to Westernize the subject of death here. It’s very sterilized and we try to keep the subject away from us, but it’s not. It’s something that we’re all going to experience.

That being said, Amy got immediately to work.

“Over the years I began working with private detectives and police officers and agents. The way that we do the show is very similar to what I did while out in the field. When the idea for the show came about, it was imperative that my partner be someone that was an outside source. Someone who wasn’t biased by me and hadn’t worked with me. That was Steve [Di Schiavi]. It’s an amazing thing that we have together. We work really, really well with each other. He’s an amazing guy, and he knows his shit! *laughs*

Exclusive: Opening The Dead Files - An In-Depth Interview with Amy Allan


CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 FOR MORE!


Collectively Amy and Steve have now worked dozens of cases together. Most infamous for this writer is “Fear at the Family Tree” (Season 2, Episode 2), in which she encountered something truly ghastly that could only be described as demonic in nature.

“Its appearance was a bit like that,” says Amy of the demon-like misshapen creature, “but what this being consisted of was actually the souls of ordinary dead people. These souls were combined to make up this being which took all of these individuals’ negative aspects and created this incredibly negative entity that is still tagging people who, when they die, will have their soul claimed and integrated into this thing’s whole. Just last week I received an e-mail from the clients, and they are now moving forward with the cleansing I suggested. The actions of this entity were a big worry for me because not only are the owners at risk of dying and being sucked into that hell, but everyone who goes there is as well. It wasn’t just about the legal occupants. It was about all of these people.

Pretty frightening stuff, and lord knows in order to do this kind of thing you need a pretty rough exterior. So then the question beckoned, has there ever been anything out there that she has encountered that was too much for her?

“I really didn’t like the Santa Fe Prison” (Season 2, Episode 10). “That place was really bad. It made me violently ill. My experiences there have stayed with me for a long time. I absolutely hated that location. I have never ever seen such evil. There was an entity there that I would call a devil. It had so much power, and I could sense that it was never human. It was beyond anything I’ve ever known or dealt with. They didn’t show the scene on the show, but we went into the execution room and I was literally rendered absolutely speechless. It was so overwhelming and horrible. Yeah, that place needs to go. Knock it down… if you really need to put something there, just put like a parking lot.

Exclusive: Opening The Dead Files - An In-Depth Interview with Amy Allan

With “The Dead Files” returning to Travel Channel this October, we asked Allan what viewers could expect from the new episodes. Being that they’re still shooting, there wasn’t much that she could say; however, she did have this to offer fans:

“Steve and I have been talking about new places that we’d really like to cover,”says Allan. “One of them is the Villisca Axe Murder House in Villisca, Iowa. That’s something we both would very much like to do to see if we can find out what really happened there and who was behind it. I personally still wish for the Amityville house. I want that so bad. It’s just a fascinating case. For the new season Steve and I have run into a lot of creepy things thus far. Things we have never seen before. It’s shocking, ya know? I think I’ve seen it all, and then no. I’m going to places that I never would have had access to before. The living people I’m encountering along with the dead who surround them… Every time it’s different. Some people ask me, ‘Well why were you so shocked? You’ve been doing this forever.’ What they don’t realize is that it’s not a cookie-cutter kind of thing. It’s never the same. You just cannot expect anything.”

She added, “There’s no place that I wouldn’t investigate. I’m up for anything. I would LOVE to do some international locations. I’d do it in a heartbeat. I lived in Yugoslavia for a long time and have done a lot of traveling, and let me tell you, there is A LOT out there.”

There are a lot of dangerous things in the paranormal field that fledgling ghost hunters and even people just screwing around could find themselves facing. It’s really easy to do something wrong, and Allan had this to say about a very common practice – the usage of Ouija boards…

“Yeah, I don’t like Ouijas. The thing about them that is different than other tools is that it’s a summoning device. What you are doing is you are calling out things… whether it’s dead people or some kind of other scary thing, you are opening a door to let everything and anything in. People need to look at that. This is not just a game; it is a summoning device. You are summoning things to you. When you do that, you are in it for the long haul. You’re screwed.

From there Amy had some words for people out there who are interested in this most controversial subject… advice on how to go about investigating the proper way.

“There’s a true learning curve to doing this. If you’re passionate and this is something that you really want to do, take some time to read the literature that’s out there. Read about parapsychology, look at the studies. Look at what the proper instruments you need are and find out how they can be applicable in the field. Always do your research first before you go running out there and jumping off the cliff. Through that research and study you will learn how to do it right and, more importantly, how to do it safely. “

Sounds like some good advice, if you ask us. New episodes of “The Dead Files” return beginning Friday, October 5th, and this season also features a number of “Dead Files Revisited” episodes in which Amy and Steve look back on previous investigations and follow up with the clients.

Big thanks to Amy for her time, and a shout-out to Stephanie DePietro for her help in making this happen.

Exclusive: Opening The Dead Files - An In-Depth Interview with Amy Allan

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Battle of the Hell Priests: Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s Idea for Hellraiser: Judgment Sequel

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I think it’s safe to say that many of us were pleasantly surprised by director Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s Hellraiser: Judgment. The film was a fun blast of twisted horror, and Tunnicliffe’s performance as The Auditor was a killer addition to the Hellraiser lore.

But has the director thought about a sequel to his film? Not during shooting evidently.

“I had no concept of a sequel, a spinoff, nothing at all,” the director told Screen Rant. “People suggest, ‘Oh, you’re trying to write a sequel for The Auditor and stuff like that.’ It’s like, ‘Are you f***ng kidding?’ I was just trying to swim to the other bank and survive without being eaten by the sharks.”

But now that filming is long over with, Tunnicliffe says he does have some ideas for a sequel.

“I have thought about it afterward, what I think would be great fun,” he says. “Maybe a new Cenobite ruler comes in or takes over, and a new head priest comes in, and it’s not working out and clearly this person, this Cenobite’s not doing a great job. And underhandedly, The Auditor is leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the guy who is Pinhead to find his way back, and he gets pulled in. And then it’s like, he turns up, and it’s like a showdown between the newly born Pinhead and this guy who’s taken over his mantle… we do a bit of a standoff, and it’s like a battle of the Hell priests.”

Battle of the Hell priests? Pardon the pun, but Hell, yeah! Would you like to see Tunnicliffe’s Hellraiser sequel? Let us know below!

Hellraiser: Judgment stars Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Jeff Fenter, Helena Grace Donald, Grace Montie, John Gulager, Diane Goldner, Heather Langenkamp, and Paul T. Taylor as Pinhead.

The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.

Special features:

  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Gag reel

BUY IT HERE!

Synopsis:
The dreaded Pinhead returns in the next terrifying chapter of the classic Hellraiser series. Three detectives trying to stop a diabolical serial killer are sucked into a maze of otherworldly horror, where hellish denizens including the Auditor, the Assessor, and the Jury await to pass judgment.

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Such Sights to Show You – 02/21/18

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What’s in a name? In this latest edition of Such Sights to Show you’re about to find out a great deal, that’s what! Read on for the usual cartoon shenanigans.

Kevin D. Clark is a cartoonist from Scotland who grew up watching classic monster movies, cartoons and wrestling, as well as reading comics. He started drawing at an early age and hasn’t stopped since. His sense of humor is a veritable cornucopia of the wacky and weird inspired by the likes of Monty Python, Mel Brooks, “MST3K,” Rab C. Nesbitt, as well as his older brother.

Kevin was diagnosed with Aspergers and because of that, he tries to push himself to work as hard as possible. Kevin also has a self-published comic book and helps run a film club for autistic people. He has recently earned a degree in cartooning from the London Art College and he’s pretty sure that he could take an octopus in a fight.

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Last Meeple Standing

Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination – Last Meeple Standing Game Overview and Review

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I’m going to kill you. Well, actually, me and few friends are going to snuff you. We are going to use… ummmmm… a bunch of old socks, a bucket of lighter fluid, and a piece of quartz to do it. Believe it. This is all because a machine that took a drop of your blood told you your cause of death would be “Blaze,” whatever that means. As assassins, it is our job to see you shuffle off your mortal coil in that manner (somehow, no matter how vague) using only a random assortment of items to force that death upon you. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. And we LIKE our job. It makes us laugh, you see.

Photo Credit: Tiffany Hahn

In the world of Machine of Death: The Game of Creative Assassination (MoD for short), a device has been invented that uses a single drop of your blood it takes when you stick your hand in it to predict, in VERY vague terms, how you are going to die. The catch lies in that vagueness. When the machine spits out the card with your cause of death, it is going to be one or two words that may or may not make any sense to you. For example, the card that pops out of the machine might say “Elephant.” How the hell is an elephant going to kill you if you live in Modesto? Just avoid circuses and trips to Jakarta, right? Wrong. What about that billboard for Elephant brand tires that falls off a four-story building and squishes you into strawberry jam?

MoD puts players in the role of killers whose job it is to make sure the Machine of Death pays off in…well…death. The problem, and the fun, of the challenge is that you HAVE to use a randomly drawn assortment of items to send your victim on to the next life. If MoD didn’t have such a dark theme, I’d call it a party game. Wait…fuck it. It IS a party game. Who am I kidding? It is hysterically funny to try, within a limited amount of time, to bring about the timely end of your target.

COMPONENTS:

Shall I start drooling all over this game right away? Yes! Commence drooling. The hefty, glossy game box comes packed with goodies: a huge pack of Death Cards, the cards that pop out of the MoD; a big box of Black Market Gift Cards, the items used to kill the victims with; a pack of Specialist Cards, bonus cards you can be awarded with to aid in our murderous adventures; a book of Target Intel Sheets, slips where you list various important traits for your victim; a wooden Fate Coin, which is flipped at various points in the game to help with decisions; a Mission booklet; and a nifty, red, custom die with a skull symbol for the “1.” All of this schwag is top-notch, high-quality stuff. The art on the cards is whimsical and very functional. The Death Cards look like those cards that used to pop out of the Fortune-Telling Gypsy booths on the boardwalk when you put a quarter in. The Black Market Gift Cards are designed to look like credit cards on one side with cute iconography identifying the item in question. The Specialist Cards have really fun artwork depicting the helpers you are awarded with if you kill particularly well. Lastly, anyone who frequents this column knows I’m totally nutty for custom dice, and this game scores with theirs. An embossed skull? Yes, please!

SETUP:

Separate out and shuffle the Death, Black Market Gift, and Specialist Card decks, and place each deck nearby face down. Draw one Death Card face down to the table. Count out 20 of the Black Market Gift Cards face down as your “shopping budget” for the game and put the rest away. Create your victim on an Intel slip using the tables in the rule book or select one from the Mission booklet. This will give the players some important and helpful insight into the target, allowing them to manipulate both their tools and the target for the kill. Turn over the Death Card and draw three Black Market Gift Cards face up in a row. Put the sand timer nearby, and you are ready to annihilate the victim.

GAMEPLAY:

It is important to remember that the game is more about fun storytelling than beating the dice. The more the players work together to come up with good stories, the better the gameplay is going to be. If you lose, so what? The game sets up in moments and is ready to go again, with fresh people just lining up to visit with Death.

Each game lasts for four rounds (four assassination targets). Each round you will do the following in order:

  1. Generate a target.
  2. Make an assassination plan.
  3. Attempt the kill.

If you fail at any kill, you lose. Too bad, so sad. If the kill is successful, you stand a chance to earn bonus Specialist Cards before moving on to the next assassination.

To generate a target, you use a series of simple tables and basically answer questions Mad Libs style to come up with Name, two pieces of intel (such as likes, dislikes, fears, beliefs, etc.), and a location for them. This meta-game is sorta fun all by itself. Making up goofy characters to slaughter shortly thereafter is a good time, right?

Next, the players look at the gift cards that have been turned up and try to come up with a way to use them to bring about the demise of the target. Keep in mind that these gifts are not going to be simple, single words, like: chainsaw, acid, or rifle. More than likely, they will be something like “something red.” In this case you could say, for example, it is a pile of bricks, a red dump truck, or a red baseball bat. String together a story of sorts from all of the items you have to form the death plan. If you had the cards music, something red, and batteries, you could come up with: “We’re going to block him into an alley with a red dump truck, confuse him with loud Skinny Puppy music so he doesn’t try to escape, and then pour battery acid on him from above.” All is good and well, but now you have to, as a team, try to assign a difficulty, from 2 (easy) to 6 (hella hard), for each of the three parts. How hard is it to accomplish each part? You might say that backing the truck block the alley is easy, so a 2, but getting enough battery acid together to kill the person might be hard, so maybe a 5.

To attempt the kill, you turn over the sand timer and get started as quickly as possible, because once the timer runs out, it’s game over, man! Starting with the first item in your plan, select a player to roll the die, in an attempt to roll the decided-upon difficulty level or greater. If you succeed, move on to the next item! If you fail, discard that item card, draw another, and revise you plan using the remaining items. The remaining items can operate the same way they did before, or you can create new uses and new difficulty levels for them. Then start over, attempting to succeed with all three items in your plan. If you roll greater than the difficulty level you set for all three items, your assassination is carried off for that victim. If you still have time on the clock, roll the die and consult the Aftermath table, which will let you attempt to flee the scene, establish an alibi, cater the target’s wake (really), etc. by drawing one item card and attempting a plan against that item. Win and you get to roll again, draw again, and try again if there is still time on the timer. For each successful roll, you get to draw a Specialist card and set it aside for the moment. These cards allow you to switch them out for item cards on subsequent assassination attempts, basically giving you more options of a unique and interesting kind (e.g., “water into wine,” “killer solo,” or “flying saucer ride”).

WINNING:

You win by successfully killing all four targets. Good job. You’re a serial killer. You lose if at any time you run out of both Gift Cards and Specialists before all four targets are dead. You also lose if you fail to kill a target before the timer runs out. What? You think you get a lifetime to snuff anyone you want? Guess again, killer!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

By now, my enthusiasm for this game should be self-evident. I fricking LOVE MoD! The components are great, but the gameplay is even better! You’ve got a winner already, but I’ve been holding some info back from you, readers. This game is based on two awesome books of short stories delving into the possibilities of the wicked machine: Machine of Death and This Is How You Die. Both of them are chock full of hysterical…and creepy…stories of the fates of folks who fall victim to the machine. Not only that, but the website dedicated to this game, machineofdeath.net, is packed with bonus goodies for players: an Intel randomizer, timer music albums you can use in place of the sand timer (fun!), more missions, and target Intel blank sheets. Wow! The website also has pins, patches, posters, death certificates, t-shirts, etc. for fans to pick up if they love the game, which I suspect they will. Mind you, I’m not trying to sell you anything here, but WOW! What a bunch of cool-ass stuff! But wait, there’s MORE, and this may be the best part: there is a gigantor expansion for MoD. The Side Effects expansion includes more than 600 additional cards to plan deaths with: Death Cards, a Genre Deck, Intel, and what they call “Web Pals + Chums,” cards designed by famous Web personalities and illustrators (these cards are particularly awesome, according to ME).

There you have it…one of my favorite games in my collection. I’m happy to admit I have pretty much everything available for this game. Yes, I love assassination THAT much! This game is perfect for nights when you need a break from heavier games but are still in the mood for some mayhem and murder. I’ve rarely played MoD in public without some random stranger begging to please sit in on the next game. I strongly urge all of my readers to take the time and effort to find a copy and pick this up as soon as possible…or my friends and I will kill you.

PRODUCT DETAILS:

Designer: David Fooden, David Malki, and Kris Straub
Artists: Kris Straub
Publisher: TopatoCo
Published: 2013
Players/Playtime: 2-4 players/30 min
Suggested Player Age: 15+

RATING:
5/5

Last Meeple Standing is brought to you by Villainous Lair Comics & Games, the ultimate destination for board game fanatics in Southern California. For more information visit the official Villainous Lair Comics & Games website, “Like” the Villainous Lair Facebook page and be sure to follow Villainous Lair on Twitter and Instagram.

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