Written by Richard Felix
Published by Breedon Books
America is a relatively young country with documented history going back only around two hundred fifty years or so. Even so, there are ghost stories around every corner dating back to before recorded history. But while we in America think of a building that has reached its two-hundred-year mark as being old, it does not compare with the age of Europe, from which most of our ancestors came. There histories run further back than centuries, leading one to believe, and rightfully so, that older countries with very storied pasts would have a significant number of ghost stories. To that end, Richard Felix, of “Most Haunted” fame, brings together The Ghost Tour of Great Britain: Scotland as a guide for travelers in search of more macabre points of interest. Sadly, however, this book leaves a great deal to be desired.
To begin with, this book is painfully short, a scant 160 pages, in which are stories of only twenty-eight locations. The first sixty-four pages of the book, however, are not dedicated to the sites or locations of the paranormal but focus on the author’s own views on how to find ghosts, the author’s theories on why ghosts appear, and even nearly thirty pages of “glossary,” in which terms are spelled out for the most uninformed novices. Sixty-four pages later, and the reader is left with less than one hundred pages in which, if the title of the book is to be believed, the author hopes to detail every haunted site in Scotland. If it sounds impossible, especially given that there are only twenty-eight locations covered, you are correct.
Once all the “how-to”s and “why-are”s are taken care of, the book does bring forth some interesting sites accompanied by some interesting photos of each place. However, coverage of each location is cursory at best. In a country with a history dating back to before medieval times, surely there is more history than merits one or two sentences. The cursory nature of the articles provide little insight and little appreciation of the history of the sites. Other than stating that someone died and how gruesome it was, many of the accounts read like unsubstantiated folklore. The ghosts, when discussed, are given little more than acknowledgement before the section ends and the reader is sent off with less than half the story. While that may be fine for the run-of-the-mill tourist, most who seek out truly haunted sites prefer more in-depth looks.
Included in this tour book are stories of Culloden Moor, Buckholm Tower, and the Cross Keys Hotel. There are brief descriptions of castles, hermitages, cathedrals, and even haunted pubs. Of the historic figures discussed, several make repeat appearances. Mary, Queen of Scots, seems to be at the root level of several hauntings with many castles reporting the presence of “Green Ladies.” While most of the stories are, at best, glossed over, there are a few in the book that leave the reader wanting to know more about the area. For example, Craithes Castle in Grampian is a tragic story about a young daughter of the castle’s family who became pregnant by a servant. She disappeared in the 18th Century, only to be rediscovered a hundred years later buried, with her newborn, under the fireplace hearth, murdered by her own family. Another interesting story tells a chilling story about Bell’s Wynd on the Royal Mile. Perhaps the most interesting story deals with William “Deacon” Broadie, upon whom Robert Lewis Stevenson is reputed to have based the characters of Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.
The real downfall of this book is simply that there is far too much to be covered in one thin-spine book. One finds it impossible to believe that, in all of Scotland, with all its bloody battles and horrific deaths, there are only twenty-eight places that were deemed worthy of mention. Granted, those places mentioned are the most often referred to, but there are so many more places to be seen, far more than such a tiny guide could cover.
For the typical tourist, however, the book does an adequate job of introducing the past of Scotland. With its conversational style, it is the type of book that someone might pick up for a few minor thrills and memories of walking past a place and shivering. Concentrating more on the atmosphere than on any evidence, it plays more toward the easily frightened than those sincerely interested in the paranormal.
On the plus side, The Ghost Tour of Great Britain: Scotland does contain some beautiful photographs of breathtaking architecture as well as some stories that would sound good told around a campfire to a group of skittish cub scouts. It does serve as a good beginning point for those interested in the folklore and history of Scotland, and some of the stories do intrigue enough to send the reader looking for more information. However, there just isn’t enough substance to keep anyone but casual tourists interested.
2 out of 5
American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.
The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube.
Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
Join the Box of Dread Mailing List
Michael Bay Adapting Duke Nukem with John Cena in Talks For Lead Role
Ellen Page and The Cured Come Home to VOD
#Brainwaves Episode 74 Guest Announcement: Creature Designer Mike Hill – The Shape of Water and More!
The Saw Chapter Comes to Dead By Daylight January 23!
Flying Wolf! New Rampage Trailer Swoops In
Gender Bashing: The Exorcist Series and the Male Body in Possession Horror
Zak Bagans’ Paranormal-Themed Documentary Demon House Acquired: Aiming For March Release
Julie, Sweet Julie: Why Return of the Living Dead 3 Is One of the Most Inventive Sequels Ever
Decade of Horror (2010-2017): What Have We Learned in the Past 7 Years?
Devil’s Tree: Rooted Evil – Exclusive Trailer, Stills, Poster and More
News6 days ago
An Early Draft of Halloween 6 Has Been Released And It’s… Interesting
News5 days ago
The Evil Dead Trilogy Cuts a 72-Minute Super Cut in Black and White
News5 days ago
Universal’s Bride of Frankenstein Reboot Back on Track With Gal Gadot?
News5 days ago
Zac Efron Looks Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile as Ted Bundy
Editorials4 days ago
What’s Next? 5 Horror Trends We Expect Within 5 Years
Reviews5 days ago
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters Review – A Timid Step Towards a Frightening Possibility
News6 days ago
Friday the 13th Part 3: In Memoriam Documentary Now Available For Free!
News5 days ago
Jigsaw Teased for Dead by Daylight