American Horror Story-Hotel – Season 5

I know American Horror Story season 5 completed several months ago, but I didn’t get a chance to watch it and with season 6 underway, I wanted to see what I missed. So it was time for a tv watching bender and while each season has been very good, I thought season 5 had some real interesting aspects to it.

There are true life elements woven into the different AHS stories, but season 5 really went after that. The hotel was based on the Hotel Cecil, which has a damn sketchy past. Serial killers did indeed call the place home, including Richard Ramirez – The Nightstalker. There was also a pretty grim discovery of a body in the water tank that was found because guests said the water was iscolored and tasted foul. That is all manner of wrong.

While the actual Hotel Cecil didn’t have the rooms, vaults and corridors as depicted, there was a certain hotel that did. It was based in Chicago and was run by H. H. Holmes. The Hotel Cortez even has the infamous vault, body chutes and furnace in the basement. The time period is different, but James Patrick March is Holmes, even down to "getting rid" of workman so no one would know the overall layout of the building.

We also have several real life serials killers that linger and show up for Devil’s Night. It’s a pretty nasty brood at the dinner table as they try to bring John into the fold. Bringing all those elements together made for intriguing and incredibly creepy stories.

It’s a variety of stories of themes, such as ghosts, vampires, killing sprees and the paranormal. But interestingly, a few threads come through about the meaning of relationships. Amidst the throat slashing, you have people trying to discover how to be in relationships and in love. And odd setting to be sure, but that just adds to the overall bizarre nature of it all.

There are also connections back to the first American Horror Story with psychic Billy Dean and Queenie. Queenie only makes a short appearance, but long enough for her voodoo skills to be consumed in an attempt to unseat the Countess. And we have Billy Dean, who comes to the hotel for Devil’s Night in a chance to talk with John about his crimes and why he did them. She is then treated to a host of holy horrors and takes a seat with serial killers from the past. This may put her off communicating with the spirit world for good.

Or does it?

As we jump into season 6, it feels as though we are watching a paranormal investigation re-enactment. Is Billy Dean just off camera getting the story of the events that took place? Will this lead to an investigation of the house? From there, will we be treated to an investigation of the Murder House from season 1?

That remains to be seen, but Season 5 was riveting. While more violent than other seasons, I was  more compelled to get to the next episode to find out what was going on. I would then say Season 3 was my next favorite with it’s witches and fascinating characters.

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Ryan Buell arrested and facing criminal charges

imageOh, how the mighty have fallen. A paranormal investigator accused of lies and deceit? Say it ain’t so.

With Ryan’s show off the air and his team garnering work without him, Ryan has been left looking for his next cash cow. That came in the form of his Conversations with the Dead tour, which he apparently started multiple times in multiple cities, but never actually held. Both Chip Coffey and Michelle Belanger ultimately broke ties with Ryan after he failed to give refunds for the never starting show.

It now appears the high jinks off screen have finally caught up with him and he’s been arrested facing felony charges of theft. Looks like Ryan has really stepped in it this time, but who knows what he’s really in trouble for. And who knows if fans who sighed up for his tour will actually get their money back. If they put him behind bars, I guess the tour really is canceled and he’ll have no choice but to give the money back.

Celebrity ghost hunter Ryan Buell arrested

You know, I don’t want to kick the guy when he’s down, but seriously, people should have known better. Ryan has been a fraud for years with his ridiculous antics and holier than thou attitude. He’s been treating people like crap ever since he got a show and his arrogance finally caught up with him.

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Time to have a look at the Conjuring 2

Unlike the first Conjuring movie, I waited for this one to come to video before giving it a look. After seeing both The Conjuring and Annabelle, I didn’t feel this would be worth the cost of admission.

We catch up with Ed and Lorraine Warren as they investigate the supposedly true events surrounding the Enfield haunting. We start off with references to the Amityville haunting, but quickly leave that storyline behind which was disappointing to be sure. But then again, maybe it wasn’t as we start to get fed the line that Lorraine has some divine powers.

We then have the Warrens being asked to visit the Hodgson’s in England to see if their claims of the paranormal are real. The children are being tormented by some sort of spirit. Toys are able to start and move on their own. Beds shake and growls come out of the darkness. Things escalate to the point of possible possession as Janet is able to speak in a voice not her own and tell of events she shouldn’t know. And mildly overshadowing all the events is the vision and dread Lorraine fears that her husband is about to meet with his death. She has several visions showing his demise which puts her in a place where she can’t act upon the haunting.

Overall, this Conjuring has a dark and foreboding feel, which is good. I think the best part involves the mysterious figure of the nun. This is loosely linked to the events at Amityville and may be a demonic figure. There are several scenes with this shadowy creature skulking around and an especially good one where the shadow links up with the nightmarish figure Ed has painted and pursues Lorraine.

The movie builds slowly, with a series of unexplained events that ultimately catch the attention of the Warrens. At first, they are brought in as observes, with other investigators and reporters bringing attention to the haunting. As we move forward, the question keeps getting asked, is this a hoax or is there something demonic going on? We get a lot of questionable evidence that leans more toward a hoax. But then it shifts and we move back toward a real haunting and possession once Ed and Lorraine give the case more of their attention. I found that to be an interesting stance.

The other aspect to the movie is the real case that inspired it. There was indeed an investigation in London involving this family. And the children claim all sorts of events took place and they sought help to control them. Interestingly, when you being to research the "haunting" it begins to closely mirror the events of Amityville, up to and including being declared a hoax by a large contingent.

You will also find that Ed and Lorraine weren’t that involved in the events and may have in fact been asked to keep their distance based on their reputation from Amityville. By many accounts, Ed and Lorraine injected themselves into the investigation with some declarations that Enfield could make money just like Amityville did.

When looking further into the actual story, it’s easy to believe it was a hoax. The photo evidence of children being thrown around looks like kids jumping on the bed, things only appeared when people’s backs were turned and the girls were found to be faking some of the time. They claim this was merely to test those investigating them, but it doesn’t comes across like that and feels pretty dubious.

The Conjuring 2 was rather fun to watch, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga doing a fine job of playing the Warrens. There were plenty of good scenes as the story unfolds. And you don’t have to worry about foul language or nudity like many other movies of this style.

However, as you follow along, it’s hard to tell if the movie is trying to show the Enfield haunting was real or if they agree it was a hoax. There is an interesting line early on in the movie where Ed is on a talk show where it’s claimed the evidence was faked. He says those claims were never "proven". Interesting choice of words.

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Expedition Unknown – Incan Mummy – S02E26

imageIn continuing his adventures and exploration into lost cities and cultures, Josh is on the trail of a lost Incan ruler, Atahualpa. He was the last great ruler of the Incan people, slain by the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro during the Spanish conquest. Pizarro demanded huge amounts of gold from Atahualpa, and even though he complied he was still sentenced to death. At first, Atahualpa was to be burned, but pleading for his soul, he converted to Christianity and was then strangled. He needed his body in tact so he could be mummified and rule in the afterlife. However, his body is believed to have been whisked away and it’s current whereabouts is unknown.

As Josh gets to know the history of Ecuador, he learns that the Incas came to this location because of the equator, to be closer to the sun. Josh also reads accounts of a sailor seeing a body and procession. While not specifically calling out Atahualpa, it fits the time frame and location. Also within the archives is the will of Atahualpa and other family documents. It’s shown they have private land where the body could have been buried, which would have kept with the custom of the time. The mummy would have been removed because it was the belief that if you had the mummy you had the power of the Incan people. It would have been an extremely influential symbol of power.

Josh then links up with German Molina, who is searching for the tomb. He’s found multiple Incan ruins covered by the jungle. They have aqueducts that still work after 500 years. There are also structures made from large rocks, in the shape of square that could be a temple. They believe they have found a location where the mummy would have been kept for a short time.

But the main resting place may be higher in the Andes mountains. From what they have been told, there is a farmer with promising artifacts and while he’s not willing to be shown or heard on camera, he brings out a sun necklace. It’s made of copper and gold and represents the sun people. Inspired by the find, they head further up and find man made paths as well as the remains of the Pucara or guard towers.

They discover an opening and after jumping inside, discover an ancient pin, again made of copper and gold, that would have been used to hold clothes together. But there is still more to be discovered as they head to another location where aerial surveys have shown some promising leads.

As they take images with the drone, it’s revealed the hill doesn’t have a natural contour, more of a stair step or terraced effect. As they map it, it begins to look man made with more of the watch towers on the perimeter. They also discover another trench which looks like it could lead into the interior of the mound, but has since collapsed. At the top of the hill are large stones that are not native to the region, and were most likely brought for a specific purpose. After surveying more of the features, they believe they are standing on a massive Incan fortress. They aren’t sure if it’s a tomb, or if Atahualpa would be buried there, but when taken with the towers and other relics already found they believe a much more thorough investigation and exploration is needed. Even if not the burial site, it’s a location of significance. And I have to say, the jungle and landscape is absolutely amazing. The lushness of that area is breathtaking.

Again, it seems they are right on the cusp of making an important and exciting discovery. Whether or not they find the Incan burial site remains to be seen, but it looks like they are about to unearth a major archaeological find which may reveal a slew of information not only about the lost king, but about the culture itself.

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