Saturday, October 21, 2023

Favorite Pic of the Day for October October 22nd

The Upstairs Room by ClearEye Photography
-See More Below-

~Check out today's BIRTHDAYS HERE:~

The Accursed:

'It was an evil house from the beginning - a house that was born bad.'
The Haunting

My love of haunted houses has a simple origin.  One of my best friends growing up used to live near an abandoned old house.  We often used to hang out, and play in the house.  It was usually pretty bright inside, as some of the walls had caved in, and there were no curtains or windows covering any of the windows.

The most eerie part of the house were the things left behind.  There were children's toys, books and furniture laying on the floors in most of the rooms.  Much had been stolen over the years, but there were enough items left to make you wonder.  The story wasn't really as terrifying as it was sad.  I was told the family up and left in the middle of the night, running not from axe wielding killers, but instead credit collectors.   The house eventually burned down, only adding to it's haunted street cred. 

My love of haunted house themed movies is much more recent.  I wrote previously that photographer Robert John Guttke used to often send me recommendations.  In addition to suggestions of models and photographers to check out, he'd send along books and especially movies that I 'needed' to read and watch. 

Image by Matt Lee

Given my love of Halloween, he sent a long list of movies to watch during the month of October.  All of the films were classics, none made after the 1970's.  At the top of his list of Halloween flicks was 1963's The Haunting.   Initially, I wasn't really that interested, I'd rented the 1999 remake during the Blockbuster days, and wasn't really that impressed.  I did however, promise to DVR the 1963 version when it aired on TCM.

Given today's theme, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I loved it.  I loved the cast let by Claire Bloom, Julie Harris, Richard Johnson and Russ Tamblyn.  I especially loved the incredible visuals, and the mood so beautifully set by director Robert Wise.  I only knew Wise from his musicals, West Side Story and The Sound of Music, and wasn't aware of the many other great films on his resume.

Gareth by Virgin Islands Pictures

'An evil old house, the kind some people call haunted, is like an undiscovered country waiting to be explored. Hill House had stood for 90 years and might stand for 90 more. Silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there... walked alone.'

Although not a musical, music, and more specifically sounds, were central to the impact of Wise's The Haunting.   Regardless of the genre of horror, all scary movies use music to get the viewers heart pounding and to signal something bad is about to occur.....   Music isn't the only commonly used trope in horror movies, there are many others I know you're all very familiar with.

Jordan by Studio1x

Haunted House Tropes:

They're isolated.  Sure, some are in suburban areas, but most haunted houses stand alone, surrounded by trees, and little else.

They're Abandoned:  Given they're haunted, most people don't last long in them, meaning they priced just right for the down on their luck family looking for a deal.  Once the family moves in, they're not likely going to be able to move out.

The wind:  When a family first enters their new abode, they're usually welcomed by a door that slams shut behind them.  After that, doors slam at random, floors creak and windows are either sealed shut, or crash open, sending glass flying through the air.

The Electricity is not dependable:  The lights are always flickering and going off, especially when something bad is about to happen.  Poor Jordan, (pictured) learned this the hard way....

They're cold.   People feel the chill as soon as they walk in.  Given they're haunted, I'd expect they might be hotter.  Then again, years of being uninhabited often means the furnace isn't up to code or working properly.

There's always clergy nearby:  Need a Minister or Priest, they're always lurking about.  People in Haunted Houses can usually find a medium or agent of a church to perform that much needed Exorcism. 

They impact the little ones first:   In most haunted house films, the adults are initially oblivious.  It's only after the family Doberman begins attacking and snaking on delivery guys, and their children's eyes begin to glow and glaze over, that they figure out something might be up.

For God's Sake, Get Out!

'19 days after the Lutz family moved into their dream house, they were running for their lives. What happened to them is an experience in terror you will never forget, and you will believe in the Amityville Horror.'

Of all the books and films about haunted houses, The Amityville Horror remains one of the most famous and enduring.  It began as a book by Jay Anson based on real life claims from the Lutz family.  In December 1975, George and Kathy Lutz, and their three children, moved into a large Dutch Colonial house situated in a suburban neighborhood in Amityville, on the south shore of Long Island, New York.

After 28 days, the Lutz family fled the house, claiming to have been terrorized by paranormal phenomena while living there.  The house had previously been owned by, Ronald DeFeo Jr. who just one year earlier, had shot and killed six members of his family in the home.  He was convicted of second-degree murder in November 1975 and sentenced to six terms of 25 years to life in prison. Given the murders, the Lutz's got a pretty good deal...

Over the years, I've seen bits of the 1979 film version of Anson's book, The Amityville Horror.  I remember the first time was an airing on television when I was a kid.  I don't really remember much about it, except that I left the room and went to bed after the scene where the nun throws up in her car.  For some reason that moment freaked me out, and I couldn't continue watching.

When I got older, I eventually watched the entire film, but the movie still manages to freak me out just a little.  The scene with nun didn't bother me as much, but the movie still packs a pretty horrific punch.  The movie stars James Brolin and Margot Kidder, who are surrounded by a stellar supporting cast.
The original film is considered a classic, especially in the sub-genre of contemporary haunted house themed movies.  

Author Stephen King wrote about the film in his 1983 non-fiction book, Danse Macabre. King interprets the film as a parable on the anxieties of homeownership and financial ruin. The story, and original 1979 film, began a franchise that still continues today.  In addition to the 2005 re-make with Ryan Reynolds, there have been close to 30 other film and television adaptations based on the original story.  The most recent film being The Amityville Curse starring Brendan Fehr and Vanessa Smyth. 

Although there was a male butt scene 2017's Amityville Clownhouse, there is little to no male nudity in the other films from the franchise.  There is however, quite a few shirtless hotties, and a few hunks in their undies.  You can check out some of my favorites, including Dean Cochran, Allan Cutler and Cameron Monaghan, on the NEXT PAGE HERE:

And let's not forget James Brolin in his tighy whities in the original 1979 film.  You can check out caps and a video of that scene, along with other movies featuring Brolin's bare butt in my Actors & SKIN feature on Brolin HERE:

When I decided to do a Haunted House themed day, with a focus on The Amityville Horror, I wanted to include an original art piece.  Thanks to RJ from badsign769, for the artwork below.  As he usually so beautifully does, RJ created a poster for a movie we'd all kill to see, maybe more than the original it was based on.


'Last night I saw upon the stair, a little man who wasn’t there. He wasn’t there again today. Oh, how I wish he’d go away…' 
William Hughes Mearns, Antigonish

Image by Virgin Island Pictures

In addition to the tropes mentioned above, almost every great haunted house or mansion has a prominent staircase. One of my favorites is The Spiral Staircase, which I featured last year. (HERE:) Some of them, are the entrances, stone stairs leading to the front door and the entrance to the impending terror.  Most are inside, winding, spiral staircases which are both ominous and compellingly welcoming.  


Welcoming, may be too pleasant of a word, but for some reason, whenever someone enters a haunted house, there is a powerful pull to up them, or down them.  The thing about these stairs isn't just that their prominent set pieces, and often architecturally stunning, they also hold a mystery.  Where to they lead, and what the hell is at the top, or the bottom of the stairs.

If you walk up, you usually hit bedrooms and studies.  Rooms which contain both the history and the mysteries of the house.  Walk up further, and you're in the attic, a room where nothing good ever occurred.  Far scarier than if those stairs go up, is those spiral staircases that go down.  Down to the basement and the bowels of the building.  It's those basements that hold the evidence, the bodies burned in the furnace, and buried forever behind the walls of brick. 

Image from Sergei K

Like so many kids, I used to dread going to our basement.  It wasn't such a scary place, but the wooden staircase presented challenges.  Yes, the stairs were creaky, but that wasn't the issue.  Going down wasn't so bad, but going up was a nightmare.  I don't think I ever walked up those stairs, I always ran.  No matter what time a day it was, dark or light, I was positive there was a monster chasing me.  Cue the symbolism, and guess to what I may have been running from, but regardless of what it was, I sped up those stairs like my life depended on it.

Image from Nohea Dunn

Weißblaue Wintergeschichten

Although it didn't occur in a horror film, one of my favorite staircase scenes featuring male nudity was in the German television show Weißblaue Wintergeschichten. The actor is Dirk Meier and the scene is from the 1997 episode Bruderherzen/Die Härte des Gesetzes.

ClearEye Photography: The Room Where It Happened

'Believe nothing you hear, and only one half that you see.'
Edgar Allan Poe

In addition to, creaky floorboards, possessed dolls and winding staircases, another prominent trope of Haunted Houses on television and in movies in 'the room.'  Most haunted houses have them, the room which is colder than the others, has flies or insects.  A room where the wind that slams the door shut, without even a window being open.  

Although often an attic, it's alarmingly more likely a bedroom, a child's bedroom, full of scary looking toys, dolls and clowns that appear dusty and long ago abandoned.  In some movies, these rooms are locked, with the title characters spending most of their time trying to get in.  If the room is open, it's usually covered in dust and cobwebs, with white sheets covering all of the furniture.  The lights flicker, the wallpaper or paint usually peeling, and for some reason, the bed is usually an antique, four poster bed, with sheer fabric draped around it.

This space is the source, the core of darkness and evil.  In most cases, it's the room where it happened, the horrible act of violence and trauma that infected the rest of the home.  It was the initial place of the murders, the butchering, torture and terror.  The new home owners however, never get this right away, but despite a new coat of paint and new furniture, the underlying horror remains.

When I was thinking of images for the room where it happened, I thought back to the first time I featured the work of ClearEye Photography.   I was interviewing ClearEye for a piece in The Male Form Magazine, and he had sent on these shots of Jason. Jason was one of the first models ClearEye had worked with and the results were spectacular. 

Although the intent may not have been to capture a haunted room, the setting, and the way ClearEye framed the images, gave the vacant attic room an almost sinister feel.  The room was actually in a run down, mid-1800's home that was being renovated.  ClearEye was able to use the space when it was empty.  The sunlight through the windows is beautiful, highlighting details within the empty room.  the light beautifully cascades over Jason's naked body, while also capturing the dust, unfished walls and empty spaces which surround him.

'The house was vacant, it was fall and the furnace was not working. Jason was naked and a little cold, but he worked diligently for hours. We were both somewhat tired, but the conditions were perfect. The light was falling beautifully on the cracked wall, and we were in a "groove." Jason moved quickly and naturally through a series of beautiful poses, with some suggestions from me, and it took only a few minutes to produce some of the best photographs I have ever taken.'