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Try The Exorcist TV Series For Your Halloween Scares

Published October 31, 2016 by rmpixie

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The Exorcist is quite a horror phenomenon. In 1971, it began as a best-selling novel by William Peter Blatty about a possessed little girl and the fight to expel the demon within her. Blatty was inspired to write the book after he researched the real life case of a boy who was allegedly possessed by a demon in 1949. A few years later in 1973, Blatty adapted his novel to become one of the most iconic horror movies in the world. Directed by William Friedkin, it is not only considered to be one of the most frightening films of all times, but it was the first horror film to be nominated for best film at the 1974 Academy Awards.

The accolades for The Exorcist navigated around more than its fair share of criticism and fear-mongering; with battles to create a version that the censors deemed acceptable to play in theatres and protests over the broken taboos and lines crossed in the film adaptation. There are images that will stay with both horror fans and those repelled by the grim subject matter forever: Regan’s head spin, her spider-walk down the stairs, the projectile vomiting and chilling levitations. All of these scenes have since been duplicated but have never matched the initial terror and shock they invoked. When word got out that there was a T.V. series in the works to air this Fall, I felt fairly certain that they couldn’t do the film’s ominous nature justice on the small screen, even though television has become a much better medium for storytelling in the past few years.

Take for example the now defunct Damien series. This show was also a modernization of the hit 1976 film The Omen written by David Seltzer and directed by Richard Donner. I was curious but cautious since this was a classic and one of my favourite horror films. After the first two episodes, I was hooked. The modern spin of an adult Damien Thorn coming to terms with his Satanic lineage, plus the participation of horror veteran Barbara Hershey and a great cast was an injection of new life for the story of Satan’s son walking the earth. Week after week, the plot became darker and darker, with some brilliantly frightening scenes and performances. I especially liked the character of Sister Greta Fraueva played by Robin Weigert who brought a fresh spin to Damien’s religious hunters. Just as we were left with an incredible season finale, the show was cancelled. I was hugely disappointed, and I still have hopes that one of the streaming services will pump some money into the series and revive it.

Having seen Damien, I was tentatively hopeful about The Exorcist series.  In this incarnation, Angela Rance (Geena Davis) is a successful business woman in Chicago. She has two beautiful daughters with her husband Henry (Alan Ruck) who is recovering from a head injury. He has lucid moments, but is usually checked out and must be supervised. Angela and her family are regulars at father Tomas Ortega’s (Alfonso Herrera) parish, and is fond of the young priest. When she notices unusual activity in her home, she calls on him for help. Father Tomas has his own issues to deal with, but when he sees first hand evidence of a demonic presence in the Rance home, he must battle bureaucracy and his faith, enlisting the help of a reluctant retired exorcist Father Keane (Ben Daniels) to save the family from the supernatural threat.

I am now past the 5th episode and actually blown away with the writing, but it was touch and go for a brief moment.  Up until this point, I enjoyed the characters with the introduction of a priest with wavering faith, and a family with unexplained occurrences plaguing them.  The demonic manifestations were by the book too, but the writers took care with the details (since the devil is in them, of course!). Little things like smart phones capturing an intense event on the subway, honest reactions to exorcism, fun references to the original film, and great but subtle special effects.  In the middle of the 5th episode, however, I was almost going to tap out because some possession tropes began to sneak in, making me skeptical.  Thankfully, I was jarred out of that feeling quickly.  Without spoiling, I advise you to stick it out until the end of episode 5 for some shocking events and revelations that will make you wish the next installment was downloading in your brain immediately.

The show is also cast well. Davis always commands the screen, and Herrera is fantastic as the young priest who may be losing his way. It’s a pleasant surprise to see him in something after his Sense8 role. It is also nice to see Alan Ruck as Angela’s struggling husband. This Ferris Bueller’s Day Off vet serves as a great vessel for limitless plot twists. Also keep your eye on Hanna Kasulka and Brianne Howey who play sisters Casey and Kat respectively. Their dynamic plus the tortured Casey is classic horror material.

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The final verdict? This Halloween, get to your T.V. or computer and catch up with the show if you haven’t already started from day one.  I’m really curious where they go from here and I hope they keep the twists coming. It’s a solid, modernized version of a classic horror movie that needs viewer support. Don’t let it become another great horror TV show that goes the way of premature cancellation.

The Exorcist airs Friday nights on the Fox network at 9:00 p.m. in the U.S. and C.T.V same day and time in Canada. Catch up on episodes here:

http://www.fox.com/the-exorcist (U.S.)

http://www.ctv.ca/The-Exorcist (Canada)

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Pixie’s Year in Review: Turning 4 with Ghouls, Growth and Good Times!

Published October 13, 2016 by rmpixie

Looks like it’s that time of year again! With Halloween just around the corner, and since I’ll be a busy bee the next week and a half, I’m posting an early shout-out for a couple of anniversaries I’ll be celebrating this year.

Rosemary’s Pixie turns 4 this October 17th. I’ve toughed it out for another year, growing as both a writer and film reviewer.  There were fewer reviews on the blog this time around due to some other writing projects I’ve been up to, as well as my contributions to Cinema Axis, that you can check out here.  Browse the site for a ton of other reviews on almost every film genre out there by the always prolific founder, Courtney Small.

There have been some really big highlights of the past year as well:

Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival a.k.a. BITS…and me!

One of the biggest changes for me is that I can now call myself a Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival programmer. Who knew?!!! I had to take a moment when Kelly Michael Stewart, the festival director offered me the position. I was surprised but SO stoked and honoured because I really love the BITS fest. It’s a great way to showcase fantastic talent and Canadian genre film, meet filmmakers, cast and crew, and it’s one of the few festivals out there that focuses on the business side of things as well. I feel so lucky to be a part of the BITS team.  They’re a group of great people who are just as passionate about film as I am.  All the screenings will be at Cineplex Yonge/Dundas Cinemas, which is a bigger venue this year.   This Saturday October 15th  at noon, we’ll be announcing the BITS lineup and schedule at Horror-Rama in Toronto. Come on out and say hi, enjoy all the fun at Horror-Rama, and get your passes for what’s going to be a great festival this year.

I also got a chance to interview Michael Dickson, a great Canadian actor who starred in one of the fan favourites at BITS 2014, Black Mountain Side.  He was a great interview, and the last time he was in Toronto, we caught up and talked about the film business, The West Coast and his brain-freeze cute dog.

Meeting Lizzie

I wrote an article on Adelaide Norris, a character in the 80’s indie feminist sci-fi classic, Born In Flames, for the website http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com (run by my girl Ashlee Blackwell) last year. Little did I know that the director herself, Lizzie Borden, would find that article, and that she would be coming to Toronto for a free screening of the restored film at TIFF Bell Lightbox Theatre this past July. She contacted me out of the blue and it took me a minute to realize it was THE director of a film that moved me so much. Several emails and a few weeks later, I was sitting at an intimate dinner with Lizzie, myself and 3 other women who have supported or screened her film in the past, courtesy of TIFF and Chris Kennedy, programmer for The Free Screen. Lizzie talked about her experiences in the film industry, and wanted to know more about about us, the people who felt so strongly about her film. It was a night that I will always remember because Lizzie Borden is one of the warmest, loveliest people in the industry that I have ever met. (My apologies for no photos.  We were so engrossed in conversation that not one person pulled out their phone for a picture.  How old school is that?)

 

I’m a Published Author!

 

Women in Horror Annual (WHA, 2016)

The first Women in Horror Annual came out in February, including fiction and non-fiction works from women horror writers. I was lucky to be a part of this group of great writers and I had a book signing in July with one of the editors, Rachel Katz. It was a great night, with friends, family and fellow horror lovers coming out to support the book. There will be another signing coming soon at the end of the month to celebrate Halloween, so stay tuned for details. Can’t make the signing? Then pick up a copy here! I also contributed to The Encyclopedia of Japanese Horror Films. That came out a few months ago, and I’m proud to say that I’m a part of an academic tome on horror.

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The Encyclopedia of Japanese Horror Films (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016)

 

Last but definitely not least, is the Toronto After Dark Film Festival that starts today! My top picks are :  Under the Shadow, Train to Busan, As The Gods Will, Creepy, Antibirth, The Stakelander and The Void. You can read about all of the films here.  I’m as excited as ever, but more so because I’m celebrating the second anniversary I mentioned earlier.  It will be about 2 years since I met the love of my life at After Dark. I admit I had my eye on him for a few years (yes, years. I’m a chicken when it comes to approaching men), so it took a lot of courage to talk to him. Luckily, he was as sweet as pie (and still is!).  We’re both diehard fans of Toronto After Dark, so after some time as acquaintances, then friends, we finally realized it was a match made in horror. Even though we’re both older, slow and steady does win the race!

Well, that’s my year in review.  As always, I thank you, dear reader, for checking in with me as I write about films, books, and TV that I love. It’s been a great journey filled with many surprises, and one that I plan to continue with you because it’s truly been a good time!

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