My recent trip to Florida felt like a bolt-on to my trip last year. If you’re new to Musings of A So Called Shutterbug, you may not be aware that last year, for my 10… More
It’s coming on Halloween, and if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll already know I’ve been sharing some of my old OLD posts on a few of my favourite scary movies. And if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll have seen some of my random mentions of scary films as and when I watch them.
To get in the mood, a few weeks back we watched a movie called Trick ‘r Treat. I had never heard of it, but it was featuring as a scare zone at Orlando’s Universal Halloween Horror Nights, and the character Sam looked kinda cute for a scary sack headed ghoul, so we found it and watched it. For a movie that was released straight to DVD 2 years after it was finished, I was actually really impressed. It was scary enough, enjoyable and had a nice comic-book feel to it. I’d recommend it if you haven’t heard of it.
But I thought I’d share some of my favourites, whether they’ve been mentioned previously or not. And by favourites, I mean the ones that stuck with me, and I would watch more than once. Here’s my top 10 in order!
10: The Shining
I’ve seen this film so many times, that I wouldn’t even call it a horror film now. It’s just a work of art. Scary, violent, messed up it is, but it’s visually incredible and Jack Nicholson is epic. I tried to read the book, but just like Joey, I put it in the metaphorical freezer years ago and never took it back out. Maybe I’ll go back to it one day. If you haven’t seen this, and you like scary films, this Halloween make it a must-see.
9: The Gallows
This movie surprised me. As a big fan of found footage films, I was really surprised by how good this was. The scares were effective and there were enough twists and turns to keep me interested.
8: The Fog
As a child growing up with a massive Hammer Horror fan (my Dad) I was exposed to some very bad, and then some very good scary films. John Carpenter’s The Fog (not the remake please) was one of them and I’m not ashamed to admit that the end brought me out in a cold sweat on more than one occasion. What I love about John Carpenter’s films was not just the ability to make a fricking fantastic horror film, but also how he composed and used the music almost as a character in itself. I just have to think about his films to hear the score in my mind. Having stood on the very shore that inspired this story, on a dark misty night not too long ago, I can honestly say this film is one that stays with you.
Another John Carpenter film, you can have Halloween films without Halloween itself, and it’s sequel (we don’t need to talk about the other sequels really) Adequately frightening and creepy, this is the paradigm of films about Halloween and is a great place to start if you’re wanting a classic scary movie fest this October 31st.
6: It Follows
This movie has such a retro feel, so much so that you’re never really sure when it’s set, but can only assume it’s present day based on some of the technology used. The music, costumes and sets are so ‘of an era’ – and this isn’t even mentioning the storyline. You can read my full review here, if you’d like to know more.
5: Ghost Watch
Not strictly a film, but it’s made the list anyway. This BBC drama caused such a kerfuffle it was actually banned. Due to its style of filming and use of well-known presenters at the time, people actually thought this was a real event. Based on the Enfield Haunting (which was the inspiration for The Conjuring 2) Ghost Watch has inspired so many films after it (The Blair Witch Project to name one), is used as a case study in film schools and still has a cult following. I can honestly say it’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen, and the effects and technology used in it are so impressive for its time. Watch it, then research it to find out why it caused so much drama.
4: Grave Encounters
I really bloody loved these films. There’s only two but I secrectly hope there’s a third. Again this is found footage, but it really pulls inspiration from other places (but not in a copycat type way) and offers scares and weirdness in a way I just liked. Read my full review here.
3: The Blair Witch Project
You may have seen my recent review of this film and it’s sequel (I’m going to just forget that The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows ever happened) so you can head there for a full review. But this movie marked a change in scary films. Using found footage, which was never mainstream before, and also the brand new power of the internet, they created a cult following even before release. And the film didn’t disappoint. To this day I still get chills watching the last shot of The Blair Witch Project.
2: Paranormal Activity
If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I’m a fan of these films. I don’t understand why people trash them. Yes, the last one was VERY bad, but when you’ve invested in the others you kind of have to include it. The first one was epic and covered found-footage ground in a way that had never been done before. Some of the effects in the first 3 were pretty epic – gobsmacking in fact. Even the spin-off movie ‘The Marked Ones’ was REALLY good and towards the end literally made me gasp in the cinema when I realised what was happening. I guess I know the films really well, and I was pretty much the only one who realised what was going on, BUT still. I honestly think they’re worth the investment in time. And they made it to my number 2!
This film was made for my generation, it was the first 18 film I ever watched and will always hold a special place in my heart. Unfortunately, parody films have pretty much ruined if for any generation afterwards, so there’s that. But I’m a staunch fan and will always be! I wrote a review of the first 3 films ahead of the 4th being released, back in 2011 which you can find here if you’d like to read it.
And that’s my top 10! Of course I have many many more I’d love to include, and I hope I find more in the years to come, which knock others off the list. But until then, if you’re looking for some scary film recommendations I’d go with this list!
Let me know if you have others in your top 10 or if you watch any of these on my recommendation, let me know what you think! Just don’t have nightmares!
One of my new year’s resolutions last year was to fix something that had started bothering me about myself.
I’ve never been a particularly tolerant person, and I used to justify it as me just standing up for myself. But over the last few years I had started to feel petty, bitter and nasty. It was making me feel unhappy about myself, and I realised I was becoming a not very nice person.
I would see friends, calm and collected, non-judgemental and supportive and wonder how I could be like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a beast. I’m supportive but I could see a side of me I didn’t like. I would jump to assumptions about people, gossip and scoff at things I didn’t understand or were different from me. I wouldn’t listen and I wouldn’t learn.
So I made a conscious effort to change my behaviour. Instead of immediately jumping to an assumption about someone, I thought about things from their side. Before I scoffed at a trait or behaviour, I found out a little bit more about it.
It’s made me feel calmer and happier about myself. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a way to go, and I could never claim to be a saint. I have times where I snap back to old behaviours, when I’m tired or stressed or caught up in the moment. But those will change with time, I hope.
I hate it when someone belittles me for something I’m passionate about, or tries to make a scene about something they don’t understand (even if they think they do) so why would I do the same? And when someone does behave like that towards me, I can now sit and reason it with myself, deal with the bad feelings it’s given me and move on. I don’t retaliate, or have that burning feeling that I have to defend myself for too long. And afterwards I can remind myself I’m a good person, and getting better every day.
It all boils down to the golden rule, do as you would be done by.
I’m pleased I took a step back and thought about what I didn’t like about myself and made a change. I hope I stay on this journey as long as it takes to become a better me!
It’s been way too long since I wrote a good horror review and in the spirit of the Halloween season, I thought I’d write about one of my favourites, The Blair Witch Project. (This post does contain spoilers so if you don’t want to know about the films, then don’t read – then go watch them and come back!)
In 2017 it’s way too easy to take this film for granted, so I thought I’d school those of you who were too young to appreciate the rise of this film, at the time.
Ahead of its release in October 1999, a website appeared. This in the day when very few families even had a computer, let alone the internet, made for an exciting discovery. The website (which you can still visit today, albeit in a much pared down form) promoted a documentary about 3 film makers whose footage was found after their disappearance in the 1990s. The site took you to another other site that looked like a Burkittsville town site but was in fact part of the original one, which had small videos of interviews with towns people (some of which featured in the film), newspaper articles (fake of course) and allsorts of tidbits to immerse you into the story. I knew the site back to front, and everything was placed in there to lead you to the conclusion that this was a REAL documentary, and the film makers really were missing.
Of course the film came out in America way ahead of the UK, and reports of people having to leave the theatre part way through because of the found-footage style recording making them seasick, spread across the country.
I was sold! Finally seeing this at the cinema was a darn creepy experience but I was so impressed by the film style, of which hadn’t been seen in mainstream cinema before, and was so different from anything else I’d experienced.
The movie contains no score or sound effects. The actors had a basic storyline to follow, but their reactions to the scares they faced were, for the most part, genuine. Myrick and Sanchez, who made the film (and also The Blair Witch Project: Book of Shadows which we won’t mention again, and was more like a Marilyn Manson music video than an actual film) set up speakers in the woods and didn’t tell the actors. When they heard snapping branches, running or children playing around them, their reactions were real. Piles of rocks and twig things in the trees – they had no idea to expect them. They could only assume the sounds were part of the film making process, but in that environment, in the woods in the dark and in a tent – you can imagine how real it all felt. Even when one of the film makers went missing, the others had no clue that was going to happen.
The actual film’s a corker, so if you haven’t seen it and you’re a fan of an indie film, and a found footage one at that, I’d say give it a crack. Then don’t watch the sequel.
Now that’s done, you can move onto the 2016 Blair Witch.
I was skeptical about this ‘sequel’. As such a fan of the original, I really didn’t want a repeat of Book of Shadows, but I was pleasantly surprised.
This film’s story starts with a guy who turns out to be the brother of Heather, the original film maker from the first film, who went missing. He receives tapes of the house she went missing in and is convinced he sees her reflection in a mirror. So sets up a team to go into the woods, find the house and see if she’s there. Sounds legit.
I won’t go into any more of the storyline, but I will discuss how this movie uplifts the first one. Firstly, obviously there have been changes in technology since the first movie, and changes in found footage style. There is use of a drone camera, head-worn cameras, GPS equipment. There’s an element of sound effects used, where there was none in the first, and you do actually see menacing ‘things’ in this film, where in the first it was mostly left to your imagination.
But at the bare bones of this, the 2016 Blair Witch is still raw, still about the relationship between the people and the woods, and still feeds on the fear of the viewer as well as the actors in it.
There are a few hard to watch parts in this, flashes of the original film and a supernatural element that wasn’t in the first. There’s also a suggestion of time shifting. But all of these just bring the story up to date. You can’t continue a story 20 years later and not expect some changes to be made.
All in all, these two films are great companions. They’re scary, play with your mind a bit and leave you adequately unnerved. And I wouldn’t want anything less.
A few weeks back I posted a poll on twitter to see whether people would be interested in a blog article about what I’m taking in my flight bag, ahead of my trip to Orlando. The result was a majority yes, with one person saying no and the rest telling me they wanted McNuggets….
So here it is (and everyone else needs to get their own darn nuggets)
I’ve travelled long haul more often than not when flying, and so I’m pretty set in my ways. I don’t tend to take a whole lot because I don’t see a 9 hour flight as particularly long. I seem to be able to get myself into a good mind-set and don’t have many problems (probably the many years of long shifts in retail. You’ve gotta get through it somehow!).
This year I’m taking our fantastic Walt Disney World backpack as my hand luggage. It’s strong, covered in Mickeys and fits so much in it. It’s also go tonnes of pockets so I can separate everything and I know I’ll be able to find it at a moment’s notice.
Now, I’m the kind of person who goes for ease so I don’t take any liquids or gels with me. This means I can go through security without any hassles. I do take a Chapstick but that’s never caused any problems.
Important stuff first, I’ll be taking my passport, duh, along with my travel wallet which will have cards, cash and driving licence in it (and my Sephora and Ulta loyalty cards, of course!) I’ll also have any other important vouchers or documents pertaining to the trip.
I’m be wearing layers on the flight so won’t need a change of clothes, but I am packing my flip flops so I can change into those once we’re in the hire car, and leave my converse and socks in my bag.
I’ll be taking my Sony a5000 in a little case, you can see in the top picture. I don’t intend to use it on the flight, but I prefer to have it in my hand luggage so it doesn’t get chucked about. Inside this case is also an e-cloth.
I can’t go on a long-haul flight without a neck pillow and eye mask. I never know whether the eye mask they provide will work for me (the bridge of my nose always causes problems!) so I take my own. This one is actually from a past flight, but I use it regularly because it works on my face!
Of course I’ll have my phone, but when I travel I pop it into a case, since I can then chuck it into any bag without worrying about it getting lost or scratched. This particular case is by Tortoise and is leather. I have had a couple of these in the past (different phone sizes) but I always go back to them because they are robust, easy to take the phone in and out, and this one also acts as a phone stand.
Please ignore the amount of finger prints on my screen…. but as you can see the case acts as a stand so I can watch YouTube or tv on the phone at any point and not have to hold it.
I also will be taking my Beats headphones, but of course I forget to photograph them. DOH! The little red pouch in the top picture contains my sunglasses. I doubt I’ll need them for when we land, but it’s holiday so sunglasses!
Bottom right on the photo, that tiny blue square is a Juice pack for my phone. My battery on my iPhone 7+ is really good, but who knows how much I’ll be using it, so better to be safe than sorry.
I will take a book with me (it might not be this one) but I have a habit of taking books on holiday and never reading them, so who knows! And of course I’ll be taking some sweeties!
I’ll no doubt add things like plasters and pain killers, last-minute because they always come in handy.
So even though it looks like a fair bit, that backpack will still feel empty! I’ll probably end up shoving my jumper in there at some point and trying to fill the space, as we do! But these are my essentials.
I can’t wait to get on the flight now!!
You’ll all know by now, that in a week I fly off to my second home, Orlando!
I’m crazy excited, and I’ll be posting a lot of stuff on my instagram, so make sure you’re following me over there.
I’ve scheduled a bunch of posts ahead of time, so keep checking back here for new articles. Halloween season hasn’t passed me by so there’s quite a bit of horror film chat about to occur (if you hadn’t already noticed on twitter!)
So whilst I’m away, please still comment on my blog posts and stuff and send me the love. I’ll reply to you when I can 🙂
Ahead of my flying off, I have a post coming up about what’s in my hand luggage, which was asked for by my followers on twitter, so keep an eye out for that.
See you on the other side!
SPONSORED FEATURE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PANASONIC
If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m a massive film buff. You might have seen I’ve already started to share some of my old horror movie posts, ahead of some new ones coming up, all in the name of October and Halloween. So when I was asked if I’d like to talk about the new Panasonic 4k TV range, I of course said yes!
The first TV in my bedroom was about 4 inches square, had an aerial you had to move around. If you watched it at the wrong angle everyone looked like they were in negative. I then upgraded to a little tube tv which also had an aerial so when Channel 5 came in, I had to get up and re-tune it every time I wanted to watch Sunset Beach.
I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house to watch a show I’d watched many, many times, and they had a widescreen TV (which we didn’t have in our home), but they’d not tweaked the settings so everything was set to widescreen – even full screen shows – so my favourite characters were stretched and looked so odd. I supposed they’d gotten used to it, but I was baffled by the idea that people would happily watch things in a way that was, let’s face it, just plain wrong!
Times have changed immensely since then. Not only are televisions so much lighter to carry and sleeker in design, but they’re also incredibly intuitive and even customisable. Not to mention with the addition of apps, YouTube has simply become just another TV station to me.
But when it comes to my film viewing experience, I’m a bit of a geek. If I’m going to watch a scary movie, it needs to be perfect – how can you expect to get the required scares if there’s glare on the screen, the sound isn’t perfect or there’s actually ghosting on your ghosts?
When me and G-Man decided to upgrade our old Panasonic TV from 42″ to 50″ a few years ago, we did our research, and ended up sticking with the same brand. I say we, but to be honest Gary’s such an AV geek that he did most of it, and then said to me “we’re getting this one”. Which I was fine with!
One of the things I love about our TV is that the blacks are REALLY black. Meaning, and especially for horror films, that you’re seeing things as dark as they were intended when they were filmed. So if films like Paranormal Activity are your thing, you’re going to see the dark shapes and changes exactly as you would in the cinema, with no additional shading or shadowing that could possibly spoil your experience.
Another majorly geeky thing we did with our TV as soon as we got it, was to set up our own personal picture settings profile. There are loads of suggested setting changes on places like AV Forums and YouTube, specific to your make and model of TV. These people have done all the hard work for you, so you can simply make the settings changes to the darkness, red, green and blues etc (and make sure you take off the default IFC setting which alters the frame rate you view things at and smooths the movement) and then apply this custom profile to each HDMI slot you use (so Sky, DVD player, console etc…) I know, after doing this, that I’m watching everything the way it was intended to be watched! It’s so important to me.
It might seem like a lot of effort (and it is a little effort) but you’ll be so much happier with your viewing experience. And wow, this is all without even beginning to mention the clarity of a 4k display and how bright and beautiful the colours are. I can’t wait for the new BBC Blue Planet series to begin, because the trailer looked breathtaking on our TV.
When buying a new TV it can be so overwhelming. There are so many brands, all offering special things and so many different prices. But when it’s all said and done, and you’re in your living room it’s just you and the TV – and you want the best viewing experience possible.
We’re made up with our TV and the little cinema we’ve created in our set up. We just need to get around to getting some kind of surround sound system set, and my horror film binge sessions will be that much more enthralling!
DISCLAIMER: Though this post is sponsored by Panasonic, this TV was paid for by me and my opinions and choices are honest and my own.
I’m obviously on a roll with monthly favourites, because here we are!
Not a huge amount to chat about this month, because I was moving for the first part and now we’re settled I can’t afford to buy anything new! So this will be interesting….
Let’s start with some beauty:
I’d been finding my BalmShelter tinted moisturiser to be slightly too dark (because British Summer) but I didn’t want to mix it with anything that might make it sit more oily on my skin. So I picked up my Naked Skin foundation, which I was finding too matte and slightly too light, and mixed them up. And I’ve been loving the result! I get an increased level of matte higher coverage and it lasts longer. And if I mix it right, the shade match is perfect. Yay for me!
Since we’re now into Autumn I thought I’d try out some of my darker shades of liquid lipstick that I hadn’t had the chance to wear properly in the summer. This ColourPop Ultra Satin lip in Calypso is perfect. I like that it’s satin so it’s not too drying on the lips, has really long staying power and is SO comfortable. Here’s what it looks like on:
Off beauty and onto homewares. You should have expected this since I’ve just moved house….
I picked up these white marble bookends from Dunelm. They sell for £25 but I had a voucher to use, so I did! Now, I’m not one of those white marble bloggers, however I needed something heavy for my cookery books and I didn’t fancy bookends that were golden pineapples or brass owls, so I went with these. And they’re perfect. They go really nicely in my new kitchen and I’m very happy!
And lastly, for this month I’ll talk about a new gadget I picked up ahead of my holiday.
This Manfrotto Pixi mini tripod is amazing. I wanted something little that I could use on a table top, but this has the added benefit of allowing the legs to be folded shut so you’ve got a handle. Invaluable for vlogging, selfies and any other hand-held photography problems. The angle of the thread at the top can be changed as the whole top is on a ball. You push the red Manfrotto logo in and it releases the ball so you can angle the camera how you wish. It’s also the loveliest soft plastic, so it’s very tactile in the hand. I’m a fan!
So that’s it! Have you tried any of these products? I’d love to hear what you thought.
I love food, and I love sharing food. Coming into the Christmas period (let’s face it, it’s really soon) we start to think about family, getting together and sharing food and drinks. But it’s easy to forget those in other countries facing diversity.
To promote awareness, World Vision UK have launched the #shareameal appeal to raise money for the refugee children in Bidi Bidi, Uganda, along with Great British Bake Off’s star baker Selasi.
Selasi recently visited Uganda to see how we could make a difference.
“It’s heartbreaking to see pain and hunger etched onto the faces of orphaned children and hear their harrowing stories of rape and violence. It is vital that, as a community, we come together to do what we can to help provide these kids with a better future.”
Thousands of children flood into Uganda’s refugee settlements, escaping civil war in South Sudan. Many of these having seen their parents murdered and having to walk for weeks without food or shelter. This is a dangerous and frightening trek, having to hide from fighting to avoid being killed. They are along, traumatised and hungry.
And this of course is something we just can’t relate to. But we can help, and World Vision UK have come up with a way we can help bring aid to these children, in a way we can relate to.
World Vision UK help feed these children and find them foster families, to give them a new start. However, global funding just isn’t enough and so to raise money, they’d like you to take part in #shareameal.
World Vision UK invite you to be inspired by Selasi and host a dinner party. It can be as small or large as you wish, just as long as you’re sharing a meal. Following the meal, you and your guests donate the value of the meal to World Vision UK and that money goes to the children.
They’ve even made it really easy for you, but putting together a pack that includes everything you need – invitations, an exclusive recipe from Selasi and thank you cards for your guests too!
Visit http://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/share-meal/ to download your pack!
Now, if this wasn’t fun enough, they’re also giving you the chance to win a meal for two, cooked by Selasi himself! To enter, simply post a picture of your Share A Meal event on Instagram using the hashtag #shareameal and tagging @WorldVisionUK! For more information visit www.worldvision.org.uk/shareameal
So all that’s left to do is start planning your meal and who you want to invite.
With so many holidays coming up, you could host an American-style Thanksgiving, a Christmas themed meal, something for New Years or simply use some of the fantastic Autumnal ingredients that are starting to appear in supermarkets.
It’s an excuse to show off your repertoire AND help the refugee Children in Uganda.
I’m already planning mine, so keep an eye out for my post about that in the next couple of months!
Event photos provided by World Vision UK. All other photos are my own.
I didn’t really want to follow my last post with another post about moving house, but let’s be real – when you move house it pretty much takes over your life. It IS your life.
We’re in, we’re feeling settled and we’re almost unpacked. Which is amazing, and more than I could have hoped.
The actual moving weekend was mega stressful and I’m not going to lie – I never want to move again. Which is what I said the last time, but something tells me this house is more of a keeper.
Over on instagram I’ve been sharing elements of the house. Once it’s more finished I’ll share some more but until now, head over there to see tidbits going forward.
But the house is amazing, I’m very much revelling in the fact that I have a dishwasher once more. And even though by square foot this house is smaller than the last, it feels so much bigger. The space is useable and well-planned out. The kitchen is the star of the house and since it’s such a social space, I’m really looking forward to having people over once we’ve got our dining table in. I’m in love!
Other than moving I’ve been doing a lot of catching up on tv I missed when we were packed up, which is great because I’m having to force myself to STOP UNPACKING every waking second. So we’ve watched all of Twin Peaks (omg) and have started re-watching The Wire again. I think I might dedicate a whole post to Twin Peaks – not that there’s really a huge amount of coherent writing to be had on that subject, but we’ll see. Great British Bake Off is back, as is Dr Foster and American Horror Story (though I’m not too keen on the first episode I saw of this…. I’m not a fan of clowns.)
So my posts will start to feel a little more normal going forward. I’ve got some exciting stuff coming up and some exciting projects I’m working on, so keep your eyes peeled for those. If you’re a fan of Halloween and scary movies I have some posts, I’m really looking forward to writing, in the pipeline and of course there’s my trip to Orlando to look forward to!
If you don’t already follow me on other social platforms, you can find me on twitter as @Shutterbug_Blog on instagram as groggits and on YouTube at the Musings of a So-Called Shutterbug channel. So follow me over there too, for stuff as and when it happens!
Until next time 🙂
At the time of writing this, I’m in a house surrounded by boxes. I have no idea where anything is. Half of my belongings are in storage, and I can only hope I have kept back enough underwear for the next few weeks. (Yes, I own a washing machine, so we should be cool)
(I definitely won’t miss that avocado bathroom suite…..)
By the time you read this, with any luck we should be moved into our new home. And fingers crossed we’re mostly unpacked!
This move has been a whole year in the making. From deciding to put the house on the market when we returned home from Orlando last year, to now being moved in. It’s been a hard 12 months with ups and downs, stresses and uncertainties. But now we’re here.
We did it!
The last handful of posts you’ve read on Musings had been pre-written and scheduled so I didn’t need to worry about writing, or whether there’d be internet to post. But now we’re in I’m hoping that this new chapter in my home life will begin a new chapter for this blog and my social media channels.
I’m excited, and I hope you are too! Stay tuned!