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The Blackwell Ghost: Documentary or Horror Movie with a Great Hook?

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It’s been over a month ago since I first discovered The Blackwell Ghost streaming on Amazon Prime.  Honestly, I had passed it over in the suggestions menu several times, but it was one of those late nights where I wanted one last movie and this one was only an hour or so long.

The first interesting thing about this film is that it is described as a documentary.  In fact, there was no mention of this being a horror film or even found footage in any description I could find.

Now, I’m a paranormal enthusiast and have been an investigator for years, so I was further excited as the film began and the filmmaker in voiceover talked about his experiences making zombie movies in Los Angeles and how he’d decided to try something new.

In short, he wanted to make a documentary about the paranormal, and his interest had grown from a viral video that had made the rounds on YouTube of supposed actual paranormal phenomena caught on CCTV.

Over the next hour, I watched as the amateur documentarian went on his own adventure investigating a home in Pennsylvania.  Supposedly, in the 1940s, the home was owned by James and Ruth Blackwell.

Ruth had a reputation for being a bit strange, so it was no surprise to her neighbors when she was accused of murdering seven children and disposing of their bodies down the well in the basement.

Throughout the film, he never once wavers in his assertion that what he and his wife, Terri, are experiencing is actually real.  Furthermore, he backs up those claims with alleged researched proof of the history of the home.  I have to admit, by the end of the film I wasn’t entirely sure what to believe.  What I knew for sure was that it was a hell of a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Over the next few days, I watched the film five or six more times.  I showed it to local friends and recommended it to others.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy it, but their reactions were the same across the board–they just weren’t sure they could believe what they were watching.

And really, who could blame them?

We live in a post Paranormal Activity world.  In an era filled with technology where the line between reality and illusion seems to blur more and more every day, and while belief in the paranormal is actually growing, there’s a general certainty that we won’t find it on film.

Perhaps it was natural that my reporter’s sense kicked in at this point.  I chatted with our editor-in-chief here at iHorror and decided I needed to dig into the story of The Blackwell Ghost.

I began my search by attempting to discover who the filmmaker was.  He is not listed in the credits; however, he did include pictures of a couple of scenes from one of his zombie films.

I was able to match those scenes to a film called Disaster L.A., a low-budget zombie flick from 2014.  The name of the filmmaker there was Turner Clay, but Clay is a total ghost online.  I found no actual pictures of him and so I could not verify that the man in the film was the man who made the movie.

After hitting a virtual dead end while tracking down information on Turner Clay, I turned my search to James and Ruth Blackwell in Pennsylvania in the 1940s and immediately got a hit on the names.  However, census records show that the only James and Ruth Blackwell in Pennsylvania in the 1940s were a young African American couple.  James and Ruth in the film were not only white, but they were also a much older couple as evidenced by the picture of Ruth that the filmmaker displays in the film.

It was another dead end but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.

I contacted Dr. Marie Hardin at Penn State University who put me in contact with Jeff Knapp at the Larry and Ellen Foster Communications Library.

Knapp spent a weekend digging into the library’s considerable resources and at the end of his research could find no mention of the murder I described in 1941 or the years surrounding it.

Furthermore, he could not find a James or Ruth Blackwell connected to a murder investigation at all in the time period. Finally, nowhere in the archives were details of Detective Jim Hooper, a name I had pulled from a newspaper article the filmmaker displays in the movie.

With this information in hand, I sent a series of emails to the filmmaker via a third party in hope that he would make some time to talk to me.  As of this writing, none of those emails have been answered.

So, here I am, several weeks on with no definitive answers to my questions.  I have, however, whittled the possibilities down in my mind.

A. The filmmaker came up with as clever a plan for marketing a horror film as I’ve seen since The Blair Witch Project way back in the 1990s.  He filled his film with just the right kind of information to draw the viewer in and foster belief in his audience.  In which case, I say “Bravo, a job well done!”

OR

B. The filmmaker actually made a documentary and in the rarest of cases caught actual evidence on camera.  For whatever reasons, to protect his own identity or the descendants of those mentioned in the film, he decided to change the names and locations of the home and its sordid history.

At this time I personally lean toward my first explanation.  As I said in the beginning, I am a paranormal investigator and have spent a large part of my life pursuing those mysteries.  In other words, to embrace the cliche, I WANT TO BELIEVE!

If you’re out there reading this, Mr. Clay, please reach out.  I’d love to discuss your movie.

In the meantime, fans of the paranormal or horror movies in general, I encourage you to check out the trailer for The Blackwell Ghost below and stream it on Amazon Prime.

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‘Scream’ Vibes Prevail In Kevin Willamson Co-Penned Story ‘Sick’ Movie Clip

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Kevin Williamson hasn’t been too busy over the last few years. But it appears his ideas have. The new movie Sick which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was inspired by one of the stories he wrote.

Of course we know the Williamson brand. It was everywhere in 90’s horror. That slick storytelling mostly featured cat-and-mouse situations around final girls and unyielding slashers.

It looks like that sensation is back if we take anything away from the exclusive clip Collider proved today. According to the logline we are two getting young women holed up in a lake house during the pandemic. They think they’re alone, but it’s clear someone is out to get them.

Director John Hyams is behind the camera, and it seems he is sticking to that Craven/Williamson aesthetic where the camera moves seamlessly through the scene to focus on an object, dark colors are glossy and landscapes are uplit.

Sick is scheduled to release in Canada on Sept. 11, but that’s according to IMDb. As for the rest of the world, we’ll have to wait and see when it hits theaters.

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Great White Shark Movie ‘The Last Breath’ Shares First Image

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It’s not even done yet and horror publications are already buzzing about the shark movie The Last Breath. Deadline reports that the film is in pre-production, but they managed to share an image of the film.

Director Joachim Hedén is no stranger to underwater thrillers. His 2021 movie Breaking Surface took place beneath the ocean as a woman tries to save her sister. Hedén is also a cinematographer so expect to see some striking visuals in his great white shark film. The movie is currently filming in Belgium.

Sharks have risen to the surface this past year. Although some are good and some are not-so-good, the original, Jaws, has people not afraid to back into the theater. The 47-year-old Spielberg film was re-released over the Labor Day weekend and sits at number five for overall domestic gross over the holiday.

There arguably hasn’t been a good shark movie since 2016’s The Shallows so we are hoping The Last Breath can breathe new life into the sea monster genre.

Plot of The Last Breath:

A group of old college friends reunite on a Caribbean scuba diving trip exploring the wreckage of a WWII battleship and find themselves trapped inside the underwater labyrinth of rusted metal surrounded by great white sharks

Breaking Surface trailer:

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Justin Long’s Great Horror Career Even Before ‘Barbarian’

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Justin Long’s new movie Barbarian is creating quite the buzz, but this isn’t his first time at the horror movie rodeo. Long was originally supposed to replace Steve on the kid’s show Blue’s Clues back in 2002. That’s how non-threatening the actor’s face is. Through the years, Long has used that to his advantage in horror movies. He is so innocent looking that putting him in horrific situations makes perfect sense because he appears so boyish and likable.

We have gathered some of the 44-year-old’s best horror movie performances just in case you want to explore some of his earlier work before Barbarian.

Jeepers Creepers and Jeepers Creepers 2 (2001 & 2003)

Whatever you may think of this troubled franchise, in the beginning, Jeepers Creepers was a huge hit. The horror movie industry was craving a new movie monster and The Creeper answered that ten-fold. Long plays the handsome Darry who is driving across the country in a classic car along with his sister. They encounter a strange van on the highway and just when you think this going to be another Hitcher long-form chase film, it makes a horrifying left turn.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Sam Raimi must have noticed and liked Long’s performance in earlier films because he cast him as Clay Dalton, a frustrated young man whose girlfriend is being stalked by a vengeful witch. In true Raimi style, Drag Me to Hell is full of over-the-top visuals and terrifying special effects. Again, the wholesome Long is thrust into this world making him the perfect contrast to a supernatural powerhouse.

Tusk (2014)

Another prolific director, Kevin Smith, chose Long to star in his off-beat horror film Tusk. This weird shift for Smith is both comical and disturbing. Long plays an opinionated podcaster who goes to Canada to conduct an interview. What he doesn’t know is that the person he is interviewing has a plan to turn him into a walrus using human skin. No kidding.

Ghost Team (2016)

Although not a total disaster, Ghost Team is an amicable distraction. As the title implies this comedy/thriller follows a team of friends who want to investigate a reportedly haunted farm. What they find is more than they bargained for. Long plays a security guard who joins the team and may or may not survive the night.

House of Darkness (2016)

As meet-cutes go, this one is sinister. Long is a man who just wants to hook up with a beautiful woman. As things seem to be going in his favor, his date begins to act strangely. This is a reimagining based on a Bram Stoker novel. Although they don’t say which one in the trailer, you can probably guess without looking on IMDb.

Barbarian (2022)

Here’s one that has everyone talking this year. Many have suggested you stay away from the trailer just to give you an added layer of blindness. Some critics have said that the movie is not what you’re expecting, but it’s even better than you would hope. Zac Efron was supposed to play Long’s role originally, but thank goodness he turned it down because this one is already a classic.

Whether you consider Justin Long an A-list celebrity or an indie prince, his line-up of films is very impressive. As we start seeing him re-visit his horror origins in current films, let’s hope he keeps it up and gives us even more thrills. His latest movie Dear David is in post-production and tells the true story of a journalist haunted by a bean-headed child in his small apartment.

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