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The True Story Behind ‘Open Water’

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Open Water

Summer is nearly upon us, and as far as many are concerned, it’s already here. Schools have been letting out and the temperatures have been rising. With this in mind, there’s a good chance you’ll be making a trip to the ocean sometime in the near future. Doesn’t it seem like a good time to revisit Open Water?

It’s hard to believe, but the film came out eleven years ago this August. Oh how the time flies. I don’t get to the ocean that often myself, but that hasn’t kept me from thinking about the events of this film just about every time I do or even imagine being out in its vast expanse.

I’ve loved Open Water since I first saw it. It’s one of those rare movies that, for me, captures a primal form of dread that stems directly from its realism. This could happen to me, and if it did, I would be absolutely fucked.

As a matter of fact, the movie is based on a true story. Most people know that I think, but I wonder how many have bothered to really learn about the events that inspired the film.

In real life, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, a married couple from Baton Rouge, were stranded in the Coral Sea (part of the South Pacific off the northeast coast of Australia) on January 25, 1998. After completing a two-year tour of duty with the Peace Corps. they had been scuba diving with a group at St. Crispin’s reef, which is part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Like in the movie, nobody that was on the their boat noticed that they hadn’t re-boarded when it was time to leave. The captain reportedly indicated that he had a crew member count heads, and that the number was mistaken due to a couple of people who had gotten back out to swim after re-boarding.

Image result for tom and eileen lonergan

via Wikipedia

A particularly haunting excerpt from a Wikipedia article on the couple says:

It was not until two days later, on January 27, 1998, that the pair was discovered to be missing after a bag containing their belongings was found on board the dive boat. A massive air and sea search took place over the following three days. Although some of their diving gear was found washed up later on a beach miles away from where they were lost, indicating that they drowned, their bodies were never found. Fishermen found a diver’s slate (a device used for communicating underwater) and wrote down what it reportedly read: “[Mo]nday Jan 26; 1998 08am. To anyone [who] can help us: We have been abandoned on A[gin]court Reef by MV Outer Edge 25 Jan 98 3pm. Please help us [come] to rescue us before we die. Help!!!

There was at one point speculation that the couple staged their own disappearance and/or a double suicide or murder-suicide based on some apparently troubling diary entries, but according to Eileen’s family, these had been taken out of context and dismissed by the family as well as the coroner. Her dad reportedly believed the couple to have drowned or succumbed to sharks, and the boat’s captain, Geoffrey Nairn, was formally charged in their death, but found not guilty. His company Outer Edge Dive Company was fined after pleading guilty to negligence.

A 2003 article from Jason Daley of Outside has quotes form Nairn and the dad:

Nairn, who closed down Outer Edge Dive shortly thereafter, believes that the Lonergans died on the reef. “It was a tragedy, and I’ll never get over it,” he told Outside. “The highest probability is that Tom and Eileen are dead.”

Back in Baton Rouge, Eileen’s father, John Hains, also believes that the couple drowned after being accidentally left behind. “The Australian dive industry wanted to prove that Tom and Eileen faked their deaths,” he says of the disappearance theories. “But the survival rate of being in the ocean with no place to go is nil.”

A story from The Guardian written after the movie’s release says:

Other clues offered tantalising glimpses of what might have happened. A wetsuit of Eileen’s size washed up in north Queensland in early February; scientists measuring the speed of barnacle growth on its zip estimated that it was lost on January 26. Tears in the material around the buttocks and armpit had apparently been caused by coral.

Inflatable dive jackets marked with Tom and Eileen’s names were later washed ashore north of Port Douglas, along with their tanks – still buoyed up by a few remnants of air – and one of Eileen’s fins. None showed any signs of the damage you would expect from a violent end, suggesting that the couple were not the victim of a shark attack, as the film suggests. Experts at the inquest speculated that, drifting helplessly back and forth on the tides in the building heat of the tropical sun, the couple may have been driven delirious by dehydration and have voluntarily struggled out of their cumbersome outfits. Without the buoyancy provided by their dive jackets and wetsuits, they would not have been able to tread water for long.

The Lonergans’ story appeared on both 20/20 and Dateline.

Open Water is a fictionalized version of the events. The characters are different, and even the setting is different with the movie taking place in the Atlantic and being filmed in the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, the Grenadines, and Mexico.

Kevin Cassell claims to have known Tom and Eileen, and put this video on YouTube to show what they were really like, which according to him, was nothing like the characters in Open Water.

It’s important to remember that Open Water is not a documentary. At the end of the day, it’s a horror movie and a damn effective one at that. Even if the film was not an accurate representation of the actual people the tragic events happened to, I think it does get across the terror of such a situation very well. Of course I’ve never been in such a situation, but I do know one thing. I won’t be taking any scuba diving trips anytime soon, and if I do, there’s no way I won’t be thinking about Open Water.

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‘Tales from the Crypt’ Publisher, EC Comics is Being Brought Back to Life at Oni Comics

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Tales From

After seventy years of being shut down, the iconic EC Comics is coming back by way of Oni Comics. Originally founded as an educational comics brand, it would later become a publisher known for its horror comics and tales to keep you up late at night. William Gaines lead the way and during his time we were gifted with a run of comics such as Tales From the Crypt, The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, and of course Weird Science among others. Founded in 1944 and running to 1956 it was eventually shut down due to claims that comic books were affecting the minds of our adolescents. After reaching Congress the issue was large enough to take down the small comics publisher.

Crypt
Original Cover art for EC Comics Tales From the Crypt.

Of course, later on, HBO would take Tales From the Crypt and reboot it for television with a whole new generation. However, for comic collectors, it was up to either visiting select digital archives online or purchasing old issues by way of auction. It is exciting to hear that Oni Comics is going to bring EC Comics back to life.

“EC Comics is one of the most artistically important and culturally significant publishers of all time. In ways both artful and shocking, EC confronted the darkness lurking behind the thin facade of American society — a throughline of radically confrontational storytelling that we intend to both uphold and escalate with the first new EC tales in decades. We’re challenging ourselves to evolve EC’s relentless energy and fearless sensibilities in ways never before attempted. These are intense comics for our intense times.“ Oni Comics Publisher, Hunter Gorinson said.

Tales
Cover art from EC Comics Tales From the Crypt.

The first two comics under the new partnership are two new anthology titles that both lend themselves to the flair of their classics. First up Epitaphs from the Abyss followed by Cruel Universe. You can check out the cover for Cruel Universe at the bottom of the page.

Although the partnership is said to not be about nostalgia, we are still hoping that following some of these new titles we do get a special revisit for Tales from the Crypt or one of the other classics.

Epitaphs From the Abyss is due out in stores beginning this July. Cruel Universe is set to arrive in August.

What do you think about the Oni Comics bringing back EC Comics? Let us know in the comments section.

EC
Cover for EC Comics upcoming title.

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Images and a Poster Have Arrived For Eli Roth’s ‘Borderlands’

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Borderlands

Eli Roth’s Borderlands is well on its way to a theater near you. The Gearbox Software game adaptation looks to take its characters, costumes, and the world of Pandora right from the game. So, that is a good sign. However, we are still on the fence with this one. We will have a better idea of what to expect when a trailer drops tomorrow. Today we have our first look at some images from the film along with a hyper-neon fun poster.

Borderlands
Photo: Cate Blanchett as Lilith in Borderlands. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Lionsgate.

The synopsis for Borderlands goes like this:

Lilith (Blanchett), an infamous outlaw with a mysterious past, reluctantly returns to her home planet of Pandora to find the missing daughter of the universe’s most powerful S.O.B., Atlas (Ramirez). Lilith forms an alliance with an unexpected team – Roland (Hart), a former elite mercenary, now desperate for redemption; Tiny Tina (Greenblatt), a feral pre-teen demolitionist; Krieg (Munteanu), Tina’s musclebound, rhetorically challenged protector; Tannis (Curtis), the scientist with a tenuous grip on sanity; and Claptrap (Black), a persistently wiseass robot. These unlikely heroes must battle alien monsters and dangerous bandits to find and protect the missing girl, who may hold the key to unimaginable power. The fate of the universe could be in their hands – but they’ll be fighting for something more: each other.

Borderlands stars Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Edgar Ramirez, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ariana Greenblatt, Florian Munteanu, Haley Bennett, Olivier Richters, Gina Gershon, Cheyenne Jackson, Charles Babalola, Benjamin Byron Davis, Steven Boyer, Bobby Lee, Ryann Redmond, Penn Jillette, and Janina Gavankar, and Jack Black.

Borderlands

Borderlands arrives in theaters beginning August 9. Are you excited about this one? Let us know in the comments section.

Borderlands

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Micheal Keaton Says ‘Beetlejuice Beetlejuice’ Feels Like Original Including Practical Effects

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Beetlejuice

It feels like a ‘Beetlejuice’ sequel has been in the works for over 100 years. However, the timeline for an official production is much shorter and not as cluttered with faux fan posters. We’ve gotten spoilery glimpses of outdoor sets thanks to paparazzi and even seen some characters in costume. Everything so far boasts a handcrafted look. Additionally, it’s a bonus that Michael Keaton himself has said the sequel feels like the original and that it will be practical. Color us intrigued, Michael!

“It’s the most fun I’ve had on set in a long time…On one hand, you’d go, ‘Well, of course it’s the most fun. It looks like fun.’ As you know, it doesn’t always work like that.” Keaton told People.

Beetlejuice

It is a well-known factoid that Keaton had more fun on the first Beetlejuice than any other film that he had made. It still stands up as one of his all-time favorites.

“The one thing that (director Tim Burton) and I decided on early, early, early on from the beginning, if we ever did it again, I was totally not interested in doing something where there was too much technology…It had to feel handmade…What made it fun was watching somebody in the corner actually holding something up for you, to watch everybody in the shrunken head room and say, ‘Those are people under there, operating these things, trying to get it right.’”

That sounds like a whole lot of practical magic to us. Plus, I’m sure that Burton himself has become a bit tired of turning to computer-rendered graphics for his films. They have become more and more filled to the brim with nothing but computer-designed worlds.

One of the most incredible achievements I’ve seen lately in terms of returning to practical effects has to be Netflix’s return to The Dark Crystal. If you watch the making of that film, it is incredible to see that even the backdrops were meticulously handpainted. Everything right down to the toenails was crafted. You should certainly give that a watch if you haven’t already. It is incredible and somehow was released at a time in which nobody watched it.

Well, we are pretty excited about what Keaton said concerning Beetlejuice Beetlejuice. Let’s just hope that it is not hype. What do you think about his statement? Let us know in the comments.

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