Spooky Podcasts

The other night I stayed behind at work to do some overtime. I was seeing a movie with Glynn at 8.30 anyway, so it made sense just to stay at work until I could go and meet him, and get paid for the privilege.

Well, throughout the afternoon we’d been talking (my team mates and I) about the best ghost stories we’ve ever heard. Heather told a story about a gypsy stalking a woman via google maps and I nearly shit my pants. By the time they left me alone for the day, my skin was crawling so I thought I’d treat myself while I worked the remainder of the shift.

I put on the Evolution of Horror podcast and skipped to the Slender Man episode. SM is one of my favourite folk tales and I often fall down a rabbit hole reading stories about him on Creepypasta, so it was a no brainer. As the episode unfolded I learned more about a web series called Marble Hornets that tells the story of a couple of protagonists being stalked by a Slender-like figure.

My friend Matt has recently been watching it and trying to get me in on it. As it started to get darker and darker in the office, with all the lights around my pod automatically going off , I started to freak myself the fuck out. Every small noise became the footsteps of Slender Man walking towards me. Every slight chill was his breath on the back of my neck.

God, I love that feeling.

So to my favourite creepy podcasts for those times you just need to feel scared. In no particular order, a couple of fitting little listens to enjoy in the lead up to Halloween.

Evolution of Horror

Presenter Mike examines the way horror films have changed and evolved over the last hundred years – with a little help from his guests. I’m new to this podcast but I bloody love it. This week I’ve been working my way steadily through the folk horror episodes but there are also ghosts and slasher movies in the back catalog to look forward to. Rumour has it zombie movies are next. Basically this is a must-listen for any horror fan which will give you a new appreciation for the films you already love and inspire you to get on to the ones you haven’t.

Best episodes to far: Folk Pt. 11: Kill List (2011), Sightseers (2012) & A Field in England (2013), Folk Pt. 13: Slender Man (2018) & Viral Folk Horror

You can find Evolution of Horror on any podcast app, just type in the name and GO.

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The Last Podcast on the Left

This one is heavy on the jokes and at times that can take you out of the episode. The rapport of the three presenters (Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski) is fun but can also be jarring for that reason. However, they do examine truly interesting subject matter, from fairies to the suicide of Kurt Cobain, to the ongoing feud and subsequent deaths of Biggie & Tupac. Pretty much everything you can think of has been covered and if it hasn’t, you can be confident it will probably crop up at some point.

Best episodes so far: Episodes 279 & 280: The Enfield Poltergeist (fucking TERRIFYING)

Sword & Scale

This is the best true crime podcast I’ve heard so far with stories that go in deep on horrible crimes committed by ‘ordinary’ people. The tag line “The worst monsters are real” has never rung truer.

Best episodes so far: All of them

What are you listening to?

Amanda Knox (Film) Review 

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I’m free-styling this mother because frankly I haven’t the time to wrap it up like a Christmas present and leave it under the tree like I normally would (e.g. review it properly).

Hey, I’m doing Blogtober, and although I hope and pray all my posts are of a consistently decent quality, ain’t nobody got time for bells and whistles on every one of them. You get me?

I had to put some thoughts down on this documentary though, which I feel will feature in a future All Out of Bubblegum episode, because I’ve been obsessed with the case ever since I first read about it and this one gives us interviews with the two accused (convicted, aquitted, aquitted, free) central ‘characters’. What’s better than that?

Amanda Knox (2016)

IMDB Synopsis: American exchange student Amanda Knox is convicted and eventually acquitted for the 2007 death of another student in Italy.

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“Just look directly into the camera, Aman… oh.”
By now there probably isn’t a man or dog who doesn’t know the story of Amanda Knox.

Accused of the 2007 killing of her then room-mate Meredith Kercher, Knox has always protested her innocence. As the story undulated and unfurled, Knox,or self-named ‘Foxy Knoxy’, found her every move scrutinised by the world.

In this Netflix Original feature-length documentary we not only hear from Knox herself and her boyfriend at the time of the murder (and fellow accused) Raffaele Sollecito but from Perugian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, who’s forever convinced she dunnit. More on him in a bit.

We also spend time with pantomime villain Nick Pisa, former Daily Mail journalist and all round douche-bag. He helps us to understand the media hubbub surrounding the case from the inside and describes the ‘scoop’ in such excitable terms that if he were before you, you would be hard pressed not to want to shove a Biro into his eyeball.

He never once acknowledges Kercher as a human being, nor shows any sort of sympathy for her family. That he comes across as the central villain of the piece is no surprise. He’s not the only media type stirring up a storm with tales of hot romps and uncovering pictures of Knox acting like a loon, he’s merely the spokesperson for a certain type of reporting but he is a disgusting excuse for a human being.

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Who’s got two open palms and is a total dickhead?
As the case wraps up years down the line and there is talk of everyone getting carried away with this ‘trial by media’, he washes his hands of all responsibility. The gist of his argument for adding fuel to an already frenzied fire is this: when you need to hit a deadline before anyone else, who has time to fact check, eh? Cheeky isn’t it? You’ll despise every fiber of his being with any luck.

Back to Knox though, who proves that Pisa isn’t the only person who failed to show any empathy for the victim. I may have blinked and missed it but there’s no point I remember her saying she was sorry to have lost her friend, albeit for just a short time. Even a neighbour or someone you once stood next to at the bus stop would elicit something more than she delivers. Off camera perhaps the story was different but who the fuck acts like that?

I think what I wanted to take away from this documentary was a clearer idea of whether the pair are guilty or not. It’s not cemented my view by any means but I do feel as though this time spent with Knox gives me a better understanding of why she acted the way she did, just hours after a horrible murder in her own fucking home.

I can totally imagine her committing such a crime. Whether or not she happened to do this one, who even knows? My heart says you can’t trust her. Superficially it’s that cold hard stare and that’s probably not fair. 

But she didn’t act normally afterwards, her behaviour has never been okay and she lied throughout the case, whether she really was pressured by the po-po or not.

I really hate that she accused her boss, a black man who had no involvement whatsoever in her private life. How dare she allow him to be caught up in this? I hate that Meredith Kercher’s family may never get enough justice for their daughter’s death.

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What? Put his shoes away?
This isn’t my best work review wise because my thoughts on Knox are all over the place. But I feel like that is the order of the day here. The case blew up because it involved hot young women who may or may not have been sexually empowered, a central figure who acted up in the face of tragedy, some shady secondary characters and a media explosion.

Mignini was like a dog with a bone but his crime scene was a fucking mess and that ultimately is what let them all down. Of course the story ended with Raffaele and Amanda being fully acquitted after a second trial, and petty local criminal Rudy Guede being imprisoned for the crime.

The official line is that Knox is innocent. She probably is. But I kind of want to believe she is a psychopath in sheep’s clothing because that’s the most compelling story, right? Maybe I’m as bad at Pisa?

Notice I’ve hardly said a word about Sollecito? I don’t think there’s much to say. He just seems like a nerd who got lucky and then very unlucky. I felt kind of sorry for him.

I recommend the documentary and I’m sorry if I haven’t really sold it. It opens quite graphically and pulls no punches about what the crime scene looked like. It’s incredibly sad. I feel for the Kercher family. I feel for all the families actually.

Watch it and let me know what you think, will you? I need to discuss it!

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Guilty of never driving herself anywhere

Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy (Film) Review

AKA. The longest, least charismatic film title in recent times. If it were me,81GWJ3Mb32L._SL1500_ I would simply of titled it: Knox. Punchier, innit?

Following Lovestruck: The Musical, this week we’re reviewing another straight-to-cable Lifetime movie, this time the true life story of the Amanda Knox/Meredith Kercher murder mystery.

I’ve already conversed with Jillian about how hard I think it will be to review this, in that it does everything you need it to but just isn’t a) melodramatic or b) crap, enough.

But we’ll see. Like she assured me, we always manage.

*Spoilers!* – though that warning seems a little moot here, considering this is an extremely high-profile case, and most people and their dogs knows how the tale unfolded.

Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy (2011)

Director: Robert Dornhelm
Stars: Hayden Panettiere, Marcia Gay Harden

IMDB Synopsis: Based on the events surrounding the murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

My Review: 

Hm. I suppose I should preface this review with the fact that I was obsessed with this case when it first came to trial. Amanda “Foxy Knoxy” Knox is alleged to have murdered her roommate, Meredith Kercher in a brutal attack that may or may not have been sexually motivated (more details here).

I guess we may never know if she’s innocent or not, but Knoxy certainly maintains that she is, and has done so, ever since she was first arrested for the crime.

But to the film. Is starts off with Knoxy, standing outside her apartment with slightly seedy looking boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito (slimey= obviously guilty). They are mumbling something to a cop about there having been a break in in the flat, broken glass and a wee bit of blood in the bathroom. Neither are particularly worried.

“Yes, that’s a large pepperoni, one garlic bread and six spicy wings, extra ketchup…”

Obviously neither party have had the sense to check the rooms inside the apartment, as unbeknownst to them (allllllegedlllly!), the mutilated body of Meredith lies on the floor of her room, covered in a quilt.

NB: Actually, I think they may have tried but found Meredith’s room locked from the inside, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. 

The slightly grouchy police officer tries to break the door down, while Knoxy makes a call to her mother in America, waking her in the middle of the night and worrying her sick for no good reason, IMHO.

I mean at this stage, she thinks someone has broken a window but not actually taken anything. I always wait for something a bit more concrete before I get my own mother involved, you know?

Raff also makes a dodgily timed phone call, speaking to the police about a break in, while the police are actually inside the flat, dealing with said break in. I’m guessing he doesn’t know about this new fangled thing called phone records.

Anywho, everybody present, including another housemate, is shocked to the core when Meredith’s door is bashed down and her body is discovered.

I best add here that I was painting watermelons on my nails while viewing this movie and so some of the back and forth may have been lost on me. Like whose fingerprints were on what and whom, etc. Forgive me.

“Sì mi piace il tuo maglione stretto … “

The relationship between Raff and Knoxy is then illuminated via the medium of flashback, and we also go back to her first meeting with Kercher. We don’t really learn too much about their friendship other than that it soured somewhat towards the end because Knox was slutty in both senses of the word and conscientious Kercher wasn’t into it.

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“Save the cheerleader, save the world”

Shortly after Kercher is found, Knoxy surprises everyone with her carefree attitude, which is  not very in keeping with a bereaved person. She’s seen kissing Raff with abandon in the police station just before giving her first statement and shopping for fancy knickers like a women with no worries, whatsoever. She tells police she was home with Raff having sex on ‘the night’.

Later Raff sells Knoxy up the river and tells the Polizia that she’d left to go out and didn’t return to his place until the morning. Based on this she is arrested.

She is interrogated a lot and in all the excitement it seems as though she has certain scenarios ‘suggested’ to her. She names her former boss as the man who took Kercher home that night and he is subsequently arrested himself.

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“WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

Meanwhile, Mummy Knox flies into town and man, the Knox family seem nice. They are present every day of the trial and have to sit through Knoxy’s Trial by Media, during which she is ripped to shreds by the papers, TV and anyone who can, basically. Sadly, Knoxy’s apparent joy at being in the spotlight doesn’t really help her judgement. The girl does an awful lot of smiling and waving in the court house and boy, does that fuck people off.

Inevitably, Knoxy’s racy nickname comes to light, helping paint a portrait of an insatiable young woman hellbent on shagging, doing drugs and partying, with very little in between. It’s all too cliché, how very dare a young woman love sex? How dare she own a vibrator and carry condoms? Obvs a cold-blooded killer!

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“But I really want a blue hat too…”

The prosecution implies that Meredith strongly disapproved of this lascivious lifestyle, which caused a rift between the two women. Another dude is implicated in the murder along the way; Rudy Guede, who Kercher was supposedly seeing.

I’m sure it’s not ruining anything to say that Knoxy and Raff are found guilty and get sent down despite the fact there is little physical evidence to prove they’re involved.

Fin.

My Thoughts:

It’s all just a wee bit dull TBH. Hayden Pantene is perfectly adequate as Foxy Knoxy, although I don’t think there’s much of a likeness, physically. I’ve always been quite a fan of HP, mainly because of Heroes, which I loved with a capital ‘L’.

Marcia Gay is also quite good as Knoxy’s distraught mother who somehow manages to hold it together, where most would not.

I think maybe I would have liked more of a build up to the crime, more insight into the two women together. Just more, I’m not sure exactly what though.

It’s an inoffensive take on the story, I suppose. The acting isn’t bad, the scenery is far from hideous and it did what it said on the tin.

That’s it really. Did I expect more wailing; more melodrama and more of a clue as to whether Knoxy really dunnit? Probs yes to all those things.

My Rating:

3/5 – Average. I mean, would it have hurt them to toss in a brief musical interlude?

Lifetime movies should be cheesy as fuck and there needs to be a law passed to ensure this.

So, what did Jill think? Check it out here shortly!

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (Film) Review

Lizzie-Borden

Happy Sunday/Monday Bad Movie Fun Day! Welcome to the next installment in Jillian & Christa’s Great Blog Collab 2015. I think this might be our seventh outing and I’m enjoying doing them more and more each time.

This week was my pick and it was a hard decision to make. I had a short list of three very different movies and had started to get worried that the films we’ve been reviewing have been too good. Well, with this in mind, and without wanting to give too much away yet, I think this week’s choice may have solved that particular quandary.

So to this week’s straight to TV movie (bypassing even DVD, ouch), starring 90’s pixie Christina Ricci.

The Film: 

Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014)

Where to Watch:

US Netflix

The Premise:

The true story of Lizzie Borden, a young woman tried and acquitted in the 1892 murders of her father and stepmother. (via IMDB)

The Trailer:

Viewable here.

The Uncondensed Version: 

Christina Ricci AKA Lizzie B is eating fruit by a window in her nightie. My first thought is how tiny she is. Some maids are pottering about doing chores when Lizzie moves downstairs, enters the parlour on the ground floor, only to discover a man with a mashed up face lying on the couch. Lizzie lets out a blood curdling scream and we’re away!

We then flashback a while, to before the events of the day Lizzie finds the man (her father).

It’s the Bordens! Coming out of church! A passing man compliments Mr Andrew Borden on his pretty daughters, to which he grumpily quips that if that were the case, he’d have grandchildren by now. Lizzie and her elder sister, Emma exchange a look. Mrs Borden, Lizzie and Emma’s stepmother doesn’t have much to say. The family have a dry conversation about mutton on the way home. Things don’t seem that rosy on the home front, but who am I to judge?

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“What? I only Ax’d you what was for dinner…”

Later, at dinner Lizzie asks her father if she can be excused from the table. He says no but she goes anyway. She is told off even later on for humming to herself while he is trying to relax in the parlour. Basically, Mr Borden is kind of a dick.

Mr B, it turns out, is also not very popular with some of the townsfolk, failing to pay up on jobs that have been done for him, being a douche about it in general. Lizzie witnesses him having a talk to a couple of heavies in the yard while feeding the pigeons. What’s a girl to do though, when confronted with something of this nature? Go shopping, of course.

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“I Ax’d you not to post this picture of me on your blog. GAWD.”

Turns out little Lizzie has sticky fingers and pinches some coin from her stepmother’s purse. Then she hot foots it to (presumably), the only boutique in town. Where she finds out that her line of credit has been taken away (thanks stepmum, you bitch). It doesn’t even matter though as Liz has the cash and purchases a little summin-summin for a party later that night. While there, Lizzie tells the shop girl that she’s worried about something terrible happening to her father (!) as he has so many enemies (ooof clever!).

She also tells her that she’s always dreamt of doing more with her life and having freedom. Then she steals a pretty silver mirror for good measure, because she’s a bad ass. Sadly, she gets shopped to Pops by the shop girl and he later comes up to bollock her.

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“Let me Ax you something: how hot am I?”

Each of the scenes with Lizzie and Mr B are a little creepy with incestuous undertones, I hope it’s not just me who thinks it. The gist of these moments is that Lizzie is a master manipulator and hey, fair play. If Wednesday Addams looked at me with those Puss in Boots eyes, I’d do anything she asked of me, any time.

But back to the movie. I Wikipedia‘d Lizzie Borden and there was a theory about sexual abuse between father and daughter, though these tête à têtes are the only nod we see towards that now. Thankfully.

Mr B tells Lizzie she can’t go to the party unaccompanied but she persuades him she’ll be okay as she’s no longer a little girl. She goes to the party. A girl looks at her bitchily when she agrees to a drink and asks her “Aren’t you a Sunday school teacher?”. Lizzie quips, “Only on Sundays”. I like Lizzie. She’s got gumption.

Lizzie goes home and there’s a kerfuffle in the night, I think I went into the kitchen to make some tea when this was happening. There was some flapping and maybe some squawks so I imagine something happened to the pigeons?

In the morning Lizzie is woken by the news that there’s been a burglary. Some of Mrs Borden’s jewellery and cash has gone missing. Since they all know Lizzie has kleptomania, she’s the natural suspect. Of course she denies it and makes some digs about her stepmother’s family who are better off than them, and Mr B ain’t happy about her ingratitude. There’s some more weird flirting between them and then she tells him she doesn’t think she wants to get married.

Emma, Lizzie’s dowdy and quite boring sister (I don’t really rate the actress who plays her) conveniently goes to see a friend for a few days, leaving Lizzie at home with her parents. I ate three crumpets at this point so wasn’t really focused but Lizzie seemed pretty enthusiastic about this turn of events. Curiouser and curiouser.

So off Emma pops and while she does that, Lizzie fannies about a bit. The maids are also occupied, so occupied that they are absolutely nowhere to be seen as Wednesday slaughters both her parents in a violent and not very subtle way. Naked. Oh but wait, we don’t know she was naked yet, we’ll see that in a flashback later. My bad.

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Artist’s impression of murder victim

Mrs B gets the chop first though she isn’t discovered for hours, poor lamb, then Mr B comes home and has a nap on the couch. He never wakes up.

Lizzie discovers his body and it all kicks off. About seven different investigators turn up and question Lizzie, they all look the same and I keep getting them mixed up.

DNA profiling proves that it’s moved on somewhat since the 1800’s as the rigorous checks Lizzie is subjected to include; having her palms checked for blood, having the inspector walk around her and accept the excuse that the bright red stain on her blue dress is stew from earlier. Lizzie tells him that she was in the barn looking for fishing tackle (a likely story!) where she also ate three pears.

NB: This film was a lot more talky than I wanted it to be, with quite a bit of court room shenanigans. Therefore, there’s not much to describe. I’ll keep it brief from here.

Lizzie is questioned a lot about her feelings for her father and particularly, her step-mother. She admits that Mr B was a complicated man but that she loved him. Emma keeps asking her too if she has anything to share. Basically, everyone suspects her. She gets a lawyer with a jaunty mustache.

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“I Ax you this. Do you like my jaunty mustache?”

The cops are determined to bring Lizzie down, though a couple of them remain unconvinced that a woman could commit such a blood thirsty act. The main dude, I didn’t learn any of their names, quite rightly reminds them that the asylums are full of mad women. Just as the girls are about to bury their parents, they’re handed a document saying that the bodies are to be exhumed.

There’s some courtroom action, where Liz is cross-examined. The court asks her to hand over the blue dress as it turns out it did have blood on it after all. SLOW CLAP for not taking it in for evidence on the day of the murder, guys. Lizzie is next seen burning the dress. Who honestly knew?

More courtroom, Liz starts to unravel, forgetting what she’s said to the room before. At one point she screams “SHE WASN’T MY MOTHER!” about Mrs Borden which looks hella suspicious. They interview the maid and Emma, who both cover for her. She thanks Bridget the Maid by sacking her bluntly. Then she’s acquitted.

There was something about poison in the story somewhere, again I wasn’t really listening that hard. Lizzie leaves the courthouse with the smuggest face in courtroom history.

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“I’ll Ax you again: does my bum look big in this dress?” Answer: Definitely NO

The sisters slowly get back to reality but before this (?) we’re treated to the flash back of what really happened. Basically, Lizzie took great relish in killing her stepmother (why oh why does the poor stepmother always get such a bad rap? Dammit), then moving on to Pa, whom she murders whilst COMPLETELY NUDE. His last vision on Earth is of his wily daughter IN THE BUFF, perhaps another little sprinkling of symbolism?

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“Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngghgfh!”

So Lizzie is free and loving life. Going to church in big hats and throwing parties. Basically living the life of Riley. Again with the subtlety, but there’s a little throwaway clue to Lizzie’s sexual preference at the Borden Sister’s NYE party, where she gets close to a pretty friend, telling her that she’s missed her. I recognise this girl from one of the trials, but can’t remember anything about her.

Wiki (again) suggests that there were rumours about a lesbian relationship between Lizzie and the maid (though this chick ain’t the maid). I sort of wish they’d played this part up a bit, not least just to make it more interesting, FFS. And who doesn’t love a lesbian?

Emma gets peeved that Lizzie is having so much fun and the morning after their big party, confronts her, telling her that all her new friends don’t like her for her, only for the notoriety (I’ve been friends with people for less). In return, lovely Lizzie whispers the truth into Emma’s boring ear.

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“Since you keep Ax’ing me. I totes did it. Lol.”

Emma leaves in shock and the Epilogue tells us that the sisters never saw each other again. Which is fair I think. Nobody was ever convicted of the Borden murders, and Lizzie lived for the rest of her days in the same town. Which must have been awkward.

Fin.

The Critique:

Blows raspberry. It was pants, TBH. It did pretty much everything you’d expect it to, as a TV movie, but I was expecting a bit more suspense, a little more something.

I guess I expected more of Ms Ricci, who has been the star of some amazing films in her time (Buffalo ’66, The Opposite of Sex). What is she doing? I guess it could’ve ended up being a little cult gem, but it’s not good enough for that.

I’ve always been really attracted to the unsolved mystery of what happened to the Bordens, in real life, and this is not the best way to honour the legend. Excuse me for expecting more.

Other sticking points: not much of a back story (therefore a flimsy motive). Sure, Mr Borden was an arse but is that really enough to want to hack his face off? Since there are so many theories I feel like they could’ve been a bit more creative with the ‘truth’.

And the music! It’s always a bit jarring when you pair a contemporary (ish) soundtrack with a costume piece, but this one was something else. It’s hard to describe but it was a sort of, and I’m quoting myself here: “weird, country pop soundtrack.” Later, “Cue crap Nickelback track”. Awful.

Clea DuVall wasn’t really given much to work with (but I don’t really like her so, meh) and there’s not much to say about the rest of the cast. Snooze.

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Wednesday would not approve.

The Rating:

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2 bloody axes out of 5

Head over to Jillian‘s shortly to find out what she thought!

All images via Google.
Ax jokes all mine.