Is there a better place to watch a horror movie than a haunted Victorian mansion? We found out the answer to that last year when we, the Atlantic Highlands Historical Society, hosted three film screenings during the month of October. This year, we are doing three more—two of the same, and a new one fitting for the date we are showing it on.
Every writer has an author who inspired them at a young age. For me, that person was William Peter Blatty. I’m not prolific by any means. I’ve written one book, have about a dozen manuscripts I started but never finished over the years, and a few more ideas I would like to see published at some point in my life before I kick the bucket. I always loved writing, but I never wanted to sit down and write a work of fiction until I read The Exorcist when I was 17 and a senior in high school.
As detailed earlier in the year, Don’t Go in the House is officially out on Blu-Ray via Scorpion Releasing. Things have been very cryptic lately with no news coming for months. Then Scorpion made a few posts on their Facebook page last week and voila, we have a release. Yesterday, December 5th is the official date. They are being kind enough to send me a free copy as well as one to keep on hand at the Strauss Mansion Museum, its filming location. We actually screened the film this past October and the event sold out. Like so sold out that we had people sitting on the floor and standing on the staircase in the foyer to catch a glimpse.
The rumors may have begun as early as 1990 when The Exorcist III immediately struggled at the box office and with critics. There was a superior cut called Legion somewhere out there, writer-director William Peter Blatty’s ultimate vision. As the years turned to more than two decades, fans anxiously waited. All they had were some screenshots, a few fleeting seconds in one of the early trailers which included footage not in the theatrical cut, and stories from people who had seen the script to ponder “what should have been”. It’s now 2016, and we have the cut of Legion. While it still seems a bit incomplete, we cannot be surprised. In an almost unprecedented move, Shout! Factory did what it could, using whatever footage they could find, and put it together in a way that the story would still make sense. Whether you like the finished product or not, after 26 years of waiting, their effort was more than commendable. While this does in fact bring about an end to the wondering, it also marks the end of an era: we may never again have a search for a “lost cut” of a feature film of this magnitude.
One was subdued, regal, and spoke with a careful distinction—hypnotic. The other took over the screen with rage, and a violent tenacity that had not yet been seen for the character. For that reason, comparing Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee in their iconic roles as Count Dracula is like comparing apples and oranges. You can have your favorite of the two, but you can’t really say who was better. They were made in different times, and are a product of that. Lugosi’s 1931 portrayal was in an eerie black and white, with censorship rules at the time forbidding the bloodlust that such a film required. His Dracula was stately. A man carefully hiding something, perhaps just a tad eccentric to throw his potential victims off. He’s a gentleman. Lee, on the other hand, is erratic. He buzzes in and out of scenes. He rarely speaks at all, which further adds to his mystique. 1958 also allowed for more on-screen blood which paired well with his visible bloodthirstiness.
I blogged about this in January when Morgan Creek had sent a series of cryptic tweets regarding the possibility of a long-awaited director’s cut of The Exorcist III. I followed the story for a few more months and then it appeared that all was for nothing. You could imagine my surprise this morning when I saw Shout! Factory’s release being advertised. It totally slipped my mind. People had already pre-ordered, and if they did, they would have it today. I just placed my order now, so it won’t be coming for a few days, but I am so excited. The Exorcist III is one of my favorite films. It has been much maligned over the years, but mainly because of the studio’s interference with writer-director William Peter Blatty’s vision. That vision will be included in this new release.
Just like last year, Reel to Real will feature a special series for the fall season. Titled “Halloween 2K16”, this will be where I blog about horror movies, share fall recipes, and also let you know what’s going on in my paranormal investigating adventures. October is going to be a busy month. My team, Ghosts on the Coast, is honored to be partnering up with our usual haunt (no pun intended) the Strauss Mansion Museum and Atlantic Highlands Historical Society. We have a full schedule of events on tap, including three movie screenings, a party, a paranormal investigation, and then two weekends of new-look ghost tours.
We do not have an exact date yet, but Scorpion will be releasing Don’t Go in the House to Blu-Ray at the end of July, according to their Facebook page. As readers of this blog know, I worked with one of their representatives this past January for a documentary which will be included on the disc as a special feature. While it was originally only going to be a “Then and Now” documentary where I gave a tour of Strauss Mansion matched up with scenes from the movie with some of my own personal ghost stories mixed in, I have now been informed that it will in fact be two separate features. My paranormal experiences will be a separate video. This is all very exciting for me, but more importantly, I hope the release will boost exposure to the museum which served as the film set back in 1979 when it was a private residence-turned-apartment-complex. The house was actually slated for demolition shortly after filming wrapped due to the severe disrepair it fell into. However, the local historical society of Atlantic Highlands stepped in and purchased the 1893 Victorian mansion and turned it into the museum it is today.
Yesterday I had the chance to work with the director and editor for the Don’t Go in the House: Then and Now documentary which will be featured on the upcoming Blu Ray disc of the film. After contacting Scorpion Releasing last week, I was told that they are aiming for a June release, but that could change. Having hosted paranormal videos for different groups over the years, I am used to speaking in front of a camera. Yesterday’s experience was a little bit different though, but in a good way. To me, it was interesting seeing how shots are set-up, and how much lighting has an effect on everything. I was also mic’d for sound, which is different from how we usually record videos. While I was there to host the video and give a tour and history of Strauss Mansion, I also took it as a learning experience. I asked a lot of questions, and Andrew (who was filming) was kind enough to answer. He told me this was one of his more “fun” assignments. Being a co-producer for a paranormal web-series, I can say that we are always looking for ways to improve our content. Watching Andrew, a veteran of film-making, work yesterday really taught me a lot.
Fans of old grindhouse cinema will be excited to learn that the cult classic exploitation horror flick Don’t Go in the House will be getting a Blu Ray release. While I do not yet have the exact date (UPDATE: they are shooting for June), I assume it will be sometime this year as work has already begun on it. I was recently contacted by a crew-member who works for the distributor and rights holder, the Seattle-based Scorpion Releasing. He asked if I would be willing to show him Strauss Mansion (the set from the movie and museum I currently work at) and also be filmed giving a tour for a “Then and Now” documentary. This will be included as a special feature on the disc. I said yes, of course, and noted to him the irony of the timing because it was just last week when I was discussing doing a similar project with our board president for the web-series I host. This, however, would be much more professional, and I am happy to be involved.