Dark Skies A Dark Horse Candidate For One Of 2013’s Best New Movies

Courtesy: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Dark Skies was met largely with mixed reviews when it originally debuted in theaters early in 2013.  This movie proved to be another work for which there was no grey area.  Either audiences liked it or they hated it.  Those that panned it seemed to do so mostly because of the expectations of it being a horror movie.  Those same individuals obviously weren’t or aren’t fans of science fiction, as (not to spoil the movie too much) that’s what it really turned out to be.  It turned out to be more psychological science fiction thriller than horror.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Even this critic went into the movie, having not seen it during its stint in theaters, expecting it to be just another ghost story.  It was a pleasant surprise to discover that that wasn’t the case.  As a matter of fact, it was that surprise twist that helped to make this underappreciated thriller an edge-of-the-seat thriller that is deserving of being seen at least once.

What makes Dark Skies worth being seen at least once is the manner in which Writer/Director Scott Stewart has managed to take advantage of that line between science fiction and horror that has become increasingly blurred through the modern history of movies.  That same blurred line is what irked many viewers and critics.  But odds are those individuals that were so bothered by the story’s surprise were specifically horror fans rather than science fiction fans or a combination of both.  What’s more, the expectation among so many horror fans today is that a horror movie apparently can’t be horror without a significant amount of bloodshed.  That in itself is a sad statement.  Those expecting such levels of violence and bloodshed won’t get that from this movie.  Stewart has proven that his movie doesn’t need all of that, either in order to be successful.  It does well enough without the sex, violence, and bloodshed, as it pays tribute to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, and specific other classic horror and sci-fi flicks.  There’s even something of a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, The Birds tossed in for good measure.  Stewart was not trying to directly rip off said movies or anger viewers who have become far too accustomed to unnecessary story elements.  Rather, he was paying tribute to the classics and proving at the same time, that movies with real substance still have a place in today’s overly crowded market of otherwise dry works that try to cover up their lack of substance with those unnecessary extremes. 

Dark Skies has quite a bit which makes it a successful work, despite what other critics might want to believe.  For all the positives to this undervalued work, it isn’t without at least one fault.  That major fault would be the scene transitions.  Many of the movie’s scene transitions early on feel like little more than a grouping of jump cuts, making following the story not as easy as it perhaps could be.  Luckily, if one allows one’s self to become engaged in the story, one will see that the jump cut feeling in question does eventually make way for better transitions.  In turn, one will better enjoy the story right up to its surprise twist ending, which is yet another of the story’s positives.

The surprise twist ending is just one more of so many positives that make Dark Skies a movie worth seeing for anyone that is open minded enough to give it a chance.  Just as interesting as the story’s twist ending is the deleted scene that was the original ending sequence included in the bonus deleted scenes featurette on the brand new Blu-ray/DVD/VUDU combo pack.  Viewers can watch the original ending both with and without commentary, along with a whole grouping of other deleted scenes.  The bonus commentary does add even more appreciation for the work that went into making each scene.  Though even in watching the deleted scenes without commentary, audiences can gain just as much appreciation for what was and was not used in the final film.  It’s yet more proof of the value of bonus features in a movie’s home release.  It is those bonus deleted scenes, along with everything else that went into making this movie that makes it worth another watch now that it’s available on Blu-ray/DVD/VUDU.  Dark Skies is available today in stores and online.

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Syfy Brings Fans More Ghostly Tales In Ghost Hunters Season 7 Part 1

Courtesy: Big Vision/Syfy/Image Entertainment

Paranormal shows are some of television’s most popular programming today.  Travel Channel has Ghost Adventures.  Bio Channel has re-runs, still, of Paranormal State.  It also has new episodes of My Ghost Story, and Celebrity Ghost Stories, among others.  It also recently started up another semi-paranormal show called The Unexplained.  Even the CW has its own paranormal drama, simply called Paranormal.  The list goes on and on.  If there’s one show among the masses that stands out right now, it’s Syfy’s Ghost Hunters.  The hit show has even spawned its own spinoff, International Ghost Hunters.  The original recently wrapped the first half of its eighth season.  Its second half is expected to run sometime this Fall.  While fans wait for the second half of Season Eight to premiere, they can enjoy the first half of Season Seven.

Ghost Hunters Season Seven Part 1 is available now on a four disc DVD set via Big Vision, Syfy, and Image Entertainment.  Season Seven sees TAPS head down to New Orleans to check out an allegedly haunted old mint.  Also in Season Seven Part 1, TAPS heads up to Michigan to investigate the Mission Point Resort at Mackinac Island.  And in one of the most interesting episode from Season Seven, TAPS is called to Pearl Harbor to investigate reports of hauntings there.  This episode is actually a two-part episode.

In its trip to New Orleans, the TAPS team is asked to investigate reports of paranormal activity at the old U.S. Mint there.  The team meets security guard Jimmie Jackson, who tells them his story of seeing an entity who is believed to be William Mumford.  Mumford was hanged at the Mint after he took down an American Flag that had been raised there in place of a confederate flag.  The team spends the night in the mint, investigating reports of moaning from what was believed to be Mumford’s mother, crying over her son’s hanging, as well as other phenomena.  In the end, TAPS founder Jason and Lead Investigator Grant (who would later leave in the show’s eighth season) say that there’s no way to say for sure if the Mint is indeed haunted.  The little evidence that they managed to collect was inconclusive and that they would have to come back another time for another investigation to see if it really is haunted.

While it produced a little bit more information and evidence, TAPS’ investigation of the Mission Point Resort wasn’t entirely conclusive, either.  The team haunts for a figure known as “Harvey” who it turns out wasn’t named Harvey.  Though there really was a figure at the resort (which was previously a school) who had committed suicide.  “Harvey’s” real name is kept confidential.  It’s revealed that “Harvey” had actually committed suicide during the Winter and his body wasn’t discovered until the following Summer.  The team does record the sound of what sounds like a little girl while investigating the building’s theater.  This investigation reveals enough evidence that the team is convinced the resort is indeed haunted.

Perhaps one of the most haunted sites that the TAPS team has ever investigated is the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor.  The team goes to investigate the museum’s Hangar 37 and Hangar 39.  While there, the team hears a lot of noises that sound like people running.  One of the team members yells “bullets” a few times, which seems to cause whatever or whoever was there to take off running.  There is even the sound of running on one of the hangars’ catwalks.  At one point, the team even captures what seems to be a figure on one of the catwalks.  The evidence isn’t fully revealed until an episode after as the team is called back from Hawaii to investigate claims of a little girl being haunted by multiple spirits.  But there is little doubt, considering knowledge of paranormal activity, Hangar 37 and 79 are in fact haunted, along with most of Pearl Harbor.  Fans can find out what the evidence from the investigation reveals by picking up Season Seven Part One.

As interesting as the episodes in Season Seven Part One are, there is one glaring black eye to this set.  That black eye is its packaging.  The discs are stacked one on top of each other, rather than being given their own spots inside the slim case.  What stacking the discs potentially does is increase the chances of the discs getting scratched, thus reducing the life of the discs.  Hopefully when the second half of Season Seven is released, this is something that will be fixed.  If not, then perhaps it will be fixed in its eighth season.  Other than that, this is a set that any paranormal fan will enjoy watching.  It’s available in stores and online.  It can be ordered online at http://www.nbcuniversalstore.com/syfy/index.php?v=syfy

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