BERMONDSEY CARNIVAL: With a Latin American twist

London – VIJAY SHAH

If you like family days out and happen to be south of the river in London this Saturday, there is a cool dance festival just waiting to be visited, completely free of charge. The Bermondsey Carnival, being held at the Southwark Park this Saturday, 30th June 2018, is the perfect family fun in the sun session, with a summery mix of dance, music, events for adults and children and its own funfair.

South London is home to many vibrant Latin American communities, with Londoners from Brazil and Colombia forming the majority of them. This year, the Bermondsey Carnival will honour local South American communities by taking on a Latino/a theme, with performances from the Abba Gold Girls, the singer-songwriter Mancie Baker and a Salute to Sinatra from Louis Hoover, the original star of the Broadway show.

 

There will also be dance workshops (including a children’s dance tent for the little ones to practice their samba and Fortnite emote dances) and fun activities such as making masks, alongside food and drinks stalls. Look out for the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’, a massive jumble boot sale’ hosted by local residents, and the Plaza Latina with its South American music, food and dance, the Plaza is new for 2018.

The Create and Play Zone
An assortment of talented artists, performers and designers providing a multitude of engaging things to do

Nest Box and Mask Making Workshops with Café Gallery
Crafty Beasts Making Workshops with Time & Talents
Totally Wild Foraging Adventure walks running throughout the day (12.30pm – 1.30pm – 2.30pm – 3.30pm)
Jumping Bean Stories and Rhyme Tent (12.15pm – 1.15pm – 2.30pm – 3.30pm – 4.30pm)
Make Theatre with London Bubble Theatre. Turn yourself into a story gatherer, a story teller, a character creator or a history maker In the beautiful Bubble Yurt throughout the day from: 12pm to 4pm.

SE16 DANCE Tent hosted by the Movement Factory.
Come and take part in an exclusive range of free dance workshops running throughout the day. No previous dance experience necessary

SE16 Dance Tent Workshops Times
12.00 to 12.30: Musical Mayhem- Musical Theatre
12.30 to 13.15: The Movement Factory- Street Dance
13.15 to 13.40: Kinetika Bloco
Performances Times

13.40 to 14.00- Kinetika Bloco
14.00 to 14.25 – Musical Mayhem
14.25 to 14.30 – Ellz & Sharz
14.30 to 14.40 – Hazel
14.40 to 14.50 – The Mia Dancers
14.50 to 14.55 – Jerdy
14.55 to 15.00 -Ellie
15.00 to 15.05 – Gawz
15.05 to 15.10 – Double Twist Dance Co.
15.10 to 15.30 – Southwark Gymnastics
15.30 to 15.40 – DHK Shortman
16.00 to 16.45 – DHK Shortman / Dance Hall
16.45 to 17.30 – The Movement Factory

The festival is being organised by Southwark Council, along with Bermondsey Beat and The Friends of Southwark Park.

Sat 30th June, 12pm- 8pm: Bermondsey Carnival
Southwark Park, Gomm Rd, SE16 2TX

SOURCES:

Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984

Super London, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/SuperLNDN

Skint London Mag, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/SkintLondon

“Top Skint picks for the Weekend!” – Skint London (29 June 2018) http://www.skintlondon.com/top-skint-picks-for-the-weekend-48/

“Bermondsey Carnival 2018” – WISE16.CO.UK https://www.wise16.co.uk/free-bermondsey-carnival-2018-at-southwark-park/

IMAGE CREDIT:

“Samba procession @ Carnival De Cuba, London 2008” – jf 1234, Flickr (29 June 2008) https://www.flickr.com/photos/kde-head/2622435786

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WELCOMING 2017: Ilford’s Ashgrove restaurant launches NYE night

gb

Ilford, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH

 

 

Popular Ilford based Indian gastropub the Ashgrove Restaurant has formally announced a special New Year’s Eve night to welcome in 2017 for local partygoers to come and enjoy great music and traditional and contemporary Punjabi, Indian continental and Chinese fare, great music and visual entertainments.

The restaurant, a short walking distance from Seven Kings town centre, will have music entertainment on the night provided by DJ Kash of local outfit Kash Events, which provides party and other event planning services as well as boasting a wide music portfolio from the Bollywood, bhangra, RNB and ‘club classics’. The NYE event is currently being promoted on the restaurant’s social media page where they promise it will be an ‘amazing evening’. A finger food buffet will also be available.

Located on Green Lane, Ashgrove, which was formerly a public house, is renowned locally for its dishes, including chilli paneer (Indian cheese), lamb and chicken grills, kebabs and snacks – including vegetarian, coupled with a well-stocked bar. The restaurant is popular with local sports fans who flock to watch football matches on its many widescreen televisions. It also boasts a beer garden to round off its unique ability to combine a traditional English pub with a modern Indian restaurant.

The event will be held on 31st December 2016, with tickets costing £25 for adults and £10 for children under 12, with buffet included. People interested in attending should call +44 208 599 4181 or email info@ashgroverestaurant.co.uk. The Ashgrove Restaurant is situated at 271 Green Lane, Ilford, Redbridge, Essex, United Kingdom IG3 9TN.

 

SOURCES:
Ashgrove Restaurant, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/ashgroverestaurant/
Kash Events, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/KashEvents/
KASH EVENTS http://kashevents.co.uk/
“About” – Ashgrove Restaurant, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/pg/ashgroverestaurant/about/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“The Host” – SteFou! (Stephen Oung), Flickr (13 September 2011) https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen-oung/6268131892

RUGBY WORLD CUP 2015: Newham’s Fanzone

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via the Newham Mag

As one of the ‘host cities’ for the Rugby World Cup of 2015, the London borough of Newham has pulled out all the stops to welcome the sport’s fans from across the world to watch and celebrate the dozens of great teams taking part, from Australia to Samoa. As part of the celebrations, the borough has opened a special Fanzone at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Almost 70,000 sports fans from all over the world visited the Park where they were able to view the matches on big screens and join in on fun activities. The Fanzone has proven to be a huge success for Newham, as it builds on its legacy from the London 2012 Olympics, the council magazine Newham Mag has reported.

The park, situated in a heavily redeveloped area of Stratford, near Newham’s borders with Tower Hamlets and Hackney boroughs, saw a footfall of 200,000 global visitors as a whole, many of which had booked tickets to watch RWC matches at the showpiece Olympic Stadium. So far four Tournament matches have been played at the stadium, with one more still to go. 

Newham’s Mayor, Sir Robin Wales told the Newham Mag “When we were awarded the honour of hosting Rugby World Cup 2015,we said we would put on a great party and we have proved it”

The rugby tournament is now in its semi-final stages, although home country fans were left disappointed by the England team’s dismal dropout in the early stages. Despite this, there is still great enthusiasm and pride that the RWC has made its mark in east London. Attention has now switched from the main matches at the Olympic Stadium and the park to other fanzones set up outside Newham in Trafalgar Square, central London, and the home of Greater London rugby, Twickenham, as the Newham Fanzone temporarily shut up shop for the rest of the World Cup.

The Stratford Fanzone will return in earnest on the 30 October 2015, when the ultimate Bronze Final of the World Cup kicks off at the Olympic Stadium.

SOURCE:
“Thousands give fanzone a try” – The Newham Mag – News/Newham Council [Issue 327], 23 October 2015
IMAGE CREDIT:
Getty Images via Zemanta.

PARAMOUNT RESORT: New theme park to launch 2020 in south-east England

Sunny Atwal (contributor)

Vijay Shah (reporter)

London Town is about to get that bit more exciting as a new entertainment park and tourist attraction gets ready to attract film buffs and day trippers to an area brimming with both film history and cultures that draw in film makers from all over the world.

While not exactly in London itself, but on the Swanscombe peninsula in north Kent, about forty or less minutes from the centre of London by train and less by road, the London Paramount is a ‘world-class’ entertainment resort that will be opened by famous Hollywood studios Paramount Pictures very likely in another five years’ time, and will be an ambitious project and a first for the Hollywood studio in the UK.

The resort is being bankrolled by investment firm London Resort Company Holdings (LRCH), who are in the final stages of consultations with the public on the project. LRCH have created a website outlining their plans for the theme park project, along with downloadable materials on the new park and how it will benefit tourism and local communities.

Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, CA
Paramount Pictures in Hollywood, CA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

London Paramount will feature an exciting variety of themed rides and attractions for everyone, especially youngsters, families and groups, as well as crazier rides for the adventurous thrill seekers looking for that next adrenaline fix. In the centre of the resort will be the Entertainment City, which will play host to a selection of indoor, covered and open-air experiences as well as a variety of cafes, bars and restaurants. From time to time, the  City will also be a venue for live shows and music concerts that will set south-east England ablaze. There will also be a special ‘Paramount and Friends’ carnival taking place every day that will see Paramount characters such as Betty Boop, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and the stars of Madagascar parade and meet-and-greet fans alongside many spectacular shows featuring some of the Paramount studio‘s most iconic characters.

For the more sedate and relaxed, London Paramount will also host West End-quality theatrical and general productions as well as showing of films and other programmes from Paramount, the BBC and Aardman studios, home of the much-loved plasticine comic duo, Wallace and Gromit. There will also be live comedy acts invited to perform at Paramount’s first ever resort on these shores.

The resort plans to opens its doors in 2020, with new rides and attractions appearing shortly afterwards. Highlights include the Port Plaza, paying homage to Kent’s maritime heritage; the Myths and Legends castle, based on the castle that appears on the film studios logo, designed after its founding in 1911 and the oldest Hollywood logo in existence; the Paramount Port Bay, featuring canals and pleasure barges, and the excitingly jaw-dropping Adventure Isle. Other attractions include a 1,500 seat West End theatre, Europe’s largest indoor water park and specially-created wildlife habitats to promote conservation of the animals and plants that call the river Thames’ banks home.

It is expected to attract up to 40,000 visitors per day with a range of hotels and restaurants being planned close by to cater for them.

The London Paramount project is projected to bring a massive financial boost to the Ebbsfleet and greater north Kent region, with the park and associated creative hubs and shopping centres bringing in 27,000 jobs and revitalising the area and local communities as well as having knock-on effects commercially and creatively for the rest of Kent and London.

For more information visit:

http://www.londonparamount.info/

SOURCES:
“WELCOME TO LONDON PARAMOUNT” – Paramount London Entertainment Resort, PPS Group http://www.londonparamount.info/
“RIDES AND ATTRACTIONS” – Paramount London Entertainment Resort, PPS Group http://www.londonparamount.info/the-project/rides-and-attractions/
“Paramount Pictures” – Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paramount_Pictures
“BENEFITS” – Paramount London Entertainment Resort, PPS Group http://www.londonparamount.info/benefits/
“THE PROJECT” – Paramount London Entertainment Resort, PPS Group http://www.londonparamount.info/the-project/
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:ParamountPictures01.jpg” – Gary Minnaert, Wikimedia Commons (21 January 2007) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ParamountPictures01.jpg

JURASSIC WORLD: The dinosaurs are back!

with Sunny Atwal (feature contributor)

Back in 1993, the first of the instalment of the Jurassic Park movies enthralled and terrified audiences equally with their fearsome flesh-eating T-Rexes and velociraptors, alongside giant plant-eaters like Brontosaurus. We watched in horror as the kids were cornered in the kitchen by a bunch of bloodthirsty raptors and laughed at the sneezing Bronto. The Jurassic Park trilogy helped define millions of childhoods in the Nineties and now the franchise comes roaring back. Directed by acclaimed director Steven Spielberg and starring Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill and Laura Dern, a group of palaeontologists visit a remote island off the Costa Rican coast where a scientist (Richard Attenborough) has created a park of prehistoric lizards derived from ancient DNA mixed with frog genes. Events in the island soon take a turn for the worst as the dinosaurs break free and inflict an orgy of destruction and gory snacking on the Jurassic Park staff and visitors.

Fast forward 22 years and the park has reopened. With the loose T-Rex finally back in its enclosure and the park’s security systems updated, once again the world of 65+ million years back is open to the public.

This time round the film is directed by Colin Trevorrow and stars Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, and B.D. Wong. The usual inmates behind the electrified fence are in place along with a host of fun visitor attractions including interactive galleries, dinosaur feeding areas and the ubiquitous coffee shops, but now a group of geneticists bankrolled by investment dollars are hard at work behind the scenes, working on a mysterious ‘hybrid’ dinosaur as the new park’s main attraction. Little do they know that the hybrid has plans for a bid for freedom, one which will bring death and destruction to Jurassic Park once again.

Jurassic World is slated for release in North America on the 12th June, 2015 with the rest of the world following a few days afterwards.

The Half-Eaten Mind brings you a selection of videos, sneak previews and trailers, official and unofficial, of the biggest and baddest dinosaur movie in recent memory.

http://uk.jurassicworldintl.com/

http://www.jurassicworldmovie.co.uk/

https://instagram.com/jurassicworld/

 

The official globally issued trailer for Jurassic World, released on Youtube in high definition by the film’s studios Universal.

Jurassic World – Official Global Trailer (HD)
The Park is Open June 12

Steven Spielberg returns to executive produce the long-awaited next installment of his groundbreaking Jurassic Park series, Jurassic World. Colin Trevorrow directs the epic action-adventure based on the novel “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton. Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley join the team as producers.

Jurassic World will be released in 3D by Universal Pictures on June 12, 2015.

Promo trailer of the Lego toy company’s video game release tied in with the film.

Take a look at this trailer for LEGO Jurassic World which shows off some gameplay footage of the different types of dinosaurs you’ll see in the game.

TV spot advert broadcast in America.

Special featurette video featuring interviews with the film’s cast and how the Jurassic Park films inspired them. Released by Universal Pictures.

Video commentary on the new movie and what it needs to have to be a success, according to Erin Robinson of Clevver Movies.

Jurassic World is stomping into theaters this coming summer on June 12th, 2015 and we could not be more excited! Of course, we could also not be more fearful of this becoming another treasured franchise getting a lackluster reboot. To help avoid such a thing, we compiled a list of 7 things we think need to happen in Jurassic World to make it successful.

In this clip from the movie, Owen flees the paddock of the genetically modified killer dinosaur Indominus Rex as it breaks free and chases him after devouring his colleague.

Twenty-two years after the events of Jurassic Park, Isla Nublar now features a fully functioning dinosaur theme park, Jurassic World, as originally envisioned by John Hammond. This new park is owned by the Masrani Corporation. Owen (Chris Pratt), a member of Jurassic World’s on-site staff, conducts behavioral research on the Velociraptors. After many years, Jurassic World’s attendance rates begin to decline and a new attraction, created to re-spark visitor interest, gravely backfires.

A look at the star of Jurassic World, the Indominus Rex, which makes the T-Rex look puny in comparison. Beware this video contains SPOILERS!!

The park is open. Meet the hybrid dinosaur now at Jurassic World.

HEM 3rd anniversary banner pizap.com14293560242241

 

 

ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“Jurassic Park (1993)” – IMDb/IMDb.com, Inc./Amazon http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107290/
“Jurassic World” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurassic_World
VIDEO CREDITS:
“Jurassic World – Official Global Trailer (HD)” – Universal Pictures, YouTube GB (20 April 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJJrkyHas78
“Dinosaur Trailer – LEGO Jurassic World” – GameSpot, YouTube GB (14 May 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcAWX3tR9Oc
“JURASSIC WORLD Extended TV Spot #8 (2015) Chris Pratt Sci-Fi Movie HD” – CBR Trailers, YouTube GB (14 May 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N2cc5lQuWfI
“Jurassic World – Featurette: “Welcome To Jurassic World” (HD)” – Universal Pictures, YouTube GB (1 May 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA4IdQZ7k7w
“7 Things That Need To Happen In Jurassic World” – Clevver Movies, YouTube GB (30 November 2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZn_vz9eIr0
“Jurassic World Movie CLIP – Owen Escapes the Indominus Rex Paddock (2015) – Chris Pratt Movie HD” – MOVIES Coming Soon, YouTube GB (23 April 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2R8Dt6WDPU
“Jurassic World – First Look – Indominus Rex – Flix Movies” – BTV, YouTube GB (30 January 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rlwHjZowZQ

 

 

BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: Vijay turns 30

Say R.I.P. to your amazing twenties

As you enter your boring thirties

Say goodbye to your crazy ways

Say hello to monotonous days

Bid adieu to irresponsibility

As you strive towards accountability

Don’t worry, I am just fooling around

Don’t let this rhyme bring you down

You will have the best time at thirty

So chill out, relax and take it easy

Happy 30th birthday

(c) MyNiceProfile.com

Yesterday, Saturday 4th October 2014, I officially kissed my eventful years of being a twenty-something goodbye and said “Oh hi…er…Hello” to my third decade and thirtieth year of milling around on this green, green planet. Needless to say, while you cannot have a cat in hell’s chance of stopping the advances of age, it still was a bit of shock to me. I am actually going to be 30. Thirty!!. That’s a big chunky number. Part of me was telling myself that now I’ve reached the big Three-Zero, maturity and reflection on life was the name of the game, then there was a part of me that felt almost geriatric. Fair enough that I already got my first few white hairs some years back and being tall brings some aches and pains, but this morning I woke up with some noticeable leg cramps. I’m surprised I wasn’t dreaming of dusty suitcases from trips to the hospital, long post office queues and those god-awful 50+ life insurance adverts that infest daytime TV. But thirty is hardly old-age pensioner. It is a decade that will hopefully bring big changes into my life. Marriage, settling down and starting a family, being hired into a better-paid position (hopefully in the media), moving into my first flat,…and many smaller milestones that will turn when and whether. Being thirty is a transition point, a halfway house between the carefree and carelessness of youth and the responsibility, organisation and enhanced maturity of older adulthood.

My thirtieth birthday was a small and private affair with family, with of course many well wishes from friends and acquaintances new and old, and special greetings messages from the extended family in Mauritius. On Friday night (the 3rd of October) I visited my mother, who is recovering from a recent leg operation, to see how she was doing and to have a special dinner with the family. We ordered the food from a local takeaway and I made sure to get my favourite. A lamb doner kebab. This one was tasty but did reek of onions. Sadly there was no cake but I got lots of dosh and a gift box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, and most importantly the love and best wishes of my family together. My 5-year-old niece even pulled out a little gift from her jacket pocket as she came to hug me and wish me a happy birthday in advance. The gift was a small blue toy car. She must have chosen it especially for me. Once I get a decent-sized place of my own to live in, her toy auto is going on the mantelpiece or shelf. I then went with my niece and my sister to her place, where I spent a short while with her and her husband, before heading off to my home.

Come the big day I was as happy as Larry. I don’t know who Larry is, but I was feeling great. On Facebook, I arranged with my brothers to go to the nearby Westfield Stratford City shopping centre to go bowling and then later, the cinema. It started off a bit crazy though. My brother didn’t have his phone with him as it was in a repair shop having its speaker fixed. He had been having no end of problems with that phone. While chatting to him on Facebook, I had also forgotten to say to him exactly where we were going to meet up as Stratford is  a big place. Cue me waiting like a bum at the area’s bus station for one and a half hours wondering where the hell my brother was. He had been dropped off by car and was also planning to get some clothes shopping in, with the money he received for his own birthday, which falls one week before mine. After frantically Whatsapp messaging my other siblings to try to get to the bottom of this missing persons inquiry, I decided to head up the short walk across the glass-sided bridge to the Westfield shopping district. I started hunting around the nearby clothes shops to see if I could spot the missing brother. No luck. I scanned the crowds, hoping for a glimpse of him. Nah, not happening. Then something told me to head to the Vue cinema that sits on the third floor of the shopping mall. I thought it unlikely he would be there, but I took a chance anyway. Long story short, once I arrived at the picture house, I saw my brother on the balcony of the cinema’s courtyard. He had borrowed another shopper’s phone and was calling home. At the same time as I saw him, one of my sisters messaged me to say where he was. A very strange and almost psychic experience I think. Thankfully we was reunited and went to the bowling alley. All Star Lanes, which is based a very short walk from the cinema, is basically a bowling alley for all ages. It also has an American diner-themed cocktail and milkshake bar with a restaurant serving typical diner food. We booked our lane for the two of us (my other brother was sorting out transport to arrive later to watch the movie). Unfortunately we were told by reception that there would be a twenty minute wait before the lane would be free to use and they armed with a buzzer that looked like an oversized car alarm key. Me and bro decided to kill time by going to the clothes shops. We visited adidas, Topman while my brother tried to find a hoodie he liked. We saw a lot of cool and ridiculous stuff. Ridiculous in both price and aesthetic appeal. Sadly brother could not find the hoodie he wanted. The buzzer apparently went off, but I felt and heard nothing, though I was holding it in my hand to the point my palms were sweaty and probably fusing with the plastic. 

(c) gifovea.tumblr.com via Giphy

We reported back to All Stars and because we had missed the buzz, we had to wait another ten minutes. Me and little brother went to the milkshake bar and ordered a shake each. He ordered vanilla, I got one flavoured with Oreos, in keeping with the American theme. Well mainly really because I have a primal weakness for Oreo-flavoured milky beverages. It was delicious. I was even scooping out the cookie dough like sludge from the bottom of the glass with my straw and eating it because, blimey, it was THAT good. Me and little bro had the third lane from the left and while he was a bowling veteran, this embarrassingly was my first time. I even had to figure out which fingers went into which holes in the ball. I had fortunately played enough bowling of the virtual variety that that experience helped me pick the real thing very quickly. Although little bro triumphed over me, beating my score of 74 points with his haul of 96, we both managed to do I think around three strikes combined, with myself demolishing all the pins on my third go on the lane. It was quite stuffy in the alley though and not even the ice-cold shake could cool me down, but it was a brilliant time.

We sauntered around some more outlets selling designer garments. This time we hit up the Nike Shop and admired their sportswear, their mind-boggling array of trainers, including a ‘trophy case’ display of them pinned to a wall. We saw lurid pink ones, technologically-advanced ones, stylish ones and even ones with holograms and ones that were fitted in material that looked like the metallic skins of bluebottle flies. I saw a few Nike brand basketballs lying around and was tempted to dribble like the great Shaquille and score a triple-pointer. But being booted kicking and screaming (haha, booted) out of Nike by security is not the best way to remember your 30th birthday.

Towards the end of the night, my other brother finally arrived after catching a train from further east and we had booked our tickets. The film we got into was “A Walk Among The Tombstones” starring Liam Neeson. Obviously as it’s a new film, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I will say that he plays a washed-out former policeman. Divorced and trying to stay sober, he operates as a private detective. A drug trafficker calls on his services to help locate the kidnappers who took his wife. If you are planning to see this film, keep an eye for TJ. He’s hilarious.

My thirtieth birthday may not have been as monumental as other peoples’, but it was a tight family affair. It put a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Reading the many social media messages from my friends and family, plus the texts and calls was the real icing on my birthday cake. Thank you to everyone who made it special. You all made my thirties much, much sweeter.

P.S. For the Half-Eaten Mind’s regular readers on WordPress who were wondering what happened to my usual Saturday article, now you know why!!

Here is a small selection of pictures from my birthday:-

Photo 1: A birthday ‘e-card’ made by my cousin Vipul using some of my Facebook pictures. The theme he ran with was ‘shisha’. One of my hobbies, although it’s been a while since I made an acquantaince with a hookah (stupid snigger). If you’re wondering, my usual flavour is double apple, but I’ve done everything colour in the flavour rainbow, from chocolate to melon.
Photo 2: The toy sports car (Cadillac…Lambo?) gifted to me by my niece Shaniya.
Photo 3: An ‘old chap’ greeting card given by my sister and her family. She just loves to call me ‘grandpa’ now *rolls eyes* *laughs*. I really like the vintage look though, even if it makes me feel a smidgen dessicated.
Photo 4: Another greeting card from my Mum and siblings. Nice blue metallic finish that matches well with Shaniya’s car in Photo 2. I’m seeing stars!!
Photos 5 and 6: Some night time pictures I took of the buildings at Westfield Centre in Stratford City as we waited for my other brother to arrive. The shopping centre does look amazing at dusk.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES:
“30th Birthday Poems” – WishesMessages.com/Valuetivity http://wishesmessages.com/30th-birthday-poems/
IMAGE CREDITS:
“LOOP ANIMATED GIF” – gifovea.tumblr.com via Giphy http://giphy.com/gifs/5BKL0c6zQYWYg
“Happy Birthday 30th” – MyNiceProfile.com http://www.myniceprofile.com/happy-birthday-123299.html
piZap http://pizap.com/
The Half-Eaten Mind/Vijay Shah, Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/110818734@N02

WWE ATTITUDE: An era in wrestling entertainment

By Vijay Shah

The WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) is one of the world’s most widely referenced and talked-about forms of wrestling entertainment. It’s United States-based parent company earns millions of dollars every year from ticket sales alone, bringing to screens and stadia an awesome collection of wrestling greats and gripping storylines. From John Cena’s illicit relationship with AJ Lee to the rivalry of deep hatred between Dolph Ziggler and Alberto del Rio, already this year has proved to be a blockbuster one for WWE, and the sports entertainment franchise has bounced back from a previous decline in quality caused in part by the departure of several big name superstars.

WWE, and its previous incarnation, WWF (World Wrestling Federation) have for nearly thirty years entertained its fans across the globe and launched the careers of some of the sport’s biggest personalities. To really understand how the WWE had become the behemoth of athletic entertainment that it is today, and how it keeps inspiring legions of fans to pursue their dreams of setting foot in the ‘square circle’, we have to take a trip back in time. 

(c) WWE/Wikipedia
(c) WWE/Wikipedia

From about 1995 to the early 2000’s (the exact dates are disputed among WWE scholars), WWE experienced the Attitude Era, an age where it underwent a massive transformation from being a niche, little-known weekly show for die-hard wrestling fans into a multi-million brand whose characters soon overtook superheroes like Batman and Superman as the role model for thousands of children in playgrounds all over the world. WWE Attitude saw the rise of influential superstars. Stone Cold Steve Austin, the Texan Rattlesnake, famous for his quad bikes and consumption of copious amounts of beer. The Rock, the Brahma Bull – the people’s champion who made a lifetime’s work out of giving ‘jabroneys’ a candy-ass whooping. The tough, fearless man-mountain known as Triple H. All of them saw their careers take off in the Attitude days. Established superstars like the Undertaker (who has enjoyed a 30-year career with WWE/WWF) and his brother /on-and-off nemesis, Kane, also were re-invented.

Wrestlers with rival franchises like ECW and WCW (World Championship Wrestling) soon saw the new developments going on at WWF and decided that there was where the action was at. The Bigshow, the world’s biggest wrestler  at 7 feet tall and weighing 500 lbs, alongside the late Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, decided to jump ship. Making the switch to WWE was a bold move, which took their careers to dizzying heights.

There was a massive change in the programming content. While wrestling enjoyed a boom in televised ratings during the 1980’s, competition with other sports, changing trends and a formulaic approach to setting up matches contributed to the sport’s declining popularity markedly. Attitude changed all that. Gone were the days where wrestlers would come to the ring with just a cheering crowd and a sweaty coach for company. With Attitude we saw a shift to adult-oriented storylines and content, with more violent matches (Tables, Ladders and Chairs & Hell in a Cell for example) being introduced. Characters which were controversially sexist, violent and abusive were created to add further shock value. While many wrestling purists criticised the move by the WWE brand’s owners, the McMahon family, its chief executive, Vince, soon sat back and laughed as ratings soared both in free television shows, and the exclusive pay-per-views made available to America’s rising numbers of cable and satellite viewers. While the purists felt Mr. McMahon was cheapening and devaluing a sport of ancient heritage, that celebrated masculinity and strength, the WWF’s boss knew in his opinion, and certainly in the opinions of many fans, that ushering in the Attitude Era was a solid business decision  one which reverberates throughout the wrestling world to this day.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the World Wres...
Stone Cold Steve Austin, one of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstars performing for the Coalition troops at Camp Victory, Baghdad International Airport , Iraq (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Attitude Era, which some wrestling aficionados pinpoint at starting around the year 1997, took its name from the one-word “Attitude” slogan that appeared under WWE branding used at the time. WWF and rivals WCW were engaged in a bitter standoff that culminated in the Monday Night Wars. The era eventually drew to a close with the  main event of Wrestlemania X-Seven which was held around 2008. After that milestone, the policy of gratuitous violence and over-12’s storylines was shelved in favour of PG-rated family friendly material, a move meant to silence critics of wrestling entertainment’s impact on young minds, but also one that disappointed many fans who were brought up on the tougher stuff that Attitude brought to the WWE.

Along with CEO Vince McMahon, the era’s other main architect was head writer Vince Russo. Russo’s dramatic storylines and match-booking style was dubbed by the media as ‘Crash TV’.

The two Vinces were responsible for the introduction of the effeminate golden-clad wonder that was Goldust. Despite his appearance, he had prowess in the ring, though his fortunes were not always as golden as his Lycra jumpsuit and face paint. The duo were also behind the controversial scene where Brian Pillman pulled a pistol out on Stone Cold, and they also are credited with introducing the WWE Divas, female wrestlers who, although often seen as eye candy to pull in male punters, also held their own in wrestling matches and often had personalities more developed than some of the male athletes they shared the ring with.

Vince McMahon, the Chairman of the Board of th...
Vince McMahon, the Chairman of the Board of the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Dec. 5, 2006.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was the feud between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, who hated each other even in real life. Russo exploited that, and had them both appear in on-camera interviews where they persistently laid into each other. The conflict, ironically, was over the changes that Attitude was ushering over the changing rooms. Hart disliked the increased sexual content being written into the shows, while Michaels, who once stuffed gauze down the front of his biker shorts while making dirty gestures, favoured the new approach. This rivalry led to Shawn Michaels forming a new collective with Triple H, Chyna and Rick Rude. Named “D-Generation X” and later reforming as just “D-X” minus previous members Triple H and Chyna, the disruptive quartet became legendary for their crotch pumping and X gestures (crotch chops) while shouting the catchphrase “Suck It”

Stone Cold Steve Austin was redubbed as Austin 3:16, also an accompanying  phrase that became a marketing juggernaut for WWF, while helping create a very popular and strangely likeable character out of the leather-clad Texan among fans. Highly irreverent of both his fellow wrestlers and his paymasters, Austin once carried out his signature move, the “Stone Cold Stunner” on Vince McMahon during a special interview in 1997, leaving the CEO unconscious. His gritty humour and ability to call up beer tanker trucks at short notice made him many enemies in the locker room, but an anti-hero among WWE devotees.

Other highlights of the Era included a simmering feud between Shawn Michaels and veteran wrestler The Undertaker. Michaels found himself in the Undertaker’s revenge sights after incurring the Deadman’s wrath by mistakenly striking him with a chair. The Deadman had been wrestling during a crucial match between himself and Bret Hart at Summerslam 1997. Boxer Mike Tyson made a guest appearance at WWF’s franchise show Raw the same year, in which during a segment where Tyson was to be announced as a special referee, Stone Cold showed up and made an offensive middle-finger at the heavyweight boxer (another of Stone Cold’s characteristic signature traits, usually delivered to an opponent before a Stunner). Tyson objected and challenged Austin, leading to a televised scuffle that made media headlines and putting WWF in the spotlight.

English: From left-to-right: Undertaker (real ...
English: From left-to-right: Undertaker (real name Mark Calaway), Vince McMahon, Brock Lesnar and Sable (hidden behind Brock, the blond hair is hers). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another Attitude Era personality who was strong with witty catchphrases and is still a widely loved legacy of the Attitude Era was the Rock. Born of mixed Samoan and African-Canadian heritage, the Rock, real name Dwayne Johnson, was the progeny of a succession of wrestling greats from the south Pacific. His uncles were Peter Maivia and Jimmy Snuka, who headlined the WWF in its 1970s embryonic days . The Rock made his début in the Survivor Series of 1996, where his novelty and baby face made him a target of booing by disgruntled event-goers  Initially known as “Rocky Maivia” in honour of his illustrious relatives, the boos and chanting of “Rocky sucks” unnerved him, forcing a drastic change. The Rock shed his old personality and was reborn as the self-styled ‘People’s Champion’  and won the Intercontinental Championship belt a few times. He made an art out of ‘talking trash’ and like Stone Cold, would insult all and sundry, even referring to fans as “trailer park trash’ while he was aligned with the Corporation. The Rock soon endeared himself to fans however, thanks to his clever insults, proficiency with the guitar, and his widely emulated wrestling finishers. He was a strong rival of fans’ loyalty with the Texan Rattlesnake for many years, helping pave the way for his current movie acting projects.

The Attitude Era remade the fortunes of WWE and changed the face of sports entertainment. It helped introduce a wider audience to the sport and made massive far-reaching efforts for inter-communal relations, from including a powerful team of female wrestlers to employing athletes from all over the world – such as the Indo-Canadian Tiger Ali Singh, Carlito from Puerto Rico, the gruff and distinctively old-school Lancastrian William Regal and Japan’s diminutive Funaki – and moulding them together as a team in a common arena. Though the era is now very much a thing of the past, it still survives in the WWE’s current lineup, DVD sales fuelled by fans’ nostalgia of those golden days and a successful tie-up between the WWE’s merchandising wing and video games producers. But above all, the impact of the Attitude Era still persists most strongly as memories. Memories that will always remain as fresh as ever among WWE’s family and its fans, no less.

Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article.

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Related articles

SOURCE:
“The Attitude Era” – Wikipedia LINK

NICKELODEON CLASSICS: Bringing quality children’s television back

CatDog
CatDog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kenan & Kel
Kenan & Kel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Vijay Shah

One of the strongest memories I had in my later childhood and teenage years was spending time after school and on weekends watching the kids’ channel Nickelodeon with my siblings. We spend endless joyful hours laughing and commenting to each other about great programmes like CatDog, Hey Arthur, Doug, Kenan and Kel, Are You Afraid of The Dark? etc. ‘Nick’ as it was known for short, always had the very best in comedies, cartoons and wholesome children’s entertainment, all of which made for quality viewing and memorable childhoods. Who could forget how Spongebob Squarepants and Patrick Star annoyed the hell out of long-suffering neighbour Squidward Tentacles, or empathising with Doug as he tried to comprehend the complexities of being an elementary school kid, forever yearning after his friend Patty Mayonnaise…and who could forget Kel and his insatiable thirst for brightly coloured orange soda?.

Kenan would pull out a bottle of Chicago’s finest orangeade from the shelves of his employer’s nondescript corner store. Kel would spot that sweet orangey ambrosia and would look like all his Christmases had come at once, complete with goofy facial expression, and then that famous conversation would resound from our TV’s speakers…

KENAN: “Who loves orange soda?”

KEL: “Kel loves orange soda!

KENAN: “Is it true?

KEL: (After a lot of twitching and self-restraint)….”Mmmm-hmmm”…”I do, I do, I DOO-ooo!!!

English: A glass of Barr orangeade (also known...
English: A glass of Barr orangeade (also known as orange soda) and its can (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was Nickelodeon’s great mix of programmes that made me and my siblings crave for more. It was just too addictive, keeping us in the living room for far longer than Mum would have liked. Even she got hooked. But unfortunately, as anyone who tells you about the ‘good old days’ will acknowledge, they just don’t make them like they should anymore. After I moved out for university, I had little time for television and my love affair with old Nick was soon on the wane. Many years later, I was visiting my mum’s house where I was presented with the chance to have a reunion with an old friend, this time with the help of a amply-sized widescreen telly. I could not begin to tell you how disappointed I was with the choice of shows and cartoons that Nickelodeon is now showing. The highlights of that total of 20 minutes or so reunion?. Some boring saccharine cartoon featuring a blue rabbit with an oversized head, and a comedy series called “Fred”. A programme whose main character is a man-child with an annoying squeaky voice. The sort of voice that makes you want to break a few laws were you to encounter said Fred in the flesh. I was shocked. Is this it?. Had Nick really let itself go? Had one of the best things to come out of America since the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles really gone down the (cathode-ray) tubes?. With an air of exasperation, I turned to one of my brothers and asked “What the hell is this crap?“…”What happened to all the shows on here we used to watch?

Apparently from what he told me, Nickelodeon has stopped putting those shows on airplay a while back, and this was the saddened state of affairs that now was once one of the world’s greatest children’s channels (along with Cartoon Network and its Boomerang sidekick). All of the memories of the channel with the orange splash were now just that, memories. Tis’ was a sad day.

Still reeling a little from the shock, I was at work, it was a slow day and I was batting emails back and forth with my colleague and ‘brother-from-another-mother’ Sunny. We were talking about how Nickelodeon had changed to the point of non-recognition. He pitched an idea towards me that would probably would have the Nick execs falling about their chairs with incredulity at not thinking about that gem of an idea beforehand.

Nick Logo used from November 5, 1998 - Februar...

The logo used by Nickelodeon when I was watching it (circa 1998-2003)

Sunny’s idea was simple but smart. As the current Nickelodeon has pulled down its target audience by a notch of five or so years and neglected the over-12’s, why not launch a new channel to accompany the current channel and the toddler-friendly Nick Jr.? Sunny suggested to me that it could be called Nickelodeon Classics or “Nick Classics” for short. A TV channel, available for free on Sky or whatever, just as the other Nick outlets are, but with this channel, we will be bringing back all of the old Nick favourites that I and him, and countless millions of other children and nostalgic adults grew up with. Instead of begging a box-set of Kenan and Kel off a mate, or watching poor-quality mobile videos of the episodes on YouTube, or bursting into tears of grief every time you see a recycled Spongebob meme circulating from five different fan pages on Facebook, you could see the actual programmes in their original glory on a niche channel dedicated especially to them.

Lots of other digital channels have their versions specifically devoted to classic television. The channel Dave received huge amounts of success and increased ratings when it aired the entire series of Red Dwarf last year. Challenge, which broadcasts on both paid satellite digital and Freeview/Freesat, has built a formidable reputation on showing re-runs of classic game shows such as Catchphrase and The Crystal Maze which had long disappeared from the airwaves of what was then terrestrial television pre-digital switchover.

It would make good economic sense too for Nick Inc., being as it is that money makes the world go round and gives a reason for television executives bother to turn up to the boardroom at all. All those older children and young adults who presumably left in droves after Nick changed its scheduling and exiled poor old Kel to a life sentence in the archive room, would return like prodigal sons and daughters. Nick would reach out to a wider demographic, and with an extra channel, they would have more advertising revenue enabling them to re-licence any classic programmes that had been sold off to other broadcasters in the Great Clearout of Decent Television. In turn they would retain bigger returns which can be incorporated into their budget for newer cartoons, comic series etc. That means the other parts of Nick International (and their audiences) can also reap the rewards.

Squidward Tentacles
Squidward Tentacles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Squidward Tentacles Esq. of Bikini Bottom – someone who’s not pleased with being relegated to televisual history.

Even now, the Nick channel today has some great programmes on show, iCarly being a slightly more intelligent example, but I can’t see how shutting off a large chunk of older viewers makes any sort of business sense. Maybe Nick has revenue problems, maybe they thought older kids had better things to do, like sexting each other or making Harlem Shake videos. But I have a dream. A dream that maybe one day I can sit down with my family or mates, turn on the TV and once again see Kel push Kenan’s dad to the brink of yet another heart attack, or sit wondering why on earth Spongebob’s snail Gary mews like a cat, or how his pineapple house still keeps its shape while enduring the square-trousered one’s nautical nonsense under the sea.

Many thanks to Sunny Atwal for suggesting today’s article.

KENAN & KEL OPENING CREDITS

BEST SPONGEBOB MOMENT COMPILATION

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ACCRA’S CRAZY CINEMAS: The story of Ghana’s handmade movie poster industry

Chuck Norris: the west African refit (c) Christopher Robbins Blog

Blockbuster films from Hollywood heavily dominate the international moving picture industry, or so it seems. Although India’s film industry churns out 800 to 1,000 movies a year, according to the Guinness Book of World Records – the United States produces around 700-800 annually. The Americans however know how to make their money do the talking for their films.

Although Hollywood has been hit by the global recession much like everywhere else, a decade ago, the average cost of releasing a Hollywood film amounted to US$ 102.8 million – according to a former president of the country’s Motion Picture Association. That is divided into $63.8 million for the film’s production costs and other expenditure, while marketing the movie to cinemas and video stores all over the world adds an extra $39 million to the bill.

The movie makers now spend several six-figure sums on trailers for TV, cinema and online to whet consumers’ appetite for their products, but one tried-and-tested means of advertising is the reliable old movie poster. It is easy to install, relatively cheap and memorable. Nevertheless, the costs of mass-producing vast quantities of posters as well as required wages for artists and printing staff, can run into several thousands of dollars.

In Ghana, west Africa, in the days before mass-produced colour printing technology, there was a more traditional method of promoting a blockbuster….hand-painted posters designed by local artists earning bread for their talents.

During the Eighties, when VCR cassettes were the chief means of film distribution, entrepreneurs and owners of small cinemas found a way to bring the moving image to all of Ghana, at a time when electricity was a rare and unreliable commodity, and the vast majority of people were unable to afford to go on trips to the cinema on any regular basis.

From the capital Accra, to places like Donkorkrom and Kumasi, as well as the thousands of rural communities across one of western Africa’s largest film markets, mobile cinemas plied the entertainment trade. Consisting of little more than a television, VCR machine and a generator, these ‘mobile cinemas’ would bring the best of Hollywood to entertain villagers after a hard day’s selling or farming. Back then and now, films from neighbouring Nigeria (the Nollywood industry) as well as Hong Kong kung-fu titles and local productions were also the staples of choice.

An example of a typical African travelling cinema (c) Radio Netherlands Worldwide
An example of a typical African travelling cinema (c) Radio Netherlands Worldwide

In the absence of any multi-million dollar advertising bandwagon to draw on as US cinemas could, the Ghanaian mobile cinema bosses called upon local artists to produce their own colourful visualisations of the films on offer. Often these were far-removed from the official film posters, with spelling mistakes and depictions of actors and characters that bore little resemblance to how they were in the film. Nevertheless the handmade posters are highly regarded as kitschy and majestic examples of contemporary West African popular art. They gave an extra financial/creative boost to indigenous artists who might have otherwise been relegated to shop signs and election posters.

The artists’ easel was a poster-sized piece of canvas, usually cut out from old flour sacks and their preferred medium were oil paints. They were allowed to exercise their artistic licence, which often meant adding elements to the posters that did not appear in the film advertised – as well as garish colour schemes. Some artists would get to work painting the poster without having even seen the film in question, making imaginative guesses from the movie title.

There is a definite Ghanaian cultural influence in how the artists interpreted the appearance of the characters. Add to that elements of mainstream and alternative Western art movements such as surrealism and cubism, perhaps as many of the artists had received formal training. Some may have been struggling fine arts students looking for some extra pocket money.

The posters had to be durable as they were rolled up between displays and taken to the next village to be re-used again. As a result, collectors will find it hard to obtain the painted posters in mint condition. However their effect on moviegoers in 1980’s Ghana was substantial. Even Hollywood screenwriter Walter Hill wrote that in many cases the posters were “more interesting than the films.”

By 1997-8, the falling price of television equipment meant more Ghanaian families being able to afford a set in their homes. As people could easily acquire their own sizeable collection of videos, this deprived the mobile cinemas of their running income. With the death of Ghana’s travelling nickelodeons, so was the fate of Ghana’s hand-crafted movie posters also sealed. Printed posters also became easier and cheaper to produce, but the canvas posters have passed into African movie folklore and still retain an artistic chic and allure among movie poster collectors and serious students of popular art.

Posters were designed by individual artists, as well as studio collectives and artisans working under the employed direction of the mobile cinemas themselves. Strangely the movie moguls of Hollywood seemingly showed no interest in assisting the artists or studios directly with their products’ promotion, but must have been happy to gain the additional publicity.

Artists and art studios behind these awesome creations included:

  • Rolls Royce Video
  • Tina Tana
  • Princess Osu
  • Bombay (Teshie) cinema
  • Ziggy Video Club, Kaneshie
  • Slyfox Video Club (Tiankama Nkwanta)
  • E.A. Heavy Jeaurs
  • Mr. Brew Art (Kwesi Blue)
  • W.A. Otchere
  • Leonardo Arts (Edward Lamptey)

Here is a selection of some of the best posters unravelled by the Half-Eaten Mind. For the foreign movies, the official poster design is included for comparison purposes.

CUJO (1983)

(c) ephemera assemblyman
(c) MoviePosterDB.com

TERMINATOR 2 (1991)

(c) ephemera assemblyman
(c) Terminator Wiki

EVIL DEAD II (1987)

(c) ephemera assemblyman
(c) Moviegoods
(c) Moviegoods

ASSORTED GHANAIAN/US MOVIES

(c) full speed half blind full tilt decline

QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY (1997)

(c) Rene Wanner’s Poster Page
(c) Wikipedia

ANACONDA (1997)

(c) Rene Wanner’s Poster Page
(c) movieposter.com

ANGRAKSHAK (India, 1995)

(c) Rene Wanner’s Poster Page
(c) Indian Cinema Fans

VARIOUS GHANA & NIGERIA FILMS

(c) Rene Wanner’s Poster Page
(c) Rene Wanner’s Poster Page
(c) ephemera assemblyman
(c) ephemera assemblyman
(c) Mo Ringey Art via ConcreteRocket
(c) Rene Wanner’s Poster Page

SOURCES/IMAGE CREDITS:

Guinness World Records- Officially Amazing , Guinness World Records Corporate LINK

“Hollywood film budgets top $100m” – BBC News LINK

“Film Poster Paintings from Ghana” – Joel, ephemera assemblyman LINK

“Cujo (poster)” – MoviePosterDB.com, The Internet Movie Poster Database LINK

“Terminator 2 poster.jpg” – Terminator Wiki, Wikia LINK

“Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” – MovieGoods, Gale Group LINK

full speed half blind full tilt decline (by Morgan) LINK

“Web Poster Exhibition – Painted Movie Posters from Ghana” – Rene Wanner’s Poster Page LINK

“Quicksilver Highway” – Wikipedia LINK

“ANACONDA POSTER” – movieposter.com LINK

“Sunny Deol FilmoGraphy” – Indian Cinema Fans LINK (beware of pop-up adverts!!)

“Hand painted movie posters from Ghana” – Concrete Rocket Blog LINK

“Akirash” – Christopher Robbins, Christopher Robbins Blog LINK

“Sarah goes Soccer: Travelling cinemas” – RNW Africa Desk, Radio Netherlands Worldwide LINK

SCAREDYCATS BEWARE!!: Grave Encounters – a review and a trip down Memory Lane

(c) 123RF Ltd.

By Vijay Shah

Like many men growing up in the past 40 years, horror films were a big part of my youth and still hold an important cultural/entertainment influence on me. What better to test your masculinity, bravery and maybe also your film knowledge by jumping onto a suitably large sofa with your mates, and then spending the next 90 minutes perched precariously on the edge of your seat while acting cool and fearless in between slices of pepperoni pizza?  While Jigsaw or our old friend Freddie Krueger are busy chopping and dicing up their victims in glorious widescreen, you are trying your level best not to be taken for a scaredy-cat, a pussy, a great big wuss, or worse. Not me of course. I love horror flicks, and always have. It is impressive to actually be scared out of your wits over an ice-cold cola drink and a bucket of tasty chicken wings.

I would not call myself a film buff to the level of the movie geeks at IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes, but I could talk with some authority over horror films and other genres as well. I have been watching them for as long as I can remember. My first good memory of seeing a horror movie must have been when I was around five years old. My parents had the television on late at night and there was playing on the old wooden-surfaced goggle box this 1980’s vampire flick, which I still remember was called ‘Vamp’. I think it was about a voluptuous lady vampire or something. By the time I was in secondary school, it became a tradition in my family home to stay up late on weekends after school homework was done and watch a good finger-biter.  We ran the gamut from typical Hollywood slasher movies (the Hallowe’en series, the Nightmares on Elm Street, and the more recent Saw series), through to Hammer productions from 1970’s Britain, twisted Japanese schlock anime, and even a fair helping of B-grade movies and Bollywood horror films (which were usually tame in comparison).  We had digital television, then Sky introduced into the household for my family’s viewing pleasure so we sated most of our hunger for horrors on a channel then called Sci-Fi.

The bloodthirsty Freddy Krueger, decapitator of teenagers and nightmare of the Elm Street locality (c) Wikia, Inc.

Even though I live away from home now, I still prefer to watch horror movies on most film nights (the last film at my place was the seminal 1957 classic, The Blob, starring Steve McQueen). My family has grown larger but we still keep that tradition alive, and we gather every week for a fright-fest. The ladies in the family get to watch EastEnders first, then lights are darkened as we prepare to get the cr*p scared out of ourselves, and boy, can my youngest sister scream!

(c) Listal.com

The latest movie we saw was an US-Canadian production, Grave Encounters, released in 2011 by Twin Engine Films/Digital Interference Productions, and written and directed by the Vicious Brothers. Grave Encounters is an interpretation in the currently popular theme of ‘found footage’ films that were spawned by The Blair Witch Project at the close of last century. These films are inexorably psychological horrors compared to your usual Hollywood movie, have an earthy home-video feel about them. They feature a usually youngish cast who happen to be filming something with a camcorder. Something terrible befalls them as a crazy demonic or ghoulish force is unleashed. The ensuing panic, death and destruction is caught on camera and ‘presented’ to the world.

Grave Encounters focuses on a camera crew and a smooth talking presenter who are sent to investigate paranormal activity at a disused mental institution, the Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital. Armed with cameras fitted with infra-red lighting, they attempt to make contact with the spirits of patients said to have died there. Nothing much happens at first, and it feels like yet another of those US supernatural reality series full of soundbites, cheesy presenting and over-enthusiastic camerawork, without any of the spooky happenings. But things soon get batsh*t crazy, as they say in Hollywood. The crew find themselves unable to leave the hospital and every exit is locked or non-existent. Weird noises and shrieks fill the long-abandoned corridors, doors slam of their own accord, and the creepiness gradually is cranked up a few notches. Sasha, Lance, T.C., Matt and Houston soon find themselves the target of invisible and hate-filled demonic activity. The hospital and its long-dead inhabitants have acquired their newest batch of patients. One-by-one, the team are picked off by unseen entities and devoured by psychosis. They are driven further into the dark, misty world of despair, paranoia and react with torrents of foul language.

(c) Flixster, Inc/Rotten Tomatoes
(c) Space Jockey Reviews

They cannot even sleep, as hands sprout out from ceilings and a bath full of fresh blood hides a fatal mistake.  In the end, Lance, the hunky, rugged showman, is reduced to a gibbering, tearful wreck. Pursued by a mental patient with a decapitated tongue, Lance flattens rats with metal poles and eats their raw flesh, before he is finally ready to be seen by Dr. Friedkin….for his lobotomy.

Grave Encounters works sound in that it keeps you waiting for the real juicy scenes, and that as the demonic apparitions become more noticeable, you can feel the paranoia descend like a cloudy mist. The ghosts of the deceased hospital inmates the TV crew stumble upon are reminiscent of the Grudge of the Ring movies. At times though they were a little childishly cartoon-like. Much of the movie was shot in the ominous blacks and green of Lance and company’s thermal imaging and it made for a suitably eerie atmosphere, but also made it difficult to maintain a viewer’s attention at times. That and the shuddery filming made Grave Encounters a bit taxing. The characters’ descent into madness was intense and nerve-wracking, as bravado was quickly vanquished by their feelings of hopelessness, and each sealed exit led them closer to their doom. Considering that Grave Encounters was a low-budget film with a kitty of only $500,000, it performs well as a psychological horror.

The idea of reality show staff being trapped in a possessed mental institution had all the hallmarks of a great American horror flick on par with the Paranormal Activity films, but did at times betray a befuddled low-budget feel. Character development was excellent, but occasionally overdramatic and emotionally over-egged. Also I should mention that being a psychological horror, Grave Encounters does not pack in scary moment after moment and if you are looking to be afraid a-mile-a-minute and scream your lungs hoarse, this will not be the film for you. Overall, Grave Encounters is recommended for starting a late night horror marathon, for when you need to start the chills off slow.

GRAVE ENCOUNTERS: The official Website

Click on the ghoul to find out more…..

(c)Imagen en Negativo

Many thanks to Yousef, Humera and family for giving me the opportunity to review Grave Encounters and inspiring me to bring you today’s blogpost – and my own family for all those good ‘n’ scary horror moments.

ADDITIONAL SOURCE:
“Grave Encounters” – Wikipedia LINK