Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Friday, October 24, 2014

HOPE I DIE BEFORE I GET OLD






The Taking aka The Taking Of Deborah Logan (2014) 

Yeah, yeah, I know it's way too late for me (and even later for The Who) but I'm not too old to remember how I felt when I was a young whippersnapper like you. I was never going to be 21, then I was never going to be 30, then 35... and so on. I was going to party like it was 1999 because surely there wasn't going to be any years past that, right? But age is a bitch and so am I. The endless whining I do about the many ways my body and mind are conspiring against me should give you an idea of how old I feel. But it's inevitable, and so is disease.

I don't usually do this, but this found-footage movie actually has a few nuggets in it that, although the story is predictable and my Horror Movie Worksheet (patent pending) was mostly filled about 20 minutes in, there's still some interesting twists and a freaking sweet scene toward the end. Thus I'm suggesting if you want to check this out, it is currently streaming on Netflix (Who has it marked as a 2015 film so hey, you'll be time travelling too!) so to avoid spoilers, you know what to do.


Usually movies (unless they're Catholic possession movies of course) try to inform you that most who act possessed may have a type of mental illness. This movie takes a bit of a different direction. In this case, it's Alzheimer's. Here's the official short synopsis: Mia Medina (Michelle Ang) has finally found the perfect subject for her PhD thesis film on Alzheimer’s Disease. For the next several months, cameras will record the everyday life of mother Deborah Logan (Jill Larson, who would get a bloody Academy Award for her performance if the stupid voters didn't ignore horror films) and her daughter Sarah (Anne Ramsay). 

But as the days progress, strange things begin to happen around Deborah that are not consistent with any findings about Alzheimer’s. It becomes apparent that there’s something besides Alzheimer’s that has taken control of Deborah’s life. It’s an evil that is far worse than the debilitating disease with which she was first diagnosed.

Alzheimer patients really ARE possessed, they just don't remember it <rim shot>. That was the hubby's so don't throw popcorn at me, please. 

Just from the brief synopsis I bet you could write most of the movie down too. And you'd be right - up to a point. This movie, vastly superior to much-hyped movies like The Devil Inside seems to try harder to make a good story instead of just a bunch of camera shots bouncing around to give you a headache and try to make a couple of scares.



Sarah has allowed a team from Roanoke University (a real place in Virginia) to document the decline of her mother who lives in Exuma, VA (a fake town - the film was actually made in North Carolina) who had been diagnosed with Stage One Alzheimer's. There's Mia and two men for her crew. Sarah has allowed this because the bills are piling up and the University has promised money to the family if they allow the cameras in their house.

The movie starts by saying that this film includes a partly edited medical documentary, outtakes, and surveillance footage from the scenes of the crime. Starts 10/12/13.

They meet with daughter and mother, who is resistant although she had agreed - we then get a summary of the disease and the posit that it destroys whole families and not just the person.



Our first inkling that something is up when one of the guys shooting 'B' roll footage catches Deborah playing with snakes. During the inevitable camera setup montage Deborah become agitated and slams doors - but he can't find where she went. At night one camera shows her in the kitchen - one second she's standing on the floor, the next second on a counter, no break in time signature.

She freaks out over a missing garden tool - after attacking the men and running around the house they find her upstairs, clawing at her own throat and drawing blood. Examination at the hospital shows that she is now in stage two and is degrading fast.

This is more than enough for one of the guys, who's Catholic. He hangs a cross on the window in his room, only to turn and see Deborah staring at him - and the window flies open, the cross disappearing. She talks to herself in the mirror and stares out the window at night in an empty, dark room, convinced someone is trying to get in. They mic Deborah and try to interview her and there's another freakout and another visit to the hospital. She now has a red, scaly infection all over her back. During a hospital test, she rips the skin off of her own arm.

But this movie tried a bit harder than the typical is-this-woman-suffering-from-illness-or-is-she-possessed kind of movie. There's a mystery involved too which her daughter and the documentary crew soon find out is pretty horrific.


When Deborah was a young mother, her husband died unexpectedly. To support her and her child, she ran a professional switchboard in her home to take messages for people for a fee. Don't laugh, we had one in my home town too... I SAID QUIT LAUGHING! Back to the present - one night she leaves her bed and they find her naked trying to work a number on the board - and it's ringing very loudly. They figure this must have something to do with her behavior. This comes up because she kept logs of every call for every client - but one is missing. 

Trying to calm her down, she instead growls and pants like a dog and is totally out of it. This time the doctor has to come to the house (who does that?). They figure out that what she's been repeating over and over is something about a 'fifth' in French. She doesn't speak French.



The number she keeps trying, 337 belongs to a pediatrician named Desjardins, who killed four young teenagers, ate part of the bodies, carved snakes in their foreheads, and had venom injected in their blood. He was never found.

Another documentary (on him this time) says he did this because he was performing a  Monacan blood ritual for a simple reason - he was dying. But he needed five victims and never got the fifth - so he's dead right? Nobody knows. When they ask Deborah about this, she mumbles that he was murdered - then proceeds to throw up dirt while they scramble for yet another ambulance.



Movie rendition - I  couldn't find a source...
Okay, a brief break from the action. There is a Monacan Tribe in Va. The Monacan tribe is one of several Native American tribes recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia in the United States. The Monacan Tribe has not been recognized as an Indian tribe by the federal government. They are located primarily in Amherst County, Virginia near Lynchburg, Virginia.

I did a fair bit of digging and found no data on either blood or snake rituals pertaining to this tribe. This includes their official website as well as wiki and a couple of, uh, unsavory places. The only blood rituals I could find were: The blood rituals in Shi’ite Muslim festival of Ashura; The Aztecs blood offering to the Sun God; And the practice of some in India where the people donate blood as a way to remember politicians who have died. Now how about snakes?


In America some of the Native American tribes give reverence to the rattlesnake as grandfather and king of snakes who is able to give fair winds or cause tempest. Among the Hopi of Arizona the serpent figures largely in one of the dances. The rattlesnake was worshipped in the Natchez temple of the sun and the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl was a feathered serpent-god. In many MesoAmerican cultures, the serpent was regarded as a portal between two worlds. That's... about it for Native Americans.

Back to our poor Deborah. To further piss off whatever they've pissed off, they put a camera in her hospital room and declare she has split personality disorder. Her neighbor Harris, who's been very clingy, has to be dragged out of her room.

That night while the crew argue about what to do, Harris shows up with a shotgun and starts shooting up their cars. When the cops show up, he either is or just acts drunk. That's enough for the Catholic boy - he bails.



Back at the hospital Deborah wanders out of bed, goes to the pediatric wing, grabs a girl and takes her to an abandoned part of the hospital. Okay, they're supposed to be in Exuma, pop. 0 because there IS no Exuma - except in the Bahamas, a street in NC (where this was actually filmed) and MO. Cripes. But they're still presenting it as a super small town and THEY have an abandoned hospital, at least in part? Geez.

They find her and the kid staring at a wall, take the kid and strap the Deborah down (which they should have done in the first place). Deborah is now in full 'possession' mode with screaming, drooling, etc.

Now we're at day 60? Really? They're still filming. Now Harris sneaks into her room and lets her loose. They obviously have had some sort of relationship. She asks him to kill her which horrifies him. He grabs a pillow, and puts it over her face. The whole room shakes, the camera fuzzes (of course) and the TV comes off the wall and smashes Harris in the head. Cute. But he's still alive and tells Sarah that Deborah killed Dejardins with the spade she kept freaking out over 'cause Sarah was supposed to be the fifth victim. He helped bury the SOB alive.


The 'expert' on rituals says that fire is cleansing so off they all go into the woods at night and start to dig but they only find that freaking spade. In horror they realize that Deborah dug the body up first and has hidden it in the house. This house has almost more attics than rooms, I swear. They see a man-shaped wet spot in the ceiling and go up into it.

They find a sack and look in it - yup, there's a body. When they go to burn it, the sack is suddenly filled with snakes. They try to burn it anyway... As it starts to burn the camera frizzes again and a blast shoves them across the room, putting out the fire.

Meanwhile Deborah breaks out of her restraints and leaves the hospital with the same girl (there for cancer) she took the first time, ripping out a security guard's neck with her teeth to get free. So now everybody's going to Monacan Mountain, where the dead guy (now Deborah) is supposedly going to complete the ritual to live forever. Two police officers drive them up as far as they can get.

They catch up to them as the child keeps chanting over and over "Don't hurt him. He's a nice man. He's going to wash me in the river." Deborah says nothing - until they try to cuff her. Then she spits venom on them all and the camera fuzzes again. One cop's face is burned and he has to be taken back down the mountain while the others go after the crazed woman and sick child. 

They find a building up there - it's now down to Sara, Mia, and the female cop. The cop is quickly killed. As the two woman search in the caves, we go to night vision for our final showdown. They follow the sound of the little girl's screams.



Eat your freaking heart out Freddy Kruger!
Oh, if you can't tell, this is Deborah
consuming the little girl whole...
And we get the following: Fight, light, scream, dark, blood, fight, look, gun, dark, scream, fuzz, light, crying, fight, and then THE COOLEST SICKEST SCENE I HAVE WITNESSED ALL YEAR!!! I don't care if this was a prosthetic or CGI, it was just sooo freaking sweet!



She could fit two Big Macs in that thing...
But the ending has to be drawn out a bit more so Sarah pleads with Deborah, then shoots her (That's kind of contradictory, isn't it?), and tries desperately to get the kid away from her. As the mother's head continues to do... IMPOSSIBLE things, Sarah manages to drug her enough to subdue her and all is well... the girl is saved, the mother not deemed to be fit for trial (two deaths, several wounding/poisonings, kidnapping) and is obviously not going to live much longer anyway.



It's okay, she's a ginger so she
didn't have a soul anyway... <rim shot>
Our movie ends at the happy birthday of the girl with cancer, who miraculously has made a complete recovery against all odds. When asked by a news reporter (because the whole world came to a halt and absolutely nothing else was happening that day) what she planned to do with her life she slyly says, "It's a secret." She then looks at the camera. Okay, so it's a flawed ending, 'cause there still wasn't a fifth (unless they're counting Deborah but she's not dead yet and she wasn't sacrificed like the other girls) but hey, they tried.