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Dawn Keetley

Posted on November 23, 2023

Why You Should Watch The City of the Dead (and its Striking Resemblance to Psycho)

Dawn Keetley

It’s a moment of uncanny serendipity in horror film history.

The City of the Dead (re-named Horror Hotel in the US) – the first directorial project of Argentinian-born British director, John Llewellyn Moxey – was released in the UK in September 1960. Produced by Americans Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg, the film is generally considered to be the unofficial first of their Amicus Productions (a British company they would officially found shortly after the release of City of the Dead, and which had an impact on the horror genre in the 1960s that was second perhaps only to Hammer Studios)[i]. Filming commenced “at Shepperton Studios [in Surrey, England] in the Summer of 1959,” [ii] running at least through October.

The vastly more famous Psycho, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, made at Universal Studios in the US and distributed by Paramount Pictures, was released in New York City in June 1960 and saw general distribution, like City of the Dead, in September 1960. Also like City of the Dead, filming began on Psycho in the later half of 1959 (running, specifically, between November 1959 and February 1960).

In other words, there’s virtually no way that either City of the Dead or Psycho could have influenced the other. And yet, they share some striking similarities. They are also, I should add, profoundly different in their approach to horror. Both these similarities and this difference are worth exploring.

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Posted on October 24, 2023

The Best of R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour

Dawn Keetley

R. L Stine’s The Haunting Hour is an excellent – and distinctly underrated youth horror series. It ran for four seasons from late in 2010 until 2014 on Discovery Family and should definitely be talked about more than it is.

In this essay, I’m going to highlight some of the best episodes of the series – adding to the list over time. I’d love to hear from readers – and viewers of the series – what your favorite episodes are.

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Posted on October 15, 2023

It Came from Television: Spirit of Children Halloween Fundraising Event

Dawn Keetley

On October 20, 2023, Adam Beam – a student at Shippensburg University – will be hosting a 12-hour horror movie marathon, interspersed with interviews with icons of horror, indie film makers, and horror fans and critics. The goal: to raise money for Spirit of Children.

Haven’t heard of Spirit of Children? This is who they are: “Since 2007 Spirit of Children has raised over $110 million to provide funding for art, music, aquatic and pet therapy programs as well as supporting Child Life salaries. Funding has also helped partner hospitals purchase sensory and educational items, toys used for distraction during medical procedures, and much more. 100% of every dollar donated supports the Child Life department in our 154 partner hospitals across the United States and Canada and supports Child Life departments at hospitals in local communities.”

So, who is Adam Beam? I interviewed him to get some information about himself and this important Halloween charity event.

A Bit About Myself:

I am a senior at Shippensburg University with a major in Communications, Journalism, and Media with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism. I am also studying for a minor in History. I’m heavily involved in student media here on campus and have been active in these organizations since my freshman year of college. I am currently the General Manager of Shippensburg University Television (SUTV), the Opinion Editor for The Slate and the Human Resources Director for WSYC 88.7FM. I also serve other leadership roles on campus such as president of the Residence Hall Association. After college I would like to be an on-air reporter and multimedia journalist for a broadcast news outlet somewhere here on the east coast.

The Event:

The event is called “It Came From the Television.” Thanks to the permission of Spirit of Children, we will be raising funds for the charity throughout a 12-hour livestream on Friday, October 20th from 8pm to 8am. The event will stream on Twitch and YouTube.

Here is the GoFundMe page, where you can donate. 

Donations collected through the GoFundMe page will officially be live on Monday, October 16th and will be open throughout the remainder of October until midnight on the 30th. We have set our goal for $10,000. However, we’re not only raising money for this great cause, but we also want to celebrate Halloween and horror as a whole. We have 31 guests ranging from directors (Mick Garris and Stephen Cognetti), influencers (Cory McCullough and Molly Henry), podcasters (We Hate Movies and Girl, That’s Scary), and scholars (Dr. Dawn Keetley and Tananarive Due). Just like “The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs” it will be a curated night of classic horror films and independent short films all hosted by myself.

As mentioned, once I have graduated from Shippensburg University I hope to have a career in broadcast journalism. While I may not be reporting the news for the event, this has been a massive learning tool in networking, video editing and content creation, as well as being comfortable on camera. After all, if I can conquer being on camera for 12 straight hours, surely I can handle the 6 o’clock news.

Am I a Fan?

Absolutely! Ever since I overcame my fears of it and finally watched Scream (1996) as a child, I fell in love with the genre. I was also heavily influenced by the YouTube channel Cinemassacre, and their annual Monster Madness series. James Rolfe was a massive inspiration to me in my younger years and it’s still crazy to me that I was able to interview him for this event. Horror is a comfort genre for me. I’ll always be a sucker for a slasher film or found footage flick here and there.

Horror at Shippensburg:

Shippensburg is a very unique place, with a film taste that’s hard to land a finger on. With that being said, of the students I have surrounded myself with over the past four years I have found some fellow genre fans. It seems found footage is always a favorite at social gatherings, as are some of the modern renaissance films like those of Jordan Peele or A24 (Talk to Me especially). I have heard a lot of buzz for newer releases like Saw X, The Exorcist: Believer and Five Nights at Freddys.

Favorite Scary Movie(s):

A tough question to say the least. For me, my favorite horror film rotates between three films: Scream (1996), Fright Night (1985) and Lake Mungo (2007). 

Scream is the horror film that made me love horror films and have been a loyal fan to the franchise since that initial viewing. Fright Night is just so much fun and it’s the movie that made me want to make movies. Lake Mungo is what I consider to be the scariest film ever made and one I find to be as near perfect a horror film, and film in general, can get.

Here is the information about this Halloween event again:

The 12-hour livestream will air on Friday, October 20th from 8pm to 8am. The event will stream on Twitch and YouTube.

And here is the GoFundMe page, where you can donate to this worthy cause. 

Posted on September 15, 2023

Agatha Christie’s Incursion into Folk Horror in Hallowe’en Party (1969)

Dawn Keetley

Initial reviews suggest that Kenneth Branagh’s new Hercule Poirot adaptation, A Haunting in Venice (2023), has little in common with the Agatha Christie novel on which it is supposedly based. While Hallowe’en Party (1969) is set in a small English village, A Haunting in Venice is set in, well, Venice. The latter apparently centers a séance, completely absent from Christie’s novel. There’s an opera singer with a dead daughter – also not in the novel. Indeed, one wonders why this film is being marketed as an adaptation at all.

Perhaps the only thing the novel and film appear to have in common is that both represent an unusual crossing of horror conventions into Hercule Poirot’s world of clues and ratiocination – into the neat and orderly world of detection. That said, the particular horror conventions that infuse novel and film seem quite different. While A Haunting in Venice seems shrouded in the supernatural – harking back to perhaps the best-known of supernatural horror films set in Venice, Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973), Christie’s Hallowe’en Party manifests the influence of folk horror.

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Posted on August 13, 2023

The Black Demon: Shark Horror Meets Folk Horror

Dawn Keetley

It’s summer, so shark movies abound, notably Meg 2: The Trench (Ben Wheatley, 2023) and The Black Demon (Adrian Grünberg, 2023). Both films feature not just a shark but a megalodon, suggesting the need to up the ante when it comes to shark fare – the ante, in this case, being the shark’s size. Neither film is faring terribly well at the hands of critics, although The Black Demon seems to be marginally more highly-praised. It’s not, in truth, a very good film. It is, however, an interesting one.

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