Category Archives: jersey devil
The Barrens ~ There has never been a decent movie made about the Jersey Devil. There have been more than a few duds, usually made by folks who either don’t live here or don’t know anything about the legend. Research is so important. I’m convinced that until a film is made of “The Pines” by Robert Dunbar (and done right), there probably won’t ever be a good movie on our local legend ever made.
|The real Pine Barrens|
Case in point – Anchor Bay’s The Barrens, written and directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, a Kansas native, and a veteran of three Saw movies, and Repo! The Genetic Opera. I could just stop there, I suppose, but I’ll also add that he chose to film this horror flick, set in the South Jersey Pine Barrens, in Toronto. Yes, Toronto. To his credit, he wanted to film on location, but Toronto was cheaper. The Pine Barrens is an area that looks nothing like any other place on earth, for those not from here. The trees are stunted, not tall. So much for authenticity.
Also known as The Forest, and The Jersey Devil, the film has Stephen Moyer, vampire Bill Compton from HBO’s “True Blood,” as a British dad in the States who forces his family – second wife Mia Kirshner, teenage daughter, and young son, none of whom want to go – on a camping trip into the Pine Barrens like he used to do with his dad when he was a kid.
|Where am I supposed to be from again?|
I spent a lot of time trying to figure what vampire Bill’s accent was supposed to be. It should have been British, but was it Australian? But he’s not Australian, is he? It was very distracting. I know that Moyer can do an American accent. So why confuse the audience?
The saddest part of the film, for folks like me, is that this Kansas clown can’t even get the legend of the Jersey Devil right. It’s a very simple story, but he’s got witches, evil spirits and Indian legends mixed in there. And since when does JD butcher deer? It’s not even the right kind of deer. A little research please?
Anyway, apparently Bill is a bit troubled, more than a little disturbed actually, traumatized by something that happened in the Barrens years ago when he was a kid, or a dog bite. By guess who, yeah, duh. I saw it miles away too. Even his family thinks he’s nuts, they’re just trying to be really calm about it – you know, the way you tiptoe around a crazy person. All in all, it’s the predictability of the story that is most disappointing.
The last half-hour of the movie is seemingly endless. And for the most part, pointless. I couldn’t wait for this to be over with. Again I suppose we will have to wait for Robert Dunbar‘s “The Pines” to be made into a film for a good movie on the Jersey Devil. This isn’t it, The Barrens is just a sad excuse for a horror flick. Skip it.
For the record, I think there are more bears in New Jersey than there are mountain lions, Native Americans, or Jersey Devils. And Oswego is not a trail, or a river – it’s a lake. Research, people, research!
There’s never been a really good movie about the Jersey Devil, and there are damned few good books. “The Pines” by Robert Dunbar is really the only fiction one that springs to mind. “The Jersey Devil” by James F. McCloy and Ray Miller is probably the best among the non-fiction books on the legend. And as far as movies go, there have been a few, all awful, the worst of the bunch about a decade ago was called 13th Child and struck a new low in cinema.
This one, The Barrens features “True Blood” star Stephen Moyer playing a man who takes his family camping and finds himself convinced he’s being stalked by the Jersey Devil. Even the trailer, just a few seconds over two minutes long, is already full of inaccuracies about the legend. I’m a South Jersey boy, I should know.
The worst mistake of all is in the title itself. The Barrens referred to are the Pine Barrens, so called because of the short stunted trees in the region, not at all like the ones we see in the trailer depicting the Ontario, Canada location. As yet, the film has no release date.
Folks who know me personally know I’m addicted to Coast to Coast AM late nights. They cover lots of different topics on the show, now hosted by George Noory, but the nights that I love are the ones about UFOs, cryptozoology, and conspiracy theories. Yeah, I’m a nut for that stuff. Add in that I grew up in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey, where nobody jokes about the Jersey Devil when they’re outside at night – you know I’m a sucker for the new Hoax Hunters comic from Image.
Writers Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley have created quite a phenomenon with Hoax Hunters. It’s everything I could want, it’s Coast to Coast AM mixed with “X-Files” in comic book form. Described as “Cryptids. Aliens. Monsters. All the world’s bizarre secrets–what if they were real? Their existence would be debunked by a reality TV show! HOAX HUNTERS is that show, publicly disproving all variety of lore. But their real goal is the opposite: as the world’s dark corners surface, the HOAX HUNTERS cover them up. They demonstrate that the truth isn’t out there.” Again, what more could I want? The creators have even promised a Jersey Devil appearance in the future.
There are two issues of new material out now, plus a ‘zero issue’ that collects the stories that first appeared as back-up in Hack/Slash #1-10. Get out to your local comics shop now and check them out! This comic rocks!
Satan’s Playground ~ Family gets lost in the Pine Barrens and are menaced by a deranged family and a winged demon. Again, a Jersey Devil movie, but also again, not a very good one. Will anyone ever make a decent JD flick? At least for the most part, writer director Dante Tomaselli gets the legend relatively right. Ellen Sandweiss, who hasn’t worked as an actress since Evil Dead (which this actually resembles at times), is really quite good in this. Nothing new, same old same old, but worth a peek for South Jersey folks.
Marie Antoinette ~ The 2006 version of the story only proves one thing, that Sofia Coppola is either a genius or an idiot. I only wish I had could inherit a director’s name, get some beautiful costumes, and make a borrring movie with one or two new wave music videos in the middle – and get the kind of publicity and acclaim that Sofia does. This film is only slightly better than Lost in Translation or being smothered by a pillow, at least it’s pretty. In the meantime I’m seriously going to see about changing my name to Scorsese.
Satanik ~ Here’s a lesson for you. I love comics. But just because a movie is based on a comic doesn’t mean that it will be any good, or even the of the slightest bit of interest. Satanik fails on many fronts – as a comic, an adventure, a horror and especially as a film. Stay away.
Penny Dreadful ~ Okay, I had another one of those nights completely without sleep. And, rather than do something constructive like do some writing, editing, reading or maybe taking a walk just for the health of it – I turned to my old friend, Comcast OnDemand. One of the newer services, or channels (for lack of a better word), is Fearnet. This is where I found Penny Dreadful. This was a surprise, a very small and simple film that gets right to the point and right to the very real horror. Excellent performances by Rachel Miner and Mimi Rogers, this is a must see for horror fanatics. I would advise however you see it on DVD rather than on Fearnet. Halfway through the flick OnDemand, Miss Horrorfest interviewed writer/director Richard Brandes, and while it was a good interview and Miss Horrorfest is so easy on the eyes, they give away the film, making the second half not such a surprise. I was very disappointed by the way this was presented.
The Host ~ Also known as Gwoemul, this 2006 Korean horror was the talk of the genre a year or so ago. I have to admit it gets to the action almost immediately and the giant (well, semi-giant) monster stuff is merciless and frenetic. The first ten to fifteen minutes of The Host are relentless and unlike anything I’ve seen before. Props to director Joon-ho Bong for dazzling us with something new. It’s a pity that it soon becomes standard fair after that, a little bit Mimic and a little bit Virus. I also think it suffers from what appears to be faulty translation from Korean to English. The best part of the DVD is when director Bong apologies to the citizens of Seoul for tying up traffic while filming. See the first fifteen minutes if you’re a kaiju fan – it will open your eyes.
The Last Broadcast ~ A lot of folks dismissed this as a rip-off of The Blair Witch Project when it came out but the reality is this came first. As one of the first digital films it’s innovative and original. It also gets points for talking about the Jersey Devil without getting silly. My only question is – who’s holding the camera in the last sequence?
“IS CLIFF ROBERTSON RELATED TO ADAM SANDLER?”
A Film Review of 13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One
Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker
Oh boy. Oh. Boy. Where do I start? Let’s go from the title. 13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One is just so short and concise it just rolls off the tongue perfectly. Sarcasm mode off. But only for the moment.
“13th Child” actually relates to the real legend of the Jersey Devil, of which there is precious little in this movie. According to the legend, Mrs. Leeds (or Shourds, depending on which version you believe) gave birth to a thirteenth child. So sick of childbirth was she that she cursed the baby to be a devil. Lo and behold it was and promptly flew up the chimney and out into the south Jersey wilderness known as the Pine Barrens. There it has roamed for well over two hundred years. No mention of that makes it into the film.
The thirteenth child here is a non-sensical reference to an ancient Native American (Leni Lenape, to be exact, at least they got the name of the tribe that roamed the area right) curse about a thirteenth child being a shape-shifter. Like I said, nonsense.
Why ruin a perfectly good centuries-old horror story with crap like that? The other thing about the title that bothers me is “Volume One.” It mocks us with its arrogant intent for sequels. The last movie that tried that was Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and I think we all know how many sequels that one had.
Other than professionals (and I use the word loosely) like Robert Guillaume and Cliff Robertson (who unbelievably had a hand in writing and producing this mess) the acting is horrible. It’s the worst. I can act better than these idiots and anyone who’s seen me act (check out “Standard Issue” or “Elbow Talk” at http://www.whitevioletpictures.com) knows what a terrible insult that is.
Not only does the acting suck the directing is slipshod and the story is a sloppily written flasbacked mess. At some points it hurt to watch. I really want to slap Cliff Robertson.
There are good parts. At times it seems like an early Roger Corman work with Ed Wood sensibilities. With some Band-Aids here and there it could (maaaaybe) have been good. It does have an old school 1970s horror flick vibe going for it.
The music is superior, better than most of the crap we get in horror movies lately. It’s very suspenseful and builds wonderfully. It even punches up scary scenes that might normally have been dull without it thanks to what passes for actors in this mess.
The best part for me, and it’s only a novelty for myself and other folks who actually live in south Jersey, is that it’s filmed here. A majority is filmed at Batsto, an old historical village that is now a park. The town made cannonballs for the American Revolution, it doubles for a creepy old man’s property. Very cool, for some of us at least. Also for the locals, look for a brief cameo of Mr. Movie, Steve Friedman, but not his voice.
The special effects aren’t bad, the Jersey Devil seems to owe quite a bit to Alien and is genuinely scary until we get a close-up in the light – bad move. Lit up, it just looks cheap.
More bad than good. Let’s hope we never see “Volume Two.”