Tag Archives: the exorcist

Padre Steve’s Favorite Halloween Horror

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“Without me, Transylvania will be as exciting as Bucharest… on a Monday night.” Count Dracula (George Hamilton) on being banished from his castle by Romanian Communists in Love at First Bite

Yes it is Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve and time for me to share my favorite Halloween horror films with you. Horror movies can be scary, but they can also be funny and even kind of klitschy. I think that is why they have such an enduring fascination to so many people, including me. I love horror, suspense, science fiction and the paranormal. They tend to be less scary than driving to work on the local interstate highways in the Hampton Roads area or going to a Mall or Wal-Mart.

Horror films have always fascinated me, especially the ones that are not simply built around a bunch of slashing and mindless killing and brutality.

Some of the films I like are more dramatic and suspenseful while others are more on the funny side of the horror genre. Not that there is anything wrong with that. There are hundreds of not thousands of horror films out there and many are variations on a theme and many are so bad I will not watch them. That being said there are some that I cannot miss.

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I love the whole vampire and Dracula genre. The Bela Lugosi Dracula was interesting but the klitchshy Hammer Dracula films with Christopher Lee were always my favorites. It was always fun for me to watch how some idiot managed to find a way to spill some blood on Dracula’s ashes and re-animate the Prince of Darkness. Of course the fact that Lee’s Dracula was always going after some really good looking girl made the series predicable and enjoyable.

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The female versions of the Dracula films produced by Hammer Productions were even more enjoyable for a teen age boy. Ingrid Pitt played a great Carmilla Karnstein, a seductive female vampire who preyed on great looking women in The Vampire Lovers.  In the vampire genre Quentin Tarintino’s Dusk ‘Til Dawn was pretty good and Wesley Snipes Blade series was enjoyable too.

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I think that the horror film that still gives me the creeps is another vampire film, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot. I saw it the first time while visiting my wife’s cousin who lived in the Netherlands back in 1985. It was on Dutch television in English and subtitled in Dutch.

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Now I admit these are not the best Dracula movies, but they are entertaining. I liked Interview with a Vampire, Dracula (1979) starring Frank Langella, Sir Lawrence Olivier and Donald Pleasance, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) starring Gary Oldham and Winona Ryder were all actually better films.  Other films in the vampire genre that I like included Fright Night and The Lost Boys.

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There were parodies as well, my favorites being Love at First Bite starring George Hamilton, Susan Saint James, Richard Benjamin, Dick Shawn and Arte Johnson, Mel Brooks’ Dracula Dead and Loving it starring Leslie Nielsen and Blackula, a blacksploitation parody starring William Marshall.

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Frankenstein was okay but I love Mel Brooks’ parody Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Terri Garr and Peter Boyle.

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Then there are the Satanic or Demonic possession and oppression films based on actual events. There is the classic The Exorcist and more recently The Conjuring. Both kept me on the edge of my seat and were scarier at home than they were in the theater. Another film which I like but which might better fit into the Science Fiction or loosely based on real events category is The Mothman Prophecies. 

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Zombie films have never been that interesting to me but the original Night of the Living Dead is a classic that I will watch and I did enjoy the parody Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Pegg.

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In a different class is the cult classic Army of Darkness a sequel to the Evil Dead films.  In this Bruce Campbell plays a hardware store employee who gets transported through time to a medieval castle being attacked by a ghoulish army. It really is a classic full of great one liners and action. I think one of my favorite lines is where Campbell’s character “Ash” answers the leader of the dead army when he is asked who he is: “Well hello Mister Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town.”

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When I was in junior high school, high school and college a lot of different horror films came out which became cult classics which spawned sequel after sequel. There was the original Halloween starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I never got into the sequels because none of them were as good as the originals.

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Another film that I found positively frightening was Invasion of the Body Snatchers starring Donald Sutherland. It was a remake of an earlier film but the whole concept of falling asleep and being replaced with a pod person freaked me out.

Like I said at the beginning of the article, there are thousands of horror films out there. I could go on and mention more but to do so would be to repeat variations on similar themes or to stretch the genre to include various murder mysteries with horror or demonic elements such as Silence of the Lambs or films which are more appropriately classed as Science Fiction such as Alien.

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In a totally different category are the Ghostbusters comedies and Scrooged. Both comedies with classic horror twists. I love those movies.

So as Halloween winds down and the trick or treaters go home, while you are snuggled in your bed with your love, turn on the television and find something scary to watch. After all, tomorrow is Friday.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Musings on Easter Night: Holy Week Happenings, Busted Brackets a Radical Pope and Opening Night

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The liturgy proclaims “Alleluia! The Lord is Risen. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” It is the triumph song of life conquering death in the Suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

This week I have done about all that I could to avoid political, legal and even religious controversies. Lord knows there are enough of those that i get involved in but I really wanted to focus more on Jesus, my wife Judy and our friends. So I have stayed away from becoming too deeply involved in the heated debates and topics of the past week limiting myself to skimming the news, reading as little commentary as possible and making almost no editorial comments of my own. That was hard but I digress…

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Instead I have spent most of my time reading to the Gospel accounts of the Passion narrative and historical accounts and descriptions of the time, culture and political conditions that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem. I began Holy Week hoping to complete the first two parts of a historical fiction trilogy built around the Roman Centurion that tradition calls Longinus. According to tradition was the man who placed his spear in the side of Jesus and who exclaimed “surely this man was the son of God” as Jesus died on the cross. You can find the links to the first two parts of the Trilogy below.

Part One: A Centurion in Jerusalem 

A Centurion’s Sunday in Jerusalem: The Story of Longinus

The Story of Longinus the Centurion: A Meeting of Friends

The Story of Longinus the Centurion: A Visit to Death Row

Duplicity in Jerusalem: An Official Visit and 30 Pieces of Silver

Part Two: An Unenviable Mission

The Long Good Friday of Longinus the Centurion

The Morning After a Most Unsettling Crucifixion: The Story of Longinus the Centurion

New Troubles: A Missing Body an Empty Tomb and Sleeping Soldiers The Story of Longinus the Centurion

In fact I did not spend time in church this week. Usually i will spend large parts of Holy Week engaged in attending or performing different services, Masses or times of prayer. However, I have been on the road a lot the past couple of years. Judy and I have spent too much time apart. Apart from personal meditations and prayers on Holy Thursday and Good Friday the only thing that we did was to have me celebrate an Easter Sunday Eucharist together at home. We could have spent a lot of the limited time that I was home in church, and as much as I love the people at the small Episcopal parish that I attend when home I needed the time with Judy more. Being stationed over 200 miles from home for the past two and a half years does help help one realize what is important. Next year I will be in charge of a chapel and then I will be fully engaged in Holy Week activities, this year however, we needed to be together. Some might find fault in this but if they do they can pound sand, of course in Christian love.

The week was interesting because Wednesday was my birthday and Judy made arrangements to have friends go with us to a local German restaurant. I really enjoyed being with Judy and our friends and that time was well spent. Once again, something that I have come to be thankful for and to make sure that I spend time to do now is to make time for friends and family.

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Speaking of baseball I found it fitting and quite symbolic that Opening Night 2013 fell on Easter Sunday. If you ask me this should always be the case but it would involve having all of Christianity having to change their calendars to fit and that will not happen. If Pope Francis hailed from the Dominican Republic there might be a chance, but we need to wait to get a Pope from the Dominican Republic.

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Speaking of Pope Francis it appears that he is really starting to rattle some guided cages at the Vatican and among Church Traditionalists, and if you ask me not a moment too soon. He turned a lot of heads with his common touch over the first couple of weeks of his Papacy but it was his actions on Holy Thursday that set heads spinning a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

For the first time a Pope washed the feet of women, one of them being a Moslem. I do pray for this Pope and I worry about him because some of the most violent people are religious types. Some of the more traditional mindset don’t take change well. Some, even among Christians resort to violence when a church or religious leader is going outside what they believe is “orthodox” even if it has little to do with their actual orthodoxy.

Well now it is the time that I need to get ready for work in the morning. While I am doing this I will continue to watch the Texas Ranger’s play their new American League Central neighbors the Houston Astros.

Until tomorrow,

Peace, Happy Easter and Happy Opening Night after all “the only church that truly feeds the soul day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.” 

Padre Steve+

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Borientation: The Perils of Corporate, Government and Military Orientation

If you have worked in corporate America, the Federal Government and State Governments or the Military in the past 20 to 30 years you probably have gone through a program of orientation or indoctrination upon being hired or transferred by a corporation or government agency. Now if you are completely new to an organization such classes are important in understanding the corporate or agency mission, culture and priorities. These programs also stress things that the organization has determined to be essential in a new employee’s understanding of how the entity does business and standards of practice, personal conduct and other items that may be required by accrediting commissions or by law.

Such programs tend to last 2 days to a week and can be incredibly detailed or filled with myriads of small topics that tend to blend together before a day is over. This is what I refer to as “Borientation.” I have worked in the military and in other state or local government agencies for nearly 30 years.  Each time I have being hired by a new organization or transferred within the military I have gone through some form of Borientation process.  These types of classes have been around for years but with every passing day some new law, regulation or discovery that something that we have been doing for years is too unsafe, unethical or enjoyable to be allowed in the workplace or anywhere else the organization can sink its paws into. This aside Borientation is deemed essential and almost everyone requires it.

If you are new to an organization, like in never had a job in your life kind of new or been locked away in a cave for the past 20 years you will certainly receive a fire hose blast of information that will make your head spin like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. However after a while in a business, government or military culture the Borientation process becomes rather mind numbing.   It’s not that there is anything wrong with the information and many times nothing wrong with the presentation but it is rather that after 10 or more years in an organization Borientation becomes a painful experience because with the exception of a tweak here and there most subjects are pretty much the same. It’s like watching reruns of the most boring PBS and BBC shows or really bad sitcoms for the 100th time except they are presented in marathon format and presented in classrooms where the employees sit in uncomfortable chairs in glaring fluorescent light with poor acoustics.

Since I have over 30 years experience in such environments going back to my pre-military days I can pretty much summarize 80% of what is covered in these classes in about 5 minutes.  Heck if I was God I would let the old guys and gals that have been in the organization for years get the “Cliff Notes” version of orientation, just what has changed since the last time they did it or what was not part of previous orientations.

As for me I don’t do well in seminars or classes that go on hour after hours in the same place providing information that I have been provided in person and online for years and years and years, and dare I say…years.  I actually have a physical reaction in these classes because I do my best to stay awake and attentive in order to at least respect the good people doing the training.  Now I keep my laptop with me to take notes to help me stay awake and take note of things that have changed or are new that are important.  I also keep a couple of news sites and Facebook running in the background if even the note taking becomes too tedious.  But even doing this and fortified with major doses of caffeine I often feel my face and head going numb.  I am not kidding it is like one of those old Star Trek or other science fiction flicks where aliens attach themselves to people, on Star Trek TOS the guys in the red shirts on the away team. It is like the life is being sucked out of me. Now I don’t know about you but looking around the room and talking to other seasoned folks during breaks I am pretty sure that I am not alone.  Please know I am not against orientation but rather Borientation. I have had to teach my fair share of these courses and I try desperately to get just the right information out quickly and with some humor because I know that the people that I am victimizing probably have 20 other presenters who will not do this.

Thus I try to see the humor in everything during the classes and afterward sometimes finding perverse pleasure in the Dilbert comic strips.  At the same time I am forced to wonder with the continuous expansion of Borientation programs and re-boreintation programs due to more and more regulations from either the government or accreditation commissions that we have reached the culminating point where we actually begin to lose ground in trying to gain ground by overloading people with information without adequate time to digest it.

Part of what I fear about Borientation is hurting me if I flip my desk or chair if I fall asleep. This mind you is not an unfounded fear.  I remember back in seminary after lunch having my Philosophy of Religion professor do a lecture about philosophic and religious themes in artwork. To do this he showed us hundreds of slides on the old slide carousel, no Power Point back then.  Well lunch had settled in my belly and as the majority of my blood supply went to digest the hamburger that I had consumed I found myself struggling to maintain conciseness eventually losing the battle against the “Z Monster” flipping my desk in front of the professor who didn’t miss a beat and continued to the next slide and I hastily recovered, righted my desk and got back into it as my classmates, many awakened from their naps by the loud crashing noise laughed their assess off.

So until the next time,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

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Filed under Just for fun, Military, philosophy, purely humorous, state government agencies