Here's something from the department of "You can't buy this kind of publicity."
At a movie theater in Perth, Australia, a group of kids and parents got more than they bargained for when a scary trailer for the horror flick Hereditary (above) played ahead of the PG-rated Peter Rabbit. The audience of 40 got a taste of what critics are calling the "scariest horror film of 2018."
The clip of the film starring Toni Collette shows a pigeon's neck being snipped with a pair of scissors by a demonic child, a young man's head being smashed into a desk, a person covered in flames, and other scenes definitely not meant for little eyes. Oops!
One of the moms in the theater told The Sydney Morning Herald:
"It was dreadful. Very quickly you could tell this was not a kid's film. Parents were yelling at the projectionist to stop, covering their kids' eyes and ears," she said.
"A few went out to get a staff member but she was overwhelmed and didn't really know what to do. Some parents fled the cinema with their kids in tow.
"Eventually a senior staff member came in with a walkie talkie and he shut the screen off. To his credit he apologised and offered us complimentary movie passes to make up for it."
The A.V. Club reviewed the film in January calling it, "the most traumatically terrifying horror movie in ages":
Read the rest
I don’t scare easily. As much as I love horror movies, and have since I was young, they don’t usually shake me in any real, lasting way: “It’s only a movie” is always there for me like a security blanket, smothering any genuine panic.
I was getting on a plane in Toronto yesterday when I heard the news that a van had been intentionally driven into a crowd of people. By the time I landed a few hours later in Calgary, word was that 10 people lost their lives in the attack. Just under 20 were wounded. I assumed that if he was found by the authorities, the alleged driver of the van would be toast. He or she would have no chance to be tried by a jury of peers; no option to stand before a judge. There'd be no justice, save what a bullet, by the driver's own hand or that of a police office, could afford.
This morning when I woke, I was amazed to see that this was not the case. A single Toronto Police Service constable managed to capture a suspect alive in the murder of those ten unfortunate souls. Despite the fact that the suspect menaced the officer, his demanded to be killed, and constantly reached for a firearm – which turned out not to have been there – the suspect ended up in handcuffs instead of a body bag.
The Canadian Broadcast Corporation's got what little footage of the event there is, along with commentary on how a police service that was once known for its heavy-handed tactics identified its aggression as a problem and fought to change its ways. Through frequent deescalation courses, Toronto's Police Service is changing its officer's responses to violent situations, slowly, but with measurable success. Read the rest
CNN and various UK media are reporting that a black taxi cab mounted the pavement in London, injuring multiple people. Police are on site, and roads are blocked to traffic and pedestrians. Read the rest
ABC News reports that a man was caught on camera dousing an LGBT youth center in Phoenix. They seem to have a suspect—"Police believe the suspect used to be a client at the youth center, but aged out of eligibility when he turned 25"—but have not named him and want the public's help finding him.
Here's the best shot from the security camera:
Read the rest
A police officer was stabbed in the neck today by a man at Bishop Int'l. Airport in Flint, Michigan. The FBI says the attack is now being investigated as an act of terrorism, and that while it's early in the investigation, they view the suspect "as a lone wolf attacker." Read the rest
Multiple attacks in London tonight are being described as a coordinated 'potential act of terrorism' by British Prime Minister Theresa May. London police confirm that more than one person was killed as a van plowed into a crowd of people at the London Bridge. One man was seen leaving the van, then running toward Borough Market, carrying a large knife. Reports of stabbings followed soon after. Read the rest
President Donald Trump went full Alex Jones Infowars conspiracy theory wingnut today, saying the American news media are conspiring to cover up a vast series of Islamic terrorist attacks in which innocent God-fearin' Americans have been killed.
Statements like this from authoritarian leaders are the sort of thing you hear when a regime is preparing to institute martial law. Perhaps that is where America is now headed. Hope not.
Today's wackadoodle Trump camp statement was yet another nutty lie, just like Trump's long-running racist birther campaign against President Barack Obama, whom we miss terribly, please for the love of God make this descent into national insanity stop. Read the rest
Late Tuesday in Thailand, two explosions are reported to have killed two people and wounded dozens at a hotel popular with tourists. The car bombs went off minutes apart in Pattani, in Thailand's deep South.
“It was unclear whether the bombs were set off by timers or electrical signal,” the Bangkok Post reported. Read the rest
A young Muslim woman is suing Chicago police who decided she was a "lone wolf" terrorist because she wore a hijab, or headscarf, and was walking briskly out of a city subway station on the Fourth of July last year while wearing a backpack. Read the rest
A truck crashed into a crowd of people in Nice, France, leaving an unknown number of people dead and many others injured. Authorities are calling it an act of terrorism, and treating it as an active attack. [UPDATE, Fri 8am PT] “At least” 84 people are confirmed dead, with scores more injured. Among the dead are children. It is the third major attack in France in less than 18 months. Read the rest
50 are reported dead and dozens injured after a gunman took hostages at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Police killed him and described the massacre as an act of terrorism.
"Everyone get out and keep running," the club posted on its Facebook page during the attack, which began about 2 a.m. The BBC reports that desperate relatives gathered near the club after receiving texts and call from inside but nothing since.
The shooter was named as Omar S. Mateen, a U.S. citizen from Port St. Lucie, Fla., reports WDBO, and the FBI are "leaning towards Islamic terrorism" as motive.
A clubber earlier described a situation of chaos outside as the number of casualties became apparent.
"There were just bodies everywhere," Christopher Hansen said. "In the parking lot, they were tagging them - red, yellow - so they knew who to help first and who not help first. Pants down, shirts cut off, they had to find the bullets. Just blood everywhere."
Some of the injured were reportedly brought to the Orlando Regional Medical Center in police pick-ups.
John Mina, Orlando's Police Chief, said the attack began when a police officer stationed at the club exchanged gunfire with the assailant, who managed to enter the club and initiate a hostage situation. Read the rest
This week, Kodak and Kickstarter announced a joint venture to support low budget film projects that want to shoot on celluloid (that means real film, as opposed to digital). Of the four films Kodak is supporting, psychological horror movie Darkfall is the most interesting to me.
Written, produced, and directed by my long-time buddy magician R. Paul Wilson, Darkfall returns to the classic filmmaking techniques inspired by our fellow conjuror Georges Méliès—that means using magic methods and illusion secrets in place of modern CGI. Inspired by classic horror movies like Cat People, The Haunting and Halloween, Paul hopes to produce a powerful experience using psychology, audio effects, and “in-camera” trickery to terrify the audience.
Special effects and cinematic storytelling were pioneered by Méliès, whose life story was the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s film, Hugo. Méliès produced and directed over 500 films in which he invented new effects and techniques to tell fantastic stories, leaving an invaluable legacy for future filmmakers. Wilson is a huge fan and, during a visit to an exhibit of Méliès’s work in Madrid, it occurred to him to use modern conjuring methods in the same way.
Paul says, “Filmmaking has evolved at an amazing pace and so has the art of magic, but the two have grown apart, especially with the introduction of digital effects. I began to wonder what Georges Méliès would do with modern magic and the idea grew from there.”
The Darkfall story revolves around how perception can be distorted. It’s a supernatural tale with a killer twist inspired by Paul’s time working on television. Read the rest
The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that the FBI payed more than $1m to get into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone after Apple refused to create software to bypass its encryption. The Washington Post reports that a one-off $1.3m price tag was admitted, obliquely, by FBI Director James Comey by comparison with his own salary.
Federal authorities have not publicly revealed who helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, which was at the center of an extended fight between the government and Apple. The Justice Department had maintained that only Apple could help it access the phone without erasing all of its data before abruptly saying it had gotten help from an outside party and no longer needed Apple’s assistance.
According to people familiar with the issue, the FBI cracked the phone with the help of professional hackers who were paid a one-time flat fee. Law enforcement officials have said recently that the FBI has found no links to foreign terrorists on the phone, though they are still hoping that geolocation data on the device could help reveal what the attackers did during an 18-minute period after the shooting.
The FBI's attempts to compel Apple's cooperation backfired after CEO Tim Cook publicly accused the Bureau of exploiting the case to try and gain backdoor access to iPhones in general. The phone ultimately yielded no useful information.
Read the rest
“But it was, in my view, worth it,” the FBI director said of what it cost to access the phone’s data.
A local CBS affiliate in Philadelphia reports that city police are investigating a pig’s head dumped outside an Islamic Center in North Philadelphia.
Islam's holy book, the Quran, forbids Muslims from eating pork.
The pig’s head showed up outside the Al-Alsqa Islamic Center early this morning.
A man who works for a nonprofit inside the center told local TV news the first time Al-Asqa was threatened in this manner was right after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. They received a voicemail: “Allah… is a peace of pork [expletive]! Allah Sucks!””
Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney said in a statement today, “The bigotry that desecrated Al-Aqsa mosque has no place in Philadelphia… I ask all Philadelphians to join me in rejecting this despicable act and supporting our Muslim neighbors.”
Just last Sunday, President Barack Obama gave a national address about terrorism, and rejected the wave of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence sweeping America. Many blame the inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric of GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump for an uptick in hate crimes like the pig's head.
Michael Nutter, the outgoing mayor of Philadelphia, had some thoughts on Donald Trump's hateful comments against Muslims. Said the mayor, “He's an asshole.”
Police Investigate Pig’s Head Found Outside Philadelphia Islamic Center [philadelphia.cbslocal.com] Read the rest
An overnight blast blamed on the Islamic extremist terror organization Boko Haram killed 32 people and wounded 80 Tuesday at a truck stop in northeastern Nigeria. Read the rest
Post-9/11 detainee interrogration policies of the US Defense Department and CIA forced medical professionals to abandon the ethical obligation to "do no harm" to the humans in their care, and engage in prohibited practices such as force-feeding of hunger strikers, according to a report out this week. "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror" [PDF Link] was produced by 19-member task force of Columbia University's Institute on Medicine as a Profession and the Open Society Foundations. The LA Times has a summary here. Read the rest
Filmmaker Laura Poitras follows the tragic return home to Yemen of a Guantánamo Bay prison detainee, Adnan Latif.