REVIEW: The Holy Bones Festival

The holy bones festival was a Halloween themed festival-carnival of sorts with enough novelties to satisfy any occult appetite. Held near downtown Ypsilanti, you could see a lot of Ypsi spirit and pride. From 3D-printed Ypsi structures to local artists, the city’s art scene was reflected pretty well. The festival lasted an ample 7+ plus hours and had exciting events like drag shows. Even though the festival featured 40+ artisans, the fair could be explored in an hour or so. The art ranged from stickers, t-shirts, crystals, jewelry to novelty items like skull wall decorations, a mini horror-themed room, haunted dolls, and much more. There was also a tarot card reader who had a really cozy tent set up. 

There were also some decorated skulls on display with backstories of their own. 

The events really came alive (or dead since it was horror-themed) in the night after the carnival lights were turned on. I watched the drag/costumed show where people lip-synched to songs and gave interactive performances to the audience and went to see the Ypsi downtown and returned again after sundown. There was live music throughout the event and had up-and-coming artists perform some of whom had released albums with the support of Ypsi artist funding.

For food, there were 2 food trucks and one stall. One could pick their choice of Nigerian food, tacos, or sliders. All of these had lines throughout the duration of the event so you know the food was good.  

There was also an improv show for which you had to buy tickets separately. It was held in a nearby church. The church had LED lights inside with spooky music that really upped the ante and gave a gothic vibe to the event. The performers were unfortunately not very good and not worth the price of a ticket. Their jokes or the storyline was not that funny but the performers did perform very enthusiastically. Sadly many members of the audience left during the intermission. 

All and all the holy bones festival would be a nice one-hour event to go to if you want to see spooky things on display. It has only been a thing since 2019 and considering that all the ticket proceeds go to the restoration of the Ypsi art scene, we can expect this festival to gain major traction in the coming years and be on the level of a full-blown paradise for all things evil and occult Halloween carnival!

PREVIEW: The Holy Bones Festival

To all Halloween enthusiasts,

I will be the brave one to address what’s on everyone’s mind: Fall break is just around the corner and you don’t know what to do! Halloween season is about to start! Your midterm couldn’t have been scheduled at a worse time! AT&T stock drops toward 11-year low, as dividend yield rises further above 8%!

Fear not I have an event for you that will cast away your worries and give you the perfect, ghoul fuelled start to your fall break.*

*applies to folks free between 3 pm EST and 10 pm EST on the 16th October 2021 only Terms and Conditions apply.

Skeletons partying like there’s no tomorrow

Thee (with the special e sound) Holy Bones Festival!

If you were looking for a sign then here is the official start to Halloween season for you. This spooktacular event is held right in your backyard: Ypsilanti. A quick (did I mention free?) bus ride away from CCTC. Forget taking the bus to your North Campus 8ams this is where the groovy kids take the bus to. 

The festival will have over FORTY local artisans and tarot readers, live music, drag shows, an art show, an auction (c’mon have you ever been to a freaking auction?),  and an improv show.

So put on your Jack Skellington T-shirts and be ready to have fun in the sun like the skeletons in the poster. Do you see how much fun they’re having?! 

Also, their early tickets are prices devilishly at $6.66 so don’t wait too long. Grab a friend and let’s go!


REVIEW: The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor is the latest installment in The Haunting anthology created by Mike Flanagan for Netflix. The series consists of nine episodes, and follows the story of an au pair who arrives at the haunted estate of Bly Manor.

The series uses horror elements in a very understated way; it elects to hide ghosts in the background that often go unseen rather than to have jumpscare after jumpscare. It has an overall eerie tone – a large, old house and two children who advise their governess not to roam the grounds after dark – but it is very slow burn, which becomes one of its faults. The series takes several episodes before a cohesive storyline begins to unfold, but once the inklings of an intriguing plot emerge, it becomes too complicated. Bly Manor has a massive cast: the au pair, the two children, their uncle, the housekeeper, the gardener, the cook, the dead parents, the previous governess, and many other characters introduced through flashbacks. What Bly Manor does well is showcase the talent of the many actors, however it fails to set up a clear, main storyline supported by the side characters. Instead, it gives each character a subplot and while all of the characters are genuinely well-written and interesting, the show does not give itself enough time to fully flesh out each subplot and tie them each into the main storyline.

The second-to-last episode, “The Romance of Certain Old Clothes,” is the weakest episode even though it is supposed to serve as the explanation as to why the estate of Bly Manor is haunted, what happened to the current governess’s predecessor, and why any of this is relevant to the current staff of Bly Manor. It comes across as a filler or even throw-away episode, and it adds another layer of confusion to the story. I understand that Flanagan wants to retain an air of mystery to keep the audience engaged, however when the story is so confusing for so many episodes, it becomes frustrating to watch. Ultimately, the series wastes a decent amount of time keeping the audience in the dark, resulting in a rushed conclusion of the ghost story before moving on to conclude the ongoing story of love and loss. That being said, one thing that Flanagan does well is create a bittersweet ending that emulates the central theme that to truly love someone is to accept that loving them is worth the risk and pain of losing them. However, though the last 15 minutes of the final episode carry the entire show, it cannot be ignored that the majority of the show is too slow, and that Flanagan adds another subplot in the second-to-last episode that only opens up more plot holes.

Finally, I cannot review Bly Manor without discussing its predecessor, The Haunting of Hill House. Hill House is overall a tighter and cleaner story that does a better job of balancing horror and very human themes – grief and guilt, in this case. Flanagan ties in fear as a projection of guilt and trauma in this series – rather than a separate and debatably related aspect – with a satisfying conclusion addressing family and forgiveness. However, Hill House also falls into a lull with the two episodes before the finale, but those episodes act more as a set-up for the finale rather than an entirely new addition to the story like in Bly Manor.

Overall, I expected both series to come to a huge, dramatic, maybe even disturbing conclusion, but what Flanagan choses to do instead is to subvert expectations and craft two conclusions that that are empathetic and wistful. The last fifteen minutes of Bly Manor and the finale of Hill House showcase Flanagan’s ability to depict compelling stories of human relationships, which is ultimately what draws a large fanbase to the two shows.

REVIEW: International Studies Horror Film Fest

Another year of the annual International Studies Horror Film Fest has come and gone, and with it went my hope that they would show actual horror movies.

Don’t get me wrong; the selections were wonderfully artistic and variable in tone and theme and texture. All three featured original plots and unsettling undertones. They each force a bit of creepiness into one’s idea of the world, while remaining quite beautiful. However, I would have appreciated at least one fully, overtly gruesome movie in the program. The gore was almost nonexistent in all of the films, limited to a few scenes of graphicness apiece. I found myself groaning over the romantic subplots and long periods of calm while trying to focus on the main stories and character dynamics. On Halloween, I need fear to rule. This can be done in complex, story-rich, writerly ways; the artistry of a film need not be sacrificed. Thus, even if the fest’s planners intended to get together a group of intellectually stimulating movies, they could have done so while giving the audience a little more of a scare.

Face was basically CSI or Criminal Minds in all it accomplished horror-wise. The whole movie seems cast in shadows, plagued by an uninspired soundtrack and TV-drama style acting. But the pace of the film was perfect, a slow reveal of a shocking truth whose slime does something venomous to the psyche of the audience.

The Lure was an entire musical, and certainly the only movie of its kind, however impossible to define that may be. The heavy glamour of the strip club pairs so well with the mythology surrounding mermaids, and the girls’ dead stares were a perfect balance for all the life in their musical numbers. The unwholesomeness of the young girls participating in this business combines with the sexual power of mermaids in lore to create an uneasy feeling for the audience, similar to the trickery sailors face in all the stories. But even with the violence and the complex uneasiness, this movie is far closer to a comedy than a horror film.

Dogtooth seemed like something I should have enjoyed, given that its creator is the same man behind The Lobster (a movie which, after watching, made me feel so unmoored that I literally held onto street signs as I walked to the bus stop, certain I’d blow away with the wind). It bears obvious similarities in how the cast is directed to act (basically emotionless, flat) and the minimalism of the indoor environments. But it falls short of creating the same level of effect for me that Lanthimos had in his later film. I think he realizes later in his career that there is a limit to the lack of expression he can write into his actors and the barrenness of the landscape before it becomes too offputting for the audience to focus on the story. In short, I got bored, and the beauty of the expertly done lighting and the carefully constructed garden space did little to change that. Some emotional music would have gone a long way.

Truly, these movies have tons of artistic value to consider and appreciate. In another sort of film festival, they would be great additions (and indeed, they have been inputs of such festivals as Cannes and Sundance), but I still hold that they are unwise selections for a true horror fest. I hope that next year, they have more time in the gallery to show an extra movie that a Halloween lover would appreciate.

PREVIEW: International Studies Horror Film Fest


Halloween, though it has already been upon us for months, is now extremely upon us. Somehow the most important holiday in the universe does not warrant a day off of school (meanwhile, some still legitimately celebrate Columbus Day), so we must do all we can to work around our schedules to properly honor this spiritual time.

Thank the Unholy Lord of the Dead that the International Studies program is continuing horror film fest. In its seventh year, the free program will include three foreign films (subtitled in English) for all to be terrified by. Come by the Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery (first floor) between classes, or if you’re especially dedicated, skip them all and stay for the whole time. And I better see you all in costume, or else.

The movie schedule is as follows:

10:00–11:30 a.m. — Face (2004, Korean)
11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. — The Lure (2005, Polish)
1:15–3:00 p.m. — Dogtooth (2000, Greek)

PREVIEW: Nosferatu

I hope everyone is enjoying the Halloween season (though truly every season is Halloween) by immersing yourselves in as much spooky media as possible. Decorations, candy corn, and research into ancient gruesome myths are all important parts of a healthy Halloween diet, but we must not forget to honor the great movies that never fail to get us into the spirit.

While the genre of horror has become something wildly artful and haunting over the decades, we must look to the classics that provided inspiration for the present. That is why I will be attending the 7:30 pm showing of Nosferatu at the Michigan Theater on Wednesday, October 16. The night will feature live accompaniment by our resident organist Andrew Rogers! The 1922 silent film follows the life of one of the original vampires ever to be depicted on screen, modeled after Bram Stroker’s Dracula of a few decades prior.

Until then, I will be busy learning how to apply a bald cap, because (of course) I will be showing up in full costume. I invite you to come sit with me (I’ll be quite visible), and encourage you to wear your own frightful fashion.

Tickets can be found at

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