Silence of the Halloween Horror Fest

We’re well into November now, but I still have a few Halloween horror reviews left to cover.  Bonfire night?  Who cares?!  What fireworks?!

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Jodie Foster plays FBI agent Clarice Starling in this fantastic film, on the trail of serial killer “Buffalo Bill”.  To find the killer she enlists the help of incarcerated psychopath Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter (a superb Anthony Hopkins in a career defining role).  Utilising Lecter’s knowledge to enhance the psychological profile of the killer, the young agent finds herself embroiled in his mind games, as the race to catch Buffalo Bill gains further urgency. lambs

If you’ve never seen this film, see it.  If you have, watch it again.  It won multiple Oscars and is absolutely captivating (no pun intended) on every viewing.  Brilliant performances; scenes that look and feel real; and a chilling story make The Silence of the Lambs unmissable.

True, there are no monsters or supernatural occurrences in this movie.  Yet the sense of unease and tension created in The Silence of the Lambs mark it as a real horror film with chills beyond compare.

10/10

Ghostbusters (1984)

Another film that needs no introduction, though of a vastly different style; Ghostbusters is an 80’s classic.  Featuring a team of scientists who, after finding themselves thrown out of their university, form a new business hunting ghosts, this film has laughs and thrills aplenty.  Taking New York by storm with their paranormal investigations, the Ghostbusters wind up facing a threat that is really out of this world! GB

The three main Ghostbusters – Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis – are all excellent; with Murray in particular looking like he’s having tons of fun.  Ernie Hudson as the fourth member does a good job, but is somewhat underused.  Sigourney Weaver puts in a good performance as the musician caught up in a pan-dimensional event she doesn’t understand.  And keep your eyes on Rick Moranis, who is constantly hilarious.

Highly recommended as some fun Halloween viewing, Ghostbusters mixes a few spooky moments with some very funny scenes.  Add in a great theme tune and some memorable quotes, and you really can’t go wrong.

Who ya gonna call?

9/10

That’s it for another year, thanks for reading Halloween Horror Fest!

New York City 9/11

No memories or recounting of events this year, just a photo tribute.

I bought this shirt on the evening of September 11th 2001.  As a stranded tourist in the Big Apple, there wasn’t much to do – except try and be a tourist.  Wandering around the streets that day wasn’t as much fun as it should have been, as you can imagine.

The t-shirt says it all.  Great city, phenomenal people.

Whatever your beliefs, spare a thought for the thousands of people caught up in the events of 9/11.

Stay strong, New York.

If you’d like top read last year’s “A Letter to the New York Post” article, click here.

NYC

 

American Beer – Cheers!

Despite the well stocked Virtual Tiki Bar here at the Virtual Hot Tub, it’s not that often that I actually drink cocktails.  When I’m soaking in the virtual warm water, in reality I usually drink beer.  So it’s about time I featured some beer on this blog.

I have grown to admire American beer over the last few years.  In particular, a few of the less obvious brands that are now turning up in the UK.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Back in 2000, I made my first visit to the United States of America, after wanting to travel there for a long time.  That first trip I was introduced to Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  It was love at first taste.  Unlike other American beers I was familiar with, Sam Adams has a full flavour.  Now available in supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, this beer is highly recommended.  I was really happy to see this beer so readily available, it’s a definite favourite.

Visit the Samuel Adams web page here.

Another bottled beer that is now available on our shores is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  This is a newer discovery for me, again it can be easily found in your local Tesco.  Sierra Nevada is no fizzy lager either, rather you’re going to experience a quality drink with character.

Visit the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale web page here.

Sierra Nevada - left, Brooklyn Lager - right

Sierra Nevada – left, Brooklyn Lager – right

Finally, we have Brooklyn Lager.  I’ve discovered this beer in the supermarkets; though now it is starting to appear in bars/restaurants, where it’s a great accompaniment to pulled pork burgers!  Described as an amber lager, this beer has a great flavour far removed from the typical US beers we’re often exposed to.  It’s easy to pick up in Tesco so give it a try – again, recommended.  If you’re lucky enough to find this beer on draught, treat yourself to a pint.  You can thank me later.

The web page for Brooklyn Brewery is here.

The USA is not a country famed for alcohol.  Prohibition?  What the hell is that all about?  And just what is a “light” beer anyway?  But these breweries are building on traditions that were long lost, delivering great tasting beer that is well worth investigating.

Iechyd Da, America!

Happy First Birthday, Virtual Hot Tub!

The Top 5 Posts on the Virtual Hot Tub

Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub is now one year old!

Actually, the first anniversary was on March 24th.  So I’m late, again.  But I’ve been so busy capturing vital events like Sci-Fi Weekender, Kurt Cobain’s passing, Easter and all the other stuff that I just haven’t had time to get round to celebrating it.

So it was 24th March 2013 when I first welcomed you all to bathe in the soothing waters of the Virtual Hot Tub.  Since then, I’ve posted all manner of weird and wonderful items on the blog.  But which ones have been the most popular?

I checked out the stats; and here, in reverse order, are the most read posts in the first year of the Virtual Hot Tub’s existence:

5. Skateboard Museum: Variflex Joker

There’s obviously loads of people searching the interweb for old school skateboards.  This post about my old Variflex skateboard has been constantly showing in blog results.  Nice post – shame about the photo.  I’ll remedy that soon.  Take another look here.

4. Questions #2: Full English Breakfast Ingredients

All of the “Questions” posts fared well in the rankings, particularly the food related items.  This one was the highest placed.  Read it again here.

3. Hammer Glamour

I went blog crazy in October with my Hallowe’en Horror Fest.  This post, which counted down the top ten Hammer Horror babes, has been incredibly popular.  Lots of people Googling sex and horror, I guess.  Check it out here.

2. The Best Man’s Speech

Over 150 people have read this post, commemorating the wedding of my friends Cathryn and Jarrod.  It’s nice that this article has been read so many times.  Have another look here.

So what’s the most read blog post on the Virtual Hot Tub, in the first year?  It is:

1. A Letter to the New York Post

This piece, which recounted my experiences in New York on September 11th, caught people’s attention much more than I thought it would.  I suppose it went “viral” – more than 475 views.  It certainly received an amazing, and heart warming, response.  Thanks to all who shared it.  Read it again here.

There you go: the top 5 blog posts on Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing, thanks for being a part of it.  Your contribution – and interest – has helped make this worthwhile.

Plenty more to come, so stay tuned.

A Letter to the New York Post

Some of you have heard the story before, for which I apologise.  For those that haven’t, the details are below.  Strange, the twists and turns we experience.

The email below was written some years ago, after the events of 9/11.  You’ll understand why I wrote it, I hope.  As far as I know, this letter has never been printed.  If you’d like to share it, please feel free to do so.  It may eventually find it’s way to it’s intended recipient.

With continued respect and affection for New City and the people who live there.

From:XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

To: <letters@nypost.com>

Sent: 24 August 2004 21.18

Subject: IMPORTANT: Message from UK

Hi,

I live in North Wales, in the United Kingdom.  I am writing to you in the hope that you could perhaps print a message to a citizen of New York city in your newspaper.

In September 2001 I was staying with relatives in the Washington DC area, on vacation, and decided to take a trip on the Greyhound bus to New York.  I had always wanted to visit the city having seen it on television and read about it over the years.  So two friends and myself decided to make the trip.

When we arrived we explored, and that evening went out to eat and see some more sights.  Around 10.30pm we left the Broomhill bar (I think in Little Italy?) with the intention of going across the river on the Staten Island ferry.  The taxi driver who drove us was a great character, friendly and a real New Yorker.  He asked us what our plans were, to which we replied, “We’re going to go up the Empire State Building tomorrow.”

The driver pointed out the window, and gave us some honest advice: “See that building there?” he asked.  We nodded.  “That’s the Twin Towers.  Go there tomorrow morning; it’s free, you don’t have to wait, and it’s higher up so you get a better view.”  We thanked him and said we’d take his advice.

The next day, as you can probably guess, was September 11th.

My companions and I never made it to the top of the towers (we stayed out late and didn’t get up that morning early enough).  We were lucky, as the horror that unfolded that day proved.

I just want to let that taxi driver know – we didn’t go to the Towers that morning.  Just in case he is tortured by the advice he gave us.  I don’t know the taxi drivers name, just that he drove a yellow cab and was a native New Yorker (his father, he told us, had worked on the Staten Island ferry).  I hope that you can print this letter in the hope that he may read it, so his mind may be eased if this has troubled him.  Because if he has been troubled, he need not worry anymore.  I’m sorry this letter hasn’t been written sooner.

With fondest regards to the people and city of New York,

Alun Jones

Wales

UK

(Email address removed for privacy)