Hey kids. Do you like drugs? Do you also like scary movies? Then holy sweet flying fuck, if the answer is yes, boy, do I have a movie for you to burn into your eyeholes. The Banshee Chapter. Keep in mind the movie has nothing to do with the wailing harbingers of death.
I don’t really know how I feel about the movie beyond being intensely offended and utterly horrified, but allow me to say from the get go that things like numbers stations, HAM radios and other dimensions really freak me out. One of my high school teachers played us recordings from a numbers station and I got sick immediately afterward with whooping cough – which I’m not saying is related at all but the horrors of the numbers station was burned into my mind while I gasped for air whilst stricken down with a disease from the 1920s. Also what kind of psycho would make their ninth grade class listen to number stations?
So kids, dissolve that little piece of paper on your tongue and come with me on the trip of a lifetime into.. The Banshee Chapter.
The Banshee Chapter tells us some small truth about the Infamous MKUltra experiments – experiments in mind control using LSD that actually did take place in the 50s and 60s. A lot of the experiments were horrible and involved brainwashing and torture and were so highly classified that one of the high ups in the CIA destroyed much of the details pertaining to them, leaving most of the facts as a mystery. LSD is a funny drug when it comes to brain washing and unless you’ve actually taken it, you can’t understand how powerful of an experience it can be. LSD isn’t like cocaine, in that it’s mostly hype, but rather LSD is exactly like every acid trip you’ve ever seen in television and movies plus more . LSD makes you understand the world and see things in ways you may have never even conceived of before. Hell, the dude who cracked the structure of human DNA did so while under the influence of it. Charles Manson used LSD to brainwash his followers. And I really could just keep going. But being that Banshee Chapter wants to appeal as a hip and happening movie, it changes the drug used in the MKULTRA experiments to a fake drug called DMT-19 which is really a combination of clever marketing and lazy writing. LSD, while awesome, is a little passé to talk about in conversation. Unless you hang out with drugged out lunatics in tie dyed pants on a regular basis, you aren’t commonly going to hear much mentioned about LSD say at a dinner party or after work drinks.
That’s not saying people don’t still do it, but rather that it’s old news. In the vastness of our capitalist consumer culture, we are always looking for bigger and better and therein lies the reference to DMT. DMT is a naturally occurring alkaloid that is found in various plants and vines and roots in the Amazon and curiously enough, in the human body. Though DMT-19 in The Banshee Chapter is not a real drug, DMT is. It’s a powerful and life changing hallucinogenic drug and due to the book and movie combo Of DMT the Spirit Molecule, it’s also hip to talk about. I’ve heard more than one healthcare professional speaking widely and animatedly about the drug and it’s potential to rewire the brain of cocaine and heroin addicts. In an effort to seem hip and interesting, the replacement of LSD used in the actual MKUltra experiments was done over by DMT.
Keep in mind that my main issues with this film revolve around it struggling so vainly to seem hip and happening. This is a very key issue to remember. The actual plot line of The Banshee Chapter, now that I’ve gone all erowid on you (sorry about that), centers around Anne (10 out of 10, very foxy by the way), who is seeking to unravel the mystery surrounding her friend James’s disappearance following him ingesting the aforementioned DMT-19. James, it turns out, finds a rather dubious source for the DMT-19 and records himself ingesting it in the prescence of a friend – which at least I will give this movie that much credit – if you’re going to take some freaky ass drug, always have a babysitter/someone sober enough to drive you to the hospital should problems arise.
Not surprisingly, the footage of James’s drug trip experience end up cutting off to him screaming about creatures wanting to “wear” him, and looking a little something like this.
Anyways I guess shit gets real and he goes “missing” and his friend is left holding the bag and can’t really explain where the fuck James went (which if we are taking psychoactive drugs into the equation, could really be anywhere) and the cops are pretty sure he dead. OH HE DEAD.
So after some rambling diatribe about how Anne kinda liked James when they were in college and they used to hang out and talk but they never did the nasty, because she friendzoned that fool faster than Russel Edginton friendzoned Steve Newlin in True Blood.. (oh wait, it’s the same person)
Anne decides to go undercover and starts digging up information about this drug and it’s relation to the MKUltra tests and she gets the “Friends from Colorado” connection in a letter sent to James and it leads to her, one, Thomas Blackburn, a character stolen blatantly, obviously and despicably from the late great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.. who is also played by Ted Levine.. That’s Buffalo Bill, for those playing the home game.
This is about where I started to just be offended with this whole piece of cinema.. Okay, so I get using real history – the MKUltra experiements were very real.. I also get changing the ‘drug’ used in the experiments to DMT to go with your story and be “hip”, but to randomly and totally unethically insert a character such as Thomas Blackburn who is ripped off entirely from the Good Doctor is just lazy and it reeks of poor writing. Rather than call Thomas Blackburn who he actually is, which is Hunter S. Thompson, and they are likely unable to do this because of licensing (and for good reason), and at which case, why not just further the adventurous trope and create your own random drug taking maniac? Random drug wizards are commonly inserted into many horror movies, for both comic relief and interesting deaths (or in the case of Cabin in the Woods to be awesome as fuck) [ False. His BONG was awesome as fuck – Scotty]. It is a shocking display of laziness to steal a character and shoddily rename them, while stealing verbatim quotes, “buy the ticket, take the ride”, “foul fucking venom”.. etc.
And again, I get why this was done. Hunter S. Thompson is neat right now. Go to any random drug taking techno festival and you’ll likely encounter some dickhead draped in his image roaming around randomly quoting “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, with likely no fucking clue who Hunter S. Thompson is, beyond having seen the aforementioned film a few times whilst stoned.
The guy in the above photo actually hadn’t the foggiest clue who the hell he was dressed as. He kept screaming “FEARANDLOATHING” and trying to hit us with a fly swatter. He’s with god now.
Anyways, don’t get me wrong here.. I dig Ted Levine and I really dig his performance as Thomas Blackburn, but I just wish the producer or whoever the fuck was in charge here had just come up with an original character and taken a chance. Playing it safe and trying to be cool is what ultimately kills most modern horror flicks for me. Everyone is too busy engaging in the incestuous suck and fuck fest of worshipping and trotting out the same has been dog and pony show. LET ME RAIN SOME TRUTH DOWN ON YA FUCKS LIKE MONEY ON A STRIPPERS BIG ASS – No one wants to see another Freddy. No one wants to see another Jason movie or another has been fucked to death remake. No one wants to see another Americanized J-horror flick. Please. Please just stop with the bullshit. I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of mediocrity, punctuated by the occasional life raft of a jump scare that almost makes me piss my pants (even though I know they are coming EVERY FUCKING TIME), but other than that I haven’t washed up on the dry land of something refreshing in a while, so please.. someone throw me a life preserver here, because everything is all fucky.
Soo.. that went a bit off the rails there. Regardless, it needed to be said or I might kill someone. I can’t decide if I’m better now that I don’t do heinous amounts of drugs, or worse.. Jury is still out on that one.
Back to Anne, who is still belligerently foxy, she joins Thomas Blackburn for an LSD party after hearing about numbers stations who broadcast out of the desert, with voices repeating a string of seemingly nonsensical numbers. So in the middle of the night she takes DMT-19 with a couple strangers, hears the numbers stations and gets freaked out (with reason) and then falls asleep (impossible on halucinogenic drugs btw) and wakes up to this.
So that’s nice and horrifying right? Anyways the bitch who is currently hurling up a night’s worth of Bloody Mary’s fucks off into the darkness and the poor man’s good doctor and Anne run after to drive randomly through the desert, at first popping in to this girl’s house to “see if she’s there”.. whereupon they come across her meth lab/regular lab and discover that the seemingly nonsense broadcast of the numbers station is actually the chemical formula of DMT-19 which is being broadcast from.. get this.. another dimension. And the drug doesn’t cause psychotic episodes, like what was previously assumed, it rather turns the brain into a radio receiver so these otherworldly beings can inhabit humans and “wear them”.
Thomas Blackburn and Anne narrowly escape attack from a strange horrible creature and Thomas confesses to her that she didn’t actually take the DMT-19 drug and he gave her a placebo.. yet for some reason she can see these horrible monster alien skin wearing things anyways.. which makes no fucking sense, but sure.
Then she and Thomas Blackburn run across an old lab which ends up being the original location of the MKUltra tests and they discover that’s where the radio station is broadcasting it’s creepy message. They also find a tank with a bit of horror inside.
And doing what any sensible person would do, she and Thomas decide to burn the place to the ground.. but not before being attacked and Thomas committing suicide.. so alright.
Anne does end up burning the bitch to the ground and faces off with the spooky monster wearing her friendzoned dude’s skin and wins.. I guess? I have no idea.
This movie really fucking fell apart at the end here. She ends up meeting up with a friend of hers at the local police station and as she is recounting her sordid tale of drugs and madness (surprising combo, right? who would have EVER thought), she hears that creepy numbers station music being broadcast and her best girlfriend ends up looking a touch worse for the wear..
And then we find out that a young Thomas Blackburn had been one of the test subjects in the MKUltra tests. Groundbreaking.
So let’s get to some real talk here.. the truth of the matter is that this movie features a bunch of C-list actors, produced by a B-list actor (looking in your direction here Zachary Quinto, who some may remember from Heroes/American Horror Story and the new Star Trek movies). Zachary Quinto is tres bien muy caliente (but also gay, sorry ladies!), and really I can’t lay the blame on him here.. I’m just being sassy. Fact being that this movie didn’t suffer so much from having poor actors, but rather having poor writers. The whole MKUltra/LSD/DMT/Hunter Thompson thing was just too much, it reeked of trying way too fucking hard. I will say though that those horrible monster things and the whole idea of number stations is actually pretty freaky and I did get got by more than one of the numerous jump scares in this movie.. so that’s something I suppose.
Anyways.. I think I will be sticking to regular reality for a while.
So remember kids – Hunter S. Thompson will never be duplicated, don’t take the brown acid, don’t listen to numbers stations, smoke DMT and join my cult, and until next time.. always always ALWAYS stay spooky.
Oh and by the way… this video below is a gift from the interwebs. Enjoy it. Be thankful you are none of these people.. and if you are any of these people.. may god have mercy on your soul.. you scum fuck.