Tag Archives: the x-files

116 – Drowning Demons: A Conversation with Paranormal Filmmaker Ben Wydeven

I first met filmmaker Ben Wydeven at the Madison Horror Film Festival when we were discussing the haunted Rogers Theatre in Wausau. Sunspot had played there the weekend before and had heard some haunted stories, but Ben had shot his entire movie in the theater while it was being remodeled. I knew I had to pick up a copy of The Medium

We recorded a Sunspot Road Mania episode at the Rogers Theatre (it was called the Fill-Mor then) where we had some weird stuff happen to us as well and the bar staff shared some of their ghost stories with us…

That Madison Horror Film Festival was also the first time that Wendy did the Thriller dance live and we’ve gota  video of that as well!

We reconnected with Ben  Wydeven earlier this year when we saw him at our live podcast event at the Old Baraboo Inn and he was working on a documentary about the bar, which has dozens of ghost tales. My sister, Allison Jornlin from Milwaukee Ghosts is featured in the documentary as well, so she joined us for this episode and our conversation with Ben. She had her own paranormal experience that night of the live podcast and finally comes clean with it. That night was also Wendy’s first official ghost hunt and we had our own technical issues with our digital recorder not playing and finally comes clean with it. Our lively discussion covers everything from the movies and TV shows that influenced him (spoiler alert: he’s a big X-Files fan and we get into some heavy nerdery on that) to his own paranormal experiences and the logistics behind what it takes to film in a cemetery.

Ben Wydeven has created his own fictional paranormal film series called The Raven James Chronicles about an alcoholic psychic medium who is cursed/blessed with the ability to see dead people. He recently released a novel called Drowning Demons and the Raven James films are set in the same universe and are prequels to the story. The fifth in those series of films, Mourning In The Cemetery, is being released this Saturday November 5th. And where more perfect than the Old Baraboo Inn itself for the screening?

This week when we were working on the song for the podcast, we decided to combine forces with something else the band was working on, which was an ad needed a replacement track for “What About Love” by Heart. So, this week we took the theme of some of the loneliness that Raven James feels and also some of the longing that his bartender partner Benny Cavoto feels for his deceased father and channeled that energy into this week’s track, “Who Needs Love”. Think about it like Sunspot dressed up musically as Heart for this Halloween!

And even better, we’ve got two versions of the track from this week. One version where Wendy’s belting it out and another one with Mike singing, so we’ve got his and hers versions (Trick or Treat!)

Here’s Wendy singing this week’s track:

Here’s Mike singing the track:

Feeling alone
Hoping for a shot,
And my dreams
are all that I’ve got

The signs that I’m throwing
Well, they just ain’t going through

You’re a mystery, always in the shadows,
You never gave me, the chance to show

the beauty you’ll find
when you decide to open your heart

But you gotta ask right from the start

Who wants love?
Who wants someone to hold them tight?
Who wants love?
Someone to be there through the night,
Who wants love?
And I’m gonna give it to you,
to make this dream come true.

Who wants love?
Who wants someone to hold them tight?
Who wants love?
Someone to be there through the night,
Who wants love?

And I’m gonna give it to you.

Tim Armstrong from Rancid on The X-Files?

Spoilers for The X-Files episode, “Home Again”…

Okay, in the mix of paranormal and pop culture, here’s is one of the strangest casting choices that I’ve seen, Tim Armstrong from Rancid, was in The X-Files!

You can hardly understand the guy when he’s singing, I was surprised that he was able to get out all of his lines and didn’t need someone to dub his voice over like an old kung fu movie.

Sunspot, our band, still plays “Roots Radicals” by Rancid all the time. We learned it back in high school (before there was guitar tabs and lyrics all over the Internet) and before you could find the words on the …And Out Come The Wolves album, so that means I had to listen to that song a thousand times to try and figure out what he was saying. Basically, I just grunted and made words up that kind of sounded like the song until the chorus.

I thought Armstrong might really be into the paranormal too (after all, he was in a band with Travis Barker and some of that Blink–182 Tom DeLonge UFO weirdness might have infected him) but no, the writer Glen Morgan, is just a massive Rancid fan, and I can’t blame him for that. Wendy and I saw Rancid at Lollapalooza and they killed.

The promo said that he plays the character of Trashman, but if you’ve seen the episode, you know that’s not really true. Actually, Armstrong plays an artist who isn’t the Trashman, but creates a sculpture that his anger at the mistreatment of Philadelphia’s homeless population imbues the artwork with life and compels it to a killing spree. His acting is just fine, he needs to play a scared weird artist type that looks like they’ve been sleeping on the street. Tim Armstrong fits that bill just about perfectly. He even mentions Tulpas, the mystical Tibetan thought-form. The idea that a belief or idea held strongly enough can be brought to life.

Mulder quickly corrects him that the Tulpa was a mistranslation of a different Tibetan concept and that Tulpas never existed traditionally, but the idea of them was created in a book (during the whole Orientalism craze of the early Twentieth Century), With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet. And that was a revelation to me, The X-Files taught me something this week!

Tim Armstrong X-Files
Ruby ruby ruby ruby so- oh God, there’s limbs everywhere!

Before the reveal, I thought it was more like the Golem, which is an inanimate object brought to life to do his master’s bidding, but there was plenty of nice and gruesome killing and horror movie fun in this episode. You get to see several snobby rich jerks literally get ripped apart by a monster that rides around in a garbage truck. So, that’s nice.

However, just because that Tulpas aren’t really a traditional Tibetan idea, doesn’t mean that willing a creature into existence – the thought form – isn’t an idea that’s taken life in it’s own right. I talk a little about my experience with Tulpas in our Cryptozoology Round Table episode. And for a great movie about thought forms, check out Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

This Week’s Planetary Alignment and The X-Files

You can bet a pack of Morley cigarettes and bag of sunflower seeds that I’m excited about The X-Files returning this Sunday night. But it’s not just Mulder and Scully that are going to be gracing our lives once again, it’s also the beginning of the first planetary alignment in the sky that’s going to be visible to our naked eye in over a decade. Oh yeah, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are all going to be lined up and easily visible looking like stars lined (and on January 28th, even the moon is going to get in on the action and be lined up as well!) Now if you’re interested in viewing this cool astronomical phenomena then you can get help with that from the fine scientific writers at National Geographic.

TV shows and movies love to tackle the alignments of planets and stars in the sky and give them some kind of significance. Like we’re dumb enough to believe that when everything in the sky lines up, something horrible is going to happen. Yes, even my beloved Doctor Who had a ridiculous episode where the Daleks aligned 27 planets to make a (ahem) reality bomb.

The X-Files gave planetary alignments a special significance in season three as well with their episode “Syzygy” (also known as the episode where Scully gets jealous of the local detective that Mulder has been hanging out with). A syzygy is a term for an alignment of three celestial objects and it’s that alignment on a particular night in the 1970s that creates some very intense energy for a pair of girls born on that date.

Now szygys where the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up are known to cause “moonquakes” and I didn’t know moonquakes were a thing up until now, so that’s kind of awesome, but aside from fiction from Lovecraft to Pitch Black dealing with the apocalyptic aspects of an astronomical alignment, there’s not much else that’s going to happen except a sweet light show.

There are some people that believe planets aligning for a massive New Age Harmonic Convergence in 1987 was a big supernatural deal that was going to lead to the building of a thing called the Rainbow Bridge that was going to envelope the Earth in a aura of positivity (man), but the only Rainbow Road I’ve ever seen is in Mario Kart.

Ima Wario and Ima gonna win!

Anyway, if you’re looking for a mystical aspect, this author believes that there is a spiritual component to this week’s planetary alignment and it’s basically the fact that each of the five planets that are going to be lined up are associated with some aspect of our personality when it comes to Astrology, so if you’re into Horoscopes it’s a nice hopeful (and harmless) article.

But with new X-Files and a planetary alignment to light up the sky, our eyes have lots to look forward to!