Suspense

Time to have a look at the Conjuring 2

Unlike the first Conjuring movie, I waited for this one to come to video before giving it a look. After seeing both The Conjuring and Annabelle, I didn’t feel this would be worth the cost of admission.

We catch up with Ed and Lorraine Warren as they investigate the supposedly true events surrounding the Enfield haunting. We start off with references to the Amityville haunting, but quickly leave that storyline behind which was disappointing to be sure. But then again, maybe it wasn’t as we start to get fed the line that Lorraine has some divine powers.

We then have the Warrens being asked to visit the Hodgson’s in England to see if their claims of the paranormal are real. The children are being tormented by some sort of spirit. Toys are able to start and move on their own. Beds shake and growls come out of the darkness. Things escalate to the point of possible possession as Janet is able to speak in a voice not her own and tell of events she shouldn’t know. And mildly overshadowing all the events is the vision and dread Lorraine fears that her husband is about to meet with his death. She has several visions showing his demise which puts her in a place where she can’t act upon the haunting.

Overall, this Conjuring has a dark and foreboding feel, which is good. I think the best part involves the mysterious figure of the nun. This is loosely linked to the events at Amityville and may be a demonic figure. There are several scenes with this shadowy creature skulking around and an especially good one where the shadow links up with the nightmarish figure Ed has painted and pursues Lorraine.

The movie builds slowly, with a series of unexplained events that ultimately catch the attention of the Warrens. At first, they are brought in as observes, with other investigators and reporters bringing attention to the haunting. As we move forward, the question keeps getting asked, is this a hoax or is there something demonic going on? We get a lot of questionable evidence that leans more toward a hoax. But then it shifts and we move back toward a real haunting and possession once Ed and Lorraine give the case more of their attention. I found that to be an interesting stance.

The other aspect to the movie is the real case that inspired it. There was indeed an investigation in London involving this family. And the children claim all sorts of events took place and they sought help to control them. Interestingly, when you being to research the "haunting" it begins to closely mirror the events of Amityville, up to and including being declared a hoax by a large contingent.

You will also find that Ed and Lorraine weren’t that involved in the events and may have in fact been asked to keep their distance based on their reputation from Amityville. By many accounts, Ed and Lorraine injected themselves into the investigation with some declarations that Enfield could make money just like Amityville did.

When looking further into the actual story, it’s easy to believe it was a hoax. The photo evidence of children being thrown around looks like kids jumping on the bed, things only appeared when people’s backs were turned and the girls were found to be faking some of the time. They claim this was merely to test those investigating them, but it doesn’t comes across like that and feels pretty dubious.

The Conjuring 2 was rather fun to watch, with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga doing a fine job of playing the Warrens. There were plenty of good scenes as the story unfolds. And you don’t have to worry about foul language or nudity like many other movies of this style.

However, as you follow along, it’s hard to tell if the movie is trying to show the Enfield haunting was real or if they agree it was a hoax. There is an interesting line early on in the movie where Ed is on a talk show where it’s claimed the evidence was faked. He says those claims were never "proven". Interesting choice of words.

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Expedition Unknown – Incan Mummy – S02E26

imageIn continuing his adventures and exploration into lost cities and cultures, Josh is on the trail of a lost Incan ruler, Atahualpa. He was the last great ruler of the Incan people, slain by the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro during the Spanish conquest. Pizarro demanded huge amounts of gold from Atahualpa, and even though he complied he was still sentenced to death. At first, Atahualpa was to be burned, but pleading for his soul, he converted to Christianity and was then strangled. He needed his body in tact so he could be mummified and rule in the afterlife. However, his body is believed to have been whisked away and it’s current whereabouts is unknown.

As Josh gets to know the history of Ecuador, he learns that the Incas came to this location because of the equator, to be closer to the sun. Josh also reads accounts of a sailor seeing a body and procession. While not specifically calling out Atahualpa, it fits the time frame and location. Also within the archives is the will of Atahualpa and other family documents. It’s shown they have private land where the body could have been buried, which would have kept with the custom of the time. The mummy would have been removed because it was the belief that if you had the mummy you had the power of the Incan people. It would have been an extremely influential symbol of power.

Josh then links up with German Molina, who is searching for the tomb. He’s found multiple Incan ruins covered by the jungle. They have aqueducts that still work after 500 years. There are also structures made from large rocks, in the shape of square that could be a temple. They believe they have found a location where the mummy would have been kept for a short time.

But the main resting place may be higher in the Andes mountains. From what they have been told, there is a farmer with promising artifacts and while he’s not willing to be shown or heard on camera, he brings out a sun necklace. It’s made of copper and gold and represents the sun people. Inspired by the find, they head further up and find man made paths as well as the remains of the Pucara or guard towers.

They discover an opening and after jumping inside, discover an ancient pin, again made of copper and gold, that would have been used to hold clothes together. But there is still more to be discovered as they head to another location where aerial surveys have shown some promising leads.

As they take images with the drone, it’s revealed the hill doesn’t have a natural contour, more of a stair step or terraced effect. As they map it, it begins to look man made with more of the watch towers on the perimeter. They also discover another trench which looks like it could lead into the interior of the mound, but has since collapsed. At the top of the hill are large stones that are not native to the region, and were most likely brought for a specific purpose. After surveying more of the features, they believe they are standing on a massive Incan fortress. They aren’t sure if it’s a tomb, or if Atahualpa would be buried there, but when taken with the towers and other relics already found they believe a much more thorough investigation and exploration is needed. Even if not the burial site, it’s a location of significance. And I have to say, the jungle and landscape is absolutely amazing. The lushness of that area is breathtaking.

Again, it seems they are right on the cusp of making an important and exciting discovery. Whether or not they find the Incan burial site remains to be seen, but it looks like they are about to unearth a major archaeological find which may reveal a slew of information not only about the lost king, but about the culture itself.

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Expedition Unknown – Lost Mexican City – S02E25

imageFor this episode, Josh is trying to unravel the mystery surrounding and ancient and powerful civilization very few people have even heard of. We’re familiar with the Aztec and Maya, but what if those civilizations modeled themselves after an even more powerful and advanced society? Enter the Teotihuacan, an advanced society that predates the Aztec by several hundred years. They too were a culture with advanced mathematics, incredible buildings, a vast understanding of the universe, and apparently shared a penchant for human sacrifice.

Archaeologists have uncovered uncovered burial chambers where people were bound and sacrificed as well as jewelry made of human bones. It was originally believed the Teotihuacan were a peaceful civilization, but it’s now believed they were a role model for human sacrifice and bloodletting.

Cholula is a neighboring city that has an immense underground pyramid built by the Teotihuacan. In fact, it’s the largest pyramid in the world, you just can’t see it. It has five miles worth of tunnels covered with art that predates the Aztec. This same art can be seen within other cultures, suggesting the influence of the Teotihuacan was quite vast.

Josh visits another site called the Mountain of the Blades, which is an obsidian mine. The Teotihuacan used the obsidian to make razor sharp weapons. Normally obsidian is a type of black glass, but in this very specific area, the obsidian is green. The Teotihuacan believed the green obsidian held supernatural powers which only they could harness. These same green blades have been found within other cultures the Teotihuacan visited.

While they haven’t found any tombs of Teotihuacan rulers, they have found multiple temples. Josh is able to enter tunnels beneath one of them. Within the tunnels they’ve been able to find more obsidian blades, pottery and carved statues. They have also discovered the tunnel ends at a room that is under the dead center of the temple. From the artifacts found as well as the shape and usual style of the room, they believe it is a representation of the Underworld.

It would have been used for rituals as well as ceremonies. It is also believed their rulers would have been cremated in a room like this, which explains why there are no burial chambers. It’s possible the new ruler would have been taken to the Underworld to preside over the cremation of the past ruler. When the ceremony was over, he would return from Hell as their new leader.

While there is no definitive explanation for their demise as culture, they are rewriting what they know. The Teotihuacan culture was far more expansive that previously thought with the physical layout of the town extending miles beyond what they originally mapped. They’ve also disregard them as a docile and peaceful people. It appears their level of blood sacrifice rivaled anything that came after them. And they were an incredibly powerful and influential people. Relics, such as the obsidian blades, have been found hundreds of miles away and it was these supernatural blades that instilled fear and submission within others.

It’s quite a fascinating story, with plenty of evidence left behind. It’s amazing they have pyramids almost completely obscured underground. And the weapons they made from obsidian, look as deadly as anything made from steel. In fact, the obsidian they mined was the steel of the time period. A dangerous culture that will surely offer up more interesting stories as their structure and past are unearthed.

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Expedition Unknown – Shangri La Found – S02E22

imageFrom our previous outing, Josh has hooked up with Mark Aldenderfer who is documenting thousands of caves carved into the side of the mountain face. Within this remote region he has discovered temples and paintings left on the cave walls from hundreds of years ago.

But there are more discoveries ahead as Mark finds a rock tower that turns out to be a burial chamber. Inside are remains, bleached white by the sun. They are within an area described as a sky burial. The deceased is brought here and their body is returned to the earth as it were. The remains are left out until only the bones remain. It sounds a bit grim, but the practice and the location are still being used.

In Lo Manthang, Josh stops at a small temple to meditate. It is another remote location and the idea is to remove all external distractions. The idea of achieving peace and harmony is a common theme.

This is also the location Mark has been lead to with dozens more caves that haven’t been explored. Not only are they extremely remote like the others, but they are also 100 feet or more off the ground. Josh and the team have to use rock climbing gear just to get into them.
The others were dangerous, but these appear to be even more so.

What Josh finds is a series of interconnected chambers, a small city within the rocks. From the pottery and animal hides as well as the charred ceiling from cooking fires, this was a heavily occupied area. It’s conceivable that hundreds of people lived in these caves away from any form of attacks and dangers.

As Josh is heading back down, he makes an exciting discovery. Another wall of paintings using the same pigments and styles they’ve seen before. It turns out to be a Buddhist chant, one that has shown up on other temples in the area. Mark believes the people would live in the caves to preserve the small amount of farmland, which is set up as a series of terraces. They would use the land for crops, then store and protect it in the caves.

For their final destination, they are taken to an extremely remote temple. They have to use horses to make the final leg, but even the horses have to be lead up the incredibly steep and narrow winding paths they find.

And this is no ordinary temple as the location is kept a secret, known only to a select group of people who protect and watch over it. One of their party is a monk who literally holds the key to open the door.

The temple is a holy meditation shrine with vivid paintings on the wall, with masks and carved statues. It’s incredibly detailed and adorned for such a remote location. But the inner sanctuary holds even greater discoveries. They enter a room filled with carved deities, the protectors of the monastery. Each is painted in vivid colors and highly decorated. These deities are also holding weapons, armor, swords, shields and even crossbows. Each one is most likely hundreds of years old and a fantastic treasure on it’s own. It’s amazing that things exist in such a staggeringly remote location. And clearly many people have visited this shrine and left their mark on it.

So is this Shangri La? Is this Utopia? If your looking for something along the lines of the Seven Cities of Gold, then no. But, if the Utopia is that of meditation, enlightenment, one with nature and it’s surroundings, then I believe this to be the spot. It’s remote, away from war, away from distraction, disease would be minimal and it’s hidden among the clouds where a person can live simply off the land and meditate on their spiritual well being.

It may not be as glamorous as the tales make it out, but it fits the description pretty well.

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