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UFOs is Dundee? Mark Borchardt investigates.

Mark Borchardt basks in the weirdness of a local UFO gathering in The Dundee Project

Meet the unusual attendees of a small town Wisconsin UFO festival who have been watching the skies and communicating with extraterrestrials for decades.

Filmmaker Mark Borchardt, subject of the 1999 documentary American Movie about his struggle to produce an independent horror film with friends and family, returns with his first short film in over 20 years. The Dundee Project is a 19-minute doc that examines the unique characters who populate a local UFO hotspot in Dundee, Wisconsin.

Strange things have been happening around the small town of Dundee for a long time. Located in the heart of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, the area draws hundreds of thousands annually for it’s bountiful hiking, fishing, and camping. But for decades, visitors and residents alike have been baffled and sometimes even frightened by oddly-shaped objects in the sky over Long Lake, lights in the watery depths beneath, and numerous other unexplained phenomena like lake monsters and wolfmen.

In 1988, following a particularly bizarre incident in which reeds were found flattened and woven into a circular formation thick enough to walk on without falling through into the water, tavern owner Bill Benson and the late Robert “UFO Bob” Keuhn decided to host a gathering where everyone could share their experiences.

Decades later, UFO Daze is still held every year on the third Saturday in July. Believers and skeptics alike gather at Benson’s Hide-a-Way, the “UFO Headquarters,” to enjoy a cup of spiked green punch and wear artfully crafted tinfoil hats.

The Dundee Project

The Dundee Project opens with Borchardt’s drive north into the hinterlands (passing right behind the Cult of Weird hive along the way) as he recalls in voice-over about learning of the festival on the “sad, infinite wastelands of cable television.”

He first attended UFO Daze in 2001 after discovering it was within driving distance of his hometown of Milwaukee. “I consulted the charts and realized that it was practically in my own backyard,” he says.

He brought his camera along and filmed a series of interviews with the festival’s curious participants as he returned year after year to what he calls “a lakeside haven for the thirsty and the curious.”

UFO Bob
Robert “UFO Bob” Keuhn

Mark speaks to several attendees who have personally witnessed extraterrestrial activity, but the primary reason to watch are his conversations with UFO Bob. Bob was a radio personality who used his show to transmit messages to extraterrestrials. The same ones, apparently, who tune in to Green Bay Packers games.

Bob is even in direct communication with a female alien named Eveata whom he refers to at one point during the film as his girlfriend.

Mark doesn’t seem to buy it, prodding Bob with questions that challenge his claims. My favorite moments occur in the outtakes and deleted scenes (thankfully included in both DVD and digital download formats), with Mark’s frustration over Bob’s unshakable beliefs. This is particularly evident when Bob informs Mark that aliens “tampered” with a photo of a UFO over Benson’s that Mark feels is obviously digitally manipulated.

People watching for UFOs in Dundee, Wisconsin
Waiting for aliens to arrive at UFO Daze

I’ve spent the last several years researching the phenomena around Long Lake, including several recent expeditions to the area and a hike to the top of Dundee Mountain, an ancient glacial formation at the southern end of the lake that some believe is the origin of the unusual activity. I even attended the 30th annual UFO Daze in 2018. I haven’t seen anything myself, but it doesn’t really matter. Whether it’s actually aliens or just hi-tech trickery (I’ve heard rumors of hoaxes perpetrated during UFO Daze) the evidence is irrefutable to the denizens of Benson’s, who sit in their lawn chairs at the edge of the lake patiently awaiting visitors from outer space.

As UFO Bob says, “What we’re seeing out here is there.”

The Dundee Project is part humor and part mystery, guaranteed to either ignite your conspiracy theory-fueled paranoia or leave you scratching your head in bewilderment.

Either way, keep looking up.

The Dundee Project trailer narrated by Wisconsin native Jason Vernon of Bon Iver

Order The Dundee Project now right here.

Watch the New Trailer for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The first trailer for Tim Burton’s upcoming film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is here, and it is definitely…peculiar.

Two weeks ago we got our first look at Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children in Tim Burton’s adaptation of the novel. Now we have the first trailer for the upcoming film, which, upon first watch, really feels like it captures the wonder and mystery of the world Ransom Riggs created.

With a few exceptions.

The trailer gives us a good look at the peculiars, including the eerie twins, Millard the invisible boy, and Miss Peregrine herself. But there seems to be one glaring deviation from the original story so far – is that supposed to be Emma Bloom, Jacob’s love interest, floating in the air instead of creating fire?

Later, we also get a glimpse of Samuel L. Jackson with creepy glowing eyes, as well as what seems to be a rather comically-rendered hollowgast creature that looks like something between Marvel’s Venom and Slenderman.

Watch the trailer for Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children movie poster

Despite the weird character changes and the unfortunate hollow CGI, I’m still trying to stay optimistic. How do you think the trailer adds up?

Get Your First Glimpse of The Bye Bye Man

First look at upcoming horror film The Bye Bye Man, based on a short story by Robert Damon Schneck about true events that happened in Wisconsin.
Doug Jones as The Bye Bye Man in the upcoming horror film from STX Entertainment
The Bye Bye Man image via STX Entertainment

Filming recently wrapped on the upcoming horror film The Bye Bye Man, and now we have our first look at actor Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak) as the evil entity himself.

Recent: Watch the first trailer for The Bye Bye Man

Synopsis:

Set in 1990s Wisconsin, the film follows three college students who move into an old, off-campus house, where they find themselves preyed on by a malevolent supernatural entity called “The Bye Bye Man.” They must find a way to save themselves while keeping the whole thing secret to protect anyone else from becoming the entity’s next victim.

What is The Bye Bye Man?

The Bye Bye Man movie is based on a short story by Fortean author Robert Damon Schneck called The Bridge to Body Island. Culled from Schneck’s 2005 book The President’s Vampire, the story recounts the experiences shared by several of his friends from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin after conducting a series of experiments with a Ouija board.

The phenomena associated with Ouija is typically attributed to the ideomotor effect – users moving the pointer unconsciously, making it appear as though an intelligent, supernatural entity is communicating through the board. Skeptical and well aware of this concept, these three friends used blindfolds, sat in the dark, or with their backs to the board to ensure they could not influence the movement.

Still, the planchette moved. It spelled out the story of an albino orphan from New Orleans who became a murderous demon that follows train tracks in the direction of those who are thinking about him.

The film has some good things going for it so far: It’s the perfect premise for a horror flick, Doug Jones is one of my favorite monsters, Schneck’s work is fascinating and, of course, the actual events happened in Wisconsin.

The Witch Movie Playset for Kids

Let your kids conjure up some good old fashioned 1600s witchcraft with Black Phillip and the fam from The Witch!

Does a demonic black goat and the brutal slaughter of your entire family in the woods bring back fond childhood memories? If so, then this playset created by Millionaire Playboy, based on the recent arthouse horror film The Witch, will surely strike a chord.

Yes, those are the innocent Playmobil figures that we all grew up playing with, now twisted and perverted into the outcast family from The Witch who find themselves at the mercy of the devil himself.

From Millionaire Playboy:

Here is the whole playset! (Creepy forest sold separately) We’ve got the homestead, the shed, and the whole family! William can spend his days chopping wood, Katherine comes with a knife (and her silver cup). We have the stunning Thomasin (keep an eye on Anya Taylor-Joy she will be a superstar) as she ventures into the woods. There’s Caleb with the rifle and gunpowder (and special forest friend), and those two rotten twins Mercy and Jonas. They come with a stick to torment Black Philip. And finally Samuel, but he gets lost pretty easily.

The only thing missing is that adorable, suckling raven.

Re-enact Caleb's death in The Witch

Sell your soul to Black Phillip

The Witch movie playset

Hail Satan, kids…right after snack and nap time.

h/t Dread Central

Beware the Slenderman Documentary Coming to HBO Following SXSW Premiere

Beware the Slenderman documentary explores the fictional internet boogeyman that drove two girls to attempted murder in Wisconsin.
Beware the Slenderman documentary coming to HBO after SXSW debut

In 2014, two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls lured their friend into the woods, where they stabbed her 19 times and left her for dead in the hope of gaining favor with a fictional Creepypasta character known as Slenderman. Today, those two girls are awaiting trial in a juvenile detention center about five minutes from the Cult of Weird hive, the process delayed by an appeal of the decision to try them as adults.

In the meantime, a documentary from director Irene Taylor Brodsky called Beware the Slenderman is coming to HBO following its premiere this Friday at SXSW.

From the synopsis:

BEWARE THE SLENDERMAN tells the story of the internet’s elusive Boogeyman and two 12-year-old girls who would kill for him. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier lured their best friend into the woods, stabbed her 19 times, then set out on an odyssey to meet the tall and faceless man known online as Slenderman. Shot over 18 months with heartbreaking access to the families of the would-be murderers, the film plunges deep down the rabbit hole of their crime, a Boogeyman and our society’s most impressionable consumers of media. The entrance to the internet can quickly lead us to its dark basement, within just a matter of clicks. How much do we hold children responsible for what they find there?

Beware the Slenderman screens this Friday, March 11 at 9pm at the Topfer Theatre. There will also be a panel called Down the Rabbit Hole: Slenderman, Children & The Internet happening on Sunday, March 13 3:30pm at the Austin Convention Center. The panel will include Brodsky, as well as Bill Weier, Anissa’s father.

Poster art for the documentary Beware the Slenderman
Beware the Slenderman poster art