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Sunday Viewing:: Tales From The Darkside: Seasons of Belief (aka The Grither)

December 21st, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

I have the perfect segue from talking about THE BABADOOK to getting ready for the holidays. It’s an episode of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE’s third season called “Seasons of Belief” even though it would make much more sense to call it “The Grither.” It’s Christmas Eve and a little brother and sister (Hey, it’s Glim-Glim’s best friend JENNA SixVON OY again!) are acting up, being bratty and generally disparaging Santa Clause. In order to cool the kid’s jets and perhaps teach them some humility, the kid’s notably long in the tooth father (CREEPSHOW vet and SUPERMAN 2 president, the always awesome E.G. MARSHALL) and his much younger wife (I’m just sayin’) tell the moppets a terrifying tale of an artic beast called ”The Grither.” The kids are warned that the monster’s name must not be said aloud or else he’ll come a’ calling. You know where this is going don’t you?

As the parents relay more and more fantastic details and even improvise a Grither theme song, the creature seems to grow more and more corporal as if they are conjuring him into reality. In fact, this lil’ 20 minute episode is not unlike a mini-version of the great SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT. I believe the hostile wind from that treasure of a movie even makes an appearance! Nope, there’s not much innovation going on here, but MARSHALL is so much fun to watch, the requisite shock ending is out of this world and the last line is the funniest thing I ever heard.

“The Grither” is the lone directorial effort of the late MICHAEL McDOWELL who authored the classic BEETLEJUICE, another tale of a ghoulish entity whose name should never be spoken and if it doesn’t get you in the holiday mood, quite frankly, I don’t know what will.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert! · Sunday Streaming

The Babadook (2014)

December 19th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

I apologize if you’re already tired of hearing about THE BABADOOK. Until recently I was tired of hearing about it myself. I was assuming people were only talking about it because the title is so enjoyable to say. I just found out though there’s a completely different reason this little flick has gotten tongues a’ wagging and that reason is the rarest of all- THE BABADOOK is actually really good! I know, I’m shocked too! I thought horror fans only rallied when they were instructed to by manipulative marketing campaigns but in this case, the enthusiasm is on the up and up. THE BABADOOK totally deserves the attention it has and will continue to receive, and that’s coming from someone to whom hype is a serious buzzkill. If you crave gore (who doesn’t?) or are frightened by jolty noises, cats being thrown in windows or killers suddenly appearing in medicine cabinet mirrors after they are closed, this may not suit your needs but if you dig the type of paranoid horror that burrows deep into your psyche and makes you squirm like a worm on a hook… then it’s a goldmine. THE BABADOOK left me with a fear I have not felt since I finished watching SESSION 9, which is a fear not of an evil outside myself but a fear of an evil covertly camped out in some dark corner of my own head. That’s good stuff!

Viewers may recognize the terrain but be warned that while you’re noting the nods to REPULSION and THE SHINING, writer/director JENNIFER KENT, aided by a knock out performance by actress ESSIE DAVIS, is cleverly crafting characters that you can’t help identify with and feel empathetic towards which brilliantly pays off in maximizing the stakes. It’s easier (and probably wiser) to sell this movie as a “kid’s imaginary friend turns out to be real” flick but it’s anything but. It’s much more concerned with how grief and depression can eventually eclipse everything when left unattended and how frightening it is to live in fear of your own rage. I never truly agreed with STEPHEN KING when he complained that JACK NICHOLSON was too crazy at the beginning of THE SHINING to make his psychological downfall dramatic enough but now thanks to DAVIS’ performance, I finally see his point. She’s really incredible in this and she reminded me how truly crap-your-pants terrifying it is when you are a kid and you witness a trusted adult’s face transform in fury.

KENT’s direction and storytelling is equally impressive as she insists the audience keep on their toes and never lets them rest with a black and white perception of the goings on. We look at things through the child’s eyes and the parent’s eyes and each take turns being either terrified or terrifying. At one point KENT utilizes a horrific image from the “Drop of Water” segment in MARIO BAVA’s BLACK SABBATH (1963) but I think it is his underrated last film, 1977’s SHOCK (aka BEYOND THE DOOR 2), with its precarious reality, ambiguous antagonist and distressing mother/son bond that BABADOOK is most indebted to. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t bring a casserole of its own to the picnic. If more horror films took half the time BABADOOK does in establishing its characters the world would be a sweeter and scarier place. It’s not a perfect film, I suppose the ending could have been stronger, but what it sets out to express it does wonderfully and it’s nice to see horror breaking bread with emotional depth rather than detached voyeurism and puerile power fantasies for a change. The fact that the titular boogey man is possibly the least interesting component is a marvel.

I tells ya, I’ve got this goofy clown doll on my desk which is sort of creepy but would never actually scare me and while I was watching BABADOOK, I looked up at it and the light hit it just right and it was like another doll altogether and I thought, “Why the hell do I own such a thing?!”And that’s what good horror does or good art in general does. It makes you look at your world through a different filter, if even for a brief moment. When you see something well done, you get to almost jump inside it for a while and if it’s really well done, it jumps inside of you.

→ 7 CommentsTags: General Horror

Traumafession:: Warren F. on Ed Sullivan and a Gluttonous Muppet

December 18th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · No Comments

I remember watching The Ed Sullivan Show (or program) on a “black and white” (grey scale) TV with my parents circa “1967”. Ed Sullivan was showing the puppetry talents of Jim Henson and one of his puppet performances was “The Glutton”. This was a very large Muppet operated by Jim that would eat everything in sight incessantly (the “cookie monster” of Sesame Street is a grossly watered down version of this “uncanny valley” mega puppet that Jim created). The glutton was interrupted in his eating by a small flying saucer. The saucer shot a ray at him and made him small. When he was small, a “normal sized” version of him walked into the scene, looked down at him, picked him up, and ate the smaller version of himself… needless to say the 5 year old me ran screaming from the room…

UNK SEZ: Thanks for the traumafession, Warren! Sadly I couldn’t find “The Glutton” on YouTube but I did find a clip of JIM HENSON’s first appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, check it out below!

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Traumafession:: Father of Tears on Deckard Versus Pris in Blade Runner

December 17th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

Blade Runner” as a childhood trauma? Considering how I was introduced to it yes! Way back in the early 1980s at the age of 15 I was channel surfing while watching TV. When I got to HBO I stumbled upon the scene in “Blade Runner” where Deckard confronted Pris. Deckard goes into the toy room filled with creepy dolls. When he finds Pris trying to imitate one of the life sized dolls she gets up and attacks him. As she beats him up I’m thinking, “This spike haired crazy lady with the weird makeup is creepy!” She’s screaming the whole time and she even gets him in a “standing headlock” with her legs. When she twisted his head and body around I thought she twisted just his head! Pris then temporally lets him go she decides to run at him to finish him off…..while doing gymnastic flips! While she’s in mid-flip Deckard gets his gun and shoots her in the abdomen. Now this is the part that REALLY had me creeped out: Pris lands on her back and she violently, and rapidly, pounds her fists and feet on the floor while she’s screaming her head off. Quite an unnerving thing to stumble upon!

Oh, this isn’t the first time I was “introduced” to a movie via seeing a traumatic death scene. Can you say “Heavenly Creatures“?

FatherofTears

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Traumafession:: Eric D. on Wolfman (1979) and Hugo’s Video Store

December 15th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

I was a child in the early 90’s and there were two things I loved; werewolves and the video store. A combination which got along together like peanut butter and jelly. Werewolves had been my favorite monster since I had been shown The Wolf Man starring Lon Chaney Jr. by my father. The other side of this match made in horror heaven, the video store was where I acquired my love of film and indulged my imagination.

In short, the video store was my salvation. I loved everything about it, going there and seeing all the strange box covers promising entry into a strange, fantastic and often terrifying world where all the rules and limitations of mundane reality no longer applied. Werewolves, vampires, unstoppable indestructible undead maniacs and monsters of every description were not only very much real but out to get you; you were in their world now. It was simply the biggest thrill in my life. The first video store that I ever frequented was Hugo’s video store.

It was a small independent operation run by none other than the man himself, the eponymous; Hugo. The place had wooden shelves upon which sat all the box covers. I was compulsively drawn to the horror section because I adored the genre more than any other due to an early introduction given me by my father of all the old Universal Monster movies of the 1930’s and 40’s. Now one box in particular stood out and scared me, positively sent shivers down my spine. It featured a werewolf with what appeared to be bluish-blackish hair, an off white or light tan dress shirt, bearing his fangs and staring down from the shelf with the most terrifying look my young eyes had ever seen. My heart skipped a beat looking up at that face and made me feel as though my stomach dropped out.

My father rented it for me, I got it home, put the tape into the VCR and by the end, I was captivated, frightened and utterly distraught. It was the saddest movie my young self had ever seen. Many years past, Hugo’s video store packed up and moved to another location in the neighborhood for a short while and then eventually went out of business. Other video stores opened up at the same time as or shortly after Hugo’s and they in turn went defunct as the decade gave way to the millennium and the rise of the internet sounded the death knell of these emporiums of my adolescent phantasmagorical celluloid neuroses.

For years I could not remember the name of the film. Maybe I never knew it. I could only remember bits and pieces of it, certain pictures. A priest walking in the autumn woods, pensively traipsing over orange, yellow and brown leaves. A werewolf pierced by a mystical dagger falling to his death followed by an end credit crawl. I had forgotten the name of the movie but these images stayed with me.

The feeling the movie gave me stayed with me. I tried to find it on the internet but could not. I only remembered the box cover with that face and the ‘Thorn/EMI’ logo I had become familiar with through encounter of it on numerous other films I had rented over the course of many years. Then finally one day a year or two ago, I succeeded in rediscovering for myself this terror archetype long submerged and obscured yet nonetheless looming mightily in my subconscious memory.

There it was staring at me from my luminescent laptop screen opened to Google images. It was a recherche little title from 1979 called “WolfMan“, starring Earl Owensby. Elation took hold of me, I had finally satisfied the nagging question from my youth; “what was that movie called?”. I flew to Ebay immediately and purchased a copy for my collection immediately. The tape arrived in the mail several days later and on a warm summer’s night in the icy cold dark of an air conditioned bedroom, much like the one in my childhood on which I first saw the film, I watched WolfMan.

One thing was different however this time around; the movie was not good. Apparently time and maturity instill in one things lacking in the adolescent; namely taste and discernment. Not to say the movie was entirely without merit nor held any enjoyment, for there is something to be said for the sets and camera work which are quite well done. However, the acting is simply subpar and laughably wooden especially from the star, Mr. Owensby, who also produced the film. The story is typical for a werewolf movie involving a family curse and a tragic love angle, nothing to write home about.

What this did for me was to deepen my appreciation for the wide gulf which exists between the perceptions we have of something as a child or in the form of a memory and the reality of the thing in itself as it actually is when perceived through the lens of adulthood and a sense of discernment. I will always cherish WolfMan for the emotions it stirred in me and the memories I had of it as I experienced it in childhood, but it isn’t a good movie.

I can see why Earl Owensby is not as well known and consequently has not developed the same sort of following as have fellow producers of southern-fried horror such as Charles B. Pierce with his well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable films Legend of Boggy Creek and The Town that Dreaded Sundown. Though this be the case, I don’t think he should go unmentioned entirely as he seems to because despite the lack of quality dialogue and general dullness of his movies, you can tell that Mr. Owensby is truly passionate about film and has had quite a career outside of acting, building a successful film studio in North Carolina and has contributed to movies such as James Cameron‘s The Abyss.


Wolfman by MargaliMorwentari

→ 2 CommentsTags: Traumafessions

Sunday Viewing: Monsters Season 1, episode 13: Glim Glim

December 14th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 1 Comment

You guys have to meet Glim Glim if you have not already had the honor. He lives in a Christmas set episode of MONSTERS from 1989. He looks a little like McDonald’s “Grimace” crossed with a pickle with Sigmund the Sea Monster tentacles. Poor guy, his space ship crashed on the planet and he accidently killed a bunch of people because of some virus he brought with him but he’s trying this best to correct the situation. Sadly his high-pitched voice makes communication impossible (although viewers are privy to his thoughts) and his appearance (not to mention his track record of inadvertently killing people) is a major hurdle in making new friends.

Christmas is right around the corner though and what better time to express one’s good intentions and offer an olive branch? GLIM GLIM is awesome. The world needs more GLIM GLIM and it needs it now. GLIM GLIM was written by PAUL F. WILSON (THE KEEP) and is the lone directorial effort of PETER STEIN the cinematographer of both FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2 and PET SEMATARY. It also stars a young JENNA VON OY who a few years later would star in BLOSSOM and not BATTLESTAR GALACTICA as a character named “Six”. This is a very special episode, as they say, so if you don’t have tissues remember toilet paper works just as well.

→ 1 CommentTags: Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert! · Sunday Streaming · Telenasties

Name That Trauma:: Anita C. on a Baleful Box in a Bike Basket

December 13th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · No Comments

Hello! Scott M. from Dearly Departed Tours in Hollywood recommended I write to you after he didn’t have an answer to my movie query. I hope you can help me.

In 1959, my babysitter took me to a theatre to see two movies. The first movie was Wasp Woman, and I was terrified. The second movie began with a little boy happily riding his bike with a box in his bikes’ basket. Something from inside the box began piercing the box and two holes appeared. That was it. My 9 year old brain couldn’t handle another scary movie, so we thankfully left the theatre. In hindsight, the bike riding might have happened farther into the movie, but that’s all I can remember.

Thank you in advance!

Sincerely,

Anita

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Mickster’s Christmas TV Movie Funhouse

December 12th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 13 Comments

Today we have an early Christmas gift from our pal Mickster! Mickster has assembled ten images from ten Christmas TV movies. How many do you know?

→ 13 CommentsTags: Kinder Loves Mickster! · Kindertrauma Funhouse

Trauma Solved:: RatSawGod on The Little Match Girl

December 11th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 4 Comments

Finally. I finally found it. It took almost six years, but I finally found my Little Match Girl.

In December of 2008 you published my original Name That Trauma involving my early 1970’s viewing of an animated version of The Little Match Girl that seriously wrecked my frail childhood psyche. With you published post I got a few helpful suggestions that, unfortunately, all came to dead ends. A few years of poking around the Internet proved fruitless. I was ready to give up the search.

I finally, FINALLY had a solid lead when someone uploaded an incomplete clip to YouTube that featured an animated The Little Match Girl with narration. The narrative sounded like it was another girl telling the tale, but at the end of the clip you see the narrator speaking… and it was a little boy. The clip abruptly ended there. I was floored! A boy! Could this be the version I had been seeking?!

I went back to Amazon.com and redid my movie search. Mercifully, I was able to find a DVD with the exact same boy narrator on the cover. The movie was The World of Hans Christian Andersen from 1971, which was a Japanese animated feature that had been dubbed and re-released here in the states. I ordered the DVD on the spot.

When it finally arrived I sat through the whole damn thing on the edge of my seat (though in truth the movie wound up being pretty terrible), then at the end of the movie came the telling of The Little Match Girl. It seems I had not gotten some of the details right; he’s actually telling the story to a cat and a crying child on the steps of an opera house (hey, I was a few years shy of ten when I originally saw this so give me some credit.) Still, this SEEMED like the version I saw. But I knew I could only be certain if the story ended with the reveal that the boy’s story had captured the attention of a huge crowd on the street.

The tale ended. It cut back to the boy telling the tale. But in this version it is thunderous applause that pulls the boy out of his reverie. And yes, YES YES that applause is revealed to be an enormous crowd on the street that had been listening. Like the intro to the tale I had gotten some of the minor details wrong about the tales conclusion, but I knew, then and there, that THIS was the version I saw as a child.

I actually exploded in tears. I had found it. At long last, I got to see it again.

Despite the fact the whole movie was pretty bad, they actually did a stellar job on The Little Match Girl story itself. It definitely holds up… turns out I also had good taste as a child. Who knew? Heh-heh! Anyway, I uploaded the whole clip to YouTube, which can be viewed HERE. See for yourself.

I wanted to thank Kindertrauma for getting me actively thinking about traumas from my childhood, which had made me more consciously aware of this formative moment from my youth. Even though The Little Match Girl seriously messed childhood self up, its message was so important and formative in making me the man I am today.

Very Appreciatively,

RatSawGod

→ 4 CommentsTags: Name That Trauma! · Traumafessions

The Horror of…Wallpaper

December 5th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

It’s time to redecorate Kindertrauma Kastle and I’m thinking what this dump needs is some wallpaper. It shouldn’t surprise you that I plan to turn to horror films for inspiration. Here’s a list of some of the wallpapered flicks that popped into my head. (Image above courtesy of Disney’s Haunted Mansion)

SUSPIRIA (1977)

First and foremost, let’s get this wacky masterpiece out of the way. It’s practically a wallpaper catalog and any wall not papered has some kind of painted mural on it. I love how ARGENTO uses this knotty black and white, migraine inducing background to convey that Suzy Bannion (JESSICA HARPER) is about to become entangled in a web of madness. Suzy’s pitch-dark locks begin to intertwine with the design and just as you’re thinking she might disappear, she turns a corner into another room and actually vanishes for a moment before resurfacing.

THE DEAD ZONE (1983)

There are at least two cases of off-putting wallpaper in this DAVID CRONENBERG adaptation of the novel by STEPHEN KING. The first occurs as Johnny Smith (CHRISTOPHER WALKEN) has a psychic vision of his nurse’s daughter trapped by a fire in her cheerily decorated room. The juxtaposition of lulling imagery with the terrifying fire is positively kindertraumatic. Later, Johnny helps Castle Rock’s sheriff (TOM SKERRITT) solve a string of murders and eventually they are lead to the psychotic killer’s childhood room, which is papered in galloping cowboy heroes.

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (s) (1979, 2005, 2012)

Everybody had horrifying wallpaper in the seventies. I know my parents thought paper plagued with puke-green bicentennial liberty bells was a good idea. The drab designs spied in the original 1979 AMITYVILLE flick may appear especially sickly today but they were pretty much garden variety at the time. 2005’s remake musters up a faux-tacky tribute that’s easy on the eyes but too over stylized to be convincing as a real home. Not surprisingly, one must turn to reality to witness true atrociousness. The Amityville house’s actual wallpaper as seen in 2012’s MY AMITYVILLE HORROR is far more maddening than anything ever attempted on the big screen.

CATHY’S CURSE (1977)

I get dizzy whenever I think about this movie. Some sort of effort must have went into making Cathy’s doll (that damned dirty rag!) look fetid and yet I’m sure nobody needed to alter the house’s existing wallpaper to insure it properly conveyed an overpowering presence of mold and mildew.

OFFERINGS (1989)

It’s probably best that only those who dig enduring craptastic nonsense check this one out. Truth is, I almost wrote a NTT for this title about a year after I saw it because I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember its name. Just about the only thing I did remember from this backyard flick was the opening scene’s alarmingly garish orange wallpaper. It tastes like my eyes are eating chalky Bayer’s chewable aspirin.

LORDS OF SALEM (2012)

For all the relentless talk of ROB ZOMBIE’s white trash esthetic, he sure has some classy taste in muted wallpaper.

DERANGED (1974)

Let’s hear it for DERANGED’s dainty granny print.

PHANTASM & PHANTASM !! (1979, 1988)

I’ve always been envious of Mike’s outer space wall mural but a recent viewing of Part 2 reminded me that flick has some groovy looking walls as well.

HELL NIGHT (1981)

Anytime is the right time to visit Garth Manor. How appropriate that this paper sports some golden mustard tones as the residents of Garth Manor are not unlike insects trapped in an amber past. I’m naming this pattern “Gilded Gork.”

DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE (1971)

I brought this one up in an old post entitled “Seven From The Seventies.” I don’t know what it is about this bizarre Belgian/Italian co production but it never fails to give me the creeps. Maybe I should place part of the blame on the fact that the flick takes the viewer to a castle in which the upholstery on the furniture fiendishly matches the disconcerting wallpaper. It’s no wonder that an evil succubus and Satan himself hang out in such a joint.

WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCALATE FACTORY (1971)

Yay! Delicious, lick-able wallpaper! BTW, JOHNNY DEPP can eat a bag of Snozberries. GENE WILDER will always be Wonka to me.

THE OTHERS “Luciferous” (2000)

If time heals all wounds, when am I going to get over the cancelation of THE OTHERS? If there is an alternate universe where this excellent supernatural series lasted more than thirteen episodes that is where I should rightfully live! This dimension is for the birds! In my favorite episode (which was originally aired out of order because this show can’t get a break) reluctant psychic Marian Kitt (JULIANNE NICHOLSON) moves into an apartment with elaborate green wallpaper that just happens to house a tiny nefarious demon that means to entrap her.

THE PERFUME OF THE LADY IN BLACK (1974)

If MIMSY FARMER is losing her mind she’s certainly chosen the right environment to do so. Are you familiar with the art of Louis Wain? Wain painted cats and some believe that as he grew more and more mentally ill, his paintings became more and more colorful, intricate and psychedelic. On the other hand, it is also possible that his work simply became more experimental. Anyway, I bring him up because I think the colorfully intricate and progressive beauty found in TPOTLIB goes a long way to convey a mental state becoming less and less anchored in reality.

THE HAUNTING (1963)

I might be cheating a tad here. I don’t believe the notorious visage encountered in THE HAUNTING actually appears in wallpaper but rather some kind of textured tile relief. Still, I’d me remiss not to mention it, as it is the king of decorative menaces. Director ROBERT WISE brilliantly utilizes the phenomena of pareidolia to lead the viewer towards perceiving a terrifying presence and perfectly captures that moment in fear when one looses trust of their senses.

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER

No discussion of scary wallpaper can be complete without mentioning this classic short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman who suffered from depression wrote this tale to illustrate to her doctor that productivity was more beneficial to her than the stifling rest he prescribed. In doing so she created something that operates not unlike the wallpaper the story centers upon, a seemingly infinite tangled miasma for readers to project their own psyches upon. There have been a few cinematic adaptations of this haunting work but I’m going to thrust upon you the 1948 radio version performed by AGNES MOOREHEAD because AGNES MOOREHEAD is the coolest.

TWILIGHT ZONE “Something in the Walls”

If you’re not a fan of ambiguity, this episode from the Twilight Zone reboot should do the trick. DEBORAH RAFFIN (GOD TOLD ME TO, THE SENTINEL) stars as a mental patient who will not tolerate patterns of any kind. That’s because once upon a time she saw a face in one and she’s rightfully fearful of the entity’s return.

THE PACT & DREAMHOUSE (2012, 2011)

Wallpaper figures prominently in the poster art for both a brilliant independent film (THE PACT) and a totally forgettable pile of Hollywood muck (DREAMHOUSE)!

TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003)

Remember how this South Korean psychological horror flick had the most beautiful wallpaper based opening credits ever? As the print’s flowers dislodge and float about, we’re given an early warning of the fluidity of perception.

THE SHINING (1980)

Hey, this isn’t wallpaper! It’s a frickin’ carpet! Oh well, I don’t care. The pattern is used to reflect a disoriented, ‘lost in a maze’ state of mind and so I’m including it. But now having flipped the subject onto the floor it’s surely the time to stop. Some of the patterns we looked at were featured in films by random chance and some were surely painstakingly thought out choices by a filmmaker who wanted to express something specific. The important thing is that while we were discussing all of this Kindertrauma Kastle has been freshly papered! We have chosen to plaster the walls with images of great Philadelphians! There’s nothing more relaxing than sensing a hundred or so dead eyes following you!

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