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Kindertrauma Funhouse:: Hosted By Mickster

July 12th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 18 Comments

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Midsommar

July 11th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments

Hey, just last week I was saying that I dug the low challenge comfort horror of a certain cursed doll movie and stated I was fine getting my nerves rattled elsewhere. Well, leave it to ARI ASTER the director of the soul-curdling HEREDITARY to take me up on the offer and deliver a giant slice of uncomfortable dread cake covered in the most colorful sprinkles human eyeballs can endure. Love it or lump it, MIDSOMMAR is quite the cinematic experience. It’s visually stunning, emotionally ravaging, weirdly funny and surprisingly satisfying as a covert revenge flick. Much like his previous trepidation fueled puzzle box, MIDSOMMAR is constructed with great precision and you’re sure to find yourself connecting dots hours after you leave the theater. There are so many secondary subliminal images that you may start to doubt your own perception. As someone who is terrified of travel and the prospect of hallucinating, this flick didn’t have a hard time getting under my skin. Have you ever played a video game so long that the images and colors get grafted on the inside of your eyelids and then you’re cursed to see them even when your eyes are closed? This movie did that to me. I feel like got a tattoo in my head.

FLORENCE PUGH is impeccably authentic as Dani, a young woman who is suffering after an unspeakable family tragedy. Afraid to be alone with her torturous feelings she tags along with her increasingly insensitive boyfriend Christian (JACK REYNOR) to Sweden to attend a cult-like commune’s celebration with his shady bros. Once there, the too trusting group (who clearly have never seen THE WICKER MAN) are exposed to various hallucinogens, lovely folk art, assisted (with a mallet) suicide, an inbred oracle, bear abuse, a plethora of impressive flower arrangements and one of the most uncomfortable sex acts ever committed to film (leave the kids at home). It’s really a whole hell of a lot to take in and it’s quite the ordeal at times but somehow Dani’s psychological baggage gets intertwined with the festivities and it’s kind of rewarding to see her work through her pain. Sure, she’s surrounded by lunatics but they’re some of the most empathetic lunatics you could ever meet! It’s also very safe to say that Dani learns that she doesn’t really need her boyfriend Christian as much as she thought she did. It’s a real Oprah “ah-ha” moment except with multiple casualties.

ARI ASTER clearly has a talent for making his audience squirm but what I find so fascinating about him is how adept he is at characters. By the end of the movie, I felt like I had actually met new people and spent real time with them. There’s an incredible exchange early on in which Dani confronts Christian about not being fully honest with her in regards to the impending trip and he so smoothly manipulates her that she ends up apologizing for even asking. Rather than present Christian as a cartoon douchebag begging for a comeuppance, it’s easy to believe that even he’s not aware of how low key toxic their relationship has become. Something tells me that even if this couple decided to stay home something equally horrifying would have found its way to them.

At two and a half hours, MIDSOMMAR is not exactly your Friday night multiplex barnburner and like ASTER’s previous film it’s sure to not be everybody’s cup of laced tea. Having said that, this is no way a retread of the director’s debut. Although it too is committed to dredging up levels of emotional suffering rarely exposed MIDSOMMAR, with its searing brightness, ethereal setting and fish out of water cultural ribbing, is unmistakably its own snarling beast. It’s a trip, in more ways than one, and like surviving a dysfunctional relationship like the one it cleverly dismantles, you might not be the same person when it’s over.

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

July 4th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

Happy July 4th weekend! There are ten differences between the image above (A) and the image below (B). Can you spot them all?

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Annabelle Comes Home

July 3rd, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

ANNABELLE COMES HOME is some healing, good-natured horror comfort food. It delivers in the spooky scares department and harbors a potent enough current of demonic chaos yet still plays as mellow as a seventies-era pop song. You wouldn’t think a movie about a cursed doll that acts as a magnet for evil entities would be the feel-good, positive energy spouting flick of the summer but for me it is. Heck, even the simple act of offering a portal into a time when cell phones didn’t exist, grocery store prices were reasonable, board games were abundant and shag carpets covered every inch of the floor was chicken soup for my horror soul. I guess it’s overall rather tame (why in the world is it rated R? It should be mandatory slumber party viewing) but I can have my nerves challenged elsewhere; it’s kind of a nice summer respite just seeing decent people doing decent things every once in a while. This movie is old school fun. It’s sort of like THE GATE (teens battle the supernatural while parents are away CAT IN THE HAT-style), 13 GHOSTS (a menagerie of baddies crash the party) and maybe a little bit of FRIDAY THE 13th: THE SERIES (please respect the cursed objects!). It’s also so much about dealing with grief and loss and residual guilt and it’s all handled sharply.

I also dug this movie because it gave me the opportunity to vicariously experience the wonder of having VERA FARMIGA and PATRICK WILSON as parents. We’re back in THE CONJURING universe and the aforementioned are of course (super generously) portraying paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (the film is actually dedicated to Lorraine who recently passed away). The two are leaving their young daughter alone for the night with a babysitter and what could go wrong as long as nobody goes into the room filled with the cursed objects from hell? Daughter Judy (I just heard the theme song to the THE JETSONS in my head) is played by McKENNA GRACE who is the heir apparent to the child star throne recently vacated by DAKOTA FANNING and previously occupied by JODIE FOSTER (If you’ve seen MIKE FLANAGAN’s HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE you know how talented she is). MADISON ISEMAN is the refreshingly humble and likable blonde babysitter Mary Ellen and KATIE SARIFE is her troublemaking best bud Daniela who surprisingly shifts gears to become the heart of the film. I won’t reveal all of the SCOOBY DOO-like supernatural no-good nicks who materialize but I will say I want to know more about the wind-up monkey with the cymbals.

All in all, this is a well-done side mission in JAMES WAN’s CONJURING world. It brings a flavor all of its own by adding more humor and letting things become more surreal and dream-like and less grounded in reality. In that way, it also brought to my mind STUART GORDON’s DOLLS with its use of a limited setting and its taking place in one evening “the longest night in the world”. Although mostly beautifully handled, I will say that some of the cinematography comes across a little too dark and murky but it’s kind of a nice contrast when the spell has been lifted and everything begins to glow with the brightness of a brand new demon-free day. I found the ending rather moving as the characters have all grown to trust each other and Judy who has been ostracized by her peers (for her parents dabbling in the occult) is ultimately embraced and celebrated. It’s all very corny but that’s what I needed (a tender moment of guidance between Lorraine and repentant Daniela really got to me too).


If you like haunted house flicks, writer GARY (IT, THE NUN, the two previous ANNABELLE flicks) DAUBERMAN’s directorial debut is a fun stand-alone, low investment, cozy as hell, nostalgic spook dispenser that’s perfect for the heart of summer. As with the doll’s sophomore outing ANABELLE: CREATION, I ultimately found the bizarre looking toy to be the least interesting thing inside the much more enthralling canvas that surrounds it but I guess that’s how the little dickens operates. The titular character may not amount to too much but she sure keeps great company. This is certainly not the most satisfying flick in the CONJURING canon but it may be the best suited for many a casual re-watch at home (especially when babysitting).

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

June 28th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

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Child’s Play (2019)

June 26th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments

I’ve got a bunch of conflicting feelings about the new reimagining of CHILD’S PLAY. I loved the beginning of the movie, hated the middle and then somehow regained my original affection for the film’s gleefully bonkers ending. My most positive endorsements would be for BEAR McCREARY’s absolutely phenomenal score  (he’s batting a thousand after wowing recently with GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS) and MARK HAMILL’s wonderfully acute voiceover work as the killer doll. When these two combine their talents for a theme song, which plays over the closing credits, it’s truly sublime (I find myself longing for the soundtrack no matter my overall mixed feelings). In general the movie looks great too and the crisp, colorful cinematography does a persuasive job of harkening back to many a fright flick from the late eighties. I found myself sitting so securely on this summer coaster throughout its first half but damn, I really did fall out of the cart during a too long bubble of time at the midpoint and really had to scramble to climb back on board.

What most differentiates this take from the original mold is that Chucky the killer doll is no longer nuts due to a voodoo possession and is now a robot who was purposely programmed to cause havoc thanks to a disgruntled (and suicidal) factory worker.  This allows the story to stoke fears of technology out of control and taking over our daily lives but it also strangely adds a level of sympathy for the faulty doll. I haven’t felt so bad for a robot since HALEY JOEL OSMENT was abandoned in the forest by his mother in A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELIGENCE (2001). I really loved getting to know this new childlike version of Chucky and found myself relating to him when his glitchy brain would confuse a roll of toilet paper for a science book. The poor guy is like a malfunctioning Casper the friendly ghost and I cared more about that than any of the film’s BLACK MIRROR-esque future fretting. I kept thinking about how Chucky was like an animal taken in and loved by new owners who can’t stop misbehaving due to no fault of its own (sort of like KRISTY McNICHOL’s wrenching dilemma in WHITE DOG). I also have to say Chucky’s eerie uncanny valley visual overhaul worked well with drumming up my sympathies.

Where the movie fails for me is on the script level in the human character department. GABRIEL BATEMAN is fine as Andy and has got an Elliot in E.T. thing going for him but I found all his friends annoying and AUBREY PLAZA (who rules in INGRID GOES WEST) comes off more like a sarcastic babysitter than a believable maternal figure (Maybe I’m just showing my age here though and that I should get used to adults acting like snarky teens). There’s a bit where Andy must hide a grisly trophy that Chucky has gifted him that zapped me out of the entire move. It’s played like a THREE’s COMPANY mix-up and it still irks my head to think about it because it could have been so much better simplified. The entire segment feels forced, and first draft clunky. I’ve also found out that for some reason I’m highly bothered by the juxtaposition of Christmas lights and watermelons (who knew?). After much thought, though I have to admit that my sudden distaste for the movie occurred directly after Chucky kills a cat so maybe on a subconscious level I was kicking back at that peeve for a spell and you might want to take my disdain with a grain of salt.

.Even though I’m also not a huge fan of drones being shoe-horned into modern remakes (see also POLTERGEIST), I did end up coming around to enjoy the gleeful mayhem in the film’s chaotic climax. I’m going to thank a fuzzy bear-like version of the killer doll who shows up for talking me down off the ledge with his mere presence. I really wish that I was able to have as much fun with this movie as others seem to be experiencing but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me. It does seem to be the type of thing I’ll give another chance in the future when I’m not so sensitive (truly, I recently watched INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS and the constant cat peril within made it more nerve-rattling than SILENCE OF THE LAMBS for me). Full disclosure, I may have also been swayed by a pang of free-floating guilt for disloyally crossing original creator DON MANCINI’s invisible picket line even though I justified the act by using my REGAL ticket earnings to see it for free (I didn’t give them a cent, DON! I swear!)

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t listen to me because I have too many issues to count so maybe go and decide for yourself. On some level I almost believe that it’s worth it for the score alone; just don’t tell my cats (or DON MANCINI) I said that.

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Name That Trauma:: Aubrey T. on a Cabin Dwelling Dummy

June 24th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments



Hello! I’ve been trying to figure out this movie I saw maybe in college or high school about a group of teens who go to a cabin the woods. I don’t remember much about it but there is an evil ventriloquist dummy/puppet, made of wood. I seem to recall that Julian Sands owned the dummy/puppet, but I’ve looked through his IMDb page and can’t find anything even close to that. So, there is a Julian Sands-esque guy in it. At this point I might be conflating movies, but I also think the dummy might have granted wishes? Hoping this rings a bell for someone! Thank you!
–Aubrey

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

June 21st, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 9 Comments

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Ma (2019)

June 20th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · No Comments

The latest Blumhouse offering MA is a bit of an emotional pinball machine. It delivers some smart suspense, some genuine creeps and still finds time to be regularly hilarious (if you have a dark sense of humor) and strangely sad. I’m a big fan of horror character studies, revenge flicks and “person from hell” movies (FATAL ATTRACTION, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE) and MA fits the bill on all accounts. It’s kind of like a multi-generational version of LUCKY McKEE’s MAY albeit more grounded and less stylized. By the end of the movie not every puzzle piece fits into place as tightly as I wanted them to but it’s a thoroughly entertaining ride nonetheless. I found it hard not to empathize with the title character even as she was wreaking havoc upon innocent people. There’s just something so cathartic about watching a person go full blown psycho about past grievances and both dreading and sadistically looking forward to the results (De PALMA’s CARRIE still stands as the greatest example of this). As much of this cinematic mousetrap is traceable and familiar, I’m happy to say MA brings a fair share of fresh themes and a uniquely uncomfortable tone to the table as well.

OCTAVIA SPENCER excels as Sue Ann/Ma, a role that seems tailor made for her. She’s subtle, straightforward and never over the top as a mature woman who is coaxed by an amiable group of underage teens to buy them alcohol. When Sue Ann recognizes one of the young folk as the child of her unrequited/abusive high school crush she offers up her basement as a safe place to party and casually integrates into an integral part of the gang’s clandestine activities. On the surface, her character’s increasingly demented behavior appears spurred by a cruel prank from her youth but on another level I think it’s much bigger than that. I almost get the sense that Sue Ann is raging against youth itself or at least the youth that she had lost to being an awkward outsider that never fit in. Witnessing a group of people getting along and having fun reminds her of the carefree life she was denied whether it was because of her gawkiness or because she was the lone black student in her school.

Basically no one is spared her wrath, not the man from her past that betrayed her, not the kids that symbolize all she missed out on and certainly not the boss that constantly berates her. We even come to find that she’s spitefully determined to make sure that her offspring is hammered into an equally unsatisfying existence. Ma is FOMO personified and brandishing very sharp teeth.

What saves Ma from being yet another obsessed stalker Lifetime movie is SCOTTY LANDES witty, aware script, TATE TAYLOR’s confident direction (he’s also great as the local cop) and most importantly, the cast. SPENCER, as mentioned, is gold in the title role but I can’t think of anyone in the cast who doesn’t deliver the goods and then some. JULIETTE LEWIS gets a surprisingly meaty part as a concerned mother and rather than being merely a scolding obstacle like in most teen movies, she’s the many shaded, grounding anchor of normalcy for the entire picture. ALLISON JANNEY and MISSI PYLE both play aggressively nightmarish people who practically beg to have horrible things happen to them and they both excel at their atrociousness. LUKE EVANS is impressive as well as the untrustworthy object of affection for Ma. Surprisingly I liked all the youngins too and each of them is given a chance to shine and have identifiable personalities of their own. I know folks usually don’t go to see horror movies for the acting but in this case it’s actually not a bad idea.

Although MA plays it mostly straight and its dark humor leans toward the situational, there’s an inescapable camp quality to it but I think you could say that about all of the loner revenge films mentioned previously as well. The film operates on several levels at once and can be taken in as seriously as the viewer desires. That said, the best way to view something like this is with a vocal audience in a movie theater or with intoxicated like-minded folks at home (don’t be surprised if you hear references to Ma’s line “Don’t make me drink alone” for the rest of your life).  Sure, I was left with a few questions and I desired one last twist that never came to fruition (and I could have used way more flashbacks to the eighties) but overall, I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in all the social disasters on display. As someone who’s roughly the same age as Ma it wasn’t hard to sympathize with her plight but I found it just as easy to feel akin to the group of teens looking for a safe place to congregate. Ultimately my favorite aspect of MA is that although it’s short lived, when things are going well, before the other shoe drops, it delivers the simple vicarious fun of partying and letting loose- at any age. MA has got her problems but who cares when she also knows the perfect time to break out “the robot” dance.

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Name That Trauma:: Art on a Terrifying Old Woman

June 18th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments

Love the site, have been following for 12 years.  I am trying to find an early to mid 70s, like a made for TV production. I only remember one scene, and it was terrifying as a 5 year old to watch, and my school classmates agreed.  I think I saw it later in the early 80s.  What I remember as follows: Interior of In an old Victorian style house, a large social room. We see the back of an elderly woman sitting in chair, maybe knitting. A man and a woman (one might be her son or daughter) enters through the front door and sees the old woman in the chair. The couple tries to greet the old woman verbally with no response. They approach her,  put a hand on the old woman’s shoulder, she slowly turns to them, standing up and screams like a demon. The old woman has no pupils, only milky white eyes. The couple panics  and screams while the old woman runs past them and crashes out the large front  window in slow motion. She hits the ground outside and runs into the woods. I can remember hearing the crummy stock audio of glass crashing that does not match the visual.  Thanks for any idea of what film this might be in advance!

Best,
Art

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