kindertrauma random header image

Kindertrauma Funhouse

September 13th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 14 Comments

→ 14 CommentsTags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

It: Chapter Two (2019)

September 9th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 11 Comments

Since the release of the first segment of Stephen King’s IT in 2017, horror fans have been pretty much spoiled with back to back better than average genre fare. The crop has been so high caliber it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when weeks and weeks would go by without any worthwhile releases. We’ve had it so good lately that a movie that emotionally resonates and is chuck full of visionary images of horror can somehow be shrugged off and deemed simply passable or even disappointing. I don’t get it. I loved the ever so epic IT: Chapter 2 and can’t imagine the source material being handled much better. Yeah, I guess it is a little long with its somewhat flabby and redundant midway section but you know the tome it’s based on weighs twenty pounds and features a giant space turtle right? I think director Andy Muschietti has accomplished the nearly impossible and then some. Really, the fact that another interpretation of Pennywise the clown can exist in the same universe as Tim Curry’s beyond iconic take is a feat in itself. Sorry, I’m just feeling kind of grateful that this two-part horror bonanza occurred in my lifetime and that it blessedly takes place in a time frame perfect for me to relate to. I do wish Chapter 2 was wise enough to take advantage of another song by The Cure but whatayagonnado? I can’t pretend I don’t love Cameo’s “Word Up” too.

And hip-hip halleluiah, Chapter 2 has the admirable audacity to jump right into the deep end opening its curtains to the deadly homophobic hate crime that haunted the hell out of me when I first read the book. I don’t care what anyone says, this scene (which is based on a real incident that took place in Bangor, Maine in 1984, two years before IT was published) is crucial to me; it sets the tone of the entire tale and pretty succinctly tells you everything thing you need to know about the not as friendly as it looks town of Derry (I’m sure they thought of including the incident in the 1990 miniseries for exactly zero point zero seconds). There’s admittedly a bit of a risk that such a realistic act of violence would feel abruptly out of place opening what is essentially a horror fantasy but the way it bookends with a revelation concerning Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) balances things out quite well. I’m sure Richie’s newfound direction is not going to go over well with everyone but I think it fits in as snuggly as a missing puzzle piece and besides, King himself has granted his seal of approval. (That reminds me- King has a cameo in this movie as a shopkeeper and it’s by far my favorite he’s ever done as he blasts authors who aren’t particularly good at providing satisfying conclusions to their books, it’s mucho hilarious).

Some folks will tell you IT Chapter 2 goes a little overboard with the CGI and borderline cartoonish special effects and I guess that’s just a matter of personal taste. I personally appreciate that you never know when a rubbery looking, eight-foot-tall funhouse denizen is going to jump out of nowhere and chase someone with arms flailing about and slimy drool pouring from its lips. If there is a reason such an abomination might vomit all over a character to the tune of Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning,” I have no idea what it is, but it certainly adds unpredictability to the bonkers phantasmagorical swirling smorgasbord, which is right in line with King’s hallucinatory original intentions. Yep, there’s an absolutely shameless tribute to JOHN CARPENTER’s THE THING plopped down in the middle of this flick and it’s almost way too on the nose and yet, King himself referenced Universal horror icons (Wolf Man, Mummy, Gill-Man) of the original time period in the book so I guess it’s fair game. It’s a little gimmicky, a little cheap but what the hell kind of horror fan is going to complain about such a thing? Pennywise’s ultimate boss battle form saves his big expressive head and tacks it onto some kind of part scorpion/part spider/part Beetlejuice creature that’s a little trying on my too-slow peepers but hey, I’m old enough to remember when rendering such a monstrosity would be impossible so I’m here to happily digest it. It probably all looks a little too visually similar to the climax of the first film (maybe a contrasting color scheme may have helped?) but I still think it looks better than any attempt to faithfully create how things go down in the book ever would. Thankfully Muschietti seems to understand what’s translatable and what’s not and his shorthand saves the day. There are a couple cringe moments I guess, I found lil’ Georgie’s “You lied and I died” mantra tired at best but since it leads to Bill (JAMES McAVOY)’s realization that self-forgiveness is the key to moving forward, I’m more than happy to let it slide.

It’s not often we get a horror movie with such a vibrant romantic element either. I know I’m a sucker but I’m still shocked this movie was able to get me to ship a Beverly (JESSICA CHASTAIN) and Ben (JAY RYAN) union so hard. Which brings me to another strong element- if ever there was ever an Oscar award given out for casting this baby would be a shoe-in. Many times the blending of the character traits and features is damn eerie. Muschietti even goes so far at one point as to superimpose young and older Eddie’s (JACK DYLAN GRAZER, JAMES RANSOME respectively) faces on top of each other and uncanny doesn’t even begin to cover it. I guess at the end of the day, much like KING’s book, what really matters is how much you connect with the characters. I love all of these guys and somehow that even includes the returning bullies (though one of them is now just a rotting corpse). Mileage may vary but I think it’s likely to vary based on how much empathy you have toward those on screen. IT’s red balloon is always going to float higher for those of us who have experienced bullying, smothering parents, domestic abuse, gay-bashing, psychosomatic asthma, speech impediments, alienating birthmarks, familial deaths, advanced leprosy, horrible customer service at the pharmacy, etc., etc., etc.. Truly, if you’ve ever been chased down the street by a murderous, twenty-foot tall lumberjack this is basically the ONLY movie that understands your pain. I may be biased though, if there’s a story that better illustrated the importance of calling out and facing childhood traumas rather than running from and repressing them, I just don’t know what IT is.

→ 11 CommentsTags: General Horror

Kindertrauma Funhouse

September 6th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 18 Comments

→ 18 CommentsTags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Ready or Not (2019)

September 5th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 4 Comments

Believe it or not, READY OR NOT is about as satisfying as thrillers get. It’s all kinds of suspenseful, hits you with tasty blasts of true horror and the pitch-black humor that weaves throughout is exactly the right effortless tone that never ventures into the too broad and annoying zone. The unremarkable trailer misled me to believe I was in for the standard, been-there, done-that affair but R.O.N. cleverly plays against genre expectations, guides you into areas you’d never assume existed and ultimately pulls off a completely unexpected (literally) explosive conclusion. It’s kind of an irresistible combination of old school parlor room mind game mixed up with survival horror and smothered in satanic cynicism. Plus it all takes place in a sprawling mansion complete with secret doors, dumbwaiters and shadowy alcoves so even on the most basic level, it offers a cozy joint to wander around in for a while. Maybe I’m partial as I’m a giant fan of the board game CLUE which I have to assume was an inspiration even though nobody gets clobbered with a candlestick.

SAMARA WEAVING (THE BABYSITTER) portrays Grace, a woman about to dive into marriage who finds herself intimidated and weary of her fiancé’s aggressively off-putting and obnoxiously wealthy family. Soon after vows are exchanged her milquetoast hubby informs her that the clan has but one request and that is for her to indulge them in the family’s ritual of playing a picked at random game together. It might be checkers, it might be chess, it could be Ker-plunk or Don’t Break the Ice but as luck would have it, Grace picks “Hide and Seek” which amounts to her running for her life as everyone involved tries to kill her. As you can probably guess, Grace is a far greater opponent than anyone in the family is prepared for and soon it’s not quite clear exactly who might survive the night. As someone who finds themselves filled with a crimson rage every time they see a photo of a rich douchebag posing with an innocent dead animal they hunted for sport (steam is coming out of my ears as I type this), I deeply and cathartically relish every damn painful comeuppance Grace inflicts throughout this fine film. It’s the feel-good movie of the summer.   

WEAVING owns this movie (although I gotta give props to ANDIE MACDOWELL as the menacing matriarch as well). Grace is such an appealing and relatable horror heroine. She bumbles and fumbles and makes bad judgment calls and succumbs to her own vices and is, in general, a beautifully flawed, exquisite mess. She doesn’t secretly know karate or build elaborate Rube Goldberg booby traps on the fly either. What makes Grace even more relevant is her well-earned ferocious anger. It’s glorious. At some point, she’s just plain exhausted and royally pissed and so rightfully incredulous as she asks the sky, “What the fuck is wrong with rich people?” There’s something so authentic about the fury that WEAVING emboldens Grace with, her every scream, curse and frazzled wail rings true and feels legit. As the character enjoys a congratulatory exhale from a cigarette at the end of the film (which strongly echoes Veronica (WINONA RYDER)’s casual smoke at the end of HEATHERS) it’s almost difficult to believe she is the same character we started out with. The emotional journey she endures (through optimism, doubt, passivity, paranoia, anger, rage, profound exasperation and finally shrugging blasé victory) is one harrowing yet richly rewarding (and sometimes hilarious) haul.

→ 4 CommentsTags: General Horror

Sunday Streaming:: The Evil (1978)

September 1st, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

Who doesn’t love a haunted house flick? The problem is some reach for subtlety and grab uneventful and long-winded instead. THE EVIL seems to know that it doesn’t have the mastery required to go the suggestive route so it pulls out all the stops and puts on a real show. This is a haunted house movie where things go down and they go down in your face (utilizing old school effects, thankfully.) It flirts with silliness and plays with many a cliché but you can’t accuse it of not delivering. RICHARD CRENNA stars as a psychologist who along with his wife and a merry band of victims decide to restore an old house with a troubled past. The group are separated and dispensed of one by one with the clockwork of a slasher movie and a man-eating lawn makes attempts of escape appear hopelessly futile.

THE EVIL was filmed in a real castle in Montezuma, New Mexico and, per usual, the utilizing of an actual space with authentic history pays off. Frankly, the location alone is more than enough to recommend this movie. THE EVIL is more frivolous fun than under the skin unsettling, but it’s not completely brain dead either. Unlike many a haunted house flick, it comes off as generally interested in the supernatural. An eleventh hour, from left field, appearance of VICTOR BUONO as Satan himself may leave a campy taste in some mouths but I refuse to throw stones at something so unexpected and idiosyncratic (the questionable reveal was reportedly excised from some theatrical versions). If you dig non-stop seventies era atmosphere or just have a taste for old houses in general then this is a must see that, despite its hoary nature, still throws some truly original creative curves. Watch it on TubiTV HERE.

→ 7 CommentsTags: Sunday Streaming

Kindertrauma Funhouse

August 30th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

→ 12 CommentsTags: Kindertrauma Funhouse

Traumafession:: Unk on Helter Skelter (1976)

August 28th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 9 Comments

It’s such a beautiful day outside, so I think I’ll stay in and watch HELTER SKELTER. Lunatic Charles Manson seems to be popping up everywhere lately thanks at least partly to Damon Herriman’s recent duo performances of the cult leader in the Netflix series MINDHUNTER (great show) and Quentin Tarantino’s latest flick ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD (Maybe I’ll borrow it from the library someday?) Herriman has some big old giant shoes to fill because the incredible STEVE RAILSBACK truly brought an intense A-game to his unnerving take in the 1976 two-night event television miniseries. You’d think that what scared the hell out of me when I watched it as a kid would’ve involved one of the two savage home break-in multiple murders (the first so depraved it involves an eight-month pregnant Sharon Tate) but nah, crazily enough what gets under my skin takes place in a courtroom (which is especially nuts when you know that nothing puts me to sleep faster than a courtroom scene). The bit works as a kind of cliffhanger for the first night’s segment. Manson wildly enters the courtroom and takes a seat as GEORGE DiCENZO as prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi (who authored the book) notices that his watch has inexplicably stopped and remarks, “It’s never done this before”. He then looks up to see Charles Manson smiling at him, the implication being that somehow the madman has OMEN-like telekinetic powers and is responsible. RAILSBACK’s smiling, whacked-out expression is the true epitome of insanity. It’s beyond uncanny and far scarier than any special effect could possibly offer. It absolutely terrified me as a kid because I knew that what I was watching was a TRUE STORY and it seemed that what was being suggested was that Manson indeed had supernatural powers and that idea chilled me to the bone.

I have no idea why my parents would think that HELTER SKELTER was an appropriate thing for me to watch.  Truth is though; I was already well aware of the appalling crime thanks to a visit to my cousin’s house where I had stumbled across the book and the gruesome photos inside. Still, I suppose nothing could prepare me for STEVE RAILSBACK’s hyper-convincing delirium and the way he almost seemed to look through the TV screen at me. In typical beat you over the head seventies-style subtly, the monstrous visage freeze frames for even more of an unsettling impact that nearly branded itself inside my head. Watching the movie again as an adult it becomes clear how much the musical score guided by mounting hysteria. It’s something I’m sure I wouldn’t even notice at the time but looking back I recognize so many of the era’s prerequisite musical jabs, nudges and cues. Having been raised on TV, it’s possible I’ve been trained to panic at these blunt obvious sounds like a nervous dog. Composer BILLY GOLDENBERG has a long list of television credits including DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (1973) and CIRCLE OF FEAR which explains a lot.

Note: When I finally did venture outside I stopped by my favorite thrift shop and randomly procured an album by The Brady Bunch entitled “Meet The Brady Bunch”. The record is mostly an assortment of covers of then (1972) popular mellow seventies songs; one of them being Don McLean’s “American Pie”. For some reason known only to them, the Brady kids jump ahead with the lyrics and start their version with “Helter Skelter in the summer swelter…” Yes, the Brady kids actually sing about the Manson murders (Somehow this is even more inappropriate than their cover of Bread’s “Baby I’m-a Want You”)! It’s crazy, right? It just goes to show you how ubiquitous and inescapable the Manson murders were (and apparently still are). Also, I would be remiss if I did not also point out that HELTER SKELTER sports an impressive performance by the late great horror icon MARILYN BURNS ( THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE ) as key witness Linda Kasabian. How she and RAILSBACK eluded Emmy awards is a mystery for the ages.

→ 9 CommentsTags: Traumafessions

News:: Anthony Michael Hall Cast as Tommy Doyle in Next Halloween Film!

August 27th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · No Comments

→ No CommentsTags: General Horror · Kinder-News · Kinder-Topix

Name That Trauma:: Brother Bill on Post Apocalyptic Cockroach Soup

August 26th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

Back again, having given up trying to identify a short film (maybe 2 minutes long?) I saw on television in the early 90s (possibly on Night Flight, USA Up All Night or similar type clip show). It was in color and looked like it could have been made in the 1980s(?)  It was about a family living in a desert cave years after a nuclear apocalypse. The parents are preparing a meal in a pot around a campfire and begin telling a story to the children about life before the bomb. In the story, which we see rendered as a flashback, a housewife is preparing dinner in a typical suburban kitchen, only to be frightened by the presence of a cockroach. She comically screams directly in the camera before the roach is killed off in some manner (can’t remember if it gets stomped or sprayed). Returning to the cave, the children are in disbelief that someone could be so afraid of a cockroach. Then we find out why. The food the parents are preparing in the pot is a cockroach soup, cockroaches being the only animal to survive the nuclear war. 

It’s definitely NOT Damnation Alley or Twilight of the Cockroaches  (which is what you are going to find when you Google for “post-apocalypse roaches”)

Thanks! 
Brother Bill

→ 2 CommentsTags: Name That Trauma!

Sunday Streaming:: Darkroom

August 25th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments

Hey! It has come to my attention (Thanks to our old pal Amanda By Night of Made For TV Mayhem fame) that the excellent short-lived horror anthology series DARKROOM is available to watch for FREE (you don’t even have to sign up!)! DARKROOM is hosted by the great JAMES COBURN and it came out right at the height of the early eighties horror boom. A few episodes that were too intense for broadcasting were strung together to make the cult favorite theatrical flick NIGHTMARES (1983). Fuzzy home-recorded episodes of DARKROOM have been bouncing around the internet for years but this is your big chance to see the show all crisp and clear as it was meant to be seen. I have a funky feeling it may never graduate to physical media so this may be your one and only chance! Be sure to check it out HERE!

→ 5 CommentsTags: Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert! · Sunday Streaming