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The Last House on Dead End Street (1977)

August 15th, 2013 · 8 Comments

I had seen about half of THE LAST HOUSE ON DEAD END STREET (1977) before; it was about ten years ago and, here in Philly, somebody was showing a double feature of it along with FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3 in actual 3-D (a big deal at the time)! Back then, I only cared about seeing FRIDAY, but now I’m kind of amazed that somebody had access to a 35 mm print of TLHODES. From what I saw of TLHODES that night, I had no regrets for showing up late and not sitting through its entirety. I love horror but there are certain movies that fall into the sadistic zone that I stay away from just because I’m not into the whole “Now I feel like soaking in a tub of Clorox” thing. I get why other people enjoy pushing their limits but I’ve done my time in the trenches and I don’t need to try every 31 Baskin & Robbins flavors to have a general idea of what appeals to me. Forget the rampant torture and sadism for a minute, DEAD END STREET shows a cow being slaughtered! Morrissey wouldn’t approve, but my delicate condition demands that I stay willfully ignorant of the ungodly bloodcurdling origins of my beloved Whopper Jr.! I pretend magic makes them.

So there I was living the life perfectly content never seeing DEAD END STREET again. Let others put it on a pedestal based solely on its obscurity, I was done with that horror-ipster stuff. But then one day I saw the mesmerizing mess-terpiece SHADOWS OF THE MIND (1980) by the same director (the late ROGER WATKINS) and I became curiouser and curiouser. As much as I didn’t have a taste for DEAD END before, I suddenly found myself needing to see something else from the director of SHADOWS OF THE MIND and, sans his porn output, it was my only option.

But could I take it? Yep, it turns out I could. I only wanted to turn it off once and that wasn’t even because of the sadism… it was because of the eerie as damnation score freaking me out. (Oh wait, I must have caught something from Chuckles because that is a lie. There is a shot of a woman in a clear mask and the way her features fluctuate beneath the translucent, plastic shell shoved my finger toward the pause button for a millisecond too.) I can see now that this movie really is something. Let me unpack my sack of non-criticisms! The acting is insane, it’s poorly dubbed, it choppily skips all over the place and it looks like hell and hell on a budget, dragged through the mud. As you know, I no longer give any of those types of slights the time of day. None of those crutches can stop the film from being unforgettably disorienting and disturbing. In fact, I’m sure they help.

There’s absolutely nothing supernatural going on in TLHODES but still, the whole shebang stinks of bad mojo. It’s like being a witness to a savage ritual and its grim unyielding take on dog-eat-dog inhumanity has a bite that may require a tetanus shot. WATKINS admitted that most of the film’s budget went to his drug addiction, which could explain the movie’s blistering nightmare feel and palpable raging desperation. Somehow, amidst all this trash-tastic rubble though, there are clear glimmering flashes of aberrant artistry that should appeal to anyone who has a jones for gritty seventies-era exploitation.

Geez, it really is incredible how powerful a simple mask can be on film… and hey, snuff! You can’t help but make a statement about society’s disgusting nature when you have snuff as a topic in your film! Oh, I’m sorry I forgot to tell you the plot! A guy (writer/director WATKINS) gets out of jail and needs to make money, so he decides to make snuff films. Worse still, he somehow gets a group of equally down on their luck people to help. Worser still, there’s Manson-esque henchladies! Worstest still, they wear hideous masks! I recommend this flick to folks looking for something extreme or maybe annoying too-happy people who need to be made less so. In any case, all humans must watch the trailer! It alone could scratch itself a permanent hole in your psyche…

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Mother’s Day Funhouse

May 10th, 2013 · 5 Comments

“I’m so proud of my boys- they found all ten differences!”

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Evil Dead Funhouse

April 5th, 2013 · 5 Comments

I know now that my wife has become host to a Kandarian demon. I fear that the only way to stop those possessed by the spirits of the book is through the act of… finding ten differences in these two photos.

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Mind Your Mama Funhouse

January 18th, 2013 · 13 Comments

MAMA opens today! Identify these 10 movie moms or you will get a whoopin’!

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Name That Trauma:: Matty from Boston needs a Christmas Miracle!

December 23rd, 2012 · 2 Comments

Dear groovy emperors over at Kindertrauma —

Relp me Raggy!

As a daily reader of this fun, funny, thoughtful, and tremendous site (I even was lucky enough to get my “It’s a Horror to Know You” published — a banner day in my household), I’m hoping some of the swell readers can assist me in figuring out 3 long-buried and forgotten childhood images. Sadly for me, these days I have the memory of a goldfish, so I would consider it the best gift from Santa if someone could help me out.

(01) A young adult/teen thriller novel from the glory days of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. The cover depicts what could possibly be an old hag or a witch in supreme evil lurking mode, whilst the heroine clutches her boyfriend as she hides behind him. I remember the guy on the cover has a ripped white T-shirt. It’s an illustrated color cover. It could’ve been part of a series of novels.

(02) A movie that played on HBO over and over in the 80’s. All I remember is a young girl who has to hide underneath the fireplace from the bad guy(s). There may have been bandits or ghosts involved, and I believe the movie may have had “mansion” or “maniac” or “murder” in the title. It played during the day, so it was probably PG.

(03) A movie that also played on HBO in the 80’s where people are shipwrecked and stranded on an island. At one point, they all sit around a campfire and one girl says when she gets off the island she’s going to “burn this sweater”.

With this wealth of information I’ve shared (I know, there’s barely anything to go on), I’m hoping for a Christmas miracle!

And here’s my shameless self-promotion throwback to my “IAHTKY“!

Sincere thank you’s and wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year filled with glitter, unicorns, and double rainbows,

Matty from Boston!

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Silent Night Evil Funhouse

November 30th, 2012 · 4 Comments

Hey, it’s BLACK CHRISTMAS sneaking around with an alternate title! There are ten (I hope) differences between these two posters, can you spot them all?

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It’s a Horror to Know You:: Robert Wray of There’s Something Following Me

October 15th, 2012 · 5 Comments

It’s a Horror to Know You: Robert Wray of There’s Something Following Me!

1. What is the first film that ever scared you?

This is unquestionably Night of the Living Dead (1969). It was around 1978 when my Dad and I watched a television broadcast of this film. We were probably about 30mins into it when my Mom entered the room and started freaking out because my Dad was letting me (age 6-7) watch Night of the Living Dead. She claimed that all of the people die in the end and I shouldn’t be watching it. My dad reluctantly agreed to turn it off. So I had to wait until the advent of home video (about three years later) to finally see the full length film. Until then my mind tried to comprehend how and why would everyone die in this film.

Up to that point the horror films that I watched were almost all creature feature/after school/ late night movies on TV. The films were usually Hammer, Universal, or American International films in which the protagonists always defeated the monster or at least lived to fight another day. How did these people in Night of the Living Dead die? Did the zombies get inside? Did they try to leave and die horribly that way? What about the cellar? How could everyone die? Why would that happen in a movie? Why would the filmmakers do that? Heavy thoughts for a 7 year old.

Well a few years later I saw the very first video release of the film at the local video store (on Media Video with hand drawn artwork) and I wasted no time in getting the cassette into the family VCR. As the film progressed I was sure that I was witnessing hell on earth. I was much to proud to admit that I was scared to death as my palms were sweaty and my heart raced. I became inducted into the world of nihilism. Everyone dies, daughters murder mothers horribly, feed off of the corpse of the father, brothers pull sisters to an excruciating death, plans fail, help doesn’t come, hope disappears as the lights go out, the last survivor dies due to a stupid mistake, and even death doesn’t offer solace. This stark black and white film shook me and my sensibilities. Never again was I to be taken on such a hell ride and Mr. Romero I thank you. And I thank you again for making Dawn of the Dead (1978)!

2. What is the last film that scared you?

28 Days Later (2002). A zombie apocalypse scenario made frighteningly plausible. Probably tied into my initial Night of the Living Dead trauma.

3. Name three Horror movies that you believe are underrated.

Let’s Scare Jessica To Death (1971)- One of the best horrors of the 1970’s. Subtle, strange, poetic, & creepy with a sense of pathos.

Zeder: Voices from Beyond (1980)- I’m sure that Mr King borrowed from this for his Pet Semetery or maybe the other way around? This Italian film has a intriguing premise and a cool morbid tone mixing science, alchemy, conspiracies, and the living dead. A little talky but it’s one of the most original zombie films you can find that favors creepiness over gore.

Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)- Great little 70’s gem. Not really a horror movie but a tight thriller. Great performances from Foster, Sheen, & Smith. All top notch. This could have only come from the 1970’s. I remember seeing it on TV as an after school movie! Watching a kid handle murder and threatening situations as a kid made for some gripping entertainment.

4. Name three horror movies that you enjoy against your better judgment.

Slithis (1977) – A 70’s version of the swamp/ocean monster movies from the 50’s and 60’s.

Frogs (1972)- Menacing amphibians lead an army of lizards, snakes, spiders, alligators, leeches, and snapping turtles as they assault a group of humans living on a southern island. Throw in Ray Milland and Sam Elliot and you’ve got a gem!

The Child (1977)- A wicked little girl with psychic powers communicates with a group of ghouls residing in the local cemetery. She uses them to exact revenge. I remember reading a review that compared this to a movie version of the old spook-house albums that we used to listen to in the 1970’s/1980’s and that’s what is fun about it.

5. Send us to a place on the Internet!

A group of friends and I used to build and run a haunted house for over twenty years. We also managed to make a few short films. These links are to the last film we made called, “There’s Something Following Me“. It’s split into four parts. We tried to make it in the vein of a Night Gallery/Tales from the Darkside episode. It’s a tribute to Halloween and being a 1970’s monster kid as you will be able to see many items from that era. It was made with zero budget but our hearts were in the right place. It’s a flick designed for this time of year. Hope you enjoy it. Happy Halloween!

There’s Something Following Me

“Cody Richards decides to walk home from school on the afternoon of Halloween. She had no idea that something would soon be following her every step, something intent on making this Halloween her last.”

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Kinder-Spotlight:: Scare U!

September 22nd, 2012 · 1 Comment

UNK SEZ: Here’s something you kids may enjoy! Our new kinderpal Beverly over at THE SCARE HOUSE (One of America’s top haunted Houses stationed in good ol’ Pittsburgh PA.) gave us a tip about a video series they are doing called SCARE U! It’s a project after our own heart as it examines what scares people and why. The first segment is on clowns (Very Kindertraumatic) and an upcoming installment will concern dolls (likewise). Cooler still, there will be a new video presented every Wednesday till Halloween! Check out their Youtube channel HERE to keep up to date! Thanks for the decapitated heads up Bev!

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Traumafession:: Reader Ozne on Kolchak, Elmer’s Glue, Bigfoot & a Creepy Neighbor

August 21st, 2012 · 5 Comments

Hey Guys,

Here’s my two cents on what scared me or gave me nightmares: Kolchak: The NIght Stalker Episode 6 “Firefall“. The conductor, or should I say his doppelganger, tried to annoy Kolchak by repeatedly knocking against an open window of a church. It was that smirk and the insane look on his face with the knocking that bothered me as a little boy. I had nightmares about that doppelganger for a few days. Also from the 70s was that smiling cow on every bottle of Elmer’s Glue. For some reason, I kept superimposing Mr. Clean’s face with the cow and the two together had this I’m-going-to-get-you look. Weird and scary.

Lastly, any of the Bigfoot documentaries of the 70s. Chills down my spine all the time. It was hard to get any sleep. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: the neighborhood pedophile who always looked at me and my brother whenever we were out playing or going to the store. He was thin and tall like Norman Bates with sunken eyes and super creepy. I later discovered he had a record for molesting a neighborhood boy.

That’s all folks! Keep up the Traumatic work.

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Society (1989)

August 15th, 2012 · 7 Comments

Is it possible that I read too much into horror films? Am I hallucinating subtext where there is none in order to justify my obsession? Well, I needn’t worry about subtext when it comes to Brian Yuzna’s SOCIETY (1989). If I interpret it to be about rich people sucking the life out of the poor, it’s because in the film, rich people grow giant puckering lips, seize the poor and suck the life right out of them. Actually, they do far worse than that but to describe it would mean thinking about it and I just had lunch. Much of SOCIETY operates as a paranoid mystery, so I’m sorry if I just gave away the ending. Don’t worry, even though everything suspected within the film is revealed to be true, there’s no way you can possibly imagine what that entails. Suffice to say, the wealthy are not shown in the best of light but I suppose into each life a little rain must fall.

Bill Whitney (BILLY WARLOCK son of DICK WARLOCK of HALLOWEEN II and III!) is at the age where he is starting to feel disconnected from his family and their values. Part of his mounting alienation may be due to the fact that he is adopted and part of it is probably because he’s heard a tape recording of his parents planning and participating in a deranged orgy with his sister. His parent’s obsession with garden slugs and his sister’s ability to twist and contort her body in impossible ways while showering only add fuel to the fires of mistrust. You’d think that having three-time scream queen HEIDI KOZAK (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 7: THE NEW BLOOD; SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II’s zit girl) for a girlfriend would be enough for a guy, but Bill has got his cagey eye on exotic and suspiciously limber Clarissa (DEVIN DeVASQUEZ). His psychiatrist is zero help and if you’ve watched any conspiracy movie in the history of ever you know why.

The horror genre is one that is granted some added leeway to be as bizarre and inappropriate as it can get away with, so it’s a big fat shame that more filmmakers don’t take advantage of that extra elbowroom. BRIAN (BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR) YUZNA’s SOCIETY is refreshingly oblivious to good taste and it delivers all the creativity and originality that audiences beg for and so often overlook once they receive it. I’d say it’s a little too breezy and footloose in the storytelling department but if it is that type of freewheeling attitude that ultimately opens the door for the gooey, loony, hilariously unhinged insanity that concludes the film, I’ll take it. I’d appreciate a better mapped out route but as long as I end up someplace I’ve never been, I’m happy.

There is a downside to SOCIETY though, at least for me, knowing that the last third of the movie is an explosive orgy of ferociously perverse, audaciously surreal, bold-faced bacchanalia, makes the first two thirds feel like a bit of a semi-chore. Before we’re finally gifted with the full-disclosure finale, we’re subjected to more than any movie’s fair share of stalling. Suspicious evidence is discovered, discounted and rediscovered in a tiresome loop and too much of what transpires has no relevance at all. Fortunately the cast is likable enough to keep things afloat and of course there’s always the added charm of the time period in which SOCIETY was filmed. More than anything though, if you have any interest in the art of pre-CGI special effects the work here, care of SCREAMING MAD GEORGE, is required viewing. I don’t know if it “holds up,” I just know that it’s fantastic and that it’s gorgeously grotesque and thank God it’s captured on film. So what if we end up with a half hour’s worth of material stretched like taffy to three times that length? Since that half hour is three times more potent than what is standard, I say, fair enough.

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