UNK SEZ: I hope everybody packed a lunch today because we are taking a field trip over to MADE FOR TV MAYHEM where our old pal AMANDA BY NIGHT is hosting a party celebrating the highly anticipated DVD release of the TV movie classic HORROR AT 37,000 FEET (Kinder-review HERE)! In celebration, Amanda has compiled a fantastic list of ten of her favorite TV movie OMG moments just for you! Please hand me your parent-signed permission slips as you get on the bus and no monkey business! Stop singing “One hundred bottles of beer on the wall”! We’re HERE!
...:::Amanda By Night:::...
March 18th, 2014 · No Comments
March 19th, 2013 · 8 Comments
When pal Amanda by Night (of Made For TV Mayhem) invited Kindertrauma to join in on the VALERIE HARPER BLOGATHON she was orchestrating, we could not possibly refuse. Fact is, although she is better known for many other gigs, HARPER starred in what is simply the best (and most kindertraumatic!) made-for-television horror flick of the slash-happy eighties. Yes, once again I am talking about DON’T GO TO SLEEP! If you’re not familiar with that title then I beg you to yank your horror-head out of the zombie sand and give it a look-see. You will not be sorry. Having covered this one before you may think I have nothing more to say, but you’d be wrong because I have yet to give this gem the “five favorite things” treatment. Here are my five favorite things about DON’T GO TO SLEEP…
THE OPENING CREDITS! Right out the starting gate DON’T GO TO SLEEP is humming it’s own quirky tune. Black and white title cards flash and they’re so low-tech shaky you might think you’ve stumbled upon a home movie of a camping trip. Lullaby music box chirpings blast and then are cut off indiscriminately by the sound of whooshing traffic. This happens again and again throughout the prelude. I’m sure that somebody missed the effect that they were going for by a couple of miles but the resulting awkwardness of the overreach must be superior to what they were aiming for anyway. It’s slapdash, makeshift and yet still sets an appropriate mood. This movie is all about the treacly chimes of childhood being upset by jagged blasts of harsh, startling reality.
THE DIRECTION! Made for TV movies have their own set of advantages and disadvantages compared to their theatrical counterparts. Sometimes the unavoidable restraints can result in a static affair or the director not having as much leeway to express himself visually. This is not the case here. RICHARD LANK (who also steered 1978′s effectively eerie NIGHT CRIES) has a field day playing with bizarre angles, distorted perspectives and unusual POV shots. I think he may even have invented the flying lizard cam and the rolling pizza cutter cam. Prime time doesn’t allow for much gore but LANK moves ahead undaunted. Rather than show a head smashing into the driveway, he quickly cuts to a watermelon being dropped and bursting apart upon the kitchen floor. Message received loud and clear!
THE CLOSING! What better gift to leave your audience than a final image branded into their horrified brains for all eternity? DON’T GO TO SLEEP does just that in a seemingly effortless way without resorting to bells and whistles and elaborate effects. Much like SATAN’S TRIANGLE (in my mind, the greatest made for TV movie of the supernatural seventies), DON’T places its final winning card on the preternatural power of one enigmatic Cheshire smile. The maniacal faux-sweet image actually appears several times throughout the film but its final presentation is so gruesomely uncanny that it’s difficult to shake or even interpret why it’s so effective. I seriously believed for years that a skull was superimposed upon the image a’la Norman Bates in PSYCHO, but I guess that was my imagination! True cinematic alchemy!
THE STRAIGHTJACKET! I’m sorry but it’s satisfying to see anybody who was in the movie ANNIE wind up in a straight jacket!
THE CAST! Are you kidding me? DUEL’s DENNIS WEAVER, ROSEMARY’S BABY’s RUTH GORDON and POLTERGEIST’S OLIVER ROBINS! It’s a horror fan’s dream team! Both ROBIN IGNICO as Mary and KRISTIN CUMMING as Jennifer excel where most child actors would have failed. And then there’s VALARIE HARPER who we are specifically honoring today. I’m thinking DON’T GO TO SLEEP may not exactly be the highlight of her long career but yes, of course, she brings everything she’s got regardless. I love her and WEAVER together tackling screaming matches like they’re in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? and ad-libbing under their breath whenever they damn well feel like it. I’m sure some folks have a hard time seeing past the campy surface but to me, that’s just one layer out of zillions. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore and what a shame.
DON’T GO TO SLEEP is a lively watch but it never shirks from the subject of death and grieving, topics that the horror genre is especially fit to explore. It’s easy to forget that as modern horror continues to be corralled toward action/comic book power fantasies instead. I say don’t feel bad for VALERIE HARPER; she’s not going anyplace you’re not going too. As she faces whatever is next (total recovery says me), I stand more impressed with her wisdom than her bravery. She knows its not how you die but how you live that matters. “We’re all terminal” she says and there’s nothing truer than that. I think I’ll save my sorrow for someone less vividly alive, less admirably “awake”.
Dash O’ Trivia: Guess what VAL‘s last name is in DON”T GO TO SLEEP! Answer: Hogan! Wha-wha-what? This calls for some back up from Turnidoff!
October 12th, 2011 · 6 Comments
If you jump on over to MADE FOR TV MAYHEM, you will find our kinderpal Amanda By Night is currently celebrating one of her favorite made-for-TV movies, 1981’s THIS HOUSE POSSESSED with a week(s)-long investigation labeled THIS BLOG POSSESSED!
We here at Kindertrauma feel compelled to back up her enthusiasm because although THIS HOUSE commits the crime of indulging in the questionable musical stylings of one PARKER STEVENSON, it still stands as one of the most unusual haunted house flicks ever made. Just because I can’t make heads or tails of what takes place in the film does not mean I don’t like what I see.
One message that the movie conveys, that did not float over my head, is the idea that as nice as it may be to fall in love with a house, one thing you’d probably want to avoid is a house falling in love with you. There just doesn’t seem to be a way for such a thing to work out well, especially if said house is omni-powerful for no discernible reason.
In the interest of public safety, let’s take a closer look at some of the signs provided by THIS HOUSE POSSESSED that may indicate that your home may be harboring a super-bad psychotic crush on you.
For each “YES” answer below please add one point…
10. Is your house so in love with you that it scares fornicating teenagers off your lawn with an animated garden hose?
9. When your house watches TV, is it really just watching you at your job?
8. Does your house collect pictures of you as a child?
7. Does your house thwart your employer’s sexual advances with a fire alarm?
6. When your employer’s sometimes girlfriend comes to stay, does your house treat her to a shower of blood?
5. Have there been any instances of a librarian being crushed in the front gate of your property and being burned to death in her car?
4. Have any oldster doomsayers been boiled alive in your indoor pool?
3.Have you either come across a Raggedy Ann doll lately or accepted an offer to take a tandem bicycle ride with PARKER STEVENSON?
2. Has SLIM PICKENS offered to repair a mirror from your home and has the resulting outcome been an exploding mirror and a dead SLIM PICKENS?
1. Does your house have a pulsating chimney?
NOTE: Please now add three extra points if you are prone to writing important messages on stray napkins.
KINDER-QUIZ ANSWER KEY:
0 points or below: Sorry, but your house does not love you.
5 points or under: Your house thinks you are doable but not worth calling later.
6 points or over: Your house is in love with you. Dress accordingly.
June 23rd, 2011 · 11 Comments
The Kindertrauma Castle just got HBO in anticipation of TRUE BLOOD, I have a stack of unwatched DVDs acquired from a horror convention and Netflix Streaming continues to taunt me with its well of obscurities so why do I, when the world’s asleep, continue to slide down the YouTube flume? It’s just that there is so much hiding out in that joint that you can’t find anywhere else! Physical copies of many of these gems are hard to come by and I’ve learned the hard way that anything found on YouTube must be quickly viewed as it could disappear back into the nowhere zone forever without warning. Now that so many once elusive titles are just a click away from your door, YouTube is like the last uncharted forest for those of us who remember and mourn the thrill of the hunt. Television movies especially sing to me like sirens and stumbling across a good one that I’ve missed is like stepping into a comfy time portal.
Going into DEADLY MESSAGES (1985) all I knew was that it stared that lady from ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? (KATHLEEN BELLER) and it involved a Ouija board. No gamble there, by merely existing this movie poured milk on my flakes. How could I resist such an innocuous title? DEADLY MESSAGES is just too perfect. BELLER is Laura Daniels, a deliciously spazzy sprite who witnesses a murder and is routinely dismissed by the police. No matter how many times a guy with a hunting knife attacks her, there’s just never enough evidence from the encounter for anyone to not think she’s a hysterical nut. Confiding in her Ouija board provides little solace, as the planchette seems to side with her stalker by saying, “I am going to kill you!” All of this is pretty routine and vaguely hilarious and thankfully takes place during the Christmas season.
Then things take a turn for the amazing. Laura is fired from her job when none of her references pan out and then her long-suffering boyfriend Michael (MICHAEL BRANDON) is told by her doctor that during a brain scan it was discovered that she has been the recipient of shock therapy! Michael confronts her with this info in a restaurant decorated with ROBERT LONGO paintings but she, with her shirtsleeve dangling in spaghetti, insists she has no idea what he is talking about. Next, at a bookstore Michael discovers a series of Nancy Drew like mystery books with a heroine named Laura Daniels. All of the fictional character’s exploits resemble the stories he’s been told by Laura and it appears her entire identity is a big fat lie! Laura insists that she is on the up and up but when her investigation leads her to a mental hospital and the head nurse greets her with “Welcome home!” it’s obvious that the person who knows the least about Laura is she herself (the revelation in considered alarming enough to warrant the coveted HITCHCOCK zoom. ) There’s an explanation of sorts but you’re not getting it from me.
What can I tell you, DEADLY MESSAGES is as silly and implausible as the day is long. I don’t care because it’s damn entertaining too. It makes perfect sense to me that the director (JACK BENDER) and writer (WILLIAM BLEICH) went on to do the superior T.V. movie THE MIDNIGHT HOUR too. Both films have a very cinematic feel for something made for the small screen and are host to loads of splendid atmosphere. As DEADLY MESSSAGES plows towards its climax it’s all howling winds, blowing leaves and over the top musical cues and who can ask for more? It neatly transforms into a different type of movie altogether and I was kind of stunned that something so typical at the starting gate ended up so wonderfully off the wall and quirky. Considering its somewhat hokey woman in peril premise it impresses with several aggressive set pieces, a sneaky sense of humor and a penchant for keeping the viewer guessing. Cliches abound (including DENNIS FRANZ showing up as a cop!) but DEADLY MESSAGES is most fun when it refuses to go by the book.
NOTE: For even more on DEADLY MESSAGES jump on over to TV movie central, our pal AMANDA BY NIGHT‘s MADE FOR TV MAYHEM!
June 8th, 2011 · 19 Comments
UNK SEZ: When situation comedies transform into situation trauma-dies it’s time to call for backup! Let us now join intrepid roving reporter/T.V. aficionado AMANDA BY NIGHT of MADE FOR TV MAYHEM as she investigates the elusive but not elusive enough for my comfort TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT episode “For Every Man, There’s Two Women”…
The Night Monroe was Rah-Rah-Rah-Raped!!!
Like many urban legends, the infamous TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT featuring Monroe’s rape is a bit like the alligator in the sewer or having a kidney stolen. It’s one of those whispered things where you know someone who knows someone who knows someone who saw it. The fifth season episode of TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT titled “For Every Man, There’s Two Women” should really be called “For Every Man, There’s One Woman and a Huge Guy in Drag”, but we’ll get to that. From what little I was able to garner about this episode, Ted Knight refused to do it during the fourth season, because he probably felt there was no place for it in such a lightweight sitcom (he was right), but he must have been coerced into it because it was finally shot and aired in November of 1985, during the fifth year of the show.
When TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT finished its original run and went into syndication, this controversial episode was dropped from its package and the world continued on as though Monroe (Jim J. Bullock) had never experienced any true acts of violence. As the years passed, and the internet became a great tool for connecting the hazy dots of childhood, the “Monroe rape” episode began to catch some attention. I came to know about it through the excellent site THE RETROIST, and I became almost as obsessed with seeing it as the person running that site did. My timing was a bit better though because I had much less of a wait. The greatest T.V. station in the world, Antenna TV had been airing TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT and I began to monitor the episodes more closely. Lo and behold, they actually re-ran it last week!
If I had not been prepared for what I was about to see, I’m not sure how I would have reacted. The canned laughter at the male rape jokes was disturbingly reminiscent of that crazy Rodney Dangerfield segment of NATURAL BORN KILLERS and I felt like I was watching a sick parody of the show (it should be noted the R word is never used). Monroe reveals to everyone that he was abducted by two women and blindfolded in the back of a van while the “big one” sat on him. They took him back to their place and had their way with him all night. The joke about breaking his beeper elicits a round of applause from the laugh track machine. The female leads act completely out of character, tossing about insulting remarks about rape and in general, stereotyping men and sex while giving Monroe not one iota of sympathy.
Jackie (Debra Van Valkenburgh) finally admits that she just simply doesn’t know how to react, which may be the most honest moment of the show (and probably was the exact feeling the actress had when she read the script). The women on the show seem frustrated and disgustingly nonchalant about the whole ordeal. They mostly disappear after the first half and after a much needed commercial break, this becomes Monroe and Henry’s show as they head off to confront Monroe’s attackers. Henry (Ted Knight) comes off a lot better, but he bounces around from being thoughtful and concerned to acting bothered because Monroe interrupted Henry and Muriel (Nancy Dussault) during a tryst. Apparently dealing with a rape victim all day must make you all hot and stuff.
Once they get to the women’s apartment, the audience is treated to an overweight woman aggressively forcing herself on Henry and a giant man in drag. The first woman is credited simply as Charlene and the drag queen has no credit at all, making the whole affair even more disturbed. Does this gargantuan man still walk the streets and could I possibly be hanging out in a bar one night and overhear, “Yeah, I played one of Monroe’s rapists.” It’s enough to make me never leave the house again!
This infamous episode aired just months after the made for TV movie THE RAPE OF RICHARD BACK which is a Golden Globe nominated film starring Richard Crenna as a gruff cop who is assaulted by an even gruffer assailant. If I wasn’t going to laugh at Mr. Beck’s horrifying encounter, why did the crew behind this TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT think anyone would be chuckling at Monroe’s unfortunate evening of violence? Seriously, guys. 1985 was all kinds of awesome, but this is really reaching into neon-dripping madness! When I think about male rape in pop culture (I know, why should I be thinking about that?!?), I recall stuff like OZ and DELIVERANCE… you know… stuff that isn’t funny. Now that this demented episode has recently re-aired – for the first time in years – some beautiful soul took the time to upload it onto YouTube! Those of you who caught Monroe’s rape during the original run can now relive the nightmare while us newbies can create new, lurid memories of our own. Sweet dreams!
April 16th, 2011 · 1 Comment
UNK SEZ: We seldom have two reviews for the same movie going on around these parts but after hearing pal AMANDA REYES‘ personal take on INSIDIOUS that had to change. I pleaded and eventually bribed her to jot her thoughts down so that all you fine folks could check them out and the results are below. Enjoy and remember to visit AMANDA “MADE FOR TV MAYHEM” REYES at her home joint frequently HERE!
Being the retro film/television nut I am, I tend to be a little late to the game. Luckily, I was only off by days, as compared to years, when it came to catching Insidious. It was a fittingly rainy night and with plans for drinks afterwards, my evening was set. I wasn’t particularly surprised by how much I enjoyed Insidious, but I was definitely taken by what I felt were some nifty TV movie references.
I should say that there may be some spoilers here. So if you haven’t seen the movie yet… go now!
I won’t speak for either Leigh Whannel or James Wan, the superb crafters of a ghost story that employs the whole less-is-more strategy so well it can’t help but give you the willies, but I am pretty sure I felt a little small screen love in the theater. Perhaps the more obvious nod to the wonderful world of T.V. movies came attached to that creepy old woman. Appropriately named Old Woman (and played by Philip Friedman), she was eerily reminiscent of that spine-chilling gal from the 1989 British chiller The Woman in Black. Sure they added a veil and made her, like, more dead, but that detached feeling of inexplicable dread permeates both characters in much the same way. It’s pretty interesting then that both movies deal with children. Well, Insidious deals with the calamity of everyday parenting while the Woman in Black deals with the lack thereof (and eventually Insidious heads in that direction). Theories abound that the black-clad, T.V.-movie mistress and high child mortality rate are not coincidental (and it’s probably no mistake the lead character’s last name is Kidd).
While both stories are about saving a child and then paying the price for it in the end, the filmmakers behind Insidious give a deeper connection to the Old Woman and the family she terrorizes. There are small scenes featuring Josh (Patrick Wilson) plucking gray hairs and applying eye cream to those sexy fines lines of his. Josh’s repressed memories appear in the most innocuous moments in the film, adding a nice kick to my post film coffee talk discussion! It’s been years since I’ve seen the excellent Woman in Black, but it’s hard to deny the resemblance of those two characters. Black has recently been remade with Daniel Radcliffe and should hopefully be hitting our shores soon. I can’t wait!
The other hit-me-over-the-head reference I got regards the overall film. I believe James Wan and Leigh Whannel were inspired more by Fox’s 1991 tele-pic The Haunted than Poltergeist. In some ways they are noticeably similar, but I was most struck by the association with the baby monitor incident in Insidious and that creepy talking pillow in The Haunted. The 1991 film is based on the Smurls, a devout family who are haunted by some less devout manifestations. And perhaps it’s simply by the very nature of small screen horror that Insidious’ deftly intimate atmosphere can’t help but to harness good vibes from any audience member heavily reared on television terror, i.e. me!
Made for very little money, Insidious manages to creep inside and wring your guts. There are so many touches, such as the constant ticking sound beginning with the grandfather clock, moving to the metronome to the EKG machine and finally back to that dang metronome, that prove those fabulous men behind the curtain were meticulous with crafting what I think is the best damn horror film to come in far too long. The atmosphere alone makes it a fine companion with such small screen fare as The House That Would Not Die (1970), Something Evil (1972), The Possessed (1977) and Don’t Go to Sleep (1982). Wherever the inspiration arose from and whatever I am putting into it myself, I was pleased to finally come across a new horror movie that wanted my imagination to work as hard as the filmmakers’.
February 27th, 2011 · 5 Comments
UNK SEZ: While I was cleaning up the aftermath of the weekend-long CHRISTOPHER GEORGE celebration that took place at Kindertrauma Castle, I discovered our dear pal AMANDA BY NIGHT under a glass coffee table as if reenacting a scene from SIXTEEN CANDLES! Besides the fact that she had somewhere along the lines lost the blonde wig of her LYNDA DAY GEORGE as Mary Riggs from PIECES costume (which was basically a tennis outfit with the word “Bastard!” embroidered on the front), she looked none the worse for wear. As I still have an escaped grizzly bear to catch, I asked Amanda if she would mind hosting today’s episode of Stream Warriors and she was only too happy to oblige. Thanks for your help Amanda! Now all I need to do is find a jar of honey and a net…
COCAINE: ONE MAN’S SEDUCTION
Dennis Weaver, how much do I love thee? Let me count the ways… besides starring in one of the best (and arguably most famous) made for TV movies DUEL, Dennis also lent his extraordinary (and sometimes un-excusably over the top) presence to such films as DON’T GO TO SLEEP and this crazy tale about a middle aged man’s struggle with the blow, which originally aired on February 27th, 1983 on NBC. I adore this movie, and I also think it typifies why the little world of ’70s and ’80s TV movies was so awesome. I wrote a paper once (mostly for fun, ‘cuz I am a nerd) about how for those of us who were either too young or just unable to experience the grindhouse circuit, the tele-film was a good look at the world of sordid B-movies… even if it was a sanitized version of those films. Many folks got their first taste of horror and sleaze through rose colored glasses, but it created a passion. And even if that all seems like hooey-bluey to you, you simply have to see this movie for Weaver’s intense and hilarious freak-outs. Also it’s pretty awesome when he gets high with Pamela Bellwood and is all, “The earth is round, man.” OK, he doesn’t say that, but I swear he wanted to. You can watch Cocaine: One Man’s Seduction on Netflix.
TERROR AT LONDON BRIDGE (BRIDGE ACROSS TIME)
While not as wild as the goofy premise would lead one to believe, this movie is still a ton of fun. David Hasselhoff plays a big-city-police-officer-gone-small-town-cop who downsizes to idyllic (but friggin’ hot) Lake Havasu where, as a twist of fate would have it, the infamous London Bridge resides. True story – some entrepreneurial type had the British bridge moved to Arizona to create a tourist attraction. Not true story – in the movie Jack the Ripper falls off the bridge to his supposed death, but is able to resurrect himself in Arizona, where he continues his killing spree. Wow! I told you it was wild. The whole affair is completely straight faced, and a fairly successful little horror film. Adrienne Barbeau is great as the hot to trot librarian with enormous shoulder pads (yay 80s!) and Clu Gulager and Randolph Mantooth put in some time as Hoff’s fellow cops. Stepfanie Kramer (and yes, that’s how you spell her name) is Hasselfhoff’s potential love interest and both leads are really good. Say what you will about the Hoff, but he’s got charisma for days. He’s really good in this movie which originally aired on November 22nd, 1985 on NBC, and I think the cast and the dramatic approach make Bridge one interesting movie, if not completely Hoff-tastic! You can read my whole review at RETRO SLASHERS and you can watch the whole movie at HULU.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK: MARRIED PART 1 & 2
I don’t mean to quote Magnum P.I., but I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking this is simply the INCREDIBLE HULK episodes that we all remember from childhood. While most of you probably recall David Banner’s tragic love affair with the ill-fated Dr. Caroline Fields (Mariette Hartley), there is one scene in particular that created one of my most intense kindertraumas. Towards the beginning of the second part, Dr. Fields ends up at the house of some swinging studly dudes. They get a little aggressive and somehow lovelorn David gets in the way… and gets really mad. He Hulk-ifies himself and then he pushes one of the guys across the room. It’s a comedic moment because the hurled stud in question flies to the other side of the room sans toupee. Well, when I was a wee Amanda By Night I thought the Hulk basically scalped this poor guy and it took everything in me not to run out of the room screaming. Watching the stud loses his machismo made me think the Hulk was the meanest man-thing on the planet and it was the very last episode of the series I watched until about 2 years ago. Even then, I was ready to pull the sheets up over my eyes, because that Hulk guy scares me! Luckily, I now find that scene amusing. And yes, this episode, which originally aired as a two hour epic to open the second season in 1978, captures the extremely tragic nature of Bruce’s character. This guy just could not catch a break. Oh, and for the record, I’ve seen Lou Ferrigno in person. He’s kind of hot and not scary at all. Just thought you should know… You can start with PART ONE on HULU. And here’s PART TWO.