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An Open Letter to Corey Feldman

November 21st, 2013 · 4 Comments

Corey, I can now say that I have exactly twice in my life read a book in one sitting. The first time was with IAN BANKSTHE WASP FACTORY and the second incident occurred thanks to your autobiography COREYOGRAPHY. I was trapped in an airplane with THE WASP FACTORY but your book was so good I just went into a corner and ssshhed the world. I may need Tommy Jarvis style glasses now. I read till four in the morning and my eyeballs were way past pleading for mercy. But what can I say, it’s written in such a concise, conversational, clear-cut way that it’s an overall joy to read except for the parts that aren’t a joy to read because they are like being punched in the stomach and having your GREMLINS lunchbox stolen. I feel like I owe you an apology. Being a couple years older than you, I enjoyed your performances in eighties classics like GREMLINS, FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART 4, GOONIES and STAND BY ME and then as soon as you hit your teen phase, (think anything after THE LOST BOYS or involving the “Coreymania” phenomenon you shared with soul brother cohort COREY HAIM), I basically rolled my eyes and prayed for your quick downfall. If I had known anything of what your life was actually like and the things that you endured I would have been routing for you all the way.

I’m sorry, Corey! I didn’t know! I just thought; “Hey, this person is loved, has everything they could possibly want, is enjoying their life and why can’t they fall into a manhole and die?” It wasn’t personal! Back then I condemned all human contentment that I falsely perceived due to my incalculable ignorance! Plus I was jealous! I can admit that now. Where was Lance-mania? Why didn’t I have an 800 number? Why wasn’t I invited to the Neverland Ranch? O.K., you can actually have that last one all to yourself but I would have at least liked to have had the honor of meeting Crispin Glover!

Oh well, I’m older now. I realize the grass isn’t always greener and to my credit when, earlier this year, the townspeople were calling for Miley Cyrus’s head on a pike, I was actually repulsed by all the misplaced venom. I feel bad for you child stars who have to somehow find a way in this world while constantly being scrutinized and undermined by what must seem like everyone. Plus, I’m a middle child so I totally get that “one day you’re hot, the next your not” thing. But I don’t think I can ever comprehend the exploitive chomp ‘em up and spit ‘em out Hollywood machine you survived or what it’s like to have such a horrible mother. You go ahead and forgive your mother Corey, it’s best for you. I can’t do it.

Blaming parents has really gone out of fashion lately but I’m a retro type of guy that believes folks should be accountable for their actions. At some point we’re all told we must get over stuff and move on but it’s usually those who stand to gain the most from collective amnesia that sing its praises the loudest. No, Corey your mother didn’t force you to do drugs but she couldn’t have programmed you to be a bigger user if she tried and she may not have molested you but she might as well have held the door open for those who did. While she was living off your income, she had one job to do which was to keep you and your siblings safe and provide you with the foundation of self worth to continue that job on your own in the future. It was a job she mostly failed at. It’s impossible to fill a bucket that has been punched full of holes and while horrible things happen to kids with the greatest of parents as well, kids treated the way you were stand little chance at all. I’d blame your Dad too if he even registered as a person. Ah jeez! This is why I have avoided writing this for so long! I knew it would get me up on a soapbox because this book, good as it is, outraged me to no end and I have to mourn the fact I’ll never watch FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART 4 the same way again!

In closing, wonderful job on the book! What a brave and impressive achievement! I’m so sorry that you went through what you did but thanks for sharing your story because it will not only open eyes like mine but also allow others who have suffered in the same ways feel less alone. My sincere condolences on the loss of your friend Corey Haim, the one person who needed no help understanding your experience. I think you are absolutely correct in surmising his drug problems were a direct result of his abuse and I guess, from now on, I will not be so quick to judge those with substance problems. I hope the rest of your life is a breeze and know that even more amazing than the accomplishment of this book is the accomplishment of breaking the chain of abuse and becoming the parent that you yourself deserved. Oh, and thanks for narrating the CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES documentary! That was really cool! Keep on keeping on and “Goonies never say die”!

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Tags: Book Reports

Traumafession:: David M. on Aunt Harriet’s Railroad System in the Sky

January 30th, 2013 · No Comments

My mom is an elementary school teacher, which was great for me as a kid because I loved to read. One book, though, disturbed me more than I could say. It’s called “Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky” As far as I can remember it was about a girl who falls out of a train and meets up with Harriet Tubman, who gives her a tour of the chattel slavery system and the Underground Railroad. There were two main problems I had with the book. First, was the stark tone of the storytelling. The first page had, in big block letters, “GO FREE NORTH OR DIE”. The slave characters all had blank, expressionless looks on their faces. It only got grimmer from there.

The second and most influential factor was the ever-present menace of slave catchers. They lurk in virtually every door-frame, peek through every window, and hide in every bush. Their faces are paper-white, as are their hands. They stare straight out of the book at the reader, threatening to capture and enslave them too. I’ve only looked at the pages available in the Amazon preview, but I have a vague memory of the white masks floating menacingly in midair, hiding in trees. They’re like the face of the devil in that creepy Mark Twain claymation (HERE) .

I guess the author did her job, because it made a Hispanic guy living in New York in the ’90s very disturbed by the horrors of slavery. But man, it made me scared of white people peeking in my windows for a long while.

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Tags: Book Reports · Traumafessions

“Born on the Night of the Living Dead” :: (An Excerpt) by David Young

October 10th, 2012 · No Comments

From out of the Chimney:

I guess the weird music finally got to me. Or maybe it was all those voices that didn’t belong to Peter Falk or Raymond Burr. Heck, maybe I finally got sick of not knowing. All I know is that one night I got out of bed to see what was on TV. And it was the worst mistake I ever made.

It turned out mom and Sue were watching a movie. By then I knew that certain movies and TV shows only came on late at night cause they weren’t for kids. I couldn’t imagine what was so bad that kids couldn’t look at it. Mr. Voight at Voight’s Party Store kept magazines behind the counter that had pictures of big booby women on the covers and a sign that said “ADULTS ONLY.” Every time I asked what was in the magazines, mom would tell me they weren’t for kids. I figured it was the same with movies that came on past bedtime. There were either monsters or big boobies in them. Only this didn’t look like a big booby movie. And it didn’t look like a monster movie cause it was in color and Uncle Charley from My Three Sons was in it. Hey, what the heck was this?

“This is a crazy movie,” said mom. “You’d better not watch or you’ll have bad dreams.” I trusted mom. She told me there was no such thing as ghosts. She told me that Heaven was for good people and that bad people made their own hell right here on earth. So if she said that the movie on TV would give me bad dreams, I believed her. And then there was my sister, Sue. She was sitting all scrunched up on the sofa with half her face hidden behind her knees. That’s when I thought, uh-oh.

The first thing I did was cover my eyes. I wanted to watch, but I was afraid of seeing something that would give me nightmares. So, mom and I worked out a system. She told me when and when not to look. For the moment, everything was all right. I could look. There wasn’t much going on. There were some people dressed up for a dinner party. A husband. A wife. Then some whispering and – “Don’t look!”

Up went the hands. I heard freaky electronic music and creepy voices. I heard the scariest sounds that ever came out of our television set. Still, I trusted mom. When she told me it was safe to look, I looked. Same people. Same dinner party. Again I asked, what the heck was this movie about?
“Don’t look!”

Systems like these never really work, but I was too young to know that. Whether mom came in too late or I uncovered my eyes too early doesn’t really matter. The point is that I looked when I wasn’t supposed to and saw something I shouldn’t have seen.

First I’ve got to tell you about my grandmother. My grandmother was pretty old but she could do a whole bunch of stuff. She sewed quilts. She baked really good bread. And she made dolls. I didn’t mind the quilts or the bread, but grandma’s dolls really freaked me out. What she did was take an apple and let it dry in the sun until it got all brown and wrinkly. After that, she pinned these small eyes on it. She added hair, glasses, and sometimes a hat. Then she put the head on a miniature body that was dressed in miniature handmade clothes and placed it in a display case. There were display cases in grandma’s kitchen, display cases in the living room, even a display case in the bathroom. Every time we went to grandma’s there was a new apple-head doll in one of her display cases. And grandma would say, “That’s my farmer,” or “That’s my princess,” or “That’s my hobo.”

People like mom and Aunt Nora thought they were cute and funny but I’ll tell you something; since the day those dolls started to appear, there was no more spending the night at grandma’s for me. I hated the things. I hated their wrinkly faces and their fake hands and their beady eyes. Plus, there weren’t any locks on the display cases. There was a lid but there weren’t any bricks on top. Seriously, how hard would it be for those things to come to life and climb out? Especially when it got dark.

With that in mind, I’ll give you one guess as to what I saw on TV when I should have had my eyes shut. Yep. It was one of grandma’s apple-head people. Only this one wasn’t “farmer” or “princess” or “hobo.” This one was “monster.” It was the same size as one of granny’s dolls only it had the body of a hairy black gorilla and facial features that were bigger and scarier than the kind grandma attached. Oh, yeah, and it was alive. Specifically, it was under the dinner table, pulling a napkin off Kim Darby’s lap in a movie called Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark. I happened to look right when Kim did, and both of us went “Huhh!” when the thing looked up at us. I didn’t stick around to see what Kim did next. I bolted for the bedroom and bawled my eyes out. With the light on, of course.

Mom spent the next hour and a half trying to calm me down. There was no calming down. I was hysterical. I didn’t know where the thing came from, or what it wanted from poor Kim Darby, but none of that mattered. I was frightened out of my skull. This wasn’t the sorta scare Abbot and Costello got when they met Frankenstein. This felt like somebody took a hot poker and burned the image in my brain. Every time I shut my eyes, I saw that freakin’ apple-head monster staring back at me.

But there wasn’t just one. There was a whole bunch of them and they came out of the chimney at night. Maybe if they lived in some dark castle in a foreign country where people still rode around in horse and carriages and didn’t have electricity, I wouldn’t have been so scared. Only they didn’t. They were in regular peoples’ houses, in regular peoples’ chimneys (we had a chimney). They could hide behind heater vents (we had a lot of heater vents). Or they could wait inside of closets (ditto). And if I listened hard enough, I swear I could hear them whispering.

Suddenly the rules were different. Before, I could watch something on TV and switch it off and that’s where it would stay – off. Only now, seeing something on TV brought that thing out of the TV and into my world. Seeing something gave it existence in reality. On the same note, this meant that I could be sucked into the reality of what I’d seen. I wasn’t clear on the physics, I just knew that if I got scared enough, reality was pretty much up for grabs.
The dark would never be the same.

UNK SEZ: For more BORN ON THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD just jump right on over HERE! If you are someone whose life has been strongly affected by movies you are sure to devour it like a zombie would a brain or a shark would a foot or an ape would a banana. I could not get enough of it!

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Tags: Book Reports · General Horror · Special Guest Stars

Slashers 101

January 28th, 2012 · No Comments

UNK SEZ: If you happen to be a slasher fan or a comics fan or a fan of people who get creative and make stuff, I need to point out something special to you! Stacie Ponder of the perennial hot spot FINAL GIRL has gone and made a mini-comic called SLASHERS 101 and it is a hysterically informative primer on, let’s face it, the best movies ever made.

Ponder knows her stuff after racking up years in the VHS salt mines and her illustrations are wonderfully expressive. For one Abe Lincoln (five bucks) you get the comic alone and for two Abes (ten bucks), Ponder will illustrate the back for you with an original drawing of your request (within reason)! For more details on how you can get your hands on this little treasure just jump on over HERE!

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Tags: Book Reports · Kinder-Art · Kinder-Link · Kinder-Spotlight

Traumafessions :: Carole Lanham, Author of “The Whisper Jar” on Dolls Gone Wild

October 28th, 2011 · 5 Comments

carole lanham

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Kids, gather around and give a big Kindertrauma welcome to Carole Lanham, author of the forthcoming must-read “The Whisper Jar.” More on her new book in a minute, as Carole has kindly agreed to share with us her very own traumafession!

Take it away Carole:

It was going to be the greatest night ever. My friend Tammy and I had decided to camp in a tent in her backyard. We hammered down the stakes and shoved our pillows in through the zipper, and then we made a dangerous mistake. Instead of climbing into our sleeping bags while things were all rosy, we sat down to watch an episode of NIGHT GALLERY with Tammy’s mom. The Doll, it was called. It goes without saying that dark tents and dolls with scary teeth make for terrible bedfellows. Alas, we were only about ten years old at the time (ever notice how many traumafessions feature kids who are about ten years old?) and so we had yet to learn that rather important life lesson.

“Don’t worry,” Tammy’s mom said, after ROD SERLING and a levitating oil painting of a rag doll with a skull melting out of its head had bid us a decidedly troubling goodnight. “Dolls almost never bite.” With an encouraging shove, she sent us out the backdoor, turned off the light, and left us to face the forbidding black triangle of our tent alone.

We couldn’t stop thinking about it, of course. Couldn’t get the mascara-smeared eyes of The Doll out of our heads to save our souls! We turned on a radio, hoping for some relief, but the DJ, swear to God, was talking about a possible Big Foot sighting. Big foot! This was distracting at least, but not in a good way. There was nothing to do but click on our flashlights and take a trip around the block. Someone had to ensure that there were no creatures with big feet and/or crazy-haired dolls prowling about the neighborhood.

When we got back in the tent, we felt safer and started saying things to each other like, “This is the life, eh?” and “That Eric Brown sure is cute!” but it’s hard to enjoy a cozy sleeping bag and a good crush when you’re under the spell of a creepy doll. Next thing we know, strange shadows are circling our tent and there is a weird sound not unlike the sound of the clacking teeth of The Doll. We huddled together, our brains swimming with the NIGHT GALLERY theme music and vivid images of fez hats, fireplace pokers, and doll-bitten skin dancing before our eyes in the wonderful world of color. The clacking clacked closer. After much panicked deliberation over how we might transform our supply of Doritos and tampons into a proper weapon, the clacking dissolved into the stupid girlie giggles of the stupid neighbor boys.

That was one long night.

Sad to say, I had not learned my lesson about dolls yet. Many years later, writer Richard Matheson tried to teach me once and for all, by way of KAREN BLACK.

The film was called TRILOGY OF TERROR and the first two stories were mysterious and fun, but for my money they might just as well have dropped the trilogy and the of and called it straight up singular terror since the last segment is the one that makes grown men wet their pants. It’s definitely the one that sticks.

I had never seen this film until recently so you’d think I’d be wiser this time around. Well, I wasn’t dumb enough to plan a camp-out for that same night, that’s for sure, but I did sit down to watch the movie with my kids just as a storm was moving in.

Same dif.

Come bedtime, my daughter (about ten at the time) had no better luck forgetting the doll in this movie than I did forgetting the one on NIGHT GALLERY. Throw in the fact that she’s scared stiff of thunderstorms even on a Pixar night and it’s probably clear why I should keep away from bad dolls at all cost. Not a wink of sleep was had by either of us, and if you’ve ever seen the Zuni fetish doll in this movie, you know why. Without meaning to do it, I had given my daughter her own dolly traumafession.

Don’t let the cover of this movie fool you. It looks like the font is the scariest thing about it so that’s probably why I ignored the thunder and turned it on. Matheson changed the name of his doll story from Prey to Amelia when he wrote the script, to go along with the fact that KAREN BLACK was playing a different woman in each of the three segments. Prey says it better. Even as an adult, I huddled up with my family, wincing and jumping as Amelia and the doll had showdowns in the bathtub and the oven and the living room. There’s a missing carving knife that provides for a lot of suspense, and a horrifying bit involving a suitcase that for some reason made me squirm more than all the rest. There are no real special effects to speak of but the film holds up because the story is truly terrifying.

After all this time, you would think I’d know better than to play with dolls, but I’m afraid I still have a thing for them. I’m planning a scary doll give-away when my book comes out and this is purely due to the fact that I was damaged all those years ago by people like Algernon Blackwood, who wrote the short story that The Doll was based on, and Richard Matheson’s Prey. Scary stuff!

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Thanks for sharing that Carole. I feel your trauma as my own kid sister suffers from extreme pediophobia, a condition I might have used to my advantage on numerous occasions when we were kids. But I digress… I really want to talk about Carole’s new book “The Whisper Jar” (available Monday, October 31st in print or pre-order now, in electronic format via Morrigan Books).

Just in time for Halloween, “The Whisper Jar” is an anthology of seven short stories and two poems which all feature, in Kindertrauma parlance, traumatots grappling with the supernatural and the mundane. As Unkle Lancifer will be the first to attest, I have a very limited attention span and the idea of reading for pleasure is a luxury I rarely enjoy since I can’t sit still long enough. I am the fidgety type who can barely make it through a movie without having to check email, smoke a cigarette, or, well, fall asleep.

Such was not the case when I embarked on “The Whisper Jar.” As evidenced by her traumafession above, Carole knows how to turn a phrase, if you will, and I was sucked right into her fantastic world of slightly-off child protagonists. Some are dealing with sibling vampires; some are vying for the undivided attention of a pixie; and one has to come to the heart-breaking realization that nuns at her orphanage were less than truthful about her lineage. Honestly, Flannery O’Conner came to mind when I read the orphanage story “The Blue Word.” There is a definite moment of grace, and the final path to salvation is nothing short of heart breaking.

One last thing about Carole’s collection; “Maxwell Treat’s Museum of Torture for Young Girls and Boys” seriously begs for a small or silver screen adaptation. There is a powerful overarching theme of parental loss and Carole places her tragically displaced protagonist with one of the quirkiest families ever, one that includes three brothers who have the gumption to erect a museum devoted to archaic torture devices and two parents who fully support them in this endeavor. I want to live there!

OK, I am done. To read more by Carole Lanham, be sure to check her out at THE HORROR HOMEMAKER , her personal site, and snag a copy of “The Whisper Jar” HERE.

carole lanham

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Tags: Book Reports · Special Guest Stars · Traumafessions

Book Report :: Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy!

October 20th, 2011 · 15 Comments

One of the more fascinating websites you’ll ever encounter is AWFUL LIBRARY BOOKS, a joint hosted by librarians and dedicated to the discussion of which books are ready for that big library in the sky. I’ve now rummaged through the entire place and I’m sure to return again. If you are prone to nostalgia like I am, you’ll probably feel the same way. I can’t decide if it is beneficial or detrimental that our disposable culture tends to quickly cover over embarrassing mistakes with fresh new ones, but it’s nice to know that the local library erases the chalk board at a less frequent rate and we can still discover nearly forgotten trash treasures there (at least before they get weeded!) Personally, I think THE MORK AND MINDY STORY will always be relevant but time marches forward and I suppose each generation gets the MORK AND MINDY they deserve.

During my mostly pleasant and often humorous perusal of AWFUL, I came across one book that takes the cake in the Kindertraumatic nightmare department and so I had to share it with all of you. The book is entitled DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK, MOMMY: A CHILD’S BOOK OF SATANIC RITUAL ABUSE and holy cow what were the people responsible for this thing thinking? I won’t even get into the issue of whether Satanic cults like the one described are real (on the documented abuse front, Satanists are certainly lagging behind the Catholic church) because even if they did exist, how would this book ever help rather than terrify an abused child further? Even in the warped reality described, if you suspect your kid has been involved in something so heinous you may want to take more productive actions then reading them a bed time story about the horrors they have experienced. Even giving it the benefit of the doubt, the chance that this book helped more kids than it needlessly freaked out is roughly nil.

I guess I have to understand that this was published in 1990, landing on Earth smack in the middle of the Satanic Panic craze that was sweeping the nation like a precursor to the Macarena. Secret Satanic cults hiding in the woodwork have become less popular in the media these days but it looks like child abuse in all its multitude of forms is chugging along as always. I guess that is to be expected when time and resources are wasted chasing phantoms rather than dealing with harsh reality. I know I needn’t give something so out to lunch the time of day, but this book even has the nerve to try and drag Halloween into the scapegoat pyre! Not cool.

We joke around a lot about the stuff that unintentionally made it harder for us to sleep as kids around here. In most cases it involves misinterpreting innocent things or maybe overestimating our own bravery when it came to absorbing scary stuff at a young age. I’ve always contended that there is a healthy side to such fears, that they are an important part of learning to process and overcome intimidating obstacles. This book, on the other hand, is another thing altogether. This is fucked up. Not only is it irresponsible and poorly done, it strikes me as the type of thing that causes the type of anguish it’s pretending to salve. I have to give it some credit though, when designated “do-gooders” on a mission add to the Kindertrauma archives, they sure do leave everybody else (even those purposely working in the field of horror) in the dust.

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Tags: Book Reports · Halloween · Kinder-Editorial · Kinder-Link · Kinder-Topix

Butcher Knives & Body Counts: Essays On The Formula, Frights & Fun Of The Slasher Film

October 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

It’s October, the busiest month of the year and I should be harvesting pumpkins, caramelizing apples and stitching together TUCKER & DALE Halloween costumes for myself and Aunt John but I can’t put down BUTCHER KNIVES & BODY COUNTS: ESSAYS ON THE FORMULA, FRIGHTS & FUN OF THE SLASHER FILM. If you like horror movies at all then you should be reading it too. It’s not like any book I’ve ever encountered and I’m not just saying that because I contributed to it…although yes, that small fact certainly does make it different from any book I’m aware of. Sorry obituary page! Your plans to be the first to print my name have been foiled!

Let’s forget about me for a moment (geez, that was a little too easy for you), this incredible tome was edited by Bram Stoker award winner VINCE LIAGUNO, has a forward by ADAM ROCKOFF, author of the essential GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM, features an afterward by ANTHONY TIMPONE of FANGORIA fame and in between, it gushes with over seventy contributors including folks like director ADAM GREEN (HATCHET, FROZEN) and author JACK KETCHUM (THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, THE LOST.) You’ll even bump into neighbors of Kindertrauma who have dropped by from time to time like AMANDA REYES of MADE FOR TV MAYHEM and ol’ pal JEFF ALLARD of DINNER WITH MAX JENKE among many, many others.

That’s the great thing about this book; there are so many different voices in one place and they’ve all gathered because they have one thing in common, a passionate love for slasher films. The scope of the volume is extraordinary, reaching back to slasher seedlings of the thirties all the way up to the present. As for me, I happily took on three of my favorite flicks: THE FUNHOUSE, HELL NIGHT and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME and I’m honored to be included in such a eclectic grouping of equally devout enthusiasts. I guess what I’m saying is, if you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know where I am; happily lost in the pages of this book. You can order BUTCHER KNIVES AND BODY COUNTS at Amazon HERE or check out its official home HERE.

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Tags: Book Reports

Book Report: Not Bad For a Human

May 17th, 2011 · 8 Comments

I have three brothers and their names are David, John and Tom. I have no idea why my parents suddenly decided to get all fancy and name me Lance but I do know that I got some serious crap for it growing up. Luckily fate softened the blow of my awkward teen years by making me skinny, mangling my teeth and throwing a frizzy red bozo wig on my head. Funny I should be so nostalgic for the eighties when my actual first tour through the decade was a living hell on Earth. Lance was not a cool name. Nobody cool was named Lance. That’s what I believed until the summer of 1986 when I saw ALIENS. I’ve mentioned before (HERE) that I felt a real connection with the character of Bishop and that connection only strengthened as I read the films closing credits as they rolled by.

Don’t poke fun at me but I used to entertain the idea of being an actor. That particular dream evaporated the moment I stood on stage in front of strangers at an audition and felt as if my finger was stuck in an electrical socket for the duration. During that time period I read many an actor bio, Dean, Brando, Clift and Frances Farmer to name a few. This was before the Internet and these books were my only access to a world beyond the stifling suburbia I felt trapped in. My parents and teachers seemed committed to keeping the adult world a shrouded secret but these books gave me private access to a place beyond my poster covered bedroom walls. Reading NOT BAD FOR A HUMAN the LANCE HENRIKSEN autobiography by HENRIKSEN and JOSEPH MADDREY brought back memories of these books that seemed to have more influence on me than anything I learned in school or at home. MADDREY steers the ship, but it’s LANCE’s own words that fuel the journey. This is a guy who has been everywhere and back and is never less than generous about giving directions.

Legend has it that once upon a time, before youth was worshipped over experience, one could seek guidance and advice from those who have traveled the world longer than they have. Plunging into this bio is rather like be granted audience with an elder statesman, one who has navigated the fascinating depths of B-film (too many to mention), the heights of sci-fi perfection (ALIENS) and the sometimes grueling chain gang of episodic television (MILLENIUM). This is not the autobiography of a careerist bent on popularity and fortune but an artist attempting to cram as much life experience in his satchel as humanly possible.

HENRICKSEN’s resume is so extensive and seemingly random that one might wonder “Is there anything he would say ‘No’ to?” and the answers is “Yes, boring himself.” He has a true artist’s wiring, if the end result of his work is ten duds for every applauded work that’s for somebody else to judge, he learns just as much from each endeavor. The way he approaches the art of pottery says much of his approach to acting and life in general. “Honestly, I’ve learned more from some of the pots that I’ve fucked up than from pots where I knew what the outcome would be. I’ve learned more from the bad ones in a lot of ways.” The reader gleans that it’s the process of working itself that seems to appeal to the actor and I think that is what makes this book such a pleasure to read. It’s nice to know there are other reasons for an actor to accept a role besides elevating their Q quotient.

HENRIKSEN may be well known for playing bad guys or creepy weirdoes but in films like ALIENS, NEAR DARK and PUMPKINHEAD, a stronger vibe always came across to me and that is of a grounded paternal caretaker. This book backs up my intuition on nearly every page. Bounced around orphanages and raised without any real structure, he has molded himself as if from clay into the solid figure that was absent in his youth. If that’s not a hero’s journey then I don’t know what is. Truly, he’s as down to earth as anyone who has starred in three Bigfoot movies could possibly be. There’s a reason the man fits into westerns just as smoothly as he does horror or sci-fi, he’s a throwback to a time when people rather than stick to the pavement made their own trails.

I’m not very good at meeting celebrities, they kind of make me nervous. I’m not one for butting into a conversation and jumping in somebody’s space either. Once at a horror convention though I found HENRIKSEN chatting with a group and possessed, I slid myself right into their circle, his approachability trumping my timidity. I told him my name was Lance and he said, “You’re parents saddled you with that name too?” Obviously he understood. I said, “Thanks for being the first person to make my name seem cool.” And he replied “Glad I could help.” Smiling, he shook my hand. That was a big full circle moment in my life and I was genuinely grateful to give thanks to someone who took a machete to the brush before me. I wish we could have talked longer but this book does the trick; it’s a privilege to ride alongside someone whose knowledge comes from keen observance rather than hand me down platitudes. HENRIKSEN obviously evaluates his life experiences on his own terms rather than external opinion and that’s exactly the lesson I needed to learn from a guy named Lance.

NOTE: You can order NOT BAD FOR A HUMAN right over HERE!

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Tags: Book Reports

Silent Snow, Secret Snow

March 24th, 2011 · 14 Comments

First of all, allow me to suggest that if you are up late at night looking for something to watch, yet you feel you can’t commit yourself to an entire film, then the answer to your dilemma is NIGHT GALLERY on Hulu. So there, THAT possible future problem is solved. I know because that is exactly the position I found myself in the other evening and I wish I had just jumped into GALLERY earlier rather than wasting so much time being indecisive. The episode I viewed contained a segment that was perfect for throwing my brain a bone to gnaw on as it closed up shop for the night. I’m talking about season two, episode five “The Phantom Farmhouse/Silent Snow, Secret Snow.” “Phantom Farmhouse” is fine enough but it’s “Silent Snow” I want to trudge through here.

Actually for more on that NIGHT GALLERY segment, just jump on over to the always necessary HAUNTED CLOSET over HERE ( & watch it HERE!), that way I can focus on an earlier version (‘66) that I found which is of equal interest. It can’t boast an ORSON WELLES narration and the acting may be a bit off but what it lacks in polish it makes up for with sheer creepiness. As it turns out both tellings were directed and adapted by the same guy GENE R. KERNEY so don’t feel you’re stepping on toes if you prefer one to the other. The NIGHT GALLERY version is certainly slicker but who can deny the unquestionable emotional power of black and white? Check it out in two parts below…

NOTE: The end kinda cuts off the final line: “We’ll tell you the last most beautiful and secret story. A story that gets smaller and smaller, that comes inward, instead of opening like a flower. It is a flower that becomes a seed, a little cold seed. Do you hear? We are leaning closer to you…”

How about that? It’s like an after school special directed by DAVID LYNCH with a casting assist from JOHN WATERS. It’s wild how closely it resembles the later version yet has a distinguishable vibe all it’s own. After viewing both renditions I thought I’d read the original 1934 CONRAD AIKEN story too (find that HERE). The story ends with this even more provocative line: “The hiss was now becoming a roar-the whole world was a vast moving screen of snow-but even now it said peace, it said remoteness, it said cold, it said sleep.” Like the snow it speaks about, I couldn’t get the story itself out of my head. What is going on here? Is the kid going crazy and if so, why does crazy sound so fucking great to me? I sense that I should be feeling a dread that the protagonist is slipping away from reality and yet the words used are so exuberant that I can’t help mentally congratulating the child on successfully adopting the fine art of escape.

I’ll blame the world for my reaction, disasters both natural and man-made, a twisted soulless culture that worships the blatantly superficial, pure hate masquerading as morality …VICTORIA JACKSON. Ah, the snow, is the snow really so bad in comparison? The snow truly is beautiful and clean and it washes it all away. Some folks rashly believe that the kid in the story is buckling under advancing schizophrenia (or autism), but I just see a good ol’ fashioned dissociative disorder galloping up to save the day. School sucks and that child wasn’t born to entertain his parents, why not take a little snowy holiday in his brain? Am I just playing Devil’s advocate when I say that there’s not much wrong here and what a lucky dude for finding a trap door? If you ask me, it’s as beautiful as a Tommy Ross poem. O.K. so there’s a scary PINK FLOYD “Comfortably Numb” element as well, but did someone say sleep? Sleep sounds nice. Maybe it’s me but I detect a valiant rejection of the mundane, a refusal to accept the norm and the understandable desire to commission beauty to counteract an ugly world. Reality shmeality I always say. No, serious I do always say that.

Truth told I had my own “secret snow” as a kid. On a trip to Universal Studios I discovered a machine that when activated with a quarter poured hot red wax into a mold and after a couple minutes of cooling, dispensed a too fragile, wax Frankenstein figurine. Now this was in grade school when horrible children brattier than even myself would call me Frankenstein because I had a scar on my forehead so this figurine doubled as an identity totem. Whenever a situation got scary or worse, lethally boring, I simply imagined a hole on the top of my head and red wax being poured into my body. It would start in my toes and rise until it started spilling out of the crown of my head. Another problem solved! While filled with my imaginary wax I could bare just about anything and the problems of the day would Calgon blur away. Oh, Frankenstein figure why’d you have to go and break into pieces? I guess I could have survived without my secret but is there anything more important than finding something in life that allows you to forge a private alliance with yourself? It’s entirely possible that I am missing the whole point of the story, on the other hand the snow falling on my keyboard is encouraging me to think whatever I like.

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Tags: Book Reports · Caution: I break for geniuses! · My own personal Jesus · The Seventies mushed my head · Tykes in Trouble

Traumafessions :: Reader My37 on “Outside Over There” by Maurice Sendak

October 20th, 2010 · 4 Comments

I’d like to make a contribution to your website (which I discovered recently and LOVE by the way). This book scared the hell out of me as a child. It was about a girl who was in charge of taking care of her baby sister and basically from what I remember, the baby is stolen by goblins. Way before LABYRINTH, and not as cute and fun like some of Sendak‘s other books, this traumatized me.

I had just had a little sister for the first time when I first read the book in the early ’80s, and I feared this was going to happen my sister while I was “in charge” of looking after her. The illustrations are creepy, and to me was just not a kid friendly book.

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Tags: Book Reports · Traumafessions