April 1st, 2012 · 1 Comment
February 26th, 2012 · 8 Comments
Exactly twenty years ago (give or take a month- March 30, 1992) a horror film called SILENCE OF THE LAMBS made mincemeat of the Academy Awards. It devoured all of the major categories, a feat achieved only twice before (by IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST.) Some folks are a little hesitant about slapping the horror label on SILENCE, so let me do it for them and without pause. It seems the more accomplished a movie is, the more likely some are to address it as a “psychological thriller” and nothing gets my non-silent goat more. JONATHAN DEMME’s film is certainly rich and expansive enough to elude simple stagnant classification but, at the end of the day, without the element of horror, it has no bones to stand. Let me ask you, if somebody showed up to your Oscar party wearing clothes made of human skin and a mask constructed of another person’s torn off face would you think their outfit was horrifying or thrilling? Exactly. SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is horror.
Crikey, if SILENCE isn’t horror then what is? Besides the already mentioned body mutilation, violence and death, SILENCE straps on a diving helmet and plunges into the less easily defined depths of the pit. Yeah, there’s some nifty crime & mystery stuff going on and Clarice’s ascension past those who underestimate her is immensely gratifying, but her anguish and regret over not being able to save an animal she meant to protect from slaughter is the real spirit crushing agent of darkness here. We come to find out Clarice is haunted by past events and I think that emotional/spiritual horror is a sharper more persistent blade. For instance, I have a Facebook page and many of my pals are horror fans, so I’m pretty much besieged with images of “horror” everyday: zombies, vamps, decapitations, the usual snore parade. Every once in a while somebody will post a picture of an animal being harmed under a title like “Stop this!” and I know they are trying to do the right thing but it’s like throwing battery acid in my eyes and it makes my soul barf for humanity. Meaning, I’m not convinced the lambs of the title will ever be silenced. That’s horror.
I get the drift of those that say SILENCE is not horror. I understand their logic and points and politely chuck those ideas towards the dustbin in my head. This is more than an issue of semantics for me. Can I just keep this one victorious memory intact and unmolested by those who live to rain on my parade? When SILENCE won that night twenty years ago, in my mind, the entire horror genre won and more importantly (to me) so did I. It seemed that finally something I cared about was getting some respect. (It did not hurt that just the year before KATHY BATES wrangled a best actress award for MISERY too.) I had grown up watching the movies that I dug utterly disrespected and devalued and frankly, I was sick of it. In 1992 it seemed like the world was catching up to what I already knew. I started to imagine a future where I didn’t have to add an extra star or up the letter grade to every review of a horror film I read in order to make up for the preexisting prejudice. I’m sad to tell you, I’m still waiting for that day.
Maybe I’m OK with that. Some art forms are born to walk the fringes. I don’t expect everyone to like horror films but I do believe they deserve to be judged fairly rather than automatically dismissed because some find their subject matter distasteful. Really though, how can anyone expect horror as a genre to emerge from the ghetto when those who claim to be its biggest supporters are the very ones who most vehemently rip the movies themselves to shreds? If you want to read a truly venomous take on a horror film, your best bet is a horror fan site, a place where boycotting movies that are not filmed yet, burning directors at the stake and tearing apart nearly everything that comes down the pike save for a few worn out sacred cows are a matter of course; with fans like these, who needs enemies? That’s coming from a gay guy who twenty years ago was still firmly in the closet at a gay friendly Oscar party when SILENCE OF THE LAMBS won. Nothing drags a movement down like the naysaying, doubting Thomases from within. Tonight I’ll be at another Oscar party but this time not as a self-sabotaging malcontent. Maybe the world of horror hasn’t progressed as much as I would have liked in the past two decades but I have. I’m seriously going to toast SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 20TH anniversary win tonight and I’ll do it as a loud, proud devoted fan of horror…get used to it.
December 14th, 2011 · 7 Comments
UNK SEZ: You guys remember our pal the multi talented DANTE TOMASELLI (Interview HERE). Well, DANTE has just concluded scoring his latest film TORTURE CHAMBER so I asked him what movie scores were his favorites and influenced him the most. Below are his favorite top ten scores alongside some fresh images from his forthcoming film (Check out the official site HERE)! Thanks for sharing this with us Dante, You’ve got great taste!
I experienced Halloween in theatres at my birthday party in 1979. I just turned 10. My childhood friends were petrified and some of are still traumatized. It’s hard to describe the impact of this movie to the younger generation because you really had to experience Halloween in theatres. It had a ferocious grip on audiences. I haven’t seen anything match its power. To this day, most critics and fans declare Halloween the ultimate horror film and I wholeheartedly agree. The music is 50% of the film’s equation. Halloween’s heart-pounding, anxiety-inducing theme is so powerful. It’s become the anthem for classic horror films, and definitely something you can’t escape around October. I can’t escape it. It’s been the ringtone on my phone for years. Analogue synthesizer music was popular during the 60′s and 70′s in sci-fi and horror films but Halloween took that kind of sound design to a whole new level. This is a landmark horror soundtrack. Flickering and glowing like a devilish jack-o-lantern, the music is sinister and playfully evil. I’m forever influenced by this motion picture and its soundtrack. Thank you, John Carpenter.
I saw this film in my late twenties, during post production of my first feature, Desecration. How did I not ever see it? I remember the commercial on TV when I was 7-years-old. There was a seductive woman brushing her hair…her back to the camera. We hear her child-like voice. Roses are red. Violets are blue…She’s telling a poem. She swings around. Her face is a skull. Then a man’s voice says, ‘You can run from Suspiria…but you cannot escape…Suspiria.’ It was a whispery, evil voice…S-U-S-P-I-R-I-A. Somehow, where I lived in New Jersey, Suspiria wasn’t distributed. Eventually, though, I do remember seeing the title in video stores, and oddly ignoring it. I guess I was in my own fog at the time. When I finally watched the film, I felt like it was a religious experience. The same feeling I got while watching The House with Laughing Windows. It’s the kind of movie that must be properly viewed at night, in darkness, in stereo. Any other way diminishes it. The music by Goblin is so dense and multi-layered. Synthesizers, rhythm guitars, real instruments, all kinds of drums. You can get lost in its labyrinth design. Especially the beginning of the Suspiria theme. It starts off with a child’s lullaby, actually beautiful and soft but then these obscene whispers crash in and the drum beats more insistent.
3.) THE FOG
My mother and I saw The Fog in theatres in 1980. I was 10. We were already fans of Carpenter’s Halloween. The theatre was called Totowa Cinema on Route 46 in Totowa, New Jersey. My father owned a Jewelry and Bridal Store in the mall where the movie played. I remember my mother was slightly disappointed by The Fog, I guess because she was comparing it to Halloween, but I absolutely loved the film. Everything about it. I was electrified. I was completely obsessed with the images and sounds and murky ghost storyline. The Fog. I’d illustrate the title, in its own special font on my grammar school notebooks. I always loved typography. The music in this film totally jumped out at me…just like Halloween…and there’s a mysterious knocking at the door. TAP. TAP. TAP. TAP. I used to mimic that all the time on different doors….There was a wood burning stove in our garage and I used the stoker to strike the door, pretending I was one of the ghouls. Around this time, I played an electronic organ. I’d sit home and fantasize. Low tones. Also, I played the pounding beat on electronic drums in my basement. I’d pound the drums, in a trance, over and over. It’s that section of the film where the fog is chasing everyone through the streets. Ahhhh. I love that. Nothing beats the Moog synthesizer analogue soundscape. It just pushes my button. When I purchased the soundtrack to The Fog I listened to it non-stop. You get the feeling that something is chasing you…and it’s coming closer and closer….The film has state-of-the-art moody electronic sound design.
4.) HALLOWEEN III: SEASON OF THE WITCH
It was 1982. I was 12 and I couldn’t wait for its release. The commercials on TV were striking with a spider crawling out of an old hag’s mouth accompanied by nightmarish music. I was so excited. The Night No one Comes Home. Perfect tag line. Then I saw the film. I already read the tie-in book, so I knew what to expect…Robots. I liked the film but didn’t love it. Still, I admired its fresh approach and loved its Dean Cundey widescreen cinematography. Mostly, mainly, I was ecstatic about the music. What perfect electronic horror music! I bought the album and listened to it endlessly. I still do. While nothing beats the theme to the original, overall as an album, this is definitely a better listening experience…and with the widest selection of doom-laced worlds. To me, it sounds like it would be a very dark solo album from Greg Hawkes, the imaginative keyboardist from The Cars. For example, Drive to Santa Mira…it has the distinct John Carpenter low toned vibe while incorporating a new dreamy organ with lots of reverb. Every single track stands out as an example of haunting mood music. John Carpenter and Alan Howarth created magic here. This is synth horror heaven and should probably be number one on my list. I could just listen to Halloween 3: Season of the Witch until the end of time.
5.) SOUNDS TO MAKE YOU SHIVER
This is actually not a movie but a horror sound fx album. It was played around Halloween in the 70′s and 80′s…and in many different funhouses as background music. Halloween was every day for me, so I’d listen to Sounds to Make You Shiver all the time, especially from 1st to 6th grade. The album consists mainly of moans and screams and thunderstorms. First we hear a woman groaning in pain and a man sadistically laughing with a chain clanging in the background. You feel like you’re in a dungeon. I got lost in the howling wind and thunderstorms and creepy, thick atmospheres. In a trance, I would listen…My imagination lighting up. Side 2 has variations of screams, witches cackles, cats, growling dogs and more moody and violent storms. Midway through, the sounds morph into an ambient, almost experimental piece with dreamy piano, guitar and bells…mixed with echoed footsteps…and a chain dragging on a castle floor.
6.) THE SHINING
At times you can hear devils giggling. I used to scare my younger brother just by playing the music. This spine-tingling score by Wendy Carlos, a pioneer in electronic music, has an almost demonic power. I swear it’s transmitted straight from hell. The opening theme is expertly constructed…so delicately woven…It’s bone-chilling. Atmospheric, psychedelic, macabre and surreal…It floats on another plane. There is nothing like this Moog synthesizer music, it creates its own space. I love Wendy’s score for A Clockwork Orange too. Her sound is so otherworldly….
7.) ALICE, SWEET ALICE
My cousin, Alfred Sole’s film, doesn’t have a soundtrack that’s released and it should. Stephen Lawrence conjures one of the most dreamily sinister themes I’ve ever heard. I’m referring to the sparkling lullaby mixed with the menacing tones and breathy vocals. It’s cold and sleek and evil as can be, just like the movie. The swirling violins are unnerving and in-your-face. I love all the small interludes with haunted piano and reverb. The opening titles music is surprisingly reserved and reminds me of a warped version of The Godfather. Very Italian…family tragedy….On the DVD copies, you can find a montage of the film’s old stills…and the music playing over these images is the breathy, ice-cold theme to Alice, Sweet Alice…extended. I loop it over and over….
Howard Shore scored The Brood and Videodrome, also favorites. He’s an expert in somber, deadly serious soundscapes. You don’t just hear them, you feel them. The trancelike electronic music here is percolating, staccato, moaning in pain. He captures emotional violence. In fact, my first short film was called Emotional Violence. It got me into Pratt Institute, the film department. It was a non-linear montage about a suicidal girl with an abusive boyfriend and mother. My mother, an actress, played the mother. I had Scanners music throughout. How could I resist? I know I could never sell it. I can’t find the film now.
9.) THE THING
This soundtrack reminds me of being in high school and listening to the cassette on my walkman. I’d get completely lost in this gorgeous, classy horror music. It’s amazing how Ennio Morricone was channeling John Carpenter, intentionally or not. Sometimes it really sounds like him. I love Morricone’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage too. That should be on this top 10 list. The Thing’s theme, with its pulsating electronic tone, is genuinely hypnotic. I can play it over and over and over. There’s something off-kilter, almost avant garde in its repetitiveness. It’s minimalist. But not all of the soundtrack is like that. There are violin compositions that are spacious, warm, lush and eerie. There are also some screeching violins that are all-out terrifying.
Cold and pristine, John Carpenter’s Christine score is embedded in my psyche. Just like the soundtracks to Halloween, Halloween 2, Halloween 3, The Fog and Prince of Darkness, Christine has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. A bit clipped, which makes for a jumpy listening experience. But it’s not really meant to stand on its own, even though it does. John Carpenter is all about scoring to picture. It’s thin and glacial and it works. The throbbing baritone employed throughout is pure old-school Carpenter. I love it. The scene where Arnie says, ‘Show me’ and that electronic bell pierces through the atmosphere…followed by the galloping low tone…cinematic magic. It takes my breath away and sometimes brings a tear to my eye. I’m in awe of the way the music changes the environment, how it completely elevates and transforms the scene. The chase compositions are melodic. There’s that propulsive beat that feels like all early Carpenter themes wrapped into one.
November 30th, 2011 · 9 Comments
The other day while trying to hunt down a “Name That Trauma!” I came across several mentions of a local television show from the early seventies entitled CANDLE COVE. The show seemed to have left a hefty impression on the unfortunate young souls who made a habit of watching it. CANDLE COVE was about a little girl named Janice and her interactions with a group of pirates that were portrayed by cheap looking puppets. For a kid’s show, CANDLE COVE was dark and twisted in a way that only a seventies show could get away with. There was even a villain named “The Skin Taker” and his cape appeared to be sewn together pieces of-you guessed it… skin. How had I never heard of CANDLE COVE before and why did it sound slightly familiar anyway? Finally I found a conversational thread that seemed to verify the existence of this highly kindertraumatic creation. Please take a moment and read it HERE.
…Did you read it? Don’t lie to me. Okay, so it turns out that CANDLE COVE was never really a show at all but spawned from a work of short fiction written by one KRIS STRAUB. Something about KRIS’ creation stuck a cord with the Internet and now CANDLE COVE is beginning to crystallize into a modern urban legend of sorts right before our eyes. Some refuse to believe that it never existed and some believe that they have witnessed it themselves. You have to admit after reading that thread that it doesn’t sound too far off from the conversations we have here at Kindtrauma, with different people remembering different bits until finally something solid takes form. I think the last comment that closes KRIS’ piece is brilliant. It captures just how diabolical and intrusive these vague memories from childhood can sometimes feel. I’m happy to say that I was able to track down KRIS for a short interview for you guys so here it is!
UNK: I almost didn’t want to reveal CANDLE COVE as a work of fiction but then I realized that no matter how many times that fact is put out there, some people refuse to believe that it’s not real. What’s it like to know that something you created has taken on a life of its own and in such a relatively short amount of time?
KRIS STRAUB: At first I wasn’t aware that it had happened at all. I had a horror fiction site, ICHOR FALLS, where I posted CANDLE COVE initially, and it ended up shared without my knowledge at much more popular horror fiction sites, where it reached a much bigger audience. I know 4chan helped to spread it around. The first time I saw people re-enacting the story, post for post, to scare an unsuspecting forum, I was so gratified. I kind of wrote it just to get the idea out of my head.
One of the things that I think let it take on a life of its own is how vague it is, and how earnest the show seems to be before all the scary stuff is revealed. So many things that scare us as kids start from this innocuous desire to entertain children, but it’s produced carelessly, or some special effect comes out way more ponderous or ugly than the creators intended, and it lingers as we, as children, try to make it fit with our limited understanding of the world. I think we have all been disturbed by shows and movies that have failed us in that way.
UNK: CANDLE COVE has inspired fan videos, fan fiction, music and a Facebook page promising a future movie. What addition to the CANDLE COVE legend have you been most taken aback by?
KRIS STRAUB: I like that people are excited about the story, but I get nervous when I see someone trying to make a film or their own CANDLE COVE books and stories. One of the good and bad things about how quick the story became an urban legend is that people really do think it’s an urban legend with no origin and no author. Fan work is great, but I’m very torn about balancing the fact that it is copyrighted and I do own the story, with the idea that it is in the nature of the story to be spread, namelessly, in dark corners of the internet. I know that serves the mythos way more than me being a litigious dick about it.
As far as being taken aback, I never know how serious Rule 34 is. The rule of the internet that states that if it’s a thing, then there’s porn of it on the internet. So there’s some sexy CANDLE COVE stuff out there that I hope was made as a personal self-challenge, and not a real, living desire to see Horace Horrible get it on with the Skin-Taker.
UNK: Can you tell us a little bit about your website ICHOR FALLS and the inspirations behind CANDLE COVE?
KRIS STRAUB: ICHOR FALLS is a collection of stories revolving around a fictional West Virginia town of the same name. I started writing them out of a love of Lovecraftian horror — not horror where someone gets chopped up, but where someone is made to realize that they don’t really understand the forces that drive the world, but they’ve seen too much of the truth. I also came to love the short stories of STEVEN MILLHAUSER, who doesn’t write horror per se, but creates these little universes where one good idea is taken too far, and then he takes it even further. Most of them are really unsettling.
Believe it or not, CANDLE COVE was specifically inspired by an old article on THE ONION: “Area 36-Year-Old Still Has Occasional Lidsville Nightmare.” It’s so accurate. I don’t know what dark entities SID & MARTY KROFFT spent time in the thrall of, but everything they made to entertain kids is tinged with this unearthly, utterly alien sensibility. I looked up the call letters for a TV station in that area of West Virginia and the names of nearby towns, and it lent the story a little verisimilitude.
UNK: I feel like you could take this idea as far as you like. Do you have anything in store for the future as far as CANDLE COVE and its burgeoning mythos?
KRIS STRAUB: It’s tough! I started to get really excited in continuing the mythos, but I think CANDLE COVE works because it is brief and vague and interrupted. I think to put a name or face to whatever is behind the making of the show is to spoil the magic. I always appreciated THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT for never showing us the witch. A CGI monster can never be as scary as what we invent in our own minds as a placeholder.
I have an idea keeping with the forum-post format, that involves someone asking around an auction site like eBay for the original tapes. There have also been some fan attempts to debunk CANDLE COVE (which always happens quickly, especially if people see this interview), but I’d like to write a whole meta-novella where someone decides to publish their attempts to expose CANDLE COVE and finds more than they were expecting.
UNK: Last but not least, I’ve got to try and get a traumafession out of you. What was the first movie, TV show, etc. that you remember being truly terrified of as kid?
KRIS STRAUB: I think I have a good one. There was an ABC AFTERSCHOOL SPECIAL from the ’80s, “Cousin Kevin,” about this little bespectacled kid whose imagination was too real for the babysitter. There’s one sequence where Cousin Kevin is imagining that they’re in the Arctic, and they’re attacked by “30-foot-tall carnivorous killer penguins.” They were stop-motion-animated by the Chiodo Bros., I remember that. All the effects were.
So Kevin and his babysitter escape and hide in a tiny igloo, and the penguin breaks it open easily, and Kevin says “watch out for their acid saliva!” and this huge fake penguin beak oozes steaming slime on the babysitter as he struggles and screams and begs for Kevin to end the fantasy. The whole scene is so nightmarish and claustrophobic! It wrecked me for months. There are more moments like that I’m sure, but it’s the only one I can remember. I would give anything to find that episode again.
UNK: Thanks KRIS for the interview and for CANDLE COVE. I have to admit that somewhere in the back of my mind I’m still not convinced that it wasn’t real either. Kids, Make sure you step insde KRIS‘ permanent residence KRISSTRAUB.COM to see all the other cool stuff pouring out of his head!
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.
September 11th, 2011 · 9 Comments
UK SEZ: My big plan was to grab all the images of the World Trade Center that I could find in horror films but mid way through my endeavor I discovered someone had beaten me to it. Many of these images come courtesy of the site WORLD TRADE CENTER IN MOVIES which catalogues shots of The Twin Towers found in films of every variety. Check it out HERE. I know you don’t need another person telling you to remember the Towers today so instead allow me to point out how adept movies are at capturing what is missed.
August 24th, 2011 · 33 Comments
With a big budget remake of DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK opening this Friday and talks of KOLCHAK leaping to multiplexes in the near future, it seems the remake machine is wising up to something many of our readers have known for a long time; that some of the best horror tales in existence spawn from the small screen. I present to you now a list of ten other T.V. movies that I think might deserve a big screen treatment, Be warned I left out STEPHEN KING classics like IT & SALEM’S LOT because nobody needs my nudging to remake KING and I skipped over some of my absolute favorites like SATAN’S TRIANGLE, BLACK NOON, DYING ROOM ONLY and MANY MORE simply because I either could not convince myself that they could be done better or I wasn’t sure modern audiences would know what to do with them. There are so many great T.V. movies that a list of ten was not easy to compile so if I’ve left out any of your favorites, feel free to sing their praises in the comment section!
10. THE BERMUDA DEPTHS (1978)
I’m just going to get this one out of the way right off the bat. I’m not sure if it should be filed under horror, action or romance but I do know that its fans are some of the most passionately devoted out there. A story involving a giant sea turtle may be a hard sell in this cynical age but it may also be exactly what the doctor ordered if the correct tone is established. In fact, if done right it could appeal to a wide variety of ages. The original T.V. movie did indeed receive a theatrical release in foreign countries so perhaps TBD’s leap to the big screen is not nearly as farfetched as one might think. Screw AVATAR sequels, JAMES CAMERON should be all over this epic oceanic lovelorn adventure.
9. DUEL (1971)
I pity the fool who tries to follow in STEVEN SPIELBERG’s footsteps but if it’s ever going to be attempted this is a good place to start. The original was so well received that it graduated to play in not only European theaters but in US theaters as well. An update could add a class war element with the main character being a snooty modern urbanite and the phantom truck driver being a faceless good ol’ boy/ mudflap girl enthusiast. In any case, car movies tend to do well at the box office, so jack up the stunts and let her roll.
8. MR. BOOGEDY (1986)
This family friendly, haunted house comedy is a no-brainer. Go gross, go goofy, go 3-D, rake in the dough and leave BEETLEJUICE in the dust. Many folks have fond memories of the original but even kids unfamiliar with the title would be chomping at the bit to check out this funky phantom. Clueless Disney owns the rights so don’t hold your breath but the original led to BRIDE OF BOOGEDY, so I see major franchise potential. C’mon on Disney, this is your chance to make up for lousing up THE HAUNTED MANSION to such a vile degree!
7. HORROR AT 37,000 FEET (1973)
This movie may be hokey but there’s no reason why the remake has to be. In fact, I think this would be a great project for my pal and yours JOHN CARPENTER. Think about it, the story involves a plane carting ancient druid stones that ends up being threatened by its supernatural cargo. It’s basically PRINCE OF DARKNESS in the air! The endangered are small group of people from all walks of life and who has more experience directing folks thrown together and forced to battle side by side against an unknown foe? (Think THE THING, THE FOG, ASSAULT ON P13, etc…) CARPENTER can upgrade the scares and the believability and he’d have a blast getting all metaphysical explaining the cargos power with his very own screenplay (which he’ll surely credit to a fictional entity.) The story even has a dog in it and I know he has worked with canines before!
6. THE SPELL (1977)
There was many a copycat in the wake of the success of CARRIE but this one offers several unique wrinkles. THE SPELL’s vengeful conjuring teen is overweight and not only has a “perfect” sibling but also a hyper critical mother hiding her own powers that she must battle as well. It would be easy as hell to slap this story into a contemporary setting and touch upon current topics of interest like high school bullying and the pressures on teen girls to conform to a certain body type. STEPHEN KING’s novel CARRIE features a plump protagonist, since none of the official adaptations of his work has yet had the nerve to feature this element, here’s a chance to rectify that slight.
5. THE DEMON MURDER CASE (1983)
History has shown that possession movies, particularly ones based on “true” stories tend to fill theater seats. This tale that takes place in Brookfield, Connecticut where yours truly once resided, is ripe for the picking. Of course you might have some trouble securing rights from the folks who it actually happened to who say it’s all a sham but perhaps they could be quelled by a DVD exclusive documentary focusing on their side of the story. All I know is this movie and the corresponding book “The Devil in Connecticut” scared the living crap out of me once upon a time and that some of the details (the demonic old man with hooves and a charred plaid shirt) true or not, still give me the heebie-jeebies.
4. BAD RONALD (1974)
I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough of BAD RONALD. There’s only so much that can be done on television, so here’s an opportunity to delve even deeper into the psyche of this intriguing character. How about using HEAVENLY CREATURES as an inspiration and showing on screen, in detail, Ronald’s elaborate fantasy world? Nerdy outsider characters seem to be all over the place these days, so how about giving us one who is actually interesting?
3. DON’T GO TO SLEEP (1982)
A little girl comes back from the dead to convince her younger sister to kill the rest of their family. Hey, we need more killer kid movies because nothing is more entertaining! It’s fool proof really because if it fails to convince it will still be funny as hell. The story of course will have to be updated with fancier kills. Has the electric pizza cutter been invented yet? This remake will also get extra points if it casts VALERIE HARPER in the role of Grandma and retains the haunting signature closing shot.
2. TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975)
The truth hurts but it must be said, nobody cares about the first two stories in this trilogy. The best idea would be to make this an all-Zuni doll affair and return to RICHARD MATHESON’s original story title “PREY.” The Zuni fetish doll is a sleeping giant of a horror icon and if Chucky can run for five films and counting, I think little Zuni has the potential to follow suit. By the year 2022, I personally require a Zuni vs. Chucky movie!
1. DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW (1981)
Now this one comes with a genuine, pre-existing fanbase. It hardly matters though because how can you beat that title? What horror fan would ignore such a thing on a marquee? They’d have to be thick! Also, here’s a chance to make something specifically for the Halloween season. My advice would be, amp up the atmosphere a couple notches, pour on some extra blood and just sit back and let the story do the rest. How could it not work? Furthermore this classic tale would offer some seriously meaty roles for actors who were up to the challenge. What A-lister in their right mind would pass up the chance to play a mentally challenged person or an unstable mailman? Both roles are Oscar bait! I’m thinking CILLIAN MURPHY as Bubba and MICHAEL CHIKLIS as Otis and maybe KATE JACKSON as Bubba’s mom as a nod to THE SCARECOW AND MRS. KING. What? Why are you looking at me funny? It needs to happen yesterday. Jeez, give me 20 million dollars and I’ll make it myself!
So that’s my ten and I overlooked only a couple hundred. I wouldn’t talk T.V. movies without asking T.V. movie gal pal Amanda by Night for her two cents, so for ten more T.V. movies that deserve big screen makeovers jump over to MADE FOR TV MAYHEM and check out Amanda’s top ten picks HERE!
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!
March 30th, 2011 · 29 Comments
UNK SEZ: I don’t know if these are the best scores (Hey, where’s Tubular Bells?!) but they are my personal favorites. Hope I didn’t neglect too many! BTW, both TENTACLES and THE VISITOR just barely missed the cut!
Let’s just get this one taken care of immediately. How can any list of horror scores not include this madness? So big, so brazen it nearly kicks the movie itself right off the screen! No small feat!
BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (WOJIECH KILAR)
A good score lets you know what’s going down right off the bat. Sure this film is plenty romantic but KILAR’s work makes sure you remember there’s plenty of anger and vengeance seeping through its veins as well.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME (LANCE RUBIN)
LANCE RUBIN is not only the name of me after I marry JENNIFER RUBIN, but it is also the name of the guy who did the score for one of my favorite slashers. The music box combo of sweet and creepy weaves throughout the film and culminates in a memorable theme song sung by SYREETA! If RUBIN’s work sounds a tad familiar it may be due to his talent lodging in another classic, MOTEL HELL!
PHANTASM (FRED MYROW & MALCOLM SEAGRAVE)
THE SHINING used to have this spot until I found out that most of its music is not original to the film. That’s alright, I was feeling bad about leaving out PHANTASM anyway and now I don’t have to. Listen to how sad it is! It sounds like the seventies and it sounds like rain and it makes me want to go on a tandem bicycle excursion with KAREN CARPENTER. Shit, that makes me think of THE ATTIC and how I should have put THE ATTIC in here as well. Damn self-imposed deadlines!
CAT PEOPLE (GIORGIO MORODER)
MORODER is the man and his soundtrack for PAUL SCHRADER’s Meow Mix is something y’all need to get your paws on. Its influence is still felt to this day in fact, the band GOLDFRAPP recently admitted that their last album was strongly influenced by MORODER’s efforts here! That’s some staying power!
THE THING (ENNIO MORRICONE)
Wow. I guess you know you kind of rule when JOHN CARPENTER decides to hand over musical duties to you rather than tackling them himself. Well, MORRICONE is a legend and his minimalistic, heartbeat mimicking, icy cold contribution to CARPENTER’s film fits like a snug glove.
PSYCHO II (JERRY GOLDSMITH)
Talk about big shoes to fill. (Not that anyone involved in the making of this sequel didn’t have more than their work cut out for them.) JERRY GOLDSMITH pays homage to and follows trails paved by the great BERNARD HERRMANN but he adds something uniquely his own too. Almost as if in cahoots with ANTHONY PERKINS‘ performance, GOLDSMITH sways you toward the tragic and sympathetic side of Norman Bates’ soul. Look out! Once in your head, very hard to evict!
CARRIE (PINO DONAGGIO)
Speaking of BERNARD HERRMANN, composer PINO DONAGGIO does a fine job of tipping his hat toward the guy too. Sure, screechy stabby violins will always owe a debt to PSYCHO but PINO brings an extraordinary sincere velvet dark melancholy to the table too. I know this score like the back of my hand and I love it even though some of the creepy church vibes bring back strange unwanted memories of the DAVEY AND GOLIATH show. Aw, that reminds me I should not have forgotten CARNIVAL OF SOULS on this list either! I’ll just shove it in here. Cassie won’t mind, er, I mean Carrie…
CANDYMAN (PHILIP GLASS)
Not everybody digs PHILIP GLASS but you have to admit that he’s an inspired choice for the soundtrack to CANDYMAN. His signature repetitive synth blips reek of urban insect existence. I’m gonna rate this baby extra high on originality alone and for the simple fact that “Helen’s Theme” may be one of the most beautiful things that ever happened to my ridiculous ears. Here be the proverbial bee’s knees…
THE FOG (JOHN CARPENTER)
Number one score for me forever for sure. I know CARPENTER’s HALLOWEEN theme will always shadow over his other fine work but the truth is, on an emotional level it can’t really hold a candle to what he accomplishes with THE FOG score. Sometimes gentle, slight and ethereal, sometimes pounding like a primal alarm to flee. It does more than set the mood, it blankets you in the otherworldly and it does not let go as it pushes you further and further away from safety. To put it simply, THE FOG score sounds like a ghost story being told without words…
UNK SEZ: that’s my top ten folks but wait I’m not done yet! Here are TWO EXTRA BONUS TRACKS!
My choice for outstanding opening theme song goes to ROSEMARY’S BABY by KRZYSTOF KOMEDA featuring MIA FARROW!
…And my choice for most annoying theme song goes to TOURIST TRAP! I love you TOURIST TRAP (and PINO DONAGGIO) but once I fell asleep with your DVD in the player and woke up to a menu screen playing this track over and over and I just about lost what little of my mind I had left.
January 7th, 2011 · 6 Comments
UNK SEZ:: Hey look at this! KINDERTRAUMA has been nominated for “Best Fan Blog” by TOTAL FILM. Many other fine blogs were nominated as well, including some of our bestest pals. We hate to grade-grub but we’ll do it anyway, if you like what we do here give us a high five via a click vote! Thanks times a million for recognizing us TOTAL FILM and remember folks, vote for KINDERTRAUMA because we don’t even want to go to college! Check out the ballot HERE!