...:::Great Moments In Kindertrauma History:::...
December 24th, 2012 · No Comments
April 11th, 2012 · 3 Comments
I often tell people that I’m lucky. I grew up in a time when children’s entertainment was at its best. These were before the days of BLUE’S CLUES and TELETUBBIES giving kids everywhere ADD (you know it’s true, people!) Back in my day (why hello, Grandpa), family entertainment was wholesome, but not completely braindead like a lot of it is now. The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon had only recently hit the airwaves and they weren’t afraid to take chances. In many ways, The Disney Channel was sort of like the TCM of its day. It was there that I’d end up seeing a good majority of all the old MGM musicals, the delicious TEEN WITCH, and the goofy ROGER CORMAN produced STEPMONSTER (yes, Disney used to show CORMAN movies.) Hell, even Nickelodeon used to air the slightly subversive and spooky ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?
Out of all the great kid friendly things to come out of the ‘80s and ‘90s (of which there are many), the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1988 novel MATILDA goes straight to the top of my list. I first saw it in theaters back in ’96. Two twins in my 1st grade class decided to have their birthday party at the movies and they picked this one to go see. Pretty much the entire class showed up, not knowing that we were about to have our minds blown.
The story centers around young Matilda Wormword. Matilda’s white trash parents hardly even know she exists and spend their days selling used cars for unfair prices, getting their hair dyed, and playing bingo. Little do they know that, even from an extremely young age, their daughter has had an abnormally large IQ. Since she’s so neglected at home, she becomes self-sufficient and even braves the big city to seek out a library so that she can quench her thirst for knowledge.
When she finally asks to go to school at age 6, her parents send her to Crunchem Hall, a school that looks more like a correctional facility than a place of higher learning. There, she comes face to face with the butch Agatha Trunchbull, the school’s stern headmistress, who has a thing for tossing disobedient children out windows, over fences by their pigtails, and into the Chokey, an iron maiden-esque contraption filled with nails and broken glass. Thankfully, Matilda ends up in the classroom of Miss Honey, a kindly teacher who appreciates the quirks of every student she teaches and starts to believe that Matilda might be exceptionally gifted. Did I also mention that Matilda has psychokinetic powers? Oopsy! The story is like PRECIOUS meets some sort of bizarre JOHN WATERS movie meets CARRIE…but for kids.
What stands out most is how the story never speaks down to children. It’s that special something that Roald Dahl had. If you look at his other works such as THE WITCHES and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, you’ll see what I mean. His stories are never inappropriate, but they also never gloss over some of the darker themes that most children’s writers would. They’re sort of like the Grimm’s Fairy Tales of our time. As a kid, I respected that. I looked up to the storytellers who knew we were brave enough to handle the injustices that life might throw at us. Plus, Dahl always delivered his stories with a playful wink in his eye and his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.
MARA WILSON (who I loved in MRS. DOUBTFIRE, too!) plays Matilda and is super adorable. Real life couple DANNY DeVITO (who also directed the film) and RHEA PERLMAN as Matilda’s trashy, inept parents threaten to steal the show at any moment. They’re hysterical! EMBETH DAVIDTZ radiates a genuine warmth as Miss Honey. She’s the teacher we all wanted as kids. You just want to give her a hug and let her adopt you. PAM FERRIS should probably join the ranks of Kindertrauma Traumatizers for her portrayal of The Trunchbull. She commits to the role in such a way that leaves your jaw on the floor. There’s not one bit of vanity in her performance. She just looks like she’d smell really bad. I actually just recently looked up a recent picture of her and was shocked that she was such a beautiful lady in real life. This is real acting, folks!
A few traumatizing moments include:
Matilda still holds up as a surprisingly fun and refreshing viewing experience. I’ve probably seen it over a hundred times since its first release and I still never tire of it. It’s just as warm, touching, funny, and poignant as the first time. In fact, Dahl has gotten surprisingly lucky in terms of film adaptations. Both THE WITCHES and CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (I’m talking about the one with Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp!) were also adapted into stellar films worthy of coverage on Kindertrauma. God knows I have my own horror stories about watching those two. As a matter of fact, those films still make me a little uneasy when I watch them. There’s something about them that gets under my skin.
Special kudos go out to the film’s composer, DAVID NEWMAN, who also composed HEATHERS, which is another one of my favorite film scores. His music is at times quirky, scary, suspenseful, and often heartbreaking. Take a listen to this suite (HERE). Also, what kid of the ‘90s doesn’t immediately think of this song when this movie is brought up?
UNK SEZ:: Thanks for covering this fondly remembered movie Chris! I’m a fan myself. Folks, don’t forget Chris’movie PERVERSION is available HERE!
November 23rd, 2011 · 3 Comments
It’s almost Thanksgiving, the day where you act thankful but I’m not thankful for rampant gluttony and smallpox blankets; I’m thankful for bad movies! When I use the word “bad” I mean it in the way the kids do these days and that means the opposite! “Bad” means “good” in the world of hip-hop! What will they think of next? Lots I guess. Here are ten movie turkeys that brightened my life with their inability to walk a straight line and touch their nose when I pulled them over to the side of the road. Yes, these are recycled posts but what am I a mule? Look, I even blurbed myself which frankly is just as much fun as it sounds. Gobble.
10. THE DARK (1979)
“There’s no escaping the frustrating, unfocused, half-hearted pace.” (MORE.)
9. STAR CRASH (1978)
“Moments in, I realized that my eyeballs were about to get reamed.” (MORE.)
8. FATAL GAMES (1984)
“Its perpetual atrociousness makes it strangely worthwhile.” (MORE.)
7. SCREAMTIME (1986)
I think SCREAMTIME is a way better movie than INCEPTION. (MORE.)
6. BLOOD SHACK (1971)
“I have always regarded it as the worst film I had ever seen in my life.” (MORE.)
5. THE VISITOR (1979)
“Spectacularly daffy enough to be absolutely critic proof.” Full review HERE.
4. SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1976)
“Not one moment of normal human behavior to be found anywhere.” (MORE.)
3. JAWS OF SATAN (1981)
“A perfect amalgamation of everything that makes movies not good.” (MORE.)
2. NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1980)
“IT HAS THE GREATEST ENDING EVER FILMED!!!” (MORE.)
1. CATHY’S CURSE
“If (it) were just incompetent that would be one thing, but it goes far beyond that, it willfully defies rational thought.” (MORE.)
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.
July 14th, 2011 · 10 Comments
Recently I was expressing my disappointment in the ending of JOHN CARPENTER’s THE WARD. My chagrin was inspired not only by the film’s not so clever “surprise” revelation but also in the cheapy jump-scare that was to be THE WARD’s final note. The more I gnawed the bone in my head the more I realized that I had every reason to find a weak closing from CARPENTER somewhat surprising; the guy has delivered some of the strongest film endings I can think of. In an effort to help me process my disgruntlement, let’s say we take a look at a handful of my favorites. Please don’t make me tell you there will be spoilers.
“The Shape” is shot several times and falls off a second story balcony. Laurie Strode is all, “It was the Bogeyman?” and Loomis is all, “Yep.” His confirmation is made all the more convincing when he looks to see where the maniac has landed and notices only a blank space where there should rightly be a dead bogeyman. Yikes! But this is not even the good part! CARPENTER, because he is so brilliant, takes us on a little tour of everyplace we’ve been that night. It’s as if he’s going to show us where Myers is hiding but he doesn’t. We see the homes that moments ago were filled with horror standing quietly. We check out the living room where Laurie battled for her life and it looks like an empty stage. We hear Myers breathing and it’s as if he has become a part of everything. To me, it’s not so much the mystique of Myers that rattles the nerves but the way CARPENTER injects him into the once mundane settings. He expertly desecrates the everyday with darkness and brings evil (as the tagline warns) home. At the end of HALLOWEEN, “The Shape” whether you can visibly see him or not is everywhere.
THE FOG (1980)
Oh good, that betrayed leper ghost Blake has gotten his precious gold back and now everything is settled. Hold a grudge much? Now the scenic town of Antonio Bay can get back to normal. Hmmm, those ghosts kept saying they wanted to kill six people but I guess not. Looks like five people and a gold cross will suffice. At the end of THE FOG Father Malone (HAL HOLBROOK), rather than thanking his lucky stars and skipping town, decides to hang around church wondering aloud about why his life was spared. Blake and company are only too happy to quell his curiosity by backing their haunted boat up and tying up loose ends by decapitating his head. I think I can sum up THE FOG’s ending by labeling it the coolest thing that I have ever seen in my life. CARPENTER gives us a worrying heads up then diverts our attention one way and then slams us from another. We’re not even granted a moment to focus on Blake as he pulls back for the final blow. As his sword connects with Malone it lops off our view too. The screen turns black, we hear the squishy cut and then as if the saber had sliced through a pop tent during a storm, CARPENTER’s rainfall score begins to pour down all over the closing credits. The timing is clockwork-precise and it’s one flipping fantastic curtain drop.
THE THING (1982)
MacReady (KURT RUSSELL)’s feelings toward the slippery amorphous space visitor in THE THING are made abundantly clear when he says, “Yea, fuck you too!” and chucks a lit stick of dynamite in its direction. The shape-shifting creature is not an easy critter to dispose of and since its escape will mean the global annihilation of mankind, blowing up the entirety of Outpost 31 and hoping for the best is not a bad way to go. As the camp burns, Mac discovers another survivor in Childs (KEITH DAVID). Neither man can completely trust that the other is not hosting the entity and so they share a quiet suspicion-filled stand off. Take special note of this ending because the likelihood that you ever encounter something like it again in a studio picture is minimal. Rather than hand the audience a cathartic pacifier jump scare to send them on their satiated way, CARPENTER insists that viewers be kept in a state of unknowing just like the characters on screen. Over the years fans have sought concrete confirmations of the stalemate’s eventual outcome. Is the bottle that Mac hands Childs contaminated? How come you can’t see Child’s breath in the cold? There is no answer and the paranoia of not being able to identify friend or foe is exactly what this film is concerned with underneath the goop and lobster legs. There lies the true horror, none of us can ever fully know one another; does it get any colder than that?
PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)
There’s no question about whether the end of PRINCE OF DARKNESS left a mark, Kindertrauma has received enough traumafessions and “Name That Traumas!” about this movie’s final moments to state, without a doubt, that it has. I can even tell you first hand that my little brother was treated to disturbing nightmares inspired by this film’s close. There is something spectacularly eerie about it and it certainly brings new meaning to the phrase “ahead of its time.” Last we saw Catherine Danforth (LISA BLOUNT) she was doing mankind a solid and jumping into a mirror/dimensional doorway in order to keep the devil at bay. Throughout the film characters have been receiving static filled shaky-cam dream transmissions from the future warning of cataclysmic events including, but not limited to, the rise of an anti-God. The dreams alter subtly each time they occur but they always show a dark figure emerging from a church and they always look like a fifth generation bootleg. The film ends with one last exposure to the dream and now we find that Catherine has replaced the demonoid figure in the future. We’re in the “open to interpetation” zone here but one thing that’s set in stone is the alarming power of the hard to pin down visual and the ominous voice and message that accompanies it. The transmission’s repeated insistence that what we are seeing is real begins to have an effect and, at some point, it becomes somewhat hard to distinguish if the communication is trying to break through a dream within the film or the film itself. Seriously haunting.
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994)
We know that John Trent’s (SAM NEIL) investigation into the disappearance of horror novelist Sutter Cane did not end well because he fills us in on his experiences from a padded room in an insane asylum. I suppose that spending time in a fictional town that shouldn’t exist fighting off ancient dimension-stomping beasties straight out of LOVECRAFT would leave anyone feeling twitchy. How do you top the horror of discovering that the line between fiction and reality is one big joke? How about learning the punchline is you. Trent’s stint in the loony bin is cut short by the technicality of the world falling to ruin. He stumbles down debris-strewn streets that lead him to a movie theater. Now playing is IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS starring himself and directed by JOHN CARPENTER. He watches what we have watched. He laughs, he cries, he goes insane.
This might be a good place for me to end things myself. IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS sums up nicely what the best JOHN CARPENTER films do. Whether he is placing the mask on our faces in HALLOWEEN; opening THE FOG with a POE quote asking, “Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?”; leaving us with the same dilemma as Mac and Child’s in THE THING; invading our nightmares with THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS; or simply suggesting, as he does with IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, that reality is fast becoming fiction and vice versa, good CARPENTER tends to blur the line between onscreen and off and assimilate the viewer into the proceedings.
Perhaps the strongest thing about CARPENTER’s most brilliant film endings is the implication that there is no ending. The deep vastness and over abundance of darkness in his premium work insures that every viewer receives a Tupperware container of angst to take home. Go ahead and try to lull yourself to sleep repeating, “It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.” The jig is up, CARPENTER knows that we know that it’s not.
July 1st, 2011 · No Comments
UNK SEZ: Possibly the most Kindertraumatic double feature of all time has been put together by our pal KEVIN MAHER! Folks who attend will delight in both the twisted wonder that is the 1980 cult favorite THE CHILDREN and one of my favorite TV movies ever DON’T GO TO SLEEP! There shall be trivia and there shall be prizes! This festival of fiendish tots will be held Thursday, July 7th at 92Y Tribeca, 200 Hudson Street in the land of NY, NY! Failure to experience this event will result in tears! Get more info at THISKEVIN and buy your tickets 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!
January 24th, 2010 · 10 Comments
Pennywise (TIM CURRY) admits “They all float down here.” in the miniseries adaptation of STEPHEN KING‘s IT
January 19th, 2010 · 7 Comments
PSYCHO‘s ANTHONY PERKINS finds himself on the wrong side of the blade in 1979′s THE BLACK HOLE.