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The Medusa Touch (1978)

March 10th, 2014 · 9 Comments

Wowsy. I was at the local thrift shop and I found this VHS tape called THE MEDUSA TOUCH (1978) and when I picked it up, its weight felt like a brick in my hand. It cost 45 cents because the thrift shop is crazy. It looked kind of boring because it had RICHARD BURTON’s face on the cover but it just felt so at home in my mitt that I had to make it mine. Hey, it turns out I really liked this movie. It wasn’t boring in the least and I’m even going to apply an “unsung classic” scratch-and-stiff sticker upon it! Why, this movie is a thriller that thrills and it’s also witty and thought provoking and all that classy stuff! If you dig the more somber, headier side of horror like say, THE WICKER MAN, THE CHANGELING or THE NINTH CONFIGURATION, this is going to float your boat. You should watch it in your library with a brown-colored alcoholic beverage of your choice. If you have a fireplace, light it with your mind.

Our story begins on a wonderful note with RICHARD BURTON getting his head bashed in by an unseen assailant. A French detective (LINO VENTURA) stops by to inspect the aftermath and is astonished to find BURTON is still alive! He is rushed to the hospital and the investigators are left to wonder whom on Earth would ever want to bash RICHARD BURTON’s skull in and how on Earth is he still alive after having his head smashed in so brutally? While BURTON chills out in a PATRICK (1978) style coma, the detective snoops around and pieces together his life story, which means we get a full RICHARD BURTON movie even though he is in a coma all thanks to the glorious power of flashback-flavored storytelling. The biggest blabbermouth at the clothesline is THE OMEN’s LEE REMICK who portrays BURTON’s long-suffering psychiatrist. She tells the detective how BURTON would go on and on about how he could make terrible accidents occur just by thinking about them and how she assumed he was a fruit cake until the evidence that he wasn’t a fruit cake was too in her face to ignore.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I wouldn’t watch that movie even if it meant saving the lives of thousands of strangers.” If so, then this movie is even more perfect for you. It starts out being about this narcissistic dude with a God complex but then as we travel forward we go through the same conversion as the characters as they come to believe and fear his claims. Ultimately, we realize that this guy isn’t simply representing unhinged folks with freaky telekinetic powers but mankind itself and its douche-y attraction to destruction and evil. I mean I’m a fairly nice person but if I could blow up stuff with my mind, let’s face it, the entire world would be charred to a crisp by now.

There’s a satisfying twist that you may see coming but not so early on that it will piss you off, a hearty dose of pitch black humor and finally you’re left with a disturbing chill. In fact, this movie is probably more disturbing in our post 9/11 world than it was back in 1978. Or maybe that’s just me. Watching a plane crash into a building is not what it used to be. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait around for a used copy to knock on your door like I did; it looks like THE MEDUSA TOUCH was recently released on DVD and Blu-ray! It’s so good I may have to shove out a little more than 45 cents for an upgrade!

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Tags: General Horror

Twice Dead (1988)

February 20th, 2014 · No Comments

I don’t know why I listen to my brain so much. It’s often wrong and it hasn’t exactly proven itself an ally in the past. If I could fire my brain I would because it’s shady and pretends to know stuff it doesn’t. Or maybe it’s just confused? Here is an example of my brain feeding me false information that I was eventually able to disprove thanks to one second of research. Once upon a time I bought a DVD of THE EVIL (1978) because THE EVIL is my friend. It was a double-feature type affair that also sported TWICE DEAD (1988). But my brain told me I didn’t care about that one because I saw it before and found it unlikable. In fact, it brought back sorry memories of a creepy summer indoors breathing stale air and watching pale movies during the day and not knowing anything or anyone.

Then the other day I was fondling my THE EVIL DVD like a miser and I happened to read the back of the case because sometimes I accidentally read things when I’m bored. Hey, what now? I had never seen this TWICE DEAD before! What was I thinking of? It wasn’t easy but I was able to track down the title I had confused it with. REST IN PIECES (1987)! Why did my brain think these two were the same movie when they are not? It’s the guy on the cover art! In both cases he’s all dead-looking and smashing out of something. It was REST IN PIECES that gave me a bumper vibe strong enough to last decades. Oh sorry, poor innocent TWICE DEAD, my goof. Oh, hooray, I thought, now I have a new eighties horror flick to watch! It’s like finding a 20-dollar bill in an old coat!

Fast forward and I really liked TWICE DEAD. It’s a totally different thing than that other movie (REST IN PIECES) that I wanted to forget about (and now secretly want to see again in order to torture myself). TWICE is about a nice, down on their luck family who inherits a haunted house but can’t worry too much about their ghost because a laughable band of punk rockers want the house too and are the more pressing issue. This is kind of like HOUSE (1986) smashed up with THE NEW KIDS (1985) but it’s also like KILLER PARTY (1986) because it cannot decide what kind of movie it wants to be and yet is somehow entertaining anyway. The implausibility factor is excessively high, so much so that I’m grateful that I didn’t see this movie at a younger age when I might have cared. Lately I believe reality has already ruined reality and it shouldn’t be allowed to ruin movies too.

What helps make TWICE DEAD’s unfocused storytelling so forgivable is its fetching cast. NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3’s BROOKE “Andale!” BUNDY is ma, THE ROOKIESSAM MELVILLE is dad and the brother and sister are portrayed by THE BRAIN’s amiable TOM BRESNAHAN and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS’ adorable JILL WHITLOW. Never underestimate the power of the WHITLOW. Her charming presence makes me even more confused about this film’s relatively low profile. I’m going to blame that cover art again. No matter how fancy and 3-D you make the smashing glass, a goofy guy with a moustache jumping out of a mirror is never going to sell a film. Why not exploit the awesomely cheesed-out punker thugs instead or the ominous mansion? Ah, don’t listen to me. What does my brain know?

TWICE DEAD was written and directed by BERT L. DRAGIN who pulled the same duties for the also slippery to categorize SUMMER CAMP NIGHTMARE (1987). I remember being disappointed by that one because it wasn’t the clear-cut horror flick its box art suggested. Maybe I’ll give it another chance now that I’m less likely to mind the blurring of the line. However, if the cast isn’t as likable as the one in TWICE, it could be a bumpy bus ride. Anyway, this DVD of mine with THE EVIL and TWICE DEAD double feature on it? I now like it twice as much as I did before. I wonder what other falsely accused ‘80s flicks are hiding in my shelves.

NOTE: I’m even going to forgive TWICE DEAD its deplorable cat murder which is not an easy thing for me to do…

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Tags: General Horror

The Horror Of:: Mazes & Monsters (1982)

February 12th, 2014 · 6 Comments

The other day 2 Warps To Neptune posted a TV GUIDE ad for 1982’s MAZES AND MONSTERS and reminded me that I’ve been sitting on a cheap-o DVD of that TV movie for years. It was finally time to revisit it again as I hadn’t seen it since the night it first aired. All I could remember was being really excited about it before it came on and really disappointed afterward because there was only one monster in it. The fact that the teleplay, based on Rona Jaffe’s novel of the same name, was not exactly a glowing endorsement of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS (my favorite game at the time) never occurred to me back then.

MAZES involves a group of college friends who get thoroughly immersed in a role playing game. One (played by a young TOM HANKS) gets so into it that he looses his mind forever just like those poor kids who ate LCD-laced Halloween candy in the ‘70s and are screaming their heads off in an insane asylum to this very day. (Oh how those poor nonexistent kids haunt me, they must have nonexistent arthritis by now). This movie is all about stoking fears and why shouldn’t have folks been afraid of DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS? It promotes community, cooperation and using one’s imagination and so it is obviously the work of Satan. Man, Satan not only has the finest tunes, he has the finest games and movies too! Why am I not a Satanist again? Anyway it’s easy to forgive MAZES’ hokey paranoia now and there’s plenty of fine horror goodness to be found within its paper mache walls, so let’s take a look inside…

THE CAST

Check out this bounty! TOMHE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONEHANKS, WENDY CREWSON of SKULLDUGGERY & THE GOOD SON notoriety, DAVID WALLACE who set the world on fire with THE BABYSITTER (1980), mega-hit HUMONGOUS and the double GEORGE infused MORTUARY, CHRISVAMPMAKEPEACE, scowly SATAN’S SCOOL FOR GIRLS star LLOYD “one take” BOCHNER, ANNE FRANCIS who stole your heart in FORBIDDEN PLANET, MURRAY HAMILTON who double dunked in JAWS and JAWS 2, VERA MILES who owned PSYCHO and PSYCHO II like a monkey owns a banana, SUSAN STRASBERG who single handedly prevented my suicide with THE MANITOU and apparently CHRIS HIGGINS the king of FRIDAY THE13TH: THE SERIES as well, though I can’t find him without his beard, try as I might. That my friends is what we call an embarrassment of riches.

THE GORVIL MONSTER

Look at this crazy rubber suit monster with glowing eyes. It’s not scary…except it kind of is. It’s so fake looking and so alarmingly out of place that it somehow becomes freaky. It reminds me of when CHRISTOPHER WALKEN sees all those folks wearing insect masks while on the bus in COMMUNION. In both cases the creatures only exist within the mind of the character seeing them and so who cares if the effect is sorta iffy. The point is, these guys are going coconuts like an OSMOND and therefore can hallucinate whatever they please! Hey, the special effects in my figments of insanity are sub par too; that doesn’t make them any less disturbing!

1982 HALLOWEEN PARTY!

Halloween parties in movies are always a plus. How cool are these kids that they have both a ROAD WARRIOR (released May 21) poster and a BLADE RUNNER (released June 25) poster hanging on their dorm room walls? And just consider that both of those classic movies had only been released months earlier that same year. (MAZES & MONSTERS premiered on Dec. 28).

1982 MOVIE THEATERS!

Get ready to drool all over your keyboard! If you are electrocuted, don’t sue. At the start of the picture MAKEPEACE is driving around some town called New York and he speeds by a movie theater playing CREEPSHOW (Nov. 12)!

And then later when HANKS has taken a turn for the deranged he hits the streets to stumble into a marque boasting a showing of my beloved THE SLAYER (October)!

Then like a shameless seductress, HANKS saunters by a movie palace playing AMITYVILLE 2: THE POSSESSION (Sept. 24). Wha? All of my needs have been met.

THE TWIN TOWERS

I guess Rona Jaffe thought as long as she was throwing DUNGEONS & DRAGONS under the donkey cart she might as well cast aspersions on TOLKIEN too.(Hey, writing a novel in a couple of days ain’t easy! What was she supposed to do, make up her own mythology?) Turns out the M&M game features two castle towers and so when HANKS’ character is having a psychotic breakdown that could have been prevented by any educated adult treating the actual source of the problem rather than blaming a game, he heads to the World Trade Center. He’s under the delusion that he can fly just like all of those poor kids who ate LCD-laced Halloween candy. Seeing the interior of the trade center, the size, the multitude of people rushing about on their daily business, is haunting. Because you know, an actual REAL horror took place there, a horror that incidentally cannot be blamed on either LCD-laced Halloween candy or role playing games. And really isn’t that the chattering mob’s big cowardly secret? That by focusing on benign phantoms they can avoid the uglier, more troublesome problems of the world?

M&M is not too impressive but it’s pretty awesome anyway. It’s mind blowing how stupid and alarmist it is until you remember that people act the same way today only about different stuff. So maybe we can learn something here. The next time somebody blames a video game or a pop star or a violent movie or a different lifestyle or whatever the scapegoat de jour is, for the decline of morality, tell them they look like a Gorvil and that the zipper on their rubber suit is showing.

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Tags: General Horror · Great Moments In Kindertrauma History · Telenasties

Five Underrated Stephen King Flicks by Unk

February 6th, 2014 · 3 Comments

NEEDFUL THINGS (1993)

I was less than smitten with this one when I watched it upon its video release way back in the olden days. I found it sorta lame, tired and dull. Now that I’m sorta lame tired and dull myself, I totally get it! Thanks for being patient NEEDFUL THINGS! Young folk don’t like to hear it but there really are some things that you can’t fully appreciate until you’ve got some miles on you. A few broken dreams under your belt might be required to empathize with the desperate actions of the townsfolk of Castle Rock. Scares are scarce but there’s plenty of pitch-black social commentary in this Faustian consumer nightmare and what a perfect cast. You couldn’t possibly do better than MAX VAN SYDOW as the devilish Leland Gaunt and if you’re not of fan of ED HARRIS our friendship is over. Who among us can resist the fascinatingly unhinged savoir-faire of AMANDA PLUMMER? Who?

Observant viewers will catch a creepy glimpse of LISA BLOUNT (R.I.P.) of PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987). It seems her role was severely cut from the theatrical version of the film (She makes a bigger dent in the three hour long TV edit apparently) but she still makes a brief, strangely haunting appearance in a crowd scene toward the end. I have to bow down to the BLOUNT, she etched a permanent scar on my brain with her memorable role in DEAD AND BURIED (1981). Truth told this particular KING tale would have been better served as a miniseries in the first place, where each character might have gotten a fairer shake but it’s still a nice if short visit and if you’re in the right state of mind, it’s funny as hell.

DOLORES CLAIBORNE (1995)

KATHY BATES was soooo good in MISERY that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had to give her an Oscar or else they’d look like total jackasses. But then a couple years later when BATES did DOLORES CLAIBORNE they were all like “Back for seconds so soon, are we Kathy? You might want to slow it down on the STEPHEN KING material, if you want another one of these gold dudes.” Here’s the thing though, the truth that nobody can bear to hear without losing their mind to madness…BATES’s performance in DOLORES CLAIBORNE is ten times better than her performance in MISERY. Sorry, it’s just so true and somebody had to say it. I apologize if I just made you spit coffee on your laptop screen. It’s a much more complicated and challenging role and she’s so seamless and smooth in it. I guess the difference is DOLORES makes you feel sad and guilty and real empathy for those who struggle silently in this world and that’s no competition for the crowd-pleasing condescension that MISERY allows. (I love me some MISERY but let’s be real.).

And what the hell Academy? You didn’t think maybe you should nominate JUDY PARFITT for best supporting actress for her role as Vera Donavan? Are you insane? She only travels from steely witch to sympathetic confidant to heartbreaking crone throughout the course of the film. Oh, I see, you had to give that award to MIRA SORVINO. That makes a lot of sense. What a joke. I don’t know how Academy voters are able to look themselves in the mirror without ripping their own eyes out in a shame rage induced by the realization of what unscrupulous frauds they are. That’s right, I call shenanigans!

Oh and TAYLOR HACKFORD’s direction! Holy crap! It’s so beautifully expressive and so painterly and emotionally vivid. And the way he orchestrates the different time periods with opposing film stocks and visualizes the character’s mental states with finely tempered doses of MAGRITTE-inspired surrealism. I mean, c’mon people! O.K. I admit the inquest scene is a total wet noodle that robs the conclusion of the bite it deserves but too late- I already love the movie.

SALEM’S LOT (2004)

This one isn’t so much underrated, as it is vehemently hated. People who don’t dig it REALLY don’t dig it. I don’t get the furor. It’s certainly not as scary as TOBE HOOPER’s original stab and it pales to the experience of reading the mesmerizing novel but it’s hardly the worst adaptation. Maybe I’m just a sucker for getting lost in a miniseries. I love the town, the ominous Marsten house and the coldness of it all. Plus RUTGER HAUER! Maybe I’m wrong. That’s fine by me. I can be wrong and happily watch this again.

THE NIGHT FLIER (1997)

I know we were just talking about this one but it’s worth repeating, THE NIGHT FLIER is one under the radar gem of a flick. It’s like this great mysterious adventure and then when it gets down to business and (literally) opens its jaws, it’s some kind of wonderfully scary. I know it doesn’t look good. It is.

MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986)

It’s KING’s directorial debut! It can’t possibly be as terrible as its reputation would have us believe? Right? As someone who just recently watched it, I can tell you- yeah, it is pretty crummy…but therein lies the fun. It’s a trash-tastic B-movie salute to ‘50s drive-in flicks and maybe even a mechanical parody of THE BIRDS. Let’s just call it a mess with a middle section that makes even me yawn but what a hilarious hoot in places too. So much of what made it a dud when it came out in the ‘80s makes it a gloriously delicious time capsule stuffed with abysmal head scratchy dialogue today. For all of its faults, I can’t resist the AC/DC score and the hilarious performance by THE SIMPSONSYEARDLEY SMITH. Isn’t that enough? Would folks rag on this so much if somebody else directed it? I doubt it. All you need to enjoy this is a sense of humor and maybe more alcohol than your doctor would approve of. In any case, this flick represents one of my favorite things about the author. No matter his success, he never gets so highfaluting that he forgets the low brow sparks that got his imagination roaring in the first place. When we talk of STEPHEN KING and horror movies, “Who made who?” is a valid question.

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Tags: General Horror · Where is the Love? Five Underrated Flicks

The Horror of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

January 30th, 2014 · 6 Comments

BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY is a horror fan’s friend. Don’t you remember that scary space vampire? All right, maybe he wasn’t that scary but his influence on the usually unflappable Col. Deering (ERIN GRAY of JASON GOES TO HELL) sure was. Wilma got wacky.

And remember when our pal JAMIE LEE CURTIS needed a break from being chased by an unstoppable killing machine in HALLOWEEN and being chased by an unstoppable killing machine in HALLOWEEN 2 and so she stopped by Buck’s neck of the universe to get chased by an unstoppable killing machine in space? While wearing pajamas? Even in space, orange is the new black!

No folks, you can’t escape from horror, not even in the 25th century! Let’s look at some other instances where horror acted like peanut butter and Buck (THE STEPDAUGHTER’s GIL GERARD) acted like chocolate and they both smooshed together in mutual space flavored deliciousness!

Awakening, Part 1 & 2

Yikes, mutants! Mutants are not the living dead but they sure seem to have graduated from the same charm school. Watch them try to kill Buck in a foggy graveyard of all places!

Planet of the Slave Girls, Part 1 & 2

This one has got both JACK PALANCE of ALONE IN THE DARK and WITHOUT WARNING and RODDY McDOWALL of LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE and FRIGHT NIGHT!

Vegas in Space

Hooray it’s RICHARD LYNCH of BAD DREAMS and THE PREMONITION and PAMELA SUSAN SHOOP of HALLOWEEN II!

The Plot to Kill a City: Parts 1 & 2

Geez Buck, what’s with all of these two parters? Well, this one doesn’t have any horror people in it. Wait! Ack! It’s ANTHONY JAMES the evil chauffer from BURNT OFFERINGS behind that mask! Oh, I must go cry in a corner now.

Return of the fighting 69th

The hits keep coming! This episode features ROBERT QUARRY of COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE and its sequel, DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN, MADHOUSE and SUGAR HILL!

Unchained Woman

This is that famous JAMIE LEE CURTIS episode that I already mentioned but wait that’s not all! Look! It’s dear TARA BUCKMAN who not only played a chummy sidekick of horror royalty ADRIENNE BARBEAU in THE CANNONBALL RUN but made her own permanent slash on the genre in SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT!

Planet of the Amazon Women

It’s pretty ANN DUSENBERRY of that LIES (1985) flick I love so much and look there’s JAY “Dr. Shrinker” ROBINSON who was in BRAM STOKER’s DRACULA and THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER among others! This episode also famously contains one of the few times in television that a grilled cheese sandwich was used in a threat…

Cosmic Wiz Kid

It’s that pesky GARY COLEMAN episode. In an obvious attempt to infuriate me, nobody ever cast GARY COLEMAN in a horror film. Jokes on them, for if they had, that movie would be seen, loved and owned by every single human that is not an imbecile. I’m not bothered, I’m undaunted, we’ll just have to go the proximity route; Willis did TWICE DEAD, Kimberly was in EXCORCIST 2 and good old Dudley is in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 5. Oh, and Adelaide was totally in MORTUARY ACADEMY. If unsatisfied please consider the HELLO LARRY crossover episodes which featured KIM “I wanted a Vanilla twist” RICHARDS and the legendary DONNA WILKES (ANGEL, GROTESQUE, BLOOD SONG).

Escape From Wedded Bliss

In this episode nemesis Princess Ardala’s right hand man Kane gets a facelift. He is now portrayed by MICHAEL ANSARA (THE MANITOU, IT’S ALIVE) rather than HENRY SILVA (1979”s THIRST).

Cruise Ship to the Stars

Here’s a good one! FRIDAY THE 13TH: PART 4’s KIMBERLY BECK is a “transmute” which means she transforms into an entirely different person whenever she’s having a bad day. LEIGH McCLOWSKY, star of DARO ARGENTO’s INFERNO tries to exploit her talents in order to off GALIXINA’s DOROTHY STRATTEN!

This LOVE BOAT -inspired gem gets additional points because the background extras are either in bathing suits or disco dancing, Twiki meets a robo- girlfriend and Wilma is forced to wear a MARCIA WALLACE wig.

Space Vampire

Still a better love story than TWILIGHT!Har-har, I always wanted to say that. Now I feel cheap- and yet somehow closer to my fellow man. This episode is a stone cold classic. And really, you can view it as a vampire vs. werewolf tale because look who guest stars in it! Why, it’s THE HOWLING’S CHRISTOPHER STONE wearing a moustache that puts the space vampire’s unibrow to shame! Take that, evil Volvron!

Happy Birthday Buck

Every 534th birthday party should have PETER MacLEAN of SQUIRM, MORGAN BRITTANY of SUNDOWN: THE VAMPIRE IN RETREAT and THE INITIATION OF SARAH and TAMARACleopatra JonesDOBSON on the guest list.

A Blast For Buck

I’m glad somebody is having a good time. Geez, Buck what the hell are you doing having a clip show in your first season? Bee deep Bee Deep Bee deep indeed.

Ardala Returns

Wow, that Ardala sure can’t take a hint. Now she’s just looking desperate. She’s gone and made clones of Buck! Did Kane really just ask “ What could she be doing with three Buck Rogers for almost an hour and a half?” Maybe I’ll just ignore that and point out that feline henchman “Tigerman” is now played by wrestling legend HARD BOILED HAGGERTY who’s also in the classic TV movie CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW (1977) and DEATHSPORT (1978).

Twiki is Missing

This is a favorite because it features underrated scream queen ANNE-MARIE MARTIN of THE BOOGENS, PROM NIGHT and a tiny smidge of a scene in HALLOWEEN II fame. She plays a space angel with CARRIE-esque telekinetic powers.

Did you know our ANNE -MARIE was once married to MICHAEL CRICHTON and that JURASSIC PARK is dedicated to her? She’s also really into horses and owns a MAGRITTE. All right, she’s my new hero and I’m not just saying that because she got 31 million dollars in the divorce settlement.

Olympiad

I hate to break it to Vladimir Putin but if this episode is any indication, the future of the Olympics looks super gay. Here we get JUDITH CHAPMAN who was in 1991’s DEAD SPACE, DAY OF THE ANIMALS & THE MANITOU’s PAUL MANTEE, PAUL COUFOS of 976 EVIL 2, FOOD OF THE GODS 2 and CHOPPING MALL and BARNEY Mc FADDEN of SALEM’S LOT.

A Dream of Jennifer

Buck meets a gal who looks exactly like the girl he left behind and she’s played by beautiful ANNE LOCKHART. Did you know LOCKHART was JOHN CARPENTER’s first pick to play Laurie Strode in HALLOWEEN? It’s true. I don’t make stuff up. It’s hard now to imagine anybody else besides CURTIS playing Laurie but I totally get where CARPENTER was coming from and it’s not too hard to imagine lil’ DANIELLE HARRIS staring at this photo mournfully in PART 4

You’ll also find in this episode, PAUL KOSLO of XTRO II, OMEGA MAN and ROBO JOX, JESSIE LAWRENCE FERGUSON of JC’s PRINCE OF DARKNESS and the coolest person who ever walked on the face of the Earth, MARY WORONOV (SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT- ROCK & ROLL HIGH SCHOOL and many more.) Let me also state that WORONOV is a gifted writer and painter and an all around national treasure.

Space Rockers

I hate when people do this but I’m doing it anyway: Best. Episode. Ever. I’m sorry, but Just look at that title “space Rockers” and let it ferment in your brain. Now try to comprehend that this baby also features two of the sexiest people in entertainment, RICHARDNIGHT TRAIN TO TERRORMOLL and JUDYHELLHOLELANDERS! Youch! This rocket ride is so hot it should come with a cold meteor shower!

Buck’s Duel to the Death

Oh no, things are getting serious now; Buck must fight “the Traybor”! The Traybor is half robot, shoots lightening and is played by WILLIAM SMITH of INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS and MANIAC COP who everybody knows can beat up anyone even without the help of lightening. HEIDI BOHAY of 1982’s SUPERSTITION is not going to be of much help!

Flight of the War Witch

Now it’s time for a very special two hour-long season ender. Buck gets lost in a wormhole, meets a nasty space witch named Zarina (Thanks for almost-everything JULIE NEWMAR) and somehow poor Princess Ardala (PAMELA HEMSLEY) finds a new dimension to humiliate herself in. If you want horror stars you got em! How’s about PSYCHO & PSYCHO II’s VERA MILES and living legend SID HAIG (SPIDER BABY, HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES)?

All right, now it’s time to bid farewell! I was going to do season two as well but that’s just crazy. Maybe some other time, how does never work for you? There is a very creepy Satyr episode in season 2, I can tell you that much. But right now I’m beat and I’m bushed. In fact, I feel like I could sleep for a couple hundred years! Maybe a little “disco inferno” will wake me up…

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Tags: General Horror · Kindertrauma in Space

Frankenweenie Future Trauma by Mike Campbell

January 4th, 2014 · 1 Comment

Children’s films in general but Disney movies in particular have a long history of terrifying children. They love to lull a child into a sense of security and then scare the crap out of them. Who was not traumatized by “Dumbo,” “Pinocchio,” and the unspeakable horror of “Bambi“? I know we all have our own Disney traumafession. Mine would be “Darby O’Gill And The Little People.” That scene gave me nightmares for weeks. It’s not just Disney though, what about the Child Catcher in “Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang“? “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is consistently unsettling, but God knows what they were thinking with that boat sequence. Not to mention those damn flying monkeys that sent me running out of the room like the Cowardly Lion.

As kids we aren’t prepared for some of the stuff we might run into. I once shared “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” with a little kid I was babysitting, I had forgotten about Large Marge. He loved the movie up until that point, but that really scared him. I recently watched “Frankenweenie.” (I know, I’m late to the party, sorry.) While “Ed Wood” is one of my favorite films, I haven’t had much interest in Tim Burton lately. This is a delightful homage to the old horror movies that many of us enjoyed as a child. (When I saw “Bride of Frankenstein” as a little boy I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to live in an isolated castle and fly kites off the roof during a thunderstorm, and when folks would drop by I would cower behind the door and implore them to go away.)

The animation is beautiful. There are many references to old horror films and repeated viewings would undoubtedly reveal more. Mr. Whiskers transformation sequence cracked me up. The science teacher is a great caricature of Vincent Price with Martin Landau voice acting. The girl next door is named Elsa, thank you. Watching this movie I could not help but wonder how it might seem to a child. Without the affectionate back-story I live in, what does this look like to a kid? I can see some parents looking at this movie and deciding it is not appropriate for their children. I can see far more parents seeing that Disney logo and tossing it to the hapless kid without a second thought. I think every parent should watch this before showing it to their children, but I doubt that will be the case.

Kids have pets. Pets die. It’s a part of life children have to learn to accept. When my pet turtle died I was very sad. (This movie does give a generous nod to Gamera, but does any little kid know who Gamera is anymore?) When your pets die you can’t bring them back. My favorite scene was when Sparky ran away and found his headstone in the pet cemetery. He circled a few times, and sadly laid down. That was his place. Even the dog knew it was where he belonged. That’s the only thing that bugged me about this movie, the ending. (SPOILER ALERT!) Sparky should have stayed dead at the end. I could have gone with Sparky trying to come back, but being unable to do so. My favorite line in the movie is when Victor tells Sparky it’s OK, he doesn’t have to come back. That should have been the end. In 10 or 15 years, this movie will be a recurring Traumafession.

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Tags: General Horror · Special Guest Stars · Trauma Au Courant · Tykes in Trouble

Five Underrated Flicks By Kevin of House of Mysterious Secrets

December 20th, 2013 · 4 Comments

1. Messiah of Evil

2. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death

3. Night Warning

4. Knightriders

5. Phase IV

UNK SEZ: Thanks Kevin! Those are all excellent picks! Kinderfolk, the holiday is looming closer! Make sure you stop by HOUSE OF MYSTERIOUS SECRETS to take care of all of your horror shopping needs (especially if I’m on your list)! And why not “like” HOMS on Facebook HERE!?

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Tags: General Horror · Where is the Love? Five Underrated Flicks

The Horror of The Love Boat!

December 16th, 2013 · 15 Comments

Did you realize that before they appeared together in THE FOG, legendary mother daughter horror icons JAMIE LEE CURTIS (HALLOWEEN) and JANET LEIGH (PSYCHO) took a cruise on THE LOVE BOAT? It’s true! In fact it was CURTIS’ first post Haddonfield venture and notably the only time the two played mother and daughter on screen.

Do you remember when FRIDAY THE 13TH’s mega momma BETSY PALMER appeared in the same episode as head-turner LINDA BLAIR albeit in separate storylines? Who could forget that once in a lifetime horror star configuration?

For one fantastic decade, whether one was climbing up or down the ladder of fame, there were two places they could always rely on finding themselves welcome, in a horror film or on “The Pacific Princess” better known as THE LOVE BOAT! Hey, why not let’s check out a few more horror pals who tested their romantic sea legs? Who cares if it was before, during or after this amorous ship sailed? I have a feeling this is going to be exciting and new! Come aboard! We’re expecting you!

JULIET MILLS of BEYOND THE DOOR

LAURIE WALTERS of WARLOCK MOON

ROSS MARTIN of DYING ROOM ONLY

PAMALA GRIER of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES

DENISE NICHOLAS of BLACKULA

SLIM PICKENS of THE HOWLING

DIANE LADD of THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER & WILD AT HEART

KENT McCORD of THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 3

MAUREEN McCORMICK of RETURN TO HORROR HIGH

MORGAN BRITTANY of THE INITIATION OF SARAH

RICHARD GILLILAND of BUG

JAYNE KENNEDY of MS.45

ELKE SOMMER of LISA AND THE DEVIL & FLASHBACK

ROBERT VAUGHN of C.H.U.D. 2- BUD THE CHUD

HOWARD KEEL of THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS

BELINDA J. MONTGOMERY of SILENT MADNESS

JOSE FERRER of BLOODY BIRTHDAY & THE BEING

JENILEE HARRISON of CURSE III: BLOOD SACRIFICE

KATHERINE HELMOND of LADY IN WHITE

MICHELLE PHILIPS of SCISSORS

BRITT EKLAND of THE WICKER MAN

JOAN VAN ARK of FROGS

RICHARD BASEHART of MANSION OF THE DOOMED

LESLIE EASTERBROOK of THE DEVIL’S REJECTS

JOAN FONTAINE of REBECCA & SUSPICION

PATRICK LABORTEAUX of GHOULIES III & SUMMER SCHOOL

MORGAN FAIRCHILD of THE INITIATION OF SARAH

JESSICA WALTER of HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

DARROW IGUS of THE FOG

AUDRA LINDLEY of SPELLBINDER

ANNE MEARA of HIGHWAY TO HELL

DARYL ANDERSON of MOSTER SQUAD

ELINOR DONAHUE of FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE

ELAINE JOYCE of MOTEL HELL

ROBERT ALDA of THE BEAST WITH 500 FINGERS

LUCILLE BENSON of HALLOWEEN II

ROSE MARIE of WITCHBOARD

HENRY JONES of ARACHNOPHOBIA

MARY McDONOUGH of MORTUARY

JOANNA CASSIDY of NIGHT CHILD

BERT CONVY of JENNIFER

LYNDA DAY GEORGE of PIECES

JOHN PHILIP LAW of NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR

TANYA ROBERTS of TOURIST TRAP

LYDIA CORNELL of BLOODTIDE

JUDY LANDERS of HELLHOLE

VERA MILES of PSYCHO & PSYCHO II

DICK VAN PATTON of THE MIDNIGHT HOUR

FABIAN of KISS DADDY GOODBYE

PRISCILLA BARNES of STEPFATHER 3 & THE DEVIL’S REJECTS

DOUG BARR of THE UNSEEN and DEADLY BLESSING

SONNY BONO of TROLL

WOODY BROWN of KILLER PARTY

JARED MARTIN of AENIGMA

JOANNA PETTET of THE EVIL

PAUL WILLIAMS of THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE

KEVIN BROPHY of HELL NIGHT

SUSAN STRASBERG 0f SCREAM OF FEAR & THE MANITOU

DAVID HEDISON of THE FLY

KIM DARBY of DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK & HALLOWEEN VI

CHRISTOPHER GEORGE of PIECES & GATES OF HELL

SHELLEY HACK of THE STEPFATHER

JOSEPH COTTEN of THE HEARSE

OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND of LADY IN A CAGE

JOAN PRATHER of THE DEVIL’S RAIN

SYLVIA SIDNEY of DAMIEN OMEN II & BEETLEJUICE

CINDY MORGAN of THE MIDNIGHT HOUR

BARBI BENTON of HOSPITAL MASSACRE/X-RAY

PETER HASKELL of CHILD’S PLAY 2 & 3

SAMANTHA EGGAR of THE BROOD

VINCENT VAN PATTON of HELL NIGHT

JENNIFER LOPINTO of HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE

STEVE MARACHUK of PIRANHA 2: THE SPAWNING

RON PALILLO of FRIDAY THE 13th: PART 6 & HELLGATE

MARIE LAURIN of CREATURE

TRISH STEWART of MANSION OF THE DOOMED

DANA WYNTER of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

LISA HARTMAN of DEADLY BLESSING

BARRY VAN DYKE of ANTS!

ZSA ZSA GABOR of PICTURE MOMMY DEAD

ERIN GRAY of JASON GOES TO HELL

MELISSA SUE ANDERSON of HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

TROY DONAHUE of HARD ROCK NIGHTMARE

FARLEY GRANGER of THE PROWLER

BETTY WHITE of LAKE PLACID

BART BRAVERMAN of ALLIGATOR

GAYLE HUNNICUTT of THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE

MAREN JENSEN of DEADLY BLESSING

LANI O’GRADY of MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH

ROBERT CULP of SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT 3 & SANTA’s SLAY

DARREN McGAVIN of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER

ERIN MORAN of GALAXY OF TERROR

DAWN WELLS of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN

DENNIS COLE of ZOMBIE DEATH HOUSE

TOM HANKS of HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE

VIC TAYBACK of BLOOD AND LACE

LARRY WILCOX of DEADLY LESSONS

PHYLLIS DILLER of THE BONEYARD

ERNEST BORGNINE of THE DEVIL’S RAIN & WILLARD

SHELLEY WINTERS of TENTACLES & THE TENANT

KIM RICHARDS of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13

ADRIENNE BARBEAU of THE FOG & CREEPSHOW

And don’t forget your perky cruise director Julie (LAUREN TEWES) battled for her life against a deranged psychopath in EYES OF A STRANGER!

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Tags: General Horror · General Insanity

Lake of the Dead (1958)

December 3rd, 2013 · 3 Comments

I’m terribly sick and I have an awful cold. No, I don’t. I’m totally lying so that I can hide in a bed with a blanket on my head. I don’t want to do anything but read today because I’m in the middle of STEPHEN KING’s DOCTOR SLEEP! The world really should just grind to a halt until I’m done. Is that too much to ask? The problem is, I’ll feel like a rat if I don’t post something so here I am, can you tell that my mind is elsewhere?

I have an idea! Let us talk for a moment about a movie I watched late the other night on the greatest invention known to man, YouTube! It’s called LAKE OF THE DEAD, it’s in black and white and it’s from Norway circa 1958. In it, a group of chums travel to a lake that has a dark reputation where they freak each other out trying to figure out why the guy who was supposed to meet them there is missing and his dog is suspiciously dead.

LAKE is rather talky and houses stories within stories, some more intriguing than others. I probably would have been happier with a few more things left unexplained but I sure can’t fault LAKE OF THE DEAD on its atmosphere. It’s got such a haunting, lyrical, dreamy quality and one scene, depicting a transparent ghost guy crawling out of the lake, chilled me right to the bone. If you are a fan of 1945’s DEAD OF NIGHT or even 1979’s SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT, you should get a kick out of this. I don’t know, I’m just an absolute sucker for that cabin by a lake setting and LAKE OF THE DEAD really knows how to take advantage of it. You can watch LAKE below or better yet, wait until later tonight to do so. Sorry this is so short but LAKE OF THE DEAD, at 70 minutes, isn’t exactly long either. Plus I gotta get back to my book! And I’m sick! I have the flu! Just take a look at this thermometer I was holding next to a light bulb for twenty minutes! It says my temperature is 150!

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Tags: General Horror

Mama (2013)

November 26th, 2013 · 12 Comments

Is it too late to write a review of MAMA? That movie is ancient. I missed it in the theater because who knows why, waited for it to appear on Netflix streaming, which it never did and then watched its price as a used DVD go from 15 dollars to 10 to 6 to 4. I finally had to buy the decrepit thing before it turned into a fossil! When I opened the DVD case the disc inside had a long grey beard growing on it! This movie is positively geriatric! Oh wait, IMDb says it was released less than a year ago. Hey don’t blame me, blame our disposable culture! This is BLOCKBUSTER’s fault even though they are dead! If it was up to me, you’d all be waiting three years for movies to come out on VHS and when they did, they’d cost a hundred clams to purchase and you’d rent them for 5 bucks a pop and if you were late returning them, you’d be fined up the wazoo! That is the natural order of things!

MAMA! Back to MAMA! Love that title! Why didn’t I like this movie so much? The premise is fantastic not to mention kindertrauma-riffic. Two poor, pitiful little girls are left in an abandoned cabin in the woods by their insane, gone postal father. Instead of starving and freezing to death, they are cared for by a motherly spook who, like Charo, goes by one name only “Mama” (okay, “cared for” might be a bit of a stretch.) We come to learn that Mama is a ghost that can physically engage in the world and move objects about with ease, so I’m wondering why the hell she didn’t pick up the cabin a bit, do some laundry and maybe comb the poor kid’s hair! Get it together Mama! You so lazy!

Five years later (really? It took five years for someone to look in the cabin next to the crashed car?), the now feral kids are discovered and taken in by their not insane uncle and his borderline sociopathic “rocker” girl friend Annabel (JESSICA CHASTAIN in a Cousin April wig). I say she’s borderline sociopathic because the card that informs us that Annabel is struggling with her maternal instincts is so overplayed that it appears as if she has never encountered a child before and has the patience of a spider monkey. To be fair, there are several later scenes of her connecting with the kids that are less ham-fisted and do really work. In fact, there are many elements in this movie that hint at a much better film just begging to happen. The kids are fantastic and the Mama entity, when not shoved down our throats, can be pretty spooky. Unfortunately every thing from a meddling Aunt to Mama’s backstory is painted in such broad strokes that it feels like a fairy tale performed on a Colorforms set. I have two major gripes…

Now, you know I love a “research” scene, they crack me up for being so cliché but I also love them as mid-film markers that declare that the mystery portion of our story is over and things are about to come to a head. MAMA’s “research” scene happens super early and it goes on and on and on. It’s like a big gelatinous mound of nothing in the center of the picture, a cinder block tied to a kite. We get the library, the wise oldster, a RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK storage unit, maps upon maps, news clippings, psychic dreams with characters pointing towards things, street signs, BIG close ups of news clippings, more maps, more sign posts and it all just amounts to redundant filler. Really all the information could just be stuffed inside one of the psychic dreams but instead we have to laboriously follow a boring psychiatrist around when we should be at home with the kids. The kid’s story is interesting! It’s heartbreaking when the older sister is ready to move away from Mama and the younger one is not. The story is in the house between these characters but we keep getting pushed past the good stuff! Nothing to see here folks! Let’s catch up with our throwaway character’s attempts to learn what we all already know! (On the other hand, Dr. Boring’s cabin encounter with Mama might be the strongest scare in the film. )

Then there’s the whole look of Mama. Sometimes Mama looks cool and I dig her underwater hair-do and sometimes Mama looks terrible as in, “Did they model her facial expression from Beaker from the Muppet Show?” At this point, I don’t care if the effect is CGI or practical or stop-motion marionette, what matters is what’s on the screen and what’s on the screen is a problem for me. I think it was a fine idea to put Mama front and center at the climax. I’m not saying less is more and they showed too much and the audience needs to use its imagination because what’s in your head is scarier than anything they could show you and all that junk. It’s just that, as WHAM once said, “If you’re going to do it, do it right.” If you want to display Mama in all her glory make sure I’m in awe instead of catching myself wondering if DARKNESS FALLS is underrated. I don’t think MAMA is terrible, it’s just one of those movies that frustrates because you know it could have been way better. It’s not a good sign when your “Sorry I adopted you only to make you feel unwelcome in my home.” redemptive resolution was better handled in POLTERGEIST 3.

Like I said, I think it’s a great premise and I’ll even add that when MAMA is good, it feels like something from Disney’s early eighties dark fantasy period like WATCHER IN THE WOODS or SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (I wouldn’t be surprised to receive traumafessions on it in the future either). It’s also clear that the filmmakers at least tried to do something of substance even though they got sidetracked along the way. Ultimately for me though, it comes off kind of shrill and cloying and I think the material deserved a more subtle approach and more of a focus on the characters, particularly the relationship of the little sisters. MAMA is based on a short film and that makes perfect sense. If you edited out all of the subterfuge, stalling and brownnosing jump scares, you probably would have one very good short film. There are some priceless heirlooms in this dumpster (a tug of war with a blanket and an unseen Mama comes to mind) but boy do you have to dig! Now I’m sad. I wanted to like this more because it reminded me of my adopted cats. On the bright side, it was totally worth the four dollars for the snow scenes.

CORRECTIONS: The above review incorrectly claims that CHARO has only one name. That is not the case as is revealed in the clip below…

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Tags: General Horror · Trauma-Mommas · Traumatots · Tykes in Trouble