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40 Non-Horror Movies For Horror Fans

September 12th, 2014 · 18 Comments

Man does not live on bread alone and horror fans needn’t live on horror films alone. In fact, the Surgeon General has stated that watching non-horror movies may actually enhance a horror fan’s appreciation for horror. That is why Kindertrauma’s Unk has teamed up with Cinema Du Meep’s Meep to bring you this here post of 40 Non-Horror Movies For Horror Fans. Let’s start with Meep’s picks as he is our very special guest!

ADAM (1983)

Television Movies aren’t often thought of as powerful and haunting, but I’d attribute ADAM as one of the Movies that fucked my head up so much as a kid. They also released another kid goes missing flick WITHOUT A TRACE the very same year! I’m a parent now, and absolutely terrified I’d lose my kid in a similar fashion as ADAM. I also don’t want to turn into the guy who became the host of America’s Most Wanted. I want to pretend life is A-OK and stuff like this doesn’t happen on a regular basis. Real life is the scariest of all. Also, Jobeth Williams is the 80’s mom to us all.

THE BEGUILED (1971)

Star Clint Eastwood and Director Don Siegel are mostly known for their Action outings together (COOGAN’S BLUFF, DIRTY HARRY, ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ etc), but they also managed to squeeze in the tale of a Union soldier caught in the world of possibly cuckoo young Confederate women. Horror fans may be creeped out by the Film’s atmosphere and claustrophobic nature. Or the fact that a bunch of women together in a room almost always leads to some form of sheer terror!

BLUE STEEL (1990)

Former Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis has made all kinds of Films since her initial Slasher run of the late 70’s and early 80’s, but she managed to shift her persona and still turn in another female in jeopardy performance. This time with a great twist. Blue Steel is one of the best Action/Thrillers of the 90’s but it’s also a great feminist Film. STEEL was Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who has finally found footing in Hollywood and respect from her peers over the last few years with prestige Films like THE HURT LOCKER and ZERO DARK THIRTY. Horror fans aren’t likely looking for a feminist take on a “Fill in the blank from hell” kind of Movie, but they will get the thrills they are looking for, familiar Horror tropes and the ever amazing Jamie Lee.

THE BOYS NEXT DOOR (1985)

Two small town guys decide to pick up and go to Los Angeles after their peers graduate and then pile up a series of crimes and murder behind them. BOYS is mostly labeled and thought of as a Crime Thriller, but for me it’s always been one of the scariest portraits of youth gone wrong. It opens with factoids about more well known serial killers, preparing its audience for what may follow, and that opener always scared the hell out of me as a kid. It’s still effective. Director Penelope Spheeris is now best known for WAYNE’S WORLD, but she always had her finger on the pulse of what was going on in the culture, and in this case, what was creeping around, waiting to strike. Maxwell Caulfield (GREASE 2) will forever be dreamy, but he’s totally frightening here.

DANCE WITH A STRANGER (1985)

The true story of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain during the 1950’s, DANCE WITH A STRANGER is the story of obsession taken pretty far. Though it’s ostensibly a British drama, this Film always had a positively haunting effect on me. A lot of that can be contributed to the performances of Miranda Richardson and a young Rupert Everett. Miranda especially gives a go-for-broke performance that alternates between being scary and sympathetic. She’s a pre-Alex Forrest from FATAL ATTRACTION, but grounded in bit more realism. And definitely british!

DREAM LOVER (1994)

James Spader has always been a favorite actor of mine, and here he plays a guy who falls for the wrong woman (played by Mädchen Amick). Though it’s a Thriller, Horror fans may enjoy some of the nightmarish images Director Nicolas Kazan comes up with. Kazan, offspring of Elia, is mostly known as a Screenwriter and Playwright, and this Film has proved to be his last to-date Directorial effort, but he shows a real flair for creating a mood and vibe. You, along with Spader are seduced by Amick… not to mention her obsessive love of pearls… and then you are taken for a ride into the carnival the Filmmaker cooks up.

FOUL PLAY (1978)

And… I’m… ready to take a chance again… Ready to put my love on the line with you… So, yeah, in a way, Horror fans may already be terrified by the thought of a Barry Manilow song over the credits, but there it is. I’m personally a big fan of Barry as well as this Film. Sometimes the best kinds of Movies come from unexpected places and I would certainly count FOUL PLAY as one of the most random Movies ever. This one throws everything at you, and done in a very skilled and playful style. Horror fans will definitely enjoy the nods to Hitchcock and more surprises I won’t spoil here.

LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS (1993)

Ah, The Independent Cinema movement of the late 80’s and early to mid 90’s is something I really miss these days. This Canadian effort really came out during the height of it all. What Horror fans don’t know is that in addition to being a quirky Comedy & Drama, it’s also a Movie about a string of murders with a serial killer lurking around Montreal. I guess the title should have given it away to me when I first saw this at the Angelika Cinema in New York City when it came out, but I was sure surprised. It’s fun to watch Movies juggle a tone so much. Very few can pull it off so well like this.

MIRACLE MILE (1989)

The poster for MIRACLE MILE has a critical quote on it that tells you to be prepared to be blasted into the back of the Theater. And yes, MIRACLE does that in it’s own way. This is a story of an ordinary guy (Anthony Edwards) who looks for the girl (Mare Winningham, sporting the worst haircut I’ve seen on an 80’s chick) he had a really good first date with, on what he believes will be the last night of existence since a nuclear missile is headed their way. This Movie really will do a number of you and will likely crack the most cynical of people and break your shit down. I’m still not sure if I ever recovered. Those of us who lived under the threat of an impending nuclear strike throughout our childhoods are probably forever messed up anyway.

MORGAN STEWART’S COMING HOME (1987)
I love Teen Comedies a great deal and I even love the ones that seem to be either hated by critics or the ones that have been run over by time. MORGAN STEWART is a standout for me not only because it’s good hearted and fun in a light 80’s sort of way, but it’s central character is Horror Movie obsessed. Of course you have to see it. You, like Morgan, have posters of your favorite Horror Movies, likely collect Movie artifacts and would totally jump at the chance to see George Romero at the local mall if he was signing a book. Morgan also meets cute with a girl on the line to see Mr. Romero, and then takes her out on a date to see a midnight show of ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES. Isn’t that the most adorable thing ever?

RIVALS (1972)

The bonds between mother and son are sometimes very powerful, and this Movie from the early 70’s fully realizes that and goes to some pretty dark places. Ethereal Joan Hackett and Scott Jacoby (BAD RONALD) play mother and son, and Robert Klein is the boyfriend who gets in between their eternal bond. The jazzy score also ratchets up the tension as things spiral out of control later in the Film.

SAFE (1995)

Julianne Moore is an 80’s housewife (she aerobicizes to Madonna!) who comes down with an unexplained illness and increasingly gets more and more sick. Todd Haynes’ Film skillfully doesn’t offer any clear cut answers but instead pits you into this woman’s world and you feel as hopeless as she does as things grow worse for her. Sometimes terror comes not from a masked maniac or a creature from beyond but from the world we industrialized around us, the things we can’t see and god knows what else. You are anything but safe even if you think you are. The thought of what might be out there is sending chills down my spine right now.

SOUTHERN COMFORT (1981)

This is the Movie that made me Cajun-phobic. Is that a real thing? Seriously I am. Thanks Walter Hill. Thanks a lot. I know you produced ALIEN and did some great Films, but this one scares me more than most Horror Films. I mean it. And Scream Factory put it out on blu-ray recently. See it!

STAR 80 (1983)

Dorothy Stratten was a playmate, an actress and a gentle soul who unfortunately had the worst of luck. She fell in love with absolutely the wrong man. Paul Snider> was a jealous person who controlled Ms. Stratten, and couldn’t deal with her success and the love and lust everyone seemed to have for her. Her story ends tragically as most of us know, and Bob Fosse’s Film really digs deep into their story, especially it’s tragedy (he even shot in the same house where the murder-suicide took place), and you are front and center for it. I honestly can’t think of many people as scary as Eric Roberts portrayal of Mr. Snider.

SUMMER SCHOOL (1987)

Freewheelin’ and fun Teen Comedies are a staple of my youth and those of us who enjoy them know that SUMMER SCHOOL is one of the very best of it’s kind. What it also has is the characters of Chainsaw & Dave, who, like some of us, are also Horror Movie fanatics and like to live out some of their Favorite Movies with gory special effects and goo. Now this is the best possible way to study and learn, right? I so wanted to go to a High School where THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE is played in class. Why couldn’t I have been as lucky? Even if it meant I had to go to Summer School it would have been worth it. The special efforts gore in this Movie are top notch and are on par with the best Slashers of it’s time.

3 WOMEN (1977) & IMAGES (1972)

Robert Altman isn’t really known as a director of Horror, but he came as close to them as possible with 3 WOMAN and IMAGES from 1972. Both Films have a mood and vibe that are very much in the Horror vein, and you’re not quite sure what is going to happen in either. I find myself spellbound when I watch both and Horror fans may be satisfied with that and also get exposed to the unique and very distinct Altman touch. IMAGES also has a great eerie score by John Williams.

ZAPPED! (1982)
Scott Baio is pretty much the boy version of CARRIE in this lighthearted and THC-enhanced homage to the De Palma Film, but here with a complete PORKY’S aesthetic. I always go back to ZAPPED! because I get all that Telekinesis fun and I don’t have to be worry about being bummed out that it’s central character dies tragically after all the Prom mania. Plus the scene where Scott Baio frightens his religious mom with moving his creepy ventriloquist dummy (perhaps a nod to MAGIC?) with his mind is worth the price of admission alone.

Unk Sez: Thank’s Meep! Those are all great choices and now I’ve got plenty of homework to do. Folks make sure you visit Meep HERE and “Like” the Cinema Du Meep Facebook HERE for plenty more cool stuff!

All right, now here come my picks:

In Cold Blood (1967)

Richard Brooks takes on Truman Capote’s groundbreaking true crime bestseller and the result is a challenging and unforgettable viewing experience. Somehow both hyper-realistic (many of the actual real life locations were used) and sublimely poetic (the cinematography astounds), In Cold Blood may be shot in black and white but its presentation of real life horror is anything but. As uneasy as it may make the viewer, In Cold Blood dares us to accept the humanity of two killers (Lost Highway’s Robert Blake & The Walking Dead’s Scott Wilson– both remarkable) before exposing us to their inhuman acts against an unsuspecting family.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

What’s more horrifying than a couple dozen camp counselors being hacked to pieces? I’d say a full school bus of children sliding onto a frozen lake, smashing through the ice and slowly submerging towards certain death. Atom Egoyan’s adaptation of Russel Bank’s novel of the same name explores a town’s grieving process after loosing nearly every child in their population to such an unthinkable tragedy. Alien’s Ian Holm is impeccable and Dawn of the Dead (2004) star Sarah Polley’s reading of the tale of the pied piper ensures that you will never think of it in the same way again.

Shadows and Fog (1991)

Woody Allen’s love letter to German Expressionist filmmakers like F.W. Murnau (Nosferatu) is as nightmarishly paranoid as it is visually stunning. Any horror fan worth their salt should feel right at home amidst the moody black and white cinematography but if by any chance they should happen to miss their comfort zone Donald Pleasance (Halloween), Kathy Bates (Misery) and Jodie Foster (Silence of the Lambs) appear as familiar markers in the mist.

Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

Diane Keaton plays a teacher of deaf children who explores singles bars and brings home a final scene so disturbing it puts many a horror movie’s finale to shame.

The Rapture (1991)

Sharon (Mimi Rogers) wonders if anything can be worse than working in a cubicle by day and engaging in empty sex at night. She then discovers religion and realizes the answer is YES! Prepare to go where no movie has gone before and to endure an unfathomable act as she travels from following blindly to demanding answers from the big guy upstairs.

Death Becomes Her (1992)

It would be easy for horror fans to dismiss this flick thanks to its baggage laden stars or be put off by the campy comedy that abounds but this morality tale concerning the lengths some might go to retain their youth is rather like a cautionary DC comic book come to vibrant life. Director Robert Zemeckis had a big hand in the success of HBO’s Tales From the Crypt and in spirit, Death Becomes Her feels much more like a Tales From the Crypt movie than any actual existing Tales From the Crypt movie. Cinematography provided by some guy named Dean Cundey.

The Piano Teacher (2001)

In many cases life’s most insidious horrors don’t come from an external nemesis but from within. Isabelle Hubbert stars as a repressed teacher who becomes entangled with a student, yet can only seem to express herself through masochism and covertly destroying those she feels threatened by. Masterful Austrian director Michael Haneke guides Hubbert through a dark spellbinding performance.

Sybil (1976)

Don’t worry about Sybil, as far as mentally ill protagonists go, she’s a sympathetic sweetheart whose biggest fault is a tendency to break windows and inappropriately wade in park fountains. Her mother, on the other hand, makes Norma Bates look like June Cleaver after a relaxing Calgon bath. Viewers may be tempted to ease their mortified psyches with the knowledge that the authenticity of the events depicted in Sybil are up for debate. Don’t rest your head too soundly though as there is absolutely no debate on whether sadistically deranged and abusive parents exist. Accurate or not, this is a deep dark dive and a reminder not to judge a person’s strength by their outward behavior, as you never know what they’ve endured.

After Hours (1985)

Martin Scorsese’s inescapable Kafka-esque nightmare is funny as hell but constantly hits creepily uncanny nerves that can’t be denied. It’s inclusion of the song “Is That All There Is?” perfectly encapsulates the surreal nature of the film and the harsh truth that into each life a little rain (and horror) must fall.

Straw Dogs (1971)

Director Sam Peckinpah uses a shotgun to blast a portrait of violence in its most raw and befouling form and the result is fifty shades of ugly and fittingly as difficult to look at, as it is to look away from. Expect no mollifying answers or cathartic victory laps here, there’s no path out of this briar patch that won’t leave you shredded.

Jane Eyre (1943)

There are exactly a zillion cinematic adaptations of Charlotte Bronte’s 1847 novel and exactly zero of them will ever reach the creepy gothic heights of the lusciously black and white 1943 version directed by Robert Stevenson. Is there some kind of romance going on here? I don’t care; I just want to know what’s behind that door!

Far From Home (1998)

Let us never forget that Drew Barrymore’s short-lived “bad girl” film cycle was perhaps only a prison flick away from rivaling Linda Blair’s. Myopic horror fans can grouse as much as they want about that, it’s true just the same. Far From Home is one of my favorite Bad Drew flicks as it finds our young, lisping lush stalked in a desert trailer park that is also home to the likes of Susan (Night Warning) Tyrell and Jennifer (Bride of Chucky) Tilly. If that’s not enough, Dick Miller plays the local sheriff and horror favorite Tommy Lee Wallace’s name is on the screenplay.

The Impossible (2012)

Has it been a long time since you’ve seen a horror movie that made you gasp, wince, grit your teeth, shudder and hide your eyes? Well, maybe you’re looking in the wrong place. In this film, based on a true story, Mother Nature makes every horror villain you’ve ever known look like fluffy pink bunny handing out Valentines. Think your favorite final girl has got spunk and an admirable will to survive? Check out Noami Watts Oscar-nominated performance here and honestly ask yourself if you’d rather try to outrun a maniac or a tsunami.

Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983)

Horror and science fiction have always made compatible bedfellows but allow me to especially sing the praises of this once 3-D actioner as a good bet for those who enjoy squishy, eighties-style make up effects. You’ll find blobby monsters, mutant children, slimy serpents and even mermaids in the offbeat world visited within this fun flick and all created by the underrated genius Tom Burman (My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, The Beast Within, Cat People, etc.). Director Lamont Johnson (You’ll like my Mother, Lipstick) finds two appealing leads in Peter Straus and a pre-Sixteen Candles Molly Ringwald and who can ask for a better cyborg heavy than ScannersMichael Ironside?

Fearless (1993)

I hope this movie is as good as I remember it. The fact is I can never watch it again as it nearly destroyed my ability to travel by plane. I do recall though, that besides featuring the most unbearable plane crash imaginable, “Fearless” does this wonderful thing where it leaves you appreciating life itself. I recommend this picture to horror fans because as corny as it may sound, without a viewer’s simple understanding of the value of human life, I don’t believe any horror film can run at full capacity.

The Wall (1982)

Pink Floyd wasn’t crazy about director Alan Parker’s treatment of their album The Wall and Parker apparently was right on the same page in being disappointed. Who knows how far it missed the mark in the eyes of the artists who brought it to life and, more importantly, who cares? The fact remains that this movie is one of a kind and produces a mix of feelings unlike any film ever made. It’s a cinematic sausage stuffed with traumas that can’t be quieted and negative emotions that can never be righted and a big swirling spell of self-destructive corrosive mojo. It’s sad, it’s beautiful, it’s somehow both depressing and riling and it’s profound monumental horror art.

Smooth Talk (1985)

Based on the haunting Joyce Carol Oates short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?Smooth Talk begins like your typical After School Special concerning teens testing boundaries and getting giddy over small-scale rebellions. A pre-David Lynch muse Laura Dern plays 15-year-old Connie who feels trapped by the limitations set by her family and fearful of ending up like her demure older sister June (The Funhouse’s Elizabeth Berridge). Connie begins a flirtation with an older man named Arnold Friend (Treat Williams) and one day, while her family is out, he comes to her house to pay a visit. Things get very surreal, very disturbing and very ambiguous very fast. Sometimes you only need a few well-placed words to chill.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

You won’t find any scares in this mildly spooky romantic fantasy but if you are a fan of ghost and haunted house tales, you’re bound to enjoy its atmosphere and point of view anyway. Personally I am tempted to keep my DVD copy in the medicine cabinet as it has proven over the years to cure any and all ailments.

Hardcore (1979)

The Changeling’s George C. Scott stars as a father whose brain rightfully explodes when the search for his missing daughter leads him to find her enmeshed in the seedy underworld of pornography. Written and directed by the always-interesting Paul Schrader, HARDCORE reminds that some of the worst horrors that the world has to offer involve the damage inflicted upon those we love rather than ourselves.

The Tin Drum (1979)

Based on the book by Gunter Grass, The Tin Drum tells the story of a creepy kid named Oskar who, in protest to the insanity of the world, throws himself down a staircase and miraculously stops himself from aging. He’s also very fond of his disruptive toy drum and has the useful ability to shatter glass with his high-pitched scream. He’s basically the Kindertrauma poster child. I originally caught this flick on PBS as a teen and it shook me like a baby rattle and permanently turned me off eating eels collected from decapitated horse heads washed up on the beach.

Spirit of the Beehive (1973)

In this Spanish language film a young girl watches James Whale’s Frankenstein and her life is forever changed. What horror fan can’t relate?

Dreamchild (1985)

It is doubtful anyone will ever trump the incredible and certainly horrific depiction of the fantastic denizens of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland provided here by frequent kindertrauma culprit Jim Henson.

Happy Campers (2001)

A Friday the 13th movie sans multiple murders? It shouldn’t exist but it does. As I quoted in this semi recent REVIEW “Who needs a serial psycho when we have ourselves?” Exactly.

And that’s where we better stop. I keep thinking of other flicks and with each one I have to make another Sophie’s Choice. Dagnabbit, Sophie’s Choice (1982) is another one! Thanks again to the great and powerful Meep! Critters and kids, do you have a favorite non-horror flick that you think horror fans could dig? Leave your picks in the comments section! We want to hear them all!

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Tags: Special Guest Stars

Kindertrauma Interview:: Paul “T.J.” Kelman of the Horror Classic “My Bloody Valentine” (1981)

February 24th, 2014 · 5 Comments

KINDERTRAUMA: What is the first movie that ever scared you?

PAUL KELMAN: Ha! Good one! It was “Curse of Frankenstein,” 1957 Hammer Films with Peter Cushing playing the Doctor! I was around 8 or 9 years old. It was my first horror movie! My Father took me and I spent most of the time slumped down below the seat in front of me, peeking up every little while! It really terrified me! I had dreams about it for days after. The Monster was so horrible looking! I can still remember how scared I was.

Since then I’ve seen the original, Boris Karloff, Frankenstein of 1931 by Universal, and the subsequent ones he did and other versions as well. Then I read the book by Mary Shelley! I’ve always been intrigued and fascinated with the “Monster” or “Creature” as he is called in the book. And after reading it, Frankenstein became one of my heroes! In the book he is intelligent and sensitive and speaks eloquently about his plight. But he is consumed with the grief and anger from not being accepted by humanity and most of all by his ‘father’, his ‘creator’, Dr. Frankenstein. His feelings eventually drive him mad. He realizes he is hated, useless, without roots, without family, an “abomination”, a “monster.” He is without a father, without God, without love. He is lost.

It’s the story of each of us looking for meaning and our purpose in this life, and our common humanity. Without these fundamental needs being fulfilled and realized, we become like a monster to ourselves and to others. That’s the story Mary Shelley wrote. That is Frankenstein. It’s a great book, a great story. And it’s spawned some wonderful horror films!



KT: What is the last film that scared you?

PK: Well I don’t get ‘scared’ anymore! (laughing) Having done films I look at special effects and CGI. I see the artifice. I was also in the virtual reality industry for around a decade, so I have a good grounding as to what can be done with computer generated reality, especially in three dimensions. But I still get excited and allow myself to be taken in, especially if it’s well done.

I don’t get scared, too old for that. But I do get ‘spooked’ sometimes! I like films that spook me! Even if they’re a little raw as a finished product. It’s how a film uses your imagination in concert with a new or macabre concept that achieves that. Recently I saw a macabre psychological and gory vision in a film called, American Mary (2012, Canadian) starring Katharine Isabelle and written and directed by The Soska Sisters!

It’s a pretty wild film centering on a young female student surgeon who stumbles into a career in illegal “body modifications.” Macabre and strangely engrossing. Liked it! It had a spookiness about it because of what was behind this girl’s motivation. Her obsession with it just kept growing out of control. The film was a little choppy and inconsistent but I thought it was very good despite that.

KT: What is your fondest memory from working on MY BLOODY VALENTINE?

PK: I think it was when we got to hang out with real miners and they took us down to the “Face” in a real working mine at Glace Bay in Nova Scotia, an Island Province in the East coast of Canada. We were crouched down in this low tunnel only about twelve feet wide and five feet high. A tight fit. The Giant Drill bit took up five feet in width! We stood along side it as it drilled into the Face, black coal dust flying into our goggled faces! One miner hosing tons of water on the bit to cool it down! The noise was deafening and one wrong move and the massive Drill blades would shred you! Talk about a dangerous job! Some of these guys had been miners for thirty years! Most had sons who also worked the mine. The work was passed down through generations.

I learned to respect these men. They were crazy brave and they felt they were doing a service to people by mining coal which heated homes and provided energy. Nowadays we look at coal as an outdated mode of energy and a hazard to mankind. Anyway, the point being is it gave me and the other actors a real sense of what it was to be a miner so we could play one. The camaraderie, how they watched each other’s backs, the importance of family and the honor code of a miner all served to inform our roles in the movie. I like to think of them as, “Coal Cowboys”!

The other thing that I remember most is the talent, energy and commitment of the cast! It was like working with an ensemble. There was this raw almost amateur enthusiasm to make every scene work! There were some real pros like Don Francks (Sheriff Newby), Patricia Hamilton (Mabel) and Jack Van Evera (Happy).

Then there were Keith Knight (Hollis), Alf Humphries (Howard) and I as “T.J.”, who’d worked together before in another Paramount release, GAS, which was a crazy comedy. But we’d only done a few films. The rest of the cast had done a little film work at best. So it was quite the mix. Yet everyone, once they got on the set, became pros with equal talent, dedication and devotion to their work! That was special and I think it showed in the final film and is part of what makes the film different from other horror/slasher films especially in the 1980’s! The characters had genuineness about them and the audience could relate and care about them! I do think it’s a major part in what has made the film last this long.

KT: What is your least favorite memory from working on MY BLOODY VALENTINE?

PK: Well, there wasn’t anything specific. I can say though that it was a tough shoot. We shot the whole film in about seven weeks, which was ambitious for a rather complex shoot. For me there were a lot of action scenes like the fight with shovel vs. pickaxe between “TJ” and “Axel” (Neil Affleck) especially difficult on a speeding rail car! And having a mine ceiling cave on our heads, “Sarah”(Lori Hallier) and I. And then all of us climbing a vertical steel ladder slippery with mine grease and flowing water! Really the most challenging was just the fact that we were shooting in a mine in the first place. Riding open air wooden mine cars barreling down a mine shaft at what felt like 40 mph in the pitch dark with only our head lamps for light isn’t for the faint of heart!

Even though it was no longer a working mine it still was a real mine! You see, if gases build up from the various compounds in the rock they can be toxic and if ignited by a heat source like a hot movie lamp — kaboom! We only had to evacuate once due to gas build up. But when you’re six-hundred feet down and below the ocean because it’s a coastal mine, and your only exit is the “Cage” (the mine shaft elevator) it takes a long time to get everyone out to safety! (Laughing)

Oh! I do have a ‘least favorite memory’! I just remembered! Some of us were cigarette smokers at the time, I’ve since stopped smoking, and being in a mine the only thing we could do, so as not to blow up the place was — chew tobacco! Just like real miners do! “Redman Chewing Tobacco”! Now chewing that black gunk can be dangerous because if you so much as swallow some of the goo in your mouth, you are going to get real sick and puke your guts out! That’s why you’re always spitting black viscous gobs everywhere! Real manly stuff! I actually liked the taste after a while but spitting black all the time was, well, disgusting. Good for the character though! It was an added touch of realism!

KT: MY BLOODY VALENTINE is now considered to be one of the best slasher films of its era. Many of us are shocked that there was never a sequel. If you were approached either back then or now to reprise your role as T.J., would you accept the offer?

PK: You’re kidding right? Of course I’d do it! But I never thought by any stretch of the imagination that the work I did in that movie was special or even good. I can say it was an ‘honest’ performance but nowhere near what I could bring to a role now as an actor. It’s been thirty-three years after all. I’ve walked a few miles since then. I’d be lying if I said that I ever expected MBV81 would become a ‘Cult Horror Classic’! I’d really all but forgot about it until a year or so ago. We did have a special screening with the cast at a theatre in Toronto a few years back and the place was packed. But I figured it was a one-time deal. Then about a year ago it started with a few fans finding me on Facebook.

Over that time my Page has developed a constituency of MBV81 Fans! They seem to be from all over the globe young and old! At first I was amused, then surprised and bemused and then something happened. They started talking about what they thought about the film, about me and the horror genre. I realized it really meant something to them and they humbled me with their sincerity and their generosity! They taught me the value of the film and even my work in it! And they showed me how to really value and care about them as an audience and as individuals. It’ been a wonderful experience getting to know them and to share all this with them. And now there are hundreds of fans on the Page and steadily growing! It’s ‘public’ so anyone who wants to can join. They only need send me a “Friend Request” and I’ll confirm.

So here I am at age 64, thirty-three years after the fact, a small “c” celebrity because of MBV81. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned from the fans about the movie and the genre. I’ve always loved horror and sci-fi but they, the fans, have turned it into a passion. I’ve always geeked out with action figures from movies and TV,cartoons and even have stuffed animals. I have Fankenstein, Godzilla, Alien and Spiderman as well as Star Trek figures — big Star Trek Fan! I have a ‘Cat in the Hat‘, Popeye and Olive, several Betty Boops and even a 4ft high stuffed Mickey Mouse! “They’re my friends!” (from ’Blade Runner‘).

To get back to your question. You mentioned “Sequel.” So many people ask me why there’s not been a sequel? I can’t answer that. But what I can say is that in this life, I’m a writer. And I know some pretty talented fans that can write. And I’ve been gathering ideas from the fan base asking them what they think they want to see in a sequel! So I wouldn’t be surprised that in the coming year . . .

KT: Thanks Paul, It’s an honor!

PK: Anytime. My pleasure entirely!

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Tags: Kinterview · Special Guest Stars

A Grand Daddy Traumafession:: Michael Bennett, Ph.D (“Doctor Future”) on “A Short Vision” (1956)

February 10th, 2014 · 4 Comments

I have particularly been fascinated by traumatic media products from the Cold War era, particularly those which traumatized entire generations of Baby Boom youngsters with warnings of imminent death – often traumatizing their parents as well. Just yesterday I first came aware of such a film on a small-time digital television channel – the 1963 film “Ladybug, Ladybug” about the heart-rending choices made by some school teachers and the children when they think an atomic attack is imminent. I was unaware of this amazing and influential film of its era, which evidently traumatized a whole generation of viewers.

I mentioned this film to a former boss of mine, who grew up during the peak of the Cold War, and in turn he recounted to me another such seminal event which amazingly had slipped through my awareness, but not from his generation, even after 58 years.
It all surrounded a little harmless 6 minute short film, shown to 50 million or so viewers by no less than Ed Sullivan. On May 27, 1956, he decided to show his vast live audience an animated film produced by a British husband and wife, entitled “A Short Vision”, to show the futility of war, and in particular to commemorate the dropping of the first H-Bomb by American warplanes a week earlier. Given that the subject matter for his show normally entailed acrobats and men spinning plates on poles, this insertion at the end of the show truly came from left field. After a very mild warning to the viewing audience that suggested that they send the children out of the room, he aired the animated film to a stunned studio audience, and television audience nationwide…

The music and images, and even droll British narrative truly create a brief nightmare scenario, where even animal predators and their prey suddenly flee together to hide from the menace overhead they now sense. Audiences in 1956 could not have been prepared to see Caucasian people, overnight in their sleepy town, awakening to have their eyes and faces melt in the glow of a thermonuclear blast, as life on earth is quickly extinguished. Obviously, this created a sensation in the papers the next day, as they described the “shocking” film Sullivan had unleashed on the public. The outcry was so massive, that Sullivan aired the movie a second time, two weeks later, but with a more stringent warning for young people. However, by various means, many young people did glimpse it, and evidently were never the same afterwards.

My boss, 58 years later, remembers being sent to his room by his parents when it was being aired, but heard the film’s audio through his bedroom wall – a memory still vivid in his mind. Others were not so lucky. One blog page (HERE) devoted to the movie notes one responder at the site who not only viewed the traumatic piece, but had met another baby boomer who as a child had watched A SHORT VISION alone when it aired, and it was medically determined that his hair began to permanently turn white in response to fright from seeing it. Now I call that a traumafession!

I am curious to know how many more of these long-forgotten productions that suggested the imminent nuclear destruction of earth and had imprinted upon a generation are still waiting to be discovered. I caught the tail end of such movies before the collapse of the USSR, when my church youth group left the Sunday night service to watch the well-publicized national airing of “The Day After” in 1983, resulting in our stunned silence, as well as the subsequent discussion shows on air concerning nuclear destruction, featuring commentary by “concerned parents” and other figures (ABC even ran 1-800 numbers then for viewers to call in and talk to counselors, as well as books people could get on nuclear war; even Mr. Rogers had a series of shows on nuclear war afterwards, to help calm youngsters). Later in 1987, another miniseries Amerika was run, where the United States had been overtaken by the USSR, prompting yet more citizen-led discussion groups – also, I vaguely recollect, leading David Letterman the next evening to hold citizen-led discussion groups concerning the other movie shown during the “Amerika” time slot that night – “The Facts of Life Down Under”.

Do any of you recollect other “end of the world”, nuclear holocaust movies or shows that caused sleepless nights for you, or your parents?

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Tags: Special Guest Stars · Traumafessions

My Night Gallery Traumafession By Senski

January 20th, 2014 · 9 Comments

This Traumafession is likely to go on a bit, guys; please indulge me.

I was born in 1962, too young to be a fan of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. Since I was raised in a small town, and in the era before cable, I was severely limited by what I could see in syndication; for almost two decades that television institution that was TZ eluded me, and I would not see my first episode until I was almost 20. However, I was a regular reader of Gold Key’s entertaining TZ comic book – a title I began collecting when I was five. Through its illustrated pages I discovered that every tale was presented by a dapper man named Rod Serling, much in the same way that horror comics were graced by hosts in prior decades. Was he a writer? Director? Actor? I did not really know, but I knew he was associated with all things eerie and fantastical, and that made him a kindred spirit to me.

Then one day in 1969 I was flipping through the pages of a TV Guide – how exciting it was to see what entertainments lay in store for the week ahead! – and there, eight days after Halloween, was a highlighted box promoting a new TV movie named Night Gallery – hosted by Rod Serling! Missing it was unthinkable. I can still remember being curled up on the end of our old green sofa, pillow at the ready to stick in front of my face. The gentleman on the screen looked a little older than the one drawn in the comics; the hair a bit more modern, the skin more lined and leathery, but it was him. And with a voice like he possessed, how could he present anything BUT the weird and wonderful? The first tale,”The Cemetery,” was simply the most frightening thing I had seen in my life up to that point. I stayed awake for “Eyes” but had to be trundled off to bed by the end of “The Escape Route;” I was slipping in and out of sleep.

But I knew this: I was mesmerized. And my devotion to Mr Serling began in earnest on November 8, 1969.

When NG returned to NBC’s schedule in 1970 as part of the “Four-in-One” concept with a mere six episodes, I was ready, and far better at fending off sleep till the end of an episode. For the next three years, NG would become perhaps the greatest pop cultural touchstone in my life. My friends and I would reenact episodes on the playground, quote lines from Serling‘s intros (The Doll: “…and this one you’d best not play with”), and I, little nerd that I was, always got to play Television Horror Anthology Host. When we had to write plays for a 4th Grade class, I wrote a NG episode about a demonic hotel guest who refused to check out – and the painting was a Crayola masterwork of said demon hovering over the Planet Earth. I looked up the stories by the authors featured on the show, beginning a love for short supernatural fiction that has remained undimmed by time. I can point to incidents in my life that occurred on evenings dedicated to viewing NG, so transfixed are those moments in the mind’s eye. In fact, as I type this, I am sitting beneath a print of Tom Wright‘s painting for “She’ll Be Company For You.”

Night Gallery made me who I am. It defines Horror for me. I am unabashed in my love for the series (with the exception of the humorous vignettes). It genuinely grieves me to hear how Serling was mistreated during the series run and how he largely disowned the enterprise, but when it was good – and that was often – it was brilliant. And if, heaven forfend, there are any Kinderpals who are not familiar with NG, start with The Caterpillar, The Sins of the Fathers, Green Fingers, Certain Shadows on the Wall, The Class of ’99…so many delights await.

But that is not the subject of this Traumafession.

At some point in the production of the series, Jack Laird filmed what we in the TV business would call B-roll (secondary footage) for inclusion. It consisted of a number of disembodied heads, dressed in black, and shot against a black backdrop; you can see some of these faces worked into the opening credits for the first and second seasons. But he also used a montage of these heads at the station break; the time for affiliates to sell local commercials. Backed up by a faster version of the main title theme, and obscured by the show’s title, I found these faces to be terrifying. I could not watch as the music played, finally peeking when the piece had climaxed. At 9:30 every Wednesday night I was trained to look away. To the best of my knowledge, this footage has never been included as supplementary material on any of the NG DVD releases, and has been unseen by the public for decades…until now.

Freshly posted to YouTube just a little over a month ago, these “bumpers” are back. According to the poster, they were courtesy of a gift from authors Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, whose book Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour is not only the definitive volume on the show, but is a benchmark for how books covering a television series in-depth should be written. Scott and I communicated years ago on a forum dedicated to the show, and I was delighted to provide him with the printed stories behind several NG eps, for which he sent me a multi-CD set of music from that show that I treasure. Now at last I can see exactly what frightened me: Face Number Two. I imagined that bizarrely androgynous visage appearing over me while I slept, and woof! Sleep no more. There are three bumpers: 1) The full cut; 2) A tighter edit that eliminates the final face and speeds up the music; 3) The rather dull backdrop of gallery paintings backed by Eddie Sauter’s shrill Season Three theme.

Enjoy. And thanks for reading!

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Tags: Special Guest Stars · Telenasties · The Amazing Senski · Traumafessions

Future Traumafession: 9 by Reader Lorraine

January 13th, 2014 · 2 Comments

I think that we all can agree that sometimes, parents aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. How many times would you say that parents have dragged their kids to a movie that anyone else would have been able to tell was more than a little less than kid-friendly. Just take a look at the TV Tropes page, What Do You Mean It’s Not For Kids. Other times, you can’t really blame them. It’s an easy mistake, because you know how covers can lie. Just look at the art on some of the boxes for Watership Down. There has been many a time that someone picked this up thinking it was just another kids’ movie, only to have to coax a traumatized child out from behind the couch later. Or maybe you showed your kid Felidae, which is basically film noir with cats, sex scene included. Yes, there is a sex scene. With cats. This brings me to my main point: Animated does not necessarily mean kid-friendly. For our main example, I will talk about one of my favorite films of all time, 9. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler-free as possible.

9 is an animated film directed by Shane Acker, and produced by Tim Burton. It is based off a short film that Mr. Acker made a few years before. It features an all-star cast, among those being Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, and Elijah Wood. The film is set is a post-apocalyptic setting, mankind having been wiped out by machines. A scientist made 9 creations with the intention of having humanity live on after all humans are dead. The story centers around the 9th creation, simply named 9.

For one, there are dead bodies. In the very beginning of the movie, we have 9 discovering the body of the scientist. Not even two minutes later, he comes across a car with its door open. Inside are the corpses of a mother and child. Later on, we will see skeletons being sawed up in order to create a monster. And in a flashback scene, we see a person die on-screen.

Then there are the machines. In the first 10 minutes of the movie, we are assaulted with the image of the Cat Beast, so named for the cat skull that it has for a head. Later, we have the B.R.A.I.N. with his gigantic glowing red eye, who is responsible for the deaths of more than half of the creations. I’ll get to the deaths later. The B.R.A.I.N. makes the machine that was assembled with human bones mentioned earlier. This is the Winged Beast. But the biggest offender of them all has to be the Seamstress. She has a doll’s head with the body shape of a snake, many spindly legs composed of needles that she uses to sew her victims up, trapping them. And attached to her tail, the dead, empty husk of one of the creations.

And yes, more than half of the creations are dead by the end of the movie. The way in which they die is particularly violent. How so? Well, try having your soul sucked out through your eye sockets and mouth while your body flails about uncontrollably. This is all shown on-screen, too.

So how could parents think that a movie like this is kid-friendly? The movie is even rated PG-13, and the advertisements are suitably dark-toned, some of which explicitly stating that the movie is’t for kids. We can only assume that it is because most people are under the notion that everything animated is made for kids, which isn’t true in the slightest. If you all have some free time, do check out 9. In my opinion, it is a fantastic film that is certainly deserving of a bigger audience. It has the ability to draw you in. It is full of both action and emotion, really having the ability to both keep you at the edge of your seat and pull at your heartstrings. Give it a try. I’m sure that you wont regret it. And trust me, some time in the distant future, the team of Kindertrauma will be receiving a traumafession or two for this film.

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Tags: Future-trauma · Special Guest Stars · Traumafessions

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 Horror Films By Dante Tomaselli Director of Torture Chamber

December 23rd, 2013 · 2 Comments

The Night of the Devils (1972)

This is one of my favorite horror movies. Growing up, I don’t know how I ever missed out on it. Definitely triggers the same feeling I got when I finally experienced Suspiria for the first time in my late twenties. A magical feeling. A sweet horror rush. It aligns with my taste buds perfectly. Very moody, Night of the Devils is a beautifully constructed tale of madness. Simplicity is its greatest strength with the woods as its main backdrop. It’s the kind of film that unfolds like a disturbing nightmare. The mirage hints at the same vampire-like entity featured in one of the segments of Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath. This is a criminally underrated psychological horror shocker. Definitely worth seeking out for all horror fans.

A Reflection of Fear (1973)

Wow, what a genuinely strange film. I remember a friend loaning this to me around 2000 and it’s still wadding around my subconscious. The less said about the plot the better but it involves a rich, isolated girl reuniting with her Dad (Robert Shaw of Jaws). There’s something peculiar about this child who talks to a doll that seems to be alive. Or is it a projection of her off-kilter self? St. Michael, the warrior icon is chillingly conjured. This slow-burn film is so well made and not surprisingly it was directed by the cinematographer of Polanki‘s lush Rosemary’s Baby. I can see that very clearly! Dreamlike imagery galore. Any adventurous horror fan should appreciate this odd unsettling chiller.

This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967)

Here’s a true independent horror film with the stamp of its creator all over. It’s such a macabre and bizarre concoction that it just needs to be seen to be believed. I can only imagine how shocked and mystified audiences were back in the late ’60s. I like to watch it through their eyes. The sequence where our anti-hero is sucked into a multi-colored hell is creative and outrageously eye-popping. Imagine a hazy nightmare that unfolds while you’re lying on your back in a coffin with a black cloth over your eyes and a tarantula approaching.

Frightmare (1974)

This fascinating ’70s low budget classic features a cannibalistic mother played by one of my favorite performers, Sheila Keith. I love every scene she’s in and would have given anything to work with her. Rest in Peace. As the enigmatic, flesh-eating Dorothy, she’s truly bloodcurdling. In the film, her daughter Jackie is trying to help her get better. Dorothy’s days in the insane asylum are behind her. So we hope. But lately she’s been reading tarot cards again and there are corpses in a room off to the side

The Visitor (1979)

I remember being 9 years old and seeing the black and white newspaper ad and staring at it endlessly. I cut it out and taped it on the refrigerator. This was around the same time The Godsend was being advertised too. I didn’t see The Visitor in theatres but experienced it a year later on cable TV. I was 10 years old. I really had no idea what to expect and was startled by its strong imagery. The pictures presented on screen were bold and stylish. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy horror mutation. The Visitor is confusing, crazy and a lot of fun…Visually, it’s a sensation. This film is a completely unique viewing experience and for that it’s gold.


THE VISITOR [Trailer] – Now In Theaters from Drafthouse Films on Vimeo.

UNK SEZ: Thanks Dante! It’s always an honor and a pleasure when you stop by Kindertrauma! I love your taste in movies and what an excellent list! You mentioned a couple of my favorites and even better, a couple I can look forward to seeing for the first time.

Folks, get ready because pretty soon we’ll all be able to check out the new film from one of the most original imaginations in horror! I’m talking about DANTE TOMASELLI‘s TORTURE CHAMBER! Make sure you stop by the official website HERE and prepare yourself for the trailer below! I can’t wait!

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Tags: Special Guest Stars · Where is the Love? Five Underrated Flicks

USA’s Saturday Nightmares:: By John Sullivan

November 27th, 2013 · 16 Comments

I was an ‘inside kid’.

Sure, I went to school and rode bikes and journeyed to 7-11 to pick up comic books and Slurpees.

That was my afternoon. But my night?

Movies. Lots and lots of movies.

My parents gave me a TV time limit. I had a few hours a week. It was sort of an allowance. I had to be smart, and budget my presence in front of the tube.
I used all those hours on Saturday. Here’s why:

USA’S SATURDAY NIGHTMARES.

Saturday Nightmares was my youthful gateway into horror films. In an environment where my parents were permissive enough to let me watch some TV, but not permissive enough to let me rent R-rated horror films, Saturday Nightmares provided a mainline fix that my pre-teen (and early teen) self desperately needed.

USA’S Saturday Nightmares was a prime-time (8 PM – East Coast – old school USA network) non-hosted weekly horror movie feature forum that consisted of several elements:

0 – The Intro. As I mentioned, this was an un-hosted venue for horror films but the intros were awesome. In the early days of USA’s Saturday Nightmares, it was a little more commando. They were stark black and white shots of grotesque monster movies. It looked cheap, and felt cheap and that informed the scariness of whatever film the show was threatening to air. After a few years, they amped up the budget and it became an early CGI ‘tour’ through a museum of horror icons. Regardless of which intro or bumper I preferred, they were atmospheric and foreboding. In other words, even if the movie sucked – I was still scared to watch it.

1 – The Horror Movie. This was usually some semi-obscure thriller that was molding in a VHS bin somewhere. I’m not industry adept enough to guess where the USA network programmers got their material, my guess is it was whatever they had access to. I mean, ‘Bloodbath in the House of Death’? ‘Scared to Death’? ‘Devil Times Five’?, ‘Up From the Depths’?, ‘The House Where Evil Dwells’, ‘Spookies’?, ‘The Being’?, – I can go on. And I will. But this show dredged up some of the most lesser-known, cheap thrill horror movies that could ever be IMDB’d. For a kid who was only exposed to ‘Salems Lot’ and ‘Gremlins’, Saturday Nightmares was a goldmine. R-rated horrors edited for television. Therefore, parent-friendly.

2 – The Anthology Shows. It wasn’t just a horror feature showcase. Oh no. It had frosting on the cake. Following the movie, Saturday Nightmares wasn’t done with you. They aired three different syndicated horror anthology shows. Among them: The Ray Bradbury Theater, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and The Hitchhiker.

The Ray Bradbury Theater’ was more of a slow-burn horror anthology. The stories were generally fantastical and had a more broad nature. Not all of the stories presented were from the mind of the great Ray Bradbury, but many of them kept the tone of some of his earlier works. I remember one called ‘The Playground’ with a young-ish William Shatner that haunts me to this day.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ had a more crime-oriented atmosphere and a typical just-desserts twist ending. I’d compare the stories presented akin to EC Comics’ noir books.

The Hitchhiker’ was probably inappropriate for a kid my age. It was a port from an HBO series, and consisted of a lot of sex and murder. A lone, scruffed Hitchiker tells stories of lust and death. It was heavily edited for TV, so the impact was lost on me. I do remember some of the stories were compelling, but they had to cut out all the naughty stuff.

3 – The Short Films. Oftentimes, one of the Saturday Nightmares features would end early, and they would have to stick in a mysterious short film to fill out the run time. Short films are commonplace these days, especially on YouTube – but in 1988, it was rare to see a cool, scary short flick. Somehow, the USA Network was able to find some frightening brief bits to pad out the run-time. I remember one was about a man engineering a gigantic mouse-trap…for himself. It was his method of suicide. Dark, right?

I WAS 10!

The first film I ever saw on USA’s Saturday Nightmares was ‘The Loch Ness Horror’. It involves – you guessed it – a bunch of people running away from a rubberized Loch Ness Monster puppet. It’s…garbage. However, the nostalgia of gunning my BMX bike back from the comic book store to make it home before sundown to watch ‘The Loch Ness Horror’ stays with me.

I think I bought a Hulk comic that day. Memories fade…

My parents had to endure my love of USA’s Saturday Nightmares. We weren’t a rich family. We had a modest house on Long Island with one TV. So, if I watched something – they had to watch that thing. In a strange way, my parents are well-versed in horror movie trivia because of that environment.

-‘Hey Dad, remember ‘Demonwarp’?

-‘Is that the one with the murderous Sasquatch and George Kennedy, and the zombies you made us watch’?

-‘Yup’.

-‘Why couldn’t have you been a doctor’?

I was a weird kid. I lived for Saturday Nightmares. Whenever my parents had a dinner party, they knew I’d be out of their hair watching something like ‘Jaws of Satan’. Just to be clear, that’s a film about a king cobra possessed by the Devil.

My Dad’s buddy, after wandering into the TV room:

‘What are you watching’?

Jaws of Satan. Killer king cobra movie’.

‘What the hell is Fritz Weaver doing in this crap’?

As low-grade as many of the movies shown on Saturday Nightmares were, they did expose me to a world beyond the A-list ‘thrillers’ that masquerade as horror movies.

Later on, as USA became more mass-audience oriented, the films became more commercial. ‘Demons of the Dead’ was replaced by ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 3’. ‘Girls Nite Out’ was replaced by ‘Friday The 13th V’. Not that there’s anything wrong with those particular films, but I could see them anywhere. I respected the unavailability of the unknown titles.

Soon after…

Saturday Nightmares was kicked. USA rolled into original programming, and became the home of ‘Psych’ and ‘Burn Notice’. I’m sure those shows are fine, but I miss the ‘go for broke’ programming of the 80’s. What is ‘Burn Notice’ about, by the way?

I got older and discovered eBay and Amazon and YouTube. I was able to find a lot of my favorite niche horror films on that landscape.

My Saturday nights got booked with grown-up things. Girls, life, girls.

I work as a screenwriter now. I’ve written the (self-proclaimed) B-movie classics ‘Fear of the Dark’, ‘Prophecy: Uprising’, ‘Prophecy: Forsaken’. ‘Recoil’ (not a horror film but Steve Austin is kinda scary).

I’ve got a few new thrillers in the pipeline.

I like to think that USA Saturday Nightmares contributed to my silly career.

I leave you with the Wiki link for USA’s Saturday Nightmares.

Every flick is a classic. Sorta.

Now, I’m off to find a VHS copy of ‘The Loch Ness Horror’…

JOHNNY BLACKOUT (John Sullivan)

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Tags: Kinder-Editorial · Kinder-Spotlight · Special Guest Stars

Valerie Harper Blogathon:: Don’t Go To Sleep!!!

March 19th, 2013 · 8 Comments

When pal Amanda by Night (of Made For TV Mayhem) invited Kindertrauma to join in on the VALERIE HARPER BLOGATHON she was orchestrating, we could not possibly refuse. Fact is, although she is better known for many other gigs, HARPER starred in what is simply the best (and most kindertraumatic!) made-for-television horror flick of the slash-happy eighties. Yes, once again I am talking about DON’T GO TO SLEEP! If you’re not familiar with that title then I beg you to yank your horror-head out of the zombie sand and give it a look-see. You will not be sorry. Having covered this one before you may think I have nothing more to say, but you’d be wrong because I have yet to give this gem the “five favorite things” treatment. Here are my five favorite things about DON’T GO TO SLEEP

THE OPENING CREDITS! Right out the starting gate DON’T GO TO SLEEP is humming it’s own quirky tune. Black and white title cards flash and they’re so low-tech shaky you might think you’ve stumbled upon a home movie of a camping trip. Lullaby music box chirpings blast and then are cut off indiscriminately by the sound of whooshing traffic. This happens again and again throughout the prelude. I’m sure that somebody missed the effect that they were going for by a couple of miles but the resulting awkwardness of the overreach must be superior to what they were aiming for anyway. It’s slapdash, makeshift and yet still sets an appropriate mood. This movie is all about the treacly chimes of childhood being upset by jagged blasts of harsh, startling reality.

THE DIRECTION! Made for TV movies have their own set of advantages and disadvantages compared to their theatrical counterparts. Sometimes the unavoidable restraints can result in a static affair or the director not having as much leeway to express himself visually. This is not the case here. RICHARD LANK (who also steered 1978’s effectively eerie NIGHT CRIES) has a field day playing with bizarre angles, distorted perspectives and unusual POV shots. I think he may even have invented the flying lizard cam and the rolling pizza cutter cam. Prime time doesn’t allow for much gore but LANK moves ahead undaunted. Rather than show a head smashing into the driveway, he quickly cuts to a watermelon being dropped and bursting apart upon the kitchen floor. Message received loud and clear!

THE CLOSING! What better gift to leave your audience than a final image branded into their horrified brains for all eternity? DON’T GO TO SLEEP does just that in a seemingly effortless way without resorting to bells and whistles and elaborate effects. Much like SATAN’S TRIANGLE (in my mind, the greatest made for TV movie of the supernatural seventies), DON’T places its final winning card on the preternatural power of one enigmatic Cheshire smile. The maniacal faux-sweet image actually appears several times throughout the film but its final presentation is so gruesomely uncanny that it’s difficult to shake or even interpret why it’s so effective. I seriously believed for years that a skull was superimposed upon the image a’la Norman Bates in PSYCHO, but I guess that was my imagination! True cinematic alchemy!

THE STRAIGHTJACKET! I’m sorry but it’s satisfying to see anybody who was in the movie ANNIE wind up in a straight jacket!

THE CAST! Are you kidding me? DUEL’s DENNIS WEAVER, ROSEMARY’S BABY’s RUTH GORDON and POLTERGEIST’S OLIVER ROBINS! It’s a horror fan’s dream team! Both ROBIN IGNICO as Mary and KRISTIN CUMMING as Jennifer excel where most child actors would have failed. And then there’s VALARIE HARPER who we are specifically honoring today. I’m thinking DON’T GO TO SLEEP may not exactly be the highlight of her long career but yes, of course, she brings everything she’s got regardless. I love her and WEAVER together tackling screaming matches like they’re in WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? and ad-libbing under their breath whenever they damn well feel like it. I’m sure some folks have a hard time seeing past the campy surface but to me, that’s just one layer out of zillions. They don’t make ‘em like this anymore and what a shame.

DON’T GO TO SLEEP is a lively watch but it never shirks from the subject of death and grieving, topics that the horror genre is especially fit to explore. It’s easy to forget that as modern horror continues to be corralled toward action/comic book power fantasies instead. I say don’t feel bad for VALERIE HARPER; she’s not going anyplace you’re not going too. As she faces whatever is next (total recovery says me), I stand more impressed with her wisdom than her bravery. She knows its not how you die but how you live that matters. “We’re all terminal” she says and there’s nothing truer than that. I think I’ll save my sorrow for someone less vividly alive, less admirably “awake”.

Dash O’ Trivia: Guess what VAL‘s last name is in DON”T GO TO SLEEP! Answer: Hogan! Wha-wha-what? This calls for some back up from Turnidoff!

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Tags: Amanda By Night · Kids Who Kill · Special Guest Stars · Trauma-Mommas · Traumatizers · Tykes in Trouble

The Ring (2002) Anniversary Guest Post by Father of Tears

October 18th, 2012 · 5 Comments

October 18, 2012 is a milestone anniversary in horror. Ten years ago “The Ring” was released in theaters.

The movie was an American remake of the classic Japanese horror film “Ringu“. In fact, this would be the first of many controversial “J-Horror” American remakes (“The Grudge“, “Pulse“, “Dark Water” etc). Of that whole group “The Ring” would get the most favorable reviews. The basic premise of the film is a mysterious videotape that, when viewed, shows disturbing grainy green tinted black and white images. After the tape ends the viewer’s telephone rings and when it is answered a girl whispers “seven days”…which means you will DIE in seven days! After several teens die mysteriously one of the kid’s mothers has her younger reporter sister named Rachel go out and investigate. The reporter (Naomi Watts, fresh from her breakthrough role in “Mulholland Drive“) hears about the “killer videotape” after her niece’s funeral from one of her friends. Early on Rachel goes to a cabin where her niece Katie and her friends stayed at seven days before they died. While chatting with the innkeeper she learns he keeps a bunch of videotapes for the guests as the TV reception is bad (no cable?). Rachel notices a black VHS tape with no label and she takes it to her cabin. She plays the tape and gets the phone call…and the fun begins!

The Ring” had a gloomy atmosphere that was noted for not relying on gore and violence. There was a great slow building tension to this film as the main characters, Rachel and her ex Noah , were racing against the clock to solve the mystery of Samara and the “Killer Videotape”. When the climax to the film happens you are scared….but you are not subjected to blood splatter. Certain horror directors may use a specific color to enhance the film’s overall mood. Dario Argento used saturated reds in “Suspiria” to a great effect. “The Ring‘s”director Gore Verbinski used the color green in many of the scenes. In fact many of the outdoor scenes, especially those in rainy weather, had a murky green tint (the film does take place in the Pacific Northwest) to enhance this moody feeling. I am positive those green tinted scenes in “Twilight” were influenced by the outdoor scenes in “The Ring“. By the way, Hans Zimmer‘s music was also great for the film’s soundtrack. That haunting sad piano, those quiet bells and those deep sounding orchestral strings!

I have the soundtrack and when I want a break from my usual stash of 70’s prog-rock, Nine Inch Nails & St. Vincent I’ll play the CD. Hell, I used it to break in my Polk tower speakers!

The Ring” did have the obligatory sequel in “The Ring 2” which, despite having big name stars Elizabeth Perkins and Sissy Spacek, was weak when compared with the original. Still, “The Ring” would be the movie that would make Naomi Watts a household name. Amber Tamblyn, Rachel’s doomed niece Katie, would star in “The Grudge 2” and TV’s “Joan of Arcadia“. Also, the Samara character would become a horror film icon. It also should be noted that a younger Pauley Perrette would be in this movie playing Beth, the assistant to Noah in his video and photo workshop. Who’s she? Well, a year after being in “The Ring” she would be part of the hit TV show “NCIS” playing the goth forensics specialist Abby Sciuto! Not a bad legacy!

Now for those who have Blu-ray players “The Ring” was released in that format back in the Spring. The sequel, however, is not out in Blu-ray as of this writing. Oh, and that song heard in the background of the “Cursed Videotape”? It’s sampled from this Kindertrauma favorite:

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Tags: Special Guest Stars