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Entries from May 2011

Name That Trauma :: Reader Andy D. on a Demonic Cabin

May 31st, 2011 · 6 Comments

Wondering if you could help me with a movie. I bought this film for a friend (I thought off of Amazon but when I checked my account it wasn’t there) about 8-10 years ago. I think it was an older movie though from the ’80s or early ’90s?

Anyway, a group of friends go to a cabin in the woods. The cabin is all broken down/burned down from the outside but when they go through the front door, the cabin is fully built and back to its original state. A demon or monster then comes and kills them. I think once they go back out of the cabin they are trapped if memory serves me correct. Also, I think it had Demon in the title?

Obviously, as I was in my late 20s or early 30s, the film didn’t scare me to death or anything. I just remember watching it and thinking it was cool.

PS: The friend moved away and I lost touch with him. I know it was a VHS tape if that helps. Any help would be great!

UNK SEZ: It’s sounds like you just described 1990’s DEMON WIND and it looks like the entire film is hanging out on Youtube starting HERE!

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Mightymouse on Mother/Daughter Dueling Witches

May 30th, 2011 · 2 Comments

Hi! Hoping you can help me out.

I remember this T.V. movie from a long time ago about a teenage girl that comes to the realization that she has “powers” (witchcraft I think). She slowly spins out of control much to the chagrin of her parents. At the end of the movie she and her mother have an argument and the girl is ready to let loose her powers on her mother when all of a sudden the mother sends her reeling across the room with a look – it turns out the mother has the “power” too but doesn’t use it. There is a struggle then finally, with the girl in tears, the mother puts her arms around her and holds her.

I saw it last so long ago that I admit some of my recollection might be off – I thought the mom was LEE GRANT and Googled her all over the place to no avail.

I hope you haven’t already reviewed this movie – I’ve been reading you for a while and have looked through some of your archives.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thank you,

mightymouse

UNK SEZ: Thanks for the NTT MM! Your mentioning of LEE GRANT & witchery conjured up THE SPELL in my head but I could not remember if GRANT had secret powers in that. I immediately got on the horn with TV Movie expert AMANDA BY NIGHT of MADE FOR TV MAYHEM and she confirmed my suspicions and recognized the description at once as THE SPELL! AUNT JOHN did review THE SPELL (and GRANT‘s TWIKI-cut) way back in the day HERE and I’m happy to add that THE SPELL is currently available both on Netflix Streaming and at no charge on Hulu!

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Streaming Alert! :: Silent Scream (1980)

May 29th, 2011 · 11 Comments

I don’t know if any one movie can satisfy all of my horror needs. Sometimes I want scares, sometimes I want gore and sometimes I just desire a moderately creepy old dark house flick. 1980’s SILENT SCREAM falls into that last category, it won’t satiate anybody’s desire for bloodshed but its slinking, reluctant pace, haunting imagery and exceptional use of locale make it go-to horror comfort food for yours truly. I’d probably love it a little bit more if somebody’s head was chopped off but you can’t have everything. SILENT SCREAM is like the last gasp of traditional old school horror right before the great age of slashers really got under way. You can almost sense the genre as a whole transforming before your eyes, kicking off classic cobwebs and lunging for the sharpest butcher knife in the drawer.

REBECCABOOGENS bait” BALDING plays Scotty Parker (add that name to the gender-neutral “final girl” moniker list) a gal with a Twiki meets Tootie mushroom-do who is looking for college lodging. Lucky for me she selects the most foreboding place she can find overlooking the sea and moves right in. As if the house were not off putting enough, her landlady is YVONNE DeCARLO who is the mother of a blatantly nerdy (i.e. potential psycho) son. Scotty is joined by some other young room renters including a potential beau, a brassy gal pal and a wealthy douche, all of who appear put on this planet in order to die before she. To all my friends out there hiding horrible family secrets within their home, please take my simple advice and never rent rooms to anybody. I don’t care how much you need the money; it’s just not worth the risk!

Now I’m going to give away a major plot point because it is also a major selling point as well! Do not read further if you have not had time in the past thirty years to watch this movie! The big secret in the creaky old spooky house is that mom and son are hiding someone special in the walls and that mystery guest is the one and only BARBARA STEELE! For me, this is the best news ever! I can’t think of anybody I’d rather find hiding in my house except CHRISTINA RICCI or maybe MORRISSEY! This is when the movie gets really good because BABS plays a tragic, lost-in-time figure and those are my peeps! I think it’s nifty that she’s just as much a fly caught in amber as the film itself! Who cares if she is a murderer? She has the most beautiful eyes. I love this character because she plays the same song over and over again on a red record player and has placed an old picture of herself in her mirror so that she doesn’t have to worry about aging. I think that’s a fine idea. Her situation is very sad and I’m so jealous!

One of the reasons I really dug TI WEST’s HOUSE OF THE DEVIL is because it so reminded me of SILENT SCREAM. Both movies have a nearly identical structure and a “keep your shirt on” pace. Maybe some viewers have something better to do, I sure as hell don’t. I guess my biggest complaint about SILENT is that there is a slightly snorey side story which involves the police investigation and that is something I don’t care about even if the officers are THE TOOLBOX MURDER’s CAMERON MITCHELL and Dorito dude AVERY SCHRIEBER. It’s a small price to pay for the good stuff though.

Believe it or not SILENT SCREAM was a big hit back in its day landing just in time to reap the post HALLOWEEN benefits. I did not encounter it myself until the mid nineties when it jumped out at me at a used video shop. I wasn’t expecting much but I thoroughly enjoyed it as a potent punch of nostalgia and a semi-soothing mood piece with a couple good chills. Part of the reason may be personal; my first year of college I rented a room in a big old house on the coast of Massachusetts and it really brings back strong memories for me. I never witnessed any gruesome murders but I did find a giant rat staring back at me from my closet. Who can say which is worse?

NOTE: SILENT SCREAM was filmed in a joint called “The Smith Estate” in Los Angeles. Strangely enough it is the exact same beautiful Victorian home you’ll find in 1964’s SPIDER BABY (also available on Netflix streaming.) Stranger still, the two movies share almost the exact same shot of a character climbing up the front stairs, knocking on the front door and then checking out the window to the left! Wha!? ( I have not been this excited since I found out that Garth Manor from HELL NIGHT is the same pad as the mansion from FLEETWOOD MAC’s “Big Love” video!) It doesn’t look like much has changed at the Smith Estate between 1964 and 1980 (SILENT actually began filming in 1977!), it’s almost as if time has stood still. How appropriate is that?

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Tags: General Horror · Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert!

Traumafessions :: Brian Katcher on “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Haaa!”

May 28th, 2011 · 15 Comments

When I was about ten, I was at a friend’s house when a song came on the radio. It sounded at first like just a regular pop song about lost love, when the singer’s voice suddenly went from a calm tenor to a wailing soprano. To my horror, I realized the man was going insane, and the song was all about his steady descent into madness. He’d alternate from measured, reasonable sounding speech, to the desperate gibberings of the deranged.

I was listening in mounting sympathy and horror when my friend told me we should go outside. I followed, to embarrassed to ask to stay and hear the end. I couldn’t get the image of the poor lunatic, probably trussed up in a padded cell, out of my head. I kept trying to discuss it with my friend, who was more interested in talking about the recently released TERMINATOR movie.

I never could forget that haunting song. I often hoped that maybe it had ended on a happy note, but I knew in my heart that the poor singer was doomed to be a lost soul. This was in the days before the internet, so I never could track it down. Years later, I finally heard it on one of my uncle’s novelty records, right after ‘A Boy Named Sue.’

‘They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha, Ha!’

Brian Katcher

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Tags: Kindertrauma Jukebox · Traumafessions

Kindertrauma Funhouse :: Help Carrie White!

May 27th, 2011 · 12 Comments

Christ on a cracker! Carrie’s secret magic powers have gotten her in a fix again by messing up the library. The timing could not be worse because here comes Tommy Ross to ask her out on a date! Can you help Carrie the teenage witch find the ten differences in the library before it’s too late? Hurry before she burns in hell! (Click to enlarge!)

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Tags: Kindertrauma Funhouse · Plug It Up!

Cat People (1982)

May 26th, 2011 · 12 Comments

Nearly every major genre picture let loose in the early eighties regardless of its original reception has seemed to have garnered classic status at this point. Not so much PAUL SCHRADER’s 1982 feline fantasia CAT PEOPLE. It certainly has a devout following of sorts but you are unlikely to bump into many horror gadflies sporting its iconography on a T-shirt at a convention. Kitty doesn’t carry much “cool” cache and who or what’s to blame?

I guess the puss-centric title alone can never impress onlookers with one’s endurance mettle and what’s the point of horror fandom if you’re not theoretically upsetting oldsters with your wardrobe and accessories? As far as I see it, CAT PEOPLE is one of the more fascinating flicks to spring out of its era and although it’s a remake of a popular work, there’s no denying its sharp originality and sometimes bizarrely personal vision. It’s further proof as if we needed any, that PAUL SCHRADER knows a thing or two about obsession (see also: TAXI DRIVER) and transformation (see also: MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS.)

Is the premise ridiculous or is there simply no place in the world for a fantasy film aimed at adults? Irena Gallier (severely beautiful NASTASSJA KINSKI) ventures to post card perfect New Orleans to reunite with her long lost brother Paul (a bristled MALCOLM McDOWELL). She entrances zoo keeper Oliver (JOHN HEARD), complicates matters for his pal with benefits Alice (the only believable competition for KINSKI, ANNETTE O’TOOLE) and along the way learns that like her brother, having sex turns her into a crazy murderous panther. Some folks get up in arms declaring that the film expresses a fear of female sexuality but I think that pretty much ignores the obvious fact that Paul, Irena’s brother has the same meow-glitch. Paul’s solution to the perils of panther-gasm is that he and his sister keep it on the down low with some incest since by the way, their parents were siblings too! Now if you get all hung up on incest ick factor you’ll miss what I think is the film’s central issue; Irena is essentially being told that she can either follow family sanctioned sexual tradition or become a monster.

I am a huge fan of the 1942 version of CAT PEOPLE too. Produced by VAL LEWTON and directed by JACQUES TURNER, the original stands high above its peers in its grasp of psychology and is an extraordinary exercise in quiet manipulation. The remake attracts grief for upping the gore and nudity ante but to pretend that those elements negate what’s interesting about the rest of the film is just all kinds of lazy. Just because a gal frequently finds herself in a nude mood doesn’t mean she’s not deep. Irena spends the lion’s share of the film developing a way to free herself from others, particularly her family’s expectations (as represented by a gnarled and ominous tree). She yearns to break free from tradition, to explore an ill-advised union with Oliver but picket fences just aren’t in the tarot deck. The inescapable tragedy of the matter is made clear when she receives advice from the jailed (also caged) “Female” (rhymes with tamale), her brother’s once caretaker/enabler played by the great RUBY DEE, “Live as he (Paul) did, never love, pretend the world is as men think it is.” She then adds for good measure “It doesn’t matter where you go.”

No, it doesn’t matter where Irena goes, as the ultimate dilemma is herself. Her soul may desire whatever it wants but the mechanics of her body have final say. What SCHRADER is really interested in, I think, is the war between predatory (Paul) and romantic (Irena) love and there’s a whole lot at stake when Irena, at least for a while (the pool scene), seems to have gone to her brother’s side of the yard. (Speaking of family, the scenes of Irena stalking her rival Alice illustrate NASTASSJA’s ability to summon her father’s vampiric leer at will.)

I suppose there are many reasons to drop out of CAT PEOPLE and become a non fan: the pacing is a bit off, there’s many a false climax and it does lose its footing here and there but really you’re loony if you can’t enjoy the sight of KINSKI simply pouncing about New Orleans in its prime to a GIORGIO MORODER score. That’s not even mentioning the beautifully realized dream landscapes and the awesome sight of ED BEGLEY JR.’s arm being ripped from his shoulder. You’ll never find quite the gumbo mentioned above in any other movie, I promise. I guess the whole panther transformation bit can come across as silly but humanized animals are a staple when it comes to fables and that just happens to be exactly CAT PEOPLE’s turf.

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Tags: Caution: I break for geniuses! · Ed Begley Jr.s has lost an arm! · General Horror

Name That Trauma :: Reader Llama on a Breakaway Blonde Boy Sesame Street Short

May 25th, 2011 · 5 Comments

This is a Name That Trauma. I was watching a kid’s show in the mid to late ’70s. I have always believed it to be SESAME STREET, but it is possible it was THE ELECTRIC COMPANY.

It was a short cartoon clip and the only part that stuck in my mind was that it involved a blonde kid imagining what would happen if he fell off of a building or a mountain. It showed him at the bottom after his tumble, and from what I remember, his arms, legs AND head were not attached to his torso anymore!

I was always a little on edge and ready to run when I watched this show after this. I NEVER knew when it would spring up again.

Thanks!!!

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Tags: Name That Trauma! · Nightmare on Sesame Street

Name That Trauma By Proxy :: Kinderpal Joe’s Pal on Telekinetic Teen Witches

May 24th, 2011 · 9 Comments

Hey Kinderfolk:

Got a bit of a challenge for you; my friend emailed me about a film he is trying to find. See below and hopefully it will stir something.

“a movie about two teenage girls who are both witches, and one has telekinetic powers and she is good, and then the other girl is an evil witch…before I could really get into the movie someone changed the channel and it was lost forever…but it just seemed like such a cool movie (non-Disney, just really serious)…does anyone have any recollection of this movie?”

Anything?

Best,

Joe

UNK SEZ: My mind goes immediately to 1996’s THE CRAFT but the slight description could fit any number of films. I’m not sure when your friend encountered this but it also sounds a bit like the 1981 T.V. movie MIDNIGHT OFFERINGS. Maybe our readers can help. Can you kids think of any other good vs. bad teen witch movies that fit the bill?

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Tags: Name That Trauma!

Traumafessions :: Reader David O. on School Bus Safety Short “And Then It Happened”

May 23rd, 2011 · 11 Comments

Who would think that a safety film would leave such a lasting effect on a person? While in grade school (circa late ’70s) we were forced to watch a bus safety film titled AND THEN IT HAPPENED which was intended to scare the crap out of us and keep grade schoolers in the bus seats instead of running around screaming. This safety film is grainy and has poor audio, but it did the trick for me.

For years I wanted to watch it again and see if it even remotely held the same dread and fear it had when I was a kid. Thanks to the Internet I found it and watched it, and am happy to say that although it’s lost some of its sparkle, it’s still a treasure for me. Unruly kids, knives, pets, bus crashes and children being tossed about like rag dolls. Perfection! Needless to say I never brought a knife onto the bus after that, and I tried to make sure my bus driver didn’t have a heart condition before I acted up.

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Tags: After-School Trauma · Traumafessions

Streaming Alert: Jean Rollin

May 22nd, 2011 · 3 Comments

Lo and behold, all of the sudden there’s a whole slew of JEAN ROLLIN films springing up on Netflix streaming and this is your heads up! Titles include REQUIM FOR A VAMPIRE, THE NUDE VAMPIRE, NIGHT OF THE HUNTED, TWO ORPHAN VAMPIRES, DEMONIACS, THE LIVING DEAD GIRL, SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES, THE RAPE OF THE VAMPIRE and LIPS OF BLOOD. So yeah, lot’s of vampires.

Now, I have only checked out a couple of these in my day and mostly on fallible bootleg VHS. I can tell you that LIVING DEAD GIRL is a good starting place and I admit to being fond of the seaside local and stripey shirts of DEMONIACS. Like many prolific artists, ROLLIN has his highs and lows but no one can ever accuse him of not having a personal vision. Sometimes he is breathtakingly poetic and sometimes he is frustratingly nonsensical, either way he’s admirably or consistently himself. If nude ladies tune your fork you just stumbled on a goldmine but I think all horror fans should stick their toe in ROLLIN’s esoteric pool at least once. It might not be your cup a tea but that doesn’t mean ya shouldn’t take a sip!

To learn more about the late JEAN ROLLIN (he passed away just this past December) check out his official home on the web HERE!

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Tags: Stream Warriors · Streaming Alert!