Hey remember when we used to give out “Official Traumatizer” titles to worthy folks? Why’d we ever stop doing that? Was it because nobody cared? That’s no reason to stop doing stuff! With the remake of FRIGHT NIGHT right around the corner wouldn’t this be a swell time to send some gratitude toward the man responsible for writing and directing the classic original? I’d say so.
HOLLAND wrote PSYCHO II and what an incredible accomplishment that is. Personally I can’t imagine a better handling of the material and stand even more impressed knowing it was done under what had to be the most cynical of scrutiny. I’d like to strangle QUENTIN TARANTINO for stating that he prefers the second PSYCHO to the first on account of I wanted to say that myself. Sure, HITCH’s take is brilliant and genius and a cinematic landmark and all that but PSYCHO II is my idea of the perfect movie. People should rip it off more often. You guys know I love my semi-gothic, creepy-antique-y social reject films and you know that I love the type of movie where somebody may get a butcher knife crammed in the back of their skull till the tip of the blade appears in their gaping pie hole right? Well, you almost never see both of those wonderful elements in the same movie. Yes, a rich psychological character study with satisfying kills is doable. All you “Back Stories Ruin the Horror! “ people take a hike. HOLLAND adds many a layer to our understanding of Norman while maintaining apt space for sympathy and fear (or empathy and unease) to collide like gangbusters. Respect is paid toward the original while still moving forward into fresh territory. Good sequels are possible and I present you with this “Exhibit A.”
Aw, who doesn’t have a soft spot for FRIGHT NIGHT? From wolf toe to burnt-by -crucifix forehead it’s all about the love of the genre. HOLLAND probably had the most creative control on this picture, as both writer and director, and the outcome speaks for itself. Exemplary special effects, genuine scares and thrills, comedy that doesn’t make you cringe, a notable cast of players and bad guys as intriguing as the good. It’s no wonder this movie is so beloved, it’s got a rare adventurous spirit, it celebrates its rag tag eccentric’s foibles and as frothy fun as its willing to be, it’s not afraid to go dark and get its paws messy with real horror and even pathos. Admit it, some of it is rather touching. It’s a real shame HOLLAND wasn’t required (or pleaded and begged with) to participate in the sequel because FRIGHT NIGHT had the makings of an epic series of films. I know the HOLLAND-less FN:P2 has its supporters but to me, it’s quite the pale shadow.
If public perception of CHILD’S PLAY is that it is a wacky parody cheesefest of some sort then the public have not watched the original film lately. It’s mostly a restrained affair, all things considered, and boy does it know what to show, plus how much to show of it and when. The killer doll storyline is inherently humorous but that doesn’t dilute CHILD’S PLAY’s ability to hit the nail on the head expressing parental fears about the limits of being able to keep a child from harm and bad influences. From a child’s perspective, we’re talking Kindertrauma gold here. What child hasn’t had the horrific fantasy of their smiling toys coming to life and isn’t one of the scariest parts of growing up learning that some people may only pretend to be your friend? Chucky would go on to be a towering figure in the world of horror, but much of that is due to the fact that the first floor of his skyscraping presence is sturdy as hell.
AND THEN SOME…
As if the above three slabs of awesome were not enough, HOLLAND had his hand in two of my favorite trash treasures… CLASS OF 1984 and THE BEAST WITHIN. He wrote the little seen and underloved home invasion flick SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) (which was directed by DEATH WISH’s MICHAEL WINNER and is tons of tacky fun), he directed CLOAK & DAGGER which inspired a traumafession HERE and his output includes two above average/serviceable STEPHEN KING adaptations with THINNER and the T.V. miniseries THE LANGOLIERS.
Speaking of television, HOLLAND was behind the classic made-for-T.V. movie THE INITIATION OF SARA, directed THE STRANGER WITHIN (which we received a traumafession for HERE) and has put his stamp on stellar episodes of TALES FROM THE CRYPT, AMAZING STORIES and a very Kindertraumatic killer clown episode of MASTERS OF HORROR entitled “We All Scream For Ice Cream” (review HERE.)
As an actor, TOM HOLLAND is the only person on Earth who can lay claim to performing alongside both INGRID BERGMAN (A WALK IN THE SPRING RAIN) and master thespian VICTOR CROWLEY (HATCHET II). I started this post to spotlight HOLLAND’s artistry and position as a true traumatizer, but I have come to realize that he is the CHUCK NORRIS of horror. Dude even got some training from BRUCE LEE and took on THE INCREDIBLE HULK (Okay well, he didn’t actually get to fight the green one in the season two episode “Another Path” but almost!) There are careers and then there are careers. He may not be the household name that some of his contemporaries are but one thing is indisputable, TOM HOLLAND has had a hulkian effect on cinema and consequently, the pages of Kindertrauma.