July 4th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 16 Comments
July 2nd, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments
The Monster and the Girl (1941)
The premise – of a wrongly accused man having his brain placed inside a gorilla and seeking revenge from within his new, hairy body – isn’t particularly different from any apesploitation flick. However, “The Monster and the Girl” features several surprisingly eerie sequences. The gorilla’s escape from a laboratory happens off-screen, the camera panning around the damaged, empty room. A memorable moment focuses on the ape stalking a guilty gangster from the rooftops while another has the human-minded monkey visiting his sister while she sleeps. The first act is a bit slow but Ellen Drew gives a great performance as the titular girl and the actor in the gorilla suit conveys some surprising quirky qualities.
4D Man (1959)
Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr., right after “The Blob” and before “Dinosaurus!,” “4D Man” is a great late fifties sci-fi thriller. The story revolves around two scientist brothers, one more reckless and one more serious, attempting to create “4-dimensional objects,” allowing them to pass safely through solid walls. Subverting era expectations, the stable brother is the one caught in an experiment gone wrong, becoming the murderous 4D Man who can kill with a touch, while the wilder brother winds up courting the Lee Meriwether-played love interest.
While focusing on science fiction concepts for the first half, “4D Man” solidly becomes a horror film in the latter half, as Robert Lansing’s mental state deteriorates and becomes more revenge crazed. Lansing stalking his unfaithful fiancé is appropriately suspenseful while a moment between the monster and a little girl is classic Kindertrauma stuff. The oddball jazz score further cements this as a unique multi-genre classic.
Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)
“Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County” came along just as the nineties fascination with alien abduction stories were starting to wane and right before “The Blair Witch Project” started an explosion of interest in found footage films. The story – about a family’s Thanksgiving dinner being ruined by pesky extraterrestrials – is common place now. The movie doesn’t avoid the pitfalls of the found footage format, as the teenage son holds onto his camcorder long after he should have dropped it.
At its’ best, “Incident in Lake County” is a surprisingly creepy flick. The lack of any music has the audience listening carefully for sounds off-screen. Similarly, the handheld camera-work has the viewer watching the corners of the frame, on the look-out for half-seen aliens. An encounter with an alien in a bedroom is drawn out very nicely. The premise proves too thin to sustain a 93 minute story, as the middle section drags and inserted talking segments don’t add much, but the ending is chilling. I’d still pick the full-length version over the edited hour long cut that aired on UPN back in the day.
The Clown at Midnight (1998)
An obscure entry in the post-“Scream” slasher boom, “The Clown at Midnight” has more to offer then its lame box art might suggest. Its opera setting intentionally recalls “Phantom of the Opera” and several other Lon Chaney references are sprinkled throughout. The wildly overqualified cast includes James Duvall, Margot Kidder, and a giving-it-his-all Christopher Plummer. The characters are a refreshingly quirky lot and include a horror fanboy, a queer drama kid, and a paranormal obsessed geek girl named Walnut.
The movie’s low-key gore might disappoint some but the kills are surprisingly creative. Someone is garroted with a necklace, theatre props are used extensively, and an obviously fake head bounces down a flight of stairs. Yet the likable cast/characters and moody setting makes this a reliable late night snack for slasher enthusiasts.
Midnight Ride (1990)
Essentially a sleazier, lower budget take on “The Hitcher,” this late period Cannon action/horror hybrid is most notable for casting Mark Hamill against type as a hitchhiking serial killer. A few years before his career reinvention as the Joker, Hamill laughs manically, sucks on an eyeball, screams, quivers, bites, and subtly threats. He’s certainly more entertaining then Michael Dudikoff, who seems out of his element playing a non-ninja (though presumably still American) cop.
“Midnight Ride” still packs in the crazy, action set pieces. The ‘Dude gets tied to the roof of a careening car’, a moment that ends unexpectedly. A chase scene between a bus and several police cars is powered by a goofy synth score. The hospital set finale features a cameo from Robert Mitchum, Hamill jumping on a motorcycle, overly spacious ventilation shafts, and big machines in a dark basement that produce nothing but atmosphere-enhancing sparks. In other words, “Midnight Ride” is perfect for fans of eighties camp action, road set thrillers, and low budget, half-baked dementia.
Zack Clopton’s short story collection, “Last of the Monster Kids” – available now on the Amazon Kindle Marketplace – features several Kindertraumatic scenarios. Like a little boy haunted by nightmares, kids in peril, southern werewolves, otherworldly trick r’ treaters, a haunted house attraction that’s actually a gateway to hell, a pet dinosaur, killer robots, a suicidal Dracula, time travel, the end of the world, and so much more! Give it a look, write a review, and tell your friends!
July 1st, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 1 Comment
It lasts just a second, but in this scene from the Pink Floyd movie you see Pink at 6:38 encrusted with his Comfortably Numb goo, his eyes looking very scary.
June 29th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · No Comments
We were the recipients of a thunder and lightening storm the other night. Naturally I turned off all the lights in order to obtain the maximum effect. Don’t you love it when you can’t see a thing until the lightening illuminates the room, and you half expect to see JOHN CARADINE with SENTINEL–eyes staring at you but you don’t? Well, I wasn’t about to let this fortuitous spooky backdrop go to waste, I needed to watch a ghost movie and quickly. I had no time to go rummaging through my collection of films because I knew very well that would lead to much side stepping, second guessing and ultimately alien abduction level lost time. So I hit the youtubes in search of uncharted paths. I went on a YouTube ghost hunt…
First stop, HASTA EL VIENTO TIENE MIEDO (1968) aka EVEN THE WIND IS AFRAID. Now that’s a title, ain’t it? The contents of this movie are so scary the breezes’ kneezes are bucklin’! This Mexican import was written and directed by the great CARLOS ENRIQUE TABOADA who is guilty of gifting many a gem including 1984’s POISON FOR THE FAIRIES, which we spotlighted on these pages earlier. This one concerns a haunted boarding school and so we’re pals right out of the gate, as it never hurts to remind me of THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED or THE FACTS OF LIFE.
A student named Claudia is having creepy dreams about a tower on the school grounds and a young lady hanging on a robe therein. When she and her friends investigate the tower, which is strictly forbidden, they are caught by their oppressive headmistress and punished. The girls are told their upcoming vacation is canceled and they are to spend the winter holiday at the school. This is bad news for the girls and good news for any ghost who appreciates a captive audience. It turns out the headmistress knows more than she’s telling and that the ghost is more interested in revenge than simply spooking bystanders. If you like inappropriate dance numbers, catfights, suicide, possession, random owl sightings and plenty of wind, look no further. This is a perfect rainy night movie with plenty of old fashioned, SCOOBY DOO chills and at least one unusual twist. The ghostly appearances are rather well orchestrated too so you might just get a jolt if you’re lucky as well.
HAUNTED: THE FERRYMAN (1974)
JOHN IRVIN who appropriately enough, went on to helm 1981’s GHOST STORY directed this British TV production, which is based on a story by KINGSLEY AMIS (THE GREEN MAN). It’s about a novelist (JEREMY BRETT) who has written a book involving the ghost of a killer/rapist ferryman who haunts an inn. He and his wife jump in a car to avoid a press party, get caught in a rain storm and take shelter in an inn that is way too much like the one in the guy’s book for comfort. The name is nearly the same; the employees are nearly the same and the whole joint looks just like the one he made up in his head. This leads him to rightfully fear that the goings on in his yarn may likely take place too, which means an upcoming appearance of a killer/rapist phantom ferryman. There’s a great build up of dread here and it’s hard not to be curious about what exactly is going on and how. The ending kind of leaves you in a lurch though it’s forgivable on account of when the title ghoul does show up he’s scarier than you’d expect and kind of resembles the scarecrow from FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES. At less than an hour long this is an eerie thought-provoking side dish perfect to gulp down between lengthier movies.
DEATH DREAMS (1991)
How I ended up here, I don’t know I just did. I thought I was signing up for a hokey laugh fest and found myself totally engrossed instead. This was swell. Well, at least until they get to the courtroom stuff. I hate courtroom stuff unless it’s GENE HACKMAN vs. MARY ELIZABETH MASTRANTONIO. This TV movie finds MARG ( AFTER MIDNIGHT!) HELGENBERGER living the dream with new husband CHRISTOPHER REEVE and a daughter from her previous marriage to a guy who kicked the bucket. The fun doesn’t last though because her daughter drowns in a lake and then comes back as a ghost and is all about pointing her finger at her possessive control freak step daddy! OK, I know we all love REEVE because how can you not? But I gotta say I always found about 9 to 10 percent of him super duper creepy. Maybe it’s the piercing eyes, maybe it’s the missing upper lip, maybe it’s the fact that he looks like a robot or an illustration in a Sears catalog, I’m not sure. The wonderful thing is REEVES snags exactly that 10 percent I always saw and drags it to the forefront for his performance here. He’s really super (!) good in this.
DEATH DREAMS is based on a book by WILLIAM KATZ and directed by MARTIN DONOVAN who also directed APARTMENT ZERO and wrote DEATH BECOMES HER. DONOVAN‘s got a fantastic eye and there are several clever visual flourishes that stand out. He seems really good with actors too as both leads come off extremely well and he allows FIONNULA FLANAGAN of THE OTHERS free reign to pull off a highly memorable nearly over the top turn as a psychic doctor. She’s a real hoot and would fit right in on AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Again, the courtroom stuff towards the end is a bit of a snore but this is definitely a fun and worthwhile ghost tale. Just when you think it won’t go as far as it might it does and the final scene provides a impressive well earned comeuppance for creep-master REEVE.
So there you have a night of hopefully off the beaten path ghostly YouTube viewing. I enjoyed all three of these flicks. I’m sure none of them will exactly terrify you but who cares? I live in the city, if I want to be terrified I can just walk two blocks in the wrong direction. Ghost movies are more about opening the doors in your head and seeing who or what pops in and allowing yourself the possibility that there may be more to the world than the concrete boundaries we’re fed. It may be comforting for some to imagine life after death but for me it’s simply comforting to imagine that my revenge has no expiration date! Gee, I hope we have another thunderstorm soon.
June 27th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 11 Comments
June 25th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments
Hi, I have three entries. These three did not necessarily scar me for life, but they have chilled me to the bone since I was a kid.
1) A dark-haired woman is seen in her bright white light kitchen, the woman is wearing a bathrobe or raincoat and is cooking something in her pot of boiling water on the stove. The woman (quite starving) opens her nearly empty refrigerator, moving jars around, and finds a can of dog (?) food. She feeds it to her small grayish white dog (might have been a cat) pouring some food in the bowl. She kneels on the floor, if I remember correctly, and begins eating some of the pet food. As her dog comes rushing into the room, she stares at it with this horrible greenish face. I saw this in 1990-1992, but someone said (unfortunately, they just remember as much as I do) they saw it in the mid-‘80s. There might have been a scene where this hand comes out of the pot grabbing the woman pulling her face into the pot.
2) A woman is lying in her pitch dark bedroom. She might be in a hotel. She hears a noise, asks if anyone is there, and then we see a walking/floating ghost hidden underneath a blue sheet. The ghost is seen in the hallway, eventually making its way up two steps of banisters. When it does, the woman calls out a name; I think the name of her former lover. No answer, the ghost flies towards her. The woman does nothing, but stares up at it, fussing, screaming, trying to kick it away with her legs. I saw this around 1990-1991.
3) A late teen (wearing black clothes, pulled back light brown hair) is seen walking in a vacant classroom towards the front of the room. As she walks, a disembodied head of a young man (probably her instructor) flies throughout the room eventually landing on its corpse, which we see resting beneath the blackboard, near the front desk. I saw this sometime around 1987.
(All were shot in color; all I saw on TV, #1 and #2, I think, are night shots, while #3 is a day shot)
I know this is not much to go on, but can anyone here please help me? I asked all around, and no one knows.
June 22nd, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments
Reader Billy V. wrote in and suggested that we feature TIM BURTON’S HANSEL & GRETEL today for our weekly Sunday Viewing and that’s just what we’re going to do. Legend has it that this short flick aired only once on the Disney Channel way back in the greatest year that ever happened, 1982! It’s not hard to see why BURTON‘s vision was quietly hidden under Micky Mouse’s rug, it tastes like it’s marinated in Kindertrauma sauce! Yikes, that witch looks like the lead singer for THE CULT and acts like SEAN YOUNG pitching for a part in a movie! She really gives JOAN COLLINS in the SHELLEY DUVALL version a run for her money! And don’t get me started on that gingerbread man. Ya know what? This is so wacked-out and off the wall that I find I am now finally ready to forgive TIM BURTON for being behind the lowest point in cinema history, the breakdancing Mad Hatter scene from ALICE IN WONDERLAND. I’m just going to forget it ever happened! Thanks for the treat Billy V.!
June 20th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments
Last week when I told our old pal Mickster I planned to do a funhouse based on FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES, she came up with the idea to have a puzzle where you matched up the show’s villains with their proper cursed objects. I told her that was a swell idea but I wasn’t going to do it on account of I was way too lazy. Undaunted by my chronic slothfulness, Mickster took matters into her own hands and snagged those images herself. Thanks Mickster, you have gone above and beyond the call of duty! Now, can you folks match the characters with the objects that made them crazy?
June 19th, 2014 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments
We got rid of all our non-basic cable and now ironically, I seem to be finding more stuff to watch on TV. There’s a channel that shows movies all day and a channel that shows sitcoms all day and what else do you need (as long as you still have Netflix, Redbox, your local library, a collection of your own and the ever expanding universe of YouTube)? I guess I’m not going to miss all of those cipher channels stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts after all.
Anyway, the other night I was flipping through my wonderfully limited choices and I came across an old episode of WKRP IN CINCINNATI that I instantly remembered from my youth. In it, the crew of the radio station is hired to sing a jingle for a funeral home. I’m not sure if it was the first episode I ever saw but it was definitely the first one that struck me (the second one that struck me involved turkeys). Part of its ingraining power on me I’m sure is thanks to the fact that involves a jingle and jingles by design are meant to get under your skin.
More importantly though, the jingle in question mocks death and as a young person who had serious issues with the concept, I found it hilarious, as if some infallible bully of mine was being roasted. I tend to closely connect my appreciation for this type black humor to my love of horror. It’s always soothing to whistle past the graveyard and there’s something cathartic about minimalizing the second biggest thing that will ever happen to you. In any case, this ditty has been worming through my noggin all week…
Doesn’t that Henry Kane looking mo-fo mortician, the brilliantly named “Mr. Ferryman” (Don’t Pay The Ferryman!) look familiar to you? I looked him up and that guy, FRED STUTHMAN played the horrible dead ghoul dad who gets his face slashed in THE SENTINEL! What’s more, FRED started his acting career as Chicago TV horror host “Jeeper’s Creeper”!
This would not be a complete “The Horror of..” segment if I did not go through the WKRP cast’s contributions to our beloved genre so here goes…
GARY SANDY (Andy Travis) was in TROLL (1986)
GORDON JUMP (Arthur ‘Big Guy’ Carlson) was not only in the kindertraumiest episode of DIFF’RENT STROKES “The Bicycle Man,” he was also in the awesome TV-movie MIDNIGHT OFFERINGS (1981)
HOWARD HESSEMAN (Dr. Johnny Fever) was in ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN II (2009)
FRANK BONNER (Herb Tarlek)’s acting debut was in the cult classic EQUINOX (1970)
RICHARD SANDERS (Less Nessman) was in the ANNA FARIS post-SCREAM slasher LOVER’s LANE (2000)
TIM REID (Venus Flytrap) was of course, in the TV mini-Series IT (1990)
The ladies of WKRP sadly skipped the horror trail altogether but…JAN SMITHERS (Bailey Quarters) did star alongside P.J. SOLES in OUR WINNING SEASON the same year SOLES was in HALLOWEEN (1978) and LONI ANDERSON (Jennifer Marlowe) was married to BURT REYNOLDS star of the beyond horrifying RENT-A-COP (1987)!