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Name That Trauma:: Warren F. on a Burnt Faced Boy

April 16th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 1 Comment

Hello,

I’ve written to you before and you added my little archetypal childhood fear on your website. It was titled “confessions by Warren F.“, in it I related the story about a large muppet on “The Ed Sullivan Show” where Jim Henson had a “Gluttonous” huge puppet that ate “it’s own” smaller version of itself… you put this on your website and I thought that was really cool.

I have another memory of a movie where there is a boy who half of his face is “burned” or “mutilated” somehow. His eye on the messed up side is totally white. He is being followed or is leading a man into an area, and it starts to rain. When the rains begin the nearby “Black Boulders” start to absorb the water and to grow into huge columns that start to collapse and the man and the boy have to find safety…. I just wonder if anyone out there can help me with this obviously twisted but true memory?

Note: Today’s bumper images come courtesy of PAUL VERHOEVEN’s 1985 epic FLESH + BLOOD which stars BLADE RUNNER’s RUTGER HAUER and BRION JAMES, the always incredible JENNIFER JAON LEIGH and legendary Kindertrauma role model SUSAN TYRRELL! Check it out if you have not already because obviously it is awesome.

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Name That 1987 Horror Flick!

April 15th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 25 Comments

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Traumafession:: Eric D. on Three on a Meathook

April 14th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments

We all know the cliche of the old man giving the “back in my day” rant. I never thought I’d reach the stage where I would be giving one of those rants, but its sad to think that kids don’t really care about film anymore, it doesn’t seem to effect them, so here goes…

I take pride in my love of film-I probably shouldn’t, but I do and in this crumbling, decaying wreck of a world in which we live, film helps to at least partially alleviate the general sense of doom and meaninglessness. Now when I hear people say they love film, I say “yeah? have you suffered for film?”

What I mean is; have you experienced pain and/or humiliation in service of film and used it to strengthen this love?

I have.

I had a ritual which consisted of going to the video store and browsing the shelves, sometimes for hours on end. That was my favorite thing in life. The horror section was naturally my second home and went through the entire selection several times over. I was and am obsessed with film.

I got in trouble for watching Friday the 13th Part 3 when I was a kid, aged no more than 4 or 5. My father had rented it for me and when my mom found out, she got so pissed that she actually smashed the tape right in front of me. That was an embarrassing moment; being marched into the video store, shattered VHS in hand, having to stand there while my mom screamed and cursed at the clerks for having rented it to me and apologizing for having destroyed the tape. They never did replace the tape and every time I conducted my ritual after that and seeing all the other Friday the 13th‘s present and accounted for; I felt like a friend had died.

Another time I got in trouble was when I was caught with the Regal Video VHS clam shell box of Three on a Meathook; which is a little known early entry into the backwoods slasher genre. The cover is pretty hardcore; two (why not three?) scantily clad and bloodied women being menaced by a gloved hand gripping a chain connected to a bloody hook (the blood of woman number 3 perhaps?).

Three on a Meathook is a pretty bad film, but I still enjoy it. It’s also odd as hell; in some ways it’s very much Texas Chainsaw Massacre but pre-dates Texas Chainsaw Massacre by about two years and ratchets up the gore quite a bit from its better known backwoods brother but there are long stretches of frolicking courtship scenes and inane dialogue which are inexcusable and slow it down. These scenes make it perhaps one of the most padded movies ever made. I stuck with it and toughed it out though, because I’m not a quitter.

The plot is very simple, man-child can’t get girl(s) because of bad things which happen to said girl(s) when boy meets them, only boy mysteriously can’t remember what. Or so he is told…turns out, ‘ol dad is the naughty boy who can’t keep his hands off the ladies. Did I also mention that pa is in the “meat business”? seems someone takes eating pussy a little too literally…

The special effects are pretty well done considering the budget and are fairly effective. Given the right setting and mood, the movie can weave its own dream like spell and be quite enjoyable. It’s definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it.

As is clear, since I was a wee lad I have suffered through quasi-bad as well as outright bad movies, sometimes suffering real life trauma in the process, all in the name of film. But you know what, I wouldn’t change a thing. So, you say you love film- prove it, what’s your story?

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Name That Trauma:: Bill S. on an Animated Nuclear Terrorist

March 26th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

Okay, I’ve got a hell of a poser for you: way way back in ’74 or ’75, there was an animated TV movie that seemed to center around nuclear terrorism; specifically a group of terrorists using a computer (named – I swear I didn’t imagine this – “Tarzan”), and threatening to detonate a nuclear weapon. I remember being right freaked out by the leader of the group as he sat in their bunker, reading a list of demands, his face – heck, his whole self – covered in what I now know was a nuclear/biological/chemical warfare suit (you know, full face gas mask, hood, gloves etc.) The group and their aims were unclear to my 5-year-old self, but it seemed less political and more cult-like. The culmination was that the bomb did go off, and one of the bad guys (possibly the leader) was thrown or fell out of a helicopter as it flew over the ruined city. I’ve tracked down every weird sci-fi or horror movie I was exposed to back when I was a tyke except for three, and this is one of ’em. The others are a beautiful, almost sketch-art like cartoon about fairies, the other about two kids who travel time after drinking from a fountain in the courtyard of an old mansion.

Anyway, thanks for listening, I hope maybe someone there can be of help.

-Bill S.

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Name That 1986 Horror Flick!

March 25th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 23 Comments

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For The Love of:: Eyes of Fire (1983)

March 24th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 4 Comments

It’s getting dark around here so I’m going to light a candle by gushing about a flick that fascinates the heck out of me, 1983’s EYES OF FIRE. This one has come up a bunch of times on these pages over the years and every time it does, I declare I’m going to watch it again immediately and then I usually don’t. That is because the thought of it stirs up some freaky unease in me and I mean that as a compliment towards its effectiveness. It’s been feathering the inside of my mind more than usual lately after seeing THE WITCH so the other night I returned to it again only to find that its spell on me has lessened exactly zero percent over the years. There’s something so elemental and mystical about EYES OF FIRE that even on the occasion that it sports garishly dated video effects, it somehow makes them work. And there’s something so primal going on that the entire experience of watching it feels like a forgotten memory from another life being unearthed. One thing that I think EYES OF FIRE excels past THE WITCH in, is convincing the viewer of the endless depth and open, uncharted nature of the forest its story nests in. Whereas THE WITCH has a definite (and comparatively comfortable) sense of a home base, EYES OF FIRE makes you feel dazed and lost and scrambling in the middle of nowhere.

When I was a critter nothing scared me more than anything concerning big bad Satan. That slippery dude was lurking behind every corner back in the spook-aholic seventies. As I’ve grown older those fears have become less potent. Sadly, a lifetime of witnessing holy rollers spewing more venom than any invisible demon has weakened my trepidations concerning ol’ Scratch (if only I could sue the Bible thumpers for diluting my DVD collection with their relentless overplay). Luckily EYES OF FIRE is a movie that knows exactly how to leap frog over my skeptic (read exhausted) view of religion by presenting evil as a force that is a fundamental part of nature itself (for example, a fox isn’t evil but if you are a bunny he might as well be). More importantly (and this moral concept can be found in many a horror flick), evil actions leave a residue that breeds more evil in the future and places that have tasted an excess of misery turn bad. That’s not superstition, that’s science!

IN EYES OF FIRE a group of pioneers are cast out of their village (sound familiar?) and must fend for themselves in an unwelcoming frontier world. It’s a large group (that’s sure to dwindle) and two of the main players include an adulterous priest bent on spreading the good word (that he fails to follow) and a talented witch working overtime to clean up his mess. In other words, the person who puts on false airs of piety causes all the destruction and reaps all the rewards and the truly spiritual one quietly saves the day and gets shafted. My how things haven’t changed. To escape a tribe of marauding Indians they venture into a cursed valley that they know the superstitious (respectful) Indians won’t follow them into and as you might expect, learn that maybe they don’t know everything. The disgraced priest even has the brass-ball hubris to suggest he can “save” a young Native American orphan through baptism but a bark-faced witch and a gaggle of naked tree spirits let him know that the local beliefs are about to become way more pertinent.

EYES OF FIRE is a unique movie though I’m sure much of what makes it special to some will be seen as drawbacks to others. It’s a low budget affair but that helps to keep it both grounded and undomesticated. You don’t sense a Holllywood vibe anywhere and the un-caged atmosphere feels both freeing and dangerous. It has always seemed to me sort of like an educational historical film you’d see in junior high school that goes horribly wrong. Which is not to say that there are not more than a few moments of incredible beauty, some documentary natural, some arthouse surreal. As I said above, there are a few wonky moments of dated effects but they come off as mostly charming and may even help the viewer jump backwards to an earlier, more wide-eyed and accepting mind-set. The acting is good enough that you’re hardly aware of it and, more often than not it leaves you feeling like a present but invisible observer. And may I please give a shout out to character actress FRAN RYAN who used to pop up as a battle-axe in just about everything from PRIVATE SCHOOL to STEWERDESS SCHOOL back in the day? She rules.

Sometimes when a movie is not available on DVD its reputation is exaggerated simply due to its obscurity but let me tell you, EYES OF FIRE really is an outstanding and poetic horror film. It may be too patient and quirky to garner unanimous approval but those who dig subtle supernatural horror (see again: THE WITCH) should be all over this like mold on corn. In fact, I’m thinking if it had enjoyed a proper release back in the DVD gold rush days its reputation would be comparable to LET’S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH by now (and yep, it would be cherished by a similar crowd). I for one am a devout fan. It hits me in a way that few films do and why shouldn’t it when it’s basically a ginger-led backyard rendition of DAYS OF HEAVEN meets CATHY’S CURSE (only half kidding). The truth is, EYES OF FIRE comes from a place where it seems to be authentically mesmerized by the world that it depicts and that way of seeing things has a knack of swaying the viewer to do the same.

EYES OF FIRE is currently available on YouTube and you should watch it while you can. There’s no guaranteeing it will ever be available any other way and the crime of watching a movie for free is far less than the crime of allowing a piece of art to die. Hey, look (below)! EYES OF FIRE features Black Phillip’s ornery great grand pappy and he’s eating all the books! There’s your true Devil! The true Devil separates man from art and ideas!

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The Visit (2015)

March 22nd, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments

I hate to write negative reviews because I usually feel guilty for hours afterwards and I’m so worried that I’ll have a “Eureka” moment later that will alter my opinion. It may even seem like I wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to horror because I tend to skip over writing about movies that don’t impress me and wait until the next flick that floats my boat comes along. Plus because I’m not getting paid for my reviews I can simply ignore crap that I know for a fact I will not enjoy like THE GREEN INFERNO. That’s not very open-minded I know, but I figure as an adult it’s my prerogative to decide what I’d like to digest and which filmmaker’s output I’m legitimately interested in. All of this is building up to me informing you that I sincerely disliked and felt nearly insulted by THE VISIT. I know that’s harsh but it’s true. I wanted to like it! I still think the premise is solid but it simply irked the living daylights out of me. In fact, I watched THE VISIT for free thanks to Aunt John winning a ticket in the ACME supermarket Monopoly game and I currently sit here feeling like I’ve been ripped off because I have to walk back to the store’s Redbox to return it!

Dang, I hate it when people say, “I want my time back!’ because I feel like you can always get something of value out of a movie. Maybe I should just use this experience to reaffirm that I don’t like everything? But I already learned that lesson recently with the mediocrity machine that was GOOSEBUMPS (I might as well throw that one on the pyre too)! I have been on a “believable, relatable characters are essential” kick lately, did that mar my experience? I know for sure I didn’t buy the people in this movie. I don’t believe a mother would send her kids to the parents she’s been estranged from for 15 years, I don’t believe the kids would want to go, I don’t believe the kids wouldn’t simply walk out the front door when the horror becomes clear and I sure as hell don’t believe a SEPTA employee would indulge a child by providing beatbox accompaniment for his free style rap. There are some interesting nuggets here and there involving familial loss and abandonment but they sadly come off as phony and manipulative. Plus something about the film’s attitude towards the elderly and the mentally ill rubbed me the wrong way and there was a scene involving a diaper that should have never left the writer’s head. Oh and you can see the twist from miles away and there’s a ridiculous plot point involving a person incapable of wiping pancake batter off their computer. Essentially, a world of ugh.

So now I’m off to return the darn thing and not only did THE VISIT rile me but now it’s also making me feel terrible about hating it. Please, if you liked this movie don’t feel bad. I’m not trying to insult you. I’m glad that somebody liked it. I love, love, love that M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN loyally films in my neck of the woods and I will always adore THE SIXTH SENSE because it’s boss. This VISIT movie however, was not my cup of tea. Hmmm, maybe that’s my big take away from THE VISIT; that I’m allowed to dislike something simply as a matter of taste. It doesn’t mean the movie is garbage, it doesn’t mean I think I could do better and I’m in no way dismissing the hard work by many that obviously went into it. It’s just not for me and if I can’t give a hearty thumbs down to a movie that literally ends with a child free-style rapping about the psychological aftermath of having human excrement smeared on his face, what can I give a thumbs down to? C’mon, Ebert hated DAVID LYNCH’s obvious masterpiece BLUE VELVET, certainly I can loathe this bland excursion.

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Name That Trauma :: Reader Robert E. on a Killer Piano

March 21st, 2016 by unkle lancifer · No Comments

Hi

I have a movie in need of identification. I remember seeing one of those horror anthology films from the ’70s with one story being very memorable.

The story I remember is that there is this famous pianist who always plays the same piano for his concerts. The piano even has a name something like “utopi.” The pianist gets married to a young ambitious woman against his mother’s wishes. The mother fears that the new wife will be a distraction to her son’s music career. Also when the pianist speaks about his music he seems to exhibit the belief that “utopi” is alive.

Spoiler alert The piano comes alive and kills the wife!

I would appreciate of your readers could help me again.

Robert E.

UNK SEZ: Hey, Robert! I’m thinking the killer piano you’re looking for is lurking in the 1967 AMICUS horror anthology TORTURE GARDEN!
Check out this description from the wikipedia page

“In Mr. Steinway, a possessed grand piano by the name of Euterpe becomes jealous of its owner (John Standing)’s new lover (Barbara Ewing) and takes revenge”.

And I got some good news for you! TORTURE GARDEN is available on YouTube so you can check it out right now!

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Name That Trauma:: Buddo on an EC Comics Living Dead Girl

March 19th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments

I post on an EC Fan-Addicts forum on Facebook, and a friend wrote the following today. I was wondering if anyone might remember this:

Was recently watching a French tv series on Netflix about people who return from the dead in the same state as they were right before they died. Its called Les Revenants. Thought of a story I read in one of the EC comics (I think) about a guy who had a significant girlfriend when he was very young, probably early teens. She disappears while swimming. When the guy is in his 20s he or someone else finds this girl’s body, perfectly preserved, and he sees her as a little child and he has become a man. Anyone remember this? It’s not pure horror but the whole premise struck me hard even though I was a teenager at the time.

BUDDO

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Name That Brad Dourif Movie!

March 18th, 2016 by unkle lancifer · 16 Comments

Today is the birthday of living legend and all around good guy BRAD DOURIF! Below are 20 images from 20 of his movies. How many do YOU know?

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