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Kindertrauma Funhouse

August 23rd, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 9 Comments

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Name That Trauma:: XMinus on a Paralyzed Organ Donor

August 22nd, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 2 Comments


Dear Uncle Lancifer, I need some help with finding a trauma. I can not find this short film that is stuck in my head. I only know it was part of a collection of short films or some anthology series. I am not really sure. The plot is about a guy that gets in a car accident and is completely paralyzed except for being able to move one of his fingers. All I can remember is at the end he is trying to move his finger but it won’t move, and the twist is that he is an organ donor. The last image is of a surgeon, and the sound of a bone saw being revved up before the screen goes black. I hope I was not imagining things and would like to find out the title of what this was and see it again.

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The Bermuda Triangle (1978)

August 21st, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments


If you’re feeling spiritually under the weather or generally hopeless about human existence don’t make the mistake of watching 1978’s THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE (currently FREE on TubiTV). You may think that its sloppy ineptness, super lame dubbing and terrible acting will bring you laughter and joy (and maybe it will for a while) but eventually you’ll realize that this is a bad mojo movie and it’ll be too late to turn it off and you’ll be trapped into riding it out to its disheartening conclusion. Maybe I just have to finally realize that ALL Bermuda Triangle movies are cursed in some way and I should have learned this when, as a child, the made-for-TV movie SATAN’S TRIANGLE ran away with my sanity and soul. I guess all Bermuda Triangle flicks lure you in with the promise of fantastic answers to the mysteries of life only to dump a cold bucket of dejection and futility upon your innocent, baffled head. RENE CARDONA JR.’s take on the legendary enigmatic location dares to place the brunt of the blame on a malignant doll that demands to eat raw meat and impolitely reveals to stressed-out people how and when they are going to die and by rights, it should be hilarious. But no, instead it’s as depressing as a funeral dirge. Everybody puts up a good fight only to suffer helplessly and be lost to infinite time-mocking insanity and ricocheted transmissions of their own pathetic cries for help.

Your head is sure to ache aboard the boat BLACK WHALE III as you try to decipher the relationships between all aboard. JOHN HUSTON is apparently the father and not the grandfather of the Marvin clan who are searching for the lost city of Atlantis but stumble upon the infernal triangle instead. I can’t tell who is a mom and who is a daughter but there is a hell of a lot of drinking and bickering going on. Early on, a horrifying doll with a face only slightly younger than HUSTON’s is retrieved from the water and given to the youngest daughter and I’m guessing it’s definitely connected to the pissed off, old-timey kid who was lost at sea in the epilogue. I should be rooting for this kid and this raggedy doll to team up and kill everybody but when they show the doll’s face in close-up, they switch it to a real live child with dark circles under her eyes who looks miserable as hell and is (shoddy as it may be presented) genuinely disturbing to behold. There’s a black cook that the two immediately set their sights on because he knows off the bat that the two are of the devil and I don’t appreciate the racist way his voice is dubbed and how his being smart enough to know that evil is afoot is presented as comedy relief.

Everybody goes scuba diving and there’s some beautiful underwater photography and just as I was beginning to enjoy things, they obviously really kill two sharks that were only minding their own business. That’s not cool (what did I expect from the director of NIGHT OF 1,000 CATS?) I don’t see how this movie is worth the life of one shark, let alone two. Some giant pillars representing Atlantis (I think) begin to (endlessly) topple thanks to an undersea earthquake and crushes one of the daughters underneath. They’re able to get her back on the boat but her legs are royally mangled and they don’t get better and she mostly just wilts on a bed for the remainder of the movie while a drunken doctor wrestles with the benefits of amputation. From here things just get worse and worse as terrible storms pound away, people fall overboard, get chopped up in the propeller, randomly disappear or just fall down on shards of glass and die. All attempts to escape are absolute failures and it’s all ultimately profoundly frustrating. There’s one last moment of hope when some guys on the mainland finally receive their distress signal (spoiler alert) but that is crushed too when the person who receives the message explains that the BLACK WHALE III and the entire Marvin family were lost at sea ten years ago!!! Do you know who survives this nightmare? The doll. It’s sad, really. I almost like this movie for its relentlessly gloomy vibe. Almost.

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Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

August 19th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

A bunch of years ago HarperCollins got the not so bright idea to release an updated version of Alvin Schwartz’s classic SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK, replacing Stephen Gammell’s haunting illustrations with less disturbing imagery. To say it didn’t go over too well with fans of the book is putting it lightly. In some ways, the new movie based on the books can almost be taken as a vehement apology that anyone anywhere might underestimate the value of Gammell’s spooky work. Director Andre Ovredal and producer Guillermo del Toro wisely decide to employ Gammell’s unforgettable images as the main inspiration and they are lovingly recreated down to the last detail. In fact, it could be said that the powerful images outweigh the stories themselves at times but what SCARY STORIES may be missing in the characterization department it makes up for in sheer autumnal atmosphere. It seems any space left between Schwartz’s tales and Gammell’s art are plastered in by honoring the works of Ray Bradbury (THE HALLOWEEN TREE, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES). You can almost smell the burning leaves on a cooler breeze and that’s just what the doctor ordered in the dog days of summer.

SSTTITD invites us to the small town of Mill Valley circa 1968 and introduces us to Stella, Auggie and Chuck (ZOE MARGARET COLLETTI, GABRIEL RUSH and AUSTIN ZAJUR), a trio of believably nerdy misfits trying to avoid being beaten up by the local bullies. The outcasts seek refuge at the drive-in and befriend a runaway named Ramon (Michael Garza). Since it’s Halloween night the group dares themselves to push for more thrills by entering a nearby notorious haunted house. It’s there that they discover a book that appears to write itself and they quickly discover that the terrors it’s presenting are not content to stay on the page. Like ANNABELLE COMES HOME from earlier this summer, this movie’s not settling for a single boogey man and presents a swarm of threats instead, each one more freaky morbid than the last. You really get some bang for your buck with possessed scarecrows, corpses lamenting lost appendages, smiling zaftig demons and most impressively, someone called “The Jangly Man” who is basically a living dead contortionist. They’re all sufficiently grotesque but fall closer to eerie than nauseating.

Warm and fuzzy nostalgia abounds but admirably this is not a movie that is afraid to show the darker underbelly of small town American life. Ramon faces multiple instances of ugly racism and we come to find that the catalyst behind the supernatural mayhem is an outspoken woman betrayed and silenced by her family for speaking out against corruption.

If I have any complaints it’s that things move along at too fast a clip and we’re never really allowed to learn too much about the character’s home life or everyday interactions. We tend to lose some sense of mystery as the trio catches on to what’s happening without a moment of logical skepticism. On the other hand, I have a feeling the pacing issue will only pose a problem for oldsters like me raised on seventies films and that the frenzied speed may be just fine for the central audience this PG-rated flick is courting. I should say too that the fate of one of the characters left a bad taste in my mouth but it’s kind of hard not to give this good-natured flick the benefit of the doubt. All in all, it’s a pretty neat trick to find a way to fuse a bunch of slight stories into a cohesive ode to everybody’s favorite season. If nothing else, SCARY STORIES stands as a harbinger that summer is nearly done and Halloween is right around the corner– that’s a message I’m not going to complain about.

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

August 16th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

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Traumafession:: Dylan Donnie-Duke on Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz

August 13th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 3 Comments

Hello Unk L, Aunt J, and assorted cats, bats, and belfries; I know that there have been more than several mentions of Wizard of Oz as a traumatizer on this site, and I figured that I would never have anything to add to the discussion. Then came the discovery of WoO with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on YouTube (HERE).

I had heard the lore, and even tried to do it once or twice in college, but lacked the patience/sobriety to continually flip the album.  Finding it with the music overdubbed made actually getting through it more of a possibility.  Because circumstance dictates that I am unable to currently deal with reality, I had a steady supply of jazz lettuce, the Devil’s coleslaw, reefer, see? on hand, and embarked on the journey most potheads only dream of. For the most part, it was a lot of fun. Certain coincidental peaks were scarily dead-on, while others required some allowance.  It was when our good green goddess of ghoulishness, The Wicked Witch of the West pops up in the crystal ball, mocking Dorothy’s tears.  The sudden PKTD (Post Kindertrauma Disorder) kicked in, and I was five years old again, watching this movie in a vintage movie house.  My parents had taken my sister and I to see a special showing, and that was our first time ever seeing it.  I was fairly stable until this moment, at which point I crawled under the movie theater seats to hide from her.  (And, being five, to no bout eat floor JuJuBes.)  I have watched this movie at least, no joke, 100 times since I was five, but not once have I so viscerally remembered this moment, which my mother loves to laugh and laugh about.  So, thanks for the recommendation stoners everywhere.  I’ll send you my therapy bills.

Best Regards, Dylan Donnie-Duke


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Kindertrauma Funhouse

August 9th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 7 Comments

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK opens today! There are ten differences between the image above (A) and the image below (B). Can you find them all? 

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Retribution (1987)

August 7th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments

I finally caught up with 1987’s RETRIBUTION after years of several folks urging me to check it out (thanks to Ghastly1 and Eric’s IAHTKY). Sadly, I was all set to give you guys a heads up that it was streaming for free on TubiTv but when I went back there recently to grab some screenshots, I found that it had up and disappeared without so much as saying goodbye! Drats and double drats! Oh well, I’m sure it will appear again soon on some streaming service or maybe you can track it down on its expensive, out of print DVD. It’s really worth your attention and I’m officially joining the chorus of those who believe it is a highly underrated, idiosyncratic gem that should have earned much more praise and notoriety by now. This is one colorful, eye-popping film that bursts with fluorescent hues and eighties flavored exuberance. It’s all around visually appealing, juxtaposing glowing neon candy colors right next to the inkiest of blacks. The movie is much more than a treat for the eyes though, your ears are bound to be equally satisfied as the score is by frequent CARPENTER cohort ALAN HOWARTH (HALLOWEEN 2 and 3, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, et al.) and it’s one pounding electronic doozey.

I wrongly assumed in my head that because RETRIBUTION is a card-carrying possession film that it would be super religious and take place in a bunch of dusty, boring old churches. Instead, it’s one of those wonderfully gritty L.A. movies with lots of punky new wave hookers leaning into cars. In fact, there’s exactly zero religion in this possession film and I find that to be a sweet relief. Instead, it’s more of a horror character study about a lonely oddball who very nearly finds fulfillment only to have it snatched away tragically (see THE ATTIC, FADE TO BLACK, WILLARD) and it’s even got a heart-warming love story between a rather mismatched pair that you can’t help routing for. Another selling point is that the action starts off on Halloween night and obviously the world can never have enough horror movies that take place on October 31st. The opening scene involving clusters of costumed monsters witnessing a tragic event had me pretty much sold at the get-go.

Fascinatingly fastidious DENNIS LIPSCOMB (EYES OF FIRE) stars as George Miller, a failed artist who decides to kill himself only to survive the fall and have his body go all FREAKY FRIDAY with a mobster who died at the same moment who happens to have a long list of enemies he’d like to eradicate. And eradicate them he does thanks to his newfound unexplained telekinetic powers that deliver sadistic set-piece takedowns that are as cathartic for the viewer as they are to him. LIPSCOMB can go a little overboard at times when he’s sniveling to his over-her-head psychiatrist (LESLIE WING) but it’s a highly memorable and fully earnest performance nonetheless. Equally compelling is the endearing SUZANNE SNYDER of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE fame as yet another underage prostitute with a heart of gold named Angel. This is one of those movies that I almost want to jump inside and permanently live in regardless of the horrible events it depicts. If you like quirky eighties horror and are looking for something truly unique, something that balances gore and characterization by delivering heaping double doses of both, don’t dilly-dally like I did, RETRIBUTION is a dish best served ASAP.

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

August 2nd, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 12 Comments

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Leprechaun Returns (2019)

July 31st, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 4 Comments

I just had to rent LEPRECHAUN RETURNS from my local Redbox. The pull was irresistible. This is just who I am. I can’t say no to a straight-to-video horror sequel no matter how unpromising it may look. I will watch any HOWLING, CHILDREN OF THE CORN or HELLRAISER that is thrown at me. I’ve also got a massive soft spot for irreverent cartoon villain horror flicks and feel a profound sadness that RUMPLESTILTSKIN, PINOCCHIO’S REVENGE and DOLLY DEAREST are one-offs. It’s in my video store blood. Something in my heart assures me that even if the movie is bad if I drink enough beer while watching it, I will feel one hundred percent safe from the horrors of the world. I know what I’m doing. I even told myself that if LEPRECHAUN RETURNS was horrible that I was not allowed to grumble while making the long walk back to the grocery store in the summer heat to return it because what the hell did I expect? Of course, it wasn’t going to be good. The reality is the idea of renting a LEPRECHAUN movie has always been a lot more fun than the actual watching of a LEPRECHAUN movie (except maybe Part 4 IN SPACE which is pretty darn hilarious). My expectations were low. All I wanted was a time killer and maybe the nostalgic rush of feeling like I was renting from a mom and pop video store circa 1996-ish. Here’s the twist…I kind of loved it. In fact, I think it’s the LEPRECHAUN sequel I’ve always wanted. It’s the best since the first (I realize that’s not saying much but I do enjoy the original, silly as it is).

Much like last year’s HALLOWEEN, LEPRECHAUN RETURNS wipes the sequel slate clean and is a direct continuation of the first film. It takes place in the same house (which is now home to a sorority), involves the daughter of the original’s heroine and even sports a twenty-five years older survivor (MARK HOLTON). The most profound alteration is the recasting of the titular menace but remarkably, newbie LINDEN PORCO does an exceptional turn in place of WARWICK DAVIS (and sorry, he might even be an improvement). Director STEVEN KOSTANSKI (THE VOID) got his start in make-up effects, which ensures that the diminutive demon looks more horrific than ever before. PORCO’s take is much more fairy tale cackling witch-like and he’s prone to ripping his face off revealing a grimacing skull for added terror. The effects across the board are consistently top-notch and the creative kills are timed perfectly following the old school slasher template. The cast is pretty great too. Lead TAYLOR SPREITLER as Lila is so down to earth normal and likable and she’s got wonderful comic timing. She kind of reminded me of a young LINDA BLAIR and I don’t say that lightly. As you’d expect, there’s a plethora of one-liners, sight gags, and double entendres; some definitely land better than others but it wouldn’t really be a leprechaun movie without a couple of dad-joke groaners. Most importantly, the movie is fun. It knows exactly what made flippant horror sequels such crowd pleasures back in the day and it delivers the goods.  

This isn’t prestige horror and that’s precisely the point. I can’t tell you it’s not goofy because it was built to be goofy but goofy is such a much-needed commodity these days. It brings me such joy. I know it’s lowbrow but it’s lowbrow in a way that high brow just can’t compete with- sorta like a hot dog. If you don’t like dopey movies feel free to skip right past this but if you enjoy, snickering gore, Mr. Roper-esque 4th wall destruction and MAD Magazine level wise cracks, you’re in for a pot of gold. Personally, I needed the guffaws and let me say there’s a celebrity impersonation within the movie that made me laugh out loud (it’s kinda brilliant). They really went out of their way to honor the first entry (awww, the little guy is still obsessed with organizing shoes!) and it did my heart good to see the OG respected in such a way.  The poor leprechaun has always been regulated to the second tier horror icon ghetto (with folks like WARLOCK and THE WISHMASTER) and perhaps rightly so considering how lackluster his continuing adventures have been. If the little guy got a follow up like this in the first place maybe that wouldn’t have been the case. As someone who had a blast seeing the original in the theater, I have to say this is the very first sequel that didn’t leave me with a feeling of disappointment. Some say the third times the charm but in this case it’s the seventh. Looks to me like this series luck has finally changed or maybe I’m just partial to redheads.

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