Traumafessions :: Robert T. on Tourist Trap

The very first horror movie I ever saw was TOURIST TRAP on television and it scared the living daylights out of me. Years later I bought it on DVD and there it sits on my shelf, gathering dust. Even the cover freaks me out. I keep telling myself I’m waiting to be in the “right mood” to watch it. The truth is, that even as an adult I’m scared to return to that feeling again. There is a scene where the killer puts plaster on a tied up girl’s face and tells her that her heart is going to explode from fear. That got to me more than every other horror movie I’ve ever seen put together.

Alone In The Dark

Irresistibly unhinged legends MARTIN LANDAU, JACK PALANCE and DONALD PLEASENCE all sharing the same screen? The lone voice of reason portrayed by THE A TEAM’s “Mad Dog Murdock” DWIGHT SHULTZ? A cameo by LIN SHAYE (DEAD END, 2001 MANIACS)? Really, what have any of us done to deserve such a movie as ALONE IN THE DARK? The early work of director JACK SHOLDER would have one assuming that he was well on his way to becoming a big name in horror. He directed NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2, THE HIDDEN and even edited the legendary THE BURNING. His talent is most clearly on display here though, ALONE which he co-wrote with LIN‘s producer bro ROBERT SHAYE, is intelligent, tense and truly original. Actually that may have been its downfall. Like the same year’s equally ignored and groundbreaking THE SENDER, ALONE takes a stubbornly psychological approach and goes out of its way to work against the slasher mold that had such a firm grip on movie goers at that time. On the surface it’s business as usual; escaped lunatics terrorizing a home complete with the standard nubile babysitter, but the difference is these madmen are presented as uncomfortably human and the line that distinguishes them from their prey is smudged whenever possible. Interestingly, the idea of using a disguise to hide behind is played with momentarily in a prophetic scene involving a hockey mask. (ALONE and FRIDAY THE 13th Part 3 which introduced the iconic mask were filmed around the same time and released only a couple months apart so best to chalk it up to the collective unconscious rather than pilfering or tribute). All this humanizing of the psychos may be fun today, but in 1982 it wasn’t really what audiences were looking for. ALONE wisely threads black humor into the mix to keep it from getting too heavy and make no mistake, it never flinches when it comes to the gore. Still, viewers made it known they preferred their monsters shadowy and enigmatic, thank you very much. Regardless of its initial reception we’re talking classic here folks, one that holds up better then most of it’s more successful contemporaries.indelible scenes

  • Opening diner dream sequence includes PLEASENCE looking right at home brandishing a cleaver
  • The loons run over a mailman
  • Bunky (CAROL LEVY) is menaced by a knife blade that appears through the mattress and strangely recalls the shark fin from JAWS
  • SIC F*CKS perform “Chop Up Your Mother” at a joint called “Stumps”
  • Sis goes to the crazy side and hallucinates a corpse out of the blue
  • The brilliant reveal of “The Bleeder”

We All Scream For Ice Cream

THE MASTERS OF HORROR series is, in a kind word, inconsistent. Episodes range from mind-bogglingly brilliant to simply mind-boggling. Falling somewhere between those two barstools is TOM HOLLAND‘s WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE SCREAM, the tale of a victimized clown and his craving for sticky, high-calorie revenge. The likable LEE TERGESON (OZ‘s Tobias Beecher) is Layne, a family man who has just returned to the town of his youth and the memories that still linger there. When Layne was a kid, he was prompted by a bully to participate in a prank that resulted in a mentally challenged clown’s head being crushed under the wheel of an ice cream truck. Apparently the lingering guilt of crushing a human skull under a truck is more powerful then that of say, TP’ing your neighbors tree or egging their front door. Layne needn’t punish himself because Buster, the aforementioned clown (WILLIAM FORSYTHE, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS) has come back from the dead to do it for him. Now if Buster had just grabbed an axe and started whacking, we’d have a splendid little episode here. Unfortunately, his methods of destruction are far more convoluted than that. He visits the guilty party’s children at night, feeds them ice cream shaped like their parents, and as the kids eat the treats, their parents turn to mush. This allows for at least one good melting scene but it also douses any credibility that once was earned. There really is not enough time to establish the rules of the game here, but I cried foul more than once. I especially had difficulty with Layne’s eye for an eye solution to his dilemma, which involved getting ice cream from his freezer, making a Buster-looking cone and allowing his kid to eat it, thereby destroying Buster. Good on him that this plan worked but that’s a pretty big leap of faith on his part. Visually this episode is as strong as hell and the cast could not be better, but the free-floating, magically convenient logic in the script had me screaming “They cheated us!” like Annie Wilkes at a cliffhanger film festival. Buster the clown is a fantastic creation; he deserves a simpler more stream-lined means of revenge.

indelible scenes

  • Warning: There is a redundant overload of supposedly scary sing-songs; migraine sufferers take note
  • Buster has no nose! A great concept if only it were: A) explained; B) followed up on, in any way shape or form
  • The flashbacks are the best part; HOLLAND gets the summery suburban atmosphere just right
  • Evil Virgil (COLIN CUNNINGHAM) melting in the hot tub. Gloriously BLOB worthy. That’s what I’m talking about!
  • Layne uses remote control sprinklers to freeze the frosty Buster

Kinder-news:: RUE MORGUE RADIO interview

An interview with your pal Uncle Lancifer is featured on RUE MORGUE RADIO this week, so give it a listen when you get the chance! (Note: If I sound like I’m having a flashback of giving a book report in front of the class, it’s because I’m having a flashback of giving a book report in front of the class.) My questionable radio talents aside, it was a fun interview and I recommend checking out RUE MORGUE RADIO often, as there is always something cool going on there.

Terrorvision

 

 Back in the day, if I had to bet on what eighties teen star was most likely to explode big, win awards and end up tabloid fodder; I would have placed all my chips on DIANE FRANKLIN. With her kewpie doll peepers, legitimate acting chops and general effervescent presence, the camera not only loved her, it seemed willing to place it’s new coat down on a mud puddle for her to walk across. Alas, it was not meant to be. Come back to the five and dime DIANE FRANKLIN, DIANE FRANKLIN! As it stands, we are left with a handful of worthwhile offerings from the starlet, some impossible to find (T.V. movies SUMMER GIRL and DEADLY LESSONS), some impossible to shake (LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN, AMITYVILLE 2), and some impossible to ignore (foreign exchange student Monique Junot in BETTER OFF DEAD!). The great D.F. was versatile as hell, and if you ever had the itching to see her do the broadest of comedy look no further than TERRORVISION, a wacky CHARLES BAND produced TED NICOLAOU (SUBSPECIES) directed, would-be cult confection that somehow fell through the cracks. Donning CYNDI LAUPER duds and surrounded by a family of equally camped-up oddballs that include renaissance woman and trash icon MARY WARANOV as her Mom, and B-movie magnet GERRIT GRAHAM (CHOPPING MALL) as her dad, FRANKLIN plays Suzy Putterman, a fluffy, MTV-addicted simpleton who is about to come face to face with the gooey antidote to MAC AND ME. Thanks to a new satellite dish, the Puttermans (who also include survivalist Grandpa BERT REMSEN and RAMBO-brained lil’bro CHAD ALLEN) find that their television is now a portal to the stars, or at least an intergalactic trash chute. Equal parts LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and an overextended OINGO BOINGO video, TERRORVISION will stop at nothing to earn its kooky offbeat stripes. The frenetic, panting desperation can grate at times and the humor is hit or miss, but the years have been kind to this intentionally goofy salute to slime and late night cable atrocities. It’s ’80s excesses are now its strongest selling point, and it’s certainly a worthwhile, though admittedly garish, addition to canon la FRANKLIN.indelible scenes

  • Mom and Pop’s swinger pals get offed in the pool, later to recreate BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE poster with Grandpa thrown in for good measure
  • Rocker O.D.’s (JONATHAN GRIES of MONSTER SQUAD) remains resemble a guitar
  • Shout out to ELVIRA in the form of T.V. host Medusa (JENNIFER RICHARDS)
  • JOHN CARL BUECHLER‘s (CELLAR DWELLER) ZYZZYBALUBA on acid style special effects

EDITOR’S NOTE: Special thanks to Richard of Doomed Moviethon for setting me up with this jem!

Traumafessions :: Stewart R. on Superman 3

 

 I was a big fan of the SUPERMAN movies and SUPERMAN 3 seemed like it was going to be a comedic good time thanks to RICHARD PRYOR.  I was completely unprepared for what would happen near the end. Superman battles a super computer which takes over the body of an older female villain (Editor’s note: That was BASKETCASE 2 and 3’s ANNIE ROSS!) The metamorphosis that occurs includes the agony of wires and machinery seeping into her body. It is all capped off when she opens her eyes to reveal silver eyeballs. Her cold stiff robotic zombie walk was the icing on the cake. It may seem cheesy now but, at the time, I really feared for the man of steel and secretly for myself because of that blank metal stare. This may be considered one of the worst of the SUPERMAN movies, but for me it was pretty frightening. 

Traumafessions :: Joe M. on Death Ship

I was about 5 years old or so, and someone in our family thought it was a good idea to take a child to see the movie DEATH SHIP at the drive-in. I don’t remember much of the plot, but I remember people in one boat boarding another boat (the titular “Death Ship”). Of course, all sorts of bad things happened to them. The one thing I remember QUITE VIVIDLY was the scene where a guy finds a fishing net full of skeletons…and proceeds to “fall” into it. As he struggles among the bone pile, someone or something else is lowering the fishing net…slowly, very slowly…into the water. To this day, my biggest fear is drowning at sea.

Traumafessions :: Allison E. on Legend

I can’t believe nobody has brought up LEGEND, that movie gave me nightmares for years. Was that really meant for kids? Are they kidding? It has to be the scariest movie ever made! TIM CURRY as the Lord of Darkness is bad enough, but that witch in the swamp was just unbearable! I guess my parents thought that since it was a fantasy picture with fairies in it, it must be O.K. How else can I explain them renting that for me? Thanks Mom and Dad. Hope you don’t mind paying my therapy bills!

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things

 

 CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS has tried the patience of many a zombie fan over the years with its purposely annoying cast, focus on sub-witty dialogue, and elongated build-up to a low on intestine-chomping climax. Personally, I have a soft spot for the film. I remember staying up late for it, and being truly terrified by its bizarre soundtrack, questionable reliance on slow-mo, and truly satisfying final frames. Even haters have to admit that there is a delicious CLOVERFIELD moment in this film where you just think to yourself, “I can’t wait to see these people die.” As a kid, I was just worried for this sad lot trapped on a potter’s field island where the dead had come to life. I had no idea that they were sycophantic thespians following their douchebag director’s whims, that they had pretty much begged for the outcome that occurs by mocking the dead or even that the two HECKLE AND JECKLE type henchmen were wince inducing over-the-top stereotypes of gay men. Directed by BOB CLARK whose BLACK CHRISTMAS, let’s face it, begat HALLOWEEN which, let’s face it, begat everything I care about on this planet, and co-written and starring ALAN ORMSBY who not only had his hand in DERANGED and 1982’s CAT PEOPLE but also wrote MY BODYGUARD, C.S.P.W.D.T. is as hard to defend as it is to ignore. It may come across like a local theater production of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD with costumes provided by THE MONKEES, but there is a very real sense of being trapped and cornered that always gets to me regardless of the fact that most of the script apparently was later used to provide biting dialogue for THE ROPERS. The defiant refusal to follow a template structure really does pay off once in a while, like when the couple voted most likely to be “final” instead end up unceremoniously eaten. As obnoxious as most of the characters are, they are at least always distinguishable from each other, a rarity these days. Really, how can you not get behind a flick whose most compelling and sympathetic presence is a corpse named Orville?indelible scenes

  • The first couple false scares. I admit it I fell for them.
  • Val’s (VALERIE MAMCHES) cavetch-y incantation
  • Sensitive Anya (ANYA ORMSBY) looses her shit
  • The dead finally do rise and it’s impressively staged
  • Coward Alan throws Anya to the undead to save himself
  • Lovable Orville gets his just revenge!

 

    

Night Of The Creeps

 

 I’ll be honest with you, there’s no way on earth I could be objective about a film that features both TOM ATKINS and a zombie cat. Even if this movie was utter crap, I’d still love it. Fortunately, this film is anything but. It’s well known to many that NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, though not the most well-known classic, is a classic none the less. FRED DEKKER, who also helmed MONSTER SQUAD, may not have had laurels chucked at his head during the time he was actively filmmaking, but over the years, he has grown to be thought of as one of the great unheralded horror directors of the eighties. Other movies may have made more moolah, but his flicks are loved and I mean passionately. N.O.T.C. opens in outer space with midget aliens littering some tube of toxic crap upon our fair planet in 1950. After a few bars of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and a black and white axe murder, we zoom to the present day circa 1986. Here we touch base with every known and adored ’80s teen film cliché known to man. A dork (JASON LIVELY) loves a girl with a preppy snob boyfriend and will do anything to win her attention. In this case, he’ll have to do some body snatching. The body snatched is contaminated with that alien funk from the ’50s, and chaos, gore, action and comedy ensues. TOM ATKINS lends a hand as a hard boiled type who has previous experience with these sluggy, zombie-creating creatures from beyond and a holster filled with brilliant, perfectly timed one-liners. (I would say that this is ATKINS best performance ever, but I’m afraid that THE FOG and HALLOWEEN 3 will beat me up after school.) Besides being host to some truly endearing characters (JILL WHITLOW dressed to the nines carrying a blowtorch, STEVE MARSHALL as a put upon pal) and highly quotable dialogue (“Thrill me!”), N.O.T.C. navigates the horror/comedy balancing act with an ease that should be studied before being attempted by others. Unlike most alleged horror/comedies, the humor is never self-deprecating or cynical and always knows its place is in line behind characterization, suspense and exploding heads.indelible scenes

  • The opening scene aliens deserve a movie of their own. So does the, “Screaming like banshees” janitor.
  • What’s not to like about a movie whose main characters go to Corman University, whose last names are Romero, Carpenter-Hooper and Cronenberg, and are aided by cops Landis and Raimi? Extra-bonus points for the DICK MILLER cameo.
  • I’ll be honest; there are too many indelible scenes to report. The whole second half is back-to-back incredible scenes. Even the scenes that didn’t make the final cut are great. Check out an alternative and superior ending HERE.