Sniffles Takes A Trip


The tale of a comfortable self-possessed urbanite seeking leisure in the country only to be horrified by what he finds there is nothing new as confirmed by a recent viewing of SNIFFLES TAKES A TRIP (1940). Sniffles begins his journey full of hope and excitement. This is heartily expressed through a gleefully optimistic tune sung by the mouse that imagines a journey complete with babbling brooks for swimming and playful squirrels. Sniffle’s naive innocence is exposed as soon as he discovers a sign pointing the way to his destination “Country Meadows.” Upon the sign an ominous black raven harks a warning, but Sniffles, in his giddy state, misidentifies the harbinger of doom as a Robin and squeals in delight. Most of Sniffle’s misunderstandings of the new world around him are harmless enough, a purple mustachioed, RIP TAYLOR-like predator is in actuality a common fly for example. Two frightening eyes that appear out of a lagoon expose Sniffles’ lifelong fear of alligators, but in reality, they are simply the peepers of a passive hop frog. These false scares are traditional in horror and it is only when darkness falls that the dire reality of the situation the little mouse has gotten himself into becomes clear. In the light of a campfire, Sniffles mind begins to completely unravel. Left alone with his own ideas, the peaceful country landscape he once coveted transforms into a vision of hell that would make Dante take a dump in his dungarees. Hideous beings reveal themselves hiding all around him (or are they only in his mind?). At first Sniffles attempts to douse his raging fear by telling himself that the black velvet death that waits to engulf him is “peaceful,” this as slithering, twisted eel-like shapes twist around mocking, gnarled demon-possessed trees and a winged demon explodes out of the sky heaving sulfur smelling breath and the silent song of damnation. If there is any question of whether to stay or to flee, it is answered by the eyes…the horrible demonic, death-promising eyes that seem to be popping out of every conceivable crevice, whispering prophecies of a violently brutal gang rape. Evaluating the scene, Sniffles does indeed flee so quickly in fact that his signature hat spins off his head with such gusto that it makes an uncanny whine not unlike that of a U.F.O. stuffed to the gills with Theremins nose diving into the Washington Monument. DELIVERANCE, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, WRONG TURN and now SNIFFLES TAKES A TRIP. If you go in to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise, the surprise is you are either going to die like a hog in a slaughterhouse or completely loose your mind…

Bad Moon


Bad moon werewolf
After 1981’s one-two punch of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and THE HOWLING, it seemed like, thanks to advances in special effects that, the sky was the limit for werewolf movies. With the exception of a few kibbles here and there, (DOG SOLDIERS, GINGER SNAPS) we’re all still sort of waiting. The truth is it takes a bit more than special effects to make a werewolf tale work. Both of 1981’s big doggies sunk their teeth properly into the “curse” element of the lycanthrope mythos and presented us with likable characters who struggled morally with their afflictions. BAD MOON can’t hold a candle to those two aforementioned films in the characterization department but it does give it the old college try. Director ERIC RED, who wrote the vampire addiction tale NEAR DARK, has some first hand experience balancing action and pathos but, for the most part, every bone he throws here lands just shy of the mark. Based on the novel THOR by WAYNE SMITH, which is told entirely from the family dog’s point of view, BAD MOON as a movie naturally had to switch focus. Rather than spending our time in a German shepherd’s head (which actually is not such a bad idea) we are left with what amounts to a story about a sister (wooden as a cigar store Indian MARIEL HEMINGWAY) who opens her door to a sibling (STREETS OF FIRE survivor MICHAEL PARE) who is secretly battling urges he cannot control. Where do you draw the line when dealing with a destructive family member? What if said family member’s behavior is endangering your child? BAD MOON‘s 80 minute running time doesn’t allow for adequately getting into these matters, and werewolf fans may be checking their watches anyway waiting for the fangs to sprout. PARE is sympathetic as hell which may work against the drama here, but I think most of the blame can be placed in the lap of a now ridiculous (then just crappy) mid-nineties flavored CGI transformation scene that is almost impossible to recover from. Once fully turned, the beasty that wrecks havoc looks pretty damn good and his threatening attack on HEMINGWAY‘s tot MASON GAMBLE provides some much needed, late in the game thrills (Thankfully a traveling flimflam artist bounces in to be properly shredded too).  I think if you go into BAD MOON knowing that its intentions are modest, you can have an entertaining enough time. The scope is compact but it’s not without some genuinely intriguing (and in the case of the wooded surroundings, well-shot) scenes, just don’t expect too much fur to fly or to be left howling at the moon.
indelible scenes 

  • The sex disrupting original tent attack in Napal
  • Watching WEREWOLF OF LONDON on T.V
  • Heartbreakingly BENJI-like “dog being taken to the pound” scene
  • After the protective family pooch Thor is thrown in the kennel, Pare opens his fly and takes a territorial piss on his doghouse. If the movie had more scenes this darkly clever it could have won best in show!


Traumafessions:: Reader Greta on Watership Down


watership down scary

So, when I was little I sat down to watch this cartoon movie about bunnies on HBO – and it turned out to be this vivid blood-wrenching movie! There were tractors and farm equipment plowing into these bunnies – I freaked out so bad – completely hysterical, my brother wasn’t allowed to finish watching it. I still get queasy when I think of it.     


 Unkle Lancifer sez: Pink is the new black and WATERSHIP DOWN is the new SUPERMAN 3! Greta joins READER MATT N. in naming this hoppingly morose bunny tale the Traumatizer du Jour. Yours truly will never be old enough to swallow the grim life realities and existential horror that WATERSHIP DOWN funnel feeds and that’s fine by me. I like my cartoon rabbits dressed up as Carmen Miranda and taking left turns in Albuquerque!     



Great googily moogily, what in the name of hell is wrong with MAUSOLEUM? Why is it such a sleazy f-d up train wreck from the opening scene to the last? The acting is exhausting to witness, the story seems shoved through a shredder and then pieced back together using duct tape, and every scene is filmed in the ugliest way humanly possible. I feel like I need a SILKWOOD shower scrub right about now. What’s it about? Hey, I’m just the guy who finished watching it how should I know? It’s something about a lady (big boobied BOBBIE BRESEE who was nominated for the now meaningless SATURN award for her role) who gets possessed by a demon and then screws and kills anyone she comes in contact with. All I know is that MARJOE GORTNER was the voice of reason in this thing and that’s never a good sign. The one shining spot (besides the bizarre special effects by FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV: THE NEW BLOOD director JOHN CARL BUECHLER,… did I mention that BOBBIE‘s possession escalates to a point where she actually grows demon GHOULIE faces on her breasts?) is SANFORD AND SON‘s LAWANDA PAGE as the maid who basically speaks for the audience when she scans the situation, chugs some hooch, says, “Enough grieving, I’m leaving!” and heads for the hills to the sound of something not unlike the famous BENNY HILL tune. Yes that was probably the most backward, out of date, racist thing I’ve seen in a movie in a long time, but frankly I was with her! If there’s ever a re-make I nominate myself to play that role. What good can I say about MAUSOLEUM? I gotta tell you, for all its ineptness it started freaking me out after a while not because the filmmakers had any clue of what they were doing, but just because the whole thing was so relentlessly sordid that it started to effect my view of the world at large. O.K., I admit it I did love all the scenes where possessed, glowing-eyed BOBBIE floated people into high spaces with her psychic powers and then dropped them to their deaths, I’ll grant you that, but if I never see her seduce a delivery guy or a gardener again that will be fine by me. If you’re like me and are constantly looking for new inventive ways to destroy the relationships in your life I suggest you track down MAUSOLEUM show it to someone who thinks they like you and then watch them head for the hills LAWANDA style!
indelible scenes

  • LAWANDA steals the movie
  • Boobs with teeth
  • Art gallery owner impaled on sculpture
  • Aunt floating with visible crane
  • You thought I didn’t exist!


Here you go kids, knock yourself out: MAUSOLEUM‘s one shining moment of originality, purple demon boobs!
MAUSOLEUM speaks to the primal male fear that once married, PLAYBOY BUNNY trophy wives will turn into RUTH BUZZI.         

KINDER-NEWS :: Life Worth Living Again


roby friday the 13th
There I was on the Ben Franklin Bridge mustering up the energy to jump rather than endure yet another Philadelphia summer, when Aunt John breathlessly approached. He screamed “Stop, don’t jump!” as he has done so many times before. I told him to go peddle his papers elsewhere and to go fly a kite and when he was done with those two chores, I suggested he take a long walk off a short pier. That’s when you’re Aunt John informed me of news that would change my dismal outlook instantly. “HORROR YEARBOOK…” he said panting clutching at his defunct ticker, “…says that FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES is going to be released on DVD!” Of course when Aunt John slapped my back in a congratulatory gesture he did inadvertently send me reeling over the bridge’s railing and into the toxic water below, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact remains that some day in the future, me and my idol ROBY will be together once more. In the meantime I plan to play the OPENING THEME MUSIC in an endless loop on Kindertrauma castle’s state of the art intercom system. It should provide the perfect accompaniment to my daily chores of shucking clams and sheering lambs.   

Deathdream (a.k.a. Dead of Night)


death dream a.k.a. dead of night
The Brooks family lovely pot roast dinner is interrupted by a knock at the door from a military police officer bearing an ominous telegram which states that their only son Andy has been killed while serving in Vietnam. The following night it comes as an even bigger surprise to the family when Andy (RICHARD BACKUS) appears in the living room, seemingly alive and happy to be home. Mom (LYNN CARLIN) is super stoked to have her boy home, but Dad (JOHN MARLEY) has some serious reservations about Andy’s oddly antisocial behavior. Andy refuses to speak unless spoken to, refuses to eat or drink anything, and would prefer to spend his days and nights manically rocking in his rocking chair ala Mrs. Bates. Andy also has major problems with the family dog Butch, and doesn’t think twice about strangling the little mutt in front of a pack of horrified neighborhood kids. Before tearing off to the local bar to drown his miseries in a bottle of scotch, Dad accuses Mom of turning his son into a “Momma’s boy” with her non-stop doting. What they both fail to realize is that Andy is acting super strange not because of over-mothering, but because he is a zombie and not the type that needs to eat brains to survive, but rather one who requires intravenous needle injections of fresh blood. The town doctor comes to realize this too late after performing a check-up on Andy and becomes his second victim (a truck driver is dispatched earlier in the flick). As with most undead needle users, Andy’s complexion begins to shows signs of strain and chunks of skin begin falling off his hands. To disguise this, he dons mirrored sunglasses and black riding gloves before going on a double date at the drive-in with his former sweetheart, his sister, and her beau. Naturally, his addiction gets the best of him, and let’s just say that his sister is the only one who makes it out of the double feature alive. Andy returns home covered in blood and into his Mom’s waiting arms. Dad whips out the family gun, but ends up turning it on himself after Mom tactfully reminds him that you can’t really kill the undead. The cops eventually show up looking for Andy, and one of the best mother/ undead son flaming car chases ensues around the town square and through the gates of the local cemetery.
Written by ALAN ORMSBY (CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS) and directed by BOB CLARK (BLACK CHRISTMAS), DEATHDREAM (originally released under the title DEAD OF NIGHT) can be seen as a social commentary on the effects of war on man. Andy’s needle usage is interesting twist on the plight of veterans who returned from the war hooked on heroin. Likewise, it also works as pretty unique examination of the bond between mothers and sons. The Mom point blank tells the daughter that she really never cared for her, and it’s all about her little boy Andy. Even though her brother is the walking dead, sis still places a distant second in Mom’s book. Released the same year as BLACK CHRISTMAS, fans of CLARK will enjoy his trademark use of exterior camera shots focusing on the action happening inside the windows of the house. This voyeuristic point-of-view removes you from the immediacy of the events and makes it seem all the more alien, just as it must seem from Andy’s undead perspective.
indelible scenes

  • Andy throttles the dog
  • The doctor examines Andy to learn he has no pulse and audible heartbeat
  • After killing his sweetheart, and sis’s boyfriend, Andy plows over an innocent kid
  • Did I already mention the mother/undead-son flaming car chase?


dead of night

TRAUMAFESSIONS :: Reader David E. on Superman 3



The moment that upset me something chronic wasn’t from any horror film, it was the horrific scene in SUPERMAN 3 when that seriously ugly woman gets tortuously transformed into some steel-plated, killer cyborg for dispatching Superman. I was only very young when I saw it and I don’t know what in particular it is about it that upsets me…maybe that grotesque wailing she does and the supernatural way the components fly onto her body via reverse photography. I looked at my brother after that joyous little sequence and said, “I don’t want that to happen to me,” to which he said, ‘There’s nothing I can do to stop it.” Course once he knew how much that clip messed me up, he then in the coming weeks took great pleasure in sitting me down in front of it over and over with the volume cranked all the way up to the top and pushing my face right into the screen while I cried in utter horror (we’re like THAT me and my brother). Ever since I still get chills down my spine when I see SUPERMAN 3 is on TV and that killer ZX Spectrum starts to attack him. I actually get tense when they try to outrun the computer, then she gets sucked inside… STILL!      


UNKLE LANCIFER SEZ: Wow, who knew that SUPERMAN 3 was such a traumatizer! Between this great TRAUMAFESSION from Dave, the one we got BACK IN MARCH, a recent post on MY NEW PLAID PANTS and the confessions spied over at the SUPERMAN 3 IMDB MESSAGE BOARD, it appears that this little scene involving the cyber-molestation of TWISTED jazz singer and BASKETCASE broad ANNIE ROSS really did a number on more than a few kiddies! Who can explain it? Some claim it’s ANNIE‘s screams or the overall claustrophobia it evokes that gets to them. Some cite its depiction of a rapid loss of humanity to an alien force as a fundamental element to the scene’s ability to unnerve. You got me; your Unkle Lancifer must have been too old when he saw SUPERMAN 3 because I find the whole scene hilarious. Oh well, I can’t judge. I still have a horrible fear of MR. SIX, the nightmarish monstrosity/ Six Flags spokesperson! 
Mister Six

Psycho II


For the most part sequels deserve their bad reputations, more often than not they’re simply insincere, diluted versions of the superior films they’ve spawned from. They’re not inherently bad though, and when done well and with respect to their predecessors, they can add a multitude of additional layers and meaning to their namesakes. More importantly, they can reveal how a character has evolved over a period of time in a way that one lone film never can. The truth is, there are a lot of worthwhile and sometimes even brilliant sequels out there, so many in fact, that you can’t really blame the studios for rolling the dice. Imagine a world without ALIENS, EVIL DEAD 2 or THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and you’ll see what I mean.
On June 3rd 1983, 22 years after the original, and in the height of the slasher boom, Universal studies released a sequel to possibly the highest regarded horror film of all time, ALFRED HITCHCOCK‘s PSYCHO. This amounted to sacrilege to many (thank God the interwebs were not born yet), and although the film was a financial and, for the most part, critical success, there really wasn’t a chance it could ever move beyond the shadow of the original. Well, it’s now been MORE than 22 years since PSYCHO 2 was released, and I’m here to tell you it really deserves to be known as one of the best sequels of all time.
What’s really unusual is that when we last left Norman Bates (ANTHONY PERKINS) in the original PSYCHO, we had discovered that he was a multiple killer and completely insane. (SPOILER ALERT: If this is news to you, you are insane too). In the sequel he is the misunderstood hero who may or may not be “up to his old tricks again,” and there’s no question that the audience is meant to take his side either way. How often does this happen in horror movies? Norman goes from raving lunatic to final boy and never breaks a sweat. The script, by soon to be genre director TOM HOLLAND (CHILD’S PLAY, FRIGHT NIGHT), is a near perfect exercise in audience sympathy manipulation and has more twists than a crate of Slinkies. Director RICHARD FRANKLIN (ROAD GAMES) who’s surely under the most scrutiny is able to pay constant tribute to HITCHOCK‘s famous mastery of suspense without ever going overboard into parody. Much of what he brings to the table is uniquely his own, the shots of the BATES HOUSE with ALBERT WHITLOCK assists are particularly remarkable. The supporting players (MEG TILLY, DENNIS FRANTZ, ROBERT LOGGIA and VERA MILES) are more than up to snuff, but they definitely have their work cut out for them playing against PERKINS who takes his signature role up to new, stunning, stuttering (“c-c-cutlery“) heights. The soundtrack by JERRY GOLDSMITH is literally one of my all time favorites and truth be told, I’m listening to it at this very moment. PSYCHO 2 is exactly what a sequel should aspire to be, a wonderful addition that takes nothing away from the original.
There probably wasn’t any question since UNIVERSAL was essentially trying to cash in on the slasher boom by waking up NORMAN in the first place that a few bones would have to be thrown to the more bloodthirsty audience members. In my opinion, these scenes, one which involves a very well done butcher knife through a head, do exactly as they are required to do and in no way detract from the tight psychological tone already established. Purists may have wagged fingers at the time, but the original PSYCHO pressed the same envelope in its day, whether actual knife penetration was shown or not. Which brings me to the scene I’ve been dying to mention…
Midway through the movie, two un-established teen characters break into the Bates house basement. It’s sort of out of nowhere and that’s why I love it. It’s as if two characters from a FRIDAY THE 13TH movie playing in the theater next door just crashed the screen PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO style. They are there to: 1. Smoke pot 2. Fool around sexually and 3. Be killed. It’s great to see the ‘60s era Mrs. Bates take on these eighties teens and show them what’s what old-school style. The scene begins and ends with an astounding aerial shot looking down from the top of the house. This little compartmentalized bon mot is such a great marriage of two separate horror era’s defining imagery that it has always left me giddy. Some may view it as pandering to the times, but I think such bridges between decades should be commended rather than condemned. Interestingly, MEG TILLY‘s role was originally offered to JAMIE LEE CURTIS, eighties scream queen and daughter of original PSYCHO victim JANET LEIGH. TILLY, whose throat may have still been sore from screaming her head off in ONE DARK NIGHT, couldn’t be better but I can’t help imagining that PSYCHO II would be even more of a perfect hybrid of horror eras with CURTIS on the marquee. It certainly would have boosted the film’s overall presence in the minds of die hard slasher fans. Whether you have never seen PSYCHO II, or if it’s just been a long time since you have, do yourself a favor and give it a spin. Sure it’s a sequel, but this baby is strong enough to stand on it’s own two feet.
hitchcock cameo