Before we start talking about the movie THE UNBORN I have to tell you guys about the crazy day I've had. Can you believe that I ran over a four-year-old child in my car?
Oh, don't worry. He seemed O.K. when I left him. In fact, all I gotta say on the subject is what a weird kid!
Now, do you feel that perhaps my attitude about what I've done seems a bit I don't know… casual? Well don't worry, I DID NOT run over a kid in my car but in the movie THE UNBORN a character literally tells her friend what I just told you and her friend's response is to basically shoo her away and change the subject back to herself. Herself being Casey Beldon (ODETTE YUSTMAN), who just won't stop bellyaching about some ghostly unborn sibling who keeps tormenting her. Hey Casey, if you think unborn siblings are a pain in the ass, try dealing with ones that lived!
Being inherently self obsessed and devoutly whiney myself, I hate to throw stones but Casey's reaction to her gal pal's admission to a hit in run incident involving a child is pretty much par for the course in THE UNBORN. Vivid hallucinations of head twisting ghouls, potato bugs springing out of cracked eggs and tentacles sprouting out of glory holes in a women's rest room (!?!) illicit similar reactions. Sure she screams with the best of them, but the constant constipated expression on her face in the aftermath would be a more appropriate reaction for somebody who has misplaced her cell phone.
I tried to have an open mind and give THE UNBORN a fair shake. I swear to God I did, even though I knew going in that this would probably be one of those post-RING killer kid flicks where everybody's C.G.I. jaw expands like taffy and the camera shakes a lot to represent action. While we are on the subject, PLEASE STOP MAKING BLUE TONED MOVIES! I feel like I'm flipping through a fashion magazine at the dentist's office rather than watching a film. I once had an art teacher say to me, "If everything is important, nothing is important" and I think that applies to films like THE UNBORN that bludgeon you with their visual style. (Entire UNDERWORLD series you might want to jot this down.) It looks great, I'm a sucker for a glossy well photographed flick but when there is zero contrast throughout, it ends up looking like a subway car speeding by that you just can't focus on.
I would have loved a well done exorcism movie my friends but I just can't get behind a movie that stubbornly refuses to touch ground with anything resembling life on this planet. I think SPEED RACER had more of a natural sense of the human condition than I found here. Furthermore, how can I ever forgive a movie that makes GARY OLDMAN look like RODDY McDOWALL? To be nice, THE UNBORN does have a few cool, surreal moments, …well, actually no, I take that back. I think that the winter backdrop looked nice…um…yeah, the snow was pretty. Well, I'm sorry THE UNBORN ya kinda suck, but I will throw ya this bone…that glory hole monster was like the second most disgusting thing that I have ever seen in a public restroom, so big props there!
I was a massive GHOSTBUSTERS fan as a child and watched the cartoon show religiously; catching my first glimpse of Cthulhu and getting freaked out by the Sandman. One episode was particularly horrifying, though I can't remember much of the plot. Egon's soul had been kidnapped by some nasty spooks, and while the rest of the team prepared a rescue, the ghosts bided their time by stretching the soul out like a canvas and using it like a trampoline. As a tot, I was terrified both by the thought of evil spirits stretching and jumping on me, and by the existential horror of somehow having one's soul abducted in the first place.
AUNT JOHN SEZ: For some really nice "spoilers, salty language, and occasional NSFW imagery" from Knarf Black, be sure to check out VIDEO UPDATES!
I believe this might be a TV movie, probably from the very early '90s ('90-'92). I don't quite remember what it was about, but I do remember it took place in the sewers and there some kind of sewage sludge that, when touched, would turn said person or animal into a monster. There may have been a large group of people, but what I do remember is that there was a PHYLLIS DILLER lookalike that got turned into a 10-foot pillar of terror. I think it was a stop-motion effect. The image of that monster has been burned into my mind since the day I saw it, but to this day (over 10 years) I have not for the life of me been able to figure out what I saw.
Please, please, please!! If you have any ideas as to what this might be I would be eternally grateful.
UNK SEZ: Zoe, when I hear "sewer" I think C.H.U.D. but I don't recall the old lady monster that you mentioned in that one. 1991's THE BONEYARD does indeed feature PHYLLIS DILLER and she does grow into a giant monster at one point in that film. Check out the trailer HERE and for an extensive review just pop on over to the great ZOMBOS CLOSET OF HORROR. Let us know if thats the one you've been looking for!
Gosh darn, this hurts. I can't tell you about the most intriguing aspect of BABYSITTER WANTED without ruining its most pleasant surprise. What's even more painful is that I have to resist using what would be the film's stronger images to illustrate this post for the same reason. Legitimate, well-thrown curve balls are so rare in horror movies these days that I couldn't live with myself if I diminished even a fraction of this movie's novel bite. Nope. I Just won't do it. Who says I don't have any scruples? (Put down your hand Aunt John, I thought those left over enchiladas in the fridge where fair game. Time to move on).
I know what you are thinking, "A babysitter in peril movie?… been there, done that," and you're absolutely right. In fact, the beginning of BABYSITTER WANTED does just about everything in its power to prove that it has no intention at all of covering new ground. Every clichÃ© is in place: missing college girls, ominous phone calls from a shadowy stranger, even the standard small town feckless police officer makes an appearance in the form of BILL MOSLEY. Half way in, BABYSITTER may not be impressing you with its originality, but you have to admit it certainly does a fine job of imitating its slasher forefathers right down to its butter wouldn't melt protagonist and its obviously humble budget. Midway in I was far from wowed, but seriously enjoying the cozy vapors of nostalgia.
Once the comfortable, hoary stage is set though, a genuine wild card is hurled. I'm not sure if it's 100 percent convincing, but the effect is profoundly invigorating nonetheless. Suddenly the stakes are much higher than imagined and the opportunity for a fuzzy outcome deflates triple fold. It's sort of like thinking you are stepping into a puddle and ending up waist deep in mud. Directors JONAS BARNES and MICHAEL MANASSERI deserve props for patiently allowing things to gel before dropping their hammer. Kudos is also deserved for standing back and allowing some black humor to seep through the cracks once the game board is flipped. This may not be the scariest movie ever made and it does require a bit of the old suspension of disbelief (if you don't know how to do that… learn), but once things start ticking, it delivers quality suspense at regular intervals and ends up being a lot of fun.
Heading the cast as eighteen-year-old babysitter Angie is the closer to thirty television vet SARAH THOMPSON (7TH HEAVEN, ANGEL) who makes the journey from accommodating good girl to sneering survivalist without missing a beat. An equally impressive performance is given by BRUCE THOMAS, whose acting career began playing "Mini Ash #3" in ARMY OF DARKNESS and who has the chin to prove it. This misleadingly simple, covertly aggressive production is exactly what independent horror should be about. It also makes the case that the slasher genre itself has not even begun to fulfill its full potential. All the genre really needs is filmmakers like these who are not afraid to REALLY shuffle the deck before dealing the cards.
NOTE: Hey, that's the new Mrs. Voorhees NANA VISITOR playing Angie's ma!
ALSO: Check out BABYSITTER WANTED's official site HERE.
Having been a loyal reader of your site for some time now, I have long put off doing what I know I must do. Confess my own trauma. While I was scarred for life by the usual suspects, THE WIZARD OF OZ, ads for FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN on network TV and every movie shown by our former local late night scare host, Sammy Terry; however, none of these hold a candle to the real innocence killer. I speak, of course, of National Geographic.
I always knew that if I ever wrote to you, that it would be about this magazine, but never had the impetus to do so until my 10 year old son came home from school the other day talking obsessively about an issue of this snuff rag that he had looked at in his school library. He was particularly bothered by a picture of someone holding up a bloody machete. Suddenly a rush of flickering images filled my head. Every picture that had ever troubled my youthful slumber flashed in front of my eyes.
When it comes to traumatic imagery National Geographic has it all. Dead bodies, war torn villages, unflinching nudity and stories that can send a young mind reeling. I remember being 10 and the school talking to us about "our changing bodies" then seeing naked tribes folk in NatGeo and thinking, "Is that what mine will look like?" Only to turn the page and see the same people butchering a goat. Excuse me, I need to call my therapist….
Better now. The part of all of this that amazes me is that I still read it. I have a subscription. I still encourage my son to read it as well. It continually woos me with its come hither covers of green-eyed Afghani lasses and stories of hope in the middle-east. And I keep answering its Siren's call.
Needless to say, while my son was recounting what he had seen and trying to play it off as nothing he couldn't handle, I saw right through him. In a strange way, it was a nice bonding moment. Father and son, repressing memories together. Now that's family values.
Kindertrauma, you are healing the nation one confession at a time! Keep it up!
Dylan Donnie-Duke Dalai Lama
I'm a 35 year old father of a ten year old daughter… and I STILL HATE the "Yip-Yips" or aliens from SESAME STREET.
As a kid in the 1970s I'd tear out of the room screaming when they came on, it was that bad. I never understood why they messed with me so badly until a few years ago: Their eyes, almost disembodied unlike just about every other Muppet creation, resemble those of predators as they attack: wide open, large pupils, focused directly on you.
I realized this while looking at a photo of an owl in a magazine and couldn't figure out why the photo was making me uneasy… I like owls… and then it hit me.
Nowadays they're a lot less spooky; they sing, hang out with other Muppets, even have a baby alien all their own. But I still find a reason to leave the room…
For some reason, it's always the ones with animals that get me the worst.
As everyone knows from seeing CUJO (a movie that made me wary of my family's poodle for weeks), rabies is pretty damn scary. I was far more deeply scarred by a cartoon public service announcement I saw back in the early '80s or very late â€˜'70s. It was animated, a simple line drawing of a friendly dog with a wagging tail on a plain white background. As the camera pushed in, however, the dog lost his friendly expression . . . eyes grew hard and flinty, lips curled in a snarl, foam dripping from the mouth. And then it lunged at the camera as the voice over rather needlessly reminded us not to pet strange dogs. I hid behind the couch when that one came on.
There was another one in a very similar style where a dog is closed in a hot car and dying. You think I'd be happy to see it go after that rabies commercial, but nooooo, it was time to run out of the room and weep. The P.S.A.s of that time period were high octane nightmare fuel. I was completely unstrung by the one warning us not to play in abandoned fridges because we could be locked in and asphyxiate. The idea of being trapped in a tiny space in the utter darkness, slowly running out of air and crying for help unheard was about the worst fate I could imagine. This was about 25 years ago that I saw it and when I accidentally shut my kitten in the fridge for about 5 seconds (he meowed to be let out), I almost had a freaking panic attack. I was sweaty and having heart palpitations for a long time afterward, and I blame that damn P.S.A.
About the worst ever wasn't quite kindertrauma, since I saw it when I was in college, but I'll share anyways because it's one more in a long line of these things. This was back when Animal Planet had just gone on the air. I only saw the P.S.A. once – that was enough. Apparently it was for a rescue organization that saved pets from disasters when their owners had to be evacuated. It starts with a long shot of a sweet old lady in her rocking chair, hugging her cat (which looked identical to my cat at the time). We can hear sirens, people yelling and crying in the distance, the sound of running feet. The camera slowly pushes in. We hear knocking, and a man's voice calling out, asking if anyone is in there, telling her she needs to get out. The old woman only hugs the cat tighter and whispers that she'll never leave him behind. I swear to you, I am tearing up as I write this! That poor grandmother is going to DIE because the evil evacuation people would otherwise make her leave behind her beloved pet to certain DEATH, and now they're both DEAD DEAD DEAD.
Thanks, Animal Planet, you bastards. I cried like a baby when I saw it, and then when I laughingly tried to describe my reaction – rather weird, since as an adult I love horror movies and that sort of thing – I started to cry again. It's been years, but if I ever had to cry on cue, all I'd have to do is think of that P.S.A.