Future-trauma:: Where The Wild Things Are

UNK SEZ: I usually feel sorry for kids today who missed growing up with all the cool stuff from the ’70s and ’80s that some of us did. Watching this trailer for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE though, makes me feel suddenly jealous of them. I wish I had the chance to see this movie as a kid! Would this movie have freaked me out a bit? Maybe, but probably not as much as THE WIZARD OF OZ.

Name That Trauma:: Peter of Horrors Not Dead On Ice Cave Wolfman

UNK SEZ:: Hey kids, we just got this in from our pal Peter from the great website HORRORS NOT DEAD. Me and A.J. are stumped, but I have a feeling one of you guys might know the answer…

Dear Robotrip of Horror Blogs,

I thought I had made this movie up, but someone corroborated its existence earlier today. I only have one reference point: A black and white movie with the wolf man inside an ice cave?

Any ideas?

Future-Trauma:: Frayed

Your Unkle Lancifer is getting very excited about seeing FRAYED which will be released on DVD August 25th. FRAYED has been getting some excellent reviews and word of mouth and just check out its trailer; a psychotic kid who becomes a crazed clown? How kindertraumatic is that? We’re going to try to get our hands on a screener A.S.A.P. so we can tell you more, but in the meantime, watch the clip below. It looks like an old school, suspense driven, straight forward slasher; sign me up!

NOTE: You can visit the official website for FRAYED right HERE!

Trauma-Shots :: Flash Gordon

I had to write something about 1980s FLASH GORDON eventually; it’s not the first movie that comes to mind when you think about childhood traumas, but when has that ever stopped us before? Thankfully, I was able to justify this post when I came across a thread on IMDb concerning FLASH’s more troubling scenes and the effect they had on young viewers. That was all the incentive I needed but truth be known, I would have come around to the topic of FLASH at some point anyway, on account of it being the most beautiful movie ever made.

Quote me on that. I’m unashamed. It has been nearly thirty years since I first saw FLASH GORDON in the movie theater and miraculously it still gives me compulsory goose bumps. To this day, It still melts my heart like a summer popsicle with its gosh-golly outdated optimism and unhip exuberance.

Did I just hear somebody say “corny”?

Yep it’s true, FLASH GORDON is just chuck full of corny ideas, like the one about the disenfranchised putting aside their differences in order to topple an oppressive dictator and the one about how art not only has the power to nurture the human spirit but also armor it (at least that’s what I got out of Zarkoff’s reciting of Beatles lyrics in order to stop from having his brain emptied “like a pocket” by dominatrix Kala)

Then there is the hokey idea that someone might sacrifice themselves for the greater good just cause it’s the right thing to do, and who can forget the kooky idea that true love has the power to make a guy choose gal next door MELODY ANDERSON over gal next galaxy ORNELLA MUTI?

FLASH GORDON shows us an upside down dimension where old birds are given second chances, enemies are transformed into allies and folks cheer you on from the sidelines (go Flash go!) a place where “keeping your word” is a point of pride (“It’s what makes us better than you.”) Silly ideas all, in this day and age, but in FLASH’s universe, these are absolute no-brainers.

At this point in time when heroes need to be conflicted and broody to be made more accessible or appear more “adult”, FLASH continues (in this version anyway), to stand as a pure spirit undaunted by the shackles of cynicism and misanthropy, a messiah who has no problem deciphering the difference between good and evil and no dilemma about which to choose. (In other words, BATMAN why the hell ARE you so freakin’ serious?) Don’t get me wrong kids, I dig my dark but man cannot live by bread alone…think of the carbs.

O.K. I know I’ve been gushing a bit but that’s enthusiasm folks, doesn’t it smell like cotton candy? We’re really supposed to be talking about the scary side of FLASH GORDON and there is plenty to choose from. If you push back the lava lamp clouds we got a flick with some big love for skull masks and a fetishistic soft spot for military uniforms, gas chambers, incestuous voyeuristic torture and…yikes, bore worms! Without further ado, here’s some trauma-shots of FLASH GORDON!

Traumafessions :: Reader Va on Resident Evil (Video Game)

So my childhood traumas consisted of the usual fair, including but not limited to: THE GATE, RETURN TO OZ, and the beginning scene in TROLL where the guy and his apartment are being turned into a plant? or mold? or mushrooms? That last one especially scared the crap out of me! However a very specific trauma, which no one seems to talk about, are video game traumas.

I have vivid memories of laying around on school nights watching my brother play the very first issued release of RESIDENT EVIL for Playstation. Wow what a great game! One of the first of its kind, labeled “survival horror.” It had zombies, giant spiders, evil swamp creatures with razor sharp claws, zombie dogs, and it all takes place in a scary mansion in the woods! It is like taking my favorite horror movies and putting them into a game just for me, that I can control! I mean what more could you want! It is a playable horror movie!

There have sense been countless more names and sequels to the genre including SILENT HILL, which takes its idea and look from JACOB’S LADDER; but the original RESIDENT EVIL will always have a special place in my heart for giving me chills every time I hear that announcer say, “RESIDENT EVIL” in a overly forceful tone. Oh, and definitely check out the original opening with real actors. Just like bad B-horror, the acting is wonderfully terrible and it leaves an icky feeling in the pit of my soul! I love it!

Also, they have come out with the RESIDENT EVIL movie series, which is “ok” and has little to do with the games, but nothing can compare to that ultimate weirdo beauty that is the opening of RESIDENT EVIL:

UNK SEZ:: Big thanks to fellow Philadelphian Va on her traumafession. All y’all best check out Va’s cool website VA’s “THE CINEMA EXPERIENCE.” Her illustrations are too awesome!

Traumafessions :: Reader Eric S. on Storybook Wolves

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a fear of wolves. I grew up in suburban Southern California, so there’s no chance it was inspired by any real life encounters, but I do specifically remember two storybooks, with illustrations that inspired my nightmares for years. One of the books unfortunately had no cover so I don’t know what the exact name was, only that it was a collection of fairy tales and stories probably published in the mid-to-late ‘70s. The story that especially frightened me was the WOLF AND THE SEVEN KIDS. For those not familiar, it’s the story of seven goat kids, who are left alone while their mother goes shopping. A wolf arrives at the door and tries several ways to convince the kids to let him in. After he succeeds and eats six of the seven kids, the mother returns, cuts the kids out of the sleeping wolf’s stomach, and then fills his stomach with large stones. He wakes up and heads to the well for a drink, where he falls in and drowns. I remember vividly that the wolf was black and had scary eyes with purple eyelids. Like I said, I have no idea what the book was called but if I ever come across the story in a used bookstore, I’ll know it instantly by the illustrations.

The second book isn’t hard to find at all. Barnes and Noble reprinted it several years ago and it has been in print ever since. It’s called THE AESOP FOR CHILDREN with pictures by Milo Winter. Looks like the original was published in 1919, and the extremely old fashioned look of the illustrations certainly made it all the creepier for me. Coincidentally the story that scared me the most is the one called “THE WOLF AND THE KID.” Even more than the story just flipping open to the page it was on was enough to freak me out because of the illustration (see above). Here’s the text:

There was once a little Kid whose growing horns made him think he was a grown-up Billy Goat and able to take care of himself. So one evening when the flock started home from the pasture and his mother called, the Kid paid no heed and kept right on nibbling the tender grass. A little later when he lifted his head, the flock was gone.

He was all alone. The sun was sinking. Long shadows came creeeping over the ground. A chilly little wind came creeping with them making scary noises in the grass. The Kid shivered as he thought of the terrible Wolf. Then he started wildly over the field, bleating for his mother. But not halfway, near a clump of trees, there was the Wolf!

The Kid knew there was little hope for him.

“Please Mr. Wolf,” he said trembling. “I know you are going to eat me. But first please pipe me a tune, for I want to dance and be merry as long as I can.”

The Wolf liked the idea of a little music before eating, so he struck up a merry tune and the Kid leaped and frisked gaily.

Meanwhile, the flock was moving slowly homeward. In the still eveing air the Wolf’s piping carried far. The Shepherd Dogs pricked up their ears. They recognized the song the Wolf sings before a feast and in a moment they were racing back to the pasture. The Wolf’s song ended suddenly and as he ran, with the Dogs at his heels, he called himself a fool for turning piper to please a Kid, when he should have stuck to his butcher’s trade.

Years later when I found this book for sale, I was surprised because while the illustrations still had the overall feeling I remember, I realized that many of the details I that had scared me as a kid must have been imagined. I could have sworn that the wolf in the picture was looking directly at me, whereas now he seems to be focused more on the goat. The fact that the wolf was green scared me, almost like his fur was so dirty it had fungus growing in it or something. He was also winking, (at me no doubt) as if to say “You’re next.” I could just imagine the devilish tune he must be playing on that flute, and the line about the Dogs recognizing “the song the Wolf sings before a feast” still sends shivers down my spine. It makes me think of kids in rural villages all throughout history hearing a strange flute song being played in the distance and their mothers saying something like, “You see? Don’t stay out after dark or the Wolf will get you too!” And what’s with the jaunty little handkerchief?! Wolves on their hind legs wearing clothing are obviously evil.

Part of what makes the Aesop book so frightening is the realism with which the animals are rendered, and there are plenty of other wolf illustrations in it. But for some reason this one was the one that really got to me. Many of my wolf nightmare featured a green wolf standing on his hind legs and wearing a handkerchief around his neck. Fortunately I don’t remember any flute playing.

Eric S.

UNK SEZ: Eric, I may be able to point you in the right direction to track down that first book. THE WOLF AND THE SEVEN KIDS is a story by the Brothers Grimm (you can check out the ending of an animated version HERE). I suggest checking ebay to find the proper edition you are looking for. Let us know if you find it! As for everyone else, be sure to take a peek at Eric’s blog The Ol’ Sketchbook.

House of Voices

After finally seeing PASCAL LAUGIER’s MARTYRS I had to check out his earlier work. I soon discovered that his debut feature film SAINT ANGE was released on DVD as HOUSE OF VOICES and that it was readily available. Slipping the disc into the player I felt a tinge of excitement at the prospect of having no idea of what was in store for me. My first surprise as I began watching the film was the slow realization that I had actually seen it before. This wasn’t an “Oh, crap!” type of recognition, but more of confusing state of déjà vu (how French!). Why have I completely forgotten about this film? If I recalled correctly, I kinda sort of dug it.

Well, I dug the beginning anyway, because midway through I realized I was in uncharted territory. Something had stopped me from finishing this movie the first time I saw it. Did I fall asleep? Was I distracted by a phone call? Did a fire alarm go off? If I went by the consensus of IMDb commenters then I must have fallen asleep. Most of those who cared to review HOUSE OF VOICES sum up the experience as being “boring.” Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far, although its tone, dreamy, ethereal and sometimes frustratingly ambiguous does have a rather drowsy effect and its pacing well, let’s just say it’s more turtle than hare.

If you have seen JUAN ANTONIO BAYONA‘s THE ORPHANAGE or JUAME BALAGUERO’s FRAGILE (both of which were released after H.O.V.) then you have a general idea of what kind of food they serve in this restaurant. It’s set in the olden timey days and the big monster building centerpiece is really just a blown up model/map of the neurotic heroine’s booby-trapped mind. Like a Victorian ghost story it is more concerned with creating an uncanny atmosphere that subtly unsettles than clobbering the viewer with blasts of the grotesque. If you dig vague, vapory ghost tales this is your jam, if you dig giant robots that turn into cars bring a noose.

Which is not to say that HOUSE does not have a few well-timed jolts. The opening scene in particular had me nervously loosening an invisible tie that I don’t wear. What really separates HOUSE from the two Spanish language films I mentioned is that much like he did in MARTYRS, director LAUGIER throws a cinematic curve ball toward the end that seems cut and pasted from another film entirely. The director has stated that he was inspired by the thought of making an unofficial sequel to LUCIO FULCI’s THE BEYOND, an awesome idea, even though it comes across more like a mash up of JANE EYRE and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

It is clear after watching both LAUGLER films that this is a director who refuses to spoon feed his audience (and is strangely fearful of subterranean science labs), just as in MARTYRS, HOUSE OF VOICES leaves much open to interpretation. It is an incredibly gorgeous looking film as well, which I have to admit, for me, goes an embarrassingly long way. I don’t think I’d recommend this movie to the casual viewer, but if you are a fan of slow burners about crazy people running away from their own self-devouring heads, or if you love saying; “What the, huh?” as the film credits roll or even if you’re just curious about LAUGIER’s pre-MARTYRS work, I say give it a try. Maybe just have a cup of joe first.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Jenni G. on Frisbee Throwing, Pig-Headed Monster

Saturday afternoons, in the 1970s, my brother and I would watch Channel 50’s (out of Detroit) Chiller Theatre. The station would show two horror movies, back to back. One movie has stayed with me, and I would love to find it and view it again.

All I can remember is that it is a black and white movie, the heroine was a lady with long, blonde hair, and she is being chased through a forest/woods. The creature chasing her has the body of a human, is wearing a dark pants outfit, and has the head of a pig-like creature. There is also a deadly silver Frisbee being thrown around the woods and the lady knows to avoid it at all costs.

That’s all I can remember, can you help me find this movie?