(In Defense of) Halloween 2

There’s no way to put this delicately so I’m just going to come right out and say it. I really enjoyed ROB ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN 2. If you kids want to stop visiting your Unk here at Kindertrauma, I’ll understand. Maybe I’ll just set myself adrift on a block of ice like an unwanted, elderly Eskimo. If it helps, I can assure you that your Aunt John would really hate H2 if he ever saw it, so at least you know there is one person you can still count on roaming these halls.

First off, let me make it clear that I have no automatic allegiance to ROB ZOMBIE due to my being a roustabout delinquent who yearns to do that devil sign thingy in your face and play air guitar after tee-peeing your house. I think he has a fetching beard and all, but I’m not committed to him in any way as a symbolic anti authority figure or anything. ( I’m listening to OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN’s “Have You Never Been Mellow?” as I write this, if you require further proof). It just so happens that I always seem to end up enjoying his movies…even H2!

Now, let’s just take HOUSE OF 1,OOO CORPSES and DEVIL’s REJECTS off the defending table, last I checked it was sort of O.K. to like those in some territories. The real rub starts with his remake of HALLOWEEN. To be honest my love for the HALLOWEEN series is pretty fanatical, so much so that I even enjoy blatant rip-offs of the film. When R.Z.’s first HALLOWEEN came out it didn’t so much bring to mind JOHN CARPENTER’s classic movie to me as it did that movie’s sleazy imitators, films like ROMANO SCAVOLINI’s NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN and JOE D’AMATO’s ABSURD. Those are not particularly well-crafted films, they take the HALLOWEEN premise and run off with it like a stray mutt stealing a hot dog, but I loved never knowing how far into the realm of unpleasantness they might go and I admired their wild tactless enthusiasm.

So too with ROB’s film, nobody could ever really touch upon CARPENTER’s deft directing hand or the lightening in a bottle fatalistic vibe of the first film anyway. Even ZOMBIE’ naysayers may admit that if nothing else he brought in a willingness to explore uncharted territory to a franchise that was becoming sadly domesticated. Yep, he made some weird decisions (“Love Hurts”), but I’d rather that than uniform predictability and more running in circles chasing runes or…uh, I swore I wouldn’t mention his name but it rhymes with Rhymes.

ROB’s sequel works in much the same way as the first film but suddenly he has the audacity to wedge surreal arthouse imagery into the mix. Sometimes it’s maddeningly effective (an alarming pumpkin headed demon tea party of some sort) and sometimes it steers close to drunk relative embarrassing (the first vision of SHERI with the white horse is a “hide his car keys” moment for sure).

Speaking of that horsey! What a troublesome mare, not only was it allegedly stolen from DAVID LYNCH’s barn but it comes complete with a title card explaining its meaning for all you dum-dums out there (hey wow, it even appears in a Rorschach image in shrink MARGOT KIDDER’s office). I know, I know, It’s like ROB graduated from the VINCENT GALLO school of audience appreciation and wants to cram his diploma up your nose, but still, what’s going on here is all so very nutzo crazy outlandish I can’t peel my eyes off of the screen. In fact, I cannot believe this movie is playing in malls across America or that it is a sequel to a major franchise. If you take Mike Myers out of the equation it, at times feels, like you have stepped into some run down theater circa 1981 and are just watching the most rabid, taste defying trash-fest ever made…and yeah, I’m saying that’s a good thing!

Visually H2 is craptasticly glorious, cinematographer BRANDON TROST (who scuzzed it hard for CRANK 2 as well) makes everything either resemble a cigarette damaged Polaroid or a third generation BAVA bootleg. ZOMBIE gets a lot of grief for his so-called trash aesthetic but I’ll take his, clutter happy, neon SANFORD & SON approach over the unrecognizable sterile world seen in other slasher remakes like PROM NIGHT and WHEN A STRANGER CALLS any day of the week. I’m not talking phony out of date SE7EN inspired faux-weathering like you’ll find in the SAW films either, ZOMBIE’s greasy hodgepodge feels authentically piss stained and may actually give you fleas. It’s not all gutter stompin’ by a long shot though, some of the images (like the skeleton with Myers mask crucifixion bit) are just stunning.

Now, the grainy, damaged look of the film will come as no surprise to anyone, but the thing that keeps me fascinated about ZOMBIE’s world is that his characters actually get beaten and damaged too and fittingly it isn’t pretty or inspiring or even fun to behold. Nobody digs down to find a magical powerful self to save the day here. Laurie Strode is a shrill basket case, Sam Loomis is a narcissistic opportunist, victim Linda’s dad has gone postal and the Brackets, Annie and Sheriff Lee, are just barely holding it together. (Hopefully the intriguing dialogue from the trailer that has Annie confronting Laurie about not being the only one whose “life was trashed” will appear on one of the inevitable Director’s cuts…actually any additional scenes involving HARRIS or DOURIF would be greatly appreciated).

As we know, dear Michael is the most damaged of them all and I get the argument that some of his mystique is lost now that we have what? A full half hour of background information on his childhood, (jeez, it’s not like we know his PIN number or anything). Plus really, this is Mike’s 10th outing, just how much of a blushing virgin do you want him to be?

Of course, dramatically speaking, we’re not talking UNCLE VANYA here, but I really applaud the fact that these people are negatively affected by their experiences and are physically and mentally scarred. I’d rather that than the typical unrealistic horror movie survivor’s reaction of arms defiantly akimbo or stoic martyrdom. In other words, regardless of ROB’s reliance on f-bombs, in this depressive beat down atmosphere you never have to worry that the film will end with Laurie yelling, “Trick or treat mother fucker!” while landing a fatal blow to her bro (that’s very important to me!). There’s no way of disguising the fact that ZOMBIE feels compelled to trample on some icons here (especially Loomis), but as far as I’m concerned this is a mucky alternative dimension where anything goes.

I’ll admit that ROB is not exactly HITCHCOCK when it comes to setting up a suspense scene, he’s more likely to just bludgeon you with imagery and hope something sticks. I’m O.K. with that not being his strong suit because I do think he has something else to offer. This guy does not paint by the numbers, in fact, he paints in broad drippy obnoxious strokes and I frankly adore how raw and intuitive it all feels. He’s like the guy in art class who acts like he doesn’t give a rat’s ass, makes the biggest mess, finishes before everybody else and then ends up with the only work that has any type of energy in the room. He’s not afraid of making HUGE mistakes, and I think in the end that is worthwhile and keeps my interest more than any slick streamlined product ever could. Nobody has any business at all expecting a movie like this to be widely popular considering just how off the wall and surly it ends up being, I however, while fully admitting that it has problems with momentum, especially near the end, find it to be rather refreshing, particularly in its ambivalent attitude toward fan boy expectations.

As a youngin’ there were some horror movies that I found easy to love J.C’s HALLOWEEN was one, HELL NIGHT, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME are other examples. These were movies that were scary in their own way but in the end offered rather romantic visions of terror and the plight of the victims involved. On the other hand there were these other movies like MANIAC, PIECES (hilarious now, not so much back then), and the aforementioned NIGHTMARE IN A DAMAGED BRAIN that pushed me beyond my safety zone and seemed horribly chaotic and made no promises to me about sticking to a tasteful, or even comprehensible path. ZOMBIE’s movies always remind me of artier versions of those latter movies mentioned and H2 is no exception. As much as I respect being in the hands of a technical master who can wrap everything up in a tight bow at the end, as a horror fan, I sometimes require the thrill of taking a walk with somebody who may just do something nutty and random, somebody who just might push me off a cliff for the hell of it and offer no explanation later.

To me HALLOWEEN 2 represents a schlocky anarchistic side to the genre that is nearly dead. (From the look at the critical response nobody’s planning a big funeral either.) Then again none of the other movies I’ve mentioned (including the original HALLOWEEN by the way) were spared the critical sword upon arrival either. If you consider yourself a fan of cult cinema though you might do well to realize that H2 is what it looks like when it’s recently hatched. Here you have it without that helpful twenty-year long chasm between you to make it more digestible and fuzzy cute. It’s not pretty is it?

Ultimately, this movie does not need any recommendation from me; it’s bonkers enough to rally its own crowd for years to come. I will say this though, in my opinion ZOMBIE’s HALLOWEEN 2 is a throwback to the good old days when horror movies still aspired to be reasonably horrible and had little interest in tap dancing for the approval of the mainstream. True, it has some serious fumble moments; it’s messy, ugly and feels a bit like a spit in the face as well, but it’s willingness to tread off the beaten path (I’m not kiddin’ remember that pumpkin head tea party I mentioned?) and its feral unapologetic energy left me feeling invigorated and even hungry for more. I say bring on that crazy loco Director’s cut!

O.K., you can delete me from your Myspace page now, I can take it…love hurts.

Traumafessions :: Reader Andi T. on The Day After & The Dollmaker

the day after

O.K. you two, I haven’t seen these two traumas listed as of yet… (but I’m not all the way through the archives either).

What about that movie THE DAY AFTER having to do with nuclear fall out and how it would devastate the whole country? We were in the early ‘80s with threats of the cold war looming. They then put this movie on T.V. with warnings to parents about how traumatic it might be to children viewing. And yet there my family was with a big ass bowl of popcorn. I just remember seeing a child bleeding from his backside and it made a tremor in my stomach of revulsion I can feel to this day.

Which brings us to the next trauma I feel is worth mentioning, and several of my gal pals concur. The movie was THE DOLLMAKER…early ‘80s JANE FONDA, a Mom in the depression times that whittles dolls out of wood who not only gives her own daughter a friggin’ tracheotomy, on what I think was just a run of the mill dining room table, but who also later has to witness her daughter die as her legs are being crushed by a train down at the local train track…VIVID and AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL!

I know I’m not supposed to be trying to hog all the trauma moments by listing a ton, but these were really gnarly and I couldn’t pick the one that was worse. 🙂

Name That Trauma :: Reader Eric D. on a Tricycle Murder, Rib Hungry Aliens, & Martial Arts Maniac

Hello KT,

I have three movies or shorts that scared the living daylights out of me as a child. Funnily enough I saw two of them at the same childhood friends house. I have the impression his parents didn’t think we’d remember any of these movies, oh how wrong they were.

The first I am fairly certain was a black and white short film involving a kid riding his tricycle in an old man’s cornfield and pumpkin patch. It seemed set in the fall season. The old man who owns the land seems to think there is an animal in his patch and decides to go out and shoot it. The child is accidentally killed. My memory is hazy of what happened next. All I remember is pumpkins and corn filled with blood. ‘70s I believe.

The second, and I believe this was a movie w/color, was a ship in space somewhere. At one point in the movie a man is out on a walkway on the spaceship keeping in contact with a control room. The men in the control room are apparently trying to track down a noise. The man on the walkway turns and says something like, “There’s nothing out here.” All of the sudden an alien/monster pounces on the man and rips apart his rib cage. ‘80s I think.

The third is a martial arts movie where the hero wields a chain with a blade on the end of it (or at least he is by the end of the movie). When he whips that thing around, gore follows. I couldn’t tell how old this movie was; it was in color and could be from the ‘70s thru the ‘90s.

Does anyone recognize these films or shorts? I would love to watch these movies again as I am a pretty big horror film fanatic now.

Thanks Kindertrauma, great site!


Kinder-News :: Rob Zombie’s H2 vs Final-D in 3-D!

This weekend should prove to be a riveting one for horror fans as ROB ZOMBIE’s sequel to his take on slasher-piece HALLOWEEN goes head to head with the fourth installment of the increasingly popular FINAL DESTINATION franchise. I know not everyone is a fan of ZOMBIE’s last effort but yours truly is and even naysayers have to admit that the most recent released TRAILER looks pretty interesting ( C’mon haters, at least agree that THE MOODY BLUES“Nights in White Satin” is used to amazing effect!). Of course being “interesting” may not be enough when combating the awesomeness that is the perfect marriage of disaster porn and 3-D that THE FINAL DESTINATION offers. Then again, only one of the two films offers a WEIRD AL cameo…decisions, desisions. My only option is to see both but I encourage everyone to see at least one. I can’t guarantee either film’s quality but something tells me that either way you’re going to have a fun time. When was the last time you got to sit in a movie theater filled with like minded horror fans looking for a good scare? C’mon, it’s time to support our favorite genre, plus just think about it kids, popcorn, blood and air conditioning, what’s not to love?

Trauma-Scene :: Fire In The Sky

When a group of good ol’ boy loggers return from the woods missing one of their group, foul play is suspected. Nobody wants to believe their tale of watching their buddy get abducted by an alien space ship. Days later the missing man reappears naked and injured and eventually recounts his experience through a vivid flashback. FIRE IN THE SKY (1993) which is based on actual accounts (!), is more of an investigative thriller than anything else. Its small scale, dialogue driven nature though, may mislead you into thinking that it doesn’t also house one of the most trauma inducing scenes ever filmed (don’t believe me, check out these unsolicited testimonials HERE.)

If you are an adult it’s scary, if you are a kid it’s super scary and if you are a survivor of alien abduction, well, then it’s just plain unwatchable….

NOTE: More scary aliens HERE!

Traumafessions :: From the Makers of Frayed…


I can’t just name one particular film that scared me as a kid. It all took place in 1981, at the ripe age of ten. I saw THE EXORCIST, HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th PART II. I’m sure my parents were pissed, because that was my year of nightmares and waking them up in the middle of the night scared shitless that Jason was after me. That year was the beginning of my fascination with horror. I think JOHN CARPENTER says it best as to why we love horror, “Fear is our most primal emotion.”

NORBERT CAOILIFRAYED Co-writer, Co-director, Co-Producer, Editor, Composer:

’70s and early ’80s horror movies definitely take the cake as having traumatized me as a child, forever burning horrific images in my brain that, to this day, I still can’t shake. When I’m alone at night in the dark, they creep back into my brain and make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. The one that stands out the most would have to be the ’70s horror movie BURNT OFFERINGS. This movie had it all – a haunted house, a chilling score, massive suspense, and two of the most unforgettable horror characters to ever appear on screen – KAREN BLACK as Mrs. Allardyce and ANTHONY JAMES, the sinister, smiling chauffeur. I was only 7 years old when I saw BURNT OFFERINGS on HBO and I still remember how I trembled in fear for many nights afterwards, hiding under the sheets, thinking they were going to come into my room at any minute and get me! I will never forget that end scene where Karen Black turns to Oliver Reed, creepily stares at him, with the most chilling violin strings since PSYCHO, and says “I’ve been waiting for you, Ben!” Then he jumps out (or is thrown out of) the window and lands face-first into the car windshield. A lot of movies lose their creep factor as we grow older, but, for me, this one does not. To this day, when I watch that scene, my heart starts beating faster and my body tenses up. The suspense in that film, like so many films of that era, was so gripping and agonizingly drawn out. It’s a style that sadly has been lost in the modern age of fast-paced, short attention span world we live in.

On that note, I have to give a shout out to HALLOWEEN (1978) – the granddaddy of slashers and one of my beloved favorites. I never knew how terrifying a white mask and an eerie piano soundtrack could be. It was the film that got me hooked on horror and made me want to become a filmmaker.

ROB PORTMANN – Co-Director, Co-Writer, Co-Producer:

“Creepy little girls in white dresses” movies scare me. The movie was THE HOUSE THAT WOULD NOT DIE (1970) starring BARBARA STANWYCK. I remember being about 6 or 7 and I couldn’t sleep. So I went into the living room to tell my parents. They were watching this “Haunted House” movie. I sat down and watched for awhile. I only watched about 10 minutes. What I saw gave me nightmares for years. It showed a family finding human bones under this house and a “creepy little girl in a white dress” calling in a ghostly voice from the other side of a misty creek. “Aimee, come home,” she called. I couldn’t shake that eerie image. It freaked me out!!!

THE EXCORCIST then took the “creepy little girl” thing to a whole different level. I will never get that nightmare out of my head, no matter how hard I try!!! That’s why, to this day, even though the “creepy little girl” is pretty much standard in every other horror flick that comes out now, it still does the job and scares the hell out of me!!!

UNK SEZ: Thanks guys, for the excellent traumafessions and for keeping the spirit of ’70s and ’80s horror alive with FRAYED! All you kids out there, FRAYED is being released on DVD tomorrow, make sure you pick up a copy or two (they make great gifts!) at better retailers everywhere. As for now check out this scary scene…

Traumafessions :: Reader Kawaiihanyou on All Dogs Go to Heaven

ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN. Seems innocent enough, right? It can’t be bad telling from the title, can it? It involved dogs, one of my favorite animals and heaven? Heaven is a good thing, right?


I can’t remember how old (maybe 7 or 9) I was when I saw this movie, but when I think about it, this one scene from near the end of the movie replays in my head: One of the dogs being dragged down to hell by this black demon things spurring out of the concrete. It scared the hell outta me and I couldn’t watch it again.

Unfortunately, I was made to watch it again, when I was twelve or eleven. I was at a friend’s house and I couldn’t bear to watch it. I couldn’t watch the poor innocent dogs get killed and be sent back and fourth between heaven and hell. That’s a great thing to be showing kids, right? Dogs being killed only to be dragged down to the pits of hell. Riiight…

It’s been years since I’ve seen the movie but it still sparks a bad feeling when I think about it. But I gotta know if I was the only one bothered by this movie or not.

AUNT JOHN SEZ: Nope, you are not alone on this one… just ask Reader Miriam67.