The Hills Run Red

I admit to being completely turned off by the derivative box art for THE HILLS RUN RED, but from what I had gleaned from various sources the movie was not your typical Johnny-stab-lately. Indeed, although HILLS RUN RED could never be mistaken for top tier horror it has much to distinguish itself from the ranks of your typical straight to DVD muck. Don’t get me wrong, this jam is straight from the taco truck, the ingredients are cheapo and it’s not very pleasing to the eye, but for those with a hankering for something quick and filling with a bit of a spicy kick, it hits the spot.

Do you know what doesn’t cost anything? Having an interesting plot. THE HILLS RUN RED gets an instant leg up on its peers with its intriguing premise concerning a long lost eighties slasher flick and the lengths one cinemaphile will go to in order to track it down. Any horror movie fan who remembers the days before the Internet will recall just how elusive some of the lesser known jewels used to be. I couldn’t help feeling an instant sense of recognition with our main leads quest and got a nerd-on every time a faux poster or trailer for the fictional Holy Grail horror flick was shown.

Not that anybody needs to be getting their STREEP on in a film like this but the acting, borderline horrible in the first half of the film, becomes surprisingly good when situations require it. Perhaps the late in the game appearance of Mr. Awesome WILLIAM SADLER inspired the green pups. (Careful Mr. SADLER, you are approaching DOURIF/HENRICKSON territory in my heart.) By film’s end I was satisfied having gotten the “lost in the woods with a maniac” scenario I had ordered and then thankfully so much more. (Not to ruin anything, but I am a sucker for flicks that are kind enough to include an audience of corpses in the climax.)

Perhaps most importantly in a film of this kind is the fact that the killer “Baby face” works as a formidable threat and kudos to director DAVE PARKER for not being all stingy with his boogeyman. Gore hounds have a rare reason to rejoice as well, the murders depicted are for the most part gloriously old school and put many a recent slasher remake to shame. The over-the-top cartoon violence fun only wanes when the slasher tributes end and the more modern torture procedural is momentarily adopted.

For the most part, THE HILLS RUN RED’s weakest aspects tend to work in its favor. I’m sure if you are of the mind to enjoy the gore, the nudity and the monstrous hulk known as “Baby face” that you have shuffled your way through much more inept excursions than this. I wouldn’t be dusting off the mantel for too many awards if I was DAVE PARKER, but I would be patting myself on the back for delivering a fitting and surprisingly substantial addition the backwoods slasher sub genre.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Nadine S. on an Seaside Simian Sociopath

When I was a child, maybe 5 years old, I happened to catch a glimpse of a monster movie my parents were watching. I haven’t seen more than maybe 15 minutes altogether, but I still remember one particular scene. I hope somebody can help me identify the movie. It is probably from the ‘70s or early ‘80s, and was probably a T.V. production.

The action took place in a large U.S./American city with a bay. The monster was a giant, orange (I think) monkey, and it actually lived in the water.

Yes, an underwater monkey.

It came out from time to time to eat people. I don’t remember how big he was, but I’d say like twice human-size. This one scene I have in mind is with two guys going out into the bay on a small sailboat. Maybe they wanted to find the monster. One of them bends over the side of the boat to look into the water, and there’s the monkey looking back at him from under the water surface.

I don’t know what happens next, but I guess the monkey grabbed the guy.

Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Thanks for your help!

Trick ‘R Treat

Believe the hype, ignore the backlash, the long awaited TRICK ‘R TREAT is definitely more treat than trick. Not only standing tall as an unabashed love letter to everybody’s favorite holiday, this movie succeeds as an ode to anthology films, horror comics and a twisted yet less cynical sensibility all but forgotten. If you’re a fan of eighties horror and have been missing the goofy dark fun of films like FRIGHT NIGHT, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS or especially CREEPSHOW, I guarantee you are going to gobble this up. It’s scary without being nauseating, funny without being brain dead and overall works like an injection of candy corn right into your veins. Sometime between now and the 31st of October do yourself a solid and rent or buy this film. If TRICK ‘R TREAT doesn’t get you in the Halloween spirit then frankly, you are a lost cause and deserve whatever egging, or flaming crap filled paper bag you find on your doorstep.

I won’t go into the whys and why nots of this films history. Most of you are probably aware that it missed a chance at a theatrical run and has wound up as a direct to DVD offering instead. Truth is, I’m not sure that modern audiences even deserve this kind of movie anyway. It’s beautifully shot, having no interest in looking sewer doused, characters are not required to be humiliated before death and at no point did I feel like somebody was trying to sell me a cell phone, a pair of jeans or a can of soda. If you’ve been waiting for the scariest movie ever made, keep waiting, this is more about that crisp creepy breeze that blows into town in autumn and the anticipation and excitement that occurs when darkness falls. It’s not a nail-biting ordeal; it’s a joyful, yet sometimes potently subversive salute to the convivial side of the macabre.

Remarkably director/writer MICHAEL DOUGHERTY has captured the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve like a bat in a fishing net, a feat made more impressive when you consider how many have failed at that task before him. Rather than compartmentalize his tales, he allows them to weave and interact and the result is rather innovative in the realm of anthology horror. This is obviously a work of love and it shows and although its final moments could have used a little extra punch, there are few things to complain about here. Maybe I’m suddenly old fashioned or maybe this film just falls right in line with my own tastes, but one thing is for sure, there’s no doubt I’ll to be watching TRICK ‘R TREAT every October (along with my other holiday standbys) till that old grim reaper comes and tears me away.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Scott N. on Hit-And-Run Van of the Third Kind

Hey I just discovered this site and it is awesome!

I’ve got a Name That Trauma I need help with. It’s a movie I saw playing in a video store when I was very young, maybe 6 or 7, which would have been circa 1985. All I remember is the one scene I saw.

It was outside at night, and there is a white van parked on the street or maybe at some kind of gas station. There is some kind of alien monster covered in blood, but it’s pretty small. In retrospect it kind of reminded me of a chestburster from ALIEN. Anyway, it looks like maybe the monster/alien is going to escape without being seen, but the woman driving the van accidentally runs it over. I think also this may have been the end of the movie, I recall seeing the credits, but I could be wrong.

I’ve got to know what this movie is. Somebody help!

UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Extra big thanks to reader newnathandetroits for nailing it with ALIEN PREDATOR.

Friday the 13th Part VII :: The New Blood (Deluxe Edition)

Like most rational people, I own the box set of the first eight FRIDAY THE 13TH films. When they started releasing “Deluxe Editions” of each of those same films I wished them all the luck in the world and held on tight to my wallet. I’m not so FRIDAY-fanatical that I’d shell out more green during a recession just for a couple dopey extra special features and some fancy schmancy 3-D packaging. I was steadfastly committed to my refusenik position, but then along came FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VII: THE NEW BLOOD’s deluxe edition; temptation got the better of me and I cracked. Cue THE HUMAN LEAGUE’s “Human.”

This new edition has an entertaining commentary by director JOHN CARL BUECHLER and actors LAR PARK LINCOLN (Tina) and KANE HODDER (Jason) that while not remarkable in the new info department, at least showcases the enthusiasm for horror of all involved. There is some never seen slashed footage too and two new featurettes; one involving “The Truth About Telekinesis” and the other an impossible to resist, fittingly short, but sweet salute to one of my favorite F13 characters of all time “Maddy.”

What is it about THE NEW BLOOD that I adore so much? It’s not my favorite in the series by a long shot, but it just might be my favorite one to watch. (Don’t hold me to that though; I am an extraordinarily complicated man of ever changing and mysterious whims [AUNT JOHN SEZ: True dat!]) As this is Part VII in the series some familiar ground is stalked (and I say thankfully so), but let us take a moment to reflect on the aspects of this movie that are uniquely its own.

Here is a loose, in no particular order, list of the things that I dig about this quirky addition to the Jason Voorhees saga…

Much as in PART 4: THE FINAL CHAPTER, in Part 7 we are privy to the goings on in two dwellings inconveniently located adjacent to that magnet for mayhem, Crystal Lake. In both films one house roofs a group of teens preparing to party and die, but where Part 4’s second residence was occupied by the charming Jarvis clan, here we are introduced to a highly melodramatic, stressed out trio on some kind of yell-therapy retreat. There’s pouty Tina (LINCOLN), ungrateful for the telekinetic powers that rightfully should be my own, her hysteric hovering mother Amanda (SUSAN BLU), who has the non-soothing disposition of an amalgamation of DONNA PESCOW and SCRAPPY DOO, and lastly, their evil psychiatrist in tow, the cacophonous Dr. Crews (TERRY KISER) whose prescription for everything seems to be, “Chew two scenes and call me in the morning.” In other words, the FRIDAY series may have dropped the counselors and the cabins, but it now has a vice like grip on a different kind of “camp.” This is THE NEW BLOOD’s deal breaker, you either find these three annoying as hell or a hilarious riot. You can tell where I stand by the giant SUSAN BLU portrait hanging over my bed.

If you find the above three characters shrill shenanigans exasperating then get in line behind Jason Voorhees. I used to be one of those who thought it hardly mattered who wore the hockey mask, but this film proves my stupid theory wrong. KANE HODDER as Jason really does bring something anomalous to the character. Sure the MPAA neutered much of the gory aftermath of his kills, but Jason has a frustrated, “Somebody has got to do this job” swagger throughout which nearly makes up for the loss. Look no further than the infamous sleeping bag smack down for verification of this fact. Aesthetically, this is also my favorite looking incarnation of Jason; he’s full-blown zombie now and just check out that fashionably exposed spinal column!

So the deaths are not as drippy as one would like, but the good news is that at least two gigantic assholes get theirs in very satisfying ways. Dr. Crews’ douchebag nature is made even more apparent when he throws Tina’s mommy under the bus by using her as a human shield. Luckily at this point Jason has developed a BUGS BUNNY like talent for pulling whatever tool is needed from some hidden pocket in his fur, in this case a weed whacker is suddenly on hand and it soon finds its way into Crews’ abdomen. Super-bitch Melissa also gets it good and director BUECHLER does a fine job milking her death for all it’s worth. After she tells those who have tried to warn her to, “Fuck off” we cut to an axe being dislodged from a tree stump. As Melissa prepares to leave in a huff we see Jason’s shadow appear behind her. When she opens the door she is greeted by our boy, the axe is slammed into her face and she is thrown across the room like a sack of laundry…go ahead, don’t feel bad about rewinding that one.

Maddy’s transformation from ALVIN THE CHIPMUNK to BRITTANY THE CHIPETTE is a thing of rare beauty and is why I sometimes don’t mind living on this planet. When I originally saw THE NEW BLOOD in the theater, her “A little touch up work, my ass!” was greeted by hoots, hollers catcalls and guffaws, the memory of which curls my toes to this day. Eventually Maddy bites it of course, but not before effortlessly upstaging the entire cast with but a few scenes.

What a cool idea! Who does not love telekinetic horror and when can I have more? Some might pin point this installment as a shark jumper, but really after Jason’s lightening bolt resurrection in PART 6 the series had ventured into the realm of dark fantasy anyway, why not have a little fun? Tina and Jason’s showdown is actually exceptionally well staged and certainly paved the way to Jason’s eventual audience pleasing run in with that molester in the striped sweater.

A floating decapitated head in a flowerpot, a party favor horn shoved in an eye, the traditional jumping cat scare, the wondrous “Date with a soap on a rope,” I could go on and on. Director BUECHLER says he would have loved to have had the next sequel follow survivors Tina and the Daisy Dukes wearin’ studmobile Nick (KEVIN SPIRTAS), but alas it was not to be. Ridiculous as it might sound I think it would have beat that trip to New York.

Traumafessions :: Reader Trey on Abraham Lincoln

Congrats on a frighteningly good site; brings back all sorts of creepy memories.

Just thought I’d share a particularly scary childhood memory of my own. I know he’s revered as probably the greatest leader in our nation’s history– but I still remember being terrified at age five of this picture my Kindergarten teacher had of Abraham Lincoln. She hung it right off the front edge of her desk so it was right at eye level when we sat on the rug… and four score and seven years later, it still creeps me out!

Children of the Corn (2009)

As notorious as 1984’s CHILDREN OF THE CORN may be, one could hardly call it a cinematic masterpiece. Whatever its shortcomings, and there are many, it remains memorable almost solely due to the genuine, can’t be faked creepiness of its two main stars and no, I’m not referring to LINDA HAMILTON and PETER HORTON. As Isaac, the preternatural preacher, JOHN FRANKLIN (25 at the time) gave off a disturbingly uncanny vibe the likes of which audiences would not witness again (until perhaps just recently with ISABELLE FUHRMAN’s remarkable turn in THE ORPHAN). Isaac’s right hand ginger general Malachi (COURTNEY GAINES) provided an almost equal amount of consternation with a mere glare that could stop a clock.

The Syfy Channel’s 2009 interpretation may have had the intention of adding a darker more hopeless vibe with an assist from original author STEPHEN KING, but the results, thanks to erroneous casting, are an unpopped kernel. It may not seem fair to place all of the blame for this movie’s failure on the lap of child actor PRESTON BAILEY, but without a believable or at least remotely menacing Isaac (BAILEY should be shilling Welch’s grape juice rather than shepherding a cult), the entire effort is pointless. Don’t expect the new-fangled Malachi (DANIEL NEWMAN) to pick up the slack either; the only type of fear he instilled in me was the type that had me scrambling to IMDb to check out his date of birth (thankfully dude is 28). For further evidence, check out the photo below. Now, which Malachi do you want to run away from and which do you want to go paddle boating with in Central Park?

Epic casting fails aside, there’s more wrong here than the Smurf-ification of the children. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s KANDYSE McCLURE (who did KING a disservice once before as Sue Snell in the CARRIE re-blotch) is borderline intolerable as one-note harpy Vicki. Although Vicki’s in-car gang assault does manage to muster up some steam, it’s not nearly strong enough to make up for the fact that most of the kiddie mob scenes resemble poorly staged grade school war reenactments. Worse of all, unless I had a blackout that I’m not aware of, the film just stops with what has to be one of the most anticlimactic closings I have ever witnessed. CORN fans disappointed with the original film’s reveal of “He who walks behind the rows” will find that issue solved by credits rolling speedily past instead.

As a fan of STEPHEN KING’s short story I really wanted to like and was excited for a more a faithful adaptation of his tale. There are some interesting tweaks like having main guy Burton (relatively faultless DAVID ANDERS) suffer from ‘Nam flashbacks, but for the most part I was left mostly depressed about just how weak the pen is when up against lackluster filmmaking. An uncut DVD is just around the corner, but unless it includes an entirely different production amongst its features, I say chase it out of town like an outlander.

Traumafessions :: Reader Bjarke J. on the Groke from Moomin

First of all, let me just express how freaking awesome your site is – not only does it bring back a lot of horrifying memories, much to my never ending joy, but it also gives me tons of stuff to track down and watch for my own pleasure, what with me just loving everything remotely disturbing. You’re like a never ending database of awesome for me, and for that I simply have to thank everyone involved with the site and everyone submitting their Traumafessions.

Now, with my mad preaching and worshiping out of the way, I will finally submit my own Traumafession, and one I know that I share with many a fellow Danish (or generally Scandinavian) child who grew up in the early nineties. The show I talking about is THE MOOMINS – animated in Japan, but based upon children’s books from the 40s in Finland, this show generally revolved around the Moomins, white, almost hippo-like creatures (called “Mumitrolde” in Denmark, which literally means “Mumi Trolls”) living a happy life in Moomin Valley and going on adventures.

That sounds innocent and sweet, right?

Well, it was… for the most part.

But this show had many pretty scary aspects – there was always a dark feel around the adventures they would go on, and several antagonists were particularly frightening for a fragile little 5-year-old mind to take. The ghostly Hattifatteners who recharged themselves during thunderstorms was one thing… but the one thing that frightened all kids I know who watched this endlessly was the monster known only as the Groke.

The Groke was a horrifying creature indeed – large, ghostly-looking and a dark, pale shade of purple, it would slowly walk through the fogs and spread a chilling cold wherever it walked, creating nothing but a merciless winter around it. It didn’t exactly help that it had a downwards pointing mouth with very large teeth and completely expressionless eyes either. Everyone in this show was afraid of this thing, and for good reason – it froze every damn thing it touched!

And they had even foreshadowed its appearance, sometimes using it as a warning for people to behave nicely, or the Groke would get them… and then, when it finally shows up, it is indeed terrifying – every character’s reaction shows nothing but fear at the sight of it.

I vaguely remember that it was revealed during the show that the Groke was not really evil, but just very lonely – and that it was meant to be some sort of metaphor of how cold loneliness makes you feel, and how you only end up spreading it as you desperately search for warmth, so it was a very sympathetic character – but I sure didn’t have any sympathy as a child – it scared the pants off of me and many others every time it showed itself on screen!

I don’t know how popular this series was outside of Scandinavia, but it was definitely a hit in Denmark – I still love it to this day, and when I stumble upon a clip of the Groke, I still feel a chill – simply because of the memory of how much this damned thing frightened me.


PANDORUM or as I like to call it DESCENT HORIZON, may follow the adage, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal” but as helmed by German director CHRISTIAN ALVART (ANTIBODIES) it is wise enough to know exactly who from and how much to pilfer while still retaining its own identity. In some instances it even outclasses much of the genre pool it scrounges from. I know that the trailer and T.V. spots probably have you thinking that you’ve seen this all before, and to be honest that assumption is half right, but the end result here is a solid piece of horror sci-fi whose puzzle pieces actually fit together reasonably well by film’s end. Yes, I actually understood what was happening in this one!

To be honest I wasn’t too crazy about the RUN SPORTY SPICE RUN chick or the “I’m going to edit this with a Cuisinart!” approach to the fight sequences, but those bitty matters of personal taste were not enough to spoil the film for me. I understand that a few bones must be thrown to the video gamers in the audience. The opening and closing of the film, which deals with the tried and true metallic haunted house “Space makes you go bonkers” approach really worked for me and didn’t come off as vague and allusive as it usually does. Again, it all somehow made sense to me, which I’m very happy about because honestly parts of EVENT HORIZON just fly right over my head!

Now that we know how slow I am let’s hear it for BEN FOSTER! Are you telling me this guy was really my pal Claire’s B.F. in SIX FEET UNDER? BEN FOSTER is great in this movie! What a refreshing change from the usual stack of newspapers I’m asked to follow around in a movie. So this year we had SAM ROCKWELL in MOON, that SHARLTO COPELY guy in DISTRICT 9 and now BEN FOSTER in this. It’s kind of ironic that as horror casts become more and more glammy the sci-fi club is casting actual human looking types. Good on you PANDORUM, and an extra tip of the hat for not inviting any robots to the party.

There may be some draggy parts in the middle, but overall I really enjoyed the consistent claustrophobic mood and the way information was dispensed via flashback and an excellent sequence surrounding some primitive wall drawings. Plus, there was a kid cannibal monster creature that really was genuinely freaky and disturbing. This time of year is usually time to dump the garbage out but PANDORUM, like recent box office disappointments SORORITY ROW and JENNIFER’S BODY, is better than you probably think. I actually left the theater with my mind going all over the place envisioning what might happen next; now isn’t that the mark of good sci-fi?