Kruegertrauma Fredhouse!

UNK SEZ: So I was going to treat you all to a special NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET funhouse on account of it’s national Freddy Day but then PART 4: THE DREAM SOMETHING OR OTHER got stuck in my laptop. It’s still in there! I even looked to the sky shaking my fists and yelled, “Not this time Krueger!” but it still would not budge. So eventually I gave up trying and went with some poster images (Damn you Krueger!) They’ll have to do as I was not about to leave our faithful Funhouse players hanging. So in other words, forgive the lame unoriginality and blame Freddy if it puts you to sleep…

NOTE: I was able to salvage the image below from the original movie. Can I just tell you that I am obsessed with the “kitty takes a trip to San Fran” poster hanging in Roger Rabbit’s dream laboratory? I’ve tried to Google it and find another representation of it but to no avail. I want that poster! Was it especially made for the movie? If so, why? Maybe it’s just supposed to make you feel crazy, in that case, well done WES CRAVEN! O.K. good luck kids! If you don’t hear from me for a while it’s because I’m at the movie movie theater watching you know what. As for now, “School’s out Krueger!”

NOTE 2: Wait up there! Aunt John tells me today is not only Freddy Day but beloved Kindertrauma lucky charm MICKSTER‘s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICKSTER!!! We heart you always and wish you a nightmare free year!

A Nightmare on A-hole Street

So I just watched every NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET film back to back and all I have to say (besides what happened to my life?) is…

all the adult residents of Springwood, Ohio are A-holes!

No, it’s not because they formed a vigilante mob and burned a man alive, it’s not their fault the American judicial system is a joke, and no, it’s not because they kept it a secret, nobody likes a braggart. It’s because every single second of every day they go out of their way to act as loathsome, nasty and obnoxious as humanly possible. Not for one second do they seem capable of behaving like non-A-holes.

You have to love it, is there any other horror series that exploits the chasm between teenagers and adults as proudly and as prominently as N.O.E.S.?

All of Springfield’s adults are horrible. They are what the teens fear becoming: hypocrites, sell-outs, drunken floosies and cold insensitive jerks. The teens depicted seem just as scared of transforming into their parents as they are of being slashed by Freddy the dream demon. No wonder Krueger was able to slip into the role of antihero. He may be a murderous douche but at least he had a purpose and wasn’t a soulless cog. (Not only did Freddy have a soul, he collected surplus souls like trading cards.)

I used to think that Freddy Krueger was a personification of the adult residents of Springwood’s past mistakes, mistakes that their children must now account for. But “Screw your pass!” as Nancy would say, the adults have more to answer for than just their treatment of Freddy and their amoral behavior is obviously current and ongoing.

The “Mom and Dad just don’t understand” bit has been around in horror at least since THE BLOB (1958) but the popular slasher series that predate N.O.E.S. had little interest in it. HALLOWEEN shows adults as ineffectual but still good-natured and the FRIDAY THE 13TH series presented them as, for the most part, the clean up crew after the slaughter. Sure F13’s Pam Voorhees was an adult but she was not an established authority figure and the prophets of doom like “Crazy Ralph” had their heart in the right place. Pam Voorhees, like Freddy, at least had a reason to be pissed off, the adult denizens of Springfield have no real excuse for sneering and hissing like Batman villains whenever they get a moment of screen time.

(NOTE: Post N.O.E.S. both other series mentioned adopted the adult as A-hole trope, perhaps to play keep up (F13: PART 7’s evil shrink and PART 8’s slimy principal/uncle for example or HALLOWEEN 6’s abusive Strode patriarch).

“You face things, that’s your nature, that’s your gift but sometimes you have to turn away too.”- Marge Thompson (RONEE BLAKLEY)

The mold was built in the very first NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Nancy’s mom is a lush and her father is an aloof promise breaker. They’re not as diabolical as the parents to come but they are presented as people who, rather than conquer problems, bury and ignore them. Adulthood is shown as an almost zombie-like state of being where desires (dreams) are neatly tucked away and morality is an unaffordable luxury.

“Morality sucks.”- Glen Lantz (JOHNNY DEPP)

“Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep!” Nancy Thompson (HEATHER LANGENCAMP)

Sleep is the enemy on Elm Street, that’s when you become susceptible to the monster your parents built. We all know there’s a time period in every teens life in which they learn to begin to question the world around them and how it functions. People tend to make light of it and it’s considered idealistic folly that won’t last very long. Eventually the teen will have to buckle down, forget such romantic notions and pull their weight. Eventually they’ll give into their culture’s will. Eventually they’ll “grow up.”

“I look twenty years old!”- Nancy Thompson (HEATHER LANGENCAMP)

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET was released in November of 1984, a renaissance period for teens in American film. Less than three months later JOHN HUGHESTHE BREAKFAST CLUB would hit screens carrying the line “When you grow up your heart dies.” I won’t pretend to know what’s in the hearts and minds of teenagers these days but it does scare me to think that they may be running toward rather than away from the adult “sleep” that beckons them. Trust me kids, you don’t have to hurry to catch up with that bus, another one will be around to pick you up soon enough…

In the original N.O.E.S., sheep can be heard baying on the soundtrack and seen roaming in Freddy’s boiler room. We count sheep to go to sleep but sheep are also known for their docility and the ease of which they are herded to follow.

It’s easy to mistake the film’s first kill to be part of the “sex kills” finger wagging that slasher films are often wrongly accused of. In Tina’s (AMANDA WYSS) case though, her death can be seen as retribution for falling not far enough away from the tree. In a brief earlier scene director WES CRAVEN has written a bathroom wall’s worth of derogatory implications about Tina’s Mom. Ultimately though personal behavior has little to do with your outcome on Elm Street. If you’re an Elm Street kid, your parents signed you up for this hell ride years ago.

Freddy is a bad, bad man, I’m not trying to discount that but it’s important to remember who created him. Ironically, in the Springwood we’re shown throughout the series he does not seem to be the only adult with the goal of destroying children (or childhood) on his to-do list. As the series progresses the implication that the parents we are shown are of the same mind is everywhere and the fear of old age and being forced to follow in the previous generations footsteps becomes more and more wrecking ball obvious. Check out Alice (LISA WILCOX) in NOES Part 4: THE DREAM MASTER

Hey, I watched all of those movies so I could review them and I totally forgot to do that so here goes: The first one is great and then they all sort of get progressively worse except PART 3: THE DREAM WARRIORS which might be even better than the first one. How’s that?

I have to admit I still enjoy the entire series but they don’t all hold up exceptionally well (or maybe I’m just getting old.) It’s still a massively creative franchise and I feel like I’ve finally found the ace it had hidden up its sleeve all this time. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET plays on a teenager’s rightful fear of loosing their vitality and optimism, of becoming callous and dispassionate and a weak, fearful member of the herd. Come to think of it maybe that’s a fear we should all, at any age, keep firmly in our grip. Maybe we should hold on to that fear with a razor sharp metal glove if we have to…

WAIT: I’m not done yet! I present you with a rogue’s gallery of Springwood’s awful adults. Thanks go to the ageless Aunt John for my title:


Name That Trauma :: Reader Marcela G. on a Diabolical Doll & an Adopted Alien

I just recently stumbled upon your site and it’s amazing! I was wondering if i could get any help getting the names of two movies I saw as a child…

Here goes:

I don’t remember much about this one. It’s a black and white movie and there’s a doll and a little girl. The one scene I remember is the doll pushes an old lady in a wheelchair down the stairs. You never see the doll move though. The odd combination of scenes scared me witless as a child and fueled my distrust of dolls. That’s all I remember….

This one is a weird one. Maybe I saw it on Sci-fi? The second movie is a space adventure of some sort. Apparently this man and this alien are stuck on a deserted planet. Possibly crash landed? Well long story short it turns out the alien is pregnant. The alien has complications giving birth (due to the lack of medical help on the desert planet?) and begs the man to cut him open. The man does and promises that he will take care of the alien baby. The scenes that I can remember best are the alien telling the man that the baby can hear what goes on outside that womb (possible comedic relief?) and what I guess is near the end of the movie when the man and the alien child (now an adolescent) are walking around the deserted planet. I remember that the man is very short tempered with the boy.

I hope someone can help…

UNK SEZ:: Marcela G., I’m pretty sure the second one is ENEMY MINE from 1985 starring DENNIS QUAID and LOU GOSSET JR. as the alien who gives birth. It’s based on a story by BARRY B. LONGYEAR and its basic plot has been borrowed for an episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION entitled “The Enemy” and for what some consider to be the only decent episode of GALACTICA 1980, “The Return of Starbuck”.

As for the wheelchair pushing doll, I’m sadly at a loss, especially considering Kindertrauma’s vast research into wheelchair bound horror, which you can find HERE. Hopefully someone out there knows the answer to that one, we’re all about killer dolls around here!

Vampire’s Kiss

Have you ever been disappointed by a film only to stumble across it decades later and find it to be a head smacking work of absolute brilliance? That’s my story with VAMPIRE’S KISS. What was I thinking way back in ‘88 when I shrugged this slice of genius off? I guess young Unk was expecting something different (a straight up horror flick) and was just too rigid to go with the funky flow. Well, a changed mind is an open mind I always say and I’m just glad this flick sauntered back into my life. VAMPIRE’S KISS is not your traditional vampire tale; it’s a raven black cult comedy, a portrait of a soul longing to connect while dismantling in the process and a “Wish you here!” post card from late eighties, late night New York. It was written by JOSEPH MINION, the guy who wrote MARTIN SCORSESE’s AFTER HOURS and maybe if I was privy to that nugget of info way back when, I wouldn’t have been so dense to the film’s modus operandi. Truth be told though, I think one needs a bit of life experience, a couple of their own soul sucking vampire encounters, to truly appreciate what’s going on.

NICOLAS CAGE is Peter Loew an insecure egoist with some real intimacy issues. Here’s a guy who wants to fall in love but fears losing himself in the process. One night stands do little to appease his needs and the only sense of self importance he can attain is through vicious power plays at his yuppie job and temper tantrums performed before his therapist (ELIZABETH ASHLEY). He has an interested, fun-loving romantic interest at his disposal, Jackie (KASI LEMMONS), but his head and heart itch for the acceptance of an unattainable beauty, who rebuffed him, Rachael (JENNIFER BEALS). One night a bat flies into his apartment (is it real? I don’t know), and he finds his battle with it more arousing than the available Jackie. Clearly Peter is more excited by the “mortal combat” of love, not the actual attainment of it. From this point on he falls into a pit of fantasy where he is owned and can be loved by a nonexistent vampiric entity. In the made up world inside his head, love is finally possible now that choice and consequences have been obliterated. Peter’s fears of being drained by love have transformed him into a life draining monster himself. Eventually, like a snake eating its own tail, he consumes himself.

CAGE broke my heart a long time ago. No, I couldn’t take a flight on CON AIR with this once astonishing actor, it just hurt too much. Here he is at his pre-sell out, still has a neck, prime; lanky and ridiculous, flailing about like a stringless marionette and shamelessly mugging for all to see. What a great, fearless, go-for-broke, let the chips fall where they may performance. NICK, all is forgiven and bravo. I know that weirdo is still inside you somewhere. I plan to now seek out THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS and to rewatch THE WICKER MAN solely for comedic purposes. I have held a grudge against you for decades and I am now calling a permanent truce. Rank me among your highest supporters…for now.

In contrast to CAGE’s intoxicating showboating is MARIA CONCHITA ALONSO as his long suffering secretary Alva. ALONSO delivers such a quiet, restrained alternative to CAGE’s manic drooling that the collision of the two approaches is spellbinding. Peter (who even has a photo of KAFKA on display in his office) sends poor Alva on a bureaucratic goose chase that’s sometimes uncomfortable to witness but also hilarious. CAGE’s excesses are such that I found myself almost hiding behind my hands in sympathetic embarrassment for both parties. It’s as if he sends her on an equally fruitless journey as his own out of spite and when her goal is miraculously reached before his, it sparks his final self destructive nose dive.

Director ROBERT BIERMAN deserves accolades for opening every cage in the zoo and for letting the script and the city speak for itself. Downtown New York is really allowed to breathe and be itself on screen yet the visuals never overpower the performances (really how could they?) ELIZABETH ASHLEY as Pete’s doctor should also be singled out for delivering some of the film’s funniest, most sardonic lines without a wink. VAMPIRE’s KISS is currently on HULU and you can watch it for free HERE. Clueless Unk circa 1988 may not recommend it, but I sure as hell do.

Traumafessions :: Reader Lynette F. on Tubular Bells & Talky Tina

I was watching DEEP RED (based on one of your recommendations) and Goblin‘s music reminded me of one of my kindertraumas. For some reason my older brother (by four years) listened to his Tubular Bells LP almost every night for what seemed like a year. So every night as I’m trying to fall asleep I have to hear THE EXORCIST soundtrack booming from under his bedroom door. Sweet dreams 10-yr-old!! By the way, that piece of vinyl is in my possession now so he can’t terrorize anyone else with it.

I also remember that he did one thing nice for me (ONE). Growing up, I’d heard my family talking about how creepy THE TWILIGHT ZONE episode with “Talky Tina” was. It finally came on T.V. one night and I made it through maybe 5 minutes before I had to run to my room and try not to think my dolls were going to kill me. My brother felt bad for me so he came down to keep me company. Or, did he come down because he was also too scared to watch it? Hmmmm.

Lynette F.

The Thing From Another World (1951)

I’ve always felt a bit of a stony disconnect with 1951’s THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. It’s not because it’s in black and white, me and black and white movies are prone to secret late night rendezvous all the time. Is it because I saw JOHN CARPENTER’s remake first? That never stopped me from getting completely entranced with the original CAT PEOPLE or INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. I’ve said before that I’m not the type to give up on a film just for not putting out on the first date. My love of JOHN CARPENTER’s THE THING is enough for me to own the film it’s based on and the other night I gave it another go with happy enough results. It ended up being a fine film to help me put old man winter to bed and watching it with the conscious eyes of a CARPENTER fan delivered some rewards previously missed.

I’m thinking my problem has always been that the film steers clear from the emotional and psychological aspect of horror. It’s a stiff upper lip, often times jocular man’s man flick whose tone seems closer to that of a war film or western. Most of the characters crack wise throughout the running time and the worst terrors seem readily cured by a hot cup of joe. There’s never a real sense of chaos as all involved (save for a wigged out watchman whose bullets have zero effect on the creature) approach the problem at hand with steady, rational aplomb. Moments after the monster gets his arm ripped off by a dog we’ve learned just about everything we would want to know of the being thanks to some scientists and a couple microscopes. Maybe a little too much even, personally I’d advise a “Don’t ask don’t tell policy” if my film’s main threat was conceived as an “intellectual carrot.”

As much as I’d like to shake the whole phlegmatic affair up like a snow globe, I have to admit that some of the stark desolate photography is winning and that there’s a few good workable jump scares. I know that’s faint praise for a renowned classic but I’ve always found the unflappable a bit dull. It’s certainly entertaining; I just feel I should want to squeeze its cheeks a bit more than I do.

Although the listed director is CHRISTIAN NYBY it’s widely known that CARPENTER’s hero HOWARD HAWKS cracked the whip on this dog sled. Just as AUNT JOHN has taught me to appreciate, if not love, some films I’ve neglected, knowing that CARPENTER holds this film in such high regard makes it that much more interesting to me. There’s a mismatched group facing an unknown foe just like in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (and THE FOG), There’s a dark shadowy giant with a habit of crashing through hallways just like “the shape” in HALLOWEEN and the final sky gazing moment that warns of future possible terror was lifted directly for THE FOG’s elegant epilogue. I also think I understand why NANCY LOOMIS was cast in so many of CARPENTER’s films, her girl Friday quip-banter is a chip off of TTFAW’s MARGARET SHERIDAN’s block. In fact, I’d say in some ways this film resembles those early CARPENTER flicks a bit more than it does his official remake.

Oh boy, you know, I started this post thinking I’d keep talk of CARPENTER’s remake to a minimum but that’s kind of impossible. I admit it, the whole time I was with the 1951 version I was thinking of it’s younger sibling (you can take the Unk out of the eighties but you can’t take the eighties out of the Unk.) Who am I kidding? I guess the ultimate truth for me is that nothing can really stand up to CARPENTER’s take on JOHN W. CAMPBELL JR.’s WHO GOES THERE? Those other remakes I mentioned, CAT PEOPLE and INVASION, add modern nuances to the films they spawned from (to debatable effect, personally I enjoy them all) where CARPENTER’s version just blows the previous take absolutely out of the water and renders it nearly obsolete.

Ugh, I said it. I know not everyone will agree with that but I doubt I’m alone. CARPENTER added the paranoia, the distrust, the believable human aspect that’s needed as an appropriate flip side to the alien menace. The original takes on a rather surface issue of invasion and can be seen as a “red scare” parable of us vs. them. CARPENTER tackles something a bit deeper, the very real fear (and this should scare you) that we ARE (or are becoming) “them.” The threat may still come from outer space but the territory it marks as a landing pad is the human body, it conquers from within. Ultimately traditional heroics have little effect in the remake as we are left wondering if even our star player MacReady (KURT RUSSELL) is corrupted. The ultimate fear is a global dehumanization, a very profound and real social worry that continues. I ask you, in 2010, is man still “the warmest place to hide” or is the alien menace likely to get more mileage hijacking a laptop?

The ‘82 version may have gotten gaff for relying too heavily on special effects but artist ROB BOTTIN did a bit more than throw blood and prosthetics about. He made it seem that anything was possible and that anything could happen at any moment. His conjurer’s hand added yet another significant layer of unease and distrust to the happenings. Suddenly, all bets were off and the audience had that rare experience of not having a clue as to what to expect. Cautious critics can cry “leaves nothing to the imagination!” as much as they like, we now know the reverse was true. BOTTIN’s beautiful work in fact, lit the fuse of imagination. He had many of us pondering what shape “the thing” might take next and the possibilities were simply endless. Let’s hear it for coloring outside the lines.

Can I just say I hate the cliché of “leaves nothing to the imagination” because it assumes to know the perimeters of my mind? I get the slavish love for subtlety, I think it’s great to allow the audience to fill in the blanks when it’s done well, but the gall of suggesting that audiences can’t expand upon what they have seen just seems like lazy rhetoric to me. It’s sad that so many critics in 1982 could mistake legitimate, inspirational artistry for sensationalist gore. Mr. BOTTIN, Mr. CARPENTER, you left a hell of a lot to my imagination, thank you very much. You still do.

Honestly, do you know what’s a way bigger imagination killer than visceral, in your face special effects? I’d say it’s having your monster be a carrot. Heads with spider legs are not the enemy my friends, walking vegetables are!

Oh no, I’ve jumped the rails again (and perhaps I’m preaching to the choir), please enjoy my mania while it lasts. I don’t mean to disrespect a film that made so many of my favorites possible. The earlier version (maybe it’s not even fair to compare the two) really does have a snug, affable atmosphere even if its thrills feel limp. I guess THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD is never going to satisfy this viewer completely. It’s not that it’s dated and as dispassionate as a distant patriarch, it’s because I have no real need to dance with someone so frigid when I know I can just as easily, for the same quarter, have my mind blown.

Name That Trauma :: Reader Jason S. on the Skeletal Spawn of a Soap Starlet


Just wondered if you might be able to help me. I’m looking for a T.V. movie, I know that once you say the title it will click with me but I can’t seem to remember it. I thought you might know.

It was from the ‘80s and I believe all the ladies in it were soap opera stars or some of them were. The basic plot is they were all sorority girls I believe and one of them had a baby. Many years later the skeleton of the baby is found when the house is being destroyed. Then it becomes a reunion to find out who the mother was.

Does that sound vaguely familiar to you? I remember it used to show on TBS a few times back in the late ‘80s.

Thanks for any help you might be…


UNK SEZ: Jason, I remember that skeleton baby movie too! I forgot the name as well but luckily I knew just where to look for it! The internet’s resident guru of television movies, Amanda by Night’s MADE FOR TV MAYHEM. You can read all about 1979’s FRIENDSHIPS, SECRETS AND LIES over at her endlessly informative database HERE! I’d peruse the rest of the joint too, you’re sure to find tons of lost T.V. memories there, I know I always do!

Name That Trauma :: Reader Stacy on Creepy Cyborg Crotches

There is a movie that I watched at my uncle’s house when I was around 7 years old that scared the bejeezus out of me. I cannot figure out what it is for the life of me. I am assuming it was on either HBO or Cinemax sometime around 1987.

From what I can remember it took place on either a space ship or some futuristic tunnel system. There was a lot of blue lighting in theses tunnels. People were being chased in these tunnels by aliens or
Cyborgs that looked human. These things were naked but I seem to think they had prosthetic crotches (like LINNEA did in THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD). That is all I can remember.

I would like to find out what it is so I can rewatch it and see if it has the same effect on me now. Quite a few years back before I saw FROM BEYOND I thought it was the movie I was looking for due to the poster art and the lighting. Once I watched it I realized that it obviously wasn’t it.

Any ideas?



Kindertrauma Funhouse:: Viva Italiano!

UNK SEZ: Hey, look! We got some good old fashioned screengrabs today just like momma used to make. Can you identify the ten Italian horror flicks these picks are from? I went away from the poster images this week because our pal Andre Dumas said she missed the old school ways and I guess I kind of missed them too.

Speaking of Andre, if you want to win a prize this week I suggest you stop by her super fine establishment HORROR DIGEST. She’s got a giant mega-funhouse type contest going on which you guys are sure to love. There are fifty (!) images and you have till 6 tonight to get your guessing on. Andre has got some good prizes too, unlike ours, their retail value is sure to be more than the shipping cost! So take some stabs here and for an extra challenge go see kinderpal Andre’s super deluxe size contest HERE!

Traumafessions :: Reader Jay R. on Rawhead Rex

RAWHEAD REX, terrible name and even worse movie. I’ve gotta say this movie terrified my brother and I when we were younger I will never forget it. The whole event happened when I was around 5 or 6; it was terrible.

It was definitely a week day afternoon because for some odd reason we had a fixation for the old school ADAM WEST BATMAN T.V. show (so young and naive and without good taste in programming) which was in syndication on one of the local CBS, NBC or ABC affiliates.

Anyway this was a particularly random and horrible time to play a movie such as this it was 3:30 in the afternoon and my parents were more than likely going over finances and doing grown up things, we were completely vulnerable to what would be one of the most terrifying things in my entire childhood.

We sat there as this simian/human/demon hybrid with a Mohawk and glowing red eyes tore onto the screen and decimated an entire community (including a hapless trailer park), killed children, tore off limbs urinated acid onto preachers… the list goes on and then just when you thought it was over RAWHEAD REX proceeded to resurrect himself at the end.

So what did I learn from this movie as a child??

The good gets peed on and in the end evil will ultimately triumph over good?

This was a terrifying experience and now I look back and see how hilarious the movie is and it gives me solace and even has a nostalgic sort of feeling to it. But I can tell you this as a child the thought of RAWHEAD REX kept me up many of nights for years.

Funny how what scares us as children eventually makes us laugh as adults.